Big Tech &
YouTube’s new AR Beauty Try-On lets viewers virtually try on makeup while watching video reviews (3 minute read)
YouTube has a new feature that will allow viewers to try on makeup products while watching video reviews. AR Beauty Try-On will show a stream of the viewer’s face below the video that they are watching and allow the viewer to test out different products using augmented reality. During testing, YouTube found that while only 30 percent of viewers tried the feature, these users were engaged and spent more than 80 seconds trying out different products. Other apps also offer features for users to try on virtual makeup. YouTube’s AR Beauty Try-On is one of the first types of AR-powered ad campaigns. Google has also recently introduced Swirl, allowing users to view products in a 360 format. These new tools will be open to all brands and advertisers this Summer.
Apple expands authorized repairs to ~1,000 Best Buy stores (1 minute read)
In the last three years, Apple has expanded its repair coverage to around 800 locations around the US, courtesy of third-party partnerships. Now, up to 1,800 locations will be able to perform certified repairs, as Apple has authorized repairs at around 1,000 Best Buy stores. For Apple, this means that its customers in more rural areas will still receive quality service, and for Best Buy, this will be another endorsement from a large tech company for their services. Samsung has also authorized Galaxy repairs for Best Buy. Apple strives to maintain a high-quality service, and it wants its customers to feel confident in knowing that repairs are being done safely and correctly.
The U.S. Navy Is Developing Robot Warships for Fighting China (4 minute read)
The US Navy is planning to expand its fleet so that there will be two small warships to every large warship by 2030. In order to do this, they plan to order a fleet of unmanned vessels (UVs). UVs are less expensive to produce as their designs do not need to consider spaces and support equipment for onboard human operators. The unmanned warships will be able to perform better than warships with humans for long-duration missions that might be physically taxing for human operators, or other missions that pose a high risk of injury, death, or capture by the enemy. In the next five years, the Navy plans to spend a total of $4.5 billion to accelerate the development of three different types of UVs.
Using CRISPR to resurrect the dead (18 minute read)
Humans have had a severe impact on Earth’s biodiversity. One million species are threatened with extinction within the next decade. Scientists have been using CRISPR to edit DNA, and the technology may have the potential to bring back extinct species. However, some there are some opponents of de-extinction who argue that more effort should be put into preventing the extinction of existing animals and that extinct animals may not be suited to the current climate. It is already possible to recreate the Wooly Mammoth. The Asian Elephant shares around 99.96 percent of its DNA with the Wooly Mammoth and scientists have already experimented with combining the DNA of the two species. Reintroducing some species may have a significant positive impact on the ecosystem. The technology can also be used to modify existing species to adapt to different climates.
Programming, Design & Data Science
WWDC 2019 Session Notes (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains a set of notes regarding Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2019. It is usually faster to read through a list than to watch the whole presentation. A link to several interesting articles appears before the list of contents. Each topic also has a link to the relevant part of the WWDC presentation.
Electron-boilerplate (GitHub Repo)
Electron-boilerplate contains code to kickstart creating an app with Electron. It is fully set up for cross-platform builds, has silent updates, has an app menu that adheres to system UI guidelines, and more. An example of a production app built using this boilerplate is available.
U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supports video game workers unions (1 minute read)
Bernie Sanders has tweeted in support of video game worker unions. In the tweet, he specifically names the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Game Workers Unite, two organizations that have been helping game workers work together. Many developers in the video game industry are overworked and subject to a lot of mandatory, sometimes unpaid, overtime. Many stories of unhealthy workplace cultures have recently surfaced, as developers are fired even if their companies are big or make record profits. Sanders’ platform involves tackling many social issues. It is rare for a politician to focus on the video game industry on an issue unrelated to video game violence.
Bodies in Seats (28 min read)
A Facebook content moderator had a heart attack and died while on the job after reporting high levels of stress, constantly fearing that he would lose his job. The content moderation site he worked at in Tampa, Florida was the worst-performing site in North America. Previous reports into these moderation facilities have shown that employees are working under sub-optimal conditions. Employees are constantly reminded that they are replaceable. Some employees who work in content moderation did not initially aim to work in the department. They were hired for other jobs and then ‘promoted’ into these roles. Others applied for jobs that promised normal working hours, bonuses, regular schedules, and a good work-life balance, but were then put into working night shifts. It seems that the company’s strategy is to fill its centers with bodies in order to moderate their content, without a care for how the person is hired, treated, or cared for after working in such a traumatizing role.