Big Tech &
Musk shakes up SpaceX in race to make satellite launch window (5 minute read)
Elon Musk fired "at least seven" senior managers at SpaceX because he was unhappy with the pace of development on Starlink, SpaceX's project to deliver internet via low orbit satellites. Elon Musk says "It would be like rebuilding the Internet in space. The goal would be to have a majority of long-distance Internet traffic go over this network." The program is struggling to hire and retain staff, and Musk is frustrated with the long development schedules. An anonymous source said "Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites. Elon thinks we can do the job with cheaper and simpler satellites, sooner." The goal is to initially launch satellites in mid-2019 and have internet service available by 2020. The company is counting on revenue from this service to build rockets to go to Mars. One SpaceX employee says "There had to be a much bigger idea for generating cash to basically realize the Mars plans. What better idea than to put Comcast out of business?"
Google wants to improve your smart home with iRobot's room maps (1 minute read)
Google is partnering with Roomba to make smart homes smarter by using maps of customers homes collected by Roomba. They want to make an integration that will let you say "OK Google, tell Roomba to clean the kitchen." They also want to use the data to make everything in the smart home "more thoughtful" so that you could potentially say "turn on the lights in the kitchen" or "OK future iRobot robot with an arm, go get me a beer". The data will not be used for ad-targeting.
DevOpsLinks is a weekly newsletter with curated news, tutorials, and reviews for devops professionals and practitioners. Curated by Aymen El Amri, CEO of Eralabs (a company that helps set up scalable cloud infrastructures).
How a Month without Computers Changed Me (10 minute read)
This progammer decided to take a month off from using all computing devices. He literally went out and bought a watch, a camera, a map, a compass, and a notepad. He was initially scared of being bored, but he found it was actually pretty easy to be entertained taking pictures, reading books, and travelling a bit. He came to the conclusion that digital technologies haven't changed the world, they've created a parallel world. He believes that the reason we are nervous and never have enough time is because we are now living two lives in these two separate worlds. He noticed that he felt his "personality dissolving" a bit, because in the analog world, he only had access to things that were popular (popular music, popular books, etc.) There is a long tail of hobbies and interests that the internet helps facilitate. He also lost a bit of motivation because seeing other people achieve great things always motivated him. He also gained an appreciation for social networks, people dismiss Facebook and Twitter as not being "real communications" but it really does help keep in touch with people across long distances. He thinks that month long breaks are too much, but if you want to try this, you can get a lot out of taking 2 weeks away from computers!
Listen Later (Web Tool)
This is a nifty tool that lets you take Youtube videos and convert them into audio podcasts. Then it publishes this audio to a podcast RSS feed and gives you the URL, so you can subscribe to the audio feed from your podcast player. It's a really creative way to listen to Youtube videos on the go. Also, no sign up required, which I'm always a huge fan of!
How NASA Will Use Robots to Create Rocket Fuel From Martian Soil (5 minute read)
To send a single kilogram of fuel to Mars, we have to burn 225 kilograms of fuel here on Earth. It would be much more efficient for missions on Mars if we could somehow make the fuel we need there. This is why NASA is working on RASSOR, a robotic excavator which will dig out large chunks of Mars soil and and pull out all the water. Then it will separate out the hydrogen from the oxygen, and take carbon from the Mars atmosphere (which is 96% carbon dioxide), to make methane (CH4), an easily storable type of fuel. There's a video of RASSOR in action halfway down the page in this article.
The EU plans to test an AI lie detector at border points (1 minute read)
The EU has created an AI called iBorderCtrl that will analyze travelers at four border crossing points in Hungary, Latvia and Greece with countries outside the European Union. Travelers will answer questions like "What's in your suitcase?" into a webcam so the system can analyze and rate dozens of micro-gestures to determine if they're being truthful. If they are they will get a QR code to pass through, otherwise they will have their biometric information taken and will be reviewed by a human agent. This is still highly experimental, and the last version only worked 76% of the time, they are claiming the latest version works 85% of the time. In its current form, it will not have the final say in stopping anyone from crossing the border.
Programming, Design & Data Science