Sunday, August 14
No News Is No News Edition
- Running Android without Google. (Tom's Guide)
Okay, so the hardware in the two tests reported here is sold by google - the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 - but the software is two versions of Android - /e/OS and GrapheneOS - stripped of all the Google-specific software and tracking.
You can still install the Play Store and install all your usual apps, and they will (mostly) work the same as before. The one thing highlighted here is that you will lose Google's custom camera app - and this results in a marked drop in photo quality because the software is doing most of the magic there.
But if you want out of the Google trap without losing compatibility entirely, either of these might be a viable option.
- What's coming up in AMD motherboards. (PC Magazine)
AMD launches Ryzen 7000 and the matching Socket AM5 motherboards on September 15, and the motherboard makers have gone beyond leaks to official previews of the hardware.
The new boards will bring a few new features: PCIe 5 for double the I/O bandwidth, DDR5 for about 60% more memory bandwidth, and USB 4 for double the bandwidth there if and when 40Gbps USB devices show up.
10Gb Ethernet also seems to be more common than on the last generation, which is welcome given the paucity of PCIe slots these days.
- AMD is also releasing a new range of video cards this year. (Tom's Hardware)
These will offer a lot more compute power than the current generation - two to three times at the high end, but it remains to be seen what that translates to in terms of graphics performance and power consumption. I suspect you'll get something like a 50% improvement at the same MSRP and TDP, with the high-end cards being way out there on both numbers.
- Does the Dog Die is a cute idea driven into the ground and then nuked from orbit. (Does the Dog Die)
There's a Twitter account CanYouPetTheDog which simply documents what video gams let you pet a dog. That's fun.
Does the Dog Die tries to catalog every potential trigger for the most hyper-neurotic people in existence. That's not fun at all.
Saturday, August 13
Working In The Coal Mine Edition
- Oceania's funniest home telescreen recordings. (Ars Technica)
Amazon's latest plan for MGM - we are not making this up - is clip shows of Ring doorbell surveillance footage.
- Epson is deliberately bricking multiple models of printers because the tiny pads that soak up used ink are full of ink. (Ars Technica)
You can replace them easily enough, but they won't let you.
- A site that let you anonymously deliver a box full of shit to your nearest and dearest got hacked and all the customer records exposed. (Bleeping Computer)
What is the world coming to when you can't anonymously deliver boxes full of shit to your loved ones?
- If you're looking for a modern and affordable small Android tablet this is definitely not it. (ZDNet)
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is here, and it's still an outrageously expensive niche product. Which wouldn't matter so much if there were any modern and affordable small Android tablets. Any. Even one.
- It turns out that installing customised browsers and digital warcrime Node.js all over people's PCs was not a good idea. (Motherboard)
Discord, Microsoft Teams, and Spotify are among the huge number of apps that use the Electron platform and are vulnerable to hackers.
- 8K monitors are too expensive and 5K monitors are impossible to find so here's half of one. (Tom's Hardware)
I'd rather a complete one, thanks all the same.
Friday, August 12
Dunkin' Dromedaries Edition
- $15 well spent I'd say. (Towards AI)
For $15 the author got, well, see for yourself.
Most of the $15 was spent figuring out how to ask for what he wanted, but that's kind of the deal in any artistic endeavour.
- The ThinkPad Carbon X1 Gen 10 is another thin-and-light laptop with the goods. (Thurrott.com)
12th gen Intel CPU, up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD**, choice of displays up to a 3840x2400 touchscreen, dual Thunderbolt ports, dual USB-A, HDMI, and headphone jack. No microSD slot but at least with USB-A you can plug in a little adaptor.
Base model is more reasonably priced in Australia than the HP Pavilion Plus - the ThinkPad is currently on sale - but neither the 32GB nor 2TB options are available here.
- Redis explained. (Architecture Notes)
Redis is not a database server, it's a data structure server. I wouldn't recommend it for permanent data storage (though you can do that, and I have), but for manipulating data before writing it to your primary database it is unrivalled.
- The CDC says forget all that stuff we told you about COVID; we give up. (Ars Technica)
- Intel has dumped an estimated $3.5 billion into its GPU division so far. (Tom's Hardware)
It's my estimation that it will take the company five years to come up with a truly competitive product, which would likely mean spending another $3.5 billion. Industry analysts are 50/50 on whether the company is willing to commit to that.
Most of the benefit would be in the datacenter - accelerator cards for things like the dunking llama in the first item sell for far higher prices than desktop graphics cards. Do they need the volume side of the business to keep the effort afloat? I don't know. Should you buy a first-generation Arc graphics card? Absolutely not.
Thursday, August 11
Slowly Then All At Once Edition
- Too many employees, but few work. (Business Standard)
Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldnâ€™t be here. And part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might just say that this place isnâ€™t for you. And that self-selection is okay with me.Sundar Pichai:
There are real concerns that our productivity as a whole is not where it needs to be for the head count we have. [We need to] create a culture that is more mission-focused, more focused on our products, more customer-focusedMaybe you should have thought of that before you spent ten years hiring communists and destroying your respective companies from the inside.
- Intel's Arc A750 video card competes with Nvidia's RTX 3060. (Tom's Hardware)
Couple of caveats:
1. You can't get the A750 yet.
2. The 3060 is due for replacement soon.
3. The benchmarks were run by Intel.
4. To quote Gamer's Nexus:
Intel's Arc GPU driver software is completely and utterly broken. Although the drivers work 'fine' for some gaming, as we showed in our initial review, the actual driver suite is a buggy and embarrassing mess that Intel should be afraid to even upload for use. Many of its features, like Intel Smooth Sync (which we tested here) and Intel Arc Control cause artifacting, flickering, crashes, or are just otherwise useless.Avoid.
- LG's new 97" OLED TV needs no speakers. (Ars Technica)
Because the entire screen is a speaker. It allegedly supports 5.1 surround sound, which is odd because 5.1 means there are rear speakers which in this case means you'd need a rear screen.
- While Intel was losing money for the first time in decades, AMD posted a 70% year-on-year revenue increase. (Tom's Hardware)
Except that AMD just acquired Xilinx, as evidenced by the 10,538% growth of their embedded sector revenues, so the results aren't directly comparable.
They still made a profit, and grew market share in ever sector, so not a bad quarter.
- GM has made the OnStar subscription plan a mandatory option on many new models. (The Drive)
That will be an extra $1500, thanks. On top of your regularly scheduled price increases.
- If you want to spend far too much on a small Android tablet with a visible crease down the middle of the display which is uncomfortably wide in any case now is your chance. (Hot Hardware)
About A$2500 on pre-order though they do offer a free upgrade from 256GB to 512GB - which is good because this doesn't appear to offer any options for upgradeable storage.
Wednesday, August 10
Quick one today.
- Nvidia looks to have tamed the power consumption of the upcoming RTX 4000 cards. (Tom's Hardware)
The RTX 4080 is now expected to use 320W rather than 450W. This probably comes with something like a 10% reduction in performance, because that power consumption goes up exponentially as you push any chip to its limits.
- AppLovin (who) has offered $17.5 billion for game development framework Unity. (Axios)
Unity would be stupid not to take it in this market.
In an all-stock deal.
- 10 Python packages on PyPI have been found stealing developer credentials. (Bleeping Computer)
- Twilio has disclosed a data breach following a phishing attack on employees. (Bleeping Computer)
- Cloudflare was hit by the same phishing attack. (Bleeping Computer)
This one apparently failed because Cloudflare uses company-wide hardware 2FA.
- Intel's SGX security module has been breached. (Ars Technica)
Tuesday, August 09
Frothy Water Edition
- AMD's Threadripper Pro 5000 series is finally available in retail. (Tom's Hardware)
Five weeks before Ryzen 7000 launches.
If you need the memory capacity (Threadripper Pro supports up to 2TB of RAM) or the I/O bandwidth (7 full x16 PCIe slots with room left over) then these chips make sense. There's certainly nothing from Intel to compete right now.
If you just want a faster CPU they're less compelling. The 24 core 5965WX is likely only 10% faster than the 7950X will be, and much more expensive.
- I replaced all our blog thumbnails using DALLÂ·E 2 for $45: hereâ€™s what I learned. (Deephaven)
DALL-E lets you describe what you want a picture of, then generates it. The results are interesting. (Reddit)
- A review of the new HP Pavilion Plus. (Thurrott.com)
I mentioned this as potentially the best small laptop, and the review agrees on many points. Where it falls down is not so much the hardware as the crapware - the review uses that term - HP chose to shovel onto it, some of it difficult to remove. You should be able to do a reinstall with plain Windows, but you shouldn't need to.
- Another candidate is the Lenovo ThinkPad P14s Gen 3. (Liliputing)
This is lighter than the HP, has an option for a higher-resolution screen, still has the Four Essential Keys, has an 8 core Ryzen 6850U, and wired ethernet, as well as all the other bits.
I doubt it's cheap though. The previous model is on sale right now at 45% off, and still costs A$2499 for a pretty meh configuration.
- Crypto lender Hodlnaut is the latest to steal all its users' money. (CoinDesk)
I wish I could steal half a billion dollars and blame it on "difficult market conditions".
Monday, August 08
The Menace From Earth Edition
- If you absolutely need an RTX 3090 Ti This is your lucky day. (Tom's Hardware)
EVGA has slashed the prices on two models by close to 50% to a merely exorbitant $1149 and $1199.
This sort of price cut does suggest the RTX 4000 range are (a) close and (b) a significant upgrade over current cards - enough that existing inventory will be dead weight once the new cards ship.
What the person saying this - Douglas Crockford, inventor of JSON - wants to replace the world's most popular programming language with is E:
The E language provides a convenient and familiar notation for the ELib computational model, so you can program in one model rather than two. Under the covers, this notation expands into Kernel-E, a minimalist lambda-language much like Scheme or Smalltalk.Yeah, I suspect you may have your work cut out there.
Objects written in the E language are only able to interact with other objects according to ELib's semantics, enabling object granularity intra-process security, including the ability to safely run untrusted mobile code (such as caplets).
- Do not disturb is no longer enough. (The Register)
We need a STFU mode for computers and mobile devices.
- Build your own Windows tablet. (Instructables)
A large, heavy, power-hungry Windows tablet, based on laptop gizzards, but still.
The True Story Video of the Day
Yep, it was the ice cream truck scene.
Disclaimer: Do not taunt happy fun owl.
Sunday, August 07
Bordered In Black Edition
- Amazon is acquiring Roomba maker iRobot for $1.7 billion. (Ars Technica)
Given Amazon's habit of handing out Ring doorbell video footage without the tedious drudgery of asking or telling the owners, my inclination to buy a Roomba has abruptly evaporated. At least a doorbell is - by design - on the front of the house facing outwards, not roaming around inside.
- Twitter has confirmed that hackers collected email addresses and phone numbers of 5.4 million accounts. (Bleeping Computer)
The only reason Twitter has those phone numbers in the first place is that they would suspend your account to force you to hand it over.
- AMD has a new range of Ryzen 5000 embedded CPUs, including the first 10-core Ryzen model. (WCCFTech)
I didn't think there was anything preventing a 10-core Ryzen chip, just no perceived market niche.
These are just Ryzen 5000 parts, with lower clock speeds and fewer cores, but with long-term support for hardware manufacturers who need to be able to replace parts five or ten years from now.
- Netflix's The Sandman is "a dream adaptation of a classic". (The Verge)
In other words, it's a self-indulgent mess of a TV series based on a self-indulgent mess of a comic series. Neil Gaiman is good when he's good, but when he's not, he's very much not.
- Why did you get a variable rate mortgage? Are you stupid or something?
Long-term fixed-rate mortgages are almost unknown outside the US, and certainly don't exist in Australia. If you think about it, there's no way a bank would offer a long term fixed rate loan when interest rates are at historic lows, because they can only lose on the deal... Unless something is propping them up on the other end.
- Are blockchains / cryptocurrencies / NFTs / stablecoins / decentralised finance a scam?
Mostly, yes. Not entirely, but it's the way to bet.
- You keep mentioning gluten-free stuff. Isn't that also a scam?
Unless you have celiac disease, yes.
If you do have celiac disease, gluten-free meals are the difference between living a relatively normal life and being a hermit subsisting on boiled rice and carrot sticks.
- Who is that vtuber you referred to obliquely the other day?
If I referred to them obliquely it would only be a retired Hololive member, and there's only four of those (not counting Hitomi Chris, who no-one remembers): Aloe, Coco, Rushia, and most recently Sana. And the reason for the obliquity is that all four have other online personas kept separate from Hololive for privacy / contractual reasons. On my non-technical posts I will sometimes be less oblique - or a quick Google search will probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know.
I Survived, Bishes Video of the Day
Saturday, August 06
Stockholm Syndrome Anonymous Edition
- Right to jail, right away: How a crypto developer faked an ecosystem. (CoinDesk)
Using eleven different names, one programmer built a multi-layered financial platform on top of the Solana blockchain. At its peak the Saber stablecoin exchange and the services built on top of it had a "total value locked" - TVL - around $7.5 billion, but that involved a lot of double counting.
And no-one knows how much because one of those services - Cashio - got hacked and the whole thing imploded.
Seven Saber ecosystem users told CoinDesk they felt abandoned by the Macalinao brothers. Some lost money in CASH tokens (the erstwhile stablecoin went to zero). Others say their crypto is stuck in derivative tokens issued by Sunny. One pseudonymous user, Brad_Garlic_Bread, said he lost around $300,000 across Sunny and Saber â€“ "there's a lot of people worse off than me."There is a time to ask questions, and there is a time to file lawsuits and press criminal charges. If these idiots can't work out what time it is, I have little sympathy for them.
The community assumes Ian is running the show "but no one knows for sure," Brad_Garlic_Bread said.
Heâ€™s still trying to get Ianâ€™s attention. On July 16, Brad asked if Ian "can pretend to be Surya [one of the fake identities] for like a day" to help Sunny Aggregator's investors recover locked tokens. Ian was answering questions in the Saber Discord; he skipped Bradâ€™s.
Other SUNNY token-holders asked Ian for clues about the yield aggregator's future. Saber is moving to Aptos â€“ will Sunny do the same? They asked what became of Sunny's lead developer.
More generally, though: If someone offers you an investment opportunity in a "stablecoin", it's a scam. If they promise 17% returns per month, as some of these ventures have done, then it's your own fault if you fall for it.
- More people who deserve what they got: Audiophiles are in an uproar after it turned out their precious vinyl was pressed from high-quality digital recordings rather than lower-fidelity analog master tapes. (Washington Post)
They just forgot to mention that part. And their best customers are - unfortunately for them - crazy:
"One of the reasons they want to excoriate MoFi is for lying," says Howarth. "The other part that bothers them is that theyâ€™ve been listening to digital all along and theyâ€™re highly invested in believing that any digital step will destroy their experience. And theyâ€™re wrong."If someone charges you thousands - or tens of thousands - of dollars for a hi-fi system that is audibly worse than a $500 shelf system, then it's your own fault if you fall for it.
- Did the NSA and NIST deliberately sabotage cryptography standards? (Cr.yp.to)
The post is rather rambling, but the upshot is they are not responding to FOIA requests and the author has filed suit to uncover what is going on with current efforts to establish quantum cryptography standards.
- That's no moon. That's a kielbasa. (Vice)
Actually in this case it was Proxima Centauri, or rather, not Proxima Centauri but a slice of chorizo.
- Speaking of moons South Korea launched a lunar orbiter yesterday. (Nature)
Using a SpaceX rocket and launching from Florida, but why keep a cow in the kitchen when you can get... I don't know where I'm going with that analogy.
The Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter will take a very leisurely trip the the Moon, arriving in orbit in December.
Disclaimer: I expect to arrive in orbit in December too.
Friday, August 05
Bats In My Face Edition
- AMD's Ryzen 7000 range looks set to go zoom. (WCCFTech)
The new top of the line 7950x has a base clock speed of 4.5GHz and a maximum speed of 5.7GHz. The current 5950X has a much more sedate base speed of 3.4GHz and a top speed of 4.9GHz.
Coupled with a 15% improvement in performance per clock that should result in some speedy chips.
- Ryzen 7000 may have limited overclocking potential. (Hot Hardware)
They're already going to 5.7GHz. What do you want?
- Motherboard makers are showing off their upcoming motherboards for Ryzen 7000. (Tom's Hardware)
Which seems like a sensible thing to do.
- Speaking of chips they just doubled in price in Australia. (MSN)
Seriously. I bought a couple of bags last week at $2.20, and when I went to get more they were $4.30. Apparently the same floods that sent the market here in New House City soaring right when I was looking to buy also wiped out much of Australia's potato crop.
- Oh, and interest rates are up again, so I have that going for me, which is nice.
- GitLab is not going to delete projects that aren't updated for a year. (The Register)
Which is good, but you have to wonder how such an obviously stupid decision got off the ground in the first place.
- Chinese crapware makers Tencent are looking to buy a majority stake in Ubisoft. (Hot Hardware)
Not sure if that will make Ubisoft better or worse.
Not At All Tech News
- How it started:
- How it's going:
- If you watch the video in that first one, then yes, that's who you think it is.
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