Tuesday, March 19
Get Sh*t Done Edition
- Apple announced a new iPad Air and iPad mini bumping the CPU up from the A8 to the A12. (AnandTech)
Apart from that, both models come with 64GB or 256GB of storage, an unquantified amount of RAM, an improved display with DCI-P3 colour gamut (and in the case of the Air, an upgrade from 9.7" to 10.5"). Lightning port rather than USB-C, which is bad, but they retain the headphone jack, which is good. They have pen support, but the new version of the Apple Pencil is USB-C, so they can only use the old version.
US prices start at $399 for the 64GB mini and $499 for the Air.
- Nvidia has a new Jetson developer kit out. (AnandTech)
With 128 CUDA cores and a pretty underwhelming quad-core Arm A57 CPU, the bare board is $99 and the full kit is $129.
The dev kit offers HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, 4 USB ports (only one USB 3.0 though), Ethernet of an unspecified speed, 4GB RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. And a PCIe M.2 slot for either storage or a wifi adaptor.
The GPU is intended for AI more than graphics, but is perfectly capable of both.
- Nvidia is adding real-time ray-tracing to 10- and 16-series GTX graphics cards in a driver update expected next month. (PC Perspective)
It will be slower than RTX, of course, but does raise the question of whether Nv's users would have been better off had the company simply added a ton more CUDA cores.
- Nvidia's (yes, them again) RTX server holds up to 80 Tesla RTX GPUs. (Serve the Home)
The RTX Server Pod holds 1280 GPUs in ten racks. Apart from delivering petaflops of compute performance for AI, graphics rendering, or simulations, the heat produced can flash-broil a blue whale.
- A hands-on session with the probably quantum D-Wave 2000Q. (Ars Technica)
Social Media News
- US Congressman Devin Nunes has sued Twitter and specific Twitter users for $250 million alleging that (a) the users deliberately defamed him for money, (b) Twitter did nothing to stop this, and (c) Twitter actually shadowbanned him to shut him up. Oh, that and (d) Twitter then lied about that. (One Angry Gamer)
This type of suit is normally hard for a public figure to win in the US, but in this case one of the named parties ran an online business that offered to "anonymously smear our clients' opposition on the internet". Which knocks the actual malice hurdle flat before the case even begins.
Liz Mair was pretty brazen about this. pic.twitter.com/171MhJfJFO— The_War_Economy (@The_War_Economy) March 19, 2019
- New Zealand continues with its brilliant plan to block absolutely everything. (TechDirt)
- The insanity has spread to Australia too, with Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and possibly even TPG blocking multiple sites. (Kotaku)
"We understand this may inconvenience some legitimate users of these sites, but these are extreme circumstances and we feel this is the right thing to do," a Telstra spokesperson said.Well, that makes everything alright then, doesn't it, what with "extreme circumstances" and all.
Don't know about TPG; I tried ZeroHedge, Voat, and Kiwi Farms just now and I'm not blocked, but I'm with a subsidiary, not TPG itself; I'm not using my ISP's DNS servers; and I have a business account, all of which are reasons any such blocks might not apply to me.
- Everyone's favourite boogeyman Vladimir Putin has signed sweeping internet censorship legislation bringing Russian internet access into line with the so-called free world. (Ars Technica)
- Oh, and while we're talking about AI and censorship, there's this gem.
Me: There's no way Twitter would ban someone for a harmless meme!— Mason Sartin (@sykotiksonik) March 19, 2019
Twitter: Locks my account after posting the Shocked Pikachu meme for "gratuitous gore"
Monday, March 18
Yeah I've Fixed It Now Nobody Saw That Right Edition
- AMD's CES Ryzen 3000 demo was reportedly power constrained and not performance constrained. (OC3D)
That is, AMD specifically chose to show off equal performance at half the power, rather than better performance at equal power. Exactly how much better performance you'd get at equal power is an open question, because we don't yet know the power/performance curve of these CPUs. Up to a certain point performance tends to scale linearly with power, but there's always an inflection point where it goes geometric, with power requirements scaling to the cube of the performance increment - or more.
So if AMD undervolted and underclocked their CPU to reduce power consumption by 30-40% for the demo, they might only gain another 10% when they go to full power.
Or they could just add another 8 cores.
- AMD is planning to stack DRAM and SRAM on their CPUs. (Tom's Hardware)
A single HBM2 package can now be up to 24GB with 300GB per second of bandwidth, which would be great for CPUs and amazing for APUs.
- Archive.org is frantically backing up Google+ before it becomes our generation's GeoCities. (Engadget)
Um. Okay, don't know about you, but let's face it, GeoCities was my generation's GeoCities. Ow, my back.
- MySpace meanwhile has lost everything uploaded between 2003 and 2015. (BBC News)
They blame this on file corruption during a server migration.
Reached for comment, MySpace said "We apologize for the inconvenience."
- New Zealand is busy blocking most of the internet including BitChute, Archive.is, Liveleak, Dissenter, and Kiwfarms, which does not, in fact, farm kiwis. (One Angry Gamer)
I've Run Out of Good Dirty Pair AMVs So You Get This Instead of the Day
Sunday, March 17
- A nice Sunday gallery of classic computer photos. (Pingdom)
Seriously old-school and well worth a look.
- TCL is working on a combined QD (quantum dot) / OLED display that can be printed out using an inkjet printer. (OLED-info)
They have already shown off prototype printed displays, so this one might be real and spectacular.
- Teach yourself programming in 10 years.
Sounds about right.
- More information about the site blockings in New Zealand following the anti-Muslim terrorist attack. (Bleeping Computer)
It's not a good article - I'll see if I can find something better - but it does present the basic facts and includes some links and tweets for further information.
Another article I found is biased in the other direction. (One Angry Gamer)
If you read alternate paragraphs from each that may present some balance. Or give you indigestion. Possibly both.
- Crytek has showed off real-time ray tracing running on previous generation graphics cards. (Tom's Hardware)
I'm sure they're cheating, the entire point of graphics programming is knowing when you can get away with that. If it looks the same as ray tracing but takes 1/5th the processing power, you might as well call it ray tracing.
Social Media News
- The Intercept, a "billionaire-funded public charity" posing as a news organisation, has laid off 4% of its staff. (CJR)
"I am sickened" said CommentBot 1404, a.k.a. Laura Poitras, "the beeping heart of the newsroom has been torn out". She then leaked a small amount of oil.
- Don't pour cold water into hot glass cookware you idiots. (Gizmodo)
My mother had that lesson drummed into me by the time I was ten.
Dirty Pair Music Video of the Day
I've finished watching Dirty Pair TV all the way through for the first time, and while I certainly enjoyed it I can see why the OVAs got a prompt release in the West back in the day but the TV series took a couple of decades. The stories are mostly a lot simpler and the animation budget is clearly meagre. There's some great background art, but lots of panning shots because they need to make the most of it.
As it progresses the writing gets stronger and the animation improves, and the balance between action and comedy also improves. If you've seen scenes in AMVs where Kei flashes the guards to distract them, or the girls are dressed up as theme park mascots, those both come from episode 26, which was a great ending.
The first OVA, though, really kicks things into gear. For anyone not a completist, I'd recommend just the movies and then the OVAs. There's no origin episode - in TV episode 1 they're established 3WA trouble consultants - so starting a bit later doesn't leave you adrift.
Saturday, March 16
- Looking for an 86" computer monitor? (AnandTech)
Yes? Why? Also, it costs over $4000.
Actually, there is a good reason I can think of to have a huge computer monitor - to use as the surface of your desk. But you'd need a fairly thick layer of glass to make it strong enough to use without risk of cracking, and then you'd have parallax problems.
Maybe with suitably tough plastic, if it's cheap enough that you can replace it, and designed so that a single point of damage doesn't ruin the rest of the display.
- If you bought a Jibo robot, congratulations, now it's dead. (TechDirt)
Most smart devices are really as dumb as a box of rocks, relying on external servers to actually function. When those servers inevitably shut down, you're left with a $900 statue. This is why I'm so keen to see more powerful and lower cost embedded CPUs. Get the compute power where you need it, with the ability to switch between data services on the fly.
- Hello, Goodbye is an open source browser extension that blocks customer service chat widgets.
I've had these little blights on humanity pop up about 90,000 times. I've actually needed them only twice.
On the other hand, the two times I needed them, they worked.
- There's a bunch of Intel news from the Open Compute Summit. (Serve the Home)
This is aimed directly at cloud providers, but many elements have broader interest: Cascade Lake and Cooper Lake CPUs, 100 gigabit networking, AI accelerators, new server form factors (1U servers are a terrible shape for cooling).
- Also at the Summit Facebook showed off a 400 gigabit ethernet switch. (Serve the Home)
- An unsecured Elasticsearch server leaked a quarter of a million legal documents. (Bleeping Computer)
It's easy to secure Elasticsearch so that it cannot be accessed over the internet, but the open source release has no password protection. It's not just that it defaults to unprotected like MongoDB or Redis, it doesn't have it at all.
I blame Elasticsearch for that.
- NVMe over TCP/IP? (The Next Platform)
Sure, why not? They're achieving average write latencies as low as 30 microseconds and 99 percentile at 60 microseconds, which is barely slower than a direct attached device (except for Optane).
- Apparently the new version of Pocket Casts sucks or something. (Thurrott.com)
I use their web app every day and have no problem with it at all, but haven't used their Android app for a while. Before switching to Pocket Casts I used... BeyondPod, that was it. Which was absolutely wonderful and loved by all until they released a new version that everyone hated.
- Twitter is blocking reporting on the New Zealand anti-Muslim terrorist attack that left 49 people dead. (One Angry Gamer)
And New Zealand ISPs are blocking the video of the event and the manifesto published by the terrorist. They are even blocking the whole of 4chan, 8chan, and other sites. (Hacker News*)
Now, I have no problem at all with social media sites deciding not to host the video. But I do have a problem with governments deciding what their citizens are allowed to know. And I have a massive problem with citizens congratulating their own governments for keeping information from them, which is what I found when I looked into one of these threads on Twitter.
Appalling as this attack is, I don't see how hiding the truth of it serves anyone at all.
* As a rule, I link to the original story where possible rather than to other news aggregators. But in this case the original story is a post on Reddit's /r/4chan, which is a disaster area with all the worst elements of both of those sites. Well, not all the worst elements, perhaps, but enough of them that no-one should ever go there, right down to customised mouse pointers.
- On a lighter note, when Tumblr banned all porn from their site (the infamous "female-presenting nipples" incident) after their app was banned from Apple's App Store (the infamous "fuck you we're Apple" incident) their traffic dropped by 20% in the space of a month. (One Angry Gamer)
Which highlights several points:
First, Apple has made themselves a legitimate target for an antitrust investigation. Nice going, morons.
Second, Tumblr has content besides porn.
Third, 437 million pageviews a month is not that much. I mean, it's more than I do, by a lot, but it's something I could conceivably do while still paying for it all out of my own pocket. (By using a budget hosting provider and old server hardware bought second or third-hand.) mee.nu has served nearly 1.5 billion pages since launch, and it's unfortunately been on a back burner with too little support for most of that time.
Friday, March 15
Nearly Almost Better Edition
- ASRock's DeskMini 310 is a barebones mini-STX system with a really ugly case. (AnandTech)
It also suffers from having fewer I/O ports than many NUCs and other custom designs, despite its larger size.
ASRock make an AMD model as well, which would be more interesting due to the far superior integrated graphics, but AnandTech only had the Intel version to test.
- Intel just patched 19 different security vulnerabilities in their graphics drivers. (PC Perspective)
- Intel's Elkhart Lake will have Gen 11 graphics. (Tom's Hardware)
A whichwhat? Fortunately they also provide a handy tourists guide to the Lake District.
- Western Digital have updated their Blue range of M.2 SSDs from SATA to NVMe delivering about three times the read and write performance. (Tom's Hardware)
They made a similarly dramatic improvement when they introduced the second generation Black SSDs. If you intend to buy one, make sure you know exactly which model you are getting,
- Just because something is short doesn't mean it's simple. (TechDirt)
House Democrats have proposed a three-page Net Neutrality bill. I actually support clear, specific, well-designed net neutrality legislation, because the carriers are untrustworthy shitweasels.
This is not it. All this bill says is "force the FCC to treat internet providers as common carriers under Title II", without clarifying or updating the provisions in the Communications Act, which was passed in 1934. This would give the FCC massive power over the internet, not just the power to enforce net neutrality among consumer internet services.
The TechDirt article is, frankly, bullshit.
- Japan's own terrible horrible no good very bad copyright legislation has been removed from their parliamentary agenda after everyone in the entire country point out that it was complete garbage. (TechDirt)
Score one for the good guys?
- DARPA is building a $10 million open-source voting system. (Motherboard)
Both hardware and software. This I think is unequivocally good.
- There's a rumour that Nvidia may do a pre-announcement teaser of their next-gen graphics cards at its conference next week. (TweakTown)
Which is about as pointless and boring as a rumour can get.
There's a rumour that after about 39 trillion digits, Pi is encoded in hexadecimal. There. Much better.
Pi Video of the Day
Yes, okay, slightly late.
Anime Op/Ed of the Day
Thursday, March 14
Late Final Extra Edition
- Cookie warnings are garbage and we probably need to burn everything to the ground and start over.
- Dwarf Fortress is getting graphics and coming to Steam. (Polygon)
When they say graphics, though, what they mean is the sort of thing we had with Nethack and Larn on the Amiga circa 1988.
- No-one wants SSDs over 16TB. (AnandTech)
No worries, send your unwanted 32TB drives to me.
The article notes that people don't want to be rebuilding large RAID arrays of 8TB SATA SSDs because it can take hours and reduces server uptime. I note that people taking servers offline to rebuild RAID arrays are probably idiots and no-one should listen to them. Also, use ZFS.
- AMD's Navi GPUs may launch in August right after Zen 2 unless they don't. (WCCFTech)
Vega is apparently limited to 4096 shaders, something Navi will finally correct, unless it isn't or it doesn't.
- Intel's Comet Lake is yet another Skylake respin, now with 10 cores. (Tom's Hardware)
I speculated that this might be a HEDT part jammed into Socket 1151, but the details leaked in recent Linux kernel updates indicate that this is a new die, just as the recent 8 core parts were.
If AMD only goes to 12 cores with Ryzen 3000, this will hold the line. But AMD can go to 16 cores and stomp all over Intel any time they choose.
- Something I missed yesterday: The freshly disemvowelled Twttr prototype app removes retweet, like and comment counts. (Tech Crunch)
That will go over like an osmium balloon.
- The German government says that the EU's terrible horrible no good very bad copyright legislation does mandate upload filters just as everyone with a working brain cell has been saying all along. (TechDirt)
The EU is apparently still claiming that it does not, and refers instead to "magic fairy moonbeams".
- Google removed 2.3 billion bad ads last year. (Tech Crunch)
Charge a dollar, minimum, per ad. Problem solved.
- Facebook and Instagram had to post outage notices on Twitter. (WCCFTech)
That has gotta hurt.
- Michromesoft's new version of the Edge browser is coming, complete with an extension store. (Bleeping Computer)
I promise I won't do that again.
- Australia has banned Huawei from 5G networks and simultaneously awarded them a major contract for 4G networks in Western Australia. (ZDNet)
That's okay. I guess. You just keep on being you.
- ArangoDB, which I looked at a while back but didn't jump on because the project seemed a little unfocused at the time is still going strong and has received $10 million in Series A funding.
ArangoDB is a multi-model NESQL (not exactly SQL) database, delivering document model, key/value store, graph query, and full-text search support, with joins and a query language that is half-way between SQL and Python.
Might be time I took another look. Uses RocksDB as its storage engine, which is meh.
- VelocyPack is a serialisation format developed by the ArangoDB team that has some welcome characteristics. (GitHub)
Specifically, it is binary and randomly accessible. So if you are reading a memory-mapped database (like LMDB) and want to pull out just a handful of fields from a large record, you can do so without having to unpack the entire record as your would with JSON, BSON, or MsgPack. And it has dates, which JSON and MsgPack do not.
This is a very useful library even if you don't use ArangoDB.
Does it have a Python interface though? Apparently not.
Wednesday, March 13
I Didn't Really Want That Steak Anyway Edition
- AMD launched the Radeon RX 560 XT - 75% faster than the existing Radeon RX 560. (AnandTech)
This is because it's a Radeon RX 570 with four compute units disabled. Also, only available in China.
- Dammit, where did my bookmarks go?
- What are they doing all the way over there?
- GoDaddy, Google, and Apple screwed up and mis-issued an estimated two million certificates. (Ars Technica)
They used - horrors - only positive 64-bit integers to assign serial numbers rather than the full range of positive and negative values. This basically doesn't matter at all. Unfortunately the reporting was carried out by a brain-damaged budgie:
The 63 bits is far off the mark of the required 64 bits and, as such, poses a theoretically unacceptable risk to the entire ecosystem. (Practically speaking, there’s almost no chance of the certificates being maliciously exploited. More about that later.) Adam Caudill, the security researcher who blogged about the mass misissuance last weekend, pointed out that it’s easy to think that a difference of 1 single bit would be largely inconsequential when considering numbers this big. In fact, he said, the difference between 263 and 264 is more than 9 quintillion.This is complete and utter nonsense. If it were 2127 vs. 2128 the difference would be 170 undecillion, and it would be even less relevant.
The fault is actually in the spec, which requires (a) at least 64 bits of entropy and (b) that the most significant bit be 0, which means you need at least a 65 bit value, but while this problem was discussed when the spec was written no-one actually bothered to update the spec.
- ASRock's X399 Phantom Gaming 6 is an only slightly cut down Threadripper motherboard for $250. (AnandTech)
Eight DIMM slots, three full PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, 2.5GbE and 1GbE ports, three M.2 slots (all PCIe 3.0 x4).
Only real limitation is that its CPU power supply is limited to 180W and it can't run the recent 24 and 32 core Threadrippers. But those are somewhat specialised - and expensive - parts and probably not a reason to be looking at low-cost motherboards anyway.
- Firefox just released Send, an end-to-end encrypted file sharing service. (Tom's Hardware)
You can send files up to 1GB, or 2.5GB if you sign up (for free, I think). If they use Backblaze and Cloudflare it's cheap enough that they can run this at a loss until/unless it takes off.
- There is one law for left and right alike, which prevents them equally from saying "learn to code" and wearing red baseball caps. (TechDirt gets this story egregiously wrong.)
- The truth of that story about Liz Warren's anti-Facebook ads getting banned by Facebook is more nuanced. Facebook is simply run by idiots. (TechDirt)
- She's wrong about everything anyway. (Stratechery)
Unfortunately, Senator Warren’s proposal helps highlight why I have not gone further with my own: hers would create massive new problems, have significant unintended consequences, and worst of all, not even address the issues Senator Warren is concerned about (with one possible exception I will get to in a moment). Worst, it would do so by running roughshod over the idea of judicial independence, invite endless lawsuits and bureaucratic meddling around subjective definitions, and effectively punish consumers for choosing the best option for them.But apart from that...
- Twttr got disemvoweled. (Tech Crunch)
- Toyota is building a moon rover and it looks exactly like you would want a Toyota moon rover to look. (Engadget)
- Unicode is one big semantic sewage farm.
- Charting the voracity of hyperscalers, and what it means for the future. (The NExt Platform)
- Boeing is planning a software patch for the 737 MAX. (ZDNet)
Guys... Maybe do that before?
- Google's Jigsaw division has rolled out a new Chrome extension that ensures you never learn anything. (CNet)
Dirty Pair Music Video of the Day
Picture of the Day
Tuesday, March 12
Half Baked Apple Pie Edition
- Adobe is discontinuing Shockwave support having fired Director in 2017. (Tom's Hardware)
I'm surprised it lasted this long. Flash is next on the list, of course. Not because it's not useful but because it's a bugridden insecure pile of crap.
- Intel announced Compute Express Link - CXL - a cache-coherent CPU interconnect over PCIe 5.0. (Tom's Hardware)
AMD hasn't signed on to this effort, since they already have Infinity Fabric and it's been shipping in volume since 2017.
- Liz Warren's plans to squish Amazon, Google, and Facebook don't rest in existing antitrust and anti-cartel regulations but in new and blatantly unconstitutional EU-style copyright legislation. (TechDirt)
Good thing she won't win - not least because this would have precisely the opposite effect - but look for other idiots to latch onto this idea.
- F5 has bought Nginx for $670 million. (TechCrunch)
Could have just used apt install, guys, but whatevs.
Not sure how they plan to make money. Nginx is solid and reliable and I've come to loathe it and have switched to Caddy. Anyway, it's not something you outsource and run as a cloud service.
- KeyDB is a multi-threaded port of Redis. (GitHub)
It's not a complete overhaul and preserves Redis's locking mechanism, so it won't scale write workloads indefinitely, but for reads it does pretty well, offering better throughput and better latency.
Redis itself is pursuing a clustered / shared nothing approach, which scales much better but is more complex to deploy.
- Amazon has released an open source version of Elasticsearch. (Amazon)
But isn't Elasticsearch already open source?
Well, yes. Sort of. Maybe.
The Amazon version also has authentication, which was previously a paid enterprise-level feature, a truly daft decision.
- China goes full Brave New World. (Bleeping Computer)
That may or may not be an improvement over 1984.
- Why is Nvidia buying Mellanox? (The Next Plaform)
Answer: Because they had $7.4 billion just sitting around and needed to do something with it.
Dirty Pair Music Video of the Day
Monday, March 11
Wrong Kind of Quacks Edition
- Nvidia has outbid Intel to buy Mellanox for $6.9 billion. (Tom's Hardware)
This is a good and logical fit because... Um, because... NO! THIS MAKES NO SENSE! WTF NV?
- Jealous that all the bad attention is going to Europe - and America - and China - and Japan and Australia - Thailand is proposing new legislation to make service providers criminally liable for their end users' acts of lèse-majesté. (TechDirt)
Also, if you google lèse-majesté, all the top hits relate to Thailand. That country has a serious bee up its butt.
- Reinstall your Linux server over SSH.
Yes, that involves reinstalling the SSH daemon, so this is just a tiny bit tricky.
- CSS is studying trigonometry. (ZDNet)
- MikroTik has more switches where that $270 10GbE model came from. (Serve the Home)
The CRS312-4C+8XG is 12-port 10Gbase-T managed switch with SFP+ support as well on four ports. That makes it an easy drop in to an existing network, unlike pure SFP+ switches.
No pricing just yet.
- Linux 5.1 may support Optane modules as system RAM. (Phoronix)
I'd be interested to see OS-level generalised NVM support, but this is a useful step.
Kei Has Shoulders Like a Linebacker Music Video of the Day
Sunday, March 10
I Can Almost Get Out Of Bed Without Screaming Edition
- A die photo of Samsung's Exynos 9820 SOC. (AnandTech)
This is interesting because the chip has Samsung's own M4 cores, Arm's previous generation A75 performance cores, and Arm's low-power A55 cores. The size difference is striking.
- The Dutch Data Protection Agency says that sites that require you to allow tracking cookies to access content violate the GDPR. (Tom's Hardware)
Sites aren't going to stop doing this, of course; they're going to hide it under ever increasing layers of bullshit.
- Why does Google return invalid JSON data? (Stack Overflow)
Because everything is garbage.
- Citrix got hacked. (The Register)
This isn't good. Citrix believes that this only involved corporate data and not customer records, but this isn't certain yet.
- Want to write your own programming language? You're probably crazy but here's a list of helpful tools and information for you anyway. (GitHub)
Dirty Pair Music Video of the Day
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