Big Tech &
Uber app redesign includes public transit, combines ride hailing and food delivery (2 minute read)
Uber has redesigned its app to combine its ride-hailing and food delivery services, encourage public transportation and scooter use, and to add new safety features. Users will now see a prompt to choose whether to get a ride or to order food when they open the app. A new rewards program for food delivery customers has been introduced with the update. The changes may strengthen Uber's claims that it is a technology platform for different types of digital marketplaces, which means that it may not have to treat its drivers as employees as they perform work outside of Uber's usual course of business.
Uber stopped its own investigators from reporting crimes to the police (3 minute read)
Uber's special investigations team has rules which prevent it from escalating issues to law enforcement, filing official police reports, or advising victims of crimes to seek legal counsel. The investigators' main priority is to protect Uber and to make sure that the company is not liable for any crimes committed by its contractors. Neutral language is always to be used when communicating with victims, and investigators are not to specifically ask alleged perpetrators about claims made against them. Uber justifies its actions by maintaining that it is a business, not a unit of law enforcement, and that victims are free to file complaints directly with the police. It has a three-strikes approach to enforcing driver behavior. This approach has allowed some perpetrators to continue to assault victims until their fourth offense.
Venezuela may have Bitcoin and Ethereum, but it’s unsure how it can use them (2 minute read)
The central bank of Venezuela is investigating possibilities into storing cryptocurrencies after a request by Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PSDV), the state-owned oil and natural gas company, to send Bitcoin and Ethereum to the bank. It is unknown how much cryptocurrency PSDV owns and how they obtained it. If PSDV was to sell its holdings on an exchange, it would have to open itself up to the standard cryptocurrency exchange diligence checks. Venezuela's international reserves hit a 29-year low of $7.9 billion in May, and the country is facing increased international sanctions. Storing and using cryptocurrencies may help the country overcome its isolation from the global financial system. Venezuela has its own state-run cryptocurrency, El Petro.
Gigantic Chinese telescope opens to astronomers worldwide (5 minute read)
The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in southern China is preparing to open to astronomers around the world, pending approval from the Chinese government in a review meeting scheduled for next month. FAST is able to detect extremely faint radio-wave signals from an array of sources across the Universe. It can only examine a tiny fraction of the sky at one time compared to other telescopes, so while it is unlikely to discover new sources of fast radio bursts, it is useful for getting more details about known sources. FAST will also be useful for finding ripples in space-time. It is possible that FAST may discover radio waves generated by other intelligent life forms. The team at FAST are currently working out how to store and process the enormous amount of data that the telescope will collect.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Andromeda (GitHub Repo)
Andromeda is a tool created for reverse engineering Android applications, written in C/C++. It is still in an early development stage. There is a short demo video showing Andromeda in use.
Programming-Idioms contains a collection of standard methods for coding standard things in several popular programming languages. Developers are encouraged to contribute by submitting implementations in their favorite language. All the information is crowdsourced and free, so there is no guarantee regarding the quality of the implementations as well as the identity of contributors.
Microsoft Challenges U.S. Government’s Sneak and Peek Warrant (2 minute read)
Microsoft will pursue an appeal against a decision from a federal judge who ruled that the company was not allowed to inform a large corporate customer that the US government had issued a warrant for its data. Subjects of sneak and peek warrants do not need to be informed of data requests under US law, a practice that Microsoft has disagreed with in the past. Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have sued the government over sneak and peek warrants. The US government has previously asked Microsoft why it wouldn't use its data to spy on other nations. Microsoft has made it clear it would not use its services and data to spy on users.