TLDR Daily Update 2020-01-16

Mozilla Layoffs 😔, artificial neurons 💡, ancient viruses 👾

Big Tech & Startups

Mozilla lays off 70 as it waits for new products to generate revenue (4 minute read)

Mozilla has released an internal memo that explained that the reason behind its firing of 70 employees today was the slow rollout of the organization's new revenue-generating products. There may be further layoffs as Mozilla reassesses its France and UK operations. Mozilla had around 1,000 employees worldwide in 2018. Earnings from its new subscription products were much lower than expected in 2019. Laid-off employees will receive generous exit packages and outplacement support. Mozilla is dedicating $43 million to its innovation fund in order to develop new products. It is investing in innovation in order to become less reliant on income from search partnerships and to create new revenue channels.

Bose is closing all of its retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia (2 minute read)

Bose will be exiting the North American, European, Japanese, and Australian markets over the next few months, closing 119 stores and laying off hundreds of employees. It opened its first retail store in 1993, and its product line has since grown beyond noise-canceling headphones to include smart speakers, sunglasses that double as earbuds, and more. Bose's retail stores were a place where customers could try out its products, but the needs of customers have changed and Bose is adjusting its strategy accordingly. Employees that are being laid off will be offered outplacement assistance and severance.
Science & Futuristic Technology

First-ever artificial neuron could let us repair brain injuries with silicon (3 minute read)

Scientists have created a 'solid-state neuron' that accurately models the behavior of biological nerve cells. It can be plugged directly into biological neural circuits to repair damage or disease. One of the challenges in building an artificial neuron is emulating a real neuron's non-linear responses. Scientists collected data from two types of rat neurons in order to build a model that emulated how neurons responded to stimuli from other nerves. The chip is roughly 0.1 millimeters in diameter and it only uses 140 nanoWatts of power, making it practical for long-term applications inside the body. Potential applications for the technology include repairing defective circuits that cause conditions like heart failure or sleep apnea, replacing damaged nerves caused by spinal injuries, or helping connect robotic limbs to people's nervous systems.

Scientists Found Ancient, Never-Before-Seen Viruses in a Glacier (3 minute read)

Evidence of ancient viruses has been found deep within the glaciers atop the Tibetan Plateau. These viral records can help scientists gain data on Earth's evolutionary and climate history. Genomes from 33 groups of viruses were found in the ice, 28 that were completely new to science. Studying viruses from ice cores is difficult due to the extremely small size of the viruses and how easy it is to contaminate samples. Decontamination techniques are used to clean the samples. Warming temperatures are causing glaciers around the world to shrink and release trapped microbes and viruses. This has caused disease outbreaks in the past, and it is a concern for the future as the planet continues to warm up.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Dev Degree (Website)

Dev Degree is a learning program that combines hands-on developer experience at Shopify with an accredited Computer Science degree. Students will take three university courses on campus each term and spend around 25 hours a week at Shopify over four years. Applicants can choose to attend either Carleton University or York University. The program teaches students development skills and technologies through real-world problems and mentorship from industry leaders.

Parsr (GitHub Repo)

Parsr is a document parsing and extraction tool that generates usable data for data scientists and developers. It can perform document hierarchy regression, page number detection, whitespace removal, link detection, and more. It takes an image or PDF as input and outputs JSON, Markdown, text, CSV, or PDF.

European Union Wants All Smartphones To Have A Standard Charging Port (1 minute read)

The European Union is again pushing for the development of a common charging port for all smartphones available on the market. A large amount of electronic waste is generated from smartphones requiring different charging ports, and the change to a standardized port would make users' lives easier. The Radio Equipment Directive demanded the change in 2014, but the initiative was turned down. Apple has stated that changing to a common charger for all smartphones would be bad for the environment and freeze innovation. Around a billion Apple devices are using the lightning port, and the introduction of a common charger will result in an immediate increase in electronic waste, defeating the motive behind the directive. Apple may adopt a Type-C USB port in the next iPhone since it has already been introduced in the iPad and MacBook.

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Byte sized news for busy techies

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