TLDR Daily Update 2019-02-20

Big Tech & Startups

Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
SpaceX gets $300 million from Defense Department (1 minute read)
The Department of Defense has announced a series of contracts totaling $738 million, including a $297 million contract for SpaceX. While the specifics of the 3 missions in the contract are classified, it is likely they will involve sending satellites into orbit for information purposes. The first mission is expected to be completed in February 2021, while the rest are scheduled to be completed in December 2021.
Google hosting ‘Gather around’ press event at the Game Developers Conference next month (1 minute read)
Google has announced a gaming-related press conference during the Game Developers Conference in March, following the end of its 4 month trial of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Project Stream. A GIF was released by Google with the words ‘Gather around’ and the date of the conference, March 19. Project Stream allowed users to play a AAA console title within Chrome Browser as long as they had a 25 Mbps connection. If the conference is about Project Stream, it is likely they will announce how third-party developers can bring their games to the streaming platform.

Science & Cutting Edge Technology

Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is about to fire bullets into an asteroid (1 minute read)
Japan aims to land its Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on the Ryugu asteroid on February 22. The mission was supposed to happen last October, however, it was discovered that the surface of the asteroid was covered in much larger gravel than expected. The Hayabusa 2 will fire three bullets into the surface of the planet to create dust in order to collect samples, two upon landing and one later in the year. The spaceship is scheduled to return to Earth with the samples in late 2020.
'Our little brown rat': first climate change-caused mammal extinction (3 minute read)
The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola), a little rat-like mammal from a small Torres Strait island near Papua New Guinea, has been officially declared extinct. This is the first recorded time a mammal has become extinct directly through climate change factors. Experts say that the extinction was predictable and could have been prevented through funding and change in policies to improve the environment, but no action was taken despite the evidence provided. There are currently around 500 other animals on the Australian endangered species list.

Programming, Design & Data Science

Tools, open source libraries, and other resources for programmers, designers, and data scientsts
Simple Tensorflow Cookbook (GitHub Repo)
The Simple Tensorflow Cookbook contains general architectures and functions that are useful for Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and classification. GANs are unsupervised machine learning algorithms where a neural network aims to create a result, while another network tests to see whether the result is ‘correct’. Users can quickly develop neural networks using the code contained in the Tensorflow Cookbook. A quick description of how to use the code is provided along with diagrams of how each architecture works.
Hello, .dev! (1 minute read)
Google has announced the availability of the new .dev top-level domain, aimed at developers. Developers are encouraged to use the domain to build communities and showcase their latest projects. The domain will secure websites with HTTPS by default, aiming to contribute to an HTTPS-everywhere future. From now through to 28/2, .dev domains will be available to register through Google as part of their Early Access Program. After 28/2, the .dev domain will be available through other registrars.

Miscellaneous

Random stuff techies might be interested in
Uber and GM Cruise are making their respective AV ‘visualization’ tools open source (2 minute read)
Both Uber and GM Cruise have released their own custom tools in order to gain support from developers in the open-source community. GM Cruise released Worldview, allowing developers to build custom visualizations easily without having to learn complex graphics APIs or write code. Uber’s tool allows developers to easily transform their autonomous vehicle data into an easily digestible visual representation of what the vehicle is seeing in the real world. The aim of releasing these tools free of charge to the public is to encourage developers to build a variety of applications that could uplift the entire industry.
How Loot Boxes Hooked gamers and Left Regulators Spinning (5 minute read)
Loot boxes have been around in games since the early 2000s. These in-game mystery boxes allow users to have a chance at obtaining special items, but in order to open the boxes, gamers need to purchase keys with real money. Recently, the debate on whether loot boxes were gambling intensified when EA released Star Wars Battlefront II in November 2017. Users were initially required to purchase keys and open loot boxes in order to progress in the game. Gamers have taken to forums to talk about their loot box gambling addictions. Regulators are yet to develop a clear stance on this practice in the $30 billion gaming industry.
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