The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #6

Journalism struggles with new formats and fake news, Google takes a swing at ad blockers and we need to keep talking about diversity and inclusion in the tech industry!

Around the web

🔍 Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales creates news service Wikitribune

A new interesting attempt at tackling fake news (and how it impacts journalism).

His goal is for Wikitribune to offer “factual and neutral” articles that help combat the problem of “fake news”. The service is intended to be both ad-free and free-to-read, so will rely on supporters making regular donations. (…) can the spirit of public participation that drove an online encyclopaedia also drive online news? We don’t know, because the fascinating thing about Wikitribune (…) is that it isn’t just reinventing the commercial model for journalism: it’s reinventing the editorial one too.

🗞 The Guardian pulls out of Facebook’s Instant Articles

Facebook’s Instant Articles were supposed to transform journalism but it looks like they failed. Head over to the Verge’s Instant recall for an in-depth analysis.

Publishers aren’t happy with the deal platforms are cutting them. Now, the Guardian has dropped both Facebook’s fast-loading Instant Article format and will no longer publish content on Apple News.

👊🏼 How Google Blocked A Guerrilla Fighter In The Ad War

See AdNauseum’s struggle against Google and how their possible move to add ad-filtering to Chrome could bring them even closer to monopoly in the ad market.

The team suspected a simpler motive behind Google’s decision: AdNauseum directly conflicts with the way that the company makes most of its money. Google and its parent company, Alphabet (…) has taken a largely hands-off approach to the potentially existential threat of ad blockers (…) it now plans to include “ad-filtering” software pre-installed in Chrome — an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to making the web less annoying.

🎶 Spotify acquires blockchain startup Mediachain to solve music’s attribution problem

I won’t get into the debate around streaming music but this is yet another great use of blockchain technology.

Prior to its acquisition, the startup had developed several technologies that could aid in these efforts, including a decentralized, peer-to-peer database to connect applications with media and the information about it, as well as an attribution engine for creators, and a cryptocurrency that rewards creators for their work.

💸 How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All

Have you ever bought a plane ticket without using your browser’s Incognitomode? Then you know exactly what this article is about! Or how your online shopping habits and the data trail you leave behind is used to trick you into paying more.

Many moons ago, there used to be one price for something,” Dolan notes. Now the simplest of questions — what’s the true price of pumpkin-pie spice? — is subject to a Heisenberg level of uncertainty. Which raises a bigger question: could the internet, whose transparency was supposed to empower consumers, be doing the opposite.

👩🏽‍🔬 Why is Russia so good at encouraging women into tech?

This is the proof that we are not doomed and could see more women in the tech workspace. Also, the Kode with Klossy applications are open, apply before May 1st!

Based on interviews with 11,500 girls and young women across Europe, it finds their interest in these subjects drops dramatically at 15, with gender stereotypes, few female role models, peer pressure and a lack of encouragement from parents and teachers largely to blame. Not so in Russia.

💪🏼 The fight for net neutrality isn’t over

Maybe it’s not too late to fight back!

It’s a continuing fight, and there’s opportunity to influence policy at every step. Comment on the FCC public docket. Call representatives. Just participating in the fight at all is one of the biggest steps any one person can do. Public opposition is part of what killed the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 with grassroots organizations as well as companies like Google and Facebook opposing such a broad expansion of online copyright infringement policies.

🏨 Your hotel room photos could help catch sex traffickers

See how your hotel room photos can help catch sex traffickers by using TraffickCam’s pattern recognition software.

TraffickCam’s image analysis tools transform the photos into a number of data points, using features such as patterns on the carpet, paintings on the wall and landmarks out of the window. The various data points in the photos play an important role in matching the location.

📚 Massive Open Online Courses used to be 100% free. But they didn’t stay that way.

Well that sucks… Not that it’s surprising, really.

Without true innovation in pricing, it will be difficult for MOOCs to reach the people who could benefit from them the most.


💥 This Hacker Is My New Hero

Hack the world! And brick any unprotected connected device to bring down the permanent-denial-of-service (PDoS) botnets.

BrickerBot, as the name implies, will brick internet of things (IoT) devices that fail a simple security test. This is surely illegal, but I love it.

🏆 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017

My favourites?  Reversing Paralysis, Practical Quantum Computers and Hot Solar Cells!

These technologies all have staying power. They will affect the economy and our politics, improve medicine, or influence our culture. Some are unfolding now; others will take a decade or more to develop.

⛓ Introducing Token

The worlwide and open protocols compliant version of WeChat.

Token is a combination of a few things. It is: A private and secure messaging app A user controlled Ethereum wallet A browser for Ethereum apps

🖼 PhotoScan: Taking Glare-Free Pictures of Pictures

Take a look at how PhotoScan gets rid of glare on photo prints.

To create this feature, we developed a unique blend of computer vision and image processing techniques that can carefully align and combine several slightly different pictures of a print to separate the glare from the image underneath.

⚙️ Hardware Fundamentals: what exactly is a microcontroller?

If Raspberry Pi, Arduino and the IoT ring a bell, this article is probably for you.

At the fundamental level, a microcontroller is a just tiny computer. (…)* *Many people associate microcontrollers with Arduino. But it’s important to point out that Arduino is not a microcontroller. Arduino is a complete platform which spans across software and hardware

Web development / Web design

🤝 Codeland — the most inclusive developer conference yet

More conferences like this, please!

Even though the event was aimed at everyone, women easily outnumbered men — something I’ve never experienced before at a tech conference. Codeland’s tickets were relatively inexpensive, so it drew a much wider socio-economic cross-section of developers and people learning to code than a typical tech conference.

📓 Stanford’s intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java


In early April, Stanford University began piloting a new version of its introductory computer science course, CS 106A. The variant, CS 106J, is taught in JavaScript rather than Java.

🏭 How leverage Local Storage to build lightning-fast apps

The eternal struggle.

Users love fast, responsive apps. (…) They just want to see updates immediately. Right now. And we as a developers should strive to provide that. So how can we? The solution: storing those changes locally, then synchronizing them with your servers from time to time. But this gets way more complex when things like connection latency is taken into account.

🎨 Painting with Code : Airbnb Design

Code as the core of your design system.

We’re excited to share a tool we built to help bridge the gap between designers and engineers working on design systems at scale. React-sketchapp is an open-source library that allows you to write React components that render to Sketch documents.

👨🏼‍🎨 CSS in JavaScript: The future of component-based styling

Interesting take on the matter. Curious to see if everyone agrees.

By adopting inline styles, we can get all of the programmatic affordances of JavaScript. This gives us the benefits of something like a CSS pre-processor (variables, mixins, and functions). It also solves a lot of the problems that CSS has, such as global namespacing and styling conflicts.

🖥 An Illustrated Guide for Setting Up Your Website Using Github & Cloudflare

You should read this if…

You want to setup custom redirects or other server configuration for free. You want to get your site on HTTPS but don’t know where to start. You’re overwhelmed with the amount of choices out there (like Netlify, Surge, BitBalloon, Now)

🔓 Tales of SugarCRM Security Horrors

SugarCRM seems as secure as my first PHP3 web app (and that is not a good thing). See why you should care about keeping your applications safe.