Big Tech &
Twitter expressed interest in buying TikTok's U.S. operations (2 minute read)
Twitter has announced its interest in purchasing TikTok from ByteDance. Microsoft is also bidding for the brand. Both companies have 45 days to negotiate and complete a deal before President Trump's executive order to ban the service takes effect. Twitter will need to raise additional capital to fund the deal and it might not have enough borrowing capacity. Investors may prefer Twitter over Microsoft as it is not active in China and it would face less regulatory scrutiny than Microsoft.
Amazon reportedly considering mall space for fulfillment centers (1 minute read)
Amazon and Simon Property Group have discussed the possibility of converting the Group's mall spaces into fulfillment centers. The discussions started before the pandemic as the brick-and-mortar retail market was already being affected by the growth of the e-commerce industry. Mall stalwarts like Lord & Taylor, JCPenney, and Nieman Marcus have recently filed for bankruptcy. Simon is looking to fill empty retail spaces as tenants are unable to continue operating. Having fulfillment center warehouses closer to residential areas would speed up delivery times, but it is unclear how the arrangement would work. According to its second-quarter earnings report, Amazon doubled its net profit year over year to $5.2 billion.
Scientists discover brain hack that improves language abilities by 13% (5 minute read)
It can be difficult for adults to learn other languages even after years of exposure. In animal studies, vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to prime adult sensory-perceptual systems and make them more plastic. Researchers have created a device to stimulate a person's transcutaneous vagus nerve through painless electric pulses. The device was shown to increase the ability to learn Mandarin tones in English speaking adults. More studies are required, but the researchers hope that a product will be available within the next two to five years.
Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines (2 minute read)
PORTL Inc is a Los Angeles-based company that has created a phone booth-size device that allows people to talk in real-time with a life-sized hologram of another person. The device can be used to interact with recorded holograms of historical figures or relatives who have passed away. Standing at seven feet tall, five feet wide, and two feet deep, the PORTL device can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. The device starts at $60,000. A slideshow featuring the device is available.
Programming, Design & Data Science
GPT-3 Explorer (GitHub Website)
GPT-3 Explorer is a tool for iterating on GPT-3 prompts and settings. It requires an OpenAI API key. GPT-3 Explorer features a GUI for making GPT-3 API completion requests and iterating on prompts, full history, sharing, and the community's best-practices built-in.
How Malicious Tor Relays are Exploiting Users in 2020 (11 minute read)
Tor exit relays are the only type of relay that gets to see the destination chosen by the Tor browser user. Whether the user decided to use http or https will determine whether a malicious exit relay can see and manipulate the transferred content or not. In May of 2020, 23.95% of Tor exit relays were controlled by malicious actors. There are no requirements for Tor relay operators so anyone can add malicious relays. Some effort has been made to remove these malicious relays but the attackers have been persistent. The attackers' primary goal was to steal bitcoin, mainly targeting bitcoin mixer services. There are indicators that the attackers still run over 10% of the Tor network exit capacity. This vulnerability has led to calls for the Tor Project authorities to act to prevent further harm.
dorking - how to find anything on the Internet (2 minute read)
'Dorking' is the term for using search engines to find very specific data. It can be used to find emails, webpages, files, coupons, SEO keywords, potential vulnerabilities, and more. This page contains a quick guide to dorking, with examples that can be copied and pasted directly into Google. A list of useful operators (components of a search query that narrow the results down) is available at the end of the article.