Big Tech &
Zuckerberg Plans to Integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger (5 minute read)
Facebook will be combining the infrastructure for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. They will still be available as different apps, but their backends will be unified, with end to end encryption. This new infrastructure will support 2.6 billion users. Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center calls this change "a terrible outcome for internet users." Facebook wants to have this done by the end of the year or early 2020.
South Korea is building a $40 billion city designed to eliminate the need for cars (3 minute read)
Construction on Songdo City started in 2002, and will finish in 2020, spanning 100 million square feet (about the size of Boston) in northwest South Korea. The goal was to put everything closer to housing so people could walk or use public transportation instead of driving everywhere. There will be no trash trucks, just a system of tubes that sucks the trash from chutes into a central sorting facility. 40% of water will be recycled. There are already 70,000 people working there and the government hopes there will be 300,000 people eventually living in the futuristic city.
'Businesses Will Not Be Able to Hide': Spy Satellites May Give Edge From Above (3 minute read)
With the rise of cheap small "Cube Satellites", startups are now taking photos and infrared images of factories, retail parking lots, oil tankers, and more and selling these images to hedge funds and banks looking for an edge in gauging economic activity. Governments and human rights groups use the technology as well to track illegal mining and logging operations and large-scale home demolitions. Human Rights Watch says "This is why we are so committed to these technologies. They make it that much harder to hide large-scale abuses." A small 10 pound satellite now costs only about $3 million.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Hotkey (GitHub Repo)
Revery (GitHub Repo)
Revery is a framework to build native, cross-platform desktop apps. It's meant to be a competitor to Electron for building desktop apps, but with better performance by not requiring an entire browser to be bundled into each app. It comes bundled with React-like/Redux-like libraries so the developer experience looks like it will be pretty great.
Google Memo on Cost Cuts Sparks Heated Debate Inside Company (2 minute read)
A Google memo from 2016 discussing cost cutting measures leaked to employees in an internal discussion forum. They proposed reducing promotions by 2% (workers didn't know the existing rate so wouldn't notice if it declined), reducing wage bumps on promotions, eliminating emails that reminded managers that they could give "spot bonuses" for good work, and converting holiday gifts into charitable donations (something Google ended up doing in 2016). CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google doesn't have quotas on promotions and the rate of promotion has stayed relatively constant.