Big Tech &
Google working on ‘Spot’ app and ‘Find My Device network’ (3 minute read)
Google is working on a new capability for its Find My Device network called Spot. Spot will use Android devices to locate other devices, similar to Apple's Find My network. Users will have an option to exclude their phones from being used as a relay in the network. It is unclear whether Google's network will support AirTag-like object trackers.
Elon Musk's Boring Company is reportedly pitching freight tunnels (2 minute read)
The Boring Company wants to build freight-focused tunnels for moving shipping containers underground on battery-powered freight carriers. It is unclear how many clients the idea has been pitched to. The company has envisioned freight almost from the beginning, so it is mostly just a shift in focus from its commuter plans. Its Las Vegas Convention Center Loop system did not turn out as hoped. The larger freight tunnels might be more attractive to clients.
Kernel Helmet That Is Claimed to Read Human Mind Starts Shipping for $50,000 in US (20 minute read)
Kernel will start shipping its mind-reading helmet over the next few weeks. The helmets contain sensors for measuring and analyzing a brain's electrical impulses and blood flow at the speed of thought. While the technology has existed for some time, it was expensive and impractical. The helmet design allows people to walk around while still being monitored. They are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. The first helmets will be going to brain research institutions and companies for product development. A picture of one of the helmets is available in the article.
Airspeeder says it had the first successful test flight for its electric flying racecar (2 minute read)
Airspeeder's electric flying race car has completed its first unpiloted test flights in southern Australia. The Alauda Mk3 is an electric vertical takeoff multicopter (eVTOL). It weighs 130 kilograms and can go from zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds. The eVTOL can climb up to 500 meters and fly for 10 to 15 minutes on one battery pack. Its removable battery can be replaced in under 20 seconds. A 45-second video showing off the vehicle is available in the article.
Programming, Design & Data Science
StreetComplete (GitHub Repo)
StreetComplete is an OpenStreetMap data editor for Android. It is designed for users who don't know OSM tagging schemes but still want to improve OSM data. The app uses quests and simple questions to help users fill in data. Data is automatically processed and uploaded directly to the OSM database. The app can be used offline. Screenshots are available in the repository.
It can be a tedious task to remove redundant code, especially if it's a very large codebase with several modules in it. Chrome DevTools can be a very handy tool to use in this scenario. The coverage tab calculates the coverage of the code, giving you the Total Bytes, Unused Bytes, and Usage Visualization categorized by file type. This shows how much code belongs to functions that haven't been executed. Screenshots of the process are available in the article.
The Lazarus heist: How North Korea almost pulled off a billion-dollar hack (22 minute read)
In 2016, North Korean hackers almost stole $1 billion from Bangladesh's national bank. This article tells the story of the heist, from when it started to the current state of the investigation. All but $81 million of the transfers were halted. The hackers used fake bank accounts, charities, casinos, and a wide network of accomplices to carry out the heist. Little is known about the North Korean hackers, who are known as the Lazarus Group.
Scientists just turned plastic bottles into . . . vanilla flavoring? (2 minute read)
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have found a way to turn polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into vanillin, the main flavor component of vanilla beans. Synthetic vanillin is used in many products, with the global market valued at $510 million in 2018. The process involves degrading PET plastic into its components and then using a microbial fermentation process to convert one of the components into vanillin. Further research will test if the vanillin is pure enough to be consumed and figure out how to make the process more efficient and scalable.