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Friday, May 31


Daily News Stuff 31 May 2019

Semi-Frozen Edition

Tech News

  • Not even June and temperatures were already in the low single digits in Sydney overnight.  Brrr.

  • Is Docker the new Hadoop?  (Smash Company)

    Well, eh.  You can get Docker up and running in five minutes on a $5 virtual server.  On the other hand, all the noise around Docker is created by the 0.01% of companies that need it at scale, just as with Hadoop.

    Docker does work out of the box as the world's least efficient package manager.

  • On the third hand...  (Bleeping Computer)

    Don't expose your Docker or LXD APIs to the public internet.  You idiot.

  • RAM prices are going down, finally, and there's also little difference in pricing up to DDR4-3600.  (ExtremeTech)

    Time to finally upgrade Tohru and Rally.

  • Flipboard got hacked.  (Tech Crunch)

    The hack got encrypted passwords including some old ones hashed using SHA-1, and authentication tokens for Facebook, Google, and Samsung.  Best bet is to delete everything and never use the internet ever again.

  • And that goes double for Wordpress.  (BleepingComputer)

  • The launch video for Microsoft's new WSL terminal app got yanked from YouTube for copyright violation.  (Bleeping Computer)

    The claim relates to music used in the video that Microsoft already had a valid license to use.

  • It's 2.3 billion AM.  Do you know where your files are?  (ZDNet)

    If you want to keep something forever, label it "porn" and put it in a public S3 bucket.

Disclaimer: No, that was Edward G. Robinson.

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Thursday, May 30


Daily News Stuff 30 May 2019

Terminological Streamlining Edition

Tech News

  • The PCIe 5.0 spec has been finalised.  (AnandTech)

    It's unlikely to actually reach the market before 2021 though.

  • USB 20 is on its way.  (AnandTech)

    Also known (by idiots) as USB 3.2 2x2, parts will be shipping in August.

    This uses the same USB-C connectors and cables as USB 3.1, but has a smarter controller and uses both pairs of wires at the same time.  (With 3.1, the extra wires are only there so the cable still works if you plug it in upside down.)  So it is exactly twice as fast, and twice as expensive to implement.

  • Toshiba announced their XG6-P SSD but it only does 3.2GB/s so who cares?  (AnandTech)

    (Toshiba SSDs are actually pretty good - Dell uses them in some of their systems.)

  • Now the IEEE has banned Huawei.  (Tech Crunch)


  • AM4 server motherboards!  Get yer AM4 server motherboards!  Lovely and fresh, right off the boat!  (Serve the Home)

    Since these are shipping right now, they are X470 and thus limited (at least for now) to PCIe 3.0.  But they specifically support Ryzen 3000, as well as ECC memory and 10Gb Ethernet.

    ASRock also showed off a Threadripper server motherboard, which is a bit of an odd duck but if you need the higher clock speeds vs. Epyc and can live with the lower memory bandwidth, could be very cost-effective.

  • When a company makes "Don't be evil" its corporate motto, then changes it, you might start to wonder what they're up to.  (ZDNet)

    I hear that Firefox is nice this time of year.

    (This is another dick move by Google, brand new and separate from the three I listed yesterday.)

  • How NOT to get a $30k bill from Firebase. (Medium)

    Don't fucking use Firebase?

    (Guess who owns Firebase?)

  • Meanwhile the problem with Microsoft Edg [sic] has been fixed.  (

    It was a bu, says Googl.

  • My new development server at Binary Lane is working.  I'm running Docker on LXC on ZFS on KVM on Ceph.  I think it's Ceph, anyway; it's definitely OpenStack because they provide API access.

    They also, unusually, support nested virtualisation, so I could run Docker on LXC on ZFS on KVM on ZFS on KVM on Ceph if I wanted to.

    I don't.

  • Kara Swisher, censorship cheerleader.  (TechDirt)

    I sometimes wonder if there are two Mike Masnicks, the same way Glenn Greenwald has an evil twin from the goateeverse.

Disclaimer: Like photons, I am my own evil twin.

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Wednesday, May 29


Daily News Stuff 29 May 2019

A Kettle Of Worms Of A Different Colour Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: It's not fine.

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Tuesday, May 28


Daily News Stuff 28 May 2019

Big Bag Of Socks Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Put not your trust in princes, nor in vendor benchmarks.

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Monday, May 27


Daily News Stuff 27 May 2019

Third Shoe Drops Edition

Tech News

  • AMD had their Computex keynote and as expected destroyed the entire deskop, workstation, and server CPU market.

    The only product officially launched (rather than just teased) was Ryzen 3000.  (AnandTech)

    Top of the line is the 3900X. 12 cores, 4.6GHz, 64MB cache, 105W, $499.  It easily outperforms not only Intel's 9900K (roughly the same price) but also their 9920X 12 core HEDT chip that sells for $1199.  (Or rather, sold for $1199, because if that price doesn't come down they're not going to be selling many more of them.)

    IPC is up by 15%, putting AMD definitively ahead of Intel on a clock-for-clock basis, which hasn't been the case since the Pentium 4 days.  Multi-threaded performance vs. 2017's 1800X is up 100% for the same price and an extra 10W of power.  50% from extra cores, 15% from IPC improvements, and 15% from clockspeed.  Multiply it out.  It works.

    Meanwhile the 3800X replaces the 2700X, and the 3700X replaces the 2700.  The 3800X is $399 (vs. $329 for the 2700X) and the 3700X at $329 is $30 more than the 2700.

    Rounding out the low end (six cores is now low end) are the $249 3600X and the $199 3600.

    All the 6 and 8 core parts have 32MB L3 cache, which is double the previous generation.  And that means that a fully-equipped Epyc 2 CPU will have 256MB of cache.  That's a lot.

    Ryzen 3000 will be available July 7.

    Notably absent is the 16 core model.  Clearly AMD are waiting for Intel's 10 core CPU to come out so they can nuke it on launch day with something that is both cheaper and 50% faster.

    Side note: AMD could clean up in the small server market with the 3900X - Intel only have 6 core parts out so far.  But only ASRock are making server boards for AM4, and without at least Supermicro on board nothing is going to happen.

  • Navi also peeked out from behind the curtain.  (AnandTech)

    Also appearing in July, it delivers 25% better performance per clock and 50% better performance per watt than Vega.  And it supports PCIe 4.0.

    The Radeon 5700, the initial launch part, was shown beating an RTX 2070 by 10%, which is exactly what AMD needed to do.  Obviously they would have selected a benchmark that shows the card in its best light; on the other hand this is a new architecture and driver optimisations will improve performance over time.

  • The X570 chipset also showed up briefly and appears to have been pared down slightly from 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes to 12.  (AnandTech)

    Board makers were not happy with its power consumption, which required active cooling, so AMD split it into consumer and pro parts; the latter will have the full 16 lanes available.

  • Threadripper aten't dead.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Speculation has been swirling after Threadripper was found dead in a pool of its own blood at the bottom of a staircase in a burned-out hotel in a small town in Kamchatka missing from a roadmap slide.  Lisa Su put the speculation to rest:
    I don't think that we ever said Threadripper was not going to continue, it somehow took on a life of its own on the internet. You will see more Threadrippers from us. You will definitely see more Threadrippers from us.

  • Arm has also been busy and announced the Cortex A77, codenamed Deimos.  (AnandTech)

    This is Arm's first step towards a super-wide design like Apple's self-designed CPUs, increasing the instruction dispatch from 4 instructions per cycle to 6.  It's expected to deliver 20% better IPC than A76, and open the door to further improvements next year.

    For comparison, AMD and Intel desktop and server CPUs only dispatch 4 instructions per cycle.

    Arm also announced the Mali G77 GPU as a companion to the A77.  (AnandTech)

    This offers 30% better performance and 30% better efficiency over last year, and 60% better performance in offloading AI tasks.

  • Qualcomm is letting people actually run benchmarks on their 8cx Arm laptop chip.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It performs almost identically to an Intel i5, with much better battery life.

    If your software has been cross-compiled for Arm.  If not, you're toast.

  • Intel announced the i9-9900KS.  (PC Perspective)

    A bit confusing, but it's a 9900K with 5GHz all-core boost.  So...  Overclocked.

    TDP not specified but probably fictional anyway.

  • DigitalOcean don't have an Australian datacenter (though they are deploying Australian CDN nodes), and Vultr don't have attached storage in their Sydney datacenter so I can't do the ZFS trick.  But home-grown cloud provider Binary Lane (which I still think is a play on DigitalOcean via Neil Gaiman) have configurable storage sizes and let you install custom ISOs.

    And they start at A$4 per month which is just ridiculously cheap.  So I'm moving my dev/test servers from Vultr to Binary Lane and my production web servers from Hivelocity to DigitalOcean.

    My backup server will stay with Hivelocity because (a) it works and (b) I'm not likely to find a better deal on 48TB of storage any time soon.  (No, I don't use 48TB of storage.  I just happen to have 48TB of storage.)

  • Razer announced the Blade Studio Edition which still lacks the PgUp/PgDn/Home/End keys.  (AnandTech)

  • Acer announced the ConceptD (how the hell do you pronounce that?) 7 mobile workstation.  (AnandTech)

    Which is exactly the same laptop as its existing ConceptD 7 laptop except now the graphics card is called "Quadro".

    Also, while this one does have the PgUp/PgDn/Home/End keys, the unfortunate colour and industrial design choices make it look like a $199 Chromebook from Malaysia.

  • Corsair announced their Force Series MP600 SSDs highlighting the chief weakness of PCIe 4.0 in that they require a whacking great heatsink.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Expected to ship at the same time as Ryzen 3000, 4.95GB/s read, 4.25GB/s write.

Video of the Day

Other Linus reporting from Taipei.  Asus alone announced 30 new motherboards for AM4.  Ryzen 3000 is big news.

Disclaimer: Okay, maybe I do use 48TB of storage.

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Sunday, May 26


Daily News Stuff 26 May 2019

Don't Try This At Home Or Anywhere Else For That Matter Edition

Tech News

  • MSI is closing in on my ideal monitor with a 34" ultra-wide 5120x2160 display.  (Tom's Hardware)

    What I really want is a 12800x2880 curved screen so I can have five 2560x2880 apps with one perfectly centered and two on either side.  Right now I'm, um, "making do" with three 27" monitors.

  • A benchmark of what appears to be a 6-core Ryzen 3000 CPU has leaked out as these things inevitably do as launch day approaches.  (WCCFTech)

    Despite having "only" six cores and a slower clock speed, it outperformed the current top-of-the-line Ryzen 2700X on both single and multi-threaded tests in Geekbench 4.  Not by a lot, but 6 cores vs. 8 cores and it still won.

  • I tried that thing where you mount your DigitalOcean object storage as a filesystem.  It doesn't quite not work, but I can't recommend it.

  • Handling 5 million bids per second with a 2ms response time.

    To deliver web ads.  Maybe you're overthinking this, guys.

  • Everything is quiet right now because Computex starts in two days.  Expect a lot more news once that kicks off.

Anime Opening of the Day

It's been how long since this came out?

Disclaimer: Try this at someone else's home.

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Expanding Your ZFS Attached Storage On DigitalOcean

So, you're off to see DigitalOcean and you want to use ZFS because of the wonderful things it does.

You can't - yet - use ZFS on your root partition, not without a lot of faffing around, but that gets automatically backed up so long as you're paying the extra $1 per month, so we'll focus on external volumes.

There are three ways to expand your ZFS storage on external volumes.

The Quick and Easy Way that May Destroy All Your Data at Some Unspecified Later Time for Basically No Reason

First, attach a second storage volume to your server.  This will be /dev/sdb.

Second, run zpool add platypus /dev/sdb where platypus is the name of your ZFS pool.

That's it.  Done.  No reboots, extra space is available to all your ZFS filesystems intantly.

But you now have two attached drives that are basically RAID-0.  If one of them fails to attach, you go splat.  How likely that is, I don't know.

But as you add more drives the chance of something going wrong increases, and DigitalOcean limits the number of attached drives both per server and per account, so it doesn't scale.

The More Complicated Way that May Destroy All Your Data Immediately If You Get it Wrong but Probably Scales Better

Before anything else, use the DigitalOcean control panel or API to take a snapshot of your attached disk.  This is the big advantage of this method - because it uses a single attached disk, the snapshot tool provides consistent backups without having to shut down your server first.

First, increase the size of your attached drive.  Probably best to do this in decent-sized chunks, rather than every time you need an extra 10GB.

Also, you can't shrink attached drives - but you can't shrink ZFS pools either, so that doesn't matter.

Second, run gdisk /dev/sda.  Select w and exit without doing anything.

Third, run gdisk /dev/sda again, select n, and create a new partition.  All the defaults should be correct.  Select w and exit. 

If you try to do this without the previous step, all the defaults will be wrong and nothing will work.  

Fourth, run partprobe to tell Linux that new partitions have magically appeared.

And finally, run zpool add platypus /dev/sda2 (or whatever partition number you created in gdisk).

Again, all is now working, no reboots.  (Without partprobe you would probably need to reboot before ZFS could use the new partition.)

The advantage of this method is you only have one network-attached drive.  It's either all there, or not.  This allows you to use DigitalOcean's own snapshot tool to take a complete, consistent backup.

Though I suspect that's stored on the same Ceph cluster as your own data and ZFS snapshots and if the whole thing goes bang you're out of luck anyway.  So it protects you from mistakes but for catastrophic failure you'll want to take your ZFS snapshots and rsync them off to a remote location.

Update: There might be a better way, just resizing the existing partition rather than adding new ones to the pool.  Going to try that next.

Update: That seems to work, but I'll need to try it with something running live on the filesystem to make sure.

The Other Way Which I Haven't Actually Tried

If you have a RAID-Z array in ZFS, you can replace the volumes one-by-one with larger devices.  So you can have three 100GB attached drives, detach one, increase it to 150GB, wait for RAID-Z to finish checking everything, and repeat for the other two drives.

This is safer than the first option, but frankly sounds like a pain in the bum.

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Daily News Stuff 25 May 2019

Database Shrinkioso Edition

Tech News

Video of the Day

Disclaimer: One does not simply drive into Mordor.

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Friday, May 24


Daily News Stuff 24 May 2019

Sailing The Digital Ocean Blue Edition

Tech News

  • QNAP has a USB 5Gb Ethernet adaptor.  (AnandTech)

    This works for all-in-ones and laptops and also - pure coincidence - for small NAS boxes that have USB 3.0 or later but only 1Gb Ethernet.

    The switch situation is still pretty dire though.

  • Techdirt is suing ICE.  (TechDirt)

    For good cause.  ICE boasted of seizing a million websites over the past few years, often on very shaky grounds.  TechDirt filed a FOIA request for information about the million sites they publicly claimed to have seized.  ICE responded, "never heard of them".

  • Chinese company clones a popular game.  Chinese company trademarks name of the game in China.  Chinese company then files a trademark complaint against the original game with the App Store.

    Apple removes the original game..  (Reddit)

    Don't be Apple.

  • Crossfit has always been at war with Facebook.

    Crossfit is marginally less annoying.

  • It's basically the Dread PirateBay Roberts.

  • Google doesn't know what to do with Gophers anymore.


  • The US Senate is coming for loot boxes.  (Tech Crunch)

    Demarcation dispute, I take it.

  • File it under "Sure, Jan": China isn't spying on Americans.  (ZDNet)

  • One of the reasons I didn't go with DigitalOcean before and ended up paying a heap of money for a server I never really managed to use was because all the cloud providers lock you into their infrastructure.

    Here's how to migrate your VPS between DigitalOcean, Vultr, and LunaNode.  It's harder than it needs to be, but it works.

    I have DigitalOcean and Vultr accounts.  DO has a better range of services; Vultr has broader distribution, including, importantly, Sydney.  (DO says "use Singapore".  Ping times from Sydney to Singapore are often worse than San Francisco, rendering it worse than useless.)

  • You can use DigitalOcean's Spaces (object storage) as a filesystem.

    Sort of.  Reading mostly works fine.  Creating, deleting, and replacing files is fine.  Updating files is a train wreck.  Not surprising that it has a problem; it's doing well to work at all.

    It's a fifth the price of block storage and can be shared across multiple servers.  If you're publicly service files out of your Space storage they also offer a free global CDN.  Australian CDN nodes are in beta, but I'll see if it's at least a public beta.

Anime Opening of the Day

Well, that was different.

Disclaimer: Things fall apart.  The CentOS cannot stand.  Mere Antergos is loosed upon the world.  Fuck everything about Linux networking.

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Yeah, Well, About That

That shiny (and expensive) new server I got months ago so we could all migrate into a brand new virtualised environment with LXC and ZFS and all the other latest and greatest toys?

Just opened a ticket to cancel it.

I can not get it to work properly.

This server - this one right here - is running in a virtualised environment using OpenVZ.  That just works.  Dead simple.  But it's also dead dead now; EOL is November this year.

I tried setting up LXC, couldn't get networking right.  Tried setting up Proxmox VE, couldn't get networking right.  Tried setting up VMware ESXi, couldn't get it to even install.

We're moving to Digital Ocean.  This server isn't as urgent - we still have six months in theory and maybe more in practice, but Ace is on an old server and it needs to be fixed.

It's a shame.  The new server would have given us a great environment going forward.  But I've spent several days now installing and configuring and reinstalling and reconfiguring without any sign of progress.  I should probably have done this three months ago.

I can get a Digital Ocean instance up and running for $6 per month, including automated backups and 1TB of bandwidth, in two minutes flat.  Sure, I need to install the software, but that doesn't simply refuse to work for no reason.  Except sometimes MySQL.

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