Big Tech &
Google’s personalized audio news feature, Your News Update, comes to Google Podcasts (2 minute read)
Google has published its Your News Update feature to Google Podcasts. The feature has been available for Google Assistant since last year. It customizes news content to listeners' likes and interests and creates a personalized playlist of audio news. The personalization uses data that the user has explicitly provided Google and its products. Users can subscribe to Your News Update within the Explore tab in the Google Podcasts App.
Google proposes new campus billed as a 'neighborhood' with homes and shops (1 minute read)
Google has unveiled plans to build a new corporate campus in Mountain View, California. The 40-acre site will have a mix of office buildings, housing, shops, and public spaces. Google pledged $1 billion last year to help build 20,000 homes in the region over the next 10 years. Tech giants have faced criticism for contributing to higher rent prices in the Bay Area, which is one of the reasons Google is focused on housing. Google doesn't have much use for office space. Its workers aren't due back into offices until at least July 2021.
Scientists created artificial skin that can feel pain (2 minute read)
Researchers from RMIT have created an artificial skin capable of sensing and reacting to pain. The artificial skin mimics the nerve pathways in the human body that connect the skin to the brain. It can measure changes in pressure and temperature. The skin can differentiate between different levels and types of pain and transmit signals at the same speeds as nerves in the human body. The technology could be used to improve prosthetics, robots, and skin grafts, though much more work is needed before the artificial skin can interface with the human nervous system.
Astronomers say they’ve detected the most massive merger of two black holes ever discovered (5 minute read)
Astronomers may have detected signs of a massive merger between two black holes that occurred around 7 billion years ago. The two black holes combined into one single black hole roughly 142 times the mass of our Sun, destroying the equivalent of seven times the mass of our Sun and releasing it as energy. While scientists have observed smaller black holes and supermassive black holes, they have had trouble finding intermediate-mass black holes. However, scientists are expecting to see more mergers like this after the current upgrades to observation facilities are complete.
Programming, Design & Data Science
10 lesser-known Web APIs you may want to use (10 minute read)
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) help programmers carry out useful tasks like managing audio, video, graphics, and other objects on a webpage. This page lists out 10 web APIs and discusses how to use them with examples. Web APIs are still not standardized, so levels of support between browsers can vary. It is suggested that developers implement a fallback if a certain web API is not supported. A link to the source code and the Web API DemoLab is provided near the beginning of the article.
To design and develop an interactive globe (18 minute read)
The new Stripe.com features a 1:40 million-scale interactive 3D model of the earth. It was built using existing and custom tools. This article discusses in detail how the team explored the different tools available, how they decided what to use, and how they used these tools to customize their solution. It includes code and features interactive examples.
ZTE announces the world’s first phone with a behind-the-screen camera (2 minute read)
ZTE has unveiled the ZTE Axon 20 5G, a device with a behind-the-screen camera. The under-display camera works by thinning out the pixels above the display to allow light to reach the camera. ZTE claims the camera is completely invisible, and an unboxing video seems to support this claim. The phone has a 6.92-inch 2460x1080 OLED display, a Snapdragon 765G SoC processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, and a 4220 mAh battery. The phone costs around $321 US in China. It is unlikely to be sold in the US as ZTE is banned in the country.
These students figured out their tests were graded by AI — and the easy way to cheat (5 minute read)
The assignment algorithm used on Edgenuity's platform can be easily fooled by entering a long answer followed by a string of related terms. Edgenuity is an education platform used by more than 20,000 schools, including 20 of the 25 largest school districts in the US. Short answer questions make up less than five percent of Edgenuity's course content, but exploiting the algorithm can still have a significant impact on results. Teachers can review students' work and override assigned grades, but it appears that most teachers are not changing assigned grades.