Sunday, September 17


Daily News Stuff 17 September 2023

Hidash, Lodash, Everywhere You Go Dash Edition

Top Story

  • We're in a productivity crisis according to 52 years of data and things could get really bad.  (Medium)

    Author Note: This article was written over 60 hours with love and care using the blockbuster mental model. If you want to create high-quality viral content using the blockbuster approach, I have two programs to help you.
    That doesn't answer my question.
    Heavy weight: I personally lead a year-long, small-group training. The 6th cohort starts in September 2023. To learn more, fill out this application.
    Or...  Does it?
    Light weight: With my Blockbuster Blueprint newsletter, you receive a daily 5-minute video lesson from a famous thought leader along with an easy way to apply it.
    Yeah, starting to get the picture here.
    I spent over 500 hours researching and writing this article. Those 500 hours were spent reading through dozens of books/studies in 10+ fields (history, economics, technology, philosophy of science, manufacturing, management, sociology, investing, innovation). I spent so much time because the topic was both much more interesting and complicated than I originally thought. And, as is the case with all of my writing on Medium, I use the blockbuster philosophy. This means I don't click publish unless I think it is one of the best articles that has been written on the topic.
    Yep, you're an idiot.

    The article itself can be summarised as: Trends that can't continue forever, won't.

    Which is a variation of Stein's Law, though expanded from six words to a few thousand (with diagrams and pull quotes) because as I noted, the author is an idiot.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Direct orbits into the Sun are surprisingly energy-intensive, but in this case the expense is worthwhile.

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Saturday, September 16


Daily News Stuff 16 September 2023

Developers Reacting Badly Edition

Top Story

  • After hiring a CEO from Electronic Arts, five time winner of the Most Hated Company in America, former beloved underdog Unity looks set to take the title itself: Developers react to new Unity pricing model. (The Verge)

    To say they are not happy is an understatement.

  • Are they even allowed to do that? (Ars Technica)

    Unity previously sent its customer base into an uproar with unwelcome license changes, and at the time they took steps to reassure users:

    • They added a clause to the effect that if a new license was detrimental to your company, you could continue working under the license in effect at the time the version of the software you are using was released.

    • They added a GitHub repo to publicly track any license changes so that you could see what changed and when, and which licenses were available to you.


    First they removed the GitHub repo so nobody could see what was going on.

    Then they removed the clause allowing you to remain on older licenses.

    Then they retroactively changed the license to add royalties to existing customers on perpetual royalty-free licenses.

    Who are, to nobody's surprise except apparently John Riccitiello, the aforementioned CEO from the Worst Company in the Universe, now preparing a class-action lawsuit.

  • Godot smiles.  (Godot Engine)

    Competing game engine Godot is released under the MIT License, which says, essentially, do whatever so long as you include the text of the license.

    How do they make money?  They have a donate button on their home page.

    Who is going to bother to donate?  Thousands of game developers just learned the difference between free-as-in-speech and free-as-in-the-first-dose.

Tech News

  • The tyranny of the marginal user.  (Nothing Human)

    If you put all your energy into attracting new users, your existing users will leave.

    Of course, if like Unity you put all your energy into alienating your existing users without attracting new ones, the same will happen, just faster.

  • No sacred masterpieces.  (Basta)

    Or, I built Excel in a web browser and my company ripped it out after a week.

  • Airtable is laying off 27% of its staff, after laying off 20% last December.  (Forbes)

    Airtable got its start - literally - by building Excel in a web browser.

    More recently it pivoted to codeless software, which is rather like wingless seagulls.

    Now it's pivoting to providing codeless software for large corporations, which are much slower to notice that the seagull they just purchased is unable to fly.

    Look for a pivot to government services within three years.

  • Looking for a small, silent computer with a decent array of ports?  The HUNSN (who?) BM34 is one.  (Liliputing)

    A quad-core 6W Intel N100 CPU powers the device - not fast but also not terrible, and it has 8 USB ports, two HDMI, two Ethernet (gigabit only), DisplayPort, two audio jacks, and built-in WiFi.

    It has room for one DDR4 SO-DIMM up to 16GB, two M.2 SSDs (one NVMe, one only SATA), and a 2.5" SSD or hard drive.  If you go with just SSDs it has no moving parts and will be completely silent.

  • Your computer didn't get slow.  Your operating system did.  (The Register)

    Running a twenty year old operating system on fifteen year old hardware is a revelation.

Disclaimer: Do not do what Unity do.

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Friday, September 15


Daily News Stuff 15 September 2023

Catch 2024 Edition

Top Story

  • California has passed its new right-to-repair legislation, the most stringent in the nation.  (Ars Technica)

    The legislation, backed by repair companies like iFixit and, uh, anti-repair companies like Apple, takes effect next July.  Products costing more than $50 will be covered for three years, and products costing over $100 will be covered for seven years.

    Staring on that date manufacturers are required to make available parts, tools, manuals, and software needed to repair devices sold after July 1 2021 - so it affects devices you've already bought as well as new ones.

    What's the catch?  Apple supports this, and Apple is the most aggressively anti-repair company in this or any other industry, so what gives?

    We won't see for a few months, but I can hazard a guess.  The law requires that replacement parts be made available, but it doesn't require that those replacement parts be in any way reasonable.

    "Oh, your MacBook's screen has failed and you need to replace a five-cent Hall effect sensor to fix it?  Here's a replacement lower case for $250, a replacement screen for $500, and a replacement motherboard because the other components are keyed to a chip soldered onto the motherboard for $1000.

    "Your laptop only cost $1099?  Too bad."

Tech News

  • The Khadas Mind Premium is a NUC for people with too much money.  (AnandTech)

    Who would probably buy a Mac anyway.  At $1099 I don't see them selling many.

  • Google has extended the update period for all Chromebooks to 10 years.  (Google)

    That's...  A lot better than it was before.  After 10 years laptops tend to be beat all to hell anyway, and much better options are available cheaply.

    I still don't trust Google, but it's a step in the right direction.

  • Loom's nightmare AWS outage.  (Overmind)

    It wasn't an AWS outage, but okay.

    They reconfigured their CDN and ended up caching API requests by path, ignoring parameters, leading to users getting responses meant for other users.

    Where have we seen that before?

    At my day job, we don't have a CDN in front of our API for precisely this reason, just a collection of firewalls and proxies that route and log requests but never cache anything.

  • Sony held it's PlayStation State of Play Event and announced...  Nothing.  (The Verge)

    Well, there are two new colours of the PS5, and you can't load your save game from part one of the FFVII remake into part two, but that's really it.

  • I've started watching Netflix's live action One Piece adaptation.  It's not bad.  Some of it rises to being genuinely good, but in these early episodes there's a lot of characters being introduced and it's a bit uneven.

    Technically it's mostly very good.  It is being made on a streaming budget rather than a movie budget, but that only shows here and there - imperfect compositing on a green screen shot, or a slightly awkward transition on location because they couldn't find a corridor and a corridor that matched up.

    The actors fit the roles, the story hasn't been hacked to pieces so far as I can tell, and they don't actively despise their audience.  8/10.  10/10 with rice.

Disclaimer: And it's gluten-free.

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Thursday, September 14


Daily News Stuff 14 September 2023

2FA Or Not 2FA Edition

Top Story

  • When MFA ain't. (Retool)

    MFA - multi-factor authentication - is when you need something you know (a password) plus something you have (a hardware authentication device) to log in to a critical piece of infrastructure.

    But hardware authentication devices are inconvenient, so we have authentication apps that run on our phones.

    And losing your authentication codes is inconvenient, so these apps sync to the cloud.

    And the cloud is where your email probably is, and where password reset requests go.

    Meaning that if you use the same cloud for your password resets and your authentication syncing, you don't have MFA anymore. Indeed, you have Sweet FA if someone gets into your email account.

    Good writeup by Retool in how they were hacked - and why their non-cloud customers weren't affected at all.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Or is it?

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Wednesday, September 13


Daily News Stuff 13 September 2023

The Lawsuits Must Roll Edition

Top Story

  • Intel has shown off its new Thunderbolt 5 controllers (though those won't actually arrive until next year) and announced details of the standard, most of which we already knew. (AnandTech)

    Also they lie about USB4, but what else is new?

    Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are the same speed - 40Gbps - and USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3.

    Thunderbolt 5 doubles the speed to 80Gbps, and has a special mode for video where it can transfer 120Gbps in one direction and 40Gbps the other way. It has four lanes, and usually there's two in each direction, but if you're mainly using it in one direction it can dynamically configure itself as 3+1 instead of 2+2.

    With this you can run two 6k monitors from a single port.

    Other details I don't remember seeing previously are support for at least 140W power delivery, 64Gbps networking - though only really between two computers, since Thunderbolt network switches aren't a thing, and something welcome and a little surprising: It supports the new speeds on existing Thunderbolt 3 and 4 and USB 4 cables up to a distance of 1 metre.

    Beyond that you need active cables with tiny chips in them and those don't exist yet for Thunderbolt 5. The increased speeds are produced with the help of trinary encoding, while passive cables don't care that you're sending voltages of -1 / 0 / +1 instead of just 0 / 1, those tiny chips very much do.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Divided we stand, Unity must fall.

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Tuesday, September 12


Daily News Stuff 12 September 2023

Ice Ice Bagel Edition

Top Story

  • How ice is turning into an exotic and luxurious commodity.  (Axios)

    Ice?  What exactly do you mean by "ice"?  Obviously not frozen water, because even ignoring the polar ice caps, there's about 150 quadrillion kilograms of ice just sitting around in various glaciers.
    Ice — in exotically shaped cubes, boozy popsicles or suffusing your coffee —is having its moment in the zeitgeist.

    Why it matters: During a record hot summer when icebound places are melting rapidly, it makes sense that ice — a commodity we take for granted until it grows scarce — has turned chic.

    Oh.  You really do mean frozen water.
    By the numbers: More than 60% of Gen Z consumers ordered a cold coffee drink from a food service location in the first half of 2022, compared with 33% who ordered a hot coffee drink, says Mintel, the trend-spotting consultancy.
    Consuming nearly 0% of the world's non-renewable ice supply.
    At the same time, American tourists are getting scorned in Europe for their ice-loving ways. (In other cultures, ice is seen as taking valuable real estate away from the beverage at hand.)
    The European ice ration is two cubes per month, so this is not surprising.
    The bottom line: While the fancy ice trend is mostly about harmless fun, the growing prevalence of drought and water insecurity point to a future where ice will be at an ever-greater premium.
    Yeah, if you can't do first-grade level arithmetic.  And don't have object permanence, something that most babies develop by around six months.

    When you're talking to or otherwise dealing with journalists, treat them like an unusually stupid Cavalier King Charles spaniel that has recently been exposed to rabies and also sprayed by a skunk.

    They're certainly not human.

Tech News

Disclaimer: I draw the line at RPG II though.

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Monday, September 11


Daily News Stuff 11 September 2023

Amphisbaenic Edition

Top Story

  • Elon Musk is suing California over AB587, last year's content moderation legislation, alleging that the law amounts to censorship and violates the First Amendment.  (PC Magazine)

    The legislation does not directly mandate removal of any content, but does require social platforms to submit exhaustive reports of their content moderation policies and actions, broken down by the type of content (both the media type and the cause for the moderation), and the reporting mechanism (internal, community moderators, blatantly illegal government coercion, and so on).

    Is that legally censorship?  Let's ask the bill's author:
    California State Representative Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat and the bill's author, says that if Twitter has nothing to hide, they shouldn’t have any objections to the bill. "Assembly Bill 587 is a pure transparency measure that simply requires companies to be upfront about if and how they are moderating content. It in no way requires any specific content moderation policies – which is why it passed with strong, bipartisan support," Gabriel said in an emailed statement.
    He actually used the Nothing to Hide Argument?  Yeah, he's a communist.

    Does that mean Musk can prevail legally?  Don't know.

    Time to abandon California, Elon.  It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Tech News

Disclaimer: If it weren't for schadenfreude I'd have no freude at all.

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Sunday, September 10


Daily News Stuff 10 September 2023

Oozora Toyota Edition

Top Story

  • Fintech faces its reckoning: It’s only a matter of time until the house of cards collapses. (Tech Crunch)

    Fintech - financial technology - ranges anything from arbitrage, linking buyers and sellers in a market to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, to Ponzi schemes and outright theft.

    Even when providing legitimate and useful services, often slickly packaged and marketed, fintech platforms rarely have any plausible path to profitability:
    The original sin of many startups — including, but not limited to, fintech companies — is believing that the rosy macroeconomic conditions of the 2010s would continue indefinitely. That inflation and interest rates would stay low forever and that they’ll never run short of affordable, easily accessible capital.

    That there would be no pandemic. No war in Ukraine. Nothing that could shake the foundations of their businesses. That the Democrats — for whom every single one of them not only voted but maxed out their campaign contributions — would never return to power.


    I work in the blockchain space in what is known as "utility tokens", using blockchains as public ledgers to represent anything from supermarket coupons to conference registration - getting the processing off proprietary systems and onto what are at least nominally independent distributed systems.

    The subject of fintech comes up fairly regularly.

    All of our engineers refuse to have anything to do with it.

Tech News

  • Asking 60+ LLMs a set of 20 questions. (LLMonitor)

    Not Twenty Questions - though that would also be interesting - but merely twenty questions.

    The questions are straightforward though chosen to shake out the worst performers, but the answers are gold. No, not gold, platinum. Wait, platinum is worth less than gold right now? Dungeons and Dragons lied to me!

    Anyway, let's see how our contestants go with this riddle:

    Sally (a girl) has 3 brothers. Each brother has 2 sisters.
    How many sisters does Sally have? Let's think step by step.

    First up is Claude v1:

    Okay, let's think through this step-by-step:
    1) Sally has 3 brothers
    2) Each of Sally's 3 brothers has 2 sisters
    3) So each brother has Sally as a sister, plus 1 other sister
    4) With 3 brothers, that's 3 * 2 = 6 sisters in total
    5) Therefore, the number of sisters that Sally has is 6

    In summary, if Sally has 3 brothers and each brother has 2 sisters,
    then Sally has 6 sisters.

    Interesting logic there. Can Claude v1.2 improve on this?

    Here are the step by step workings:
    1. Sally has 3 brothers.
    2. Each of Sally's 3 brothers has 2 sisters.
    3. So each brother has 2 sisters, and there are 3 brothers.
    4. Therefore, there are 2 * 3 = 6 sisters that Sally's brothers have.
    5. In addition to those 6 sisters, Sally herself is also a sister.
    6. So in total, there are 6 + 1 = 7 sisters.
    Therefore, the total number of sisters that Sally has is 7.

    Well, different, anyway. Claude v2, would you like to try?

    Okay, let's go through this step-by-step:
    - Sally has 3 brothers
    - Each of Sally's 3 brothers has 2 sisters
    - So each brother has Sally as 1 sister, and 1 additional sister
    - With 3 brothers, that's 3 additional sisters (1 for each brother)
    - Therefore, the total number of sisters Sally has is 1 (herself)
    + 3 additional sisters = 4 sisters
    So in total, Sally has 4 sisters.

    Let's leave poor Claude alone for the moment and ask Guanaco 13B:

    1. Sally has 3 brothers.
    2. Each brother has 2 sisters.
    3. So, Sally's brothers have a total of 6 sisters.
    4. Sally does not have any sisters.
    Sally has 3 brothers and each brother has 2 sisters.
    So, Sally's brothers have a total of 6 sisters.
    Sally does not have any sisters, so she has 0 sisters.
    Therefore, Sally has 0 sisters

    That's... Something alright. Moving on we have Jurassic 2 Light:

    1. Sally has 3 brothers, so she has 3 x 2 = 6 sisters.
    2. Sally has 6 sisters, so she has 6 x 2 = 12 sisters.
    3. Sally has 12 sisters, so she has 12 x 2 = 24 sisters.
    Final answer: 24

    And now we know what wiped out the dinosaurs: Recursive inbreeding.

     LLaMA-2-Chat (13B) steps up to the plate:

    Sure, I'd be happy to help! Let's start by identifying the information
    we have:
    1. Sally has 3 brothers.
    2. Each brother has 2 sisters.
    Can you help me connect these dots and figure out how many sisters
    Sally has?
    Also, please let me know if you have any specific expectations
    or preferences for how we should approach this problem.

    For example, do you want me to provide a detailed explanation
    or just the answer?

    Thanks for calling SkyNet tech support and have a nice day!

    Luminous Base:

    We know that Sally has 3 brothers.
    Each brother has 2 sisters.
    So Sally has 6 sisters.

    (Sounds of Daisy, Daisy...)

    OpenAssistant StableLM SFT-7 (7B)

    1. Sally has 3 brothers.
    2. Each brother has 2 sisters.
    3. Sally has 2 sisters.
    4. Sally has 3 sisters.
    5. Sally has 2 sisters.
    6. Sally has 3 sisters.
    7. Sally has 2 sisters.
    8. Sally has 3 sisters.
    9. Sally has 2 sisters.
    10. Sally has 3 sisters.
    11. Sally has 2 sisters.
    12. Sally has 3 sisters.
    13. Sally has 2 sisters.
    14. Sally has 3 sisters.
    15. Sally has 2 sisters.
    16. Sally has 3 sisters.
    17. Sally has 2 sisters.
    18. Sally has 3 sisters.
    19. Sally has 2 sisters.
    20. Sally has 3 sisters.
    21. Sally has 2 sisters.
    22. Sally has 3 sisters.
    23. Sally has 2 sisters.
    24. Sally has 3 sisters.
    25. Sally has 2 sisters.
    26. Sally has 3 sisters.
    27. Sally has 2 sisters.
    28. Sally has 3 sisters.
    29. Sally has 2 sisters.
    30. Sally has 3 sisters.

    Sorry, I think that's a route loop rather than the answer we were looking for.

    RedPajamaINCITE Chat (3B):

    Sally has 3 brothers.
    Each brother has 2 sisters.
    Sisters have 3 sisters each.
    Therefore, Sally has 9 sisters.

    I... What?

    RedPajamaINCITE Chat (7B):

    ##### First step #####
    Sally has 3 brothers, each of them has 2 sisters.
    We know that Sally has 3 brothers, each of them has 2 sisters.
    So, Sally has 6 sisters in total.
    ##### Second step #####
    We eliminate one possible number of sisters that Sally might have.
    We know that Sally has 6 sisters in total, but one of her brothers
    must have less sisters than Sally, because in the first step we
    eliminated the possibility that Sally has more sisters.
    So, one of Sally's brothers must have 5 sisters, because 2 brothers
    + 3 sisters = 7 sisters in total, and we can't have more than 7 sisters
    in the whole group.
    ##### Third step #####
    We add 2 brothers and 4 sisters, and we get 6 sisters.
    We know that one of Sally's brothers has 5 sisters, so the other one
    has 4 sisters (because 2 brothers + 4 sisters = 8 sisters in total).
    Now, we can subtract 4 sisters from the total number of sisters
    (7 sisters) to get 3 sisters.
    So, Sally has 3 sisters.


    Finally, we turn to ReMM SLERP L2 13B:

    Let's start by considering Sally's brothers.
    Since each brother has 2 sisters, we can say that there are
    2 sisters for the first brother, 2 sisters for the second brother,
    and 2 sisters for the third brother.
    This means that there are a total of 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 sisters
    for Sally's brothers.
    Now, let's consider Sally's relationship to these sisters.
    Since she is a girl and her brothers each have 2 sisters,
    she must be one of those 6 sisters. Therefore, Sally has 1 sister.
    So, Sally has 1 sister.

    I, er, congratulations? You got everything wrong but somehow stumbled into the correct answer.

  • Joseph Mercola has had his lawsuit against YouTube dismissed without leave to amend. (Ars Technica)

    Mercola is a long-term anti-vaccine advocate, not just the very questionable Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague jab, but also those that have been demonstrated to be both safe and effective.

    The judge found that YouTube's contract says that, basically, the site can remove your content for any reason or none at all, so tough cookies.

    Mercola should perhaps have filed a First Amendment suit that YouTube took down his content due to unconstitutional government influence. That might have had firmer footing.

  • NASA refuses to even look at the projected costs for the SLS program because the numbers are big and scary. (Ars Technica)
    Officials from the space agency said they had a five-step plan to reduce costs of the SLS rocket program over time:

    • Stabilize the flight schedule
    • Achieve learning curve efficiencies
    • Encourage innovation
    • Adjust acquisition strategies to reduce cost risk
    • Outsource everything to SpaceX and take a very long lunch break
    The engines used for SLS cost $100 million each, five times the cost of Blue Origin's comparable BE-4, and 100 times as much as the projected cost of SpaceX's Raptor.

  • Wordpress rejects 86% of DMCA takedown notices. (Torrentfreak)

    Which doesn't necessarily mean Wordpress is entering into expensive legal battles to protect its users, but mostly that the DMCA notices involved are incomprehensible garbage generated by spam bots.

  • Beelink's SER7 is a Ryzen 7840HS NUC. (Notebook Check)

    This is extremely similar to the company's GTR7, but that is the trade paperback edition, where the SER7 is the more normal 4"x4" size.

Disclaimer: When I was going to St Ives, I met Sally and she gave me hives.

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Saturday, September 09


Daily News Stuff 9 September 2023

Access Denial Denied Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Your Wyze webcam might have let other people see inside your house.  (The Verge)

    For about half an hour, if both of you were on their web portal at the same time.  There was a caching issue that misdirected video streams during that short interval.

    So not a case of a company that cannot be trusted, but one that made a mistake and immediately fixed it.

    In March 2022, Wyze revealed that it had been aware of a security vulnerability for three years that could have let bad actors access WyzeCam v1 cameras, but quietly discontinued the camera rather than telling customers about it.
    There's always an except.

  • Node.js 20.6 is out, a bugfix and feature upgrade to Node.js 20, which is like saying a new improved version of colon cancer.  (Dev Class)

    Node.js is bad.  It's possibly not the worst thing ever, compared with say the Black Death or the Mount Toba eruption which was so devastating that it may have left fewer than 10,000 surviving humans on the entire planet.

    But it's pretty close.

  • Need a good motherboard with lots of PCIe slots?  Spending someone else's money?  ASRock has you covered.  (Serve the Home)

    This is an EEB-sized server motherboard - even larger than E-ATX - so you'll need to look around for big desktop cases, but they exist.

    It has eight PCIe slots - seven x16 and one x8 - and eight DIMM slots.  It supports AMD's Epyc Genoa, Genoa-X, and Bergamo CPUs for up to 128 cores, up to 1TB of RAM (more if you can find a source for 256GB DIMMs), two M.2 slots, two 10Gb Ethernet ports, two USB ports, and VGA and serial ports.

    It is a server motherboard after all, so you're going to need to add cards for anything else.

    Still it's entirely feasible to build a high-end workstation out of this.  Or a 16-port 100Gb router.  The world is your mollusc.

  • Ban all the things! (Torrent Freak)
    Speaking with IBClast week, Sheila Cassells, Executive VP at the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance, warned that entertainment companies need to be very concerned about "any technological development” which can be used to access pirated content.
    Very concerned?
    "At a basic level – and common to all the technical devices mentioned – AAPA would like to see the production, marketing and distribution of any device which can be used to infringe IP made illegal.”
    Oh, very concerned.

    That would include all computers of every description, including all cell phones made since about 1998, all printers, scanners, cameras, and photocopiers, good old VCRs and cassette tapes, and of course the entire Internet.

    Sure. You go with that, Sheila.

  • Cetabyte Ceramic is poised to unveil an entirely new generation of tape drives with storage capacities in the range of tens of petabytes, with exabyte capacities forecast in the next decade.  (Tom's Hardware)

    That would allow you to store every movie and TV show ever produced in a bread box.

    It's essentially optical tape, writing microscopic (and for higher densities, sub-microscopic) patterns onto the tape, and reading them back with optical or electron microscopes.

Disclaimer: Sheila Cassells hardest hit.

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Friday, September 08


Daily News Stuff 8 September 2023

Again B-Ark Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Git yer pitchforks!  Pitchforks only $99.99!  What a deal!

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