Big Tech &
Netflix bleeds subscribers in US and Canada, with no sign of recovery (3 minute read)
Netflix lost 430,000 subscribers in the US and Canada in the second quarter. It predicted that it would add 3.5 million subscribers in the third quarter, a forecast that was weaker than expected. There are now more than 100 streaming services for consumers to choose from. Netflix is still the largest paid video streaming service, with more than twice the number of subscribers compared to Disney Plus, its closest competitor. It recently hired Mike Verdu, a veteran of the gaming industry, and plans to offer games to subscribers.
Google turns AlphaFold loose on the entire human genome (5 minute read)
Google's DeepMind is releasing structural predictions for the genomes of 20 major research organisms. The database will include roughly 350,000 protein structures. AlphaFold is an AI-based system trained on the structures of existing proteins that had been determined through laboratory experiments. It can predict how a protein folds in three-dimensional space. Scientists can use the three-dimensional structure of proteins to design chemicals that can interact with them and treat diseases such as cancer and HIV. All of the data will soon be available for free on a website hosted by the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Scientists develop an 'iron-air' battery that stores electricity for days (6 minute read)
Form Energy has developed iron air batteries that can store electricity for days at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are made using iron, one of the most common elements on Earth. They convert iron into rust and back to store and discharge energy. The batteries are too heavy to use in electric cars. Form Energy plans to stack thousands of the washing-machine sized batteries into vast warehouses to store energy from renewable systems.
Plasmid, Virus or Other? DNA ‘Borgs’ Blur Boundaries (5 minute read)
Scientists from the University of California have discovered unique genomic structures within fragments of DNA obtained from samples of mud from wetland environments. The unknown DNA may be from a new type of genetic entity called Borgs. Borgs are able to pick up DNA from their hosts and carry them to the next host. Scientists are still debating whether Borgs are really a new genetic entity, or whether they are another type of large virus or plasmid.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Foxglove Studio (GitHub Repo)
Foxglove Studio is a visualization and diagnosis tool for robotics. It features interactive charts, 3D visualizations, camera imaging, and diagnostic feeds to help with a wide range of common robotics tasks. The layout can be customized to accommodate any project's unique needs and workflows. It is available for Linux, Windows, and macOS.
Microsoft Game Development Kit (GitHub Repo)
The Microsoft Game Development Kit contains the tools needed to develop games for the Xbox App on Windows 10, Xbox Game Pass for PC, Xbox consoles (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One), and Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming. It is available for all developers for free to help them learn how to build games for the Xbox app. Additional licensing is required for building games optimized for Xbox consoles or to publish games.
SpaceX's Starlink Review - Four months in (13 minute read)
SpaceX's Starlink internet service has been out for a few months. This article contains a review of the service in an area that is also served by cable internet. It discusses the terminal, the Starlink router, power consumption, performance, pricing, and all the problems experienced in the four months that the author has had the service. A 19-minute video version of the review is available.
Mark in the metaverse (39 minute read)
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his intentions to help build a set of apps and hardware to help bring the metaverse to reality. The metaverse is a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. It is meant to be operated by many different players in a decentralized way. The metaverse will change how people interact with the world, so there are many questions about how the virtual world will be governed. This article contains an extended interview with Zuckerberg about his vision for the metaverse, the challenges of governing it, and the gender imbalance in virtual reality today.