Big Tech & Startups
Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
Apple removes app used in Hong Kong protests after pressure from China (2 minute read)
Apple has removed HKmap.live from its App store, stating that it had consulted with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau and found that the app was being used to target police and commit crimes. HKmap.live is an app that crowdsources information from users and public sources to mark the locations of police and inform about street closures. It has been used widely by Hong Kong residents during the ongoing pro-democracy protests this year. The developers of HKmap.live said that there was no evidence to support the CSTCB's accusations and that the app never solicited, promoted, or encouraged criminal activity. Apps like Waze, which similarly allow users to track the locations of police checkpoints, remain available on the App Store. The web version of HKmap.live is still accessible on the iPhone.
Elon Musk says that NASA is free to share all SpaceX IP with “anyone it wants” (1 minute read)
Elon Musk has stated clearly that NASA is free to share all of SpaceX's intellectual property with anyone that it wants during an event at SpaceX HQ where NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine was present. The event discussed the current state of SpaceX's commercial crew launch program and the next steps. SpaceX is working on its third major iteration of the Crew Dragon parachute which will ensure the Crew Capsule's safe return to Earth. Bridenstine responded that NASA appreciated the offer to share SpaceX's IP freely, but that the agency has limits on who they should share information with.
Science & Cutting Edge Technology
Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic
technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
In a Huge Milestone, Engineers Build a Working Computer Chip Out of Carbon Nanotubes (3 minute read)
Silicon chips are beginning to reach their limits in terms of size and density. Evidence has shown that carbon nanotubes are a faster and more energy-efficient material for processors. Scientists have recently made a working computer chip out of carbon nanotubes. The 16-bit processor was functional enough to run a basic program. Creating carbon nanotube-based processors is a challenge as sometimes defects will cause the processors to lose their semiconductor properties. The new process of creating the processors allows for more room for error during manufacturing. While there is still a long way to go before carbon nanotube-based processors will be practical, the breakthrough is still a major step in development.
Researchers Develop a System to Kill Viruses Found in Human Cells (2 minute read)
Many common and deadly viruses are RNA based and do not have FDA approved treatments. In the past 50 years, 90 clinically approved antiviral drugs have been developed, but they only treat nine diseases. Only 16 viruses have FDA approved vaccines. Scientists have used the capabilities of Cas13, an enzyme that can cut and edit RNA, and created a system that can diagnose and treat viral infections. The system is called CARVER and experiments have shown it to be a powerful and rapidly programmable diagnostic and antiviral technology. When tested on human cells that contained some common viral diseases, CARVER reduced the level of viral RNA in the cells by as much as 40 times after 24 hours.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tools, open source libraries, and other resources
for programmers, designers, and data scientsts
A Guide To New And Experimental CSS DevTools In Firefox (14 minute read)
The Firefox DevTools team has built many tools so that designers and developers can be more efficient and creative. Grid Inspector aids users in examining CSS Grid layouts using a grid outline, which helps developers visualize how their code changes the layout of a site. Shape Path Editor helps developers to easily edit shapes into code by directly clicking and dragging shapes on the page. Fonts Editor automatically detects custom axes on fonts and allows developers to adjust and visualize them. Flexbox Inspector allows developers to inspect elements and view and change the sizing of items. The Changes Panel assists developers with exporting changes to CSS code. An Inactive CSS feature grays out CSS that doesn't affect the page and also shows a tooltip to explain why that property as no effect. The Accessibility Panel has been changed into a powerful inspection and auditing tool that can run different types of checks on a page. Instructions and tips on how to use these tools are available.
The State of Machine Learning Frameworks in 2019 (13 minute read)
It seems that researchers are abandoning TensorFlow in favor of PyTorch, while in industry, Tensorflow is still the platform of choice. An analysis of published research shows that a majority of papers implemented PyTorch. This may be due to its simplicity, API, and performance. Tensorflow still has more job listings available, but this may only be due to inertia, as PyTorch is still relatively new. Industry requirements are also different to research, as some companies reject the use of Python and require code to be run on mobiles. New developments, such as TorchScript and Eager may affect the future of the frameworks. Frameworks do not only enable us to research or develop machine learning further, but they are also responsible for restricting or opening up areas of research due to their capabilities.
Random stuff techies might be interested in
Is Amazon Unstoppable? (61 minute read)
Amazon has now become America's second-largest private employer, and the company is still growing. It has expanded from online retail to other businesses such as groceries, entertainment, and logistics. Due to its size, it is becoming harder to regulate. It can choose to sell whatever products it wants, and even choose to treat employees how it wants. Stories of employees receiving poor treatment from the company are commonplace. Its ability to influence and argue against regulators and lawmakers is unique, and while its image is starting to become tarnished, the company's future still looks bright.