Big Tech &
Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales top $38 billion (2 minute read)
Alibaba reported $38.4 billion of sales during its Singles' Day event. Singles' Day is China's equivalent to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Alibaba invested in weeks of aggressive advertising and promotions prior to the event, with ads including celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian. Before the event, Alibaba had to tune its business so that it could handle the upcoming increase in sales. One of the improvements was in its logistics network. Alibaba recently announced an additional $3.3 billion investment into Cainiao, a logistics unit that Alibaba co-founded six years ago. It is currently facing competition from JD.com and Pinduoduo. Singles day is an event that falls on November 11 every year that is dedicated to people who are not in a relationship.
Apple reportedly plans 2022 release for first AR headset, followed by AR glasses in 2023 (2 minute read)
Apple's AR headset, codenamed N301, reportedly has AR and VR capabilities and is planned to be released in 2022. The headset will have a focus on gaming, watching video, and virtual meetings. A smaller pair of glasses that are designed to be worn for a longer period of time will be released in 2023. These glasses currently look like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames. Both devices will use a more advanced version of the Face ID camera. Apple and other tech companies are now looking to virtual and augmented reality as the next big tech platforms. Rivals like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have been heavily investing in AR/VR projects. Google has recently ended its Daydream experiment due to a lack of developer adoption and decreasing usage from customers.
Reality is for the birds: New VR simulator lets people 'fly' over cities of the world (2 minute read)
Somniacs AG is a startup that offers a VR setup that aims to fulfill the common human dream of flying. Users lie on their front on the machine with their arms spread out. They are able to choose from a range of scenarios and locations. For example, users can choose to fly over New York City or fly over a prehistoric landscape filled with animated dinosaurs. A sea-turtle edition is to be released in the near future. Birdly was first produced in 2014 and around 50 units have been sold primarily to museums and other institutions in North America and Europe. While no Japanese company has purchased a machine, one was exhibited at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies in Chiba. VR is a rapidly growing industry with active usage in fields outside of gaming, such as in sports training.
SpaceX Just Launched 60 Starlink Satellites (And Nailed a Milestone Rocket Landing)
SpaceX launched 60 new Starlink internet satellites into orbit on the ninth Falcon 9 rocket flight of the year. It has been almost three months since SpaceX's last launch. The Falcon 9 rocket, which had been used three times already, was able to complete its fourth landing. Falcon 9 rockets are designed to be used 10 times. This is the first time SpaceX has reused a payload fairing. Starlink aims to provide internet connectivity to areas where there is little coverage and to compete with existing internet providers in well-covered areas. Other companies, including OneWeb, TeleSat, and Amazon, are also working to provide low-Earth orbit satellite internet. Starlink may be available in the US by mid-2020. Astronomers are concerned with Starlink's presence, saying that it will impede their research and make the night sky less enjoyable.
Programming, Design & Data Science
IOTstack (GitHub Repo)
IOTstack is a Docker stack for getting started on IoT on the Raspberry Pi. There are also some scripts to get a dynamic DNS and a VPN up and running. Docker is a utility to run containers, which are ultra-minimal virtual machines that can run applications so that they don't 'clutter' your device.
Skaffold (GitHub Repo)
Skaffold is a command-line tool for the continuous development of Kubernetes applications. Application source code can be iterated locally and deployed to local or remote Kubernetes clusters. Skaffold handles the workflow for building, pushing, and deploying applications while providing building blocks and describe customizations for a CI/CD pipeline.
Google may be secretly gathering millions of personal health records with alleged ‘Project Nightingale’ (3 minute read)
Project Nightingale was a project by Google that collected the complete health history of millions of people across 21 states without the patients' or doctors' knowledge. As many as 150 Google employees may have access to the data. Google had partnered with Ascension, a Catholic health care system that operates across 21 states and the District of Columbia. The health provider uploaded patient data to Google's Cloud servers to use a tool that could pull up individual patient pages. The data from the system is being used to design software that tailors individual patient care using machine learning. Google has been focused on health care for a while. It has previously been accused of gaining inappropriate access to hundreds of thousands of health care records through the University of Chicago Medical Center. Ascension has defended its partnership with Google, saying that all work between the companies is compliant to its strict requirements for data handling.