Monday, April 20
Half Baked Edition
- OrbitDB is a distributed database for the peer-to-peer web or something like that. (GitHub)
It's written in Node.js and uses IPFS for storage, which makes it the stupidest idea since they built the original Hoover Dam out of candy floss.
- We're living through Connie Willis's Remake. (The Verge)
And also Doomsday Book.
- Australia has come down with a severe case of France. (New Zealand Herald)
This will be amusing.
- Online services are struggling to find a way to filter content after sending their staff home. (AP News)
They're not very bright, are they.
- Spider goat, spider goat, whatever happened to spider goat? (AG Funder News)
Well, the company went broke and the goats are probably dead, so not a lot.
- 700 malicious Ruby gems have been found and removed from rubygems.org. (The Hacker News which is not the same as Hacker News, which is not at all ironic)
These days I twitch every time I install a new Python package.
- A zero-day exploit for Zoom is being sold for $500,000. (Bleeping Computer)
That's what they're asking for anyway. Top bid is currently fourteen zlotys. Not the current ones, either, the pre-1990 communist-era ones.
Catoblepas R Us Edition
- Most of the Ryzen 4000 laptops announced so far have used H and HS series chips - 45 and 35W parts. The new Zenbook 14 uses the 15W 8 core Ryzen 4700U. (Tom's Hardware)
It pairs the chip with 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM at 4266MHz, which should unlock the power of the integrated graphics.... And also has an Nvidia MX350 with 2GB of 7GHz GDDR5 on a 64-bit bus. Which means that the dedicated graphics actually have less memory bandwidth than the integrated graphics, which has to be first.
Specs for the rest of the laptop have yet to be announced. Or leak, whichever.
- A look at a fake Intel quad 10GbE network card. (Serve the Home)
Apart from not actually being built by Intel, it works perfectly.
- How will tech hubs weather the pandemic? (Tech Crunch)
With any luck by sinking into the ocean, never to be heard from again.
- A look inside AMD's Am2901 bit-slice CPU. (Righto)
Back before you could fit 300 million transisters into a single square millimetre, you might have only been able to build a 4-bit CPU at a reasonable price. The Am2901 was a 4-bit CPU. But if you wired two of them together, it became an eight-bit CPU, and if you wired eight of them together you had yourself a 32-bit CPU, albeit a rather slow one because of the external carry propagation.
Despite that - and the complexity of building a real-world 32-bit CPU out of MSI parts - it saw adoption in many places where a full custom design was too expensive and standard logic too bulky: The famous Xerox Star workstation, computers onboard the F16C/D, and later models of the VAX-11 before the introduction of the VLSI-based MicroVAX.
Disclaimer: When this guy looks inside a chip, he really looks inside a chip.
Sunday, April 19
Did I Mention The Buick Edition
- Surviving traces of dinosaur proteins and DNA may have been found in a fossil. (Scientific American)
According to - oh. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. So they'll probably make soup out of it.
- The SpaceX Crew Dragon is due for launch next month. (CNet)
Which is good timing because the Soyuz program has caught Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague. (Space.com)
- Writing Python in Rust. (m-ou.se)
I'm not sure this is so much a practical solution as a reductio ad absurdum examination of Rust's macro facilities.
- TSMC's 3nm node will deliver a 70% higher transistor density than 5nm. (WikiChip)
Nearly 300 million per mm2 which is more than ten times as much as 16nm which I seem to recall was current up to about a week ago.
Compared to 5nm they expect a 10-15% speed increase at constant power or a 25-30% power decrease at constant speed, which is similar to the gains of 5nm over 7nm.
Meanwhile 5nm has entered volume production and 6nm - an upgrade path for existing 7nm designs - is on track for this year.
Saturday, April 18
Missed It By That Much Edition
- Wuhan increased its bat soup death toll by 50%. (New York Times)
And that's their final offer.
- Western Digital isn't the only one with the shingles. (Tom's Hardware)
Turns out everyone's doing it. Literally everyone who still makes hard drives, which means Seagate and Toshiba.
- Building your own ZFS-based NAS. (Serve the Home)
In case you don't have Synology units landing randomly on your doorstep.
- Apple's HomePod is still widely misunderstood. (9to5Mac)
Clearly it's a pod that contains a home.
[At this juncture your intrepid reporter attempted to find a clip of Bulma using her pods and instead discovered that YouTube is full of horrible perverts.]
- Woolworths promises I'll get my lamingtons today. What else did I order? Hmm. Brioche, carrot cake, peanut butter, iced tea, chicken tenders, Pepsi Max, vanilla and pomegranate cleaning spray.... Sounds like a party.
Update: And they forgot all the frozen items.
Friday, April 17
Thursday, April 16
Where The Heck Are My Lamingtons Edition
- Apple has announced the iPhone SE starting at $399. (AnandTech)
It has the same A13 chip that powers the $1099 iPhone 11 Max Pro, but less of everything else. Except the storage - the base models both have 64GB.
So if you want a phone that just does its job, does it quickly, and will be supported for more than 18 months, without paying upwards of a grand, it's a pretty good choice.
- A look inside Intel's NUC9VXQNX. (Serve the Home)
This is Intel's Xeon workstation passive backplane supersized NUC. Despite being twice the size of the Mac Mini it has worse external I/O (two Thunderbolt ports vs. 4, and 1GbE vs. 10GbE) but it has room for an eight core Xeon, three M.2 SSDs, and an ITX-sized GPU. Or, if you're so inclined - and Serve the Home were - a 25GbE card.
Tom's Hardware tried it out with a Core i9-9900 in place of the Xeon, and an RTX 2070.
- China is breaking new ground in radical opacity with regards to Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague. (TechDirt)
Who, us? Coronavirus research? You must be thinking of someone else.
- Linux is getting patches for the onboard audio on TRX40 Threadripper motherboards. (Phoronix)
I guess someone out there is using that combination of things, though I can't imagine why.
- Well, that seems pretty nice. (AnandTech)
HP announced the 2020 Envy 13 and 15 models.
The 13 has up to a Core i7-1065G7, Nvidia MX330 graphics, a 4K screen, and a 19.5 hour battery life. Possibly not all at the same time.
The 15 has up to a Core i9, RTX 2060 Max-Q, 4K OLED display, 32GB RAM, and 2TB PCIe SSD. And two Thunderbolt ports and a 16.5 hour battery life.
Both feature fingerprint readers and separate PgUp/PgDn/Home/End keys.
Envy 13 starts at $999, Envy 15 at $1349.
Wednesday, April 15
That's Not How It Works Edition
- Fuck Dropbox.
Seriously, if your cloud storage solution requires me to worry about keeping offsite backups you are doing everything wrong.
My plan was to map Dropbox onto a Synology shared folder that gets snapshotted regularly so I could instantly recover the next time it decided to randomly delete all my files. Of course, Dropbox doesn't let you do that (there is a reason, but I don't care) and it's madness anyway.
I might try Microsoft's storage - whatever it is they call it - since I'm already paying for it with my Office 365 subscription.
- AMD has released three new EPYC processors in the F series. (Anandtech)
These are large cache, high-frequency, low core count parts, up to a maximum of 24 cores. They're a good alternative to the Threadrippers we just deployed at work if you're willing to lose a little clock speed (3.9GHz max instead of 4.5GHz) for more memory, more memory channels, more cache, and dual sockets.
They also cost more, of course.
Serve the Home has more.
And so does Phoronix.
- Western Digital Red NAS drives between 2TB and 6TB have shingles. (Tom's Hardware)
That's not necessarily fatal. The real problem is that Western Digital didn't bother to mention that anywhere.
SMR (shingled) drives behave weirdly during random writes, being bimodal. They typically have a WAFL cache of 20GB or so, and random writes in that area are faster than any other mechanical drive, up to 2000 IOPS. Outside that area though performance plummets to as little as 30 IOPS.
It can also be a problem when replacing drives in RAID arrays - random writes can be so slow that the RAID controller (hardware or software) marks the new drive as failed and kicks it back out again.
And RAID arrays are the entire target market for the Western Digital Red.
- Both Samsung and TSMC are delaying 3nm GAAFET mass production until 2022. (WCCFTech)
Considering that AMD has just blown Intel out of the water with 7nm parts, and 5nm production is already ramping up at TSMC, a six-month delay in the next generation after that is not the end of the world.
- GitHub is now free for private development. (GitHub)
If you need enterprise features or direct support you will still pay for that, but if you just want the standard GitHub features for private projects, that is now free.
The Team plan, which includes a few extra features and more storage over the free plan, is now just $4 per user per month, which considering developer salaries is basically noise.
- Python is turning into Node.js. (Fly, Crash, Raise Exception)
Most of our code at work is still Python 2.7. This blog is Python 2.6. While Python has served me well for a long time, I am considering abandoning ship.
- regex2fat is a utility that converts regular expressions into FAT32 filesystems. (GitHub)
Q: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! YOU CAN'T TURN A DFA INTO A FAT32 FILE SYSTEM!!!! YOU CAN'T JUST HAVE A DIRECTORY WITH MULTIPLE PARENTS!!! YOU ARE BREAKING THE ASSUMPTION OF LACK OF LOOPERINOS NOOOOOOOOODo not try this at home.
A: Haha OS-driven regex engine go brrrrr
I think I may just have to learn COBOL. (The Verge)
I've used what, 25, maybe 30 other programming languages over the years; one more isn't going to break me. And the job security can't be beat.
Tuesday, April 14
Do Not Send To Know For Whom The Beep Beeps Edition
- If you grew up watching reruns of the Thunderbirds, you owe it to yourself to seek out the restored Blu-Ray version. They've done an amazing job.
The series was shot on 35mm film and every detail is sharp. Which means that yes, you can see the strings, but on the other hand you can see all the details of the models, which are just remarkable.
- How do you weed toxicity out of an online game? (Ars Technica)
Bribe the reviewers and install malware.
The commenters rake the author of the piece over the coals for his nonsense.
- Speaking of nonsense Intel's upcoming 10-core i9-10900F loses in multi-threaded benchmarks to AMD's 4900HS mobile APU. (NotebookCheck)
It does eke out a small win in single-threaded benchmarks.
And yes, this is the same Intel chip that uses up to 224W at its rated boost clock.
- Where have all the AMD NUCs gone?
Intel is up to its old tricks again.
- The new A12Z used in the new iPad Pro is an A12X. (AnandTech)
As used in the old iPad Pro. In 2018.
It's not a bad chip. It's actually a pretty good chip. It's just not a new chip.
- Also not a new chip is the Nvidia GT 710. (AnandTech)
But Asus only want $50 for this card and it has four HDMI ports and fits in any PCIe slot down to 1x. Perfect if you want to run 28 monitors off one PC.
- TSMC's CoWoS production is flat out unless it isn't. (WCCFTech)
This is the latest version of silicon interposers - using a big slab of cheap silicon as a substrate instead of a regular circuit board. This is used (for example) in the Vega 7 to handle the thousands of pins for the HBM graphics RAM.
The new process allows for interposers up to 1700mm2 which is pretty big as these things go.
- Do you really, really want a 15GHz 6502? Well chances are you already have one. (Scary Beast Security)
A 4.5GHz i9-9980XE coupled with dynamic translation using the open-source beebjit project delivers performance equivalent to a 12 to 15 GHz 6502.
- Google News to exit France in 3... 2... (TechDirt)
The French authorities are trying and failing to avoid the Spanish debacle.
Disclaimer: This new game requires a kernel module with complete access to everything you do. That's a good thing. -- Vox
Beep Beep Edition
- If you want to use your new (I use the term loosely) Synology storage array as the home for your active BitTorrent downloads, you need to do two things. Or do one thing and avoid doing another:
- Create a separate shared folder
- Do not enable checksums
Which is not overly fast at the best of times. (CPUBenchmark.net)
The 2012 model I have uses an Atom D2700, which scores 822 on PassMark. The current model (2019) has a quad-core Atom C3538, which manages 2455. Which is almost as much as a single core on the Ryzen 4800H laptop APU. (I couldn't find a PassMark score for the 4800U just yet.)
By way of comparison, here's Intel's 2011 3960X and AMD's 2019 3960X. Those are rather faster. And use rather more power, which is why I was looking for the 4800U, which has a comparable TDP to the Atoms.
Also, the model I have only has 1GB RAM. Works fine for storing static files - I get 100MB per second consistently. Works fine for BitTorrent once I turned checksums off. But I wouldn't want to use one of these as a Linux server.
Even though that's what they are.
- A nice feature of Synology's DSM is the Storage Analyzer, which tells you, for example, the you have five copies of the exact same 15GB file and you could maybe consider removing one or two.
There's no automated deduplication feature, but from my experience with ZFS I can understand that. (Synology uses Btrfs but the principles are the same.) Running deduplication on ZFS with a large volume size and a small server murders disk performance - reducing it by as much as 80%.
The usual recommendation is 1GB of RAM for every TB of storage, just for the deduplication hashes. My Synology units fall short of that by a factor of 16. And as I might have mentioned, they aren't all that fast to begin with.
- Another nice feature is that you can set a snapshot schedule per shared folder, so that you can, for example, have all your working files backed up every hour and all the hourly backups kept for ten days.
Not that I had a problem after rebooting my PC today that might have required such a thing. No.
- Woolworths seem to have sorted out their online grocery ordering, after they were dropped in the poo first by the Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague, and then by their only competitor stopping grocery deliveries entirely. They've changed the time windows and extended the delivery hours - which now extend from 4AM to 10PM.
But everything is available, with the exception of benzalkonium chloride based disinfectants (bleach is available in a hundred varieties), disposable gloves (reusable rubber gloves are in stock), and gluten-free brioche. But that last is just the distribution center that handles deliveries, my local store had plenty.
- Creating a SQL database in Go.
Right when you are expecting the article to wrap up with "that's it for part one, in part two we will..." instead there's a working SQL database. Well, sort of. It doesn't do anything complicated like actually writing your data to disk, but it does let you create tables and insert and query data.
- The HPE 620QSFP28 is a network card that can be found for $100 second hand. (Serve the Home)
It has - no surprise given the model number - a single QSFP28 port. That can be configured as anything from four 10GbE or 25GbE ports, to two 40GbE or 50GbE, to a single 100GbE. Assuming you have the appropriate cable.
Also, if you plug it into a server that is not made by HP, it might not boot ever again. Or at least until you pull the card back out and clear the CMOS. Whichever comes first.
My Twitter suspension is over tomorrow. Let's see how long that lasts...
- We've removed your privacy options, because fuck you that's why. (EFF)
I think I grabbed a screenshot when Twitter coughed this up a couple of days ago, but the EFF article has all the details anyway. Essentially, protecting users' privacy was costing Twitter money, so they stopped doing that.
- The new Mac Mini is so compact and upgradable! (9to5Mac)
Sure. It's four times the size of a NUC and the storage is soldered in place. Wonderful.
But it does have an option for 10GbE, which is not something I have seen on the PC side of things, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- Performance fixes are being pushed into ZFS ahead of the release of Ubuntu 20.04 next week. (Phoronix)
That's cutting things a bit close.
20.04 is a long-term support (LTS) release that will receive updates for five years. But the important one is 20.04.1, which should land in July. Until then, don't install this on anything you plan to put into production.
I'm in this boat because I needed a very recent kernel to support the new Threadripper servers at work, but loading Ubuntu's updated kernel onto 18.04 broke ZFS. So I'm running 19.10 right now, which ends support in July, right about when 20.04.1 should land. And then I get to do rolling upgrades of the entire cluster.
Fortunately, the way things have worked out I have a spare server in the new cluster.
Phase 3 of our migration became Phase 2, and Phase 2 has been moved to "when we get to it" because we were able to arrange a price reduction on the existing servers. So come July I have one server I can break, or even reinstall from scratch, without needing to migrate VMs and without our users noticing anything.
Disclaimer of the Day
The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.
Monday, April 13
Synology units beep for lots of reasons. Drive failures, fan failures, cache failures, power on, power off... And also apparently when your DSM session times out.
And if you have DSM sessions on multiple Synology units because you just got them all set up and they time out a few seconds apart, you will get a whole series of beeps when absolutely nothing is actually wrong.
60 queries taking 0.184 seconds, 387 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.