Big Tech &
Netflix stops paying the 'Apple tax' on its $853M in annual iOS revenue (2 minute read)
Netflix, the highest grossing app in the iOS app store with $853 million in annual revenue, will stop allowing users to sign up via in-app purchase to prevent Apple from taking a cut of their revenue (Apple takes 30% of the first year of subscription revenue, then 15% after that). Apple made about $256 million just from charging Netflix app store fees last year. Netflix already stopped allowing in-app subscriptions on Android in 2018. Users will now have to sign up on Netflix's website before using the app to watch content.
Netflix's new 'Black Mirror' movie takes interactive storytelling to the next level (3 minute read)
Netflix has created their first interactive movie for adults, an episode of their dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror. To create this choose-your-own-adventure style movie, Netflix built their own script-writing tool that allowed their writers to come up with complex narratives with loops to guide viewers back to the main story if they strayed too far. There are five possible endings, with an average viewing time of about 90 minutes. Netflix plans on having more interactive shows and movies in the future.
New Horizons Reaches Ultima Thule (5 minute read)
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever visited just after midnight on New Year's Day. The tiny rock is part of the Kuiper Belt in the outer part of the solar system, a billion miles beyond Pluto. Ultima Thule is about 20 miles wide, and is thought to be a primitive fragment of the early solar system. There's a super super low resolution image from the flyby in the article, you can basically just make out the shape of the rock.
Aboard the giant sand-sucking ships that China uses to reshape the world (7 minute read)
In recent years, China has created an armada of huge ships that dredge up sand from the ocean floor. The largest of these ships can suck up 8,000 cubic yards of sand per hour. They then use that sand to build man-made islands in the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest shipping routes. Many countries lay claim to the Spratly Islands in the middle of the sea. In the last 18 months, China has used these ships to add nearly 3,000 acres of new land to their portion of the Spratlys, and is now installing surface to air missiles, runways for military aircraft, and ports for warships. This sand is causing environmental problems, as it is dumped on top of coral and causing "the most rapid rate of permanent loss of coral reef area in human history."
Programming, Design & Data Science
Mars (GitHub Repo)
Mars is a tensor-based large-scale computation framework. It's sort of like an alternative to Numpy that is easy to scale out to clusters with thousands of machines. The interface is pretty similar to Numpy's, though obviously it's not as mature as Numpy is yet.
Vector Logo Zone (Logos)
This is a set of 3,000 company logos in SVG format. I actually built the TLDR sponsors page right before I found this, but this would have made it much easier to get a bunch of nice-looking company logos that are all the same size. If you work on commercial sites you might want to bookmark this.
Things I don't Know as of 2018 (2 minute read)
This is a blog post by Dan Abramov, one of the lead developers of ReactJS, about things he doesn't know. There's some pretty basic stuff in here (Python, NodeJS, containers, basic algorithms, flexbox etc.), which just goes to show you even superstar developers don't know a lot of the things you probably know. Really humble, eye-opening post.