The 20 most-read stories of 2021 on Ars Technica

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2021 dawned in optimism, with the arrival of a pair of extremely efficient mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 alongside an incoming presidential administration that promised to take the pandemic significantly. Everyone knows how the yr went—briefly, 2021 was the sort of yr that had some folks not solely looking for the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse however truly questioning what was taking them so lengthy to get right here.

As we glance again on the highest tales of 2021, let’s simply hope that 2022 is not about to say “maintain my beer.”

Error Correcting Checksum RAM works by including a bit of additional reminiscence for detecting and correcting errors. It can also act as an additional layer of safety towards bit-flipping assaults like Rowhammer. It is all great things, however you will not discover ECC outdoors of server-grade techniques, and that basically irks Linus Torvalds.

“The arguments towards ECC have been at all times full and utter rubbish,” Torvalds stated in a rant firstly of the yr. “Now even the reminiscence producers are beginning to do ECC internally as a result of they lastly owned as much as the truth that they completely must.”

It is all Intel’s fault, in line with Torvalds. “What number of occasions has a row-hammer-like bit-flip occurred simply by pure unhealthy luck on actual non-attack hundreds? We are going to by no means know,” Torvalds stated. “As a result of Intel was pushing shit to shoppers.”

ECC is costlier, which makes it a troublesome promote for commodity {hardware}, however motherboard and CPU assist is missing in no small half as a result of Intel’s market segmentation methods. And Torvalds does not prefer it one bit.

If there’s one factor we all know for sure concerning the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, it is that they’re each secure and efficient. Regardless of this, individuals who have been inoculated towards many different illnesses are turning up their noses on the COVID-19 vaccines. A few of them “do their very own analysis,” others insist nobody can pressure them to get jabbed, and nonetheless others declare they’re avoiding the vaccine over deeply held private non secular convictions.

One hospital in Arkansas had a novel response to staffers in search of non secular exemptions to the hospital’s vaccine mandate as a result of the usage of fetal cell strains in vaccine growth. Staff who needed to forego the COVID pictures due to their non secular convictions additionally wanted to vow to not use every other medicine that was developed utilizing fetal cell strains. That checklist consists of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Preparation H, Tums, and a number of different over-the-counter drugs.

Exemption-seeking workers should affirm that they “honestly acknowledge and affirm that my sincerely held non secular perception is constant and true” and won’t use any drugs on the hospital’s checklist.

One advantage of 2021—and I suppose there was multiple—was the variety of battery electrical autos hitting the market. As you will see in our upcoming Greatest Vehicles of 2021 story, a lot of them have been excellent. The standout when it comes to reader curiosity, nevertheless, comes from the identical firm that additionally introduced us Dieselgate.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is the primary BEV constructed on VW’s modular EV platform to cross the Atlantic. Automotive Editor Jonathan Gitlin spent a weekend with one earlier this yr and located a lot to admire—and some issues in want of enchancment. Driver-assist tech is superb, it gives 250 miles of vary, and it is moderately priced at $40,000 to $45,000 earlier than tax credit. As Jonathan put it, VW is attempting to “tempt the electrocurious out of a Tiguan with out scaring them” with the ID.4.

I took the ID.4 for a spin at a rally this summer season, and I can attest that it is a strong entry from VW. If I have been available in the market for a brand new BEV, I might most likely go along with the Mustang Mach-E over the ID.4 at this cut-off date, however it’s nice to have some actual selections within the BEV area. And subsequent yr must be even higher.

What do you get once you mix the No. 1 state in vitality manufacturing with a days-long chilly snap? Sadly for Texas residents final February, the reply to that’s blackouts. A collection of winter storms led to a lot of energy crops going offline, leaving over 4.5 million properties and companies with out energy. That, in flip, resulted in water provides shutting down and burst pipes all through the Lone Star State.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott initially pinned the blame on wind generators, however wind generators have been truly producing considerably extra energy than was forecast when the grid shut down. The true offender is an absence of planning and oversight by state regulators mixed with a choice made a long time in the past to scale back interconnections with {the electrical} grids of surrounding states.