Big Tech &
Layoffs hit Q&A startup Quora (1 minute read)
Quora is laying off its staff in its Bay Area and New York offices. CEO Adam D'Angelo stated that the layoffs were necessary in order to focus on scaling the organization in a financially responsible way. D'Angelo did not reveal how many employees will be affected by the decision. Quora had around 200 employees last year when it was valued at $2 billion.
Vine reboot Byte officially launches (3 minute read)
Byte, a successor to the short-form video app Vine, is now available on iOS and Android. The app allows users to upload and share six-second videos. It comes with standard social features like a feed, an Explore page, notifications, and profiles. Byte currently lacks many features available in competitor apps like TikTok, such as augmented reality filters and transition effects. The app offers content creators a way to generate revenue early on, something that other micro-entertainment apps usually don't offer. Details for how content creators can generate income will be revealed soon.
DirecTV races to decommission broken Boeing satellite before it explodes (3 minute read)
DirecTV has asked the Federal Communications Commission for a rules waiver so it can move a broken Boeing satellite out of its standard orbit in order to limit the risk of an accidental explosion. The 15-year-old Spaceway-1 satellite is at risk of explosion due to damage to its batteries. DirecTV has already disabled the satellite's primary function. The satellite can still operate on power reserves from its solar panels, but not during the upcoming eclipse season starting at the end of February. Satellites usually discharge all of its fuel prior to being taken out of their normal orbits, but this isn't possible due to the explosion risk. Spaceway-1 will be moved to a graveyard orbit 300km above the geostationary arc.
Rolls-Royce plans mini nuclear reactors by 2029 (2 minute read)
Rolls-Royce has plans to install and operate factory-built mini nuclear power stations by 2029. Environmentalists are still divided over nuclear power, with some saying that it is dangerous and expensive, and others saying that it is necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The mini reactors will be able to compete on price with low-cost renewables such as offshore wind. Rolls-Royce plans to build 10 to 15 of the 1.5-acre power stations at former nuclear sites in Cumbria or Wales. Theoretically, every town could have its own reactor, but using existing sites avoids having to secure towns against terrorist attacks. Some experts criticize Rolls-Royce's plan to produce power plants via an assembly line as production line mistakes could lead to defects that propagate throughout an entire fleet of reactors.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Mirage JS (GitHub Repo)
Rough.js (GitHub Repo)
Rough.js is a small graphics library that creates sketchy, hand-drawn-like images. It defines primitives to draw lines, curves, arcs, polygons, circles, and ellipses. Rough.js also supports drawing SVG paths. Detailed examples of how to draw basic and complex shapes are available.
India is now a larger smartphone market than the US (1 minute read)
India has taken over the US as the second-largest smartphone market in the world, with 158 million phones shipping to the country in 2019. Many Chinese manufacturers offer aggressively-priced devices. 72 percent of devices shipped to India came from brands like Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme, and Oppo. Non-Chinese brands had mixed results in performance. It isn't surprising that India has surpassed the US in phone sales due to its population, and it wouldn't be surprising if phone-makers start designing more phones with India in mind.
Wuhan scientists: What it’s like to be on lockdown (2 minute read)
Travel to and from Wuhan has been closed off by Chinese authorities in an attempt to stop the recent virus outbreak from spreading. More than 35 million people were stuck in the city on the eve of the Lunar New Year. The streets of the city are nearly empty, and everyone who ventures outside wears surgical masks. Most people are choosing to stay home to avoid catching the virus. It has affected travel plans and work for many, but people are understanding of the travel ban.