Big Tech &
Apple Podcasts now supports web playback, episode pages, more (1 minute read)
The web interface for Apple Podcasts has been completely overhauled with a cleaner design that supports web playback, individual episode details, and more. The old layout was limited, required users to use iTunes, and had no space to show any extra details regarding the podcasts. The new layout has bolded titles with full podcast descriptions and also individual episode pages with episode details. While Apple still encourages users to use iTunes, episodes will now play in the browser, just without playback controls. Apple Podcast now has a dedicated URL.
YouTube TV raises monthly price to $50, but adds Discovery channels (2 minute read)
As of today, YouTube TV will now have Discovery’s lineup of networks. The cost of a subscription has also risen to $50 a month. Existing customers will not see a price increase in their subscriptions until May 13th. The extra channels will be added to every subscription automatically and there are no plans to create different subscription tiers to choose from. YouTube claims that Discovery’s channels were a frequent request by customers and that the addition of these channels, and the subsequent price increase, would be accepted by most customers.
Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole (9 minute read)
Astronomers have captured the first-ever image of a black hole, located in Messier 87, a galaxy around 55 million light-years away. The black hole is several billion times the size of our Sun and the picture shows it releasing a jet of energy 5,000 light-years into space. A telescope as big as Earth, combining data from radio telescopes located across the planet, was used to create the image. The data obtained was too large to transmit over the internet and needed to be physically transported by hard drives. From the image, scientists were able to calculate the size of the black hole. Observations of the black hole in Messier 87 will continue and the data will be used to confirm theories and hypotheses regarding black holes
Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys—and yes, they may be smarter (6 minute read)
Scientists in southern China have genetically engineered macaque monkeys so that they carry a gene that is believed to play a significant role in shaping human intelligence. The modified monkeys’ brains took longer to develop, just like in humans, and they performed better in memory tests. While the US and countries in Europe have been increasing restrictions on the use of primates in genetic studies, Chinese scientists continue to use primates and other animals, seemingly without restrictions, in their genetic experiments. More studies on genetically modified monkeys are still being conducted which are testing the effects of other human genes when inserted into monkey embryos.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Awesome Stacks (GitHub Repo)
Awesome Stacks is an open-source list of tech stacks for building different applications and features. Each topic has a description with a list of a few of the key tools and technologies. Some topics also link to a tutorial, starter kit, or boilerplate to help beginners.
Google launches an end-to-end AI platform (4 minute read)
Google announced its goal to make AI more accessible by providing pre-built models and easier to use services, while still giving advanced developers tools to create custom models. The new AI Platform will provide data scientists with an end-to-end solution for building, testing, and deploying AI models. AutoML, Google’s tool for automating the training process for machine learning, now has new features that enable picture and video processing, as well as the ability to extract tabular data from Google’s BigQuery database. Google’s other new AI services include document/text extraction, custom virtual assistants, and a data package that targets retail businesses.
Udacity restructures operations, lays off 20 percent of its workforce (3 minute read)
Udacity, an online education startup which specializes in ‘nanodegrees’, has laid off 20 percent of its workforce as part of a restructure which aims to bring costs in line with revenue. The startup now employs 300 full-time equivalent employees and around 60 contractors. While Udacity experienced significant growth in 2017 through its popular courses on self-driving cars and deep learning, running costs and other inefficiencies have caused the company to become unprofitable. Udacity has continued to seek new contracts and grow, even as it continues to cut costs. The business has recently revised its strategy largely due to significant changes to the company’s leadership.