Big Tech &
Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings (4 minute read)
Microsoft is integrating Mesh directly into Microsoft Teams. Mesh is a collaborative platform for virtual experiences that allows people to participate in meetings using 3D avatars. The software can listen to what is said and animate the avatars accordingly. Mesh integration will be most useful in immersive spaces using AR or VR headsets. Microsoft Teams will be able to start using these virtual spaces and avatars in early 2022.
In Iceland, CO2 sucked from the air is turned to rock (4 minute read)
Several firms are working together in Iceland to pull carbon dioxide from the air and turn it into rock. The process involves capturing carbon dioxide, purifying it, dissolving it into fresh water, and then injecting it into basalt rock deep underground under high pressure. It takes large amounts of energy and about two years for the carbon dioxide to petrify. While the process currently only captures a relatively small amount of carbon, the technology is still in its early days.
5D Optical Disc Could Store 500TB for Billions of Years (3 minute read)
5D optical storage has a data density 10,000 times that of a Blu-ray disc. It uses three layers of nanoscale dots in a glass disc to encode data. A 5D disc could theoretically remain readable after 13.8 billion years. Writing to these discs is usually a slow process, but a new technique developed at the University of Southampton speeds up the process significantly without impacting the reliability of the data. The technique has a maximum data rate of approximately 230 kilobytes per second. All that is needed to read the stored data is a microscope and a polarizer.
Programming, Design & Data Science
MistQL (GitHub Repo)
MistQL is a miniature embeddable query language for JSON-like structures. It uses a simple syntax that can chain together complicated expressions in an easy-to-read manner. MistQL has no dependencies and a small footprint, making it suitable for size-sensitive frontends.
Toxiproxy (GitHub Repo)
Toxiproxy is a framework for simulating network conditions. It was designed for testing and can be used to prove that an app doesn't have any single point of failure. Toxiproxy has been used in all development and test environments at Shopify since 2014.
Dropbox is adding folders that will automatically organize for you (2 minute read)
Automated Folders is a new feature from Dropbox that can automatically rename files in folders, group items into subfolders, and more. It can be configured with various rules, which are currently predefined, but Dropbox is working on making the system more customizable. Dropbox has also added a new tagging system, a feature called Naming Conventions that can batch rename files, and a Multi-file organization feature that can sort files into subfolders based on how often people make changes to them. The new features are available now for Dropbox for Teams users and will be available for people with individual or family plans soon.
Jellyfish Keep Attacking Nuclear Power Plants (3 minute read)
The Torness nuclear power plant in Scotland has a continuing problem with jellyfish clogging up its intake pipes. Like many other seaside power plants, it uses seawater to prevent overheating. While there are measures in place to prevent aquatic life from entering the pipes, they are no match for the sheer number of jellyfish that appear during jellyfish blooms. A drone company will fly surveillance drones over the area as part of an early warning system to allow the plant to adjust its water-cooling systems to protect both electricity generation and the environment.