Top remote work tools for productivity, via GitHub, GitLab, Facebook

  • With remote work a long-term reality for many companies, tools to help employees work productively from home are critical. 
  • StackShare shared which tools are most popular on its platform, while execs from companies like Facebook, GitHub, Gitlab, and Atlassian also dished on their go-to products. 
  • It’s not just about the specific tools, though, it’s about how they’re used — including to keep company culture alive. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Because of the pandemic, remote work has become the new normal for many tech companies. 

Firms like Facebook, Twitter, and Atlassian are allowing employees to work remotely permanently, if they wish — a practice already adopted by startups like GitLab — and adapting to new productivity products in the process. It’s not just about the tools a company uses though, but also how they use them. 

StackShare, a website for companies to share what apps they use, has

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Researchers use artificial intelligence language tools to decode molecular movements

UMD researchers use artificial intelligence language tools to decode molecular movements
Scientists from the University of Maryland applied a language processing system to the movements of a riboswitch molecule pictured here, to understand how and when the molecule takes different forms. Credit: Zachary Smith/UMD

By applying natural language processing tools to the movements of protein molecules, University of Maryland scientists created an abstract language that describes the multiple shapes a protein molecule can take and how and when it transitions from one shape to another.


A protein molecule’s function is often determined by its shape and structure, so understanding the dynamics that control shape and structure can open a door to understanding everything from how a protein works to the causes of disease and the best way to design targeted drug therapies. This is the first time a machine learning algorithm has been applied to biomolecular dynamics in this way, and the method’s success provides insights that can also help advance

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Researchers watch ants use tools to avoid drowning

Oct. 8 (UPI) — Scientists have observed ants using sand to draw liquid food out of containers. In addition to helping ants avoid drowning, the strategy allowed them to more efficiently collect sugar water.

Researchers described the first-of-its-kind observation in a new paper, published Thursday in the journal Functional Ecology.

When scientists first presented black imported fire ants with containers of sugar water, the ants were able to float and feed on the surface without drowning. When researchers added a surfactant, the reduced surface tensions forced the ants to adapt.

Faced with the threat of drowning, the ants collected and deposited sand grains inside the containers.

“We found the ants used sand to build a structure that could effectively draw sugar water out of the container to then to be collected,” lead study author Aiming Zhou said in a news release.

“This exceptional tool making skill not only reduced the

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Deep learning enables identification and optimization of RNA-based tools for myriad applications

Deep learning takes on synthetic biology
Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

DNA and RNA have been compared to “instruction manuals” containing the information needed for living “machines” to operate. But while electronic machines like computers and robots are designed from the ground up to serve a specific purpose, biological organisms are governed by a much messier, more complex set of functions that lack the predictability of binary code. Inventing new solutions to biological problems requires teasing apart seemingly intractable variables—a task that is daunting to even the most intrepid human brains.


Two teams of scientists from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised pathways around this roadblock by going beyond human brains; they developed a set of machine learning algorithms that can analyze reams of RNA-based “toehold” sequences and predict which ones will be most effective at sensing and responding to a desired target sequence. As reported in

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Early Humans Were Using Fire 300,000 Years Ago to Forge Superior Stone Tools

A stone tool made of flint.

A stone tool made of flint.
Image: Avraham Gopher

The prehistoric practice of using controlled fires to produce customized stone tools dates back 300,000 years, according to new research. The discovery affirms the cognitive and cultural sophistication of human species living at this time.

The baked flint tools, found at Qesem Cave in central Israel, are evidence that early hominins were capable of controlling the temperature of their fires and that they had stumbled upon an important survival skill, according to new research published today in Nature Human Behavior.

The heating of flint at low temperatures allowed for better control of flaking during knapping. Armed with this level of control, tool builders could cater their tools for specific cutting applications. The new paper was led by archaeologist Filipe Natalio from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Silje Evjenth Bentsen, an anthropologist at the University of Bergen who

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How Microsoft’s customer data tools are competing with Salesforce

  • Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 tools for customer service and financial planning, are becoming an increasingly important part of its business, particularly its customer data platform.
  • Microsoft’s customer data platform is meant to help companies collect customer information in one central place, so that they can use it to improve customer service. 
  • Dynamics 365 as a whole has the potential to become a much bigger and stronger competitor to Salesforce in the customer data space, Futurum Research analyst Dan Newman told Business Insider. 
  • Microsoft’s product is designed to connect to any data collection tool, whether Microsoft owns it or not, which gives customers more flexibility than Salesforce does, he said. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 tools for customer service and financial planning, are becoming an increasingly important part of its business and seeing healthy growth, too: Last quarter the product’s revenue jumped 38% year-over-year.

The centerpiece of

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Coastal Change Happens! USGS Has Data and Tools to Help Coastal Communities Prepare

The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new Coastal Change Hazards website focused on coordinating research and delivering tools needed by coastal communities to respond to natural hazards along our Nation’s coastlines.

As Hurricane Sally approached the US Gulf Coast, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards team produced a series of forecasts for impacts on the beach. Forecasts were updated daily based on wave and storm surge forecasts from NOAA.

(Public domain.)

Our Nation’s coasts vary greatly, from relaxing sandy beaches and barrier islands, ecologically productive marshes, magnificent rocky coasts and cliffs, to tropical islands fringed by coral reefs and permafrost coasts where ice holds the sediments together. Each coastline is unique and faces different elements of coastal change.

Equally importantly, with more than 40% of the United States population inhabiting coastal counties, we must use the best available information and tools to reduce societal risk, protect natural resources, develop and

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SkyWatch and Picterra combine imagery access with AI tools

SAN FRANCISCO – SkyWatch Space Applications, the Canadian startup whose EarthCache platform helps software developers embed geospatial data and imagery in applications, announced a partnership Oct. 5 with Picterra, a Swiss startup with a self-service platform to help customers autonomously extract information from aerial and satellite imagery.

“One of the things that has been very difficult to achieve is this ability to easily and affordably access satellite data in a way that is fast but also in a way in which you can derive the insights you need for your particular business,” James Slifierz, SkyWatch CEO told SpaceNews. “What if you can merge both the accessibility of this data with an ease of developing and applying intelligence to the data so that any company in the world could have the tools to derive insights?”

SkyWatch’s EarthCache platform is designed to ease access to aerial and satellite imagery. However, SkyWatch

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Google Play gets new rules, Apple launches app marketing tools, EU looks to rein in tech giants

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

In this series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.

Google changes its app store rules, too



a hand holding a cell phone: Google Play Store screen


© Provided by TechCrunch
Google Play Store screen

Google Play Store screen

Just a couple of weeks ago, Apple revised its App Store rules

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Microsoft Ignites 2020 With New Services And Tools For Business Resiliency

Another week, another virtual tech conference come and gone. This time it was Microsoft and its annual Ignite conference, where the company showcases its latest and upcoming solutions for its ecosystem of developers and IT professionals. We’re all getting used to the digital conference song and dance by now, and Microsoft, of course, pulled it off without a hitch. I tuned in to the event last week and wanted to share some takeaways, which I’ll break into two different blogs. The first will be a flyover of sorts, while the second will be a more in-depth look at some of the news around Microsoft’s Power Platform. Let’s dive in! 

Introducing Azure Communication Services 

Microsoft took the occasion to announce Azure Communication Services, which it touts as the world’s first fully managed communication platform available from a leading cloud provider. The offering seeks to save developers from the hassle of building

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