Big Tech &
The deplatforming of President Trump (8 minute read)
The tech world has come out in force against President Trump in the past week. More than a dozen companies have placed unprecedented restrictions or banned Trump from using their services. Twitter permanently banned his account and intends to reset the official @POTUS account's followers to zero before handing it to the new Biden administration. Facebook and Instagram have announced indefinite suspensions, with a minimum duration of two weeks. Other social media and eCommerce platforms have banned Trump or any activity regarding Trump. Google has removed the alternative social media app, Parler, due to a lack of moderation. Apple has sent Parler a takedown notification, saying it would remove the app unless it started filtering content that endangers safety.
Apple, Hyundai set to agree electric car tie-up (2 minute read)
Hyundai Motor and Apple Inc are planning to sign a partnership deal on autonomous electric cars by March. The companies will either build the cars at Kia Motors' factory in Georgia or will invest jointly in a new factory. They plan to produce 100,000 vehicles by around 2024. A beta version of Apple's car might be released next year. Both companies have declined to comment on the rumors.
Scientists Create New Way to Convert Methane Into Rocket Fuel on Mars (3 minute read)
Researchers have discovered a new method of converting methane into rocket fuel on Mars. While the new method has succeeded in lab tests, a lot of engineering and research is needed before it can be used on real missions. The new method uses a single-atom zinc catalyst and an existing method of converting water into breathable oxygen. Modern-day rockets use liquid hydrogen fuels, but there are many benefits to methane-based fuels, and some companies are already endorsing the new method.
They spent 12 years solving a puzzle. It yielded the first COVID-19 vaccines (9 minute read)
A small group of government and university scientists who spent more than a decade studying viruses contributed a critical piece to the most promising candidates for the COVID-19 vaccines. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can change shape, making it difficult to neutralize. Previous research into cold vaccines found that stabilizing the shapeshifting protein resulted in more neutralizing power. This technique was used to design an experimental mRNA vaccine for MERS, then later was used in developing the COVID-19 vaccines.
Programming, Design & Data Science
What Silicon Valley "Gets" about Software Engineers that Traditional Companies Do Not (12 minute read)
Silicon Valley companies consistently understand a few things that their traditional counterparts either fail to understand or implement into practice. These practices result in faster innovation, better professional growth, and better utilization. SV-like companies think of engineers as value generators and creative problem solvers, while traditional companies think of them as factory workers. Engineers at SV-like companies are given more autonomy, tools, and information, which allows them to add value when they see an opportunity.
Ecco (GitHub Repo)
Ecco is a python library that explains Natural Language Processing models using interactive visualizations. It creates interactive visualizations in Jupyter notebooks to explain the behavior of Transformer-based language models.
I was at Amzn in 2000 when the internet bubble popped (Twitter Thread)
In 2000, the internet bubble popped. Capital markets dried up and Amazon was burning $1 billion a year, with expensive Sun servers at their data centers as their largest expense. The company spent a year replacing Sun servers with HP/Linux machines, which formed the foundation for AWS. Linux kernel had only been released in 1994, the same year Amazon started, so it was a novel and risky approach at the time. The transition made Amazon freeze all new features for over a year, causing a deceleration in revenue growth. Amazon came close to going bankrupt around that time. With the infrastructure completed, Amazon then decided to rent it out as the company only needed high capacities during peak retail seasons.