Big Tech &
SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down after Historic Test Flight (3 minute read)
The Demo-1 test flight for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was successful, with the capsule landing in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast today at 8:45 am. Crew Dragon’s successful first test flight is the start of a new era in human spaceflight, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Since 2011, NASA has had to depend on Russian spacecraft to send its astronauts to the ISS at a cost of $80 million per person. The next stage of testing in June will evaluate Crew Dragon’s emergency-escape system, and a fully manned test-flight will come shortly after, possibly as early as July.
Whole Foods cuts workers' hours after Amazon introduces minimum wage (2 minute read)
A $15 an hour minimum wage for Whole Foods employees was enacted by Amazon on November 1. Team members who were being paid less than the $15 an hour saw a raise to at least that figure, while other employees received a $1 an hour raise and team leaders received a $2 an hour raise. Since the wage increase, many employees have seen their hours cut significantly, with part-time employees seeing their hours cut from around 30 hours a week to 20 hours a week, and full-time employees seeing a 3-4 hour a week decrease in their rosters. Amazon has also cut stock vesting plans and bonuses. These cuts have drawn complaints from employees, who say that there are not enough staff on the floor to properly serve customers and that some employees have had to take up second jobs to make ends meet. Many team members are now claiming their current compensation is lower than before the wage increase.
Bitcoin Coders Send International Lightning Payment Over Ham Radio (2 minute read)
The Lightning Network is a protocol that enables fast transactions between participating Bitcoin nodes. Two developers, one in Toronto, Canada, and another in San Francisco, California, have successfully sent a bitcoin lightning payment over radio waves. While the transaction was just a demonstration of the concept, there could be practical uses for this method. For example, users can still complete transactions through this method even if a country censors parts of the internet (eg. if the Bitcoin network was blocked). Blockstream, a technology infrastructure startup, has satellites that can beam bitcoin to users around the world for similar reasons. The researchers admit that everything was coordinated before the radio signal was sent and that a real-world application would require expensive equipment.
I spent a week in a VR headset, here's what happened (17 minute video)
What would happen if you spent a week in Virtual Reality? Jak Wilmot sets out to answer that question by spending 168 hours inside a VR headset. He planned to eat, sleep, work, and play for a week all while inside VR, even when showering. The windows of his room were blacked out so that he couldn’t tell whether it was night or day, and he was only allowed 5 seconds at a time to switch headsets. The whole experience was live-streamed, showing his daily life. He could exercise in one environment, then switch to an office that overlooked a sunset in another. He could explore the world of Skyrim, and then experience what it was like to be blind in a simulation after. In the end, he concluded that virtual reality is whatever you want it to be, with its many possibilities, even though a week may be a little too much.
Programming, Design & Data Science
gotify/server (GitHub Repo)
gotify/server is a self-hosted server for sending and receiving messages in real time. While there are plenty of free and commercial push services available, they are not open-source, self-hosted, or customizable. Server admins are able to manage users, clients, and applications, and create and install plugins. Users can access the server through a web-UI or Android app.
ArchiveBox (GitHub Repo)
ArchiveBox is able to save websites in multiple formats in order to capture a website completely. Many websites are complicated and rely on dynamic content, and sites such as Archive.org and Archive.is are not able to capture the original look and format of the sites completely. ArchiveBox will extract a browsable HTML clone, media, screenshots, PDFs, and more from the site so it can be stored locally.
Tufts expelled a student for grade hacking. She claims innocence (10 minute read)
A veterinary student from Tufts University, Tiffany Filler, has been accused of hacking into the school’s systems in order to manipulate her grades. The university created a case based on log files and database records supplied by the IT department which showed that Filler logged on to the systems under a pseudonym and manipulated her own and other students’, with details about the time and location of access. Filler was not given a chance to defend herself and was immediately expelled from the school. The student was able to later provide evidence that her laptop had been compromised with a Remote Access Trojan, as well as evidence that she was not at the locations that the IT department had provided at the times the alleged hacks occurred. Despite the evidence, Filler was not able to defend herself and was not allowed to continue her education at the school.
Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and Facebook (5 minute read)
As tech giants become bigger and richer, they have started acting more like governments rather than companies, bullying cities and states into showering them with taxpayer handouts in return for doing business. Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a new law that will create two tiers of companies - companies that have a global annual revenue of over $25 billion, and those who have annual revenue of between $90 million and $25 billion. Those companies in the first category will be required to structurally separate their products in the marketplace, while those in the second category will have stricter regulations, but not be required to separate themselves. The goal of the proposed bill is to make the marketplace more competitive and to prevent municipalities from being manipulated by large companies.