Minecraft, Paramount, Instagram, More: Friday Buzz, December 25th, 2015


A brilliant individual has developed software that lets you make Minecraft towns from open data. “‘To create the model I had to painstakingly measure everything from maps and aerial photography and do my best to guess the height of the cliffs and buildings,’ said Chris [Gutteridge]. ‘I thought, there must be a better way to do this with all the open data that is now available. So I started work on combining OpenStreetMap with LIDAR – 3D data published by the government. I developed a software tool that when you put this data into Minecraft you can automatically create a lifelike model of any place in England within a very short time. The first time I saw what I had produced I was really excited, it looked so accurate.'”


Paramount has added some more content to its free movies “vault” on YouTube. “The geographical constraint [US-only] still holds, at least for now, but the Paramount Vault people have kept at work filling it with movies. Most recently, they’ve added a selection of classic films originally put out by ‘B-movie’ house Republic Pictures, the independent production and distribution company which specialized in crime pictures, Westerns, and other fast-moving genre pieces to which audiences of the mid-1930s to late 1950s thrilled.”

Instagram has made some updates to Boomerang. “The changes, although subtle, will probably make its users super happy. The premise of the app is to make little clipped-together videos, similar to an animated GIF or an Apple Live Photo. It feeds into Instagram, obviously, and the team made the process ‘smoother and faster’ for both iOS and Android versions.”

Google Earth Pro is – well, they’re not really updates, more like downdates. (That isn’t a word, is it? Sorry.) “Google will stop offering their normal support for Google Earth Pro customers and instead, make them use the forum for support. Which means their questions may go unanswered….Google is removing U.S. Demographics, U.S. Parcels Data and U.S. Daily Traffic Counts from the data layers.”


From Free Technology for Teachers: How to Find Public Domain and Creative Commons Images. Let me second Pixabay; it is remarkable. Another one that didn’t get a mention: if you’re just looking for illustration-type stuff, I heartily recommend Open Clip Art at .


Wonderful story from the National Library of Australia – How digital records change lives. “Trove, the award-winning free discovery service driven by the National Library of Australia, was used by American designer Ivan Owen, during his research into the construction of the world’s first 3D printed, body-powered partial hand prosthesis for a young boy called Liam.”

An “ancient” relic found in Jerusalem that baffled Israel’s Antiques Authority for about six months was identified by Facebook users in a matter of hours. “Israel’s Antiquities Authority says Facebook users have solved the mystery of a gilded object thought to have been an ancient Jewish relic.”

And in our latest episode of “Really, Facebook?” — The Blackcock Inn of Brecon Beacons (South Wales) has been kicked off Facebook for violating its offensive name policy. The ale house has been in business since 1840.

Facebook is getting ever-closer to rolling out Facebook for Work. “Facebook’s 1.55 billion active users globally give the company a head start. But key to success will be how Facebook integrates a wide array of enterprise software into its platform so employees can actually do their jobs without having to toggle out of Facebook at Work. Other enterprise social platforms have done this to an extent but analysts say they have not gone far enough.”


Yahoo is now warning users about potential state-sponsored attacks. “Yahoo’s security team, dubbed the ‘Paranoids,’ will provide notifications to targeted users with ‘specific actions’ so that they can ensure their Yahoo accounts are safe and secure.”

Bait and switch hacking is gaining some ground in Google. “With bait-and-switch hacking, someone gains access to a site and begins publishing pages on topics that the site itself doesn’t normally cover. The site might not even be aware that the pages exist. The hackers are hoping to leverage the authority of the sites they hack. The idea is that publishing such content on an existing site might do better than trying to publish it on a new site.” I see this fairly frequently on .edu sites, unfortunately…


In India, an uptick in cosmetic surgeries by young people is being linked to social media. “About 40 percent of the youngsters choosing to undergo cosmetic surgeries in recent times cite their appearance in the pictures and videos on social media platforms as the reason for getting the treatment, said a statement issued by the doctors on Thursday.” Good morning, Internet…

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