Gizmodo’s 100 Most Popular Posts of 2020

The idea of rounding up Gizmodo’s most-read posts for the year 2020 was bad from the start. But if you take a long view of this devastating year, you might see patterns. Grifters, conspiracies, hacks, scams. News about streaming services, space adventures, encryption, weather events, gadgetry of all sorts, animals in various cahoots. This list shows the posts that have been read the most due to a combination of factors mostly beyond our control. Somehow one of them is an investigation into Andrew Cuomo’s nipples. Another, that time we cancelled Christmas trees or something. With misguided audacity, we work in digital media, bringing you, the reader, news, opinions, experiences, pleas, warnings, questions, and, when we can, answers. So look upon this assembly and tell us — aside from the crumbling economic system unable to support humanity — what do you see?

1) Teen Who Died of Covid-19 Was Denied Treatment Because He Didn’t Have Health Insurance

A 17-year-old boy in Los Angeles County who became the first teen believed to have died from complications with covid-19 in the U.S. was denied treatment at an urgent care clinic because he didn’t have health insurance, according to R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California.

This year’s tree is also perfectly poised to reflect something more than our national mood: It reflects the absolutely toxic relationship we have with the natural world and the need to rapidly reverse course. If this year’s tree sees any justice, it’s that it should be the last.

Entomologists in Washington have confirmed the existence of a nest of Asian giant hornets, more fondly known as murder hornets.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

The Coolest Gadgets of 2020

It didn’t feel like it, what with a major pandemic and massive financial crisis, but 2020 was actually an incredible year for gadgets. For companies like Apple and Microsoft, this could have been a landmark year were it not for everything else going on. While the competition for our attention…

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4) TikTok Teens Are Dipping Their Balls in Soy Sauce and Lighting Their Houses on Fire

I bring you the news that has travelled from both hemispheres, officially qualifying this as A Thing: to repeat, ball-having TikTok users are dipping their balls in soy sauce to see if they can taste.

From afar, the cruise ships in these photos almost look like toys, perhaps LEGO models being taken apart for new creations.

Pink snow is usually a spring and summer phenomenon, requiring the right amount of light, warmth, and water to grow. Usually, the algae are inactive while under the snow and ice, but once melt season hits, the normally stark landscape bursts with colour.

Photo: Carl De Souza, Getty Images

The Best and Worst of the World’s Covid-19 Response

On January 7, 2020, I wrote about a mysterious, pneumonia-causing viral illness making people sick in Wuhan, China. It was the first Gizmodo article about what eventually became known as covid-19, the second pandemic to strike humanity in the 21st century. It’s eerie to look back at those early days…

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Next year, Comcast will start charging Xfinity customers in northeastern US states overage fees for exceeding their monthly data cap.

8) You Should Probably Skip Buying a New Xbox or PlayStation This Year

Now that both Sony and Microsoft have released the official specs of their upcoming consoles, there’s plenty to get excited about this coming holiday season — maybe.

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, there are mysterious canines with short ears, pointy noses, and bushy tails that roam the undergrowth. The creatures, which are one of the least studied variety of dogs on the planet, are rarely seen even by scientists who have spent years studying the region.

10) Here’s Who Just Voted to Let the FBI Seize Your Online Search History Without a Warrant

Under Section 215 of the Act, the government can compel phone companies and internet service providers to turn over such data, if it is deemed vaguely “relevant” to a terrorism or counterespionage case.

11) The Sony PS5 Is Making the PS4 Look Cheap

The console is expected to launch later this year, but Sony is struggling to get the cost of manufacturing below $US450 ($586) per unit.

“FREE AMERICA NOW,” Musk tweeted overnight after sending out news articles about plans to relax social distancing restrictions in various parts of the U.S., the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world by far.

The latest version of iOS brings with it a whole host of new features and improvements, and we’ve rounded up 17 of our favourite changes that you should try after downloading the update.

14) Dead Alligators Dropped to the Bottom of the Sea Make for a Rare and Delicious Meal

An experiment to see how deep-sea creatures might react to the presence of an uncommon food source — alligator carcasses — has resulted in some fascinating new science.

Artist's impression of the disappearing star. (Image: ESO)Artist’s impression of the disappearing star. (Image: ESO)

An unusually bright star has gone missing, in a mystery of cosmic proportions.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites ruined the image, painting streaks across the otherwise largely pristine sky.

17) The Most and Least Physically Active U.S. States

Across all 50 states, at least 15 per cent of adults reported being physically inactive, while in some areas of the country, nearly 50 per cent of adults said they got no form of exercise.

18) You Need to Opt Out of Amazon Footpath

Have you heard of Amazon Footpath? Probably not. But there is a good chance that you or someone you know has an Amazon Echo or Ring camera. And if you own one of those devices and live in the U.S. (or know someone who does), you need to tell them to opt-out of the service as soon as possible.

19) Watch This Veteran Collapse on Antiques Roadshow When He Learns His $US345 ($449) Rolex Is Actually Worth $US700,000 ($910,840)

There’s rarely as satisfying a moment on TV as watching someone strike it rich on Antiques Roadshow when a random item turns out to be worth a fortune.

When it comes to biodiversity, more is a good thing. And I know this is silly, but honestly, bonus points if they’re cute, right?

21) Netflix Tells Subscribers to Use It or Lose It

Netflix is planning to purge its service of subscribers whose accounts are no longer actively being used — but you may have a chance to save your precious streaming data if you resubscribe before it’s wiped.

Photo: Joanna Nelius/GizmodoPhoto: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

The whole thing is a massive departure from those hefty black bricks festooned in RGBa, and yet it’s one that my gothic, all-black loving heart loves. But while the Zephyrus G14 has the right looks, and can even best Intel’s mobile Core i9-9980HK in several workload types, it has one serious underlying issue: it gets HOT.

23) Stop Using Dark Mode

I’m going to preface this by saying I love dark mode. It started with my desktop Kindle app, and as soon as it was rolled out everywhere, I switched everything over to the soothing white-on-black aesthetic. My eyes rejoiced, and I too decried this mad blog calling dark mode a crutch for suckers. But oh, I have now seen the light.

24) Samsung Redesigned Its TV Boxes to be Easily Converted Into Cat Houses and Entertainment Centres

Taking a cue from anyone under 10 years old who can come up with endless imaginative uses for an empty cardboard box, Samsung is now making it easy for anyone to recycle or upcycle its TV packaging into other useful household items like magazine racks and fancy cat houses.

25) Retailers Screwed Everyone on PlayStation 5 Preorders

Now you’ve got a bunch of pissed off gamers asking Sony, what in the actual hell?

While the lake is no stranger to massive storms and powerful gales, it’s never experienced one like Cristobal.

27) Zoom Has a Google Problem

Last week saw the U.S. Senate join the ever-growing chorus of federal officials advising staff against using Zoom, with one top official calling the video software a “privacy and security concern.”

Scientists say this one weird trick will make a cat like you, or at least not be so repulsed by you.

29) You Could Replace All Your Home’s Wifi Hardware With This Tiny 5G Router

Mobile hotspots are a crucial tool for travellers needing to keep all their gear connected. But with the advent of 5G, Netgear’s new Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router could replace all of your home’s wifi equipment with a pocket-friendly hotspot that will provide fast wifi even when you take it on the road.

The storm is forecast to keep intensifying up until landfall and is poised to be a massively destructive Category 4.

31) Weed Edibles Aren’t as Safe as We Think, Doctors Argue

In a new paper out Monday, they argue that people have plenty of misconceptions about how safe edibles really are and warn that first-time users are especially likely to take too much for their own good.

32) Don’t Buy a New TV

This year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, we saw the newest and best TVs. They’re pretty boring, which is weirdly exciting.

33) Alcohol Is Killing More Americans Than Ever

More and more Americans are drinking themselves to death. A new study this week finds there were around 72,000 alcohol-related deaths among people over the age of 16 in 2017 — more than double the number of similar deaths recorded two decades earlier.

Now, if anyone can stop a squirrel from breaching a bird feeder you’d assume a former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer could, but as Mark Rober discovered, squirrels are the unstoppable ninjas of the animal kingdom.

35) Nintendo Cracked Open Its Secret Game Boy Stash to Help a 95-Year-Old Fan

When technicians couldn’t fix a 95-year-old Japan woman’s dead Game Boy, the company replaced it with a brand new one, leading us to wonder just how many original Game Boys Nintendo has stashed away?

Something normal happened on Twitter earlier this afternoon.

The covid-19 pandemic has changed the world, grinding to a halt increasingly large geographic areas and portions of the economy in an effort to slow the virus’ spread.

38) HBO Beats Netflix to Officially Rolling Out One of the Most Coveted Features in Streaming

If you’ve found yourself attempting the impossible task of smashing that “play” button at exactly the time as everyone else in your viewing party, reader, there it is a better way.

39) YouTuber Gives Fake Award to Far-Right Activist Who Calls Greta Thunberg an ‘Autistic Fucking Wench’

YouTuber Josh Pieters has revealed that he pranked far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins by flying her to Prague and presenting her with a fake award.

A new bird song is spreading like wildfire among Canadian white-throated sparrows, at a scale not seen before by scientists.

41) How to Make a Face Mask From a T-Shirt or Coffee Filter and Bandanna

The CDC recommended the DIY masks as an additional precaution used in addition to, and not instead of, maintaining social distance of at least six feet from other people.

Photo: Andrew Burton, Getty ImagesPhoto: Andrew Burton, Getty Images

If there’s one thing we could do without next year besides, well (gestures at everything), it’s subscription services.

I know Apple charges a premium for its products. I know and hate that, and yet, many times I have paid the price for one of its gadgets. Sometimes it’s been worth it. I also absolutely know that I will never, ever, ever pay $US130 ($169) for the MagSafe Duo charger.

44) The Biggest Problems With Bluetooth Audio Are About to Be Fixed

Although used for everything from lightbulbs, to video game controllers, to RC toys, audio remains the most popular use for Bluetooth, powering the endless array of wireless headphones flooding the market.

Astronomers are puzzling over observations that show a black hole smashing into a mystery object of unusual size.

R/conspiracy never sleeps, every day on the internet is a zombie march through a waking nightmare, and as a result, there is a new Pizzagate.

47) The Computer Scientist Responsible for Cut, Copy, and Paste, Has Passed Away

Larry Tesler, who passed away on Monday, might not be a household name like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but his contributions to making computers and mobile devices easier to use are the highlight of a long career influencing modern computing.

The same day that many schools are back in session, Zoom, the teleconferencing software that’s become the go-to for many educators’ remote-teaching needs for the foreseeable future, seems to have crashed for large swaths of the US.

49) The Weirdest Images Ever Taken on Mars

From spoons and squirrels to campfires and women wearing dresses, we present to you the most notorious false sightings on Mars.

50) Georgia’s Idiot Governor Says He Didn’t Know People Could Spread Covid-19 Without Symptoms

Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp gave a press conference on Wednesday, announcing a new shelter-in-place order that’s been long overdue. But Kemp also admitted something that should terrify every person living in and around Georgia

When the federal government put the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of hospital data aggregation instead of its subsidiary, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, critics feared that the Trump administration might be trying to stifle news to keep the public in the dark about how bad the pandemic actually was.

Spending 92 years doing anything is an accomplishment, so let’s cheers to Exxon Mobil Corp., which spent more than nine decades as a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, pillaging the planet, lying about climate change, and making rich people even richer.

53) I Can’t Believe You Fuckers Made Me Solve the Andrew Cuomo Nipple Mystery

It brings me no pleasure to announce that I have solved the mystery of Andrew Cuomo’s nipples.

During a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana last year, scientist and amateur photographer Gaurav Agrawal simply wanted to capture a beautiful sunset.

55) Trump Regime Overruled CDC, Flew Coronavirus-Infected Americans on Plane With Healthy People: Report

The new report raises serious questions about the U.S. government’s decisions at a time when the coronavirus, which causes an illness called Covid-19, threatens to become a global pandemic.

Photo: Alex Wong, Getty ImagesPhoto: Alex Wong, Getty Images

Steve Bannon has been outed for his involvement in running a network of misinformation pages on Facebook. Who could have possibly seen this coming.

Europe employs a “use it or lose it” system to determine an airline’s flight slots, so what are operators to do when a global outbreak tanks flight demands? The answer: “ghost” flights.

58) The Dream of a Common Charger Is Alive — Despite Apple’s Complaining

The European Parliament is fed up with e-waste — in particular, charging cables. To fix the problem, lawmakers are debating a binding measure that would force gadget makers to use a standardised charging port.

At least eight people who have refused to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic have been forced to dig graves for people who died from covid-19 in the province of East Java, Indonesia, according to a report from the Jakarta Post.

Fortnite has now been kicked out of both Apple and Google’s stores, and Epic is now suing Apple.

The platypus is nature’s crazy quilt, as this strange creature looks like about a half-dozen different animals all rolled into one. Turns out that platypuses were hiding yet another conspicuous feature: THEY CAN FREAKIN’ GLOW IN THE DARK.

“All living beings are on Earth for a reason, from the tiniest insects to the greatest mammals.” That’s what Agora, a free photography app, said they aimed to show with their photography contest, #Animals2020.

63) Hawks’ Forbidden Love Results in a Rare Hybrid

Researchers have discovered that two hawks from surprisingly distant perches on the tree of life have mated, resulting in rare hybrid chicks.

64) The Truth of Coronavirus Might Be Worse Than the Conspiracy Theories

As is so often the case in times of disaster, people, including political leaders, are promoting conspiracy theories about the origin, spread, and seriousness of the new coronavirus.

In short, they’re pro-Trump ideologues who are pushing unproven science during a pandemic that’s so far infected over 4.3 million Americans and killed more than 148,000.

Alcohol has many well-known negative effects on our health, but a new paper this week highlights what are likely the most harmful periods during a lifetime to have alcohol in your system, at least when it comes to our brains.

Even if you weren’t afraid of stepping onto an aeroplane before, the global coronavirus pandemic has given us a slew of new reasons to be stressed out by air travel.

Chromium steel, commonly referred to as stainless steel, is thought to be a recent manufacturing innovation, but new evidence suggests ancient Persians stumbled upon an early version of this alloy some 1,000 years ago, in what is a surprise to archaeologists.

It’s not exactly a secret that Elon Musk, billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, self-proclaimed Thai pedophilia expert, and designer of death race trucks, doesn’t give a flying fuck what other people think about his actions.

Photo: Gizmodo

The Heroic Tech That Helped Us Endure 2020

Humanity will survive this pandemic, but the past 10 months spent isolating, social distancing, and quarantining has been rough for us all. As bad as this year has been, it could have been a lot worse were it not for a handful of technologies that stepped up to help us…

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Billy Woods, the sheriff of central Florida’s Marion County, banned masks for all deputies and visitors to the sheriff’s office starting Tuesday, according to a new report from the Ocala Star Banner — a strange decision to make in the middle of a pandemic that’s still wildly out of control.

We here at Gizmodo have been discussing this very same problem for no reason in particular at all or anything, why do you ask? And we’ve come up with some tips on how to avoid using Zoom to sexually harass every single person you work with. Please read and consider.

If you’re doomscrolling through your newsfeeds on an older Android phone, it might be time for an upgrade.

73) Razer Just Made It Ridiculously Easy to Build Your Own Gaming PC

Photo: Alex Cranz/GizmodoPhoto: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Building a PC is scary. There are cables that need to be plugged in, processors that needed to be seated just so, and a whole hodgepodge of components that need to be selected, tested, and carefully installed to get the thing running. One screw up can be costly. The Razer Tomahawk aims to take a huge chunk of the hassle out of building a PC and make the process practically foolproof.

The tragedy of Exxon continues. On Thursday, the company said it expects to lay off roughly 14,000 workers over the next year. The huge reduction comes even as it pays out shareholders, albeit at a flat level for the first time in nearly four decades.

Scientists in Canada say they’ve found a new way to treat potentially life-threatening alcohol intoxication — by helping people literally breathe out the alcohol in their system.

A new United Nations report shows why it’s crucial to clean up air conditioning.

The petrochemical industry produces more than 88 million tons of polyethylene, making it the most common plastic in the world.

78) Someone Built a Distraction-Free Mobile phone With a Working Old-School Rotary Dial

There’s an entire generation that probably won’t be able to make sense of Haupt’s Rotary Mobile phone or why it has a bizarre circular wheel affixed to the top.

79) Hundreds of Bottles of Toxic Beer Found Hidden Beneath Victorian-Era Staircase

Archaeologists in Leeds, England discovered more than 600 beer bottles at the site of an old Victorian brewery. Stacked neatly beneath a cellar staircase, the beer inside these 19th-century bottles contains dangerous concentrations of lead.

In a bizarre interview with Fox News last night, President Trump stood next to a sculpture in the Oval Office that he said depicts former president Teddy Roosevelt, and explained that statues are vital to learning about history.

81) Nighttime Camera Catches Coyote and Badger in Absolute Cahoots

Wild animals of different species going on adventures together is a fiction invented by animated films — or is it? A new video, in which a coyote and badger are seen travelling together at night, has us questioning reality as we know it.

82) We Finally Know Why This 2,600-Year-Old Human Brain Is So Freakishly Well-Preserved

An Iron Age human skull found in 2008 contained an unprecedented amount of preserved brain material, a discovery that has confounded scientists for over a decade. New research finally explains why this brain resisted decay for thousands of years.

83) Chelsea Manning Attempted Suicide in Jail, Is Recovering, Lawyers Say

Imprisoned activist and former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning attempted suicide on Wednesday in the Alexandria, Virginia, jail where she’s been held for a year following her refusal to testify before a federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

She is the absolute worst dog to put a fitness tracker on. Which is exactly why I did it.

85) New Analysis of Large Hadron Collider Results Confirms Something Weird Is Happening

The LHCb Experimental Hall (Photo: CERN)The LHCb Experimental Hall (Photo: CERN)

A theory-defying anomaly has persisted in the latest results from a Large Hadron Collider experiment, according to new results.

The New York Times published an explosive new story on Sunday, revealing that President Donald Trump paid just $US750 ($976) in federal income taxes in 2016, another $US750 ($976) in 2017, and didn’t pay a single penny for at least 10 other years dating back to 2000.

Great news for chickens: It’s now easier than ever to pretend you never posted that cringe to Twitter, which is rolling out a new, Instagram Stories-like type of post that auto-deletes after 24 hours. These are called Fleets, which is slightly confusing until you realise it’s a bad pun.

If it pleases the court, I submit evidence that on December 2nd, while giving testimony at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing, Rudolph William Louis Giuliani farted multiple times.

With a cornucopia of services offering competitive pricing and ever more high-calibre originals, accessibility is key.

90) This Lickable Screen Can Recreate Almost Any Taste or Flavour Without Eating Food

No matter how they may make you feel, licking your gadgets and electronics is never recommended.

At some point, everyone reaches a limit where they can no longer sit back and stay silent about injustice in the world. However, if you do plan on attending a protest — even a peaceful one — there are some important precautions you should take with your phone before you go.

92) The Current Heads of Apple TV+ Should Be Terrified

If Apple’s entertainment executives aren’t worried about what the incoming titan’s arrival means for their jobs and the platform’s future yet, they probably should be. At least from where I’m sitting.

93) Lindsey Graham Is Quietly Preparing a Mess of a Bill Trying to Destroy End-to-End Encryption

Top Trump ally and consistent encryption scaremonger Senator Lindsey Graham is working on a bill that could coerce tech companies to stop providing end-to-end encryption by threatening them with massive legal liability, The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019 (or EARN IT Act).

Hey 2020, can you chill for, like, five minutes?

95) DuckDuckGo Made a Giant List of Jerks Tracking You Online

DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused tech company, today launched something called Tracker Radar — an open-source, automatically generated and continually updated list that currently contains more than 5,000 domains that more than 1,700 companies use to track people online.

Turns out these dead penguins are actually quite ancient, having been newly exposed by the effects of global warming.

The ACLU has filed a class-action lawsuit against Minnesota authorities on behalf of journalists whom state and local police were filmed beating, shooting, gassing, and arresting during protests against the police killing of George Floyd.

98) Here’s What Shanghai Disneyland Looked Like on Its First Day of Reopening

Theme parks around the world are closed, but everyone is keeping an eye on Shanghai as this new trial could determine what the future of theme parks look like in the age of covid-19.

Experiments on the International Space Station suggest spiders can weave normal-looking webs in space — they just need a surprising resource.

HBO Max was supposed to launch as the new, jam-packed streaming service of our wildest dreams — an HBO Now revamped, essentially, with all of HBO’s library plus all of WarnerMedia’s vast catalogue.

Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.