Big Tech &
Amazon buys 11 jets for 1st time to ship orders faster (1 minute read)
Amazon bought 11 jets from Delta and WestJet airlines to boost its growing delivery network and to ship orders faster. All of the planes will be converted to hold cargo instead of passengers. It is the first time the company has purchased planes for its delivery business. A mix of both leased and owned aircraft in its fleet will allow Amazon to better manage its operations. The company has been working to lessen its reliance on UPS, the US Postal Service, and other carriers.
OpenAI’s DALL-E creates plausible images of literally anything you ask it to (5 minute read)
OpenAI's DALL-E is an AI that can generate images based on text descriptions. It can generate plausible versions of what is described to it, with varying degrees of success. Just like GPT-3, the output that DALL-E generates can be very high quality, but it can still generate some odd things. The model also exhibits some unintended but useful behaviors. Examples of DALL-E's output are available in the article.
Largest canyon in the solar system revealed in stunning new images (2 minute read)
Valles Marineris is a system of canyons that runs for more than 2,500 miles along the Martian equator. Spanning nearly a quarter of the planet's circumference, it is nearly 10 times as long as the Grand Canyon and three times deeper. It is the single largest canyon in the solar system. Scientists have been taking images of Valles Marineris since 2006 using an incredibly high-resolution camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It still isn't clear how the canyon formed. Photos of the canyon are available in the article.
3D-Printed Smart Gel Changes Shape When Exposed to Light (2 minute read)
Rutgers engineers have created a 3D-printed smart gel that changes shape when exposed to light and a 3D-printed stretchy material that can reveal colors when the light changes. These developments may lead to new military camouflage, soft robotics, and flexible displays. The inventions were modeled after the cephalopods' ability to change the color and texture of their skin for camouflage and communication.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Designing Engineering Organizations (6 minute read)
The most effective teams are stable, multi-disciplinary, and aligned to product delivery. Therefore, you want to try to build an organization to match what you want to ship. There may be good reasons to go against this guiding principle, but the tradeoff will always be delivery speed. This article discusses the different paradigms that teams might operate in and talks about the pros and cons of each approach.
Ticketmaster admits it hacked rival company before it went out of business (3 minute read)
Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million fine after admitting its employees used stolen passwords and other means to hack into a rival company's computers. The employee who provided Ticketmaster with the stolen credentials had also provided Ticketmaster with internal financial documents and information about the flaws in the rival company's systems. They were later promoted to director of client relations and given a raise. In a related case, a former head of Ticketmaster's artist services division pled guilty to conspiring to hack the rival company and engage in wired fraud. Ticketmaster has agreed to maintain a compliance and ethics program to prevent future incidents.
There are an insane amount of cool space things happening in 2021 (4 minute read)
2020 was a big year for the space industry, with three missions launched to Mars, NASA getting back into the human spaceflight game, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touching an asteroid, a Japanese vehicle returning with several grams of asteroid regolith, China bringing back some Moon rocks, and many Starships in Texas. In 2021, the three Mars missions will reach the planet. There will be more Starship flights, with SpaceX rapidly producing Starship vehicles at its Boca Chica Launch site. The James Webb Space Telescope will likely stick to its launch date in October.