3D, Minnesota, GMail, More: Wednesday Buzz, September 23rd, 2015


In development (hopefully; it has to get funding) – a database of medical cases along with commesurate 3D models of relevant anatomy. “Doctors have already been taking advantage of 3D printed models of body organs and bones, as they are affordable and can be completely customized to the exact specifications of the patient. These models not only help the doctors practice surgeries, they can also be used to improve diagnoses and training for new doctors. The main advantage that [Gabriel] Maza’s design brings to the table, is that theoretically doctors from nearly anywhere in the world could access the same database and contribute to a growing body of knowledge that is not limited by geographical borders or any single doctor’s previous experiences. And, even if hospitals and research labs were not able to collaborate internationally, the database could even benefit individual hospitals by connecting doctors from various specialties.”

The Minnesota Military Museum is trying to build an online registry of Minnesota veterans. This includes veterans who were either born in Minnesota or who have lived in Minnesota. “Anyone can submit a Minnesota veterans story and pictures of veterans from the Civil War to today to the registry. This service is free of charge and part of the mission of the Military Museum to preserve records of Minnesota Veterans service and to preserve the artifacts related to their service for future generations.”


GMail is making it easier to block people you don’t want to hear from. “Sometimes you get mail from someone who’s really disruptive. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often—but when it does, you should be able to say, ‘Never see messages from this person again.’ That’s why you can now block specific email addresses in Gmail—starting today on the web, and over the next week on Android. Future mail will go to the spam folder (and you can always unblock in Settings).”

The Washington Post has launched Instant Articles on Facebook. “The Washington Post today became the first new partner to launch on Facebook’s Instant Articles platform. The Post will send 100% of its stories to Facebook so that all Washington Post content can be formatted as Instant Articles, giving readers a lightning-fast user experience for reading, sharing and commenting within the Facebook iOS app.”

Twitter is redesigning its Follow and Tweet buttons. “The new icons remove the share count displayed next to the button and flatten its overall look. As part of the update Twitter will be closing down the share count API, so developers can’t create unofficial buttons with the share count displayed next to them.” Twitter shutting down an API? Oh how shocking. By the way, TNW, to which I’m linking, always has the best URLs. They’re like snarky little easter eggs.


QZ has a nice writeup on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off. The story of how the SEP is run, and how it came to be, shows that it is possible to create a less trashy internet—or at least a less trashy corner of it.”

Opera has rebranded and just keeps on trucking. “As the company notes in its announcement, Opera Software may have started out as a browser vendor, but it now offers a far wider range of products and it wants its new brand to reflect that. Opera Mediaworks, the company’s ad business, now reaches 1.1 billion people per month. The company’s apps reach 350 million users across all of the supported platforms. The company also recently acquired Bemobi, a subscription service for premium apps, and VPN service SurfEasy.”

I really, really hope this was just a mistake. Yahoo apparently charged at least one customer for a small business service it was just about to discontinue. “A Cre8asite Forums thread has a small business owner claiming that Yahoo charged him $299 only a few weeks before a service Yahoo is closing down.”

Instagram: Now with 400 million users. “Growth has been particularly high in Brazil, Japan and Indonesia. Instagram reached 300 million users last December.”


The US Senate has backed down on a social data sharing demand. “The U.S. Senate has scrapped a controversial proposal to force social media firms like Facebook…and Twitter…to notify the government about users who discuss terrorism. The plan, which was intended as a national security measure, had been attacked as both vague and an attack on free speech.”


So glad this aspect of mapping is getting more attention. Syracuse University assistant professor Dr. Yun Huang is getting an award from Google to continue research on indoor mapping. “Improving awareness about and potential uses of facilities to enhance learning is the basis for Dr. Huang’s concept for creating a system to better map indoor environments, capabilities, and resources, she said. In developing the idea, she wondered how much people know about and understand the unique details of their indoor environments, as well as being aware of all the resources that are available in their surroundings, such as the centers and buildings where they work and study on a daily basis, she explained.” Speaking from a commercial perspective, it’s also important to retailers, as you can only do so much with signage, and if you overdo it people get sign-blind.

Interesting: Mapping the Northern Lights with Twitter. “In the study, the use of Twitter as a measure of auroral activity is investigated for the first time. According to the researchers, studies have shown that Twitter users can provide real-time information about large-scale events and disasters such as earthquakes, influenza outbreaks and wildfires. The researchers’ study collates tweets and investigates the possibility of Twitter for both real-time analysis and mapping of an aurora, as has been done with other large-scale events such as natural disasters.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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