Big Tech &
How to watch the debut of Tesla Model S Plaid, the ‘quickest production car ever made’ (4 minute read)
Tesla revealed a new high-performance Plaid version of the Model S on Thursday on a livestream. The event and delivery of the Model S were delayed as the vehicle needed more tweaking. It is expected to begin shipping to customers in March. The new Plaid has an estimated range of 390 miles, a top speed of 200mph, and can reach 0-60mph in 1.99 seconds. It features a simple interior, a landscape touchscreen, a stalkless U-shaped butterfly steering wheel, and an added screen for rear-seat passengers. A recording of the livestream is available in the article.
Self-driving Waymo trucks to haul loads between Houston and Fort Worth (2 minute read)
Waymo and trucking company JB Hunt are working together to autonomously haul cargo between Houston and Fort Worth in Texas. A trained truck driver and Waymo technician will be on each truck to supervise and take over if necessary. Waymo has been developing autonomous technology for trucks for several years, with the first tests in Atlanta in 2018.
Bacteria-sized robots take on microplastics and win by breaking them down (2 minute read)
A team of researchers has developed self-propelled microrobots that can break down microplastics. Microplastics are hard to remove and they absorb heavy metals and pollutants that can be harmful if accidentally consumed. The robots use a catalyst that is activated by sunlight to move them towards microparticles to dismantle them. Using only the catalyst to break down the plastic is impractical as it requires processes that can't easily be scaled up. The research could eventually lead to systems that can capture and degrade microplastics in hard-to-reach locations.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Building a WebAuthn Click Farm — Are CAPTCHAs Obsolete? (9 minute read)
Cloudflare recently proposed a potential replacement for CAPTCHAs by using signatures from hardware security keys and WebAuthn. It is possible to automate the Attestation of Personhood challenge, but it comes at a significantly higher cost to attackers than CAPTCHAs and can be easily detected. This article is a guide on how to bypass the challenge and also how to detect these attacks on a server.
Unprofessional Landing Pages: How To Make Your Pages Look Like a Design Team Was Behind It (8 minute read)
First impressions matter for professional pages. It only takes a very short amount of time for someone to form an opinion about a website. Clarity is important because there isn't much time to get a message across, so it is important not to add clutter. This article discusses how to make more professional-looking pages with above-the-fold design patterns, some UX open secrets, and tips on how to improve the scan-ability of pages.
Data-thieving hackers strike again, stealing EA source code and police data (2 minute read)
EA Games and the Presque Isle Police Department in Maine have both been hit by a ransomware attack. The hackers stole 780GB of source code and tools for FIFA 21 from EA. No player data was stolen. EA is working with law enforcement on the case. The Presque Isle Police Department refused to pay its ransom and 200GB of data was published on a website hosted on the dark web. The data includes emails, police reports, witness statements, files documenting cases, and personal information belonging to victims and defendants.
DNA Jumps Between Animal Species. No One Knows How Often (12 minute read)
Herrings and smelts, two unrelated species of fish, share the same gene for producing antifreeze proteins, providing proof that horizontal gene transfer is possible. The two species of fish are unable to produce offspring, so the gene wasn't inherited through normal sexual channels. Other animals also show transposable elements, with the vast majority found in fish. The antifreeze gene was likely transferred through a process similar to sperm-mediated gene transfer, a technique used by genetic engineers. Other gene transfers may be caused by parasites, but more research is required to test this theory.