Big Tech &
AWS launches Amazon Honeycode, a no-code mobile and web app builder (3 minute read)
Amazon Honeycode is a fully managed low-code/no-code development tool with a web-based, drag-and-drop interface builder. Developers can build applications for up to 20 users for free. Honeycode provides a set of templates for common use cases, for example, to-do list applications, customer trackers, survey schedules, and inventory management. It provides users with a spreadsheet view as its core data interface and users work with standard spreadsheet-style formulas. The service currently only runs in the AWS US West region but it will be rolled out to other regions soon.
Amazon launches Counterfeit Crimes Unit to fight knockoffs on its store (2 minute read)
Amazon has launched a new Counterfeit Crimes Unit in an effort to fight counterfeit products on its website. The team consists of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts. Counterfeit products are a big issue for Amazon, with Nike recently deciding to stop selling through the platform, citing unlicensed and imposter sellers as a contributing factor. The new unit will make it easier for Amazon to file civil lawsuits, aid brands in their investigations, and work with law enforcement. Amazon spent over $500 million in 2019 to fight fraud, abuse, and counterfeit products. It reported blocking 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts and shutting down 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019.
Italy begins the first floating wind power plant in the Mediterranean (3 minute read)
The 7Seas Med project aims to build a floating wind farm in the Mediterranean Sea. Located 35 kilometers off the coast of Marsala, the 25 floating wind turbines constructed in the next 25 to 30 years will produce up to ten megawatts of power each. Italy needs to develop 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 to reach the European Union's goals. Floating turbines can be moved when needed, but it is unlikely to be necessary in this case due to the chosen location. The project will start construction in 2023 and will begin to produce energy in the following year.
How NASA's Mars Helicopter Will Reach the Red Planet's Surface (6 minute read)
The Mars Helicopter Delivery System was created to help NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter safely navigate the final five inches from the Perseverance rover to the surface of Mars. Ingenuity weighs about four pounds and is packed with technology that makes stowing and deploying it a challenge, especially since powered controlled flight on Mars has never been attempted. Mission engineers decided to store the helicopter in Perseverance's belly. Two months after Perseverance lands, the rover will drop the Mars Helicopter Delivery System onto a suitable location, and six days later, the deployment process will begin. Once a good drop is confirmed, the helicopter will begin recharging its batteries with its solar panel, and then the flight test program will begin. If the technology is successful, the helicopters might be used in future missions to act as scouts, carry payloads, or investigate the environment.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tsunami (GitHub Repo)
Tsunami is a general network security scanner for detecting high severity vulnerabilities with confidence. It relies heavily on its plugin system, with all publicly available plugins hosted in a separate linked repository.
Package Place (Website)
Package Place is a postal package tracking API to get the latest status of your packages. It supports Canada Post, FedEx, SkyNet Worldwide, USPS, and UPS.
Inside the Social Media Cult That Convinces Young People to Give Up Everything (1 hour read)
In 2013, an aspiring musician was contacted by strangers on Twitter who seemed extremely interested in his music and career. They eventually met, and the strangers presented the musician with business ideas, conversations about spirituality, and a bag full of white designer clothes. The strangers were part of Tumple, a magic sex cult that recruited from Facebook meme pages. It targeted young artists and musicians, getting members to generate content to receive PayPal donations, which were then delivered to the cult leaders. Cult members were required to make posts for rewards and were discouraged from continuing their artistic pursuits once they joined. Tumple eventually rebranded to the DayLife Army. The DayLife army is still operating, but their numbers are starting to dwindle, with members openly announcing their departures on social media.
A.I. Robot Cast in Lead Role of $70M Sci-Fi Film (2 minute read)
A robot named Erica has been selected to be the lead actress in a science fiction film. The robot was created by two Japanese scientists as part of their study of robotics. They simulated her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language. The robot was originally set to debut in a different project directed by Tony Kaye (American History X) but there were scheduling issues.