TLDR 2020-04-24

Instacart hiring 250k 🏃, COVID vaccine works in monkeys 🐒, Space Force's first weapon 🛰️

Big Tech & Startups

Amazon allegedly used sellers' data to make competing products (1 minute read)

Amazon employees have allegedly used propriety seller data to help design and price in-house products, despite Amazon policies forbidding the practice. This includes executives, who used workarounds to get by Amazon's data protection policies. Amazon had testified to Congress in July that it doesn't use seller data to gain an unfair advantage. This revelation may lead to serious legal repercussions for Amazon even if the company's leaders didn't authorize the practice.

Instacart is hiring another 250,000 grocery shoppers (2 minute read)

Instacart is still seeing a surge in customer demands and has recently announced that it will hire another 250,000 shoppers on top of the 300,000 shoppers it hired last month. Workers have complained that the company hasn't made safety gear available to employees yet. Employees will have to complete a daily wellness check in order to log into the Instacart app. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced into quarantine will receive up to 14 days of financial assistance. Instacart will continue offering a contactless delivery option and has expanded its Costco pharmacy deliveries nationwide. Customers are now able to order up to two weeks ahead.
Science & Futuristic Technology

COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, Chinese biotech reports (4 minute read)

Sinovac Biotech, a privately held Beijing-based company, has developed a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that has proven to be effective in rhesus macaque monkeys. Human trials of the vaccine began on April 16. The monkeys who received higher doses of the vaccine had the best response, though the lower dosed animals still received benefits from the treatment. The vaccine is an old-fashioned formulation consisting of a chemically inactivated version of the virus. While the results are promising, some scientists are concerned as previous research into coronavirus resistance has suggested that low antibody levels could lead to aberrant immune responses, enhancing the infection. As of April 23, six other vaccines had entered human trials and 77 others were in development.

U.S. Space Force's First Offensive Weapon Is a Satellite Jammer (4 minute read)

The US Space Force has developed a new weapons system designed to prevent military or intelligence combatants from accessing their military satellites. It is able to neutralize orbiting satellites in a matter of minutes. The system can be attached to planes or mounted to ground transports. Pictures of the system are available in the article. There is no public information about how the system works.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Phelia (GitHub Repo)

Phelia is a reactive Slack application framework that allows developers to build interactive Slack apps without webhooks or JSON. It does this by using a custom React reconciler that serializes components into a custom storage. Phelia retrieves components and performs any actions when a user interacts with a posted message. An GIF demo is available.

98.css (GitHub Repo)

98.css is a design system for building faithful recreations of old UIs. It doesn't use any JavaScript and it is compatible with all frontend frameworks. Examples of 98.css being used with React and with JavaScript are available.

Google to cut marketing budgets by as much as half, directors warned of hiring freezes (3 minute read)

Google will be reducing spending on marketing by as much as half for the second half of the year. The company has also recently announced a hiring freeze for full-time and contract employees. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has previously said that Google would be pulling back on some of its investments due to the COVID-19 crisis, but did not mention drastic budget cuts or hiring freezes at the time. Google's investments will be redirected to areas such as data centers and machines, and non business essential marketing and travel.

The first modern pandemic (30 minute read)

Bill Gates discusses his views of the COVID-19 situation and how we can accelerate innovations in testing, treatments, vaccines, and policies to limit the spread of the disease and minimize the damage to economies and well-being. He reviews how the disease started and the key facts around the coronavirus, including its infection rates, our response, and information that we still need in order to fight the virus. There are many treatments and vaccines that are currently being studied, but it will take some time before any of these are available. Most countries will move into a semi-normal state within the next two months. However, things will definitely not be the same. Governments will have to find a balance when removing current restrictions.
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