Big Tech &
Facebook buys game studio BigBox VR (2 minute read)
Facebook has acquired BigBox VR, the game studio that made Population: One, a popular Fortnite adaptation in virtual reality. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Many of the developers from Oculus Studios are still building titles for Valve's Steam store, but non-Facebook VR platforms seem to be shrinking. The Oculus Quest 2 has outsold all of Facebook's previous devices combined in its first few months.
Amazon details new warehouse robots, 'Ernie' and 'Bert' (2 minute read)
Amazon is testing out two new robots, Ernie and Bert, to try to reduce strenuous movements for workers. The robots are designed to allow workers to focus on tasks while minimizing their potential for injury. Ernie helps remove items from a robotic shelf, and Bert can navigate independently and deliver items around facilities for workers. Amazon recently set a goal to reduce recordable incident rates in half by 2025, with plans to invest more than $300 million into safety projects this year.
SLS: First view of Nasa's assembled 'megarocket' (2 minute read)
The Space Launch System (SLS) is NASA's new spacecraft built for carrying payloads for future missions on the moon. It will carry the Orion crew vehicle towards the moon on its maiden flight later this year. The SLS has a giant core stage that houses propellant tanks and four powerful engines. It also has two 54m-long solid rocket boosters attached on its sides. NASA is aiming to fly humans to the moon using the SLS within the decade. It will be the first time humans have landed on the Moon since 1972. Pictures of the SLS being assembled are available in the article.
Locked In: Bitcoin’s Taproot Upgrade Gets Its 90% Mandate (3 minute read)
Taproot is a new upgrade to Bitcoin that adds a new signature scheme known as Schnorr signatures. It allows for new possibilities for privacy, multi-signature wallets, and scaling. The update now has enough mining support to begin the activation process. Miners and nodes now have five months to update their software to the newest version of Bitcoin Core that contains the Taproot soft fork. After Bitcoin reaches a specified block height, all upgraded nodes and devices will be able to recognize and accept transactions using Taproot.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Plaiceholder (GitHub Repo)
Plaiceholder is a suite of Node.js functions for creating low-quality image placeholders. It can generate images in CSS, SVG, Base64, and Blurhash. A basic demo is available.
How to Handle Secrets on the Command Line (7 minute read)
The command line wasn't designed to keep secrets, so it takes some extra care and effort to keep things secure. This article looks at three methods for handling secrets on the command line, looking at the risks of each approach and how to use each method as safely as possible.
Ticket for space flight with Jeff Bezos is auctioned for $28 million (2 minute read)
The ticket to go to space with Jeff Bezos on the first Blue Origin flight in July has sold for $28 million. Over 7,000 participants from 159 countries placed bids in the auction. The identity of the winning bidder will be revealed in the coming weeks. There will be four passengers on the flight, which will last approximately 10 minutes from launch to landing. Three of those minutes will be in zero gravity. Bezos will step down as Amazon's chief executive 15 days before launch. If successful, the trip will be the first commercial space flight to take a civilian beyond the internationally recognized edge of space.
‘My God, I’m in a whale’s mouth’: lobster diver on brush with hungry humpback (3 minute read)
Michael Packard, a New England lobster diver, recently survived being trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod. He was able to keep breathing through his scuba tank. After half a minute, the whale surfaced and vomited him out. Packard was taken to hospital and discharged later that day. A humpback's esophagus won't accept anything larger than a melon, so the whale likely panicked. The area that Packard was diving in is known for gatherings of juvenile humpback whales.