Google Maps API Tutorial© 2006, 2007, 2009 Mike Williams
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Using Jef Poskanzer's OverlayMessageOverlayMessage allows you to place a semi-transparent message over the top of any HTML element. It's not a true Google API Map extension, because it works equally well on things other than maps.
It can be useful for Google Maps that take a while to load. You can display the message before the map starts to load, and clear it in the <body onload> function, if you're not using onload for anything else.
Here's an example