Back in a moment.
Thank you Santa.
Sunday, June 18
Malicious Incompetence Edition
- The Rot Economy: Big tech and the venture capital ecosystem that supports it have become a swirling cesspool of self-reinforcing mental illness. (Where's Your Ed At)
Well, I mean, yes. Lurching from one fad to the next while squandering hundreds of billions of dollars.
And it was only ten years ago that many of these companies actually did something, or at least tried to.
- Maybe they can both lose: Major subreddits are coming back to life now - with nothing but pictures of John Oliver. (The Verge)
A timely reminder that while Reddit may be run by vapid radical left narcissists, so are most of the communities built on the platform.
- Another nail in OpenAI's coffin: Falcon LLM has been open-sourced. (TII)
It comes in two versions: Falcon-7B which needs 16GB of RAM to run and is suitable for hobbyists, and Falcon-40B which needs 100GB of RAM and is aimed at academic researchers and startups. Both are available under the Apache open source license, making them free for individual and commercial use.
Yes, these LLMs are still wildly overhyped, but they're not entirely useless, not when they're free and can run on a laptop - and when they're not intentionally crippled by ultra-woke marketing teams.
The developer notes make it clear that Falcon was trained on wide set of data from the public internet, making it into a very well-informed digital schizophrenic.
- AI does not help programmers. (CACM)
Or more specifically, it helps bad programmers become mediocre programmers, but it can't go beyond that because Large Language Models do not distinguish right answers from wrong.
In the example provided, ChatGPT corrects a bug in the sample code, but introduces a new bug. When this is pointed out, ChatGPT fixes the specific case but not the general case.
And when this is pointed out, ChatGPT coughs up what appears to be a hastily rewritten version of the author's own work, because the author turns out to be Betrand Meyer, creator of the Eiffel programming language and a leading expert in formal verification of computer programs.
To be fair, most programmers aren't Betrand Meyer, but my opinion of the current state of AI tools in programming mirrors his.
- GPT-4 can pass MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science curriculum with a perfect score. (HuggingFace)
A remarkable result.
- No it fucking can't. (Notion)
The second paper highlights two problems with the first.
One, 4% of the problems in the test set cannot be solved with the information provided, or in some cases, at all:
Below you are given the delays for the different gates you were permitted to use in part D above. Compute the propagation delay of your circuit from D.That's the entire question. There is no part D above, and yet the claim is that GPT-4 answered this question correctly. There are many questions like this in the test set - this second paper links to a spreadsheet with the full list of questions, good and bad.
Two, the answers provided by GPT-4 are scored by GPT-4. If GPT-4 tells GPT-4 that GPT-4 got the question wrong, GPT-4 gets to try again, indefinitely.
Supposedly the answers were verified manually, but if so, they did a pretty poor job because they missed all the wrong questions.
Three - not included in the paper, but posted today on Twitter - the original code used to run the tests leaks the answers used for verification by GPT-4 to the GPT-4 instance answering the questions.
- Why EVs won't crash the electric grid. (Washington Post / MSN)
Yes, EVs will require massive upgrades to the electric grid, but the grid has grown at that rate before.
Well, it hasn't, but it almost did.
Once. Fifty years ago.
For a while.
- Putting a stick shift in an EV because... (The Verge)
There is no because.
Saturday, June 17
Indiana Jones And The Grapefruit Of Doom Edition
- Welcome news from unexpected places, part one: The EU, in its eternal quest to meddle in absolutely everything, is planning to force device manufacturers to make batteries replaceable. (TechSpot)
This follows legislation coming into effect next year to require all mobile phones to be chargeable over USB-C.
Okay. Sure. I won't make fun of you for an entire day.
- Welcome new from unexpected places, part two: Facebook plans to continue releasing its AI code as open source, free for individual and commercial use. (The Information)
You need a subscription to read the whole thing, but you don't need to read the whole thing.
This is a broadside aimed at Google and OpenAI. Individual researchers have taken Facebook's existing AI code and already made it almost as good as ChatGPT at a tiny fraction of the cost.
If you can't buy the competition, make their business model untenable by giving away their product.
- Mistral AI's mega fundraise is a red flag. (Tech Crunch)
Yes, indeed it is. This is obviously a bubble and it will all come crash-
For many concerned with inclusivity.
Go stick your head in a pig.
- Feel good story of the day: High-tech AI-controlled vertical lettuce farms are going broke. (Bloomberg)
You have to understand that when they say "lettuce farms", they're not actually talking about lettuce farms, they mean... Nope, sorry, they really do mean lettuce farms.
In 2021, AeroFarms, an early vertical-farming pioneer based in Newark, New Jersey, had plans to go public through a blank-check merger that had an equity value around $1.2 billion. The growth potential seemed limitless.Yes, it's lettuce. It literally grows on trees.
But as interest rates began to climb, investors started to scrutinize profitability in a way they hadn’t for years, and soon came to realise that they had set their money on fire.
Okay, it figuratively grows on trees.
Bytedance, parent company of Chinese spy agency TikTok, has bought $1 billion worth of high-end Nvidia GPUs so far this year. (Tom's Hardware)
If you were wondering why Nvidia doesn't care that the outrageous pricing and mediocre performance of its RTX 4000 series has turned away millions of gamers, this is your answer. Margins on these high-end cards are much better; the company would need to sell millions of mid-range gaming cards to match what one customer spent on high-end cards in six months.
More on why the AI bubble is a bubble. (IEEE Spectrum)
Our analysis of this phenomenon also allowed us to compare what's actually happened with theoretical expectations. Theory tells us that computing needs to scale with at least the fourth power of the improvement in performance. In practice, the actual requirements have scaled with at least the ninth power.Companies like OpenAI don't want to fix this problem because it's the barrier that keeps smaller competitors at bay. If there is a solution, it will come from people working on Facebook's open source code in the evening, not from OpenAI or Google, or even from Facebook.
This ninth power means that to halve the error rate, you can expect to need more than 500 times the computational resources. That's a devastatingly high price.
In 2026 Intel is expected to release 80 core mainstream desktop chips - 16 Performance cores and 64 Efficiency cores. (WCCFTech)
Which used to be a lot.
That's not the story, but it's the most interesting point in the article.
Friends Don't Let Friends Do Reddit Video of the Day
Reddit as a tech company is basically worthless. Its market value comes from the communities built up over many years by groups of volunteers, and Reddit's CEO Steve Huffman-Fried has told those volunteers to, and I quote, "go fuck themselves with a kidney stone the size of a grapefruit".
This is not generally considered a sound business move.
Friday, June 16
Volo's Guide To The Dewey Decimal System Edition
- Reddit won't and never would steal cookies out of the cookie jar, says Reddit, caught with its hand in the cookie jar. (The Verge)
Specifically claiming that they would never take over subreddits, remove moderators, and force them to be public again, right after they did exactly that.
- Reddit CEO Steve Huffman-Fried says fuck the users, miserable maggots that they are, who needs them, where did all the money go? (The Verge)
It costs us about $10 million in pure infrastructure costs to support these apps.Which is a lot, except for the minor detail that they want to charge $20 million per year to just one of those apps, and are arguing that they can't possibly reduce that price.
200%+ ROI? That used to be a lot.
- A $400 48-port 2.5Gb managed switch with 2x10Gb and 2x25Gb uplinks? Yes please. (Serve the Home)
You can get 48-port Ethernet switches at a reasonable price, even from companies like Cisco, but they're all basic gigabit. The moment you go above that the price increases exponentially.
- Running Linux on a 1999 HP Jornada pocket PC. (Raymii)
It doesn't have the Four Essential Keys though.
- Mercedes is adding ChatGPT to its infotainment system, for some reason. (Tech Crunch)
That's the actual headline.
- The French recipient of Europe's largest ever seed funding round doesn't have a product. (The Register)
And barely has employees, but is now valued at $250 million.
For perspective, in the first three months of this year, US AI scams startups took in $25 billion in funding.
- Apple's new $7000 Mac Pro comes with two SATA ports for disk drives - although it doesn't come with any bays for disk drives, that will cost you another $400 for a third-party product - comes with two SATA ports like a $80 Intel motherboard except half the number of ports, except they don't work. (Tom's Hardware)
Turn your $7000 (base price) computer on and it will tell you your hard drive has been ejected.
Apple says this will be fixed at some point.
Meddling in the Affairs of Wizards Video of the Day
I own maybe 2% of that number and moving house almost killed me. My double garage is still packed solid with heavy boxes nearly a year later. I can't imagine shifting fifty times that.
Thursday, June 15
Razers Of The Lost Arc Edition
- Google is getting a lot worse because of the Reddit blackouts. (The Verge)
It says a lot about the state of the internet when Reddit is one of the more valuable resources.
- Reddit admins - that is, Reddit's own employees rather than the volunteers who keep the communities alive - have taken over two major subreddits, r/AdviceAnimals and r/Tumblr, and brought them back out of the Shadow Realm. (Twitter)
The total disregard Reddit has shown for its users matches so exactly Digg's own self-immolation back in 2010 - the event that pushed the much smaller Reddit into the spotlight - that Digg should be able to sue for trademark infringement.
- Razer's new Blade 14 - which despite the name is a laptop - has upgradeable memory and storage. (AnandTech)
Up to 64GB of RAM, plus an AMD 7940HS, an RTX 4070, and a 14" 2560x1440 display.
Still no Four Essential Keys, but it's a step in the right direction after last year's model with soldered RAM.
- Microsoft is selling spare parts for its Surface devices. (Thurrott)
Screens, keyboards, storage, and batteries are available to brave souls who want to repair their own devices, plus detailed repair guides and tool kits if you don't already have one of those 1001 screwdriver bits kits from Amazon.
Just, looking at the price list, try not to break the screen on your Surface Studio.
- Scientists have for the first time created synthetic human embryos without going through all that tedious business with parents. (The Guardian)
Could we not?
Just for one brief minute, could we not?
- A report from McKinsey finds that generative AI (like ChatGPT) could add $2.6 to $4.4 trillion per year to the global economy. (VentureBeat)
The authors caution that if the AI goes rogue and eradicates all life on earth the gains could be on the lower end of that range.
- Accenture plans to grow its AI workforce to 80,000 just months after firing 19,000 people who actually did things. (The Register)
"Over the next decade, AI will be a mega-trend, transforming industries, companies, and the way we live and work, as generative AI transforms 40 percent of all working hours," Paul Daugherty, group chief executive, Accenture Technology, predicted in a statement.If you own shares in Accenture, sell. If you use their services, seek alternatives. And if you work for them, keep your resume up to date at all times, but maybe fudge things a little and claim you were doing time in a Turkish prison for heroin trafficking.
The Nokia T21 tablet is now available in the US for $240. (Liliputing)
It's a basic decent large Android tablet, with one neat trick: It supports Wacom drawing pens. I don't know how well it supports the pens, or what drawing software is like on Android these days.
I bought a Huion Kamvas Pro recently - like a Wacom Cintiq but much, much cheaper - but it's still in its box so I don't know yet how good it is. Better than my artistic skills at least, I would hope.
This tablet is cheaper again, but the Kamvas connects directly to a PC and comes with a pen, so there's no messing around.
Twitter is being evicted from its Boulder office over unpaid rent. (Tech Crunch)
Boulder is not yet San Francisco and there is still the possibility of another tenant showing up, so yes, that will happen.
I would say that Twitter has no need for a Boulder office, but if, like Google, you want employees to show up in person at the office, you rather do need an office for them to show up at.
Wednesday, June 14
People Who Live In Smart Houses Shouldn't Edition
Smart homes for smart people: If you haven’t started your smart home yet, here’s how to start — or if you have, here’s how to make it better. (The Verge)
My wife asked me why I carry a gun in the house.It's not a quote from the article, but it should be.
I looked at her and said, "Decepticons". She laughed, I laughed, the toaster laughed, I shot the toaster, it was a good time.
- A tale of unwanted disruption: My week without Amazon. (Medium)
In which the author tells how an Amazon delivery driver thought he heard a racist remark from a doorbell - and Amazon took action by locking the author out of his account and disabling his smart home.
If Amazon can do that, I submit it is a very, very stupid home indeed.
- AMD announced its new Genoa-X server CPUs with 96 cores and 1.1GB of cache and also its Bergamo server CPUs with 128 cores but a mere 256MB of cache. (AnandTech)
Which used to be a lot. Of disk. Never mind cache.
- PCI Express 7.0 is on track for 2025. (AnandTech)
PCIe 5 is mostly a waste of time for home use: There are no mainstream PCIe 5 video cards and only a handful of PCIe 5 SSDs, which you probably don't want anyway given their downsides.
PCIe 7 is for the datacenter and network switches for now, though a single lane of PCIe 7 can deliver the same bandwidth as a full-size x16 PCIe 3 slot, it could be interesting to see it in smaller devices.
- Reddit CEO Steve Huffman-Fried says the current blackouts plaguing the site will pass, "like a kidney stone the size of a grapefruit". (The Verge)
Pipkin Pippa had a Youtube stream today where she explained what is going on with Reddit but this is Pippa and she invited her friend Kirsche on and somehow the topic devolved into, well, if you do watch it my advice is to stop the moment they start talking about bugs no matter how curious you are as to where the topic is leading.
Tuesday, June 13
Written In Bloody Crayon Edition
- Eight thousand subreddits have gone dark, ranging from r/funny with 40 million subscribers down to ones that shall remain nameless involving porn of specific individual Pokemon. Oh, and Reddit itself crashed. (The Verge)
With every major subreddit with an ounce of self-respect banished to the Nether Realm, what's left of the self-described "front page of the internet" looks like something scrawled by Rachel Maddow's evil twin on the walls of her padded cell with what you only hope is a smuggled crayon.
Even r/programming has vanished from view, and one of the moderators of that subreddit is u/spez, also known as Steve Huffman, for now the CEO of Reddit.
- Microsoft Edge sends the images you view online back to Microsoft. (NeoWin)
That is not good.
It's supposedly so that Microsoft can apply AI upscaling, which is as much a thing I asked for as ads in my Start menu.
- Intel has - again - shown off benchmarks proving that its new server CPUs are 7x faster than AMD's in workloads that everyone runs on GPUs anyway. (Tom's Hardware)
It's not entirely a waste of time, but it is almost entirely a waste of time. Particularly since the special functions needed for that performance are not even included in Intel's regular CPU models.
- AMD meanwhile is announcing its 128 core server CPUs today. (WCCFTech)
Those will face up against Intel's latest 56 core models, and by face up I mean annihilate.
- The FTC is planning to block Microsoft's takeover of Activision Blizzard. (CNBC)
Actilizard just chose to Budweiser itself, so perhaps time for Microsoft to step back from the troubled acquisition of a company that hasn't had a good reputation since 2002.
- There is no cloud, just other people's computers, managed by other people, and subject to other people's mistakes. (The Register)
And sometimes those mistakes are doozies.
Monday, June 12
Land Rights for Gay Whales Edition
- Making friends and influencing people, part one: After a remarkable performance by Reddit's CEO in an AMA (ask me anything) event, many of Reddit's largest communities - called subreddits - have reversed course on their plans for a two day outage in protest over recent changes the the platforms API and are now planning to go dark indefinitely. (The Verge)
Reports are that CEO Steve Huffman didn't answer a single question from developers, spending all his time whiffing paid softballs.
Here's a list of all the subreddits going offline in protest. (Reddark)
It's a lot. Most of the big default subreddits - which, to be fair, are all communist-ridden shitholes - the default subreddits that new users are subscribed to will be going private so that new users can't access them at all.
Which actually improves the site, but I don't know if Reddit will see it that way.
- Making friends and influencing people, part two: Online mortgage company Better.com just laid off its entire real estate - after forcing them to take a pay cut of 50% last November in order to keep their jobs. (Tech Crunch)
Eighteen months ago the company made headlines when the CEO fired 900 employees in a Zoom meeting and then took a month's holiday.
Better was in the news again in March last year when it accidentally processed severance pay for 3000 employees before actually telling anyone they were being laid off.
Legally those two events don't count as notice, but as a practical matter, if you're surprised at being fired by Better, you really need to pay more attention.
- Making friends and influencing people, part three: What really went on in the Wuhan lab in the weeks before COVID. (The Sunday Times)
The usual, you know. Splicing together deadly viruses that Chinese authorities had kept silent, and researching a vaccine for, uh, COVID.
- Betteridge's Law of Headlines, part one: Does the new Mojo programming language offer a faster superset of Python? (Slashdot)
- Betteridge's Law of Headlines, part two: Will tech layoffs trigger a wave of unionisation? (Slashdot)
- Everything new is old again: Inland's - Micro Center's house brand - new PCIe 5 TD510 SSD takes a solid state storage device with no moving parts and revolutionises the concept by adding moving parts. (Serve the Home)
In this case, a tiny but very annoying fan that runs all the time. And is probably absolutely needed, because PCIe 5 SSDs run extremely hot and performance plummets by as much as 99% when they aren't properly cooled.
It's fast. It's very fast - it can transfer over 10GB per second on sequential access, and 5GB per second on random writes, which is phenomenal. But once it fills its SLC cache, performance is worse than many competing PCIe 4 and even PCIe 3 drives, some of which are half the price.
Basically if you're wondering if you need a PCIe 5 SSD, you don't. The few people who need them already have spreadsheets full of benchmarks.
Just testing for pests...
Sunday, June 11
Musikanten Sind In Der Stadt Edition
- Musicians have no need to worry: MusicGen is ChatGPT for music. (Honu)
Not even amateurish. The page presents dozens of examples of different categories of music created by different software. None of the ones I listened to show any sign that the software has picked up on what makes music, music.
Sony used to have a software package called Cinescore, that let you pick a theme and basically paint music with it. You'd say I want a three minutes and twenty seconds of surf rock, and it would give it to you. You could then say, I want a transition here and the bridge here, and it would do that.
Not high art, no, but great if you wanted to create original background music for videos or games. And infinitely better than this drivel.
- 8GB of GDDR6 RAM costs $25. (WCCFTech)
Worth asking why Nvidia charges $100.
- A blog that loads in 1 second around the world. (SwitchupCB)
It's self-promotion, yes, but that site does load fast. I'll take a look.
Update: I took a look and it's rubbish.
- The Surgeon General has issued a warning about the dangers of government education to teenage minds. (CNN)
Just kidding. The chief blitherer is blathering about social media. Which sucks, yes, but relatively speaking is a tuna in a school of whales.
- Shove it, Clippy: Microsoft's Bing is inserting polls intpo search results. (Torrent Freak)
Always vote for ancient aliens.
- TThe FBI says that renewing FISA Section 702 is absolutely critical to allow them to continue their job of legally spying on American citizens. (The Register)
Without it, they might be forced to go back to doing it illegally.
- I rewatched Good Omens season one. I stand by my earlier assessment that it is one of the best TV series of the past five years.
Which admittedly is like being one of the most honest Democrats in Congress, but still. Hoping they don't shit all over season two.
Saturday, June 10
Working Five To Nine Edition
- Had a fun start to the weekend when our cloud provider at work decided to migrate twenty-five of our servers to new hardware. On a Friday afternoon. 5AM Saturday for me.
Yes, we have everything set up with redundant servers. Doesn't help much when 25 of them reboot all at once.
- The creator of dystopian science-fiction TV series Black Mirror used ChatGPT to write the script for an episode.
It was shit. (Gizmodo)
All it did was smush together the scripts for other episodes.
What you need to do to be a successful Hollywood writer is smush together the scripts for other episodes while stealing an idea from somewhere else.
- The CEO of Reddit has accused the creator of Reddit app Apollo of larceny, pettifoggery, mopery, dopery, and intimate relationships with barn animals, but says he's open to discussion with other developers. (The Verge)
The other developers aren't buying it and are shutting down their apps as well.
- Why is Apple finally producing a 15" MacBook Air? Because sales of the more expensive MacBook Pro are in the toilet. (The Verge)
All the major laptop makers are seeing sales declines in the 20-30% range, but Apple is closer to 40%.
- Speaking of major laptops HP's ZBook Fury 16 G9 is one. (Notebook Check)
At 2.6kg this is no lightweight - HP's own ZBook Studio 16 weighs in at 1.8kg - but apart from the 16" 3840x2400 screen, the high-end Intel CPU (12th or 13th gen), and Nvidia workstation graphics, it also offers four SO-DIMM slots and four two M.2 slots.* So you can upgrade it to 128GB (and probably 192GB) of RAM and 32TB 16TB of SSD, which is enough even for me.
Four Essential Keys are sort of there in the shape of a full numeric keypad, and it has two Thunderbolt ports, mini Displayport, HDMI, wired Ethernet (just gigabit, sadly), a full-size SD card slot, two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, and a smartcard reader for corporate security stuff.
Price starts at $1500 with a 12th gen Intel CPU and goes up to around $6000 with every available option.
* The review says four, and they have the laptop and opened it up to take a look, but they're wrong.
- We don't trade with ants. (World Spirit Sock Puppet)
But we do with bees.
- MSI's Spatium M450 1TB M.2 SSD is available for $37. (Tom's Hardware)
Is it any good? Only a year ago it was considered reasonable value at $115. (Tech Powerup)
For less than forty dollars you get two trillion working transistors. I'm not sure how much you can complain that it's a PCIe 4 device that barely runs faster than PCIe 3. It's a technological marvel.
In fact, at that price it could start starting to force the fake SSDs out of the market. You can't make much money selling knockoff Rolexes if the real deal cost ten bucks.
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