TLDR 2019-04-26

Microsoft hits $1T, Amazon automates firing

Big Tech & Startups

Microsoft is now a $1 trillion company (2 minute read)

Microsoft briefly hit a valuation of over $1 trillion, taking over Apple as the world’s most valuable company. In its Q3 earnings report, Microsoft revealed that it generated over $30 billion in revenue. The increase in stock price is due to the growth that Microsoft saw in its cloud services. While investors may care about the stock price, Microsoft executives do not focus on it as a metric.

How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity’ (6 minute read)

Around 300 full-time employees, an estimated 10% of the workforce, were fired from a warehouse in Baltimore between August 2017 and September 2018. A former worker disputed their termination, claiming that they were fired for participating in legally protected activity. In response, Amazon produced a report detailing its productivity measuring processes and termination rates. Amazon measures productivity in their warehouses using an automated tracking system, which categorizes employees according to productivity rates and suggests retraining or termination if an employee fails to meet requirements. Employees have criticized the system, claiming that it is too robotic and doesn’t take human factors into account. A redacted version of the report is available to read.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Walmart unveils an AI-powered store of the future, now open to the public (5 minute read)

Walmart has revealed its new ‘store of the future’ which will operate out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, N.Y. The new store concept will use emerging technologies, such as AI-enabled cameras and interactive displays. Unlike Amazon Go stores, Walmart’s new Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) stores will be larger and staffed by more than 100 employees. The AI cameras will be used to monitor stock levels rather than how many items a customer has selected. Walmart aims to use technology to aid employees in the store rather than as a way to replace employees.

Researchers Just Measured an Atom with a Half-Life of 18 Sextillion Years (4 minute read)

Xenon is a noble gas that has a half-life of about 18 sextillion years, one of the longest half-lives possible. Scientists in Italy built a laboratory that uses a 3.5 ton tank of liquid xenon in order to detect dark matter in the universe, as xenon is one of the cleanest and most radiation-proof substances on Earth. While no dark matter has yet to be detected, the laboratory observed around 100 instances of xenon decaying into tellurium. The process of xenon decay is called ‘two-neutrino double electron capture’. In this process, xenon’s nucleus absorbs two electrons from its outer-shell simultaneously, releasing a double dose of neutrinos.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Delta Lake (GitHub Repo)

Delta Lake is an open-source storage layer that brings ACID transactions to Apache Spark and big data workloads. In addition to ACID transactions, it features scalable metadata handling, data versioning, an open format, unified batch and streaming source and sink, schema enforcement and evolution, and it is 100% compatible with the Apache Spark API. Planned features include an audit history and full DML support.

MuseNet (3 minute read)

MuseNet is an AI that can generate musical compositions. The AI can generate four minute musical compositions made up of 10 different instruments. It can also combine different styles of music ranging from country to Mozart to the Beatles. There are many examples of compositions the MuseNet has produced available, and people are invited to try MuseNet now through to May 12.

Ask HN: How to Teach Coding? (HackerNews Thread)

A user has the opportunity to mentor a trainee for three years in coding. They ask for tips on what the best way to teach coding is. The replies are full of tips on how to teach coding and personal anecdotes about people’s experience in learning code. A common piece of advice in the thread is to guide the trainee but not to give them answers to questions. Problems should be presented and ideas on how to solve the problem should be suggested, but it is the experience of solving the problem that is most beneficial to student coders.

Uber Drivers Plan Strike to Kick Off 2019’s Most-Hyped IPO (4 minute read)

Uber drivers dissatisfied with shrinking pay, no benefits, and a lack of transparency have formed online groups and have planned a 12 hour long strike that will occur on May 8. The strike will occur in seven cities across the US. Drivers have four basic demands: increased pay, basic benefits, decision-making transparency, and a greater voice for drivers. Uber’s IPO is set to be one of the biggest in history with a valuation that can be potentially over $120 billion. Despite its high valuation, the Uber is still incredibly unprofitable, with drivers being the biggest cost for the company.
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