Big Tech &
Ex-NSA hacker drops new zero-day doom for Zoom (2 minute read)
Zoom's popularity has recently rocketed and this has led to an increased focus on the company's security and privacy practices. Three bugs have been discovered, one that can be abused to steal Windows passwords, and another two that can be abused to take over a Zoom user's Mac, including tapping into the webcam and microphone. One of the Mac bugs allows a user with low-level privileges to inject the Zoom installer with malicious code to obtain root access. The other bug tricks Zoom into giving an attacker the same access to the webcam and microphone that Zoom already has without notifying the user. Zoom has not yet fixed the Mac vulnerabilities.
YouTube reportedly working on TikTok competitor called Shorts (1 minute read)
TikTok has changed the video entertainment scene and now YouTube is looking to compete directly with it by launching its own version called 'Shorts'. Users will be able to upload brief videos into a feed inside the Shorts app and take advantage of the licensed music that YouTube Music has in its catalog. It is clear from TikTok's growth why YouTube now wants a piece of the action. YouTube has previously taken features from other social media platforms and integrated it into its own, for example, Instagram Stories. Facebook is currently testing its own version of TikTok in Brazil.
A neural network can help spot Covid-19 in chest x-rays (1 minute read)
COVID-Net is a convolutional neural network that is trained to identify signs of COVID-19 in chest x-rays. It is being released as an incomplete solution and the firm that created the system is encouraging others to help make it complete. Other research teams have announced AI tools that can diagnose COVID-19 from x-rays, but none of these tools have been made fully available to the public. While COVID-Net as yet to prove itself, public releases have historically proven to be effective methods of improving software.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Theia (GitHub Repo)
Theia is an extensible platform for developing full-fledged multi-language Cloud & Desktop IDE-like products with state-of-the-art web technologies. It provides a highly flexible architecture and supports VS Code Extension protocol. Guide and examples of common scenarios are provided.
tsParticles (GitHub Repo)
tsParticles is a lightweight TypeScript library for creating particles. It is almost completely dependency-free (it requires pathseg for the Polygon Mask feature and Icon Fonts must be included in the page). It is fully compatible with the particles.js configuration - you only need to change the script source to convert it to tsParticles. tsParticles supports custom shapes and presets.
Why I am volunteering to get the coronavirus vaccine (7 minute read)
45 people in Seattle will soon get an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Several vaccines are in development, but the first to be tested is a novel type of shot developed by Moderna Therapeutics. Study participants signed a 20-page consent form which acknowledges that the vaccine might not be effective and that they agree to the experimental conditions. There are risks such as anaphylactic shock and antibody-dependent enhancement. The vaccine delivers the genetic material required for the immune system to produce coronavirus antibodies. This type of vaccine has been in development for some time, and one in three patients in the past who have received it experienced severe pain that interfered with normal activity for the rest of the day. Volunteers are paid, and the study lasts for 14 months.
Campus is closed, so college students are rebuilding their schools in Minecraft (8 minute read)
University of Pennsylvania students recreated their campus in Minecraft after being told that their college commencement would be held online. Students report it being a rewarding experience to be able to recreate the campus they are graduating from, allowing them a chance to properly finish out their experience. Minecraft servers and creations are now being shared on Discord, Facebook, and Reddit. Minecraft has become a place where students can log in and process the sudden loss of an on-campus community. In May, there will be in-game graduations on a server specifically created to host Class of 2020 graduations for students from hundreds of different universities. At least 278 institutions have signed up so far.