TLDR Daily Update 2019-09-10

App Store search unfair, Juul’s marketing criticized by FDA

Big Tech & Startups

Juul Illegally Marketed E-Cigarettes, F.D.A. Says (8 minute read)

The Food and Drug Administration is targeting Juul Labs for illegally marketing its vaping products as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes. The health effects of e-cigarettes are not yet established but the high levels of nicotine in Juul's products may affect brain development and serve as a gateway to smoking in teens. There has been a rise in the use of vaping products by teenagers. However, Juul claims that it does not directly target teenagers with its marketing. Its 'Make the Switch' campaign has been criticized for representing vaping as a smoking cessation option. Juul denies these claims, saying that the ads only served to switch people over from cigarettes to vaping products without making any claims about cessation. Lawmakers have yet to decide how to regulate e-cigarettes, but the deadlines for vaping companies to submit research concerning their products is drawing near.

How Apple’s Apps Topped Rivals in the App Store It Controls (11 minute read)

Apple has been criticized for placing its own apps at the top of the App Store search results. While Apple denies the accusations, an analysis of search terms showed that its own apps were displayed before apps from rivals, even if the Apple apps were less relevant and less popular. In May, the Supreme Court voted to allow an antitrust action against Apple to move forward. Apple has since changed its search algorithm, causing some of its apps search rankings to drop. The search algorithm examines 42 different signals. Developers can pay Apple in order to display their apps on the top of App Store search results.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Artificial leaf produces first drugs using sunlight (6 minute read)

Scientists have used artificial leaves to create targeted molecules. Artificial leaves are made of translucent materials that allow sunlight in, directing it to tiny microfluidic channels that contain liquids. Using energy from sunlight, a chemical reaction can be triggered in the liquid. This method can potentially make any carbon-based molecule. It is able to convert sunlight into biomass with 10 percent efficiency, which is 10 times more than the most efficient plants. The leaves have successfully produced drugs that are effective against malaria and parasitic worms. As the leaves are small, portable, and scalable, they can be used to manufacture drugs in areas where they are needed most, saving the costs and trouble of transporting medicine over long distances.

India has found its Vikram lander after it crashed into the moon’s surface (2 minute read)

The Indian Space Research Organization launched Chandrayaan-2 on July 22. It reached the moon's orbit on August 20. Two weeks later, a lander was deployed. Communication with the lander was lost moments before it was expected to touch down on the moon's surface. The lander was aiming to land at a location 375 miles from the moon's south pole. It is thought that there are large ice deposits on the moon's south pole. The ISRO will continue to analyze the data to ascertain the lander's fate while the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter carries out an array of studies from 62 miles above the lunar surface.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Google Engineering Practices Documentation (GitHub Repo)

This repository contains documents that detail the best practice guidelines that Google has developed. There are two documents, the Code Reviewer's Guide and the Change Author's Guide.

Reverse interview (GitHub Repo)

At every job interview, applicants are asked whether they have any questions for the company, but few people take the opportunity to find out more about their potential employers. This repository contains a list of questions that can help the applicant find out more about the role they are applying for, the tech used in the company, the team and culture, the company and business itself, the workplace environment, and the company's policies on remote work.

A Good Place: The fake town where everybody knows your name (9 minute read)

Tribes in the Amazon have a special relationship with dogs as they are important hunting companions and can protect people from jaguars. When dogs are injured or ill, the tribes use plants as veterinary medicines. The use of psychedelics in the region is commonplace and ingrained into the culture. Dogs are also given psychedelics in rituals which both increase the bond between the dog and its owner, as well as its ability to hunt. When humans take psychedelics, they can experience tunnel vision, time distortion, or synesthesia, and it is possible that this also happens in dogs, narrowing their visual focus and boosting their sense of smell. Research into this area can potentially change how dogs are trained, but so far no one has expressed interest.

Blind man helps develop smart cane that uses Google Maps and sensors to navigate the world (2 minute read)

The WeWALK smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn users of nearby impediments, touchpad controls to control smartphones, and native integration with Voice Assistant and Google Maps to inform users of nearby stores and infrastructural details. While technology in other areas has developed, visually impaired people are left with using a plain stick to navigate with, which was a frustration with the creators. Blind persons can now be more informed of the details of the environment around them. The WeWALK smart cane is currently being sold for $500 and the creators intend to eventually pair it with ridesharing apps and transportation services to further improve its abilities.

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