A cricket bat!
Twelve years, and four psychiatrists!
I kept biting them!
They said you weren't real.

Wednesday, July 10


Daily News Stuff 10 July 2019

Fuck I Did It Again Edition

Tech News

  • I was looking for the best option to add sound to my design for an 8/32-bit computer.  My restrictions are that whatever I use for the job has to be cheap - certainly less than A$10; readily available; and hobbyist friendly.  I need something that can drop into a breadboard, or at worst drop into a socket that can drop into a breadboard.  That means either a DIP or PLCC part.

    The usual way to deliver audio these days is to attach a codec to a high-speed serial port such as I2C or SPI, both of which I have available.  Out of more than seven hundred codec chips available, how many support one of those interfaces and come in DIP or PLCC?

    Zero.  Not a single one.

    It turns out that if you want to add audio to a PIC in a hobbyist-friendly way, the simplest - no, the only practical approach - is to use another PIC.

    The PIC16F177x range includes up to four DACs, but you have to be careful because two of them will only be 5 bits and not terribly useful for audio, but one or two will be ten bits.  By comparison, the original Amiga had 8-bit DACs and didn't sound completely terrible.  PIC16 is an 8-bit part (despite the name) but runs at 32MHz so it's quite capable of handling simple audio generation.

    PIC24 is a 16-bit range (despite the name) and also offers internal DACs, but I can't find any parts in a DIP package with DACs.  It's possible they're just hiding, but there is a better alternative.

    And that's the dsPIC33FJ128GP802-I/SP.  It's a 16-bit part too - yeah, Microchip are not good at this - running at 40MHz.  It has up to 128KB flash and 16KB RAM, dual 16-bit DACs (or really, dual 14-bit DACs that take 16-bit input).

    The CPU has DSP enhancements including separate X and Y memory and buses so that it can read two data values per clock cycle, and a single-cycle multiply/accumulate with 40 bit output, saturation and rounding control, and fractional values (though not true floating point).

    And it all comes in a 28-pin narrow DIP just like the PIC32MX270F256B-50I/SP I hope to use as my CPU and GPU.  Cost is actually slightly higher - A$8.19 vs. A$6.65, both qty 1 - which I put down to the DACs.

  • I found a source for RAMDACs.  PLCC-44, which is acceptable.  256x24 lookup table, so 16,777,216 colours instead of 64.  US$3.17.  It's an old Brooktree chip, so it requires a 5V power supply an a 1.2V reference, which is annoying.  They claim to have 152,000 of them in stock, which I guess is possible considering these used to be on every graphics card in the world and the remaining parts had to end up somewhere.

  • Any law you can pass I can pass worser.  I can pass any law worser than you.

    No you can't.

    Yes I can.

    No you can't.

    Yes I can.

    No you can't.

    Oui je peux! Oui je peux!  (TechDirt)

  • Looking for an underpowered laptop with a good screen?  Now's your chance!  (NotebookCheck)

    That said, this is rather Chuwi's stock in trade - they previously had a Microsoft Surface clone with a beautiful 3000x2000 display - and a cheap Atom CPU.

  • Facebook's updated community standards permit users to post death threats but only if they're really annoyed about something.  (One Angry Gamer)

  • Meanwhile Twitter will ban you if you say mean things.  (Twitter)

    Why do these idiots get this wrong every single time?

    Oh.  Answered my own question there.

  • A gigabit of flash costs the same as a megabit of SRAM.  (Mouser.com)

    The flash is also faster.  Well, for sequential reads anyway.

Disclaimer: Buggrit.  Buggrem.  Millennial hand and shrimp.

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Daily News Stuff 9 July 2019

Oh No She Didn't Edition

Tech News

  • A roundup of about a third of the announced X570 motherboards.  (AnandTech)

    Not a review - that would be quite the undertaking - but at least all the specs are in one place.

  • Britain doesn't have free speech but is working hard to make things even worse. (TechDirt)

    New legislation would issue fines to internet companies for legal content.

  • What kind of idiots build high-end 1U servers with 3.5" drives in 2019? (Serve the Home)

    It also has a SATA M.2 slot. It's an Epyc platform so it has 128 PCIe lanes, and it has a SATA-only M.2 slot.

    Oh, those kinds of idiots.

  • Now if you want to take a picture of fascinating witches who put the scintillating stitches in the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Macbookticus YOU'RE TOO LATE because they just passed by. (Six Colors)

    The 12" Macbook has passed by.

    The so-called Macbook Escape - the cheapest version of the Macbook Pro, the only one that still had a row of physical function keys and thus an escape key - has passed by too.

    The Macbook Air meanwhile got a $100 price cut and version 3 of the Garbage Keyboard.

  • The Raspberry Pi 4 is a powerful single-board computer that identifies as an attack helicopter or possibly as a pair of headphones. (ZDNet)

    Some compliant USB-C chargers and cables (like all the ones sold by Apple) will refuse to power the Pi 4 because it identifies on the cable as an audio device. I expect this will get fixed pretty quickly.

  • Senran Kagura: Peach Ball is a pinball game. (Niche Gamer)

    I kept seeing references to it, but never with the word pinball associated.  Seriously, this is the announcement trailer.  Unless you watched it to the end you'd never guess what kind of game it was. 

    Well, it does say in the description below, but who reads those?

    The launch trailer is just a tiny bit more accurate.

    It actually looks kind of fun, though there are only two tables so replay value is meh until the inevitable DLC shows up.

  • Webpack crushes when tries to print a message about donating in Windows 8.1 (GitHub)
    What is the current behavior?

      Webpack-cli crushes:

        if (!e && fileOwnerId === process.getuid()) utimesSync(openCollectivePath, now, now);

        TypeError: process.getuid is not a function

    To Reproduce

      Steps to reproduce the behavior:

        run npx webpack --config webpack.config.js --mode development on Monday

    Expected behavior

      It should not to stop a webpack process
    They asked the poor guy to send a pull request.

  • Instagram now asks users: Are you sure you want to post that you horrible screaming garbage baby? (BBC News)

    To which Instagram users reply: Have you seen Instagram?

  • Zoom videoconferencing app turns out to be complete and utter garbage on every possible level. (Medium)

    I've used it. Duh.

  • These look like a good way to jump into Pic32.

    The Pic32MX version (currently $20) only has 16KB of RAM so it's not much good for what I want to do, but the Pic32MZ version (currently $23.20) has 512KB RAM and runs at 200MHz.

    Oh, and here's a complete lecture series on using the Pic32 from Cornell University.

Video of the Day

Cat Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Never send to know for whom the pull request tolls, your code fucking breaks if it's a Monday.

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Monday, July 08


Daily News Stuff 8 July 2019

What's That Lassie Edition

Tech News

  • Having a back button on your mouse is really handy right up until you click it in the middly of typing a long post and find that while the backspace key no longer erases everything, the back button sure does.

  • So, I have this great idea for - 

    Available right now starting at €19.95 for the Duinomite Mini(As a side note, the original designer of the Maximite is not entirely happy with Olimex.)

    It uses an 80MHz Pic32MX795 - somewhat faster than the model I chose, but not available in DIP package, and slower and more expensive than the newer Pic32MX4 or Pic32MK that I considered as upgrades.

    I think my video design is neater.  The Maximite has the advantage, though, of actually existing.

  • My video design is more flexible and capable (on paper) than the Maximite, but it does require two separate - what's that Lassie?  Timmy Microchip has a dual-core microcontroller that puts everything I could want in a single package?

    The Microchip SAM4C has two Arm cores running at 120MHz.  CPU0 is an integer-only Cortex M4 with 2MB flash and 256KB RAM, and CPU1 is a floating-point Cortex M4F with 32KB code RAM and 16KB data RAM.

    It's A$13.20 qty 1, so almost exactly twice the price of the 28-pin Pic32 I started this idea with.  But it's more than twice the clock speed, and has two cores, and has eight times the flash and four-and-three-quarters times the RAM.  It's surface mount, but you only have to deal with one of it.

    Now, the 16KB data RAM on CPU1 is not remotely big enough for our frame buffer, but CPU1 can read and write CPU0's 256KB RAM.  (It can't directly access the flash memory, which is why it has its own 32KB of code RAM.)

    So, if we up our base resolution to 480x270 - which is what I wanted all along, and which fits in pretty well with a 120MHz clock - the frame buffer in 256-colour mode will use about half our 256KB. 

    CPU0 can draw merrily away in the frame buffer (rather than sending draw commands over a serial bus) and CPU1 will read from there, perform pixel transforms, and write to the line buffer, which it can then push out over its own DMA channel.

    If we also up the colour depth to 15/16 bits, we'll need a 2KB lookup table and two 1920-byte line buffers (for 960x270 high-resolution mode, 2 bytes per pixel).  Which is no problem even for our limited 16KB.  We're pushing 2.25x the number of pixels of the original design, but wih 2.25x the clock speed, so we're good.

  • Or you can do it the hard way.

    On the other hand, this thing is plotting the Mandelbrot set using nothing but TTL.  It has eight instructions.

    Update: Now with a Basic interpreter.  Running on TTL chips.  With 8 instructions.

    You save your programs by writing them to the buffer on the keboard controller, and load them by telling it to type them back in.

    This one does have 64 colours, which is more than some of the retro models with fancy video hardware manage.  It's amazing what they've managed to get out of this thing.

  • Or you could do it the easy way.

  • Or the crazy way.

    This is an Apple I clone.  Yes, Apple One.

    The video controller is, um, it's a Parallax Propeller.  It's not actually a video controller, not as such, it's more of a, well, more of an 8 core 80MHz RISC microcontroller and a several hundred times faster than the 6502 it's attached to.  And it's pretending to be a serial terminal.

  • What about news, you ask?  What news?  It's Monday in Australia after a long weekend in the US and there isn't any oh wait.

  • AMD's Navi looks to be pretty competitive.  (AnandTech)

    Nvidia countered with their RTX Super but then AMD counter-countered with a price cut.

    As a result, the 5700XT now lines up with the RTX 2060 Super, which it consistently beats.  The 5700 is the same price as the original RTX 2060, and it's both faster and has more memory.

    Pretty solid cards unless you're planning to use them for compute tasks in which case you might want to wait for a driver update or two first.

    The RTX 2070 Super is faster than the 5700XT - but not by much, and it costs 25% more.

  • On the CPU side of things, things are more clear-cut: Intel is toast.  (AnandTech)

    AMD's 3700X is competitive with Intel's i9-9900K, while costing 35% less and using 40% less power.

    The 12-core 3900X simply runs away with the ball any time you fire up a multi-threaded task, and actually uses 15% less power than the 9900K despite having four more cores and a 10% higher rated TDP.

    Did AMD deliver?  They delivered.

    A note on memory and the Infinity Fabric: Ryzen 3000 CPUs support DDR4-3200 at stock, and up to 3733 clocked 1:1 with the Infinity Fabric controller.  Above that it drops down to 2:1 and latency jumps up; AMD recommends DDR4-3600 as the best price/performance compromise.

    As for latency, yes, it's up a little with the new I/O die.  But in benchmarks and real-world tests the huge L3 cache - 32MB on the 3700X, 64MB on the 3900X - means that it simply doesn't matter.

  • Motherboards?  ASRock's X570 Taichi is a solid entry if not exactly inexpensive.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It only has gigabit Ethernet, and the reviewer was not enamoured of the chipset fan, but otherwise it's pretty solid.

    The review mentions a Thunderbolt adaptor, but it is not included in the box.  Some other models do have Thunderbolt either on board or via an adaptor - a first for the AMD platform - just not this one.

  • iBrick, new from Apple!  (Discontinued.)  (Chromium.org)

    A carefully formatted text message or email could soft-brick your iPhone.  You could recover by wiping and reinstalling... At least until the next message arrived five minutes later.

    It's fixed now.

  • Time to update the firmware in your...  Keyboard?!  (Heise.de)


  • An introduction to Dockerfile best practices.

    1. Don't do that.  Bad devops team!  Bad!  No biscuit!

  • A Ruby library for checking password strength...  You think you know where this is going, don't you?  (ZDNet)

    Actually, it's worse than that: It didn't just send off all your passwords to a remote server, it scanned your network to see if the password worked anywhere and downloaded and installed a bcakdoor in your own software.

    This is not a flaw in Ruby at all, but in the way we distribute software modules.  What the fix for this is, I don't know.

  • Except that if your server is down, no-one can hack you.  (One Angry Gamer)

  • On fifth thoughts:

    If I did add a third Pic32MX2 as a sound chip, mostly doing polyphonic waveform synthesis in software, maybe a little PCM, it would have enough RAM and CPU resources left over to act as a sprite generator.  If sprites are 16x16 in 256, they'll be 256 bytes each, so you could have 128 of them at once and still have half the memory free for sound. 

    It would use the same LUT and line buffer approach as the video controller, and pre-order the sprites for efficient output to the line buffer.  There would probably need to be a limit to the number of sprites that can coexist on one line.  I might be able to smoosh them all together within the time limit (our software horizontal scan rate is only 5.5kHz), but it could get fiddly.

    A $2.97 44-pin CPLD could act as the video output buffer and system controller.  It's a surface-mount part, but it's PLCC, and sockets for those are cheap and easy to find.  And it's in-system programmable so no worries about getting it wrong the first 97 times.

    Of the 36 I/Os, most would be used right away merging the graphics and sprite data and sending it all out again, but there should be enough left for various control lines.

  • Oh look it's a what the heck.

    Shantae and Studio Trigger?

Video of the Day

You'll need to watch this one on YouTube I'm afraid because the entire channel has been deleted from BitChute and no I didn't get that the wrong way 'round.

Disclaimer: Back button, back button, wherefore art thou, back button?

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Sunday, July 07


Daily News Stuff 7 July 2019

Seven Of Seven Edition

Tech Thoughts

It's the Sunday of an extra-long weekend in the US and tech news is rather thin on the ground right now.  So here are some random thoughts about bit-banging video cards.

Those videos yesterday about building the world's worst video card made me wonder if there was something in the middle - between breadboarding an entire circuit from 74LS chips and just soldering resistors to a development kit and doing everything in software.

And, it turns out, there is one - exactly one - chip right in the middle.


The Pic32MX2 (PDF) is available in a old-fashined 28-pin DIP (.3 inch, rather than the fat .6 inch type) so you can drop it into your breadboard right beside your quad J/K flip flops and your 8-input NAND gates and it won't look out of place.

But inside is a different story: It's a 50MHz 32-bit MIPS M4K with up 256K of flash and 64K of RAM.  It has SPI and I2C and USB and DMA and counters and timers and analog/digital converters and all that stuff.  Though in the 28-pin package, which is the only one that you can plop into a breadboard, you have a total of 19 selectable I/O pins so all those features are multiplexed to hell.

It's $6.65 in Australia, quantity 1, for the exact version we want: The full 256KB of flash and 64KB RAM, 50MHz (there's a 40MHz version that is slightly cheaper, but that would screw up our video clocks), 28-pin DIP, and USB 2.0 support.

The way I'd probably approach this would be to design it to drive a standard 1080p monitor, but over VGA.  Monitors to support that are everywhere, and dirt cheap.

Unfortunately the 1080p60 pixel clock is 150MHz, which is far higher than we can reasonably drive with this except maybe in a monochrome character-cell mode.


But if we scale back to a retro-level 320x180 (1/6th the resolution horizontally and vertically) an 8-bit frame buffer takes 57600 bytes, neatly fitting in our 64K RAM.  And the pixel clock is 25MHz, half our CPU clock.  (Well, not exactly.  We might need to find a more precise crystal, like the guy in the second video.)

And if we drop to 1080p30 for our timings, the pixel clock is 12.5MHz, which is the sort of speed you can mess about with as a hobbyist and have a chance of getting something working.

What I would do (if I were to do this, which, since it requires next to no soldering, I just might) is this:
  • A 57,600-byte framebuffer - or maybe slightly larger so we can scroll it around using "hardware" registers.

  • Once every six output lines, the CPU reads the next input line from the frame buffer.

  • Each byte is referenced in a 512-byte lookup table that converts it to a 16-bit value.

  • The 16-bit value is written to a 640-byte line buffer.

  • DMA streams the 640 byte line buffer a byte at a time to an 8-bit I/O port connected to a set of resistor ladders, at 25MHz, double our pixel clock.

    That's a lot, but if the internal memory is 32 bits and the DMA can buffer it appropriately, it will only be using 1/8th of the available bandwidth.

  • The resistor ladders convert six bits into 64 main colours with the extra two bits common across the LSB of each channel.  So you have 64 real colours, 16 grey levels, and some other inbetween colours.

    Though I'm sure if I look this up there's probably someone who can show that with two extra resistors and a diode you can have logarithmic output that looks 97% better.

  • Here's the clever bit (well, I think it's clever): Normally the 512 byte lookup table simply converts an 8-bit logical colour into an 8-bit physical colour, and we send the same pixel value twice.

    But we can also treat part or all of the lookup space as a lookup table for a pair of 4-bit pixels instead of one 8-bit pixel, and return two different output values - and get up to 16 colours at 640x180, with the display mode switchable at any even-numbered column (that is, any standard-resolution column).

    You can switch back and forth between resolutions in the middle of a line as often as you want.  Even the Amiga needed a couple of blank scan lines to pull off that trick.

You could use 720p30 instead, but the table on Wikipedia shows it as having the same pixel clock as 1080p30.  I have no idea why, but unless that's wrong it would actually make things a lot harder.

Doing all this stuff would use almost all the RAM and an unknown percentage of CPU, DMA, and timer resources on our $6 chip, so the idea would be to add a second $6 chip to be our "actual" CPU, and connect them over SPI, which is serial but plenty fast for this.

Of our 19 programmable I/O pins on our GPU, we need 8 for pixel data, two for sync, and four for SPI, leaving a whole 5 for whatever we want!

We could construct ourselves a fancy audio chip in the same way, though that might be possible using the CPU alone.  Each chip has two SPI interfaces so the CPU can control two other chips, and you could potentially daisy-chain them.  Although I'm not sure if you can use dual SPI and USB.

Anyway, at the end of all that you have a rather nice little retro-computer: 64KB main RAM and 64KB graphics RAM is adequate, you have an 80 column mode (though only 22 lines, oh well...)  And it plugs into any cheap 1080p LCD that supports VGA.

You have 256KB of flash storage directly in the CPU to hold the kernel, Basic interpreter, and your code, and another 256KB sitting in the graphics chip that we can turn into virtual floppy drive.

And very much unlike computers of the 80s, it runs at 50 goddam megaHertz.

And for all that it's just two chips on a breadboard (plus a bunch of resistors, oscillators, VRMs, capacitors, and all that little annoying stuff, including probably a CPLD for something that it turned out no we couldn't do in software).


Now, if we didn't need to stick to the breadboard - if we were going to actually make a hundred of these and put them up on eBay - if we happened to have a brother (hi K!) who had an entire frickin' warehouse (okay, it's a small warehouse) full of surface-mount parts and the parts for making use of surface-mount parts - we could do a couple of things differently:
  • The 44-pin SMD version of the PIC32MX2 gives us a total of 31 programmable I/Os, so we could do 15-bit colour output.  (We might - just - be able to squeeze 12-bit colour out of the 28-pin version, but I'm betting there's something I've forgotten that will already eat the 5 pins we have left.)

    Still 256 colours maximum at 320x180, but out of 32,768.

    We could also do 160x180 half-resolution mode at full 15-bit colour.

  • Since we're doing SMD anyway, there's a couple of more powerful options available.

    If we are willing to break our budget and go up to $9.96 (again A$ qty 1) we can get a PIC32MX4 part with twice the flash (nice), twice the RAM (nicer), and running up to 120MHz.

    If we push our pixel clock up to 37.5MHz (running the CPU at 3x that) we can do 480x270 low-resolution and 960x270 high-resolution.  Well, actually, no.  480x270 leaves us with just 1472 bytes of RAM.  If we don't want to go insane we'll need to leave ourselves a small margin and add some black bars top and bottom - let's say 480x250.

  • But for another 36¢ we can switch parts to the PIC32MK family - still MIPS architecture, though a different core - and get 1MB flash and 256KB RAM, 120MHz, for $10.32.

    Now we can tackle 640x360!  And it has six SPI ports, and they're twice as fast as the original version.

  • The next step up is the PIC32MZ.  At $14.56 we get 200MHz operation, 1MB flash, and 512KB of RAM, enough (maybe) to hit 960x540.  There are even 250MHz options with 2MB flash if we need that.

  • And then Microchip laughs at our endeavours, because the next step beyond that isn't a sweet 80s retro-computer, it's a sweet 80s Unix workstation.

    At $25.62 the PIC32MZ2025DAH169-I/6J - let's call him Ted - Ted runs at 200MHz, has 2MB flash, 256KB of SRAM, a built-in graphics controller including video timing and multi-mode blitter, and 32MB of DRAM.

    Basically they're saying: Yes, very cute, now here's a real processor.

Update: Speaking of character cell mode, which I was at some point, turns out it's a lot harder than I thought.  It's not that complicated, but it's not a very efficient task to perform on a CPU.  It is easy and efficient to do in hardware, which is why we had character cell video cards before we had pixel-addressable ones.

I wanted to add a 640x360 16-colour character cell text mode, but it looks like just refilling the line buffer would use about 50% of the CPU.  (I'm doing MIPS instruction times in my head so I could be off by a factor of two, but it's still a lot.)

But what I did figure out how to do is a 640x360 16 colour graphics text mode.  It requires an extra 512 bytes for the lookup table but is otherwise just as efficient as 360x180 graphics mode, because that is generating double the number of pixels it needs to (so it can dynamically switch to high resolution) and this is generating twice as many pixels per clock.

Basically, each byte in the frame buffer in this mode specifies a palette (one of 16) and four pixels (each 0 or 1).  Each pixel can be one of two colours, but for each group of four pixels you can choose which two colours.  It's not the same freedom as character cell mode would be, but it works well enough.  (And our GPU can update the available palettes on the fly just like the Amiga did, if you really want to.)

The same trick can give us 320x360 medium-resolution and 640x180 high-resolution modes with 16, 32, 64, or 128 colours.


I'm still working out how to do dual playfields (320x180 only) and sprites.  Amiga-style blitter objects are easy enough as long as you have enough free RAM...  Which we kind of don't since our frame buffer uses 88% of our RAM before we do anything.

I stuck with MIPS throughout this thought experiment because I can get started with those 28-pin DIP packages, but Microchip also sell a broad range of low-cost Arm micronconrollers.  A 120MHz Cortex M4 with 1MB flash and 256KB RAM, a more capable DMA controller, built-in SDHC and Ethernet, and floating point (!) should handle this just as well as the Pic32MK and costs...

Wait, I lost my Mouser tab...  Cheeky bastards, mouser.com.au is NOT the same as au.mouser.com...  

A$7.49 qty 1.  So 84¢ more than our starting point for around twice the performance, four times the memory, Ethernet support, a small non-volatile RAM, a 4KB CPU cache, an FPU, and, well, stuff.  The datasheet is 2100 pages.

Tech News

Video of the Day

Seeing Antifa's difficulty getting their flag-burning on, I put forward my own modest proposal: A bill that requires all America flags to be made out of 100% natural nitrocellulose.

Disclaimer: Love laughs at locksmiths.  Component pricing laughs at hardware hackers.

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Daily News Stuff 6 July 2019

Jebaited Edition

Tech News

  • AMD has officially cut the launch price of the RX 5700 family as rumoured previously.  (AnandTech)

    Radeon GM Scott Herkelmen posted a tweet suggested this was a planned change knowing that Nvidia would respond.

    Jebaited is a term apparently popular with the youth these days.  Others including Steve Burke from Gamers Nexus think this was a hurried reaction to a better-than expected RTX Super from Nvidia.

  • An objectively pro-fascist UK internet industry association has branded Mozilla as a "villain" for supporting DNS-over-HTTPS.  (Tech Crunch)

    This is getting beyond parody.

  • Speaking of villans [searches through tabs] 97 VPN products on the market trace back to just 23 companies, a third of them in China.  (VPNPro)

    Rule One: If you aren't paying for your VPN, it is stealing your data.
    Rule Two: If you are paying for your VPN, it is probably still stealing your data.

    Best security practice as of July 2019 is to never do anything.

  • Building the world's worst video card. 

    With individual TTL chips on a breadboard like we did in the good old days.

    Warning: This is part one and only demonstrates the timing circuit, so it stops just before it gets to the good bit.  Part two should arrive next week, and I'll post it if I remember.

  • Building the world's second worst video card.

    In this case, using an ESP32 microcontroller...  And a handful of resistors.

    This is notable because the ESP32 doesn't have any video circuitry.  None at all.

    Why not DVI or HDMI?  Surely a purely digital display would be simpler?

    The answer is nooooope.  Both these examples are working with 10MHz clocks.  While DVI and HDMI are digital, they are serial, not parallel, and the serial clock rates are ten times the pixel rates.  Regular old 1080p video has a 1.5GHz data clock.

  • So...

    Gab launched their distributed social thing.  It's actually a fork of Mastodon, rather than new software, but you shouldn't write new software unless you have a very specific reason.  New software is hard.

    Then again, Mastodon is written in Ruby and Node.js which is more than enough reason to launch it into the Sun and never speak its name again.


    Mastodon disavowed Gab, and their - that is to say, Mastodon's - dedicated team of lunatics are working to automatically block Gabstodon nodes from talking to regular Mastodon nodes.  (One Angry Gamer)

    These people are fascists.  And I don't mean Gab.

  • Extra Credits, a video game streamy thing on YouTube, so you already know it's 95% likely to be pure garbage, set itself on fire over historical wargames having two sides.  (One Angry Gamer)

    When challenged on this, they said "that's not what we said" and set themselves on fire again.

  • ASRock's 4X4 Box-R1000 is an embedded Ryzen NUC.  (AnandTech)

    It's a low-end dual-core chip with only Vega 3 graphics, so it might be cheap.  If it is cheap that's great, because most cheap NUCs are Atom based and frankly not very good.

    It has three USB 3 and two USB 2 ports, one HDMI and two DisplayPort ports, two gigabit Ethernet ports and WiFi 5 (perfect for a latter-day Cobalt Cuboid), supports up to 32GB RAM (or probably 64GB with the right modules), has a 2.5" drive bay and an M.2-2260 slot.

    Which is a teeny tiny problem because almost all consumer M.2 cards are 2280 and won't fit.

  • Japan and South Korea are still mad at each other.  (AnandTech)

    Give it a rest, guys.

Video of the Day

For science!

Disclaimer: No cats were harmed during the creation of this post.  Irritated, sure.  They're cats.  Harmed, no.

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Friday, July 05


Daily News Stuff 5 July 2019

There's Good Eatin' On One Of Them Edition

Tech News

Picture of the Day


Disclaimer: No news is no news.

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Daily News Stuff 4 July 2019

Eagle Screech Edition

Tech News

Anime Music Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Happy birthday America!

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Wednesday, July 03


Daily News Stuff 3 July 2019

Your Conditions Are Acceptable Edition

Tech News

Video of the Day

I had a Color Computer II - the one with the real keyboard.  It was pretty good, but saving stuff on cassettes SUCKED.

Disclaimer: At the Publisher's request, this blog post is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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Daily News Stuff 2 July 2019

Cloudflare Picked A Bad Week To Stop Sniffing Glue Edition

Tech News
  • I just got a blast of monitoring alerts for my day job, but it turns out that every single one of them was related to HubSpot, which seems to be down.

    HubSpot is down because Cloudflare is down (again).

    Looks like Cloudflare is down because someone fucked up the internet again.  I also got a notification from DigitalOcean that basically things are fucked all over the world.

    It seems to be getting fixed very quickly - the status page is clearing red to green at a gratifying rate.  But maybe get a second basket for your eggs, guys?

  • The 2070 Super and 2060 Super are (almost) here.  (AnandTech)

    The 2060 Super looks like a much more capable card than the original 2060, though it's also more expensive.  More shaders, more memory, more ROPs, and a higher base clock.

    The 2070 Super is a nice bump but not as significant, but so far it looks like enough to fend off AMD's Navi, which is all they needed.

  • Need to drive four 4K displays?  Only have room for a single-slot half-height half-length card?  Also only have $199 and need workstation-quality drivers?

    Radeon Pro WX 3200.  It's basically an RX 550, so not exactly high end, but given the constraints it was never going to be.

  • Boris Johnson plays 12-dimensional chess.  (TechDirt)

    Look, if he can outsmart the entire news media and Google, isn't he someone you'd want as prime minister?

  • This seems like a good deal oh wait never mind.  (HP)

    A 15.6" HP laptop, Ryzen 2500U, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, $509.  What's the catch?

    The catch is the screen is garbage - 1366x768 TN panel.  HP does that a lot - they have amazing screens on their high-end models and 2002-era crap on the cheaper ones.

    Though if you need something compact and plan to mostly use an external monitor, you could do worse.

  • Jony Ive's Legacy: Beautiful Garbage.  (IFixit)
    Nobody, to our knowledge, has gotten Ive to explain how gluing batteries into products is useful and respectful to the buyer.

  • The damage that Ive caused extended beyond hardware.  (Stratechery)

    He did create the original Bondi Blue iMac, though.  I still have a second generation one somewhere (lime green).

  • Tweetdeck also fell over.  (Bleeping Computer)

    Tweetdeck users complained that they were forced to use Twitter instead.

    Cloudflare said, "See, it's not just us!"

  • Health sites report Google is censoring their content.  (One Angry Gamer)

    What health sites?



    Carry on, Google.
    Ji lists various examples of auto-complete search terms for "vaccines cause” and none of the auto-complete terms included "autism”
    Yes, because that nonsense is getting children killed, you shitheads.

Anime Openings of the Day

Honeys Flash!

Disclaimer: No fucks were given in the creation of this post.

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Monday, July 01


Daily News Stuff 1 July 2019

Keep Your Beer Close And Your Fireworks Closer Edition

Tech News

  • A firmware update for the Raspberry Pi 4 looks to have significantly improved heat and power consumption.  (CNX Software)

    Benchmarks that were thermally throttled before on a stock Pi 4 can now run 15% to 20% faster, close to the performance with an added heatsink.

  • There's a line in Snow Crash about - no, let me find the quote.
    When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
    microcode (software)
    high-speed pizza delivery
    Which always bothered me because that is not remotely how economics works.  Anyway, how the iPhone helped save the planet except of course it's mostly cheaper Android phones that are saving the planet because by sheer numbers iOS is an also-ran; globally Android outsells iOS by 6:1, and in markets like India the ratio is 10:1.  (Wired)

    Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Accepting the iPhone as a stand-in for all modern low-cost high-performance devices from the first-generation iPod to the Kogan L500 laptop, the point Wired is making is valid and Neal Stephenson's view of economic is not.  You don't need to print, bind, and ship billions of books, vinyl records, VHS tapes, and whatnot.  Squirt it over the air for about a cent, or over a wire for one hundredth that cost, and it's on your magic device.

    You don't need cameras and film processing, clock radios or CB radios, camcorders or CD players, and it's getting to the point where you won't need a desktop PC either, unless you're a software developer or video editor.

    The result is that while standards of living continue to rise, the resources required to produce those standards are falling.  America's electricity consumption is flat and use of minerals, timber, water, and land is actually down.

    Pakistani bricklayers had higher goals than Stephenson gave them credit for.

  • Telstra (Australia's largest, oldest, and most irritating phone company) has upgraded its network to 100Gbit and cancelled 99% of its mobile plans including all unlimited data plans.  (ZDNet)

    I almost went for one of those while waiting for the NBN to reach me, but mobile coverage at PixyLab is, how to put it...  Absolutely fucking terrible.

  • Brave says "screw you Google", introduces its own engine for ad-blocker developers.  (ZDNet)

    Oh, and it's 69x faster than Google's code.

    I assume this will be open source like the rest of Brave, though I couldn't find it at a quick glance.

    Full details on Brave's own site.

  • The h Programming Language.  (christine.website)
    h is a project of mine that I have released recently. It is a single-paradigm, multi-tenant friendly, turing-incomplete programming language that does nothing but print one of two things:

     - the letter h
     - a single quote (the Lojbanic "h”)

    It is not so much a programming language as the Platonic Ideal of programming languages.

Video of the Day

You can get a "brand new" X79 motherboard for $100, supporting Intel's older HEDT CPUs.  With $100 for 16GB of second-hand DDR3 RAM (though to be fair I have 64GB of that stuff) and another $100 for a second-hand 3960X you can get something that can't compete with a Ryzen 2600, let alone a 3600, while using twice the power.

The market for this seems to consist of Other Linus.  And I guess people whose X79 motherboard just died and need NVMe boot support.

Disclaimer: When you hear hoofbeats, expect zebras.  You're level two support; level one has already screened out all the horses.

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