Big Tech &
Some praise, some doubts as Facebook rolls out a prayer tool (5 minute read)
Facebook has rolled out a new prayer request feature for groups. Users can post prayer requests and other members of the group can press a button to indicate that they have prayed for the person. The feature has been in testing since December in the US as part of an effort to support faith communities. Religious leaders have mostly responded positively to the feature, but there are concerns with privacy and how Facebook will use the data. Facebook says that advertisers aren't able to use prayer posts to target ads.
Netflix is working on a bunch of new reality shows, and you’re invited (2 minute read)
Netflix has opened up casting for future programming to anyone over the age of 18 in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, and Ireland. Anyone who is interested and meets the criteria can submit a one-minute video to Netflix's new dedicated reality TV site. Netflix has a range of reality TV shows in the works. Reality TV is cheaper to produce compared to TV series that can cost millions per episode.
Chinese scientists develop world’s strongest glass that’s as hard as diamond (2 minute read)
Chinese scientists have developed a glassy material that can scratch diamond crystals with ease. The new material is comparable in strength to a diamond and it has properties similar to semiconductors used in solar cells. Diamonds get their immense strength and hardness through the organized internal structure of their atoms and molecules. The new material's properties originate from a combination of order and disorder in its molecules.
SpaceX Acquires Swarm, a 'Nano Satellite' Startup for Low-Cost Connectivity (2 minute read)
SpaceX is acquiring Swarm, a startup that provides low-cost internet connectivity using small orbiting 'nano satellites'. Swarm has been mainly focused on supplying internet connectivity to IoT devices on farms, oil platforms, and energy grids. It currently has 150 satellites in orbit. The company's satellite technology is designed to relay small packets of data. It is unknown how SpaceX plans to use Swarm's technology in its network.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Introducing droidlet, a one-stop shop for modularly building intelligent agents (5 minute read)
Droidlet is a platform for building intelligent agents that simplifies integrating a wide range of machine learning algorithms to facilitate rapid prototyping. It can be used to quickly test out different algorithms with a robot. Droidlet can help researchers easily build agents that can complete complex tasks in the real world or in simulated environments. This article introduces Droidlet and explains how the platform works.
ots (GitHub Repo)
ots lets you share end-to-end encrypted secrets with others via a one-time URL. It can be used to securely share API keys, signing secrets, passwords, and more with anyone. Secrets are destroyed once viewed or after a specified expiry period.
New “Glowworm attack” recovers audio from devices’ power LEDs (4 minute read)
Glowworm is a passive attack that converts the fluctuations in LED signal strength into audio signals. The fluctuations aren't perceptible to the naked eye, but they can be read with a photodiode coupled to a simple optical telescope up to 35 meters away. Glowworm can only decode audio signals from electronic systems, so it can't be used to spy on real-world conversations. The attack requires a clean line of sight to the target system's LEDs. It won't work with a recording of the LEDs as even a high-definition close-up video would barely be able to capture the fluctuations. A link to the full research paper is available in the article.
Xiaomi beats out Samsung to become #1 smartphone manufacturer (3 minute read)
Xiaomi is the world's biggest smartphone vendor, with 17.1 percent of the global market. The company has been aggressively expanding since Huawei received its US export bans. Xiaomi has 58 smartphone models that cover every possible market segment. The company is a major player in the Chinese and Indian markets. It doesn't do smartphone business in the US. Samsung is facing temporary problems due to the resurgence of Covid-19 in Vietnam, where it has major phone manufacturing facilities. The company's leader is still in jail on bribery charges.