Big Tech &
Amazon jumps into virtual tourism, offering live one-on-one experiences around the world (5 minute read)
Amazon Explore is Amazon's new tech platform and marketplace that offers access to live virtual experiences with people from around the world. The platform was in the works long before global travel restrictions took effect. A public beta of the service will launch soon for Amazon's US customers. Prices on the platform are set by the host and can be between US$10 to US$200 for a session that lasts around 35 minutes to an hour. Amazon uses its own tech platform for Amazon Explore. It displays audio and video and customers can easily save images from the experience and download them afterward. When the global pandemic finally ends, Amazon will have established relationships with tour guides around the world, allowing the company to expand its service into in-person tours and experiences.
Amazon One lets you pay with your palm (3 minute read)
Amazon Go stores in Seattle will soon use Amazon's palm recognition technology called Amazon One. The technology uses the human palm as identification, linking the details of the palm to the person's account. Amazon plans to offer the service to third parties such as retailers, stadiums, and office buildings. Palm identification was chosen over other biometric alternatives as a person's identity can't be determined by just looking at an image of their palm and it requires someone to make an intentional gesture to hold over the device to use it. Anyone can use the service as long as they have a phone number, a credit card, and a palm. Customers can delete their biometric data from the company's online portal if they no longer want to use the service.
Company Unveils Robot Boots for VR Locomotion With Half-Life Demo (2 minute read)
Ekto VR has unveiled a pair of robotic boots called the Ecto One. The boots allow users to move through VR environments using real steps without moving through the room. It doesn't require any wires or straps. The shoes are made from carbon-fiber material and Ekto claims they are lightweight. There are rotating plates at the bottom of the boots that can twist with the user's motion and a series of wheels to control the user's position. It is equipped with brakes to stop the boots from moving when the user is standing still. A 3-minute video is available in the article that demos the boots being used to play Half-Life: Alyx.
Hydrogen-powered passenger plane completes maiden flight in ‘world first’ (3 minute read)
ZeroAvia's six-seater Piper M-class aircraft, a plane that was retrofitted with a device to convert it to using hydrogen fuel, completed its maiden flight this week. While ZeroAvia describes the trip as a world's first, other hydrogen-fuel cell passenger planes already exist. ZeroAvia hopes to start flying passengers on zero-emission flights very soon. Its next step is to carry out a flight of between 250 to 300 nautical miles using hydrogen-fuel cells, which ZeroAvia hopes to complete before the end of 2020.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Diagrams (GitHub Repo)
Diagrams was originally developed for prototyping new system architecture design without any design tools. It allows developers to draw new cloud system architecture or to describe and visualize existing system architecture in Python. Diagrams supports AWS, Azure, Alibaba Cloud, and other main major providers. It supports On-Premise nodes, SaaS, and major programming frameworks and languages.
Stupid solutions: Live server push without JS (3 minute read)
MJPEG is a standard for sending a stream of JPEG frames as a video that is used by a lot of webcams, security cameras, and Raspberry Pi hacks. It can be made into a service that indefinitely waits for frames to stream. While it isn't the best way to do things, it's a good example of a fun hack that works quite well across browsers. There can also be some other potential applications for it, such as tracking data for when frames stop loading or serving ads without JS.
The world’s first foldable PC is now available to order from Lenovo (3 minute read)
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Fold is a foldable 13-inch OLED laptop screen that is now available for preorder starting at $2,499. The optional detachable keyboard converts the Fold into a full 13-inch notebook when docked. It comes with Intel's Lakefield processors, two USB-C ports, a SIM-card slot, 8GB ram, up to 1TB of storage, and a 50Wh battery. The device weighs 2.2 pounds and customers can add 5G support as an option. Other additions to Lenovo's line include the ThinkBook X1 Nano, ThinkBook 13s Gen 2, ThinkBook 14s Yoga, and ThinkBook 15 Gen 2.
Justin Sun: the crypto millionaire who acquired BitTorrent — and waded into the trade war (35 minute read)
BitTorrent, founded in 2004, created a peer-to-peer protocol that allows large files to be transferred between people. It quickly became controversial due to its use in pirating movies and music, but the company's stance was that it only supplied the technology and had no responsibility for how it was used. Justin Sun, the Chinese millionaire who runs a cryptocurrency company called Tron, bought BitTorrent in 2018. Sun is a controversial character and has been accused of plagiarism in his cryptocurrency projects. This article follows the story of the sale of BitTorrent, examining Sun and his business practices along the way.