Big Tech &
Facebook, telcos to build huge subsea cable for Africa and Middle East (2 minute read)
Facebook and a group of telecom companies are collaborating to build a subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region. Nearly a billion people are still offline in the region. The companies will lay a 37,000km cable through Europe, the Middle East, and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. It will have the capacity to handle up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system when it goes live in 2023 or 2024. The companies involved have not disclosed how much the project will cost.
Spotify’s offering first-time premium users three months free until June 30th (1 minute read)
New Spotify users will now get three free months of Spotify Premium if they sign up before June 30. Returning users who canceled their plans before April 14 will be able to sign up for $9.99 for three months. Spotify's most recent earnings report stated that its ad-supported revenues fell short of its forecast. April 14 was the date by which most people had canceled their premium subscriptions, presumably to recoup lost money because of the pandemic. One in six people who canceled in the US cited COVID-19 as a reason and a majority planned to renew their accounts once their economic situation improves.
Blind people ‘read’ letters traced on their brains with electricity (1 minute read)
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston created a technique for tracing visible patterns directly into a person's brain. The system was tested on people who had lost their sight through damage to their eyes or optic nerves but had intact visual cortexes. In the trials, two of the patients could correctly identify more than 80% of the letters presented to them. The same approach can be used to display the outlines of common objects.
Exclusive: Tesla's secret batteries aim to rework the math for electric cars and the grid (5 minute read)
Tesla plans to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year. The battery will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models. It is designed to last for a million miles of use. The batteries rely on innovations such as low-cobalt and cobalt-free battery chemistries as well as the use of chemical additives, materials, and coatings. A new high-speed, heavily automated battery manufacturing process will be implemented to reduce labor costs and increase production in massive 'terafactories'. Tesla is working on recycling and recovery of expensive metals as well as 'second life' applications of electric vehicle batteries in grid storage systems.
Programming, Design & Data Science
saltpack (GitHub Repo)
saltpack is a modern crypto messaging format that is designed to be simple and easy to use. It was designed to address many of the shortcomings of current messaging formats. The ASCII output looks similar to PGP with some small differences. saltpack can output binary if required.
KeyboardShortcuts (GitHub Repo)
KeyboardShortcuts allows you to create user-customizable global shortcuts for your macOS app. It is fully sandbox and Mac App Store compatible. KeyboardShortcuts is written in Swift and has support for listening to key down, not just key up.
Huawei dev team sends a buggy HKSP patch with backdoor to Linux Foundation (3 minute read)
Last week, the Huawei development team submitted a patch to the Linux Foundation that contained a backdoor. Huawei Kernel Self Protection is a kernel protection tool that is supposed to introduce security-hardening options to the Linux kernel. Huawei denied involvement with the patch and blamed employees for including the vulnerability. Many tech companies have contributed code to the Linux Foundation in the past. However, this is the first time Huawei has contributed to the Linux kernel project.
China Wants to Test All 11 Million Wuhan Residents for Coronavirus—in 10 Days (2 minute read)
In anticipation of a second wave of coronavirus cases, China has announced plans to rapidly test all 11 million residents of Wuhan in just 10 days. A small cluster outbreak of six cases was reported over the weekend, after a month without new infections. All six patients come from the same residential compound. Five of them are asymptomatic. The tests are free and the residents report that they seem to be voluntary. The program will cost the city an estimated 1 billion yuan (~$141 million).