Big Tech &
Apple bans vaping apps from the iOS App Store (1 minute read)
181 vaping-related apps have been removed from the iOS App Store after concerns about the possible health impacts of vaping. Some of the apps allowed users to adjust the temperature and other settings on their vaping devices. Apple is allowing users to continue using apps that they have already downloaded onto their devices. The safety of e-cigarettes is still being debated. Conventional teen smoking has been on the decline for decades, but there has been a rise in e-cigarette use among high school students. Hundreds of people have fallen ill after using vaping devices, but most of these illnesses have been linked to off-brand vaping liquids.
Google Maps tests a social networking feature with the ability to ‘follow’ Local Guides (3 minute read)
Google Maps will soon test a new feature that allows users to follow top Local Guides. Local Guides gives the most active Maps contributors a special status and a variety of perks. If users choose to follow a Local Guide, the Guides' recommendations will be displayed when using Google Maps. The recommendations will mainly feature photos. Users will have to click through in order to see written reviews. It will be trialed in nine cities. Google's focus with Local Guides seems to be engagement and quantity of reviews, rather than review accuracy or quality. There is no set date for the launch of the feature.
New Algorithm Removes Underwater Distortions for Clear Colorful Pictures (3 minute read)
Light behaves differently in water, which is why photos taken underwater usually come out in hues of green and blue. This effect has been an issue for scientists as it means they aren't able to take accurate pictures of sea life. A new algorithm has been developed that is able to allow pictures to be captured underwater as if they were taken on dry land. Once a distance map has been calculated, the Sea-thru system estimates all the necessary parameters for removing water distortion and restores colors. It is able to work on videos, not just images. Sea-thru only works on images taken under natural light. Future research will extend its abilities so it works with artificial light as that is how the majority of the ocean is explored.
Why the world is running out of sand (7 minute read)
Sand is the world's second-most consumed natural resource. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from. Sand is used to make concrete, roads, glass, and electronics. The world is now starting to face a shortage of sand. Concrete is made from sand that has been eroded by water, so desert sand is largely unusable. Riverbeds, beaches, farmlands, and forests are being destroyed in order to extract sand. Criminal gangs have entered into the sand trade, resulting in several deaths. As cities grow, the demand for sand increases. Countries such as China have created new coastlines and islands using sand. Singapore created so much land over the past 40 years that neighboring countries have restricted exports of sand to the country. Scientists are working on ways to replace sand in concrete with other materials, such as fly ash, shredded plastic, crushed oil palm shells, and rice husks. Researchers are also trying to produce concrete that requires less sand and find more effective ways to grind down and recycle concrete.
Programming, Design & Data Science
BlockLike.js (GitHub Repo)
How containers work: overlayfs (4 minute read)
Container images can be pretty big, so Docker uses overlays instead of making copies. Overlay filesystems allow users to mount filesystems with two directories, a lower directory that is read-only and an upper directory that can be read to and written from. There is a short tutorial on how to create an overlay with mount.
The Men Who Try to Hack Tinder to Score Hotter Women (5 minute read)
Tinder has an algorithm that determines who shows up as a potential match. The details of this algorithm aren't public, but people have attempted to game the system to get a better experience on the app. There is a desirability score based on the Elo rating system, which is used to rank the skills of chess players. The more right swipes a person receives, the higher their score. This is moderated by how attractive the person who swiped right was. Users can pay in order to gain features in the app that help them match with people better. Discussions on the Tinder subreddit suggest that users can gain a better rating by being pickier and more interactive with matches. Other tricks include resetting the Tinder account or changing locations.