Big Tech &
Google reportedly rescinds job offers for thousands of contractors and temporary workers (2 minute read)
Google has rescinded more than 2,000 job offers for contractors and temporary employees. The company has been slowing its pace of hiring and investment and will not be onboarding some of the workers it had brought on through contracting agencies. It is continuing to hire in several strategic areas. Half of Google's roughly 300,000 person workforce is made up of contractors and temp workers, who do not enjoy the same benefits and protections as its full-time employees. Google recently told contract workers they would no longer be able to access skills training tools reserved for full-time employees. Some contract workers have had their contracts extended for another 60 days due to the COVID-19 crisis.
SpaceX, NASA make history with first launch of astronauts from US soil in years (2 minute read)
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully launched on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida on Saturday. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are the first astronauts to launch from US soil since the end of the shuttle era in 2011. The astronauts have now docked at the International Space Station. Footage of the launch is available in the article. The Falcon 9 rocket successfully returned and landed on SpaceX's 'Of Course I Still Love You' droneship.
This German town replicated itself in VR to keep its tourism alive (5 minute read)
Herrenberg, a town in Germany, will soon be available via virtual reality. Tourists will be able to explore the town's historic houses and churches. The town currently uses super-computing and technologies typically deployed in advanced aerospace to visualize city data and citizen's emotional responses inside the digital twin. Citizens can use an app to share feedback on the town. The town will open up the digital copy for tourists to visit so they can explore it digitally before visiting it in person.
World's Largest All-Electric Airplane Flies for Historic 30 Minutes (2 minute read)
magniX is an air travel startup made up of members from companies like Airbus, Boeing, Google-X, SpaceX, and Tesla. It recently flew an all-electric Cessna 208 aircraft for 30 minutes over Moses Lake in Washington. The aircraft has a battery-powered electric engine and can carry up to nine passengers. magniX estimates that the cost to run a retrofitted electric fleet could be as much as 50 percent less than using conventional fuel aircraft. Retrofitted aircraft have a range of about 100 miles, while specially designed electric aircraft will have a range that could be up to five times that.
Programming, Design & Data Science
K9s (GitHub Repo)
K9s is a command-line interface for interacting with Kubernetes clusters. It makes it easy to navigate, observe, and manage applications in the wild. K9 watches Kubernetes for change and offers options for interacting with observed resources. It is available on Linux, macOS, and Windows.
Swift AWS Lambda Runtime (GitHub Repo)
Swift AWS Lambda Runtime is a library that makes building Lambda functions in Swift simple and safe. It is an implementation of the AWS Lambda Runtime API that uses an embedded asynchronous HTTP Client based on SwiftNIO, fine-tuned for the AWS Runtime. The library features a multi-tier API that can build a range of Lambda functions.
OpenAI debuts gigantic GPT-3 language model with 175 billion parameters (4 minute read)
GPT-3 is OpenAI's new language model. It has 175 billion parameters, but it is unclear whether a full version or whether one of seven smaller versions will be released. GPT-3 is an autoregressive model trained with unsupervised machine learning. It can generate news articles, use novel words in sentences, and perform arithmetic. The model achieved nearly state-of-the-art results in COPA and ReCoRD reading comprehension data sets but fell short in some sets of middle school and high school exam questions that required comparing two sentences or snippets. An analysis of the model found that it had some biases, likely due to the input data.
A new TikTok clone hit the top of the App Store by paying users to watch videos (3 minute read)
Zynn is a TikTok clone app that has recently reached number one in both Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store. Its interface is identical to TikTok's except that there is a timer that fills up with points as a user watches videos. The points can be redeemed later for cash or gift cards. Zynn originated in China by a startup called Kuaishou. It hopes to make more money selling ads than it pays out to users. Kuaishou recently received a $2 billion investment from Tencent, who hopes the investment will help it compete against ByteDance. Zynn has a referral scheme that promises $110 to users if they can get five people to sign up and use the app regularly. Users must link the app to an existing phone number, Google, Facebook, or Twitter account to receive rewards. A PayPal account is required to cash out rewards.