Samsung Rolls Out Latest Phones at Unpacked; Health & Tech Firms Partner on Digital Vaccination Records; NHTSA Calls for Recall on Tesla Touchscreens; Parler CEO Says App May Not Return

As expected, Samsung showed off it’s latest and greatest phones at Unpacked today. Theverge.com reports that the Galaxy S21 will sell for $799 and the S21 Plus for $999. The S21 Ultra will be a wallet-melting $1199! The displays are virtually identical to last year’s phones, but the rounded edges have been eliminated. RAM in the two less expensive phones has been cut from 12 gigs to 8 gigs. The back panel of the lower end S21 is polycarbonate plastic, not glass, and it doesn’t have the ultrawideband radio the Plus and Ultra have that help integrate better with Samsung’s new Galaxy SmartTag. Aping Apple, Samsung will no longer ship with a charging brick and headphones (also citing environmental reasons…neither they nor Apple will admit to the nice cost savings they reap.) All 3 phones are available for preorder now, and launch on January 29th.

There is a new cross-industry initiative to set up digital vaccination records to enable employers to verify that people have and COVID-19 vaccinations before returning to the workplace. According to techcrunch.com, The so-called ‘Vaccination Credential Initiative’ includes a range of big-name companies from both the healthcare and the tech industry, including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and Epic, as well as the Mayo Clinic, Safe Health, Change Healthcare and the CARIN Alliance. Paper vaccination credentials have actually been around since the 1700’s. I can recall having a little card from my doctor’s office showing all the vaccinations I had had for school. The system could be used for travel as well as workplace returns. 

The Feds are calling for an analysis that could lead to a recall of Teslas over touchscreens. The NHTSA says there is an apparent defect in Model S and Model X touchscreens that could end up bricking some 158,000 cars. Arstechnica.com says the issue is in the Media Control Unit. Buried within the MCU is an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip, which can only be written to a finite number of times. Once this number of read/write cycles is reached—something that takes between three and four years depending on how much the car is driven—the touchscreen dies. The Feds say Tesla has attempted to patch the systems, but that isn’t working, and they have asked for a recall. 

In an interview with Reuters, John Matze, CEO of Parler, said the platform may not ever get back online. After being dropped from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, then getting the boot from Amazon Web Services last Sunday, other vendors have also cut ties with the platform. Prior to going down, Parler had claimed to have over 12 million users. The platform was looking for another hosting service, and according to Matze, there had been no changes to investors in Parler as of yesterday. Hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer and conservative commentator Dan Bongino are investors of the service.



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