Big Tech &
Slack shares surge 48% over reference price in market debut (2 minute read)
Slack debuted on the stock exchange on Thursday, soaring 48.5 percent on its first day. It was a direct listing rather than an Initial Public Offering, which meant that Slack did not receive any additional funding and no new stocks were created. Similar to other tech companies, Slack shares have a dual-class structure, with Class B shares carrying 10 times more voting power than Class A shares. Slack reports that it has 10 million daily users, with a 49 percent increase in paid customers year over year.
Google's officially done making its own tablets (2 minute read)
Google has shut down the development of its tablet devices and has started to reassign its employees to work in other areas. The Pixel Slate was released in 2018 and Google had been working on two smaller-sized tablets. Pixel phones and the Pixelbook won’t be affected by this decision. In fact, a new Pixelbook may be revealed before the end of the year. The Pixel Slate will continue receiving regular software updates until 2024 as promised, and the Chrome OS team will continue to focus on both laptops and tablets.
European Space Agency probe to intercept a comet (5 minute read)
Comet Interceptor is a new space venture that will launch in 2028, aiming to catch and study an object from the outer reaches of the Solar System. The probe will consist of three components, the main mothership and two smaller spacecraft that will separate near a comet to conduct different but complementary studies. It is estimated that the total cost of the operation will be about €150 million. The Comet Interceptor will wait in space until an optimal target is identified, and then it will set off to meet it. This is necessary as comets usually give short notice to their existence. New facilities will soon be able to detect celestial bodies with more accuracy.
Robotic fish powered by electronic blood can swim for 36 hours (2 minute read)
Researchers at Cornell University have developed a robot that is powered by its own artificial circulatory system. The robot can swim at a rate of 1.5 body lengths per minute, which is around 10 meters per hour. It is powered by flow batteries, so power is generated as liquid moves through the robot. The flow of the liquid to certain areas can also change the pressure in these areas, for example, it can cause the structure on one side of the robot’s tail to inflate, resulting in a bending motion. While the robot was only tested for a few hours, it could theoretically swim continuously for 36 hours. Two short videos are available showing the robot in action.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Real-Time Voice Cloning (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains a vocoder that works in real time, using an implementation of Transfer Learning from Speaker Verification to Multispeaker Text-To-Speech Synthesis (SV2TTS). It is able to create a numerical representation of a voice from a few seconds of audio and then use it to create a text-to-speech model for new voices. Python 3.7 is required to run the code, and a GPU is highly recommended. A video demonstrating the software is available.
PyRobot (GitHub Repo)
PyRobot provides hardware independent APIs for robotic manipulation and navigation. Using PyRobot, developers can make robots that can pick up objects, navigate around a room, and even more complex tasks such as stacking objects together. Several GIFs are available showing robots operating using PyRobot.
Ask HN: What are the signs that you have a great manager? (Hacker News Thread)
A software engineer, relatively new to the industry at 2.5 years of experience, asks for people’s opinions on what makes someone a great manager after hearing the saying that ‘people leave managers, not jobs’. Replies talk about how great managers are people who serve their employees, for example, getting them the resources they need to complete their work, shielding employees from upper management and filtering only relevant information, and facilitating their professional development to the point of encouraging them to move up into other positions. Great management is, unfortunately, harder to notice as it means everything is running smoothly and employees are less likely to comment on their management.
Tesla Model 3 Spoofed off the highway – Regulus Navigation System Hack Causes Car to Turn On Its Own (9 minute read)
The navigation systems of the Tesla Model 3 and Model S were tested with the aim of exposing potential flaws within the software. The Model S was found to be less susceptible to GPS spoofing attacks as it used different navigation software to the Model 3. Tesla’s Model 3 uses Navigation on Autopilot, which can suggest and make lane changes with driver supervision. The requirement for driver confirmations on lane changes can be waived. As the Model 3 depends heavily on GNSS reliability, GPS spoofing resulted in the navigation system behaving erratically. Tesla responded to information about the potential vulnerability by pointing out that this was a general problem with GNSS-based GPS systems, and that they plan to implement features to minimize the issue. According to security experts, attackers can potentially take over the GPS system of any autonomous driving vehicle and alter its route.