This wouldn't have happened with Gainsborough or one of those proper painters.

Sunday, December 11


Daily News Stuff 11 December 2022

Don't Touch Anything Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Breaking up with JavaScript front ends, or, how not to communicate anything, painfully.  (Triskweline)

    A PowerPoint presentation in web form that leads to a demo app that doesn't demo anything like what the slides say it does - particularly when the same demo app is linked from two slides supposedly demonstrating entirely different things - rather muddies a fundamentally sound point that JavaScript front ends are dogshit.

  • Twitter Blue is relaunching tomorrow.  (WCCFTech)

    $8 per month via the web.  $11 per month if you're stupid enough to sign up in the iOS app.

    I'll sign up.  Not because I want to be verified (I don't) or want the clout (I don't), but because it's worth it just to annoy all the right people.

  • Fractal Design goes Danish modern.  (Guru3d)

    In black or white, with a choice of mesh or tempered glass side panels, and walnut or oak front panels.

    It actually doesn't look terrible.

  • What's going on in Alzheimer's research.  (Quanta)

    A long article examining the situation as scientists move away from the amyloid plaque model that seems now to have been overstated at best - and outright fraudulent at worst - after frittering away twenty years and two billion dollars.

  • Where - and what - is dark matter?  (Big Think)

    Dark matter is what you get when you map out the visible matter of galaxies and compare it with the total mass based on how fast the galaxies rotate.  We can't see dark matter - it's dark - but we know there's something there because what we can see doesn't add up to enough mass to stop galaxies from flying apart.

    This article examines the possibility that dark matter is truly dark, that it only interacts via gravity.  If this is true, then we have no other way to measure it.

    At least with neutrinos (which only interact via the weak force) we have a convenient local source running 24/7 (that shiny yellow thing you see in the sky now and then) and the little buggers hit our detectors buried at the bottom of salt mines so that we can learn something about them.

    In the "nightmare scenario" considered here (physicists mostly have nightmares about grant applications, but this is one of the exceptions) no particle collision experiment - whether the naturally occurring variety using the Sun as a convenient lab partner or the artificial variety using Switzerland - will ever provide any information about the nature of dark matter.

Pixy Is Watching

Bocchi the Rock.  Imagine K-On! only Yui has crippling social anxiety and...  No, that's about it.  If you liked K-On! there's a good chance you'll like this as well.  Not that it's a direct rip-off, but there's only so many ways "four high school girls form a band" can go.

Well, this is anime, so that's not entirely true.  By episode three they could be fighting alien space bats on the Moon in a parallel dimension using the power of chord progressions, but just this once they're not.

Disclaimer: I think it's missing socks, but my Superconducting Sock Collider proposal has been on hold for over five years waiting for, and I quote, "Joe from accounting to stop laughing".

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Saturday, December 10


Daily News Stuff 10 December 2022

That Trick Never Works Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Here's a 1300W PC power supply in case you need the edge over your crazy neighbour with his 1000W power supply.  (AnandTech)

    Not sure exactly what this is for; it's overkill even for a 13900KS and a 4090.

  • 13900KS?  Oh, yeah, there's that as well.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's just the 13900K with a small clock speed bump, but that bump takes it to 6GHz, so again useful for getting an edge over your crazy neighbour with his 5.8GHz CPU.

  • Sana, Pina, and Pomu (my new server cluster) are all currently running memory tests before being pressed into production.  Zero errors so far.

    This site (no matter which site you are reading this post on) will be moving to the new cluster in early January.  Not to one server in the cluster, but to all of them at once.

Disclaimer: Names changed to protect the bioreactor.

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Friday, December 09


Daily News Stuff 9 December 2022

84 Is The New 120 Edition

Top Story

  • How much RAM do you need in your Windows PC?  Don't ask a journalist, they only use Notepad.  (ZDNet)

    Get a load of this:
    The time when more than 8GB of RAM becomes useful and starts paying for itself is when you're running several resource-heavy applications simultaneously -- especially high-end image or 4K+ video processing, CAD, or 3D modeling.
    Yeah when you're running Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and Maya at the same time, 8GB might get a bit limiting.  64GB might also get a bit limiting.  People who run that sort of workload tend to buy systems with 256GB or more.

    I happened to reboot my laptop this morning.  By the time it had finished booting, before I opened a single application, 8GB of RAM was already in use.

  • Two of the three new servers have been deployed, just waiting on the third now.  Those have 128GB of RAM each.  128GB is probably enough.

    I now have an 84TB RAID-Z3 array with gzip compression and block deduplication. I have about 7TB (already gzipped and deduped) to copy onto it, so it should last a good long while.

    Update: Third server has been deployed.  Tentatively named Sana, Pomu, and Pina (from Hololive, Nijisanji, and Prism Project respectively).  They're running memtester right now because the last thing I want is to get everything set up and find out I've got bad RAM.

Tech News

  • Locating the new stealth bomber using the stars in the sky, JPEG metadata, and guesswork.  (Twitter)

    Looking at the photo, my first thought is there's no way that contains enough information to triangulate, even with a timestamp.  And it doesn't.  But the arc of possible matching locations in the United States comes near Edwards AFB, and if you look at all the buildings at Edwards in Google Maps there's a clear match to the photo.
    I'm sure this entire process could be done with just stars and no google maps as well
    Dude, using just stars they were lucky to discover America, which is somewhat larger than one aircraft hangar at Edwards AFB.

  • Part two of the Twitter Files is out.  (Twitter)

    Here we see the usual suspects working to twist the rules to justify silencing inconvenient truths.  And they were dumb enough to write it all down.

    Nothing we didn't already know in general, but with more specifics to throw in the face of anyone insisting it didn't happen.

    Like Jack Dorsey, who was CEO at the time, and testified before Congress that none of this was taking place.

Disclaimer: Are there any news?

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Thursday, December 08


Daily News Stuff 8 December 2022

Indiana Jones And The Dominoes Of Doom Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Just restart everything every six hours.  That will fix it.

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Wednesday, December 07


Daily News Stuff 7 December 2022

Package, Package Number Nine Edition

Top Story

  • ChatGPT is artificial general intelligence for the easily impressed.  (Bleeping Computer)

    According to one person on Twitter, this is all the tech world has been talking about for days.  (They were complaining that the New York Times was only talking about Elon Musk, as if the New York Times could cogently report on a new generation of language inference engine.)

    I'm less impressed by ChatGPT than Stable Diffusion, because while Stable Diffusion does something I'm bad at - it's bad at it too, and has no understanding of what its mistakes are, but it can generate interesting results that I cannot in any reasonable time frame - while Stable Diffusion does something I'm bad at, badly, but frequently better than I can do, ChatGPT does things I'm good at, badly, and cannot learn from its mistakes.

    If you're bad at writing very simple code or bullshit term papers for some mandatory general studies class, ChatGPT might be just what you need.  But for the most part, it's a toy.

    The internet is already awash with awful AI-generated sites that clog up search results.  This will only lead to more of them, though they might be slightly less awful.

  • I say it's a toy for the most part because if there's one thing you'd expect a language inference engine to understand, it's language and if this example is real it sort of does.  (Maximum Effort)

    It makes some mistakes, because at a surface level it's still using probabilistic pattern matching, but when carefully coached the results are something that an imaginative ten-year-old might come up with.

    Which is not a slam because one of the great early demonstrations of AI was about the level of a four-year-old.

  • As mentioned on my blog earlier, I'm getting a new server cluster.  Two 5950X systems with 128GB of RAM and a ZFS storage server with 120TB of disk, all connected with 10Gb Ethernet.

    This is way more than I currently need but the post-Black Friday sale price was too good to pass up.  I'm basically upgrading my three existing servers (one of which is dead) to twice the size for about another $10 a month.

    They'll all be in one place, which is great because I get that super fast private network and can set up some degree of clustering and redundancy.

    So long as that place doesn't catch fire.

    But how likely is that to happen again?

Tech News

Disclaimer: 11,000 miles ain't much distance, but it sure do make a difference....

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Meanwhile Back At The Bird Ranch


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New Toys

I'm placing an order for some new servers:
  • 2 x Ryzen 5950X, 128GB RAM, 3.84TB NVMe
  • 1 x Dual Xeon E5-2630, 128GB RAM, 12 x 10TB SAS, 240GB OS SSD
All on a 10GbE back-end network.

I'll be moving all the sites over to this new environment.  Everything is now either (a) running in LXC containers which can be easily backed up and migrated or (b) under CPanel which has an account-level migration facility, so this should be drama-free.

These servers are each nine times faster than the one we just moved from, with four times the RAM and about five times the SSD, so I think they'll last us for a while.  smile

That storage server is total overkill but the price is great.  With the 12 cores and 128GB RAM ZFS deduplication and compression should run nicely, so we'll only need about 10% of it to store our full backup history going back more than a decade.  (I had a backup of our backup server, so the only thing lost was medium-recent daily snapshots, no live stuff or ancient stuff.)

Sure, they're not the very latest 7950X, but two 5950X systems cost about the same as one 7950X right now.

Update: Order placed!  This will give me some fun things to do over Christmas.

The 10Gbps network cost a little extra, but it's so much better than 1Gbps.   Network traffic becomes as fast as local traffic, so I can mount that huge storage server as shared storage and not just as backups via rsync.  I might configure it as two independent 40TB RAID-Z2 volumes instead of one 90TB RAID-Z3, one for storage, one for backups.

Update 2: Being set up now.  Apparently I have unmetered bandwidth (over the 1Gbps public port) on the storage server.  Which is interesting.  Probably not something I'll ever need since the other two servers give me 50TB/month each, but interesting.

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Tuesday, December 06


Daily News Stuff 6 December 2022

The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Moon's haunted: After a successful trip to and around the Moon, NASA's Orion spacecraft* has had some issues with ghost breakers. (WCCFTech)

    The computerised circuit breakers are supposed to trip on command or when something goes horribly wrong, but instead half of them tripped for no reason at all. And cut off half the maneuvering thrusters in the process, something that could be inconvenient if it happened at the wrong moment.

    The next Orion flight is expected in, uh, two years.

    * Not old bang-bang, sadly. See Niven & Pournelle's Footfall if you're not familiar.

  • The making of Dune II. (Read Only Memory)

    I always wondered why the sequel to the Dune computer game was in a completely different genre - the first an adventure game, the second a real-time strategy title.

    This article explains that: It wasn't a sequel, not even in the strictly temporal sense. Once the producers obtained the rights to make Dune computer games, they hired two studios to produce two entirely different games at the same time.

    Dune I was unremarkable and is largely forgotten. Dune II on the other hand pulled together all the elements of a real-time strategy game for the first time, and is the direct parent of the entire Command & Conquer series.

  • You can't let just anybody look at the sky! (Scientific American)

    The US government plans to require public release of all date from publicly-funded science. The article argues that this is bad for science, because other scientists can look at the data and, well:
    I have a friend in Minsk
    Who has a friend in Pinsk
    Whose friend in Omsk
    Has friend in Tomsk
    With friend in Akmolinsk
    His friend in Alexandrovsk
    Has friend in Petropavlovsk
    Whose friend somehow is solving now
    The problem in Dnepropetrovsk

    And when his work is done
    Haha! Begins the fun
    From Dnepropetrovsk to Petropavlovsk
    By way of Iliysk and over Novorossiysk
    To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
    To Tomsk to Omsk
    To Pinsk to Minsk
    To me the news will run
    Yes, to me the news will run!

    And then I write by morning, night
    And afternoon, and pretty soon
    My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed
    When he finds out I published first!
    I didn't say it was a very good argument.

  • How "goblin mode" became Oxford's word of the year. (NPR)

    First, that's not a word.

    Second, people voted for it. It was an online poll. And it mopped the floor with the competition, because the competition was "metaverse" (which is at least a word) and "#IStandWith".

    Third, I wonder if that's in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. I shall take a look, because that just arrived too. (I'd love to get the full 20-volume set, but it's pretty expensive.)

  • Twitter turns its back on open-source development. (ZDNet)

    Is it true?

    No. It's just more wishcasting by another left-wing pro-censorship journalist. (Which is pretty much all of them.)

    Interesting tidbit from the article though: Twitter was developing its own custom JVM, which is a really dumb idea. The company isn't nearly big enough - let along profitable enough - to support work like that.

  • Setting up container backups on the new server. Much cleaner than the old rsync-and-hope system.

    I plan to migrate the old MyISAM tables to either Aria or InnoDB, which will make them crash safe. Not certain that the code will work correctly with InnoDB, because it's properly transactional, but Aria is just a better MyISAM.

Disclaimer: And who deserves the credit? And who deserves the blame? Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name!

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Monday, December 05


Daily News Stuff 5 December 2022

Weasel Cannon Edition

Top Story

  • So with Elon Musk spending all his time trolling people on Twitter, his other companies are floundering, with Tesla, uh, launching its promised electric semi and blowing away all the competition.  (EV Universe)

    There are other electric semis on the market, but the Tesla has the largest battery, the longest range, the fastest recharge time (not even close), and the highest efficiency.

    It takes 30 minutes to recharge to 70% capacity, and has a fully charged range of a little over 500 miles.

    The article analyses the test trip to dig up details like the effectiveness of the Tesla's regenerative braking and its unloaded weight.

    Tesla has around 1000 orders for the Semi already.

  • Meanwhile Starlink, which already operates more satellites than everyone else in the world put together has FCC approval to triple its deployments.  (Engadget / MSN)

    The company will be launching 7500 Gen 2 satellites.  These will enable broader adoption of direct-to-orbit mobile communications.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Uh-oh.  Guests incoming.

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Sunday, December 04


Daily News Stuff 4 December 2022

Out Of The Fire, Into The Frying Pan Edition

Top Story

  • The server is alive, with all data up to yesterday transferred to the new system.  There wasn't much data yesterday because the planned maintenance at the datacenter ended up taking 25 hours.

    So someone had as bad a weekend as I did.

    Also bumped from CentOS 6 to Ubuntu 22.04 and from MySQL 5.7 to MariaDB 10.9 with relatively little trouble.

    Don't try to upload files just yet, though, right now that's read-only.  I'll fix that shortly.

  • Also looking at getting some new servers and replacing all the old ones.  Should work out cheaper in the end.

    Two 5950X systems with 128GB RAM and 4TB SSD, and a new ZFS storage server for backups.  With the 7950X out the 5950X is a lot cheaper now, and still twice as fast as anything I currently have.

    Overkill right now but if I can avoid weekends like this, totally worth it.

  • MSN fired its human journalists and replaced them with an AI that writes stories about mermaids.  (Futurism)

    The only problem is this story about collapsing journalism standards in pursuit of a quick buck, is a story of collapsing journalism standards in pursuit of a quick buck.

    It's not true.

    MSN aggregates a huge range of "news" sources, almost all of them garbage, but it's handy sometimes because it usually punctures the paywalls when it does so.

    One of those sources it aggregates is called Exemplore, and it's nearly as much of a trash fire as Futurism.

    The New York Times is still in a class by itself when it comes to trash fires though.

Tech News

  • I wonder how ZFS would perform on AWS sc1 EBS volumes.  Probably poorly.

  • Intel's Core i5 13500 is over 50% faster than the Core i5 12500.  (Tom's Hardware)

    On Passmark it's almost exactly 50%.  Other tests rate it a little higher.

    This is not because the main "performance" cores are a lot faster; they're a little faster but not much.  With this generation Intel has added eight "efficiency" cores to the six "performance" cores, and that gives a big overall boost for multi-threaded work.

    I'm not sure I like this, because the E cores run at half the speed of the P cores, and I really want everything to be consistent.  But Windows likes to run a lot of crap in the background, and having eight extra cores to take care of that sure won't hurt.  

    If it's priced similarly to the 12500 - around $200 - this will make a fine CPU for most desktop users.

  • AMD reportedly plans to launch three new X3D processors at CES in January.  (Tom's Hardware)

    AMD's X3D models stack an extra chip on the CPU to triple the size of L3 cache.  Depending on what you're running the effect can be huge - the 5800X3D is still up there among the fastest CPUs available for gaming, despite being clocked lower than the regular 5800X.

    Leaks suggest that AMD will be releasing 12 and 16 core models this time, as well as the 8 core chip aimed at gaming.  (They also do this on their Epyc server CPUs, for up to 768MB of L3 cache on the chip.)

Disclaimer: Rumours of my death have been very slightly exaggerated.

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