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Sunday, May 28

Geek

Daily News Stuff 28 May 2023

Frostbite Falls Edition

Top Story

  • Elon Musk has withdrawn Twitter from the European Union's "voluntary" program to control online "disinformation". (Tech Crunch)

    The media, and the bureaucrats, who believe they have the sole right to spread disinformation, are taking this about about as well as can be expected, with Thierry Breton, head of the European Union's Josef Goebbels Memorial Happy Fun Time Administration, issuing unveiled threats.

    What they're really upset about is that Twitter isn't playing the game:
    The pan-EU law, which entered into force back in November, requires VLOPs like Twitter to assess and mitigate systemic risks to civic discourse and electoral processes, such as disinformation.

    The deadline for VLOPs’ compliance with obligations in the DSA is three months from now.

    A request for comment emailed to Twitter’s press office returned an automated reply containing a poop emoji.
    (My italics.)

    You don't have to follow the rules. You're entirely expected to cheat. But you have to play the game.


Tech News

  • ChatGPT, Ace Attorney. (Volokh Conspiracy)

    A lawyer needed to file a motion to dismiss. Being busy, lazy, or probably both, he assigned the actual work of drafting the motion to another lawyer at his firm.

    Likewise busy, lazy, or probably both, the second lawyer handed the task to ChatGPT.

    Being a pathological liar in a box, ChatGPT invented multiple entirely imaginary cases as precedent.

    The judge is not amused.

    This is just the start of it. Expect a lot more of this until OpenAI becomes a penny stock and everyone goes back to looking up stuff on paper.


  • The "Hot Pixel" attack can leak data from almost any CPU at a rate of 100mbps. (Tom's Hardware)

    Note the lower case m. We're talking millibits - so about one letter or digit per minute.

    And it only works under perfect conditions, and requires access to run arbitrary code on the machine in question, so it's very likely you have more pressing concerns.


  • Fancy a bit of light housekeeping? Here's your chance. (The Guardian)

    The US government is giving away excess lighthouses made redundant by GPS, though you have to be a federal, state, or local government entity or an approved registered non-profit to qualify for a freebie.

    If nobody on the list wants the lighthouses they will go to public auction.


  • Amazon office workers are planning to go on strike over, uh, over having to work in an office. (CNN)

    Thanks, said Amazon in a short note, though we weren't planning to announce the next round of layoffs just yet.


  • Where's that story where the paid staff at a mostly-volunteer help line unionised and were all fired and replaced with ChatGPT?

    Oh, here we go. (Gizmodo)

    Right under an ad proclaiming that ChatGPT is revolutionising customer service. Yes indeedy.

    You'd need to have a kidney of stone not to laugh.

    Attention kids: ChatGPT ain't gonna put plumbers out of work, and you won't have $160k in student debt.


  • Sales of the newly launched RTX 4060 Ti and Radeon 7600 graphics card are even more miserable than the miserable sales of other miserable graphics cards in this miserable generation. (Notebook Check)

    Part of the problem is inflation, particularly that official inflation figures are a lie, and that where gamers expect graphics cards to get cheaper with each passing year, for once the costs to manufacture the cards have increased sharply.

    And part of it is that Nvidia is coming off three years of government lockdowns, crypto mining crazes, and money printer go brrr where they could sell everything as fast as they could make it, and now that the economy has predictably gone splut nobody is in the mood anymore.

    Nvidia doesn't care because it's happily selling high end cards at the price of a new car to the tech scam du jour, which is to say, AI. 

    And all AMD needs to do is be slightly cheaper than Nvidia.  AMD created the chips for both the Xbox Series S / X and PlayStation 5 anyway, so they have that entire segment of the market locked up.

    Gamers for whom money is no object, and professionals for whom time is money, have already bought high-end cards. Those who need to watch their budgets are buying last year's models on clearance. Nvidia's RTX 3060 12GB model (not the cut-down 8GB model), and AMD's Radeon 6700, 6700 XT, and 6800 are all good options.

    And there's also Intel, which seems to have cleaned up its early driver mess, and is offering the Arc A750 at very attractive prices.  If Intel can just make a decent card at a decent price with its upcoming "Battlemage" and "Celestial" cards, it might stand a chance of gaining significant marketshare.  But those aren't expected to start showing up until at least the end of the year, and more likely next year.



Disclaimer: There is no spoon. Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.

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Saturday, May 27

Geek

Daily News Stuff 27 May 2023

Termites R Us Edition

Top Story



Tech News

  • Why have air conditioning when we could all live like termites?  (Ars Technica)

    Well, apart from the fact that you're talk about demolishing every human dwelling in the world and rebuilding from scratch, apart from the infrastructure problems of such dense living spaces - not to mention the psychological and sociological ones, apart from the fact that termite mounds are found in very few and specific locations in the world for a very good reason, apart from the fact that the one example presented is located in a city at an altitude of a mile where nobody needs AC in the first place, apart from the fact that in any cold climate the people on the outer edge of the building - you know, the only part that has windows - would all freeze to death when winter arrives - termite mounds not notably common in Norway, for example, apart from all that, the square-cube law would mean that twice a day you'd have hurricane-speed winds blasting through the insides of your incomprehensibly expensive new megastructures.

    Apart from that, sure.  Eat the bugs and live like them too.  I'll be over here.  In my house.  Eating steak.  Or chicken nuggets anyway, given the price of a good steak.


  • Electric truck maker Nikola is at risk of being deleted from NASDAQ mostly because it hasn't made any electric trucks.  (Tech Crunch)

    It has faked some videos of electric trucks, though, so maybe Disney will buy it.


  • IMEC - the global body that tries to manage the semiconductor industry the way an ailurophobe manages thirty to fifty feral cats - has laid out plans to reach the 2A node by 2036.  (Tom's Hardware)

    2A - two Angstroms - is 0.2 nanometres.  Which is slightly smaller than a single silicon atom.

    It might seem impossible to construct silicon chips with features smaller than silicon itself, and you'd be correct, except for the fact that these are not engineering numbers but marketing numbers, which is to say, lies.

    And that would mean the whole plan is nonsense except for the fact that the current mainstream production nodes - 7nm and 5nm - are also marketing numbers.

    So, yeah, chips are going to keep getting larger and smaller and more complicated at a rapid pace for at least another decade.


  • Am I the asshole unethical one?  (Daily Nous)

    An ethics professor - I've made my opinions on the field of ethics clear before - made it very clear to his class that if they cheated on their exam, they would fail.

    Then he posted a sample exam with obviously incorrect answers to a known cheating site.  We're talking about 2 + 2 = banana kind of answers.

    Then his students cheated.  

    At least he didn't have to fail them for cheating, because they failed in the old-fashioned way of getting zero on the test.

    I think they have a bright future as ethicists.


  • Don't buy HP printers.  (The Verge)

    HP offers a "Plus" program where - if you sign up within seven days of buying your new printer - you get "free" ink for "six months".

    Oh and also HP locks your printer to prevent you ever buying non-HP ink cartridges, even if you later cancel your subscription, even though HP inkjet printers are certified as not locking out third-party ink cartridges.

    Epson and Brother both sell inkjet printers with ink tanks that - this is complicated, so bear with me - you fill with ink.


  • "China's" "home-grown" "Powerstar" CPU is a painted-over Intel 10th generation Core i3.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Not in the sense that China stole Intel's design and made the chips itself while claiming credit for the design effort, since Intel's 10th generation chips were made on a 14nm process and China does have 14nm production capability, but in the sense that these are made by Intel and then literally painted over with new part numbers.

    Which is one way to do it, I guess.


  • Meanwhile in Real China TSMC is preparing a 6x reticle size CoWoS-L super carrier interposer for extreme SiP processors.  (AnandTech)

    You know how a few years ago AMD launched its new Zen CPUs, and rather than making an 8-core chip for desktops and a 16-core chip for workstations and a 32-core chip for servers (which they couldn't do because they didn't have any money), they made a single 8-core design that you could use one or two or four of according to your need?

    That's what this is about.  Only six times bigger.



Disclaimer: Nothing in the above content, or in the below content, if any, or in any other content to either side, in front of, behind, or in any other orthogonal or non-orthogonal dimension, at any distance, should be taken, construed, inferred, or assumed to be a statement of fact, opinion, or an orthographically, grammatically, or syntactically correct sentence in any language, extant, extinct, imaginary, or hypothetical.  There is a spoon.  Just $4.99, or $24.99 for a package of four.  What a deal.

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Friday, May 26

Geek

Daily News Stuff 26 May 2023

Let's Not And Say We Did Edition

Top Story

  • An idea so bad even the crazies at Ars Technica are calling it out: Google Search has started rolling out "ChatGPT-style" generative AI results.  (Ars Technica)

    The only thing we want from a search engine is to report accurately on what has been said on the web relating to our search term.

    The most notable thing about ChatGPT and its relatives is that it will simply make shit up, including quotes that were never said and scientific papers that were never published.

    This is going to be a disaster.

    It's opt-in for now.

    For now.


  • JPMorgan says hold my Bud Light as plans leak for a ChatGPT-based investment advice service.  (CNBC)

    To be fair, the company hasn't officially announced anything; this could just be a case of staking a claim on a trademark to make sure nobody else nabs it.

    To continue being fair, on the scale of dumb ideas this is a polar ice cap to Google's iceberg.

    Either one entirely capable of sinking the Titanic, mind you.



Tech News

  • Acer's new Swift Edge 16 is a laptop.  (Liliputing)

    It has the latest Ryzen 7840U - the lower-power variant of the 7840HS - with 8 Zen 4 CPU cores and 12 RDNA3 GPU cores.

    The screen is a 16" 120Hz 3200x2000 OLED model covering 100% of DCI-P3 colour and reaching 400 nits brightness, all of which sounds good.  It has two USB 4 ports, two USB 3 ports, HDMI, microSD, and a headphone jack, plus a 1440p webcam (commonly these are 1080p or even just 720p) and the latest WiFi 7.

    The Four Essential Keys are present in the form of a three-column numeric keypad, which is not perfect but something I can live with.  Price starts at $1299 with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD, and there's a second M.2 slot for expansion.

    Memory is soldered (LPDDR4 according to the article, which I suspect is wrong), but at least there's a 32GB model on the way though pricing for that is not mentioned.

    The other point of note is that it weighs 1.23kg, which is actually lighter than my current 14" laptop.  Could be worth checking out.  There are plenty of more powerful 16" laptops with better keyboard layouts, but they are also anything between 50% and 100% heavier than this one.


  • Western Digital's 2TB SN850X is available for $135.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is a good drive.  It's TLC, has a DRAM cache, and supports PCIe 4 with a top transfer rate over 7GB per second.  It's a little more expensive than other models in the current market, but even so costs less than the cheapest, nastiest 2TB drives from just one year ago.


  • Final Cut Pro is here for the iPad.  It sucks.  (9to5Mac)

    Not because Final Cut Pro is bad.  Not because the iPad hardware isn't capable of running it.  But because Apple has deliberately crippled iOS to such a degree that it is useless for any remotely serious task.

    For example, if you edit your video in Final Cut Pro, start exporting the final compressed version, and then switch over to play some Flappy Bird while that runs, your export will simply die, because iOS won't do that.

    Can.  iOS is Unix.  Just won't.


Disclaimer: Can Do, Won't WBAGNFARB.

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Thursday, May 25

Geek

Daily News Stuff 25 May 2023

Where There Isn't Brass There's Also Muck Edition

Top Story

  • Another day, another mid-range video card launch.  Today it's AMD's Radeon 7600.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is basically an RDNA3 respin of the previous generation's 6650 XT, with 2048 shaders and 8GB of VRAM on a 128-bit bus.  That's the same memory configuration that hampers yesterday's 4060 Ti from Nvidia, and really isn't acceptable on a video card that costs $399.

    The reason I'm willing to cut AMD some slack here is that their card costs $269.

    Which even in these trying times is still less than $399.

    Personally I'd buy the current 6700 over the 7600 - it's the older RDNA2 architecture, but has 10GB of RAM on a 160-bit bus, giving it a bit of an edge.  But the 7600 is an okay card at an okay price.

    Which is to say that it's a miracle of modern technology, with 13 billion transistors in a chip smaller than your thumbnail, and we should be amazed that it exists at all, never mind that it's available so readily and so cheaply.

    (My first computer had a Motorola 6845 video chip running at 3.5MHz and could be persuaded to display somewhere between 10 and 12 colours if you were really persistent.)


Tech News




Unfamiliar Kettle Video of the Day



So it looks like our electric dolphin left VOMS because (a) another company waved a lot of money at her and (b) that other company has basically left its Japanese operations in the hands of a former drug-dealing Yakuza dragon who is close friends with said dolphin.

I heard the name mentioned over the past week but I've been too tied up with work to keep up to date with Vtuber corporate hijinks even when it involves some of my favourite talents.


Disclaimer: Voice, check.  Kettle, check.  Dayo, check.  English/Japanese, check.  Nope, no idea who she is.

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Wednesday, May 24

Geek

Daily News Stuff 24 May 2023

Where There's Brass There's Muck Edition

Top Story



Tech News

Nvidia, Making Sure We Don't Have Nice Things Video of the Day



In some cases the 4060 Ti actually manages to lose to the 3060 Ti, which is impressive just not in the way Nvidia would like.



Disclaimer: We made nice things, but you can't have them.

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Tuesday, May 23

Geek

Daily News Stuff 23 May 2023

New Broom Who Dis Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Daylight, the LGBTQ+ neobank, is unexpectedly shutting down at the end of June.  (Tech Crunch)
    In a blog published today, [founder and CEO Rob] Curtis said he felt like "now is the right time to exit this market before the feds show up" and told customers that their "money is safe and will be fully accessible for transfer through 30 June probably."
    This is my shocked face.


  • In more unexpectedly news China is calling in its loans to unemployed nations who never had a chance of paying them back.  (Fortune)

    Well, not that shocked.


  • Another day, another demarcation dispute: Journalists are in an uproar after a fake Bloomberg account on Twitter posted false news stories before they could.  (Tech Crunch)

    Look at me.  I am the fake news now.


  • TSMC is putting "bombs" in its machines.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Well, sticky notes that say "bomb" on them, so if the maintenance crews don't find them they get a demerit rather than blown into tiny pieces.

    These machines are the size of a house and if not maintained properly can cost tens of millions in lost production and repairs, so a sticky note that says "bomb" seems an entirely reasonable precaution.


  • The Minisforum UM790 Pro is now on sale.  (Notebook Check)

    This is a mini PC - the size of a sandwich, if you put lots of filling in your sandwiches - with AMD's latest Ryzen 7940HS CPU.  8 Zen 4 CPU cores and 12 RDNA3 graphics cores, which makes it three times as fast as the laptop I'm using right now, both for processing and graphics.

    Prices start at $519 without memory or storage, and go up to $789 with 64GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.  It has room for a second M.2 SSD, as well as two HDMI ports, four USB 3 ports, two USB 4 ports (which can also handle video, but are at the front of the system making that a little inconvenient), and 2.5Gb Ethernet.

    A pretty nice system at a good price.  Except that you have to order it from AliExpress.


Disclaimer: Open...  Three cases of store-brand sesame oil?  I didn't order that!

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Monday, May 22

Geek

Daily News Stuff 22 May 2023

I Don't Like It Edition

Top Story


Tech News

Disclaimer: I see you've been redecorating...

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Sunday, May 21

Geek

Daily News Stuff 21 May 2023

Burning Trees Edition

Top Story

  • I used to recommend that people only buy SSDs from companies that made their own flash memory and controllers, like Samsung, Intel, and Micron/Crucial.

    Intel has quit the industry entirely, Samsung had a series of serious issues with its high-end 980 Pro and 990 Pro drives, and now Sandisk (owned by Western Digital) is suffering drives spontaneously eating all your data.  (Ars Technica)

    This specific issue has been discussed on Reddit and covered by Louis Rossman and is supposedly due to MacOS constantly probing the drive even in sleep mode and eventually causing a bit to flip that turns on drive encryption without first setting a key and corrupts the entire thing.

    Which (a) sounds like something a Mac would do and (b) would not be possible unless the drive was broken in the first place.

    The bigger problem being that Sandisk refuses to admit to a problem at all.

    So that leaves Micron / Crucial (Crucial is Micron's consumer brand), which hasn't done anything too outrageous except that its low-cost P3 models aren't as attractive for heavy workloads as Team's MP34.


Tech News

  • Intel is looking at making future chips 64-bit only.  (Tom's Hardware)

    While this would technically break backward compatibility, that's not entirely bad.  Nobody is running 8086 code directly on a 13900KS.  If you want to play an old game it likely won't work outside of an emulator like DOSBox, and DOSBox won't break with this change.

    Removing the two 16-bit modes (8086 and 80286) likely won't cause much fuss and won't require any changes except for BIOS writers who will breathe a sigh of relief, because they no longer have to bootstrap up through those two modes to reach 32-bit and 64-bit mode.

    Removing 32-bit mode is a bit more controversial.  Apple did it and it broke stuff everywhere, but Apple's approach to this has always been that it's your own stupid fault for buying their products in the first place.


  • 6+8=16.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Intel's new 16 core Meteor Lake chip really does have 6 Performance cores and 8 Efficiency cores on the CPU chiplet, because all Meteor Lake chips have two additional Efficiency cores on the I/O (Intel call it the SOC) chiplet.  The extra two cores are extra low power, designed to keep running when your computer is in sleep mode, doing stuff you don't know about and didn't ask for.


  • Run Linux.


  • It still does things you don't know about and didn't ask for - systemd I'm looking at you - but at least everything is documented.  Somewhere.


  • Is the Internet of Things - what I call the Internet of Insecure Pieces of Crap - insufficiently broken?  If so, surely the solution is to add ChatGPT.  (Atomic14)

    Yep.  If it's not broken enough now, that will solve the problem.


Disclaimer: IoT or not IoT, that is the GPT.

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Saturday, May 20

Geek

Daily News Stuff 20 May 2023

Hairy Wizard Edition

Top Story


Tech News



Disclaimer: Bad update definitions detected.  Catch fire?  [Abort/Retry/Extinguish)

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Friday, May 19

Geek

Daily News Stuff 19 May 2023

Spirits From The Vasty Deep Edition - Now With Added Formatting!

Top Story

  • If you want to learn Python you could probably do worse than the current No Starch Press offer at Humble Bundle.

    18 books at about $2 each. Automate the Boring Stuff with Python in particular has glowing reviews, and buying that book alone would cost as much as this entire bundle.

    I have a ridiculous number of books on Kindle now, largely because I buy anything up to 100 each month in Humble Bundles.

    This particular bundle is available for another three days, but if you miss it there' will probably be a new Python bundle within a month.


  • I'll make my ChatGPT, with blackjack, and hookers. (Eric's Code)

    He's good to his word, not only making ChatGPT with blackjack and hookers, but showing you how to do it yourself. You'll need a reasonable level of hardware - he recommends 2TB of fast SSD to make sure you don't run out of room in the middle of a 20-hour training run - but nothing outlandish in a time when a brand new 2TB SSD costs less than the average monthly cable bill. The instructions suggest renting time at AWS rather than trying to configure the system yourself - not that you can't, just that it's easier.

    The problem is that while there are now multiple open source AIs in the style of ChatGPT, the bootstrapping process to get them trained has infected them with the same authoritarian woke bullshit as ChatGPT itself. As the author says:
    It's my computer, it should do what I want. My toaster toasts when I want. My car drives where I want. My lighter burns what I want. My knife cuts what I want. Why should the open-source AI running on my computer, get to decide for itself when it wants to answer my question? This is about ownership and control. If I ask my model a question, I want an answer, I do not want it arguing with me.
    And then details exactly how to achieve this. Not in broad terms, but with specific instructions every step of the way.


Tech News

  • The leaks were right once again, and Nvidia has launched the 4060 and 4060 Ti. (Tom's Hardare)

    The 4060 Ti 8GB model will be in stores next week at $399.

    The 4060 8GB model will ship in July at a pretty reasonable $299.

    And the 4060 Ti 16GB model will also ship in July, at $499.

    Which puts it half-way to the much faster 4070 and means once again that Nvidia really doesn't want anyone to buy its products. 8GB of GDDR6 RAM costs around $33 on the spot market, and Nvidia and its board partners will be paying rather less than that.


  • Is your laptop just too fast and sleek for your liking? The Book 8088 DOS System has an 8088 running DOS. (Liliputing)

    An actual genuine 8088, with an 8087 coprocessor socket. And a socket for an OPL-3 sound chip as found in the Soundblaster Pro, because as standard it can only make tinny little bleeps.


  • Bluesky Social, the company started by ex-Twitter CEO and drugged-out mosquito bait Jack Dorsey, just released its code as open source. (ZDNet)
    Unlike Twitter, which is still tripping over its own open source feet, Bluesky client code is for anyone who wants to work on improving the code or use it as the basis for their own social network. Twitter's recommendation code, on the other hand, is essentially unusable.

    The Bluesky code, licensed under the MIT License, can be used now. Indeed, while it's been out for only about 24 hours, it's already been forked 88 times and has earned over 1,300 GitHub Stars.

    While it's specifically the Bluesky Social app's codebase, it's also a resource for AT Protocol programmers. This protocol supports a decentralized social network. Its features include connecting with anyone on a server that supports AT Protocol; controlling how users see the world via an open algorithm market; and enabling users to change hosts without losing their content, followers, or identity.

    The code itself is written in React Native. This is an open-source, user-interface JavaScript software framework. It's used primarily to build applications that run on both iOS and Android devices.
    What they have released is a social network client. Completely unrelated to the server-side code that Twitter released, and really only of use to people who want to write social network clients for mobile devices. Or rather, people who want to have written social network clients for mobile devices without doing the work, and who are willing to have a client that has no server to talk to other than Bluesky itself, which is still in very limited release.


Disclaimer: Here's an open-source client for my $5000 per month service. Don't say I never did anything for you.

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