We highlight 10 of the most amazing and amusing things you can do on the web this fortnight.
Play Google Maps game Smarty Pins
There are lots of quizzes online that test your geographical knowledge, but few are as fun as Google’s new Smarty Pins. To answer the question, you have to drop the pin on the correct location. You start off with 1,000 miles in the bank, but you’ll lose them the further your answer is from the correct location – through you’ll bonus miles if you answer quickly. Get it right and Google will congratulate you in typically quirky style (“put on a banana suit and celebrate”). It mocks you when you’re (literally) miles out: “Fine, no less than you got the planet right”.
Google eases you into the game at the opening Bronze level by starting you near where the pin should go and, if you get stuck, you can click the ‘Take a hint’ button – “Home of the Cockney” is the clue for a question about London. You can as well choose as of a list of Trivial Pursuit-style categories, including Arts & Culture and Science & Geography, or pick Featured Topics, which asks questions based on current events – it was the World Cup when played the game. Smartypins.withgoogle.com
Watch cyber attacks in real time
This fascinating but slightly terrifying map shows you exactly where cyber attacks are taking place around the world in real time. Streaks of different colours signify the type of threat, and boxes show which countries are launching the attacks, and which are being targeted. Once you’ve watched the map for several minutes, you’ll soon spot the main trend, which is China bombarding the US with attacks. The map, designed to work best in Google Chrome, was created by St Louis-based security company Norse, which uses a worldwide ‘honepot’ – a deliberately vulnerable network – to attract cyber attacks.
Watch Morph on YouTube
It has been 37 years since he first appeared on our screens, but Morph is back – this time on the internet. Aardman Animations, maker of Wallace and Gromit, has made series of 15 one-minute episodes for YouTube, starting with Twin Decks, in which Morph and his pal Chas try out their DJ skills.
Aardman resurrected Morph after a mere 2,654 fans with a little more spare change than most donated £110,000 on Kickstarter (bit.ly/kickmorph349). You can follow Morph on Twitter to find out when new episodes are ready to watch (@AmazingMorph).
Also new is a fun official site (amazingmorph.com), which has lots of old episodes – including the first ever from 1977, featuring a much podgier Morph – and some ‘making of’ clips. You can download Morph wallpaper from the site and buy merchandise, including mugs, T-shirts and Morph It, the “squishy, squashy dough-modeling game”.
Watch bears live on Alaska webcam
Back for a third year is the Brown Bear & Salmon webcam, broadcasting five views live from Brooks River staying in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, which at nearly five million acres is slightly smaller than Wales. Until autumn, you’ll be able to watch the skilful bears go fishing.
Explore 500-year-old UK country maps
Ancestry.co.uk members can see how county and parish boundaries have changed shape over the centuries in the site’s new collection of zoomable maps. You require to be a Finest member to use it. You start by selecting England, Scotland or Wales under ‘Browse this collection’ at the top right, and then choose from the list of counties. Now-vanished counties Huntingdonshire and Westmorland (see our screen grab) are included.
See World War One trench maps
World War One’s 100th anniversary, you can see where in modern-day Europe the trenches of the Western Front lay by viewing more than 130 maps published online by The National Library of Scotland. These zoomable maps, made between 1915 and 1918, are placed on top of internet maps from Google, Bing and Ordnance Survey. Turn to page 48 for more websites covering the centenary of World War One.
Watch lightning strikes around the world
If you can speak German, you’ll know that the name of this website – Blitzortung – means ‘lightning locating’. And that’s exactly what it does, mapping lightning strikes around the world. Volunteers use radio frequency antennae to track electromagnetic discharges given off by lightning. The colour of the dots shows how old the strike is, from 20 to 120 minutes.
View street art in Google
Street art celebrated in this new project from the Google Cultural Institute, with more than 5,000 images, including plenty of work by Banksy, such as the one at bit.ly/banksy349, which is just around the corner from Web User’s office.
Play 8-bit Star Trek game
Explore the USS Enterprise-D (from The Next Generation)asLieutenantData in this blocky 8-bit simulation of the ship. Look out for Data’s cat, Spot.
Build a cardboard virtual-reality headset
A cardboard virtual-reality headset sound like one of Google’s April Fools’ jokes, but it can be built by following instructions; through you’ll need lenses, Velcro and magnets. Still, it’s an intriguing glimpse at what might be on sale soon.