Shut it!

Sunday, April 18


The Prodigal Server Returns

Yes, Akane is back - our shiny Ryzen 3700X, with its 64GB of ECC RAM and enterprise NVMe storage - in a shade under two weeks.

Doing a full offsite backup, followed by software updates, then we can return to something approaching normality.

Meanwhile I'm getting errors on the backup drive I had them swap into the new server at my day job, which is annoying because I'll need to re-take or re-verify 11TB of backups, but nothing is actually down which is refreshing.

Update: Backups of our server are complete.  That server is so fricking fast compared to this one.  I'd like to replace it with a 5900X but it's already really fast.

Backups of the backups of the work server are ongoing, since there's 60x as much data over there.  (11TB vs. 180GB.)

Oh, and the HoloEN Minecraft server is back too.

Update: One of the things that worried me about the main server being down for so long was that I didn't have an up-to-date offsite backup.  I did have offsite backups, just nothing less than a month old.

That server is running LXD virtualisation on ZFS.  This gives you two ways to do backups:
  1. lxc snapshot which is simple and instantaneous and uses minimal disk space but is stored on the local drive
  2. lxc export which gives you a complete portable backup in a single file but by default backs up your everything straight into your root filesystem

So if your container is larger than the available space in your root filesystem, splat.

You can configure it not to do that, but it's not very well documented, and by not very well documented I mean have fun trawling through Stack Overflow, sucker.

Anyway, since right now everyone is on this server and that server is free, I thought I'd try updating the software and configuring proper backups with lxc export.

Tried it on a small container - around 1GB - with pigz (parallelised GZip) compression, and it completed in 15 seconds.  Great!

Tried it on the main blog container, which is around 70GB of active data, and so far it's been running for two and a half hours, has used 470GB of temporary space, and hasn't even started writing the backup file yet.

Oh, and it doesn't give you any progress information, not even Microsoft level where the indicator sometimes runs backwards.

And you can't stop a running backup.

This is garbage.

Update: Always use --instance-only to avoid the snapshot explosion, and to cancel a running export, kill the pigz; the backup process will abort cleanly.  

Meanwhile I'm watching Kanata building and tuning an array of Minecraft note blocks and redstone delay thingies to play Hololive songs by ear.  She doesn't even count, she just goes wapwapwapwapwap on one block after another and it comes out right.  Gen 4's own little Beethoven.

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Saturday, April 17


Daily News Stuff 17 April 2021

Legible Penguin Edition

Top Story

  • Get FLoCed: Nobody wants to work with Google on their new IOPAAS platform (invasion of privacy as a service).  (The Verge)

    Brave blocks it; Vivaldi blocks it; Firefox blocks it, and Mozilla is run by Stalinists; Opera doesn't specifically block it but doesn't support it; the DuckDuckGo extension and mobile browser both block it; Microsoft and Apple appear to be planning to block it but don't want to come out and say so.

    Google is planning to stop supporting third-party cookies next year, meaning that evil ad-tracking scum vermin will need to find a new way.  FLoC was Google's plan for this, but everyone hates it.  Third-party cookies had uses beyond privacy violation; FLoC does not.

    I had to give up on third-party cookies a long time ago because, technically, is not a valid domain name - or at least wasn't at the time.  The second-level domain must be at least three characters long.  So I couldn't set cookies for, either for the domain itself or as third-party cookies for subdomains to implement single sign-on.

    Speaking of managing sites, you can also opt your site out of Google FLoC regardless of what browser your readers prefer.  If you're using one of the common web servers or proxy servers it should only take a minute or two; that page provides instructions for Apache, Nginx, Caddy - we use Nginx and Caddy -  Varnish, Traefik, Lighttpd, and more.

    I've done just that for all sites hosted on this server.

    I haven't done it yet for sites hosted on the main server because it's still down.

    Kopi Luwak is coffee where the raw beans pass through the digestive tract of a civet before being roasted and ground.  I am not making this up.
    Art by Bangzheng Du.

Tech News

  • There's more to not rolling your own crypto than just not rolling your own crypto.  (Galois)

    Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and things are now so complicated that nothing worth not doing is easy either.  This is complicated mathematical stuff, but you can get the gist by looking at the penguin on that page.  The one on the left is the original; the one in the middle is encrypted using AES in ECB mode.  It's encrypted using a high-quality thoroughly-tested encryption algorithm, but the result is just a penguin with a noise filter applied.

    To decrypt the file you need either the password or a quantum supercomputer, but you don't need to decrypt the file; you can just look at it and see the image.

  • Why is Python so popular despite being slow?  (Sethserver)

    Because it works, and your page is broken.

    I'd prefer to use something else - Crystal or Nim, probably - if I were to start a major new project now, but the only dynamic language (or rather environment) with a larger collection of available libraries than Python is Node.js, and Node is digital leprosy.

  • Step 1: Buy old, unprofitable power plant.
    Step 2: Convert to mine Bitcoin.
    Step 3: Profit.  (Tom's Hardware)
    Step 4: Get shut down for using your own power for the wrong thing.

  • It can't game, but can the Surface Laptop 4 work?  (Tom's Hardware)

    Mostly, yes.  It has an 8 core Ryzen 4980U, which they call custom silicon but is really just a binned Ryzen 4800U.  That said, the 4800U is a solid part and a binned version of it is icing on the cake.

    That's paired with 16GB of LPDDR4-4266 RAM - large enough to get stuff done and fast enough for the integrated graphics to run at full speed, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 15" 2496x1664 3:2 touchscreen, powered by a battery that delivers 12 hours of us in real tests.

    It doesn't have the Four Essential Keys, though, so it's dead to me.

  • Atlast packs the 10 core i9-10900 into a small form factor, passively cooled desktop.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The i9-10900K is famously power-hungry, topping 300W under load with default motherboard settings.  But this is the i9-10900T - still 10 cores, but with a 35W TDP rather than 125W.

    It would be cheaper and quite possibly faster to simply get a Ryzen laptop like the one above, unless you absolutely need a silent, passively-cooled system, for a recording studio, for example.

  • The problem is that the customer has two children with their own daughter, and, as a result, he can't use my software because of errors.  (Stack Overflow)

    Family trees aren't trees in the computer science sense of the term.  The best you can hope for is a directed acyclic graph, and not even that in some states.

  • Testing the Samsung 980 Nothing.  (Serve the Home)

    Samsung's SSDs generally have a three-letter suffix - QVO for the low-end models, EVO for the standard lineup, and PRO for the, well, pro parts.  This one doesn't, and it slots in between the QVO and the EVO.

    It's a PCIe 3.0 DRAMless TLC SSD.  The alternative at that price point is QLC with a DRAM cache; it's a tradeoff, and either is likely to be fine for the average desktop or laptop.  I wouldn't put either one in a server on a bet, though, not even in RAID-Z3.

  • Amex let their SSL certificate for the Google Pay interface expire.  (Bleeping Computer)

    I can certainly see why this would be a manual process and not delegated to Let's Encrypt.  And also, since it wouldn't be public, it's harder to add to automated monitoring systems that alert you to impending certificate expiry.

    But still.

  • Dell is spinning VMWare back off as an independent company.  (ZDNet)

    Dell acquired an 80% stake in VMWare when it bought enterprise storage and server vendor EMC in 2016.  I don't think VMWare ever fit in with Dell's corporate strategy, though, so it's no surprise to see it being spun off.  And they'll likely make a tidy profit off the deal.

  • The Asus ZenBook Duo 14 lacks the Four Essential Keys, but with good reason.  (ZDNet)

    The reason is that the trackpad is on the right of the keyboard rather than in front of it, so there isn't room for a column of extended cursor keys on the right.

    And the reason the trackpad is on the right of the keyboard?  Because of that Duo part: This laptop has two screens.
    The lower screen is a touchscreen, and programmable to display apps or function keys or to work as a drawing surface with the included pen.

    As for the boring parts, it's an Intel 11th generation CPU with optional Nvidia MX450 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.  It has two Thunderbolt 4  / USB-C ports, one regular USB, HDMI, a microSD card slot, and a 1/8" audio combo jack.  No wired Ethernet, but a Thunderbolt dock or USB-C monitor can provide 2.5Gb or even 10Gb Ethernet.

    It's interesting, and I can see that second screen being very useful for certain tasks.  Kind of like having an Elgato control pad only built right in to your laptop.  Asus shows examples on the product page of the second screen acting as a control surface for Adobe apps.

    The main screen is 1920x1080 and the second screen 1920x515.  I'd prefer 2560x1440 and, what, about 2560x700 respectively, but that's because I like to be able to split my screen when testing code.  With the second screen, 1920x1080 might actually be fine - I could have the browser on the main screen and a terminal session below.

    There's also a 15" model with a 4K OLED screen, 8 core CPU, and an RTX 2060 mobile GPU, but that's last year's model and it ain't cheap.

  • The House Judiciary Committe has approved a report recommending harsher restrictions on mergers and acquisitions in Big Tech.  (Reuters)

    Republicans on the committee - all of them, as far as I can tell - voted against it because they prefer stripping the companies of their CDA Section 230 protections, which simply isn't going to happen under the current Congress and Administration, so unless there's something specifically partisan and toxic in this report they're just being stupid.

  • Somewhere, D. D. Harriman is smiling: Space X has been awarded a contract for a new manned US Moon program.  (Washington Post)

    This means there's a good chance we'll actually live to see it happen.

What the Hell Are You Idiots Doing Video of the Day

Turnover FY 2020: $14,000.
Market Cap: $113 million.

Rascal Does Not Dream of War Criminal Senpai Video of the Day

A certain bunny girl had a cameo in How Not to Summon a Demon Lord.  That's totally Pekora, no matter what she says.

Disclaimer: Stop the bubble, I want to get off.

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Friday, April 16


Daily News Stuff 16 April 2021

Raisin 5900X Edition

Top Story

  • A power outage halted production at TSMC's Fab14A on Wednesday.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is an older plant working on nodes from 40nm to 90m, mostly for the automotive industry - parts that are already in desperately short supply.  Since a power outage is likely to ruin many of the wafers in production at the time - and wafers take weeks to complete - this is not going to help things.

    Apparently the outage was caused by construction workers (when you invest $100 billion in new factories you're going to have some construction) cutting through an underground power cable.  Given how much electricity these factories use, this must have been exciting for those on the ground.

Tech News

Raisin 5900X Load Testing Video of the Day

Reine of Hololive Indonesia recently got her hands on a Ryzen 5900X CPU - not the top of the line, but the hardest model to find because it offers the best tradeoff between price and performance - and promised to show it off in an upcoming stream.

Which she did.

By filling a bowl with 12.3kg of raisins in Cooking Simulator.

On her old PC she only managed to get to 3.2kg, after which the game became unplayable and the raisins all ended up on the floor.  This time she got a lot further, but though the CPU could cope with it - albeit at a pace measured in seconds per frame - the game could not.

And that's the stream, basically.  Three hours of chit-chat while waiting for a computer to crash.

She could be doing my job.

Disclaimer: Except that I rarely need to wait that long.

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Thursday, April 15


Daily News Stuff 15 April 2021

If At First You Don't Explode Edition

Top Story

  • The 23-year-old techie who supports the websites that are banned everywhere else.  (Bloomberg)

    Bloomberg thinks this is a bad thing.  And they approvingly quote absolute pychopaths:
    "Every time I see an article attacking social media companies—and they deserve it—I think it’s more important to go after the companies that are hosting terrorist material,” says Rita Katz, founder of SITE Intelligence Group, a nonprofit that tracks terrorist activity online. "There’s already a good recipe that was used for ISIS. Why don’t you use it on the far right?”
    Because, you rabidly insipid sea pickle, ISIS didn't just write bad words.  They raped, kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and enslaved their way across the Middle East until they were stopped.

    That's not protected by the First Amendment.  Speech is.  Even yours.

    I got this link from Slashdot, which once upon a time espoused views ranging from the libertarian to the anarcho-capitalist.  The commentariat now mostly treats 1984 as a cookbook.

    Rip and tear - with a smile!

Tech News

  • In a freak accident that I'm sure will not be repeated, my computer waited until after I saved this post before suddenly rebooting.

  • MSI drops drip.  (AnandTech)

    The MSI MEG Z590 Ace Gold is not a motherboard anyone should buy.  It does have dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, yes, and PCIe 4.0 and 2.5 gigabit Ethernet, but it's a high-end board designed for the 11th generation desktop family and Intel's 11th generation desktop parts are - at the high end - shit.

    And have a life span of maybe six months, because 12th gen - Alder Lake - is due out this year, and brings with it an entire new socket and chipset.

  • Parallels Desktop 16.5 lets you run Windows on the new Arm Macs.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is an exercise in futility, though, because what it lets you run is Windows for Arm, not the regular x86 edition, and Windows for Arm has trouble running many mainstream apps and also isn't available.

    And beyond that, Arm Macs support a maximum of 16GB of RAM, not enough to do anything remotely serious with a virtualised Windows environment.  Linux, yes; even a 4GB virtual server can do useful stuff in Linux.  Windows, forget it.

    If you have one business application that's stuck on Windows and you absolutely have to buy a Mac and somehow that business application that is stuck on Windows can run on Windows for Arm, and you're prepared to wait for Windows for Arm to actually ship....  Then maybe.

  • Two Epyc Milan CPUs are faster at 3D rendering than a single Threadripper dunked in liquid nitrogen.  (WCCFTech)

    I'd kind of hope so, since they have twice the cores and a newer architecture - but the overclockers managed to get the Threadripper up from its base clock of 2.9GHz to an all-core 5.2GHz, which is a hell of a boost when you're talking about a 64 core part.

  • Google Chrome 90 is out and is HTTPS by default.  (Bleeping Computer)

    It doesn't seem to break sites that don't support HTTPS, and there are still quite a lot of those around.  It's good to see Google not screwing something up.

  • Washington state has passed a bill to reverse restrictions on community broadband.  (Motherboard)

    Rule of thumb: If Big Tech hates it, we should do more of it, even if the people passing this particular piece of legislation are clearly idiots.

  • The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 does not have the Four Essential Keys.  (Hot Hardware)

    Oh well.  A decent keyboard layout is just too much to expect from Asus after all.

  • I have Cinescore installed again.

    Cinescore is an app from the now vanished Sony Creative Software (which in turn was originally a small US company called Sonic Foundry).  It let you take a musical theme - say, Dixieland Jazz - and essentially paint a piece of music based on this theme.  If you needed exactly four minutes of jazz to back a video clip, and you needed it to be quiet here and bold here you could tweak it to do just that without having to compose the entire piece from scratch.

    It was discontinued years ago, and in 2016 most of Sony Creative Software was sold off to a German company called Magix.

    I was just updating my Acid Pro license (a digital audio workstation) to the latest version to take advantage of a special deal, and noticed that they had all the software I had bought from Sony listed on my Magix account.

    And there was a download link for Cinescore.

    And the download link worked.

    The application requires registration, but the registration also worked.

    The program came out in 2006 and still seems to install and run perfectly.  I'm impressed.

    If I was on a Mac, I'd be screwed.  Macs can't run 32-bit apps at all anymore.

VTuber of the Day

Today's featured talent is Gawr Gura of Hololive English who just hit 2.5 million subscribers.  Her character is supposedly a 9000-year old shark from Atlantis, but she talks like an Iowa farm girl from 1958.

That short clip is taken from one of her Minecraft episodes, while she was building her shark hat house.

And it's engendered multiple callbacks.

If you want to find out what all this nonsense is about, perhaps the best place to start is her Bipeds stream with teammate Amelia Watson.  It's an early episode so it doesn't have too many oblique references, the interaction between Gura and Amelia is great, the game is fun, and it's complete in itself - they play through the entire co-op part of the game in one stream.

I don't suggest starting with her debut episode; she recently did a stream where she watched it herself, and died of embarrassment.  But she hit the mark pretty soon after that.

Disclaimer: Maybe not Iowa, I can't place American accents that well.  But definitely 1958.

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Wednesday, April 14


Daily News Stuff 14 April 2021

My Disappointment Is Immeasurable And My Day Is Ruined Edition

Top Story

  • Apparently Hololive forgot to renew their Minecraft Realms account for the EN server and streams from Ollie, Ina, and Amelia all got derailed.

    According to the Minecraft help site you can't renew a Realms subscription once it's expired, which is (a) dumb and (b) possibly untrue.

    If you can't renew expired accounts, why exactly is there a renew button on expired accounts?

    But in any case you can download your world for 18 months after your account has expired, and upload it to a new Realms account or to your own server.  That's pretty good retention; if you don't notice for a year and a half you probably weren't using it much.

    Meanwhile as I type this Reine is fishing for creepers.

Tech News

  • AMD's Ryzen 5000 desktop APUs are here - the real Zen 3 deal - and you can't buy them.  (AnandTech)

    This is the ongoing story of 2021: Here's a great new technical advance.  No, you can't have it.

    The 5300, 5600, and 5700 are available in G and GE versions - 65W and 35W respectively.  Compared to the existing Ryzen 5000 desktop CPUs they have half as much cache, PCIe 3.0 rather than 4.0, and slightly slower boost clocks, but they also have 6, 7, or 8 graphics cores.

  • GPUs are in such short supply that Chinese scammers are trying fake recall programs as a way to get their hands on them.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Apparently four-year-old Radeon RX 580 cards are selling to crypto miners for as much as $500, when they only cost $229 new.

    I have two of them; unfortunately they're integrated into the motherboards of my two Dell Inspiron 27 all-in-one systems and not particularly easy to part out.

  • SiFive has taped out a 5nm RISC-V chip with 7.2Gbps HBM3.  (Tom's Hardware)

    "Tape out" means that the initial design is complete, ready for a test run from the silicon foundry.  It's called that because the first ICs were designed by manually laying down tape on a sheet of glass before photo-reducing it for manufacture.

    I didn't know HBM3 at 7.2Gbps was even a thing.  HBM2 is used in some high-end graphics cards, but typically at speeds around 2Gbps.  7.2 is quite an advancement on that.

  • A former CIA director says that governments should embrace Bitcoin, not ban it.  (Decrypt)

    Because all Bitcoin transactions are public, and they can use that to spy on everyone.

  • Apple ruins everything.  (The Verge)

    Discord is banning NSFW servers from their iOS app to fit with Apple's bizarre Marxist-puritan mindset.  Tumblr previously purged all their porn for the same reason, unleashing a flood of previously safely contained insanity that has since destroyed Twitter.

    To be fair, Twitter was on the way to destroying itself, but the Tumblrite hegira gave it a healthy push.

  • Starship is a cross-shell prompt written in Rust.  (Starship)

    I mean, sure, I guess.  Seems like overkill but if you spend all your time in Bash fighting with Git I can see the appeal.

  • Why some developers are going web-only and telling Apple and Google to go fuck themselves.  (Fast Company)

    Mobile app development is a nightmare.  Even if you get your app to work, your job has only just started.  You actually have to get it listed on the respective app stores, and keep it there.  And they take 30% of everything.

    Go web-only and you can write your code once for every platform, it just works, and you get to keep all the money.

    Of course there are some things you are simply not permitted to do in a mobile browser, because - everyone sing along - fuck you, that's why.

  • Dell has a new range of Inspiron laptops unless they don't.  (

    The article links to a post on Dell's site which links to a list of all the models in that range which doesn't include any of the new models being announced.

    Good work.

    That said, the Inspiron 14 7400 looks nice.  At least in Australia.  For some reason in the US there are exactly two models, not configurable at all, maxing out at just 8GB of RAM.

    In Australia there are a whole bunch of models.  They're crazy expensive but also regularly discounted by 40% because they want to make the purchase process as annoying as possible.

  • TCP/IP stack vulnerabilities make millions if IoIPoC devices vulnerable to hackers.  (ZDNet)

    That's "Internet of Insecure Pieces of Crap" in case you were wondering.  It's the new term that replaces the outmoded "Internet of Things".

  • Las Vegas wants to ban lawns.  (AP)

    I mean. it is a desert.  That's not absurd.  Overbearing maybe, but not absured.

  • Why is everything computer-related out of stock?  The global PC market grew by 55% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021.  (Canalys)

    Yep, that'll do it.  I mentioned in a previous post that chipmakers TSMC and SK Hynix are each investing $100 billion in new factories to try to have supply catch up with demand.

  • Tech workers at the New York Times have formed a union.  (The Verge)

    I fully support this effort and the company's forthcoming collapse and bankruptcy.

  • There's a bug in CS:GO and it's a doozy.  (Motherboard)

    You can hack a player's computer by sending them a Steam invite.

  • How fast is the Radeon 6900XT exactly?  (Hot Hardware)

    In general it falls in between the Nvidia RTX 3080 and 3090, which is also where it falls price-wise.  On some AMD-friendly games it outpaces the 3090, while on ray tracing - a known weak spot - it performs more like the RTX 3070.

    It has the advantage of actually being available for purchase where the 3070, 3080, and 3090 are not.

    That's in Aussie dollars, and includes sales tax.... And a roughly 50% fuck you markup.

Essential Minecraft Mods Video of the Day

Time to thicken the chicken.

Kiara is a member of Hololive English - the same one we saw playing Diablo 2 yesterday.  Her streams are often a little, um, colourful.  She's the perfect foil to her teammate Ina, who has the demeanour of a retired Swiss kindergarten teacher.

Disclaimer: Calm, soothing, overly fond of puns, and armed to the teeth.

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Tuesday, April 13


Daily News Stuff 13 April 2021

Top Story

  • Nvidia announced their new Grace CPU, which they claim offers ten times the performance of x86 servers.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Couple of problems here, of course.

    First, it will be out in 2023.

    Second, it's actually slower than last year's AMD CPUs, never mind this year's or next year's or 2023's.  The claimed speed increase is for a specific design of server using this chip, compared with a different design of server using a different chip.

    This chip does include NVLink, offering very high CPU to GPU bandwidth - far more than a generic PCIe bus.  On the other hand, each CPU connects to just one GPU in this design, where a dual-socket AMD server can run ten GPUs at full bandwidth.

    The CPU core itself is a standard Armv9 design, and they don't even specify which one.

    In short, it's designed for one specific, lucrative field: Training large neural networks.  It's not exciting at all as a general-purpose server processor.

Tech News

  • Nvidia also announced their BlueField-3 and BlueField-4 network accelerators.  (Tom's Hardware)

    A little more interesting for me.  The BlueField-3, due out next year, contains 16 A78 cores - found in most current mid-to-high-end Android phones - plus an array of custom VLIW cores for data acceleration.

    These are designed to go on very high end networking cards - 400Gb and 800Gb - where just dumping all the data straight onto the CPU can cause major bottlenecks.

    Right now I'm happy we've finally moved all our servers to 10Gb Ethernet at my day job.

  • AMD has officially announced the Ryzen 5800 I spotted yesterday, as well as the Ryzen 5900.  (WCCFTech)

    These are 65W OEM parts.  Boost clocks are 100MHz lower than the retail 5800X and 5900X, but base clocks are significantly lower because of the TDP reduction - the 5900 just 3.0GHz down from 3.7GHz on the 5900X.

    You can't buy them directly but Dell is already selling systems based on them, and at a decent discount from the X versions.

    Oh, and the 5950X is out of stock in Australia again.

    To be expected, I suppose.

  • Just what you want to see on a production server at 11:30 PM.

  • Amazon's OpenSearch is an open source version of Elasticsearch.  (Amazon)

    Elasticsearch was open source, but they changed their license because Amazon was offering it as a service and eating into their own business model.  Which is entirely justifiable, but the license changes affect end users, and not just Amazon.

    And Elasticsearch is infamous for dumping personal data onto the internet because for years not only did it ship without forcing you to configure a password, it shipped with no way for you to configure a password unless you bought an enterprise license.

    Not getting instantly hacked being a very enterprise feature, you see.

    We had one scare with that several years back with a server with a misconfigured firewall, but the Elasticsearch instance was properly configured to only bind to the private network and was inaccessible.  These days everything I do is double-firewalled so that nothing can be reached from the internet without a specific route or tunnel being added.

  • Verbing weirds HTTP.  (HTTP Toolkit)

    HTTP is getting a SEARCH verb.  It's not for searching, though, it's really just a GET with form data.z

    I implemented this in our REST APIs at work years ago, borrowing the specification from WebDAV.  This new standard also borrows from WebDAV so we're likely to be compatible.  Or compatible enough, at least.

  • Dutch hackers are holding the country's cheese to ransom.  (Bleeping Computer)

    I am not, as Dave Barry would say, making this up.  A logistics company handling refrigerated shipping within the Netherlands got hit by a ransomware attack and their computer systems are locked up, so they can't process orders and don't know where the cheese is anyway.

  • I love the details on these things.

  • The unit conjecture is false.  (Quanta)

    Interesting point: We know it is false because a mathematician has provided a counter-example.  But he hasn't presented a paper on how he found that counter-example, so we don't know how we know that we know it is false.

  • Brave also blocks FLoC.  (

    FLoC is Google's new global privacy violation scheme.  The DuckDuckGo plugin for Chrome blocks it, and now so does the Brave browser.  

    Worth taking a look at Brave if you value your privacy; all the major browser companies except Microsoft have disgraced themselves in recent months.

  • Microsoft has bought Nuance for $19.7 billion.  (

    It used to be that when that much money was being thrown around you would be sure to have heard of both companies.  Now sometimes I haven't heard of either.

  • Intel has called for a US "moonshot" project to boost the country's chipmaking capabilities.  (Axios)

    In other words, they want a massive bailout of taxpayer funds after spending the past five years wallowing in failure of their own making.

  • The Google Shopping app is joining the Google Graveyard, the company's largest and most profitable business division.  (9to5Google)

    No, seriously, here's a list of all the projects they've killed.

    They're about as reliable as a clockwork teapot.

  • Logitech has discontinued its Harmony line of programmable remote controls.  (CEPro)

    This leaves the market in the hands of...  Apparently, no-one.  Nobody makes these anymore.

  • Apple and Google have banned an update to the UK's Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague (WBSDP) tracing app.  (BBC)

    The new version would allow users to upload a list of their recent locations if they tested positive.  Apple and Google banned the app from collecting any location data, even that offered explicitly and voluntarily, because fuck you that's why.

  • Twitter brand account vs. the world's most overrated science communicator.

    @steak_umm wins this round.

Where Is The Butt Video of the Day

Local chicken outraged at lack of ass.  Oh, and there's a remastered version of Diablo 2 coming later this year.

Disclaimer: Noooo!  They covered up her butt!

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Monday, April 12


Captain's Log, Star Date Whatever The Hell Today Is

Deployed an Nginx instance configured as a caching proxy and it seems to be helping out a lot.  Load average has dropped from 40 to - right now - 2.  Wait, 10.  Wait, 7.  It's still bouncing around a but but not getting out of control as it was earlier.

That's a combination of (1) disabling sessions on static files, (2) caching said static files, and (3) people not impatiently hitting F5 when the site is slow to load because the site mostly isn't slow to load.

I didn't much enjoy this bit, though:

2021/04/12 13:29:43 [emerg] 4954#4954: "proxy_busy_buffers_size" must be less than the size of all "proxy_buffers" minus one buffer in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:66

All I can say is that the trains would collide head-on just outside Albany.

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Daily News Stuff 12 April 2021

Elephant In My Pyjamas Edition

Tech News

  • Don't have a specific ETA for my server, but WebNX expect 100% of servers to be restored to production by Friday.  So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

  • In AMD news, the Ryzen 5800X is available below MSRP.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Only $10 below MSRP, but a deal is a deal.

    The 5950X is in stock in Australia.  (Scorptec)

    The 5900X has been snapped up by turkeys.

    She promises a return of Cooking Simulator this week.  Her previous venture into that game ran into some serious issues modeling the physics of 3.2kg of raisins, so we'll see what a Ryzen 5900X can do there.

    Meanwhile the Ryzen 5800 - non-X - has been spotted by a certain, well, me:

    This is the 65W version for OEMs.  If you have a desktop system you should be able to configure the TDP down from 105W to 65W in the BIOS, if you want it to run cool and quiet.

  • The Ryzen 5700G is real and it's, if not spectacular, then at least reasonable.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is the desktop version of the Cezanne laptop parts I mentioned yesterday.

    They give only one benchmark comparison and it's 10% faster in Cinebench than the Ryzen 1700 that I have.  I'd expect quite a bit more, to be honest; Zen 3 has much better IPC and dramatically better floating point performance than Zen 1.  I'm pretty sure that benchmark underestimates the power of this chip.

    AMD will be bringing a full range of regular and Pro Cezanne models to desktops.

    There's just one problem: The 5300G, 5600G, and 5700G are new Zen 3 parts for the desktop.  The 5300U and 5700U are rebadged Zen 2 parts, while the 5600U is a Zen 3 part just like the 5600G.  [Corrected - Pixy]

    I'm not sure this part numbering qualifies as worse than Intel, but it's plenty bad.

  • Huawei having been shut out of Google's Play Store for being the intelligence arm of the PLA decided to set up its own app store.  Now they have their own malware problems.  (Bleeping Computer)

    This isn't Huawei's fault, not directly; malware is common enough on Google and Apple's respective app stores.  When I saw the headline I thought at first that Huawei was up to its old tricks, but instead it's being taken advantage of by smaller and even less scrupulous players.

  • Duck blocks FloC.  (

    Google has been working hard to stamp out tracking cookies, because they let companies other than Google invade your privacy and track your activity across the web.

    They've instead unveiled a scheme called FLoC - Federated Learning of Cohorts - which allows companies to invade your privacy and track your activity across the web but keeps them beholden to Google while they do so.

    The DuckDuckGo browser extension stops that.  We'll see how long it is before it mysteriously disappears from the Chrome store.

  • Macs have the nice ability to back up a complete image of the boot drive to an external device, and then boot from that image if the internal drive dies.  

    Had that ability.  It has been fixed.  (ZDNet)

    You can still boot from an external device if your internal storage is working.  If your internal storage - which is soldered in, encrypted, and impossible to fix if anything goes wrong - if your internal storage fails, your shiny new computer made with the most advanced technology in the world is now a paperweight.

  • Why the legacy media is freaking out about Substack.  (New York Times)

    Warning: You might want to disable images before you click on that link.

    Substack is a newsletter service that currently hosts journalists such as Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Michael Tracey.  They're lefties, yes, but unlike the American mainstream media they will sometimes report the news without waiting for the rest of the industry to figure out how to blame it on Trump.

    This has been a huge deal among those working for legacy outlets because their industry is dying and they know it - though they have yet to admit that they killed it - and they cannot allow anyone else to be successful, particularly if they aren't fulfilling the first role of a reporter, which is to make conservatives look bad.

  • Inside Intel's fat NUC.  (Serve the Home)

    The NUC 11 Compute Element AV Edition is rather larger than the company's mainstream small form factor systems, but it includes HDMI capture and dual network ports for...  I don't know who would want that on a system that can't take a graphics card, but hey, it's there.

    There's room for two M.2 SSDs, but the RAM is soldered onto the "compute element" part of it.

In Soviet Apple, Computer Liquid Damages You Video of the Day

Wait for it.  Waaaait for it.  Doot!

Haachama Has a New Challenger Video of the Day

Potato chips, Coca Cola, ketchup, Fruche, and quail eggs.

Disclaimer: <clap clap> NEXT MEME!

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Sunday, April 11


Daily News Stuff 11 April 2021

No News Is No News Part 3 Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Still no ETA on the WebNX server.  I did get a reply to my support ticket, just not an overly specific one.

  • A new algorithm makes CPUs 15 times faster than GPUs for some types of AI training.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I'm not sure if this is something where a counter-algorithm will quickly erase the advantage, or if this is an area where CPUs are intrinsically better if they can get enough FPU and memory bandwidth.  GPUs are still terrible at complex, branching code.  CPUs are merely bad at that.

    It uses AVX_512_BF16, which AMD doesn't have just yet, but in theory the algorithm should still let AMD CPUs outperform GPUs as well.

  • And you get new integrated graphics!  (WCCFTech)

    According to leaked AMD slides, next year's Raphael chips - the Ryzen 7000 family - will support Zen 4, DDR5, and PCIe 5.0, using TSMC's 5nm process, on socket AM5.

    And RDNA2 graphics - the same architecture as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.  A slower version I'm sure, but the same architecture.

    Unlike Intel, most of AMD's desktop chips have no integrated graphics at all.  Up to 16 cores where Intel maxes out at 8, yes.  Integrated graphics, no.  There are desktop version of their laptop parts with integrated graphics, but they're perpetually in short supply.

    Before Raphael arrives we'll be seeing Warhol - Zen 3+, DDR4, PCIe 4.0, and socket AM4, using TSMC's 6nm process, which is an improved version of their 7nm rather than a whole new node.

    The slide also lists the Cezanne Zen 3 laptop chips which have just started to show up, Rembrandt which is a Zen 3+ core with RDNA2 graphics for laptops, Phoenix, a laptop version of Raphael, and Lucienne, Barcelo, Van Gogh, and, uh, Dragon Quest because at some point you've just had enough of famous artists.  

    I'm not sure what all of those are; two look to be low-end laptop or embedded chips; the other two are a mystery.

    DDR5 is a big deal for integrated graphics, because it instantly doubles available bandwidth.  Or more than doubles: Each module in DDR5 provides two separate 32-bit channels, which can be significantly more efficient than one 64-bit channel, depending on the workload.

    AMD could easily increase the size of their integrated GPU, but right now it wouldn't do anything because they're limited by the speed of DDR4 RAM.  DDR5 fixes that.

  • The 11th Circuit has ruled that online shopping doesn't need to be accessible to the blind - IF.  (Ars Technica)

    The operative IF being that you offer other methods of access that are accessible.  If blind people can't access your website because it's overloaded with React garbage but you offer ordering by phone, that's acceptable under the ADA - according to the 11th Circuit.

    The 9th Circuit ruled the other way a couple of years ago, but the 9th Circuit is insane, so that might not mean much.

  • Why does Vim use HJKL for cursor keys?  (Hillel Wayne)

    I can't remember the last time I used HJKL in Vi except by accident, but it makes sense if you compare the Qwerty layout to the alphabet and control codes in ASCII.  In short, they designed it so that it would be easy to implement in the days when keyboards used - at best - TTL logic chips rather than microcontrollers

  • Genocide, schmenocide: Let me buy cheap Chinese crap.  (ZDNet)

    As commenters mentioned before, it doesn't seem that ZDNet has an editor anymore.  It's a group blog with a nice layout and no oversight.

    ZDNet usually gets just a handful of comments on their stories. This one has a huge thread and it is not friendly to to the author.

  • Genocide, schmenocide: Let me track those suckers potential customers.  (Wall Street Journal)

    Procter and Gamble worked with Chinese companies to attempt an end run around Apple's new privacy controls and target ads to users who are tossing their cookies.

    Apple aren't doing this out of any ethical principle - it's a battle for control of the end users - but it's still good to see big tech companies screwing things up for the other big tech companies.

  • Is site blocking reducing piracy or just distributing it more evenly?  (TorrentFreak)

    If you chose option B, you win a kewpie doll.

    Horrifying things, kewpie dolls.

  • The FBI has arrested a man who planned to blow up the internet.  (Bleeping Computer)

    He probably can't build an entrapment case, even though the FBI contacted him and offered to sell him C4, because he appears to have the IQ of a radish.

    There's a left-wing idiot in the comments over there, but the other commenters pounce on him.

What's Happening to Quebec Video of the Day

It's the Stanford Prison Experiment writ large.  Dozens of police raided an AirBNB houseboat rented by Rebel Media - without a warrant - and when told to come back with a warrant spontaneously declared the boat a crime scene.

Oh, and look!  If you follow the link, YouTube has stuck its oar in uninvited and stamped an official information link above the video.

Montreal is French for Melbourne.

What's Happening to Apple Video of the Day

2016 and 2017 MacBooks were plagued with display problems because a cable costing about half a cent was a few millimetres too short.  Apple not only knew about the problem but released new models with the same problem.

They then offered free repairs...  On just one specific model of the multiple models affected, while denying that the problem even existed in the other models even though they use the exact same cable.  They fixed this in the 2018 model but deny they changed anything even though the cable is clearly longer.

So now they're getting the daylights sued out of them

Oh, and Apple also aggressively targets unauthorised repairs - and doesn't authorise repairs either.  They'll authorise a third-party repair shop to replace the entire screen rather than repair it with just a new half-cent cable, though.

And when users raise these issues on Apple's forum, the posts mysteriously disappear.

Rossman was recently interviewed by The American Conservative and is pleased that for once a media outlet got the story right.

Disclaimer: I say we dust off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It might not work but it would look really cool.

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Saturday, April 10


Daily News Stuff 10 April 2021

Tired Protons Edition

Tech News

  • For some reason all my protons hurt today.

  • The EU Parliament wants 24x7 support with 30-minute response times for removing copyrighted material online.  (TorrentFreak)

    No problem.  Our Gold support tier starts at $30,000 per month.  If you need phone support, our Platinum tier from $80,000 per month provides live Level 1 support and a designated account manager.

  • Linux support is coming to Arm-based Macs with the 5.13 kernel.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is an early release with the idea that it will boot and run, but don't expect (for example) working Thunderbolt support.  In fact, don't expect much of anything; this is more a base platform for other kernel developers than anything end users would want.

    The reason it matters is that the new M1 Macs are technically good - if limited - but are so far completely closed systems.  You can run one specific version of MacOS and nothing else.

    I have an iMac, but it's Intel-based and I could easily install Windows or Linux on it if I chose to do so.

  • AMD are coming out with the Ryzen 5900 - non-X edition - a 12 core 65W model you won't be able to buy.  (Tom's Hardware)

    You can't buy the 5900X anyway, because it offers the best price/performance of the Ryzen 5000 family and sells out instantly, but you double won't be able to buy the 5900 because it's an OEM-only part.

    What it does tell us, though, is that cutting the power from 105W to 65W reduces single-threaded performance by 5% and multi-threaded performance by just 10%.  That would leave it nicely placed to utterly crush Intel's 11900K, which you also can't get.

  • Sorry, I have a cold.  (The Register)

    A British airline significantly under-estimated load weight on three flights because they calculated the weights of female passengers using the title "Miss" as children.

    Which in turn was because the load calculation software was outsourced to another country with its own idiosyncratic usage of the titles Miss and Ms.

    Fortunately the miscalculation was still within the required safety range and there were no incidents, and the error was found and fixed within 72 hours.

    Makes me glad I work in an industry where if I make a really bad mistake people just get pissed that their fancy web integrations are down rather than getting scattered all over the landscape in pieces.

  • To absolutely no-one's surprise, an app for installing old versions of apps contained malware.  (Tech Crunch)

    APKPure would in fact install your desired apps, but it would also flood your phone with ads.

  • Hong Kong police have seized a contraband shipment of shark fins, sea cucumbers, and Nvidia CMX dedicated crypto mining cards.  (ExtremeTech)

    Gotta love a site that refers to the ongoing GPU shortage as a "peanut-butter-and-clusterfuck sandwich".

  • Major banks are threatened by DeFi - distributed decentralised finance.  (CNBC)

    Had to laugh at this line:
    There are, of course, many risks associated with DeFi, including its lack of regulation and protections.
    Because that's worked out so well in the mainstream financial industry.

    Anyway, DeFi as it stands is centered on Ethereum, and Ethereum is a total clusterfuck at the moment with no hope on the horizon of it working properly any time soon, with Ethereum 2.0 progressing at a pace that would embarrass a bank and the miners set to oppose it when it is finally ready for deployment.

    Ethereum 2.0 will significantly increase transaction throughput on the network and equally reduce transaction costs.  Great for users.  But the miners hate that because they're the ones getting paid those transaction fees.

    But without Ethereum 2.0 the network is doomed because it simply cannot keep up with demand.

    At my day job we've moved to alternate networks and I can now sit back and eat popcorn - on this issue, at least.

Wake Up, Dumdum Video of the day

(Stolen from Brickmuppet.)

Twitch Is Worse Video of the Day

I mentioned this in passing a few days ago: Twitch will not only ban you over accusations of being associated with the wrong people outside of Twitch itself, they have set up an anonymous email tip line and passed the job of adjudication to an unnamed outside company.

Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are awful, but Twitch is worse.

Disclaimer: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the Stasiest of them all?

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