Big Tech &
Amazon blocks sellers from using FedEx ground-delivery shipping (2 minute read)
Amazon has banned third-party sellers from using FedEx's ground delivery shipping service for Prime orders. This decision affects only a small amount of shippers, but it may result in some small businesses having issues meeting demand during the holiday season. Sellers can still use FedEx's Express shipping service for Prime orders. FedEx's ground and home delivery service can still be used for standard orders. Amazon stated that the ban was temporary and that it was put in place to ensure that FedEx would be able to manage Christmas deliveries. FedEx has recently ended its ground delivery contract with Amazon. Amazon has been focusing on launching its own delivery service. In June, it announced a Delivery Service Partners program which brings Amazon and local delivery services together. Amazon has also been experimenting with drone deliveries.
The Terror Queue (27 minute read)
Google and YouTube hire contractors to moderate the content on its platforms. Accenture, one of these contractors, splits the content into three different categories for its hundreds of moderators: copyright, hate and harassment, and adult. Moderators are paid around $37,000 a year to view five hours of gruesome video per day. It is common for workers to report mental health issues such as anxiety and depression after working as a moderator for several months. Contractors are often told to keep working during breaks and are offered little time off and almost no medical leave. Potential employees are not informed about the mental health consequences of content moderation roles. Google has been experimenting with ways to lessen the impact of disturbing content, such as playing videos in grayscale.
Africa's 'first fully solar-powered village' wants to be a model for a renewable future (4 minute read)
A town near Morocco's sunny Atlantic coast is Africa's first completely solar-powered village. Id Mjahdi is being pitched as a blueprint for how to power remote villages. Africa currently produces less than one percent of the world's solar energy. Morocco is aiming to increase its use of renewable energy to 52 percent by 2030. The project to outfit Id Mjahdi with solar power has resulted in clean water and more time for the villagers, which means they are able to produce more work and spend more time on education. These mini-grids can be maintained by the villagers, so the project can be scaled and replicated in other villages. There are 800 villages without electricity in Morocco alone, and the World Bank estimates that 650 million people worldwide will still lack access to electricity in 2030.
Self-Driving Mercedes Will Be Programmed To Sacrifice Pedestrians To Save The Driver (3 minute read)
Mercedes Benz's future Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous driving cars will choose to save drivers before pedestrians in the event of an accident. Driverless vehicles may have to make decisions concerning lives, for example, in a collision with a pedestrian, it might have to choose between saving the life of the driver or saving the life of a pedestrian. Engineers at Mercedes have decided that in any situation, autonomous vehicles should save the lives inside the car since that is where the engineers have the most control. While autonomous vehicles may sometimes have to make these kinds of decisions, they will most likely create a safer driving environment, resulting in less fatal accidents.
Programming, Design & Data Science
HNTerm (GitHub Repo)
HNTerm allows you to browse Hacker News within your terminal. It queries the official HN API and displays current stories and comments. HNTerm only shows content that is currently visible. Multiple stories/comment sections can be browsed at the same time using window splits.
Microsoft Opens Edge Addons Store for Submissions (1 minute read)
The Microsoft Edge Addons store is now fully open. Developers can submit their addons for the web browser through the Partner Center Developer Dashboard. Edge is now built on Google's Chromium web engine. Applications built for Chromium will be functional with Edge without any code changes required. Existing EdgeHTML-based extensions can be automatically migrated to the Chromium base.
Ask HN: Books you plan to read in 2020? (Hacker News Thread)
The new decade is coming up, and people are starting to make lists for what to accomplish for next year. This thread is full of book recommendations. Most discussion is around books that help optimize people's lives. Some technical books are listed. Discussion around engineering topics is mostly around managing work/life balance and also making sure that one chooses a small, concise, and clear set of sources rather than reading widely.