Saturday, November 21


Daily News Stuff 21 November 2020

Entropy Gradient Edition

Tech News

  • It seems PayPal doesn't like Australia's largest retailers.  Had a problem placing a grocery order with Woolworths on Thursday.  Went out to the shops, used the same card I use to pay via PayPal, went through just fine.

    Paid a hosting bill today, no problem.  Tried to buy a few items from Kmart, goes into compliance review with PayPal and they'll get back to me in three days, maybe.  Not sure what good that will do since the order seems to have been cancelled already.

    Fortunately this is just some household things I'd like to get before Christmas, not my next week's worth of food.

  • YouTube chat is garbage.  Just an observation.

    I mean technically, not the people in it, who are mostly fine.

    Except for the Chinese antis, who are very much garbage.

  • Sam is coming to Intel and Nvidia.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is AMD's method for direct-mapping all of a video card's RAM into the CPU's address space.  Currently only works for Radeon 6000 series with Ryzen 5000 series CPUs on a 500 series motherboard but in theory it should work for any CPU, GPU, and motherboard combination.

  • An Elbrus mini-ITX motherboard.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I didn't know they were still making these things.  The chip is on the slow side and the board will be expensive, but if you're interested in that kind of thing, it will make it a lot easier to get a working system.

  • Third-party Radeon 6800 cards are on their way unless they're not.  (WCCFTech)

    Stock clock speed on this one from PowerColor is 2340 MHz vs. 2250 MHz for the reference design, but they got a stable overclock of 2650 MHz.

  • Making your web app run 100x faster means it costs 100x less to host maybe.  (Luke Rissacher)

    Just yesterday I found a common API call at my day job that takes about two seconds - but 99.something% of the time is returning the same, public data.  We added some code to the client to hit the API when it needs custom data and the CDN otherwise, and that dropped to 14 milliseconds.

  • End-to-end ECC vs. a 0.1¢ surface-mount resistor.  (Kate's Lab Notebook)

    0.1¢ on the resistor.

  • A Brainfuck IDE and interpreter that fits in a boot sector.  (GitHub)

    Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to boot and cry.

  • It's always a demarcation dispute with these guys.  (Tech Crunch)

    Pakistan: We want to censor the internet!

    Twitter, Facebook, Google: Hey!  That's our job!

  • Oh, right.  I have Amazon Prime now.

Move Aside, Conan O'Brien Video of the Day

I saw this and thought, hey, nice, they got a professional editor to do the opening credits.

No.  Well, maybe.  It was another HololiveEn member - Amelia.  But I know that Ina is a professional illustrator, so it's entirely possible that Amelia is a professional video editor as well as a Minecraft gremlin.

Disclaimer: All I got right now is this box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels.

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Friday, November 20


Daily News Stuff 20 November 2020

Shark Hat Edition

Tech News

  • Twitter's new "fleets" feature, which causes posts to self-destruct after 24 hours, has itself self-destructed after 24 hours.  (The Independent)

    It's the 2020est thing ever.

  • However bad we thought it was, it's worse.  (Mr Macintosh)

    • The MacOS Big Sur update would brick the 2013-2014 MacBook Pro beyond any recovery, requiring a whole new logic board.

    • The repair costs users $500, despite the fact that Apple destroyed your computer themselves.

    • The replacement logic board is not available anyway.

    Good work there, world's richest company.

  • Gigabyte finally has a range of Zen 2 NUC's.  (Tom's Hardware)

    On the good side, they have 2.5GbE as standard, HDMI, DisplayPort, and two USB-C with DP, one each at the front and back.

    On the bad side, the arrangement of the USB ports at the front seems deliberately designed to infuriate people.

  • Fonts for developers.  (Devfonts)

  • The threat of the leapn't second.  (Dreamwidth)

    Every few years on average we need to add a leap second to our clocks to keep them in sync with the Earth's actual rotation, which is very slightly slower than 86400 seconds per day, gradually slowing down, and variable anyway.

    Lately the accumulated drift has been holding at just above zero, raising the possibility of a negative leap second, which has never happened and would likely crash every computer in the world.

  • The ASRack X570D4U-2L2T-HoldTheMayo.  (Serve the Home)

    This is the updated version of what I have in the new server (where Ace is running now, after the old server imploded).

    It has two 10GbE ports, two 1GbE ports, and yet another one for IPMI, and both VGA from the management chip and HDMI for an APU.

  • IBM's Power 9 has a cache invalidation bug similar to the ones that have affected Intel in recent years.  (Phoronix)

    The fix is to flush the L1 cache on every single kernel call.

    Fortunately most Power 9s aren't running untrusted code in the first place and can just disable the security patch, because that would be really bad for preformance.

  • Buzzfeed is, for some unfathomable reason, acquiring the Huffington Post.  (Business Insider)

    Lois McMaster Bujold had a great expression for this in Shards of Honor (which if you haven't read it, you should):
    Put all the rotten eggs in one basket - and then drop the basket.

  • The usual suspects are back to demanding more censorship.  (New York Times)

  • Arecibo is being decommissioned.  (Science Magazine)

    Recent damage has left the radio telescope out of action and repairs are judged too risky.  One cable failed in August, and a backup cable failed last week while engineers were planning repairs.  The cables are nearly four inches thick, and if one failed while a repair crew was on site it could easily lead to fatalities.

Japanese-Australian-Finnish Cultural Fusion and How to Raise Wolves Video of the Day

Disclaimer: I regret nothing!

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Thursday, November 19


Daily News Stuff 19 November 2020

All Sales Final Edition

Tech News

  • Selected a hosting provider for the new social network.  Our current provider was very good on free speech issues and helped me with a bogus DMCA claim on one occasion, but they got swallowed up by a larger corporation a while ago and I don't know if they'd do the same today.

    But I've found a provider that has a good track record, that I've used once before, whose terms of service are essentially:

    • No illegal content.
    • No illegal activity.
    • No refunds.

    And while not the cheapest around they are reasonably priced.  That's all I ask.

  • Looking at Big Navi.  (PC Perspective)

    Generally speaking these are great cards at 1440p, often beating the more expensive Nvidia models, and good cards at 4k, coming close behind the more expensive Nvidia models.

    For ray tracing they are okay.  Noticeably slower than Nvidia but still playable.

    Of course, availability is currently zero, but that's just of AMD-branded cards.  Third-party cards are expected to arrive as soon as next week.

  • I expected the 6800 XT to be the pick of the RDNA 2 litter, but the 6800 turns out to be a surprisingly good card.

    It's $80 more than the 3070 (in the US) but beats it on every game, sometimes by substantial margins, and has 16GB vs. just 8GB on the 3070.  In Australia they're exactly the same price, making the 6800 the obvious choice unless you need a specific Nvidia-only feature.

  • Tame Apple Press says you don't need the thing you need the moment Apple stops providing it.  (Macworld)

    No, 16GB of RAM is not enough, thanks all the same.  16GB of main memory and 8GB of video RAM is not enough.  Two computers each with 16GB of main memory and 8GB of video RAM is almost enough.

    Please go piss on someone else's leg.

  • The internet is being censored.  (University of Michigan)

    File this one under no shit, Sherlock.

  • And again.

    What the hell does Outbrain do, anyway?
    We power the feed experience of the open web helping over 1 billion people discover content, products & services that they may be interested in.
    Oh, spam.

Disclaimer: Baked beans are off!

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Wednesday, November 18


Daily News Stuff 18 November 2020

Everyone Else Has A Better PC Than Me Edition

Tech News

  • Testing the new Mac Mini.  (AnandTech)

    The hardware is very good.  The CPU beats Intel on single-threaded tasks and competes well with AMD, and while the integrated GPU can't beat a 580X (as one site claimed) it can beat a 560X.  I wonder how wide the memory bus is - we know it's LPDDR4X-4266, but the performance is surprisingly good if that's just a 128-bit bus.

    The software, unfortunately, is MacOS, which these days means you're a perpetual unpaid beta tester.

    If this hardware were generally available and at all open it would be an exciting and potentially market-changing event.  Instead it's a shiny piece of crap.

  • Intel is talking up its Ice Lake Xeon processors.  (Serve the Home)

    They claim that a 32-core Ice Lake Xeon can beat a 64-core Epyc Rome on AVX512 benchmarks.

    The problem here is that (a) they're comparing against Zen 2 cores from last year when Zen 3 Epycs are already shipping to major customers, (b) Epyc doesn't have AVX512, and (c) Ice Lake Xeon doesn't even have a release date yet.

    Still, it should be a decent chip.

  • Marvell is licensing 112G SerDes for TSMC's 5nm process.  (AnandTech)

    But to whom?  Apple is the main customer of TSMC 5nm, and Apple has no use for this.

  • Resellee wants to become the Pinduoduo of Southeast Asia.  (Tech Crunch)

    I'm sure they do.  Who wouldn't?

  • The censorship will continue until morale improves.

    Natural News is a garbage website populated by alt-med cranks, but Twitter and Facebook are treating it as if it were malware.

    Update: Original tweet went away, replaced with a comment about the issue.

  • Epic Games is suing Apple under Australia's consumer protection laws.  (ZDNet)

    This will be interesting; the ACCC, which manages such things, has real teeth.

  • There you go again.

    We're moving off Ethereum at my day job because it is, not to put too fine a point on things, a complete fucking disaster.

  • Twitter has announced that it is adding an edit button.  (Reuters)

    Just kidding.  Of course they're not doing anything logical or useful.  They're adding tweets that disappear after 24 hours, leaving behind only a perpetual cryptographically verifiable audit trail and a billion screenshots.

    Thanks for leaving the market open for me, anyway.

  • Deplatforming is the new blacklist.  (Legal Insurrection)

    Only now they come for you if you're not a communist.

  • Update: I go, I come back.

    Basically, the Radeon 6000 series does what it needs to do, except that you won't be able to get one.

    Plus in Australia, the 6800 is priced the same as a stock 3070, which it beats easily, and the 6800 XT is priced like a moderately overclocked 3070 - over $300 cheaper than the cheapest 3080.

    But there are no 3080s to be had, currently no Radeon 6000s either, and there are some 3070s.

Except Kiara


(Discussion on Reddit.)

Disclaimer: Doesn't matter if you're a global idol with a million YouTube subscribers, you're still not getting an RTX 3080.  And the supply situation isn't looking great for AMD's RX 6000 range, which launches in about five hours.

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Tuesday, November 17


Daily News Stuff 17 November 2020

Chicken Smoked Salmon And Spicy Noodle Cheeseburger Edition

Tech News

Oh No It's Real Video of the Day

The aforementioned culinary masterpiece.  Maybe I could arrange Haachama a care package.

Disclaimer: A 20-pack of disposable frypans, for a start.

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Monday, November 16


Daily News Stuff 16 November 2020

Space Taxi Edition

Tech News

It's An Idol Group Like AKB48 Video of the Day

Hololive in two minutes and twelve seconds.

Hololive En's Sixth Ranger Video of the Day

Right down to the technical problems.

She didn't take the railroad from the spawn point, so we're still waiting to see someone react to Gura's efforts on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Instead of office chair, package contained cheetah.  Four stars.

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Sunday, November 15


Daily News Stuff 15 November 2020

Too True To Be Good Edition

Tech News

  • Okay, my test run on the dev server with everything enabled is four hours, not two.  Still down from ten hours, and no longer overloads the I/O or causes odd latency spikes towards the end of the run.

    On the bigger server the performance curve is nice and flat.  The first 50,000 messages pushed through the system averaged 5ms each, and at the 5,000,000 mark it's averaging 8.6ms.

    So that's good to go as far as I'm concerned and I can focus entirely on the UI.

    Using ZFS with Gzip does put a fair amount of load on the CPU, though the advantage is less I/O and significantly smaller databases (which in turn means that the Linux filesystem cache can hold more data).  So when it's time to give this a dedicated server I'll be looking for something with plenty of CPU.  Fortunately that's pretty cheap these days; going from 6 cores to 10 adds about $25 per month.

    I used Vultr for this testing.  It cost me $7.68 to get a dedicated server for two days, and while I just used their default Ubuntu 20.04 setup in this case, you can manually install any Linux distro.  Very handy for ZFS because otherwise you have to add SAN storage at extra cost or jump through hoops resizing your root volume.

  • Apple locked down networking in the Big Sur MacOS update so that users can no longer control it.


    Ijits gonna ij.

  • Russian and North Korean state-sponsored hackers are targeting Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague vaccine makers.  (ZDNet)

    That's an act of war.

  • Amazon has recalled 350,000 Ring doorbells because they, uh, catch fire.  (People)

    That's a pretty neat trick for a fucking doorbell.

  • The Fascist People's Front - a.k.a. the American news media - are attacking YouTube for not censoring people in a sufficiently arbitrary way.  (NBC News)
    "Is YouTube unable to contend with this material, meaning they lack resources? Or is it a lack of will?" asked Sarah Roberts, co-director of UCLA's Center for Critical Internet Inquiry.  "Can't we just line them up against the wall and, well, you know?"
    I may have embellished that last sentence slightly.

    Fourteen days to flatten the election result.

  • Five separate HoloEn Minecraft streams this weekend.  Sure, it doesn't compare with the best television ever made, but it's better than 99.5% of it.

    I cancelled my Netflix subscription not as a political protest - this happened a while ago - but because I spent as much time searching for something worth watching as I did actually watching.

    I still have my Animelab subscription, and I'll be keeping that.

    Also I have new desktop wallpaper.

Disclaimer: Spider spider spider spider spider spider.

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Saturday, November 14


Daily News Stuff 14 November 2020

Scale Away Edition

Tech News

  • Fired up the Mana test environment this morning - an E3-1270 v6 with 32GB of RAM and two 256GB SSDs.  Been working on performance since around 7AM.  I never get up that early on the weekend, but there were back-to-back Hololive En Minecraft streams.

    So far the biggest improvement (apart from the fact that the server itself is faster) is confirming that timeline queries are now efficient and I don't need to maintain default stacks anymore.  That cut the time for a scaling test run - creating ten thousand users and a million messages, then reading them back via various combinations of API methods and parameters - from four hours to two.  Still single-threaded; the API is fine with multi-threading but the test suite doesn't do it yet.

    I have a third run of the scaling test about 80% complete now, with the default stacks disabled, and some new InnoDB and ZFS tuning.  So far it's still trucking along at around 120 messages per second, which is five times faster than the dev environment.

    I can get a server with twice the everything of this test system - so eight cores, 64GB RAM, and 1TB+ of NVMe storage - for under $100 per month.  That should handle things nicely.

  • One thing I still need to check is the load generated by the search indexes.  Going over the MariaDB documentation while things were running and I was waiting for the next Minecraft stream, I was reminded that they support the Federated storage engine - or rather, the rewritten version called FederatedX.

    That would let me put the search indexes on their own server should the need arise, with no code changes at all.  And in theory other tables as well, but search is the top candidate for this because it's an isolated function - if search breaks, everything else keeps on running until you get around to fixing it.

    (Unless developers write their apps to use search all the time instead of the more specific and efficient API methods designed for them.  Not that that ever happens.)

  • No, you idiots, Apple's M1 GPU is not faster than an RX580.  (Tom's Hardware_

    Ugh.  Seriously.

  • X-NAND is NAND only X.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It seems to be QLC flash with pseudo-SLC caching, but with a lot more internal parallelism than typical flash dies, so you can read or write an order of magnitude faster.   In terms of throughput; latency is comparable to existing chips.

  • Target said "sorry, we fucked up" and unbanned the book they banned yesterday.

    Outrage cancelled.

  • Latest scaling run just completed.  Only shaved another 15 minutes off the run time - about 12% - but it cut the write amplification issue drastically.  That turned out to be a clash between the InnoDB and ZFS block sizes.

    (I did set that up correctly previously, but then forgot about it because with TokuDB it makes no difference and works just fine at the default settings.)

    Database size for this run was 3.7GB before compression, 2.1GB compressed.

    I'm going to re-run it now with GZip compression instead of LZ4.  Percona recommend this tradeoff if you have a fast CPU, not so much because it saves space, as because it improves performance by reducing I/O.

    The nice thing with ZFS is that you can change compression algorithms and block sizes on the fly.  The changes only take effect on new block writes, but it works just fine with a random mix of different sizes and compression methods.

    Making the database and filesystem block sizes match already reduced I/O utilisation by 60%, so let's see what GZip can do to help.

    Update: GZip is the way to go.  Only shaved 6 minutes - 5% - off the previous run, but it cut the database size nearly 40% from 2.1GB to 1.3GB.  Faster and smaller is good.

    These times and sizes are all with temporal tables enabled as well.  That's been painless so far.

  • I've applied the same tweaks to my test environment now as well, and we'll see how that goes.  If I can do the beta launch on a $24 per month VPS, with the ability to scale it up as needed, all the better.

    Update: Short test run down from 17 minutes to 11.  Long test run is, well, running.  With these changes, performance looks like it will in fact be fine starting out on a $24 VPS.

    Update: Yes, full test suite is down from 633 minutes to 123 minutes on the dev server.  Which is running all sorts of other crap apart from Mana.

    That is more than fast enough; that's over 10 million messages a day.  Well, until it hits the next performance cliff and dives over it.

    Update: Oops, that run was without the search index.  So 10 million messages per day if the search index is on another server.  Running it again with search active.

Terraria Roller Coaster Video of the Day

Everything is going well, she takes out her first boss, then the ctrl-click calamity strikes.

And then the storm clears away and the Sun comes out again.

Disclaimer: But we will surely be outraged in the morning.

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Daily News Stuff 13 November 2020

The Year Of The Eternal Two Weeks Edition

Tech News

  • I tried out the Aria storage engine to see if it worked better than InnoDB for large working sets relative to memory, and it turned out the answer is no. 

    Which is good because I didn't want to use it anyway.  While Aria (unlike MyISAM) is at least crash safe, it doesn't improve on MyISAM's write lock behaviour, which is frankly terrible.

    It's not a problem for the search index, because by design that uses a single asynchronous writer.

  • I'll run a scaling test on a 32GB dedicated server today.  It's really nice that I can spin one up for 18¢ an hour and then just shut it down when the test is done.

  • Now that the US election is all over bar the screaming, Facebook is permitting political ads again LOL J/K.  (The Guardian)

    Facebook is extending its ban on political advertising for another month, because it was never about protecting the integrity of the election.

  • Nvida is also planning to release a feature like AMD's SAM.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This lets you map all of video card's VRAM into the CPU's address space rather than using a 256M window, and boosts performance by a few percent.  Why this wasn't done before I'm not sure; it seems a no-brainer on 64-bit systems.

  • Third-gen Epyc is on its way, at clock speeds up to 3.5GHz.  (Tom's Hardware)

    That's nearly as fast as my existing desktop, and has around 40% better IPC.  And eight times as many cores.

  • AMD just announced a new Ryzen Embedded lineup so where are the systems based on them oh there they are.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Pretty nice systems too.  Six or eight cores, up to 64GB RAM with ECC support, room for one each M.2 and 2.5" drives, DisplayPort and HDMI, 1GbE and 2.5GbE network ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A (that is, 10Gb), two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C with DisplayPort - though these are on the front so not ideal for connecting monitors, four USB 2.0, and optional WiFi.  And a serial port, because these are for embedded applications.

    And it's passively cooled.

    They also offer the motherboards, which are NUC-sized 4"x4", if you want to build your own.

    No retail pricing because again these are for embedded applications.

  • MacOS Big Sur is out.  (Apple)

    How long before they manage to fuck everything up?

  • Less than a day, as it turns out.  (Tech Crunch)

    Apple's Gatekeeper back-end broke down, which meant that Macs running recent versions of MacOS (I've frozen updates on mine for over a year now) could not start third-party applications.  Any third-party applications.

    Response of the world's richest company:

    If you rebooted your Mac during this outage the problem would go away because the operating system would never finish rebooting.

    Apple's ongoing infantilisation of their operating system is why I'm never going to buy another Mac.

  • So, if you can't run third-party Apps because an Apple online service broke, that means that Apple is tracking every third-party app you run, right?

    And that's not the half of it.  (Sneak.Berlin)

    They transmit all this information through a third-party CDN - Akamai - UNENCRYPTED.

    Previously, you could monitor and even block this nonsense with apps like Little Snitch.  Big Sur no longer allows Little Snitch to run.  And while it still supports VPN software, Apple apps and operating system functions will simply bypass the VPN.

    Oh, and those new Arm-based Macs?  You have no option to run anything but Big Sur.  Because fuck you, that's why.

  • We now live in a timeline so thoroughly messed up that Microsoft are the good guys.

Totally Not Tech News

  • Washington Post: There is no Deep State.

    Also Washington Post: LOL the Deep State lied to elected officials.

  • The fascists at CNN of course think this is a wonderful jape.

    War, what is it good for?

  • Twitter rando whose account has since gone private so that no-one can see it tweeted at Target that a book made them feel unsafe.

    Target's response:

Pizza on Pineapple Video of the Day

Hololive Alignment Chart of the day

Disclaimer: Nobody asked you, Patrice.

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Thursday, November 12


Daily News Stuff 12 November 2020

Ugh Part N Edition

Tech News

Honest Liberal of the Day

I watched Jimmy Dore's YouTube show for a while, but tuned out because, while an honest liberal, he is still a liberal, and I don't agree with him that often.  Still good to see him letting Democrats have it like this.

This Means War Video of the Day

To Serve Hololive Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Farewell, Nekonomicon.

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