TLDR Daily Update 2019-02-18

Big Tech & Startups

Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
Apple acquires talking Barbie voicetech startup PullString (2 minute read)
Apple’s Siri has been lagging behind in its utility and developer ecosystem, especially since the ability to create Skills is available on both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. In order to keep up, Apple has acquired PullString, the company behind creating talking toys for kids, such as the talking Barbie. PullString’s voiceover design tools allow developers to visually map out conversations and is currently used to develop Skills for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. It is unknown whether the tool will continue to be available for non-Apple developers.
Uber sues to overturn New York City’s cap on new ride-hail drivers (2 minute read)
In August, New York City imposed a cap on the number of ride-hail drivers that can operate in the city in order to reduce traffic congestion. As a result, new licenses could not be issued to drivers by Uber and other ride-sharing companies for 12 months. Uber has decided to sue the city to overturn the law, as it claims that the law restricts service, growth, and competition in the industry without any proof that it would lower traffic congestion. The ride-sharing company is also concerned that the cap restrictions would be permanent.

Science & Cutting Edge Technology

Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
Watch a harpoon successfully spear a piece of space junk (1 minute read)
A video is shown where a satellite panel is successfully harpooned by the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, created by a team at the University of Surrey. There is over 7,600 tons of space debris orbiting the planet, and the goal of the RemoveDEBRIS project is to collect the space junk and then at the end of the project, self-destruct by burning itself up in Earth’s atmosphere. Previous tests had the satellite successfully launch a net to capture another junk satellite.
Elon Musk says SpaceX is developing a 'bleeding' heavy-metal rocket ship. Making it work may be 100 times as hard as NASA's most difficult Mars mission, one expert says (10 minute read)
Elon Musk has recently announced changes to SpaceX’s Starship, which include giving the spacecraft a stainless-steel body and changing the way the rocket ship will cool down on entry to a planet. The stainless-steel body will lower the cost of the design significantly and allow for faster prototyping, while also increasing the spaceship’s ability to withstand heat. The new cooling system imitates sweating by pushing liquid through pores in the metal so that it can evaporate and dissipate heat. Engineers have explored the idea of cooling rockets this way for decades but have run into problems with pores being blocked. Despite the fact that this idea has never been successfully realized, experts believe that it is not implausible.

Programming, Design & Data Science

Tools, open source libraries, and other resources for programmers, designers, and data scientsts
Leon (GitHub Repo)
Leon is an open-source personal assistant that can be installed on a private server. Users can use the development kit to create their own custom modules, and the modules can be shared with other users. Leon uses AI concepts and can be run completely offline if required for privacy reasons.
New UI tools and a richer creative canvas come to ARCore (2 minute read)
New tools and features have been released for ARCore. An Augmented Faces API allows developers to create high-quality effects for human faces, and users can now create animations in Sceneform, allowing scenes to come alive. In the new version of ARCore, the workflow to create AR apps has been simplified, and new UI components such as plane finding and object manipulation have been added so users do not need to reinvent the wheel for every app. Shared camera access has also been added so developers can pause their AR experience to access the camera more conveniently. A short video that demonstrates the application of features on ARCore Elements is available.

Miscellaneous

Random stuff techies might be interested in
The Internet Was Built on the Free Labor of Open Source Developers. Is That Sustainable? (15 minute read)
Collaborative programming in open source projects has been a cornerstone of software development since the birth of the internet. Many important projects are built completely by volunteers with code that can be reviewed by anyone who wishes to do so. However, while the system of open peer review and community collaboration sounds great in theory, sometimes it does not work out in practice. Vice investigates the world of open source development and its relationship to privately funded code development, highlighting examples of projects such as OpenSSL, which is used by almost everybody on the internet.
Awesome Startup Credits (GitHub Repo)
Creating a startup can be difficult, especially when you are just starting out with no funding. This GitHub repository contains a list of online services that have free or discounted plans exclusively for new startups. The list is divided into categories, and for each link, there is a quick description of what the company is offering.
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