Big Tech &
Apple purchases hyperlocal weather app Dark Sky, ending API and killing Android apps (3 minute read)
Apple has purchased Dark Sky as part of a move to improve its native weather app for iOS. This means that Dark Sky will no longer be available for Android. Its API will also be disabled so other apps that rely on it will no longer function after 2022. Dark Sky is still available for purchase on the iOS App Store but it is expected that its functionality will be integrated into the native iOS weather app in the future.
Spotify's standalone Kids app is now available in the US (5 minute read)
Spotify’s stand-alone app for kids allows parents to play music for their kids without affecting their own algorithmically generated playlists and recommendations. The beta is now debuting in the US, Canada, and France. Spotify Kids is COPPA compliant and ad-free. There are no algorithms to determine playlists. Playlists are created by experts in children’s entertainment. Parental controls are built into the app and Spotify plans to expand controls over the app content. Podcasts for kids will also be available soon.
Antarctica experiences first known heat wave (3 minute read)
Antarctica has experienced its first heatwave in recorded history. The heatwave occurred between January 23 to 26, with minimum temperatures higher than zero degrees Celsius and highs above 7.5 degrees Celsius. The highest temperature recorded was 9.2 degrees Celsius, 6.9 degrees above the station’s mean maximum. Scientists expect to see a multitude of reports in the next few years on the impact of climate change, even in the most remote areas of the planet.
Coronavirus: Tunisia deploys robots to enforce lockdown (4 minute read)
Robots are being used to enforce lockdown in Tunisia. Citizens who are out and about are being questioned and ordered to go home by robots. The robots are manned remotely and use several infrared cameras, a laser telemetry system, and thermal cameras. Tunisia has shut schools, universities, cafes, and bars. Its borders are also closed. The military will be used to enforce restrictions. Employees at a mask factory in Tunisia have self-isolated in order to prevent the factory from closing down due to infections.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Google Introduces TensorFlow Developer Certification (3 minute read)
Google has launched a certification program for TensorFlow. Candidates will be tested on their ability to develop and train deep-learning models using TensorFlow. Candidates who pass can be listed in Google's world-wide Certification Directory. The exam fee is $100 and the certification is valid for three years. More technical details are included in the certification handbook, which is linked in the article.
How an anti ad-blocker works: Reverse-engineering BlockAdBlock (15 minute read)
BlockAdBlock is a script that detects ad-blockers and disables website access until the ad-blocker is disabled. By searching through its version history using the Wayback Machine, it is possible to figure out how it was developed and how it works. BlockAdBlock's basic architecture consisted of a bait, a check to see if the ad-blocker blocked the bait, and then a function that created the overlay. Improvements in the code implemented different strategies of detecting ads, such as checking the page to see if target ads had loaded. As BlockAdBlock improved, ad-blockers also improved, creating a need for BlockAdBlock to be more creative in its methods. In the end, it is much harder to block ad-blockers than it is to block ads due to how web technologies work.
'We Have Extra FDA-Approved Ventilators,' Says Elon Musk, Announcing Free Worldwide Delivery (2 minute read)
Elon Musk has announced that Tesla has received FDA approval for its ventilators. Musk plans to offer ventilators worldwide at no cost, including shipping. The ventilators will be shipped within Tesla delivery regions as long as they will be used immediately. It is unknown how many ventilators Tesla will be able to offer or how it will assign priority to requests. Governments have asked aerospace companies and automakers around the world to manufacture ventilators and other medical equipment to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Ford will be producing 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days and then 30,000 per month as needed for coronavirus patient treatment. Musk donated 1,200 ventilators to Californian hospitals last week.
Tavern Owner Sets Up Virtual Pub for Town Patrons—But Welcomes More Than 14,500 Global Customers (5 minute read)
An ex-landlady has set up a virtual pub that regularly hosts live music, quizzes, DJ sets, and open mic, and comedy nights. The UK-based pub now has 14,500 customers, with members from Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain, and Italy. Its popularity has blown up in recent weeks. The owner has started creating an international team in order to keep the page running 24/7.