Big Tech &
Exclusive: Messaging app Telegram moves to protect identity of Hong Kong protesters (4 minute read)
Telegram will be releasing an update in the next few days which will allow users to disable the ability to be searched by phone number. Currently, users can find other users by searching for their phone numbers. In June, Telegram reported that it had experienced a state actor-sized cyber-attack and that China was the country of origin. It is likely that mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities are using the number-searching feature to identify protestors in Hong Kong. Protestors are using the Telegram app to communicate, with more than 100 group chats sharing information such as news on upcoming protests and tips on how to deal with tear gas. Nearly 900 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began three months ago.
Google Contractors Are Unionizing With a Steel Workers Union (2 minute read)
Contract workers at Google's office in Pittsburgh have joined forces with the Pittsburgh Association of Technical Professions to ask the National Labor Relations Board for a vote on union representation. The workers at HCL America Inc. work side-by-side with Google employees with far less compensation and few perks. Tech companies such as Google, Uber, and Lyft have been criticized by employees as their classifications for temps, vendors, and contractors allow companies to abdicate their responsibilities to the majority of their workforce. Once the NLRB determines whether the cards and signatures qualify, a representation election will be scheduled, which is when individual workers can vote for or against being represented by the union.
Robot pole dancers to debut at French nightclub (2 minute read)
SC-Club, a nightclub in Nantes, France, will soon feature two robot pole dancers wearing high heels with CCTV cameras for their heads as part of its fifth-anniversary celebrations next week. The bots have their metal parts covered with parts obtained from mannequins. Giles Walker, the creator of the robots, came up with the concept a decade ago and has toured and loaned out the robots over the past few years. The dancers at the venue do not feel that their new coworkers pose any threat to their jobs.
Biohackers are pirating a cheap version of a million-dollar gene therapy (8 minute read)
An international team of biohackers is creating a pirated version of a million-dollar gene therapy. Glybera is a gene therapy that costs $1 million per treatment. It treats an inherited disease that affects the fat levels in blood. The biohackers developed the first prototype of their version of the gene therapy with less than $7,000. They will require help to complete the animal testing stage, which is much more expensive. Glybera uses viruses to deliver the genes, but the knock-off version uses minicircles, which are less efficient. Viruses are expensive to procure. While Glybera only requires one shot, the new treatment will likely require multiple injections over a six month period. The group is not ready for patients and the drug still requires further development.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Flawwwless ui (GitHub Repo)
Flawwwless ui is an open-source React.js components library aimed at helping developers create enterprise applications that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. There are over 23 components ready to use.
Lumen (GitHub Repo)
Lumen is a compiler and runtime for BEAM languages. Instead of using a virtual machine that operates on bytecode, it compiles the code so it can be run natively as a static executable. Compatible platforms can run BEAM applications with no extra tools or special considerations during builds.
How playing video games could get you a better job (7 minute read)
There is a growing acceptance that gaming skills are transferable, with even the military focusing on hiring gamers due to their ability to assimilate information, react swiftly, and co-ordinate actions while remaining calm under pressure. Studies have shown that gaming can make students more successful. A startup called Game Academy wants to transform casual gamers into conscious ones in order to develop skills by applying critical thinking. While some employers will still need the science before considering game achievements as a hiring factor, there are many examples of people who attribute their success to skills they gained from gaming.
Founders of Successful Tech Companies Are Mostly Middle-Aged (6 minute read)
While some of the most famous entrepreneurs were young when they founded their companies, a study has found that the average age for the founders of the fastest-growing companies between 2007 and 2014 was 45. Previous studies have found that the owners of small businesses were likely to be in their late 30s and 40s, but most of these businesses tended to stay small. This new study focused on the best performing startups from a pool of 2.7 million business founders. While youth has advantages, such as the ability to take more risks and better problem-solving ability, experience gained from age seems to be more correlated with success.