Best New Tricks From Internet (Weekly Update)

1. Explore NASA’s amazing library

NASA’s new online library offers a vast cosmic collection of 140,000 images, videos and audio clips from the last 100 years. This means you can view and download stunning copyright-free photos of Saturn and Mars, see Neil Armstrong on the Moon and take a peek at space launches, the Milky Way and phenomena such as the Northern Lights and solar flares.

From the homepage, you can check out the latest uploads and browse the most popular images and videos. If you want to download the files, there’s a variety of resolutions on offer and NASA says you can freely embed them in your own websites and projects. There are also filters to help you narrow down your searches by year and content type, while the list view provides a description and creation date for each result.

NASA has clearly put a lot of time and effort into the site, right down to mobile versions for browsing on the go. You can even see technical info for individual shots, such as the exposure and lens used. As a space-based resource, it’s out of this world. images.nasa.gov

2. Play another newly discovered Dizzy game

Back in the Eighties and early Nineties, twins Philip and Andrew Oliver were arguably the most prolific programmers of 8-bit computer games, and they’ve recently rediscovered several previously unreleased games on dusty disks tucked away in Philip’s loft. The latest is Mystery World Dizzy, originally made for the NES console and now free to play online within a Flash-enabled browser. You help Dizzy gather objects to solve puzzles while avoiding obstacles and collecting stars. Use the cursor keys to move left, right and jump; X to chat and pick up or drop objects; and the spacebar to see your inventory. You can also play Wonderland Dizzy, which the Olivers found in 2015 and Dreamworld Pogie which was discovered earlier this year.

3. Download Netflix videos to Windows 10

Being able to download Netflix content to an Android or iOS device has revolutionized long journeys and now you can do the same in Windows 10. Netflix is allowing certain movies and TV shows to be saved to your PC or laptop using its official app for Windows 10, which means you can watch content anywhere without an internet connection. You can also choose between standard-and high-quality video. You’ll find downloadable content by heading for the hamburger menu at the top of the app, and anything you save will be stored in My Downloads. The app costs 79p, on top of your Netflix subscription. Neflix has also changed how you rate shows and films, ditching the star-ratings for a thumbs-up and thumbs-down system. Your viewing habits and behavior will be analyzed to help Neflix recommend other content that it thinks you’ll enjoy.

4. Decorate your selfies with Sprinkles

A fun new camera app from Microsoft lets you liven up your photos by automatically adding stickers, emoji and captions. The iOS-only app, called Sprinkles, uses facial-recognition techniques to overlay decorations such as hats and moustaches, apply objects relevant to the picture’s location, guess the subject’s age and even suggest celebrity look-alikes.

5. Share temporary stories on Facebook

Facebook has added a Snapchat-style Stories feature to its mobile app. This lets you create and share collections of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, and view those created by your friends, which appear in bubbles above your News Feed. To create your own, tap the camera in the top-left corner or swipe right and hold the button to shoot up to 40 seconds of video or snap a photo. You can add animations, text and graphics, and post by pressing the arrow and selecting Your Story.

6. Send Instagram messages from your Desktop

Instagram has updated its Windows 10 app to let you share photos and videos by direct message. Although there’s still no way to make public posts from your Desktop, a quick click of the messaging icon lets you share a photo from your computer. You can also grab a live picture from your webcam. It’s certainly a step in the right direction and we reckon we’ll see the feature extended in the near future so you’ll be able to post directly to your Instagram feed, too.

7. Save mobile data when using Twitter

Twitter has launched a pared-down version called Twitter Lite that makes it easier to load the social network on your phone or tablet if you have a slow mobile network, expensive data plan or limited storage. As well as reducing data usage by up to 70%, it lets you preview images and videos before loading them.

8. Play a duet with your computer

Whether or not you’re an accomplished pianist, Google’s intriguing new experiment in artificial intelligence will be music to your ears. Al Duet lets you play a tune by clicking the onscreen keyboard or pressing keys on your physical one, then picks up on your melody and works out a musical response so it can play along. This creates a duet with your computer and, although it’s seldom perfectly in tune, it uses the power of neural networks to improve over time.

To do this, the online app has learned scores of melodies, including keys, rhythm and timing. Built by Yotam Mann in collaboration with Google’s music and art project, Magneta and Creative Lab, it can also be used with a MIDI keyboard if you want to take things to another level.

Al Duet is fundamentally about machine learning and pushing the technology to ever greater heights. In that sense, it complements other Al musical experiments such as The Infinite Drum Machine, which lets you play around with endless drum-sound combinations, and Giorgio Cam, which cleverly lets you capture a photo to generate the lyrics of a song.

9. Create cat-filled artwork

As if the Internet didn’t have enough cats, this feline generator adds a bunch more. Draw a cat in the left-hand box, then click the ‘process’ button and the software will sift through 2,000 stock images of moggies to fill in your outline. Some results look very strange indeed and many users are already saving and sharing their images on social media. But the experiment isn’t just confined to cats: you can do the same thing for building facades, shoes and handbags. The tool makes great use of TensorFlow, the open-source software library for machine Intelligence, and we have to tip our hat to Christopher Hesse for creating these highly addictive image-to-image demos.

10. See how far you can travel

Rather than finding out how long it will take you to get to a particular location, TravelTime Maps shows where you can travel to within a set amount of time. Type in your location, select a mode of transport – be it train, car, bike or your own two legs – and indicate how long you’ve got (between 15 and 90 minutes). The tool will then calculate your boundary and you can tell it what you’d like to do, such as visit a museum, cinema or coffee shop. It will list the destinations within reach, taking into account the time constraints, and give you the option to get directions. You can also set up multiple starting points and perform another search from each destination, which is particularly handy when you’re planning a whistle-stop tour of an area or want to find a spot to congregate with friends.