Big Tech &
First Look at Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta and it looks just insane (3 minute read)
Tesla's Full Self-Driving Beta software update has gone live, and some owners who are testing it have been sharing videos. Several of the videos are in the article. The new update delivers a virtually feature-complete self-driving system. Drivers are still required to constantly monitor the vehicle or risk accidents. Only a limited number of Tesla owners have received the early access program, though more people will receive it in the coming weeks. The system is expected to improve as more people use it.
FDA approves remdesivir to treat COVID-19 (3 minute read)
The FDA has approved remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. It is the first approved COVID-19 treatment in the US. Gilead will sell the drug under the brand name Veklury. It was authorized for emergency use by the FDA in May. Remdesivir works by preventing viruses from making copies of themselves. It was developed to treat Ebola but the research showed that it was effective against SARS and MERS, which is why it was a candidate for treating SARS-CoV-2. Clinical trials show that it may help some patients recover more quickly from COVID-19, but it doesn't totally prevent death from the disease.
Better than the Scoville scale? Chili-shaped device can rate pepper hotness (4 minute read)
There are several methods for measuring how much capsaicin, the compound responsible for how hot a chili is, is inside a pepper. A team of scientists from the Prince of Songkla University in Thailand has developed a portable sensor device that can connect to a smartphone to show how much capsaicin is inside a chili pepper sample. It is shaped like a red-hot chili pepper. A picture of the sensor is available in the article.
Central Bank of Bahamas Launches Landmark ‘Sand Dollar’ Digital Currency (2 minute read)
The Central Bank of the Bahamas has launched the sand dollar, a digital version of the Bahamian dollar. The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) was designed to create more inclusive access to regulated payments and other financial services. China, the US, Russia, and the European Union are also looking at launching their own CBDCs. Funds will be accessible via a mobile app and secured with multi-factor authentication. The Sand Dollar is backed 1:1 to the Bahamian dollar.
Programming, Design & Data Science
PandasGUI (GitHub Repo)
PandasGUI is a GUI for analyzing Pandas DataFrames. It features interactive plotting, filtering, drag & drop import, and more. A video demo is available in the repository.
To Boldly Go Where No Internet Protocol Has Gone Before (9 minute read)
Vinton Cerf, one of the creators of the internet, also played a pivotal role in establishing an interplanetary internet. Expanding the internet to space is challenging due to the astronomical distances and factors such as planets getting in the way and potentially blocking signals. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a standard used on Earth for transferring data. It doesn't work at interplanetary distances, so Cerf and a small team of researchers designed a set of protocols that do. Bundle protocols have properties that terrestrial internet doesn't have, such as nodes that can store information. Using these protocols, data can be sent throughout space without regard for the planets' positions.
The Network: How a Secretive Phone Company Helped the Crime World Go Dark (43 minute read)
Vince Ramos was the owner of Phantom Secure, a company that customized BlackBerry phones to make ordinary wiretaps impossible. Phantom was started in 2008 as Ramos saw a need to ensure private communications. The company removed the GPS, microphone, and camera from BlackBerry phones and added PGP encryption software to create its devices. Phantom could also remotely wipe data from devices. Its servers were routed to ensure data was out of reach of third-parties. As the devices became more popular, criminals became aware of their capabilities and started using the technology. Ramos eventually pleaded guilty to running a criminal enterprise that facilitated drug trafficking and was sentenced to nine years in prison.