Big Tech &
A French union cut power to an Amazon facility in support of workers (2 minute read)
France has now seen three weeks of labor strikes over pension reforms. These strikes have halted trains, subways, the national economy, and Amazon. A strategic pre-holiday attack on Amazon left a facility without power on December 22. The facility was set to ship 50,000 packages that night. A local branch of the General Confederation of Labor union (CGT) claimed responsibility for the attack. Power to the facility was cut between midnight until early morning. French protestors have targeted other public buildings and big businesses with power cuts and some households have been affected. Some of these power cuts have affected doctors performing surgeries, raising concerns about the dangers of the attacks and causing some groups to consider legal action against the CGT.
Travis Kalanick severs all ties with Uber, departing board and selling all his shares (2 minute read)
Travis Kalanick, former Uber CEO and co-founder, has sold all his stock in the company and will step down from the board effective December 31. His stake in the company was estimated to be worth around $2.5 billion. Kalanick will be launching CloudKitchens, a startup that rents out space to restauranteurs for delivery-based businesses. Uber has yet to find a replacement for Kalanick. Kalanick has been selling his shares in Uber since the company's stock lockup period expired last month.
MIT reveals first ever laser ultrasound pictures of a human body (3 minute read)
A new ultrasound imaging technique that doesn't require any skin contact with the body has been developed at MIT. Ultrasounds are inexpensive and do not involve harmful radiation, unlike PET or MRI scans. One of the main limitations of the technology is that it requires significant bodily contact in the process of imaging. The new non-contact method uses lasers to produce and detect sound waves to generate images. Tests of the new imaging technique were run on gelatin molds, animal tissues, and human volunteers. Currently, the method does not deliver images of the same quality as conventional ultrasound techniques, but researchers believe that the system can be refined and improved. The technique will allow people who can't have skin contact to be easily imaged. It also opens up the possibility for the development of portable screening devices.
Uniqlo’s Tokyo warehouse is 90 percent robotic and yes, the robots can even fold shirts (1 minute read)
Uniqlo has managed to automate 90 percent of its flagship Tokyo warehouse. The facility includes a two-armed robot that can fold and box t-shirts. Uniqlo's parent company, Fast Retailing, partnered with robotics startup Mujin to produce the industrial t-shirt folders in order to reduce reliance on human labor. Japan has embraced automation as a potential solution to its aging population, falling birthrates, and shrinking workforce. The t-shirt folding robots are unlikely to be seen at local Uniqlo retail outlets any time soon.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Glow (GitHub Repo)
Glow allows you to render markdown on the command-line. It can be installed using your favorite package manager. An example of its output is available on the repository.
Ask HN: What do top engineers you know do that others don't? (Hacker News Site)
Top engineers are generally more autonomous than others. They are able to self-educate, source information, clearly understand the needs of a project and the problems it solves, self-manage, and prioritize tasks. Compared to other engineers, top performers require less direction and management and are able to produce better, higher quality, well-thought-out solutions. Users tend to always find the strangest ways to break a system, and good engineers are able to predict and design around these situations.
What's it like to bootstrap a business before it can financially support you? (7 minute read)
Running out of cash is probably a founder's biggest fear. Indie Hackers is a community mostly made up of founders who shoulder their company's financial burden personally. They generally take one of three strategies to bootstrapping. Founders might only opt for business ideas that can generate good revenue upfront. Others might bootstrap full time while only relying on personal savings. Working on an idea while still working at a day job is also an option. It is possible to bootstrap without outside funding, but it can be stressful before you have a working business.