Big Tech &
Just Eat Takeaway confirms it’s gobbling up Grubhub in a $7.3B deal (4 minute read)
Just Eat Takeaway, a European company, recently announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Grubhub in the US for $7.3 billion. The two companies served 593 million orders in 2019. They have around 70 million combined active customers globally. Matt Maloney, CEO and founder of GrubHub, will join Just Eat Takeaway's management board and lead the business across North America. Many companies have found it hard to make online food delivery businesses profitable, so businesses are looking to take out rivals to get better economies of scale on operations.
Google Brain, Intel, and UC Berkeley train robotic surgery AI with videos (2 minute read)
Motion2Vec is an AI model created by researchers from Google Brain, Intel AI Lab, and UC Berkeley that is capable of learning how to do robotic surgery. It was trained with surgery videos from John Hopkins University and Intuitive Surgery, Inc. A two-minute video is available in the article that contains an overview of Motion2Vec as well as a demonstration of the model performing a suture.
Ground-Penetrating Radar Reveals Entire Ancient Roman City (4 minute read)
Archaeologists were able to preliminarily map the entire underground city of Falerii Novi, an ancient Roman city, using ground-penetrating radar. The 28 billion data points collected in the project to generate the full map are still being processed. Researchers were able to document the locations of buildings, monuments, passageways, and even water pipes without having to dig. Falerii Novi is well documented in historical accounts. It has an unorthodox layout compared to other ancient Roman cities. Images of the city are available in the article.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Speeding up a Git monorepo at Dropbox with <200 lines of code (9 minute read)
In 2014, Dropbox migrated from Mercurial to Git to improve local performance and consolidate repositories that hosted backend code. Git performance issues grew linearly as the monorepo grew. With a small wrapper of custom code, the engineering team was able to speed up Git operations without fragmenting the unified and growing repository. The process of growing the repository and optimizing it is detailed in the article.
Blobs App (GitHub Repo)
Blobs App is an easy way to generate blob shapes and export the SVG or Flutter code. Users can choose the color, outline, and the randomness and complexity of the shape of the blob. A link to the web app is available.
Zoom closed account of U.S.-based Chinese activist “to comply with local law” (4 minute read)
A paid Zoom account associated with US-based nonprofit Humanitarian China was temporarily shut down after broadcasting an event commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Zoom stated that the account was closed down to comply with local laws. Some of the participants of the event were based in China where free discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement is forbidden. Zoom is a US-based company, but much of its product development was based in China, with some Zoom calls routed through Chinese servers.
Facebook Helped the FBI Hack a Child Predator (15 minute read)
Buster Hernandez is a Californian man that systematically harassed and terrorized young girls using chat apps, email, and Facebook. Facebook worked with a third-party company to develop an exploit to hack Hernandez in order to provide evidence to the FBI to arrest and convict him. It is unclear whether the FBI knew of Facebook's involvement. The exploit targeted a vulnerability in Tails related to its traffic routing through the Tor anonymity network. This incident highlights the technical capabilities of Facebook, a third-party hacking firm, and law enforcement, and raises questions about whether it is appropriate for private companies to assist in the hacking of their users. In this case, there were no other privacy risks and the human impact was so large that many employees felt like Facebook had no choice but to act.