What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Tuesday, July 23

Geek

Daily News Stuff 23 July 2024

Beans Lots Of Beans Edition

Top Story

  • The US is all-in on nuclear rockets.  For realsies.  (Ars Technica)

    The article starts with a review of past US experiments with nuclear rockets:
    The first of those reactors was called Kiwi-A. The test done on July 1, 1959, proved that the concept worked, but there were devils in the details. Vibrations caused by the flow of hydrogen damaged the reactor after just five minutes of operation at a relatively meek 70 megawatts. The temperature reached 2,683 K, which caused hydrogen corrosion in the rods and expelled parts of the core through the nozzle, a problem known as "shedding."
    Shedding, also known as "Fuck this I'm moving to Bouvet Island and you can contact me by albatross".

    The primary impetus for this renewed interest despite some issues with past attempts is China's growing space industry.  Nuclear rockets make far more efficient use of the reaction mass than chemical rockets, but are only practical for general use once you pass a certain size - about the size of SpaceX's starship - because you can't make small nuclear reactors.

    Not unless you are willing to kill everyone who works on the project, anyway.


Tech News


Disclaimer: It can not only play Crysis, it can beat the game for you.

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Monday, July 22

Geek

Daily News Stuff 22 July 2024

Slow News Week Edition

Top Story



Tech News

Disclaimer: Blop.

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Sunday, July 21

Geek

Daily News Stuff 21 July 2024

Greased Edition

Top Story



Tech News

  • A look at Western Digital's latest SN5000 4TB SSD.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's another DRAMless QLC model, and...  It doesn't suck.  It's pretty good actually.

    MSRP prices it higher than better drives so only buy it if the price is right.


  • Intel says its 13th and 14th generation laptop chips are crashing but not for the same reason as its 13th and 14th generation desktop chips.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Oh.  Well, that's alright then.


  • Intel has also announced a range of "E" series chips that have no "E" cores.  (WCCFTech)

    That makes sense.


  • Large models of what?  (Arxiv.org)

    LLMs are bullshit:
    Work within the enactive approach to cognitive science makes clear that, rather than a distinct and complete thing, language is a means or way of acting. Languaging is not the kind of thing that can admit of a complete or comprehensive modelling. From an enactive perspective we identify three key characteristics of enacted language; embodiment, participation, and precariousness, that are absent in LLMs, and likely incompatible in principle with current architectures. We argue that these absences imply that LLMs are not now and cannot in their present form be linguistic agents the way humans are. We illustrate the point in particular through the phenomenon of 'algospeak', a recently described pattern of high stakes human language activity in heavily controlled online environments. On the basis of these points, we conclude that sensational and misleading claims about LLM agency and capabilities emerge from a deep misconception of both what human language is and what LLMs are.
    Verbing weirds language.


  • I didn't know I was dead until I saw it on Google.  (The Guardian)

    Google is worth $2 trillion and has 90% of the global search market.  And ever since it started trying to answer questions itself rather than point you to the answers elsewhere, it has been going downhill fast.


  • The judge in the SEC's lawsuit against SolarWinds regarding their 2020 security debacle has granted the company's motion to dismiss on most points.  (MSN)

    It was another massive power grab by a federal agency.  The SEC claimed authority to regulate all aspects of how companies manage computer and network security and the judge smacked them across the nose with a newspaper.

    The one claim not dismissed is that executives at the company lied about the adequacy of its security controls in public statement, which the SEC claims amounts to securities fraud, something the SEC does have the authority to police, since that's what the S stands for.


  • Just a reminder that all the race-baiting and lies you see in the mainstream media infest the tech press as well: Some black startup founders feel betrayed by Ben Horowitz's support for Trump.  (Tech Crunch)
    "His reputation will definitely take a hit among well-thinking Black people because it shows that he doesn’t actually understand our lived experiences," David Mullings, founder of Blue Mahoe Holdings, told TechCrunch.
    Lived experiences?  David Mullings is a Jamaican multi-millionaire.

Anime


Currently watching Magic Is My Dump Stat.

Which title could be applied to several series this season, so I'm trying all of them.

Magic Is My Dump Stat: I Only Know Three Spells: That's two too many for Lawrence Watt-Evans fans.  Also it drops off after the second episode.

Magic Is My Dump Stat: I Don't Know Any Spells At All: Magic academies have been done to death, and magic academies where the hero doesn't know magic almost as much.  But nice double-reversal there, so I'll keep going.

Magic Is My Dump Stat Because I Started At Thirty: Won me over in the third episode when they revealed that the overly long light novel title is one hundred percent literal.

Magic Is My Dump Stat Because I Refuse to Use Debug Mode: Great art and animation, and having the QA team be the victims of the if-you-die-in-the-game trope is a cute touch.


Disclaimer: Blep.

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Saturday, July 20

Geek

Daily News Stuff 20 July 2024

Antiantivirus Edition

Top Story

Tech News


Disclaimer: Skynet, come home.  All is forgiven.

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Friday, July 19

Geek

Daily News Stuff 19 July 2024

Watership's Down Edition

Top Story


Tech News

Disclaimer: Prime Day is here.  I bought curtains.

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Thursday, July 18

Geek

Daily News Stuff 18 July 2024

Little City Big Kitty Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • A tiny flaw in Cisco's Smart Software Manager allows anyone to alter any user's password.  (Ars Technica)

    And by anyone I mean anyone - you don't need to be logged in.

    And by any user I mean any user - without logging in you can change the admin password, and then log in.

    I don't think the rate of data breaches is going to slow down any time soon.


  • More 9950X benchmarks at various power levels.  (WCCFTech)

    We already know there's no point running it at 320W, since it offers performance barely better than the default boost power of 230W.

    This chart shows that you also don't want to run it at 40W.  Below 60W the performance craters.  You can probably improve on that by adjusting the clock details, but with the automated settings the sixteen core 9950X runs like a six core 5600X.


  • Checking out the Crucial P310 - a 2TB M.2 2230 SSD.  (Serve the Home)

    These drives are the size of a postage stamp, and fit in portable devices like the Steam Deck and ultra-slim laptops like Microsoft's Surface line.

    This one is QLC and DRAMless, a combination I would generally recommend avoiding, but on these benchmarks it holds up very well.  Read speeds up to 7GB per second, and write speeds up to 6GB.

    Under sustained heavy write loads it will slow down, but in all other cases it actually looks good.


  • You can now run Windows NT on a PowerMac.  (The Register)

    I have a couple of PowerMacs in the garage.  I'm not really inclined to try this out though.


  • Looking to build a mini-ITX storage server?  This motherboard from (random AliExpress vendors) might be what you need.  (Liliputing)

    For $130 it has a four-coure Intel N100, two M.2 slots, six SATA ports, 10Gb Ethernet, dual 2.5Gb Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort, and the usual complement of USB ports.

    And one memory slot.

    There may be an eight-core N305 model on the way if you need a little more power.


Disclaimer: Hatkeeper, hatkeeper, sell me a hat, make it size small, I'm just a cat.

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Wednesday, July 17

Geek

Daily News Stuff 17 July 2024

Giant Bee Edition

Top Story

  • Microsoft's former DEI leader has blasted the company in an internal email after the entire team was laid off, sort of.  (IGN)

    Yes, a Microsoft DEI team leader did indeed blast the company in an internal email after their entire team was laid off.  That is true.

    But don't celebrate just yet.  Microsoft has many DEI teams.

    The email though is exactly what you would expect from these parasites:
    Unofficially in my opinion, not specific to Microsoft alone, but Project 2025 looms and true systems change work associated with DEI programs everywhere are no longer business critical or smart as they were in 2020. Hence the purposeful and strategic 3-5 year shelf life of many company's inclusion commitments post the murder of George Floyd are being reevaluated.
    Fire them all.


Tech News

Disclaimer: Fair enough.

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Tuesday, July 16

Geek

Daily News Stuff 16 July 2024

Pine Lime And Passionfruit Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • The FBI has gained access to the would-be assassin's cell phone.  (The Verge)

    Unlikely that this will change anything, of course.

    Best comment: Reddit is leaking.


  • Microsoft's CTO denies the obvious, that AI is facing exponential scaling costs.  (Ars Technica)

    He denies this in the face of exponential expenses in AI training.  He's lying, badly.

    Best comment: Always listen to the Chief Tulip Officer's advice about investing in tulips.


  • A look at AMD's Zen 5 microarchitecture.  (AnandTech)

    Zen 1 through Zen 4 had the same basic design, able to issue and retire four instructions per cycle.  Zen 4 also introduced a 256-bit half-width version of Intel's AVX-512 vector processing.  Intel's own consumer CPUs lack AVX-512 in any form.

    With Zen 5 the issue width has been increased to eight instructions per cycle, and the AVX-512 unit is now a full 512 bits wide.

    If your code is poised perfectly to take advantage of the improved hardware it could run twice as fast on Zen 5 as Zen 4, but that's unlikely.

    The performance charts attached to this article show the 12 core 9900X running Handbrake video processing tasks 41% faster than Intel's 24 core 14900K, at half the power consumption.

    Of course Intel will have new chips itself later this year, but those are expected to focus on fixing the power issues more than increasing performance.

    These chips are due to show up...  Basically now.


  • Also on the AMD front, testing the graphics performance of the new Ryzen HX 370 laptop chip.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's basically level with the desktop GTX 1070, laptop GTX 1650 Ti, or the Radeon RX 480.  I used an RX 480 myself from 2017 to 2022, and it's a perfectly competent card.  For integrated graphics performance it's amazing.

    AMD has another, much more powerful laptop CPU in the wings, with at least twice the graphics performance.  No word yet on when that one will ship.


Disclaimer: Enter the Carousel.  Or don't.  That's cool too.  The age of thirty is in demand.

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Monday, July 15

Geek

Daily News Stuff 15 July 2024

Unskilled And Unaware Edition

Top Story

  • To avoid sea level rise, some researchers want to put barriers around the world's most vulnerable glaciers to slow them down.  (Science)

    Uh.

    What?

    In 2008, the Ilulissat Glacier in Greenland had a calving event in which it shed a single iceberg covering three square miles.  It sheds 35 billion tons of icebergs in the average year.

    And moving glaciers don't leave much of anything in their wake, except rubble.

    I mean...  Okay, it's not impossible.  If you want to build an anti-glacier barrier, go right ahead.  Yes, I'll make popcorn, but if you succeed I'll gladly give you credit.

    Update: Skip the first four paragraphs of the article and go to the fifth, which explains things a lot more clearly.  They don't want to build an anti-glacier barrier, but a barrier for warm ocean currents to shield glaciers at the point they enter the sea.

Tech News



Disclaimer: Or p'raps not.

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Sunday, July 14

Geek

Daily News Stuff 14 July 2024

One Inch From World War III Edition

Top Story

  • Meet the soft robots that can amputate limbs and fuse with other robots.  (Tech Crunch)

    I for one welcome our Mengelean Borg overlords.
    In one demo video, we see a soft quadruped robot crawling along when a falling rock traps a back leg. The reversible joint attaching the leg is heated with current, allowing the robot to break free of its leg and escape. Although it’s not shown in the video, the limb can be re-attached, as well.
    Oh.  They can amputate their own limbs.  That's still slightly horrifying, but much less so.

    Kind of like a lizard that drops its tail, uses it as a club to beat a frog to death, and the reattaches the tail and eats the frog.

     

Tech News

  • The goggles do nothing!  Pushing the 9950X to 320W doesn't really help much.  (WCCFTech)

    At 120W it's essentially tied with the 253W Intel 14900K, and at any power level above that it rapidly breaks away.

    Interestingly the upcoming sixteen core laptop chip codenamed Strix Point Halo is rated at 120W, so that will deliver what is currently considered leading-edge desktop performance.


  • Speaking of the 14900K, I wouldn't.  (Tech Radar)

    The problems with Intel's high-end chips persist.

    A study of crash logs for video games showed that for some types of problem, 90% of all recorded errors happened on the 13900K and 14900K.  Those chips are just pushed too hard and run too hot.

    This is not an Intel problem in general;  it only seems to affect the company's top-of-the-line consumer desktop chips.  But that's bad.  If you buy their most expensive chips you don't expect to get dramatically worse reliability.


  • Disney's internal Slack was allegedly hacked, with 1.1TB of data exfiltrated.  (HackRead)

    I haven't encountered this site before, but it looks the Web3 is going great of online services.

    Bookmarked for later reference.


  • Signal is downplaying a security flaw that it has now fixed after a Twitter drama.  (Bleeping Computer)

    This was a local security issue, rather than an online one.  Anyone with access to your computer could read your Signal history without needing your password.  The local database was encrypted, but the encryption key was sitting right there for anyone to use.


  • Linksys Velop routers send your WiFi passwords to servers in the US.  (StackDiary)

    In plain text.

    Yay.


  • Speaking of which, I just picked up a mesh wifi system for the new house - a D-Link M32 Eagle Pro three node setup.  I've been running a router I had before the move, but the coverage is not that great.

    I probably went a little overboard, though.  The bundle was 75% off on a one-day sale so I bought two, which should be enough to cover the house, the garage, the entire garden, and a couple of my neighbours.


  • The NSA has rediscovered the tape of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Hopper's 1982 lecture, but says it lacks the ability to read it.  (MuckRock)

    It's one inch Ampex reel-to-reel video tape, which is hardly uncommon.  It took me two minutes to find a commercial service that will convert an entire tape to digital format for $150.


  • The Sipeed Lichi Pi 3A is a development board for RISC-V programmers.  (Liliputing)

    RISC-V itself is an open-standard competitor to Arm.  Anyone can build their own processors with no licensing fees, which makes it attractive to companies like Western Digital, who need to embed multiple processor cores into ever SSD they make.

    The board itself starts at $49 for a bare module with 4GB of RAM, going up to $139 with 16GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a carrier board with two M.2 slots.

    This is slightly confusing because the Lichee Pi 4A already exists and is more powerful, just lacking those two M.2 slots.


  • Journalists for Censorship strikes again: Shooting conspiracies trend on X as Musk endorses Trump.  (The Verge)

    Following the assassination attempt on Donald Trump at his rally in Pennsylvania, the left did what the left does best: Act like crazy people in public.
    On X, neither trending topic about the shooting is flush with particularly robust or coherent conspiracies; clicking through, you’ll largely find short posts from X users saying that the shooting looks fake or is a stunt. (There is no evidence of either.) But by placing the subjects into X’s trending topics area, the conspiracies are elevated to more people.
    The complaint here seems to be that Twitter is not censoring Democrats.

    I can see how this would be bad for the Democrats.



Disclaimer: I for one welcome our self-dismembering underlords.

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