Hürriyet Daily News: Google translation’ of book into Turkish sparks debate. “A veteran translator has stirred controversy among literature experts by announcing that he has translated a biography of Milan Kundera from French into Turkish although he is not a francophone. Osman Akınhay, co-founder of Istanbul-based publishing house Agora Kitaplığı, said in a tweet on April 27 that the book was ready to be published after eight months of ‘sentence-based work with the help of Google Translate,’ though admitting that he does not have full command of French.”
Seattle Times: Seattle woman, 90, walks 6 miles through snow for her COVID-19 vaccine. “Walking 6 miles through nearly a foot of snow to get to her first COVID-19 vaccine appointment was nothing, compared to what 90-year-old Fran Goldman went through to get it.”
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.”
Mashable: Elaborate Instagram scam bilks influencers after luring them to Jakarta. “A scam is making the rounds in the Instagram influencer and photography community, and it’s so elaborate that you can understand why people fell for it. Someone purporting to be Wendi Deng Murdoch, the former wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is fleecing thousands of dollars from hundreds of unsuspecting Instagram influencers and photographers.”
David Rumsey Map Collection: 1940 WPA San Francisco Model 42×38 ft Now Online. “For the first time since 1942, the entire immense 42 by 38 foot WPA built San Francisco Model can be seen assembled virtually. Digitally knitting together all 158 separate pieces with over 6,000 blocks gives the viewer a sense of the extraordinary accomplishment the model represents. Recently recovered after decades of dusty storage, the model has been cleaned and photographed by a dedicated team of individuals as part of the SFMOMA and San Francisco Public Library project called Public Knowledge: Take Part. ” The pictures just in this blog post are outstanding.
KnowTechie: This super helpful website will remove the background of your image in 2 seconds. “You know the one thing that can really elevate your meme game? Like, really make it so your stuff sticks out? Background removal around your subject, so you can stick them into another crazy environment. You used to need expensive software like Photoshop to do this, and it was time-consuming! Plus it didn’t always work well, especially if the background had similar colors, or if the subject had flying hair.” Okay, the big limitations here are that a) your picture has to have a human in it and b) ideally it’s only one human. I tried the tool and it was so good I literally gasped out loud. It wasn’t perfect, but it did a ton of work in just a few seconds.
The Getty Iris, with a side of “Oh, WOW” -: Two Intricate Calligraphy Pages from the Sixteenth-Century Manuscript “Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta” Have Been Decoded for the First Time. “One letter of a Latin text on a page of sixteenth-century parchment captivated my attention for three hours. I consulted dictionaries to determine potential Latin words that might shed light on the myriad possibilities for this letterform. I used magnifying glasses to zoom in on the letter to find any hidden clues; shapes that might lead me in a better direction. It took fully three hours for me to realize that this letter was an uppercase Z.” Visit the article if only to look at the images. The lettering is unreal.
Spacing Toronto: Why I revived the Bureau of Municipal Research. “Ten years ago, as a grad student researching the history of Toronto’s waterfront, I came across a study, published in 1977, that could very well have been written today: ‘Should the Island be an Airport?’ The report, I came to learn, was produced by a long-lived, but largely forgotten, citizens group known as the Bureau of Municipal Research. The Bureau was established in 1914, as the Toronto Daily Star reported at the time, as a centre of “general municipal intelligence.” Its mission and motto was to produce “better government through research,” and for seventy years that’s what it did, publishing over 800 research bulletins and reports on more than a hundred different topics, before closing its doors in 1983.”
EurekAlert: New tool predicts eye, hair and skin color from a DNA sample of an unidentified individual . “An international team, led by scientists from the School of Science at IUPUI and Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands, has developed a novel tool to accurately predict eye, hair and skin color from human biological material — even a small DNA sample — left, for example, at a crime scene or obtained from archeological remains. This all-in-one pigmentation profile tool provides a physical description of the person in a way that has not previously been possible by generating all three pigment traits together using a freely available webtool…. The innovative high-probability and high-accuracy complete pigmentation profile webtool is available online without charge.” WOW.