Berkeley Libraries: Fiat Blocks: Students use Minecraft to build UC Berkeley (and its libraries) in stunning detail. “Imagine a place where social distancing isn’t necessary — where you can gather with friends and resume life as normal, as if COVID-19 and the chaos it has wrought were but a distant memory. Such a place actually exists — and, no, it’s not Georgia. Enter Blockeley University, a student-led effort to build, one block at a time, the UC Berkeley campus on Minecraft, the wildly imaginative (and massively popular) video game. In the expertly crafted virtual world, you can walk through Sather Gate, gaze upon the iconic Campanile, encounter campus’s ubiquitous Kiwibots, and spot Berkeley’s famed peregrine falcons. And, even amid the closures, you can soak in the architectural glory of the campus’s libraries.”
Ubergizmo: This 3D Printer Lets Preschoolers 3D Print Their Own Toys. “If 3D printing has always come across as being more of an “adult” hobby, think again because the folks at 3Doodler have recently announced the launch of a new 3D printer that is being aimed at preschoolers. This will allow kids to 3D print their own little toys in a fun and safer way, while encouraging the development of motor skills.”
The Verge: You can now make sick beats in Microsoft Excel. “Late last year, electronic musician and YouTuber Dylan Tallchief made a functional drum machine in Microsoft Excel after a bunch of Excel DAW memes made their way around social media. Now, Tallchief is back with an even more ambitious project that fully realizes the original meme’s potential: an Excel DAW he calls xlStudio. (For those outside the audio world, DAW stands for ‘digital audio workstation’ and is a software suite like Ableton or FL Studio used for making music.)”
Ubergizmo: This Film From 1896 Was Upscaled To 4K Using AI. “You know those police drama shows where they zoom in on a photo or video, and magically it becomes sharper and clearer instead of more pixelated? It looks like that technology is slowly becoming a reality, and more recently it has been demonstrated in a film that was shot back in 1896 that was upscaled to 4K using AI.” The video is included in the article. It is MINDBENDING.
An amazing human being used machine learning to find public domain Krazy Kat comics in online newspaper archives, and built an archive to share them all with us. Do not miss the explanation of how it did it on his About page. “In short, I wrote some programs in Python that downloaded thumbnails from various newspaper archives, manually found about 100 Sunday comic strips from the thumbnails, used Microsoft’s Custom Vision service to train an image classifier to detect Krazy Kat comics in thumbnail images, used that classifier to find several hundred more thumbnails, then wrote some more code in Python to download high resolution images of all of the thumbnails that I found.”
The Industry Observer: Jaxsta has launched the public beta of its massive music credits database. “Having entered numerous partner agreements in the past two years that provide the company access to the credits of more than 80% of global music releases, Jaxsta have partnered with the likes of the RIAA, ARIA, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Hillsong, and Merge Records, just to name a few. Upon its launch of the open beta, Jaxsta’s comprehensive database contains more than 100 million credits across 25 million webpages, reflecting the music credits of 19 million recordings.”
Tip o’ the nib to Jonathan B for this one from Gizmodo: How Cartographers for the U.S. Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa. “The visitors started coming in 2013. The first one who came and refused to leave until he was let inside was a private investigator named Roderick. He was looking for an abducted girl, and he was convinced she was in the house.”