Big Tech &
Instagram clones TikTok with new short-form ‘Reels’ video feature launching today (3 minute read)
Reels is a new feature from Instagram that has rolled out in 50 countries. It focuses on entertaining short-form video just like TikTok. TikTok is currently facing a ban in the US. Reels offers creative tools, with a 15-second limit for each mini clip. Tools include adding audio, AR effects, setting a timer and countdown for recording, video alignment, and speed editing. Reels can be shared publicly or made private to followers. The new feature is still being tested and may change.
Samsung announces the Galaxy Z Fold 2 with bigger screens and better cameras (2 minute read)
The new Galaxy Z fold 2 handset was officially announced at Samsung's Unpacked event. It features a new camera system, a Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, a larger external display, and hole-punch cameras. The front display is now a full-size 6.2-inch screen and the main display has been increased to 7.6 inches. The folding OLED screen now runs at up to a 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung has switched from plastic for the screens to ultra-thin glass. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 will come in two colors and a limited edition. More information will be available on September 1st. Images are available in the article.
These Scientists Just Completed a 3D ‘Google Earth’ for the Brain (6 minute read)
The Julich-Brain is a probabilistic map of human brains that accounts for individual differences using a computational framework. It is dynamic, continually changing to incorporate more recent brain mapping results. The Julich-Brain is essentially a neuromapping API that could unite previous brain mapping methods with more modern methods. The map currently has data from over 24,000 sections from 23 postmortem brains covering most years of adulthood at the cellular level. Using a probabilistic map is far more precise than using the brain's visible landmarks as these landmarks can differ between people.
I walked Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot dog, remotely -- and only crashed once (5 minute read)
Formant, a San Francisco-based startup, is offering everyday people the chance to walk Boston Dynamics' Spot around the Bay Area. The company also offers people the chance to pilot drones, underwater robots, automated guided vehicles, and other robots through its web browser platform. Users will receive comprehensive data after their session, with maps, recordings, and other information available. A 10-minute video showing a journalist piloting Spot is available in the article. Formant is looking for a wide range of people to test out its software. A link to the application form is available near the end of the article.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tailwind CSS: From Side-Project Byproduct to Multi-Million Dollar Business (11 minute read)
In 2015, Adam Wathan had an idea for a site where companies could share interesting links with their team and then outsiders could subscribe to see what teams were reading. Digest was born, and while the project was sidelined, the files from the project were used in many of Wathan's other projects. As Wathan worked on other things, he noticed that there was a need for a CSS framework that prioritized utilities rather than components. Eventually, Wathan decided to open-source his framework, which became Tailwind. Tailwind is a utility-first CSS framework for rapidly building custom designs. It was released in February 2020 and has almost generated $2m in revenue with 10 million total installs.
Passing your senior engineering coding interview (7 minute read)
Senior engineering position interviews have more challenging questions and interviewers expect a higher standard. Leetcode is a good platform for practicing problems as there are a lot of samples to choose from, many of the questions come from real interviews, most problems include multiple solutions and explanations, and the grading scale can help identify which problems to practice for your level. Many interviewers for high-level positions won't ask the hardest questions as these problems usually take too long to describe, the solutions require a lot of code, and the solutions usually require obscure knowledge. A list of recommended questions is available in the article. Developers should be familiar with data structures and identifying dynamic programming scenarios. A recommended study plan is included at the end of the article.
Privacy Tool 'Cloaks' Faces to Trick Facial Recognition Software (3 minute read)
The Fawkes tool was developed to cloak images from facial recognition systems. It does this by making almost imperceptible alterations to images so that they are no longer recognizable to facial recognition software. The images look the same to casual observers, but tests have found that it has a 100% success rate in blocking facial recognition from the most advanced facial recognition services. Users can use the software to corrupt unauthorized models so that they learn the wrong thing about their faces. Images comparing the cloaked faces with the original faces, as well as a link to the Fawkes software, are available in the article.
Scientists Found Creatures So Inactive They Expanded Our Idea of Life Itself (5 minute read)
A team of scientists have discovered life forms deep underneath the surface of the ocean that survive on an energy budget about 50 quintillion times smaller than that of an average human. Despite the energy-limiting environments that these microbes are found in, the microbes are still abundant, feeding on organic material that falls to the seafloor. The microbes exist in a kind of suspended animation that may span millions of years. If microbes existed on Mars, they could have had similar abilities. So far, the oldest sediments tested date back 2.6 million years, but the scientists hope to recover samples from 50 to 100 million years ago.