TLDR Daily Update 2019-03-15

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Big Tech & Startups

Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
Apple’s iCloud was down for several hours today (1 minute read)
In the third major tech outage this week, Apple’s iCloud service was down for several hours today. Between 11 am ET and 3.28 pm, users could not access any of iCloud’s services, including Mail, Backup, or Find My iPhone. Gmail and Google drive also had issues earlier this week, and Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram experienced widespread outages yesterday.
Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation (4 minute read)
An investigation into data deals struck between Facebook and some of the world’s biggest technology companies is underway, with at least two major smart-phone makers recently being subpoenaed by a grand jury in New York. These data deals let companies see users’ information, including friends and contact information, sometimes without consent. The partnerships with these tech companies may violate an agreement between Facebook and the FTC formed in 2011 after allegations the company had shared data in ways that deceived consumers. The Cambridge-Analytica investigation is still underway, with an employee being questioned as recently as February.

Science & Cutting Edge Technology

Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System (5 minute read)
Since 2017, DARPA has been working on developing secure hardware that would be impervious to most software attacks that exist today, and designing tools to build that hardware. In order to demonstrate their work, they had to find a real-world application that people would be interested in, and voting was an obvious choice. Galois, an Oregon-based firm, will work with DARPA to develop a fully open-source voting system that will be presented at Def Con and universities to be tested. The aim is not to create a commercially available voting system, but to create a methodology that can be used by others to build a voting system that is completely secure. DARPA’s new hardware modifies existing CPU designs to make them secure and may change the way that CPUs are architectured in the future.
Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound–even your co-workers (2 minute read)
A team at Boston University have created an ‘acoustic meta-material’ that is able to catch certain frequencies from the air and reflect it back to its source, effectively creating a sound barrier. The 3D-printed ring was mathematically designed and is completely open, which means that air and light can pass through it, but not sound. This design can be applied to HVAC systems, drones, MRI machines, and used to create quiet and visible office spaces. There is no limit to the possibilities for this material, but each application will need a tailored design. A 30 second video is available demonstrating the effectiveness of the material.

Programming, Design & Data Science

Tools, open source libraries, and other resources for programmers, designers, and data scientsts
SiriControl (GitHub Repo)
SiriControl allows developers to write custom voice modules for Siri, adding voice controlled capability to any project. It works by syncing commands with Google notes and it is able to be run on any computer with Python installed. It can be used in conjunction with Raspberry Pi to control almost any device from anywhere in the world, as long as it has an internet connection. Users do not need to install any additional hardware and minimal setup is required.
The Iodide notebook (GitHub Repo)
While sharing scientific results is easier than ever, sharing results, or even allowing others to look at the data and manipulate it themselves, can be a complicated problem. Iodide aims to solve this problem by providing an interactive programming environment to allow scientists to work flexibly and collaboratively with minimal friction. The browser-based platform allows you to tell the story that you want while having the live, editable code only one click away. Users can review papers and the code/data that the papers are based on inside their browsers, without having to use multiple sources and files or having to install any extra software. Many example notebooks are available, along with a detailed tutorial on how to use Iodide effectively.

Miscellaneous

Random stuff techies might be interested in
Ask HN: Startup failed after years of work – Can I even get a job now? (HackerNews Thread)
After quitting college to work at a soon-to-be-closed startup for seven years, the original poster of the thread asks HackerNews readers whether he would still be employable, as he did not have a college degree or any work experience outside the startup. Replies are encouraging, as seven years of experience coding for a company that shipped real-world products actually made the original poster more qualified for many positions over other people who had completed college degrees. Other replies discuss job-search strategies and there are links posted for reputable remote-work job boards.
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