Big Tech &
The 5 biggest announcements from Apple’s September 2019 event (4 minute read)
Apple's 2019 event has finished, bringing a bounty of exciting announcements. The Apple TV Plus will launch on November 1st at $4.99 per month. A year-long subscription to the service will be included with a purchase of a new Apple product. The seventh-gen iPad will have a 10.2-inch display and will start at $329. It will feature an A10 Bionic processor and a Smart Connector that can connect to a Smart Keyboard. The Apple Watch Series 5 looks the same as last year's model, but it features an always-on display. It will cost $399 for the GPS model and $499 for the GPS + LTE model. The iPhone 11 will feature a 6.1-inch LCD, Apple's new A13 Bionic processor and GPU, and a dual-camera system, starting from $699. A new iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max has also been announced. These phones feature a three-camera system that can shoot video at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. The iPhone 11 Pro will have a 5.8-inch OLED and the Pro Max will have a 6.5-inch OLED. They will be available in four colors. The iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999.
Uber announces another round of layoffs as financial uncertainty looms (2 minute read)
Uber has let go of another 435 employees, just a few months after it cut 400 employees from its marketing division. In August, Uber put a hiring freeze on new software engineers and product managers, but that freeze has now been lifted. Uber posted a record $5.2 billion net loss in its second-quarter this year. Despite the cost-cutting in its marketing, engineering, and product divisions, Uber has increased spending in other areas, such as its freight business. It has also joined with Lyft to spend $60 million in order to fund a ballot initiative in California to create a new classification for drivers. A bill in California could force Uber and Lyft to designate drivers as employees, which could increase labor costs by 30 percent if passed.
New prosthetic legs let amputees feel their foot and knee in real-time (2 minute read)
Most research into giving robots and prosthesis wearers a sense of touch has been largely focused on the hands, but researchers have now started to look into restoring sensory feedback for leg amputees as well. Working with two patients with transfemoral amputations, the team modified a prosthetic leg and added seven sensors to the foot which transmit signals to a controller strapped to the user's ankle. These signals are encoded and delivered to an implant on the patient's tibial nerve at the back of the thigh. The brain can then interpret the signals as feedback from the knee and foot. Using the modified prosthetic resulted in users walking faster and consuming less oxygen, which indicated that it was less strenuous than traditional prosthesis. The tibial nerve implant was also effective in reducing phantom limb pain.
Astronauts mix cement on ISS, pave way for future space colonies (5 minute read)
Concrete is a technology that humans have used for 5,000 years to construct buildings. Astronauts have successfully mixed cement aboard the International Space Station inside a microgravity environment, opening up possibilities for building structures in space. The space cement had a more uniform density than cement mixed on Earth due to the lack of strong gravity, but the lack of gravity also created larger air pockets as well. The uniform density increased the strength of the cement, while the air pockets weakened it. It has yet to be confirmed whether the space cement is stronger than Earth cement. Concrete is a good choice for building in space as it is an excellent insulator and radiation shield, is sturdy, and can be molded into any shape or structure. The ingredients to make concrete can also be easily harvested from any planet with rocks and dust.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tiler (GitHub Repo)
Tiler is a tool that can create images using smaller images without being limited to squares. An image can be created from circles, lines, waves, cross stitches, legos, and more. A gallery of examples is available.
A Senior Engineer's CheckList (16 minute read)
This is a checklist of tasks that can be applied to any software engineer but is targeted at senior engineers. Each task is sorted by effort, category, and its impact on one's career and company.
Payments giant Stripe debuts a credit card in its latest step into the financing fray (4 minute read)
Stripe has launched the Stripe Corporate Card, a Visa credit card that is open to businesses that are incorporated in the US. There is no interest rate or fee to use the card, but customers are expected to pay their balance in full each month. Accounts will not be frozen for non-payment. Stripe's strategy is to bring more customers into its payment ecosystem in order to keep them from migrating to other services. Credit cards are a cornerstone of how many businesses operate. The credit card is funded by the same funding that Stripe Capital uses, and businesses will qualify for it based on their existing revenues on Stripe payment platforms.