Big Tech &
Apple search engine efforts ‘stepping up’ as Google deal under threat (4 minute read)
Apple has been working on its Applebot crawler since before 2015, and with Google under investigation for antitrust practices, it may have to put it to use. Google currently pays Apple an estimated $8-12 billion a year to be the default search engine on iOS. Antitrust regulators claim that the deal is anti-competitive, so Apple may be forced to choose a different default search engine. Applebot's crawl rate has increased substantially in recent months, but Apple could just be trying to improve Siri. Apple's strong stance on privacy may prevent it from entering into the search engine business.
Alphabet’s Loon sets a new record for longest stratospheric flight (2 minute read)
One of Alphabet's Loon balloons spent 312 days aloft, breaking the previous stratospheric flight record of 223 days. It flew 135,000 miles over the 10 months, launching in Puerto Rico and landing in Mexico. Loon's balloons go through millions of simulated flights before they are even created. Alphabet has fine-tuned the manufacturing process to remove the tiny defects that drastically shortened its earlier flight attempts. Google carefully monitors the data from the balloons during flight to make adjustments and to maximize flight time. Longer-lasting balloons cost less and provide more consistent connectivity for those on the ground.
NASA Discovers a Rare Metal Asteroid That’s Worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (2 minute read)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered an asteroid that is made almost entirely of metals. It is believed to be the dead core of a planet that failed to form. '16 Psyche' is located in the Solar System's main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It measures 140 miles across and its metal content could be worth 10,000 times the global economy as of 2019. The NASA Discovery Mission Psyche will launch in 2022 and head towards the asteroid. It will arrive near the asteroid in early 2026.
World’s First Ocean Hybrid Platform Converts Tidal Waves Into Energy (4 minute read)
Tidal motions, waves, and currents have a lot of energy that can be harvested to produce electricity. They are also easily forecasted and available 24/7. There have been many attempts at harvesting energy from the seas, but it is difficult due to the corrosive water and unpredictable winds. Sinn Power, a German green-energy startup, has begun building and testing the world's first ocean hybrid platform. The floating platform can harness energy from waves, wind, and the sun. It is scalable and can be adapted to customers' needs and location requirements.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Pyston v2: 20% faster Python (5 minute read)
Pyston is a faster and highly compatible implementation of the Python programming language. It is one of the most compatible alternative Python implementations available today. Pyston 2 is 20% faster than stock Python 3.8. Benchmarking results are available.
If not SPAs, What? (5 minute read)
In a first, researchers extract secret key used to encrypt Intel CPU code (4 minute read)
The secret key that encrypts updates to an assortment of Intel CPUs has been extracted, allowing third parties to decrypt the microcode updates Intel provides to fix security vulnerabilities and other types of bugs. It is possible to update Intel chips with custom microcode using the secret key. While there is no way to effectively eliminate the vulnerability, Intel has released a statement that the issue was not serious for customers. An attacker would require physical access to the machine and the key can't be used to infect CPUs in the supply chain.
Apple’s iPhone 12 seems to have a secret reverse wireless charging feature (3 minute read)
Apple's iPhone 12 lineup can wirelessly charge external accessories, according to newly unveiled FCC filings. The phones support Apple's new MagSafe standard for wireless charging, but Apple didn't announce any form of reverse charging features when the phones were revealed. While the reverse wireless charging doesn't appear to work for any current devices, it could be turned on at any time in the future. Apple is rumored to be working on an AirPods revamp, and the coming AirTags accessories would also work well with the feature.