Big Tech &
Apple vs. Epic hearing previews a long, hard-fought trial to come (3 minute read)
Epic's request for a temporary injunction in its case against Apple was heard recently. The case centers around Epic's contention that Apple's control over the iOS App Store constitutes an illegal monopoly that hinders competition. Apple argued that iOS is just one of the many platforms available for Fortnite, so there was no monopoly. Other competing platforms charge the same 30 percent fee that Apple charges. Players who aren't able to play Fortnite on iOS can still play on other platforms, though they might not have the means to do so. Epic argues that even if Apple is allowed to maintain control of its App Store, it should allow developers to make and use their own payment systems. Apps like Uber can charge customers without using the in-app purchase system, and Epic wants the same opportunity for its games. Epic was reprimanded for the actions that led to the court case as the company deliberately broke its agreement with Apple.
Musk plans IPO for SpaceX's Starlink business (1 minute read)
Elon Musk plans to list Starlink on the market in several years when revenue growth is smooth and predictable. Starlink is an important new revenue stream for SpaceX. It is racing to offer broadband internet commercially by the end of 2020. Musk tweeted that he would give small retail investors top priority in the initial public offering.
Salty lakes found beneath Mars' surface (3 minute read)
The team of researchers that found evidence of saltwater beneath the southern polar cap of Mars in 2018 recently analyzed 134 new radar profiles of the planet and found evidence of several salty lakes beneath the surface of Mars. While the extreme salt content might not be hospitable for life, some extremophilic organisms could still exist there. Extremophilic organisms are found in places that are permanently cold on Earth and may also be found on other planets. Searching for life will require drilling technology that we aren't capable of sending to space yet. NASA's Artemis program could pave the way for such exploration beginning as soon as 2024.
Chinese Tesla Competitor Unveils Flying Car at Beijing Auto Show (2 minute read)
Xpeng Motors, who just sold $1.7 billion in a stock sale last month, unveiled a drone-like vehicle called the Kiwigogo at the 2020 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. The Kiwigogo is equipped with eight turbofans and can carry two passengers up to 82 feet high. Xpeng plans to develop a flying car to create new avenues for its research into mobility and electrification. It plans to be more than just a Tesla clone as it branches out into various forms of electric mobility. Images of the Kiwigogo are available in the article.
Programming, Design & Data Science
How to get promoted (9 minute read)
The best way to advance your career might not be what you think. Almost everybody does great work and takes feedback seriously, so what separates those who are successful? This article gives career advice from an opportunist's point of view. It suggests that you ignore objectives and key results, switch projects before the consequences of your decisions manifest, act happy and easy-going, frame bad news positively, and more.
duf (GitHub Repo)
duf is a utility to monitor disk usage on Linux, BSD, and macOS. It features a colorful output, auto-adjusting width, sorted results, groups and filters for devices, and JSON output. A screenshot is available in the repository.
The Race to Redesign Sugar (25 minute read)
Instead of finding new artificial sweeteners, some scientists are instead modifying the sugar molecule so that it tastes sweeter. DouxMatok, an Israeli startup, is selling sugar crystals that are modified to be sweeter so people can use 40 percent less and it will still taste as sweet as if they had used the usual amount of normal sugar. In taste tests, 74 percent of consumers preferred the modified sugar to the real thing. People around the world are becoming more aware of the health effects of consuming sugar, but the demand for sweet products is still high. Sugar isn't easy to replace, with the industry making several attempts at using artificial sweeteners without much success.
How a Half-Dozen Raspberry Pis Help Keep This Maine Oyster Farm Afloat (6 minute read)
Running Tide Technologies is an oyster farm that grows kelp. It employs 30 people including software developers, instrumentation engineers, fabricators, and a data scientist. The system that Running Tide users receives feedback from the oysters and adjusts water conditions accordingly. It uses six Raspberry Pis that feed data to the cloud. The sensors will hopefully be able to enable Running Tide to forecast harmful algae blooms and detect a change in acidity levels. Kelp can store up to 20 times more carbon per acre than forests, so part of Running Tide's operations involves using its kelp farm to remove carbon from the atmosphere.