Big Tech &
Google to acquire Fitbit, valuing the smartwatch maker at about $2.1 billion (2 minute read)
Alphabet is set to buy Fitbit in a deal valued around $2.1 billion. Fitbit's stock surged due to the announcement. Google plans to advance its ambitions for Wear OS by working with Fitbit's experts. It will not use health and wellness data from Fitbit for its ads. There are concerns that this acquisition may result in Google receiving the ability to gain deep insights into people's most sensitive information. Google purchased a $40 million share of Fossil's smartwatch technology in January. Fitbit has faced strong competition with Apple's smartwatch. At the end of 2018, Apple owned about half of the global smartwatch market in terms of units shipped. Google licenses its Wear platform to other companies but it currently doesn't produce its own smartwatch.
Airbnb bans 'party houses' after five die in Halloween shooting (1 minute read)
A shooting at a Halloween party in Orinda, California has resulted in five deaths. The party was at a home that had been rented on Airbnb. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says that the company has now banned 'party houses' and will redouble its efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct. A dedicated 'party house' rapid response team will be created to manually screen high-risk reservations. Users who violate Airbnb's policies will be removed from the platform.
Microsoft Japan’s experiment with 3-day weekend boosts worker productivity by 40 percent (2 minute read)
Japan routinely scores low when it comes to employee satisfaction in the developed world. Microsoft Japan started its Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019 project to attempt to address this problem. For the month of August, employees at Microsoft Japan had every Friday off, an extra day of vacation that did not come at the expense of any other vacation time. The extra day off resulted in employees taking 25.4 percent fewer days off and productivity rising by almost 40 percent. Most of the increase in productivity was attributed to a change in how meetings were held. Many meetings were cut, shortened, or changed to virtual meetings. Employees reacted well to the four-day workweek trial and Microsoft plans to repeat it again next summer.
Hailing a driverless ride in a Waymo (6 minute read)
Waymo has begun to ramp up its operations by offering an early rider program to selected customers. These customers are selected based on ZIP code and are required to sign NDAs. The customers won't be able to request a fully driverless ride, but they will be matched with a driverless car if one is nearby. Driverless rides are currently free. The decision to operate fully-autonomous driverless cars shows Waymo's confidence in its technology. The firm has completed 10 million real-world miles and 10 billion simulation miles. Fully driverless rides are currently only taking place in a geofenced area, implying that Waymo's confidence levels are still highly situational. One of the problems with driverless rides is the user experience. Passengers might have issues with specifying exact drop-off points or communicating plan changes. Waymo's user experience research team is currently working on these challenges.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Sockly (GitHub Repo)
Sockly is an easy way to work with an API over WebSockets or a WebRTC data channel. It can be used on any p2p application on the web that uses WebSockets or RTCDataChannel. Sockly creates a proxy that intercepts property gets/sets and method calls. It then handles the underlying message passing with the other end of the socket.
DevOps-Guide (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains a guide to learning DevOps. It has a table of links to descriptions, concepts, notes, and tutorials for topics such as Docker, Kubernetes, Prometheus, Git, Ansible, Linux, and more. There is also a visual development guide for learning the foundation and workflow for DevOps.
Leaked document reveals that Sidewalk Labs' Toronto plans for private taxation, private roads, charter schools, corporate cops and judges, and punishment for people who choose privacy (2 minute read)
Toronto's City Council will soon hold a vote on whether to allow Sidewalk Labs to privatize much of the city's lakeshore to create a 'smart city' owned by Alphabet. Sidewalk Labs has a plan to create a corporate-owned city similar to Lake Buena Vista with privately owned and regulated roads, chartered schools, the power to levy and spend property taxes, a corporate criminal justice system, and continuous surveillance. Residents can choose to decline to share information with Sidewalk Labs, but doing so will mean that they will not receive the same level of services as those who choose to share information. For example, they will not be able to access automated taxi services and some merchants might be unable to accept cash. Sidewalk Labs plans to use reputation tools, effectively establishing a social credit system.