Big Tech &
Android’s latest update will let you schedule texts, secure your passwords, and more (4 minute read)
Google recently announced new features for Android, including a password checkup tool and a way to schedule texts. Improvements to TalkBack, Maps, Assistant, and Android Auto were also announced. Password Checkup checks user credentials against a list of known compromised passwords and notifies the user if they need to change their passwords. Talkback now has a dozen new multi-finger gestures for interacting with apps and performing common actions, a single menu system, a customizable interface, and more language support. Maps is getting a dark mode.
Sony announces next-gen VR headset for the PS5 (2 minute read)
Sony has announced that it is working on a next-generation VR headset for the PS5. It will feature an improved field of view, higher resolutions, and a single cord. A new VR controller is also in development. Development kits for the next-gen VR headset will be issued soon. The headset will not be released in 2021.
The bitcoin blockchain is helping keep a botnet from being taken down (5 minute read)
Infected computers that are part of a botnet receive their commands through a command-and-control server. These servers are routinely dismantled by security defenders in a process known as sinkholing. A botnet was recently observed using the bitcoin blockchain to update the IP address of a command-and-control server. The attackers would send a tiny amount of cryptocurrency to a bitcoin address, and then the bots would use scripts to decode the transactions into IP addresses. It is simple for security researchers to disrupt this method, and it could be potentially costly for attackers.
Earth Microbes Can Survive on the Surface of Mars, Study Suggests (3 minute read)
A team of scientists launched a box containing four types of bacteria and fungus into the stratosphere to expose them to several hours of Mars-like conditions. The experiment found that some species of fungi could be resistant to the Martian surface if accidentally delivered by spacecraft missions. This finding has implications for human Mars missions, as mission planners will have to figure out a way to prevent organisms in our microbiomes from spreading into the Martian environment.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Recreating Real-World Terrain With React, Three.js & WebGL Shaders (9 minute read)
Flight Simulator uses data from Bing maps to generate its maps in real-time, resulting in some of the most accurate recreations of real-life places. Players can even spot their own houses when they fly over in-game. This article is a guide to building something similar, but in much lower detail and on a much smaller scale using React, Three.js, and WebGL. An interactive working example is available.
Git is my buddy: Effective Git as a solo developer (12 minute read)
Git can be a valuable tool without even setting up a remote repository. It can help structure your work, identify gaps in your test coverage, and minimize dead code. This article introduces a workflow for using git that focuses work on particular bugfixes, features, or goals. It also introduces some advanced git tools.
‘Beeple Mania’: How Mike Winkelmann Makes Millions Selling Pixels (19 minute read)
Beeple is an artist that makes digital art that smashes together pop culture, technology, and post apocalyptic terror into commentaries on the way we live. He has 1.8 million Instagram followers, and his work has been shown at two Super Bowl halftime shows and at least one Justin Bieber concert. Beeple's art grossed $3.5 million in an auction in December. Ownership of the digital art is tracked through a blockchain developed by Nifty Gateway. The technology is based on nonfungible tokens, which allow digital assets to be collected and owned. Examples of Beeple's work are shown throughout the article.
How Chess.com built a streaming empire (10 minute read)
Chess.com dominates the world of online chess, with over 57 million registered users around the world. The site's popularity is partly due to its number of users, its ability to detect cheaters and bots, and its chess engine, which can emulate different styles of play. Streaming has brought incredible growth to the site over the last year. Chess.com's partnership with Twitch has resulted in the birth of new streaming sensations. 18.3 million hours of chess were watched by Twitch users in January 2021.