CNET: Santa Claus wants to Zoom with you now that he has Wi-Fi at the North Pole. “A UK-based project called Santa at Home will connect children with Mr. Claus himself for Zoom sessions between now and Dec. 24. The calls will last up to 12 minutes and can accommodate six kids and an unlimited number of grown-ups joining from anywhere.”
BNN Bloomberg: Covid to Kill 30,000 More in U.S. by Christmas, CDC Model Shows. “After a week that shattered daily case, testing and hospitalization records, Covid’s trajectory is slated to steepen in the U.S. Coronavirus, which has killed more than 256,000 Americans so far, is on track to claim another 30,000 lives by mid-December, according to forecasts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The model shows weekly cases and deaths both rising every week for the next month, the maximum range of the agency’s projection.”
WRAL: NC town mourning COVID-19 death of local Santa Claus. “The City of Lincolnton is busy preparing downtown for Christmas, but one special community tradition won’t be back this year. James Helms, downtown Lincolnton’s beloved Santa Claus, recently died after battling COVID-19.”
UPI: 40% in U.S. planning large gatherings for holidays despite COVID-19 warnings. “Nearly 40% of U.S. residents plan to participate in gatherings of 10 or more people this holiday season despite concerns over the spread of COVID-19, according to the findings of a survey released Thursday by Ohio State University. In addition, one-third of respondents said they wouldn’t ask attendees at holiday parties with family or friends to wear masks, and just over 25% indicated that they wouldn’t practice social distancing, the data showed.”
Rolling Stone: Trump Official Planned to Give Santa Claus Performers Early Access to Covid-19 Vaccine. “You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why. Santa Claus has early access to the Covid-19 vaccine. At least, that’s how it would be if Michael Caputo, one of Trump’s HHS assistant secretaries, had his way. In perhaps one of the strangest plans to come out of this White House, Caputo proposed a $250 million campaign that would give Santa Claus performers access to the coronavirus vaccine before the general public. In exchange, the performers would agree to promote the vaccine to all the boys and girls who came to sit on their lap at Christmastime. And don’t fret about Mrs. Claus and the elves, because this hair-brained plan included giving them the vaccine, too.”
BBC: Toymakers expect strong Christmas sales despite coronavirus. “Toymakers are expecting strong global sales during the critical end-of-year festive season, after a surge of pandemic-fuelled demand for items such as Barbies and board games.”
Irish News: Santas taught how to make Christmas safe in year of pandemic. “A number of Santas have been taught how to make their yuletide festivities safer after the coronavirus pandemic threatened to cancel Christmas. The Ministry of Fun Santa School claims to be the only professional Santa training school in Britain, and took on the responsibility of equipping its Santas with the skills they require in 2020.”
BetaNews: You can track Santa Claus again this Christmas with Google. “Yes, Google’s official Santa Tracker is an annual tradition, and in 2019, it continues. As usual, the search giant delivers activities beyond mere tracking, such as an interactive Santa Village.”
Bing Blogs: HO HO HO! Microsoft and Bing Maps help NORAD track Santa!. “The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is preparing for their annual tradition of tracking Santa around the globe. As NORAD conducts its primary mission of defending Canadian and United States airspace, they take on the supplementary mission of tracking Santa’s journey for the holidays. Much like Santa and his Elves, NORAD gets help from volunteers, partners and Microsoft Employees who will be joining the crew at the Peterson Airforce Base to ensure Santa’s safe travels around the globe!”
Mashable: Curl up in front of a cozy Lego yule log that’s streaming on YouTube 24/7. “Instead of watching one of the many yule log videos that feature real fireplaces, consider breaking tradition and watching Lego’s Festive Fireplace. It’s cute as hell, and streaming live on YouTube 24/7.”
Google Blog: Live from the North Pole, it’s Santa’s Village!. “Good day from Santa Tracker HQ! I’m Dimplesticks the Elf, news anchor for the North Pole Broadcasting Channel. This year, our candy-cane broadcast antenna extends beyond Santa’s Village with Google as our official global rebroadcast partner.” DIMPLESTICKS??!
Search Engine Roundtable: Happy Holidays & Christmas Day Logos From Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Sogou & More. “The search engine industry is all decked out to celebrate the holidays and Christmas with their happy holiday and Christmas logo and themes. This year we have special logos and designs from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Sogou and our own site.”
TechRadar: The Google Santa Tracker is back and bigger than ever for 2018. “It’s back, and he’s just taken off: Google’s Santa Tracker is now live, and you can follow the progress of jolly ol’ St Nick as he snakes his way across the globe delivering gifts.”
Hackaday: Artificial Intelligence Composes New Christmas Songs. “One of the most common uses of neural networks is the generation of new content, given certain constraints. A neural network is created, then trained on source content – ideally with as much reference material as possible. Then, the model is asked to generate original content in the same vein. This generally has mixed, but occasionally amusing, results. The team at [Made by AI] had a go at generating Christmas songs using this very technique.” These aren’t just cute song names. The AI made songs you can listen to on Soundcloud.
Google Blog: Live from the North Pole: what’s new at Santa’s Village. “It’s the 15th year of Santa’s Village, an interactive holiday hub where you can play games to learn coding skills, create original artwork, exercise your geographic chops, and more. Here’s what’s new this year…”