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December 18, 2020

☕ Good morning! I finally struck gold on my Secret Santa this year, just as time ticked down to one week until Christmas. Phew.

s21 plus random stuff 2

In the last 24 hours, the Samsung Galaxy S21 cat has come out of the bag completely. 

  • Roland Quandt over at released a ton of official press images of the S21.
  • And, significantly, the S21 Ultra as well, with the focus of attention on the flat display design, and the back and camera bump with a whole lot of sensors.
  • It shows the four lenses plus an additional sensor we’ve seen confirmed already: a 108MP main camera (second-generation sensor), a 12MP ultra wide-angle, a 10MP telephoto lens with 10x optical zoom, a separate 10MP zoom lens, and laser autofocus.
  • And Quandt confirmed no headphones, or charger in the box.

And, there’s a review on YouTube, somehow. 

s21 plus random stuff 2
  • A five-minute video of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus has been published by a YouTube channel called Random Stuff 2, who looks to be in Miami in Florida, with a hands-on of the device in use. 
  • Which yes, completely sounds a bit random. But the channel has had a few consistent Galaxy S21 leaks and despite the fairly amateur approach, does seem to be showing off the S21 Plus in black, along with camera samples, although the device is still receiving constant software updates so there’s little to judge here and now.
  • It confirms an almost bezel-less display with a centered punch-hole, in-display fingerprint sensor and shows facial recognition at work.
  • In terms of the camera, there’s a 64MP+12MP+12MP triple rear camera setup with 3x optical zoom.
  • The spec is 8GB of RAM, with 128GB/256GB storage options, Android 11 out-of-the-box, and of course, the Snapdragon 888 chipset.
  • Random Stuff 2’s previous videos have been deleted, and again, there’s no explanation for how the channel got hold of a pre-production model in the US.
  • No doubt Samsung will be trying to work that out, too!

📸 Samsung’s Galaxy A72 5G has shown up in new leaks ahead of its early 2021 debut, including pics and quad-camera array details (Android Authority).

The rise of ultra-fast charging: How 2020 changed the way we charge our phones (Android Authority).

💸 Cyberpunk 2077 pulled from PlayStation Store until further notice, refunds to be offered (Sony). Huge moment, the first time Sony has done this. Meanwhile, the PC version and Stadia versions are fine, but the console release is a disaster and patches are required to fix it properly. What will Xbox do? (CD Projekt Red stocks fell as much as 23% at the time of writing.)

💄 Google will let you try on AR makeup on Search, but only partner brands products at the moment (Engadget).

💀 Google kills Android Things, its IoT OS: it’s been given up on for a while but now it’s officially shutting (Ars Technica).

🔓 The SolarWinds hack continues to grow towards being the most serious cybersecurity event ever: Microsoft software contained malicious SolarWinds code, with 40 plus customers targeted. The attack is “ongoing”. It’s not over the top to say this is chilling. Read Microsoft president Brad Smith’s post ( — the US Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the US nuclear weapons stockpile, show evidence of network access. Is this the tip of the iceberg? (Ars Technica).

Here’s the third antitrust lawsuit against Google from 38 states: The latest both echoes previous allegations brought by the Feds, and goes further, by seeking to stop Google from becoming dominant in the latest generation of technology: voice-assistant devices and internet-connected cars, and more (AP).

🍎 Judge orders Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in the Apple vs Epic lawsuit over its App Store policies. July next year, at the earliest? (Apple Insider).

👛 Coinbase, perhaps the best-known American crypto company, announced it has filed confidentially to IPO in early 2021 (TechCrunch).

🐤 Twitter tests ‘humanization prompts’ in an effort to reduce toxic replies(Mashable).

😬 There’s a startling and lengthy new report about how toxic jet fumes can leak into the air on planes, and that the likes of Boeing know about it. One pilot who passed out on a Spirit Airlines flight after an event like this told other pilots, “this the tobacco and asbestos of aviation.” (LA Times).

🧂 A bunch of humble Raspberry Pis helped scientists track the seismic noise people stopped making in 2020(Ars Technica).

💥 Are self-destruct systems real? (Jalopnik).

🌸 Newly discovered orchid species labeled the ugliest in the world. But in better news, it smells good! (New Scientist).

🤔 “What is the single most “you’ll understand it when you’re older” thing?” (r/askreddit).

Friday Fun
ccny planetarium grand conjunction

What could be more fun than The Great Conjunction happening in the skies above us?

From our perspective on Earth, Saturn and Jupiter are drawing closer, and they’ll be closest on December 21st, appearing as a double planet, despite being hundreds of millions of miles apart. (It’s also called a “Christmas Star” due to the late-December timing.)

This celestial happenstance between these two gas giants isn’t exactly common: last occurring at night about 800 years ago, and set to happen again in 2080. 

  • “You can imagine the solar system to be a racetrack, with each of the planets as a runner in their own lane and the Earth toward the center of the stadium,” Henry Throop, an astronomer in NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. 
  • “From our vantage point, we’ll be able to…see Jupiter on the inside lane, approaching Saturn all month and finally overtaking it on December 21.” 
  • “The planets can be seen with the unaided eye,” NASA writes, “but if you have binoculars or a small telescope, you may be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons orbiting the giant planet.”
  • “On the 21st, they will appear so close that a pinkie finger at arm’s length will easily cover both planets in the sky.” And if you do that, you’ll be covering 80% of the moons in our solar system.
  • Until Dec. 21, Saturn will appear to the upper left of Jupiter, until Jupiter will passes Saturn, reversing their positions on the 21st. 
  • It should be visible for most people just after sunset to the southwest or west, and you may also see dots around Jupiter, the most visible being Europa.
  • Here’s how it looked last night (r/space)


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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