Big Tech &
YouTube is finally coming back to Amazon’s Fire TV devices (3 minute read)
YouTube and Amazon have finally ended their feud after a year of negotiations. The YouTube app will now return to Amazon’s Fire TV products, and the Amazon Prime Video app will be adding Chromecast support. No dates have yet been set for when these changes will occur, but Amazon users can still access YouTube through the built-in browser while they wait. There are still disputes yet to be resolved between Amazon and Google, for example, Amazon still won’t stock some of Google’s devices on their marketplace.
Astronomers have spotted the universe’s first molecule (2 minute read)
Helium Hydride (HeH) is thought to be the first molecule that would have formed following the Big Bang. Using a special telescope that is built into a converted 747 jet, scientists were able to detect a light signal emitted by HeH molecules some 3000 light-years away from Earth. Helium is a typically non-reactive molecule, which means the conditions needed to create HeH would be extreme, and this discovery proves that the molecule has been created and exists in space. HeH has been synthesized in human laboratories before and it is theorized that it may still be created by dying stars.
West Virginia will allow “blockchain voting” in the 2020 election. That’s a risky idea. (2 minute read)
Military voters from West Virginia stationed overseas will be able to use a mobile app to vote during the 2020 elections. Voatz is an app that uses a private blockchain to guarantee the integrity of votes, but experts are unsure about the security of the system. Some states currently allow military voters to vote via email. West Virginia has already tested the system during the midterms last year and saw a good response rate.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Advanced NLP with spaCy: A free online course (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains an online course which can also be used as a framework to build other online courses. The course will teach students how to use spaCy to build advanced natural language understanding systems using rule-based and machine learning approaches. It features the use of slides, interactive code exercises, multiple-choice questions, and is completely customizable using Markdown with custom elements.
Objects as Points (GitHub Repo)
Most object detectors enumerate a large list of potential object locations and then classify each item, which is a large waste of resources as well as an inefficient approach. Objects as Points detects objects and then labels their center points while also estimating size, 3D location, orientation, and pose. Tests show that this approach is faster, and Objects as Points achieved the best speed-accuracy trade-off when testing against other object detectors on the MS COCO dataset.
Mozilla details Pyodide, which brings Python to browsers (3 minute read)
Pyodide is an experimental project by Mozilla written in WebAssembly that runs Python code in a browser without the need for a remote kernel. The concept of adding Python functionality to a browser is not new. However, Pyodide is able to perform adequately without requiring modified packages, unlike other Python browser plugins. Pyodide is still a work in progress, and features such as working with low-level networking sockets might never be available due to browser sandboxing rules.