Big Tech &
Google designed an envelope you can use to hide your phone from yourself (2 minute read)
Google has released three apps that are designed to help you manage your time on your phone. These experimental apps are part of its Digital Wellbeing initiative. Envelope transforms users' phones so that they can only perform simple, specific functions. For example, users can choose to only be able to make and receive calls through a basic keypad interface, or to only be able to take photos or record video. Users can print out specially designed paper cases that help limit the function of their phones. Envelope is open-sourced on GitHub, so developers can alter the app if they want. Envelope is currently only designed for use with Pixel 3A devices. Activity Bubbles and Stopwatch are both apps that change users' home screens so that they can monitor their usage. Activity Bubbles creates bubbles on the phone background, with bigger bubbles indicating more time spent on the phone, and Stopwatch displays a timer for how long a phone has been unlocked.
Microsoft to force Chrome default search to Bing using Office 365 installer (1 minute read)
Microsoft will use its Office 365 installer to force Chrome users to switch their default search engine to Bing. The Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus installer that will be released next month will contain a new Chrome extension that will change Chrome's default search engine settings. If Bing is already the default search engine, the extension will not be installed. Microsoft is marketing this update to IT admins as enabling its Microsoft Search functionality in Chrome. Admins will be able to block the Chrome extension install through Group Policy, and users are able to remove it after it has been installed. Users will still be able to choose their default search engine after removing the extension. Microsoft will roll out the update in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and India next month.
Wuhan’s 11 Million People Face Quarantine as Virus Fears Spread (5 minute read)
Wuhan, China's seventh-largest city, with approximately 11 million people, will be under a partial quarantine starting on Thursday. All transport from the city has been canceled due to the coronavirus that originated from the city. 17 people have been killed by the virus so far, which was first reported on December 31. The World Health Organization is convening on an emergency meeting regarding the coronavirus. Cases of coronaviruses infecting humans are more common in China due to close contact with domestic animals and the consumption of wild animals. The SARS epidemic in 2003 killed over 800 people. Information being released by the Chinese government regarding the virus is questionable. Mass migrations due to the Lunar New Year is a major concern as it is a perfect recipe for a worldwide epidemic.
Google publishes largest ever high-resolution map of brain connectivity (2 minute read)
Scientists from Google and the Janelia Research Campus in Virginia have published a 3D model that traces 20 million synapses connecting around 25,000 neurons in the brain of a fruit fly. A milestone in the field of connectomics, the map is the largest high-resolution map of brain connectivity in any animal. Connectomics has yet to produce any major breakthroughs, but it helps link physical parts of the brain to specific behaviors. Some scientists believe that creating connectomes is a waste of resources. The fruit fly connectome was created by processing images using an algorithm. Scientists then spent hundreds of thousands of hours verifying the connectome. Fruit fly brains contain around 100,000 neurons, while human brains contain roughly 86 billion. The data is available for anyone to view and download.
Programming, Design & Data Science
The happinesses and stresses of full-time FOSS work (5 minute read)
Working with free and open-source software can be fulfilling and engaging work, but it can also be stressful to work in the field full time. It is possible to do work that you are more passionate about. Working on well-known free software means that your name might become more well known, leading to more opportunities. Being famous in the software world is not always positive, as some people may have objections to decisions you have made, and they can be vocal about it. It is difficult to join a community without at least a few people who don't already have preconceptions of who you are. There is a lot of work to be done, especially for software that is used by millions of people around the world, and this can have a large impact on a developer's personal life.
Fortran.io is an open-source web framework for Fortran. It is like PHP where FastCGI runs a script that outputs HTML strings. The webpage page is a demo that is served by a Fortran server. It includes a search function that queries an SQLite database.
Tesla's stock price surged more than 5 percent yesterday, boosting its market cap to more than $100 billion, making it more valuable than Volkswagen. The electric automaker is now second only to Toyota. CEO Elon Musk doesn't accept a salary from Tesla. He receives a very generous and ambitious stock compensation plan instead. For every $50 billion rise in Tesla's market cap, Musk receives 1.69 million shares, which is currently worth around $1 billion. If Tesla reaches its goal of a $650 billion market cap, Musk's stake in the company would be worth $195 billion, making him the richest man in the world.
The Rich Are Preparing For The Apocalypse Better Than You | VICE on HBO (14 minute video)
Thanks to TV shows, movies, hyper-partisan politics, and the news, a doomsday industry is booming, with people spending millions of dollars on survival readiness in preparation for the end of the world as we know it. People are building bomb shelters, making survival kits, and creating plans to survive scenarios like a zombie apocalypse, terrorist attacks, or other extreme events. Rich people are getting into doomsday preparation. People can rent speedboats in New York for a $6,000 a month retainer so that they can escape the city should anything happen. In South Dakota, there is a ranch that builds luxury bunkers. In Nebraska, a company teaches the rich self-defense skills. Rich people are more likely to be the targets of certain types of crime. Some wealthy individuals are spending their money on spreading awareness of climate change as their way of preparing for a brighter future. A missile launch center in Kansas was converted into a series of luxury condos that can withstand the shockwave from a nuclear explosion. While these purchases may never be used, they give their owners peace of mind in case anything ever happens.