The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #4

Instagram beats Snapchat, Mastodon tries to take out Twitter, United Airlines roughs passengers up and we all cross fingers that North Korea cancels this weekend’s nuclear tests. Can’t we just have world peace, net neutrality and free pizza for all humankind? kthxbye.

Around the web

💣 Mastodon — What Disruption Looks Like Right Before It Happens

I don’t know if that one will last but at least it’s open source and you can run your own instance of it. It should be interesting to follow in the coming months.

📷 200M People Using Instagram Stories daily

This is it, Instagram Stories (finally) tops 200M daily users and becomes officially bigger than Snapchat!

🔍 Google’s fact check feature comes to Google Search

Great way to provide new tools to prevent “fake news”. It’s interesting that Google won’t fact check themselves but leave that to Snopes and the like.

“Even though differing conclusions may be presented, we think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree,“ (…) Organizations that want to add their fact checks to Google Search must follow Google’s relatively stringent guidelines (…) At the end of the day, though, it’s an algorithm that decides whether the source of a fact check is trusted — and chances are, somebody is going to find a way around this sooner or later.

💸 Unprecedented Heist Hijacked a Brazilian Bank’s website

When phishing goes so deep that you can’t even see it happening. Learn how a Brazilian bank got hacked by alteration of DNS entries to redirect visitors to scamming web pages.

🌏 How India saved its internet from greedy corporations

Wouldn’t it be great if everybody could fight this hard to preserve Net Neutrality!?

In early 2015, the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI) was hijacked by the telecom companies that it was supposed to be regulating. It released a consultation paper on Net Neutrality for public feedback.

🤝 Reversing the Lies of the Sharing Economy

Fascinating piece that points out what’s wrong with our common understanding of what the Sharing Economy is.

There’s nothing resembling a “sharing economy” in an Uber interaction. You pay a corporation to send a driver to you, and it pays that driver a variable weekly wage. (…) we should call out Uber for what it is: a company in control of a platform that originally facilitated peer-to-peer renting, not sharing, and that eventually transformed into the de facto boss of an army of self-employed employees.

👹 Why Uber Won’t Fire Its CEO

Good recap of the history of super-voting shares (which allows founders to stay in control even when their equity is reduced).

Essentially, in one class, a share carries one vote; in the other class, shares come with ten votes each or more. These super-voting shares allow founders and some early investors to maintain control over decisions the company makes, even if their ownership in the company is significantly reduced.

🎨 When Pixels Collide — Reddit’s April Fool’s experiment

The most creative and insane thing you’ll this week.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one. Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.

😞 The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

You’ve read it, time to get outside and meet “real” people.

Overall, our results showed that (…) the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.


⛓ Inmates built computers hidden in ceiling, connected them to prison network

Gotta admire the creativity here! Although I think they should have gottenRaspberry Pi’s or C.H.I.P.’s instead.

Inmates at a medium-security Ohio prison secretly assembled two functioning computers, hid them in the ceiling, and connected them to the Marion Correctional Institution’s network. The hard drives were loaded with pornography, a Windows proxy server, VPN, VOIP and anti-virus software, the Tor browser, password hacking and e-mail spamming tools, and the open source packet analyzer Wireshark.

🤖 Robotopia: Introducing kids to coding with tiny virtual robots!

A fun and creative way to introduce kids to coding basics.

👩🏼‍⚕️ How artificial intelligence is revolutionizing healthcare

I wouldn’t put my open heart surgery in AI’s “hands” but it sure can help with recognizing patterns in cancer detection (and more).

There’s currently a shortage of over seven million physicians, nurses and other health workers worldwide, and the gap is widening. (…) Fortunately, artificial intelligence can help the healthcare sector to overcome present and future challenges. Here’s how AI algorithms and software are improving the quality and availability of healthcare services.

🔧 LEGO Macintosh classic with Wi-Fi and e‑paper display

Best DIY project of the year: a Wi-Fi enabled 1990 Macintosh Classic built with LEGO, powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero running docker and a 2.7” e-paper display.

🤓 Montreal’s fledgling AI community foresees billion dollar industry

It’s always nice to see groundbreaking innovation start here in Montreal.

The Quebec government will spend $100 million to encourage research and development in artificial intelligence over the next five years. Montreal’s AI industry leaders say the city has the magic formula to become a world hub.

📱 Federated Learning: Collaborative Machine Learning without Centralized Training Data

Reminds me a little of SETI@home’s screensaver back in the day.

Standard machine learning approaches require centralizing the training data on one machine or in a datacenter. And Google has built one of the most secure and robust cloud infrastructures for processing this data to make our services better. Now for models trained from user interaction with mobile devices, we’re introducing an additional approach: Federated Learning.

Web development / Web design

🖼 — Uber’s WebGL-powered framework

Uber’s CEO might be a jerk, their engineers are pretty awesome! Check their webGL framework out, the performance is impressive. is a WebGL-powered framework for visual exploratory data analysis of large datasets.

🗺 The top GitHub projects per country

In depth overview of the most popular GitHub projects per country and the queries necessary to extract the data yourself.

🗄 So what’s this GraphQL thing I keep hearing about?

Lengthy but very clear introduction to GraphQL and how it works.

In a nutshell, GraphQL is a syntax that describes how to ask for data, and is generally used to load data from a server to a client. GraphQL has three main characteristics: It lets the client specify exactly what data it needs. It makes it easier to aggregate data from multiple sources. It uses a type system to describe data.

👎🏼 How United Airlines onboards New Users

Even if they don’t beat you up when you board the plane, you’ll definitely punch yourself in the mouth when onboarding their mobile app!