TLDR Daily Update 2020-06-29

Google buys smart glasses πŸ‘“, 700km lightning strike ⚑, Microsoft permanently closes all stores 🏬

Big Tech & Startups

Alphabet reportedly buying North after β€˜minuscule’ Focals smart glasses sales (2 minute read)

Alphabet is rumored to be acquiring North, a startup that sells smart glasses, after the company reported minuscule sales for its first-generation Focals devices. North released the smart glasses in 2019 and it is unlikely that more than 1,000 pairs were sold, even after the prices were cut from $999 down to $599. Buying the smart glasses required a fitting process that was only available at certain locations. North started looking for a buyer earlier this year, despite cutting monthly spending in half to $3 million and taking on additional investments and loans.

Microsoft to permanently close all of its retail stores (4 minute read)

Microsoft has announced plans to permanently close all of its store locations, except for four locations that will be 'reimagined' as experience centers that no longer sell products. No layoffs will result from the decision. Many retail store associates shifted to remote work or moved to corporate facilities after the stores closed for lockdown. Microsoft had originally planned to close its stores next year, but the pandemic has moved the schedule forward.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Extraordinary β€˜megaflash’ lightning strikes cover several hundred kilometres, smashing records (3 minute read)

A megaflash is an extreme lightning burst that can cover hundreds of miles and last for many seconds. Records for megaflashes were broken in 2019, with a flash in Brazil more than doubling the size and duration of previous record flashes. The flash in Brazil stretched more than 700 kilometers, which is equivalent to the distance between Boston and Washington DC in the United States. June 28 was International Lightning Safety Day.

'Black neutron star' discovery changes astronomy (9 minute read)

Black neutron stars are astronomical objects that are more massive than collapsed stars but have less mass than black holes. They were previously thought to be impossible, but an international team of scientists has recently observed one in space, meaning that ideas on how neutron stars and black holes form will need to be rethought. It was observed colliding with a black hole using gravitational wave detectors based in the US and Italy.
Programming, Design & Data Science

HonKit (GitHub Repo)

HonKit is a package for building books using GitHub/Git and Markdown. It is a fork of GitBook and works with almost all GitBook plugins without changes. The documentation also serves as a demo as it was built using HonKit.

oneshot (GitHub Repo)

oneshot is an easy way to set up an HTTP server to share files, web pages, or other outputs using the command line. Users just need to specify the path to a file and oneshot will make it available via HTTP on the computer's IP address. Secure file transfers are supported.

Guy Who Reverse-Engineered TikTok Reveals The Scary Things He Learned, Advises People To Stay Away From It (15 minute read)

A Reddit user made a post detailing their findings when reverse-engineering the TikTok app. The investigation revealed that the app contained some huge security concerns, including the ability to run remote code, detailed access to device data, and the ability to set up a local proxy server on your device for transcoding media. The app tries to obfuscate its functionalities when being reverse-engineered, showing that the company has put a lot of effort into hiding what it does. Governments around the world are banning the app due to privacy concerns. The post, which includes more details on what the TikTok app does, is linked in the article.

'We've bought the wrong satellites': UK tech gamble baffles experts (4 minute read)

The UK government is planning to invest hundreds of millions of pounds into OneWeb, a company that is building a network of satellites in low Earth orbit to connect people to the internet. OneWeb lobbyists convinced the government that the satellites could be redesigned to piggyback a navigation payload on them. Every major positioning system currently in use is in medium Earth orbit, while OneWeb's satellites are in low Earth orbit, which is not suitable for military-grade GPS systems. The UK government has been accused of choosing OneWeb for nationalistic reasons, ignoring industry policies. OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in the US in March.

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