Big Tech &
Get ready to see Spotify’s looping videos on Instagram (2 minute read)
Spotify has recently confirmed that they are working on a new Stories feature, as well as a way for Spotify Canvas users to share their video art directly to Instagram. Canvas launched in beta last fall, resulting in mixed reviews from users. The new feature will allow Canvas users to share videos to Instagram by tapping on a Share icon. Users will see posts that look like regular Spotify shares but with the Canvas video looping as the backdrop. Canvas on Instagram views aren't counted in Canvas metrics unless users click through to Spotify. Spotify claims that adding Canvas videos increased track shares by up to 200 percent. Canvas is currently only on iOS but will be released on Android soon.
Cruisin’ Elon: Tesla boss Musk takes Cybertruck for a spin (2 minute read)
Being the boss of a company has its perks, and it is no surprise that Elon Musk gets to be one of the first to take the Cybertruck out for a spin. Musk was seen cruising about Hawthorne, California in a Cybertruck recently. An Instagram user posted a video of an encounter, which Musk then retweeted. The video is a little blurry, but it shows what appears to be Musk driving a Cybertruck. One of the people in the video says 'Jay Leno and Elon'. It is linked in the article. The car taking the video barely comes up to the bottom of the Cybertruck's window. Everyone else will have to wait until at least the end of 2021 to have the driving experience Musk is having today.
NASA taps startup Axiom Space for the first habitable commercial module for the Space Station (1 minute read)
Axiom Space has been selected by NASA to build the first commercial habitat module for the International Space Station. The module will be used as a destination for future commercial spaceflight missions, including housing experiments, technology development, and more. Axiom Space was founded in 2016 and it has a lot of ex-NASA talent on its team. Its goal is to eventually build its own private space station using modules. NASA has extended the planned service life of the ISS, but it is encouraging private and commercial entities to begin space ventures in order to eventually replace the space station.
Scientists Predict Fish Behavior from Real-Time Brain Monitoring (3 minute read)
Scientists studied the activity patterns of zebrafish brains in order to predict the decisions that they make. Using the patterns found in the data they collected, the scientists were able to predict the timing and direction of a fish's movement with brain imaging techniques. Larval zebrafish have much simpler brain systems, so they are the best place to start to look for activity patterns that might be distributed and hard to connect. Brains do not execute the exact same responses every time, even for the same activity. The scientists monitored neural activity simultaneously from about 5,000 individual neurons in the brains of the fish during training. Results from the study suggested that the cerebellum was a major contributor to decision-making, despite its well-known role in motor control.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Words Are Hard - An Essay on Communicating With Non-Programmers (10 minute read)
The ability to correctly communicate an idea or concept in a way that others can understand is by far the most important skill to have as someone working in a software-based small business. Programmers have developed their own jargon to communicate with each other which people outside of the programming world might not understand. The simplest explanation that includes the most important information is usually the best. Using jargon to try to demonstrate intelligence and superiority is usually the wrong way to go about conveying an idea. Being respectful to others goes a long way in getting them to want to understand you. Practicing pitching ideas to non-technical friends can help you receive useful feedback. Techniques like analogies, anecdotes, and metaphors are great tools for getting ideas across. It's ok to admit when you don't know something, and it is often better than losing respect for getting something wrong, as long as you take the initiative to self-educate.
Rex (GitHub Repo)
Rex is a project to train an open-source 3D printed quadruped robot. It aims to train the robot to learn domestic and generic tasks using simulations and then transfer the knowledge onto a real robot without any other manual tuning. This repository contains different OpenAI Gym Environments used to train Rex, the Rex URDF model, the learning agent, and some scripts to start the training session and visualize the learned Control Policies.
Ask HN: I think I’ve burnt out. What should I do? (Hacker News Thread)
After going through a series of serious life events it can be hard to continue on with work, and you might start thinking about making changes. During this period, it is important to remember that work provides an important level of structure in your life. It provides routine and social contact, and without it, it is easy to slide into bad habits, especially when going through rough periods in life. Finding good medical help is important in recovering from tough life events. Many suggest that if the stress is too much, moving to a less stressful job might be the best choice. However, unless it is financially feasible and it really is the best option, the least advised choice is to become unemployed, unless there is a plan around it. One of the best ways to get through tough periods is to keep yourself busy, so if it is possible, taking time off from work to travel is a good option.
Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data (9 minute read)
A subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast called Jumpshot sold highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world's biggest companies. Jumpshot says it has data from 100 million devices, which it received from Avast. The data includes Google searches, location lookups and GPS coordinates in Google Maps, and browser history information. Using the data, it is possible to identify individual users and the search terms they used on a wide range of sites, including YouPorn and PornHub. The data doesn't contain users' names, but there is enough specific browsing data to deanonymize certain users. Avast collected the data via a browser plugin designed to warn users of suspicious websites. It claimed to have stopped sending customer data to Jumpshot after the data collection was publicly exposed in 2015, but documents indicate that the data collection is still ongoing through the antivirus software itself. Jumpshot sells a variety of different products based on the data.