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Friday, July 19


Daily News Stuff 19 July 2024

Watership's Down Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Prime Day is here.  I bought curtains.

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Thursday, July 18


Daily News Stuff 18 July 2024

Little City Big Kitty Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • A tiny flaw in Cisco's Smart Software Manager allows anyone to alter any user's password.  (Ars Technica)

    And by anyone I mean anyone - you don't need to be logged in.

    And by any user I mean any user - without logging in you can change the admin password, and then log in.

    I don't think the rate of data breaches is going to slow down any time soon.

  • More 9950X benchmarks at various power levels.  (WCCFTech)

    We already know there's no point running it at 320W, since it offers performance barely better than the default boost power of 230W.

    This chart shows that you also don't want to run it at 40W.  Below 60W the performance craters.  You can probably improve on that by adjusting the clock details, but with the automated settings the sixteen core 9950X runs like a six core 5600X.

  • Checking out the Crucial P310 - a 2TB M.2 2230 SSD.  (Serve the Home)

    These drives are the size of a postage stamp, and fit in portable devices like the Steam Deck and ultra-slim laptops like Microsoft's Surface line.

    This one is QLC and DRAMless, a combination I would generally recommend avoiding, but on these benchmarks it holds up very well.  Read speeds up to 7GB per second, and write speeds up to 6GB.

    Under sustained heavy write loads it will slow down, but in all other cases it actually looks good.

  • You can now run Windows NT on a PowerMac.  (The Register)

    I have a couple of PowerMacs in the garage.  I'm not really inclined to try this out though.

  • Looking to build a mini-ITX storage server?  This motherboard from (random AliExpress vendors) might be what you need.  (Liliputing)

    For $130 it has a four-coure Intel N100, two M.2 slots, six SATA ports, 10Gb Ethernet, dual 2.5Gb Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort, and the usual complement of USB ports.

    And one memory slot.

    There may be an eight-core N305 model on the way if you need a little more power.

Disclaimer: Hatkeeper, hatkeeper, sell me a hat, make it size small, I'm just a cat.

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Wednesday, July 17


Daily News Stuff 17 July 2024

Giant Bee Edition

Top Story

  • Microsoft's former DEI leader has blasted the company in an internal email after the entire team was laid off, sort of.  (IGN)

    Yes, a Microsoft DEI team leader did indeed blast the company in an internal email after their entire team was laid off.  That is true.

    But don't celebrate just yet.  Microsoft has many DEI teams.

    The email though is exactly what you would expect from these parasites:
    Unofficially in my opinion, not specific to Microsoft alone, but Project 2025 looms and true systems change work associated with DEI programs everywhere are no longer business critical or smart as they were in 2020. Hence the purposeful and strategic 3-5 year shelf life of many company's inclusion commitments post the murder of George Floyd are being reevaluated.
    Fire them all.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Fair enough.

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Tuesday, July 16


Daily News Stuff 16 July 2024

Pine Lime And Passionfruit Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • The FBI has gained access to the would-be assassin's cell phone.  (The Verge)

    Unlikely that this will change anything, of course.

    Best comment: Reddit is leaking.

  • Microsoft's CTO denies the obvious, that AI is facing exponential scaling costs.  (Ars Technica)

    He denies this in the face of exponential expenses in AI training.  He's lying, badly.

    Best comment: Always listen to the Chief Tulip Officer's advice about investing in tulips.

  • A look at AMD's Zen 5 microarchitecture.  (AnandTech)

    Zen 1 through Zen 4 had the same basic design, able to issue and retire four instructions per cycle.  Zen 4 also introduced a 256-bit half-width version of Intel's AVX-512 vector processing.  Intel's own consumer CPUs lack AVX-512 in any form.

    With Zen 5 the issue width has been increased to eight instructions per cycle, and the AVX-512 unit is now a full 512 bits wide.

    If your code is poised perfectly to take advantage of the improved hardware it could run twice as fast on Zen 5 as Zen 4, but that's unlikely.

    The performance charts attached to this article show the 12 core 9900X running Handbrake video processing tasks 41% faster than Intel's 24 core 14900K, at half the power consumption.

    Of course Intel will have new chips itself later this year, but those are expected to focus on fixing the power issues more than increasing performance.

    These chips are due to show up...  Basically now.

  • Also on the AMD front, testing the graphics performance of the new Ryzen HX 370 laptop chip.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's basically level with the desktop GTX 1070, laptop GTX 1650 Ti, or the Radeon RX 480.  I used an RX 480 myself from 2017 to 2022, and it's a perfectly competent card.  For integrated graphics performance it's amazing.

    AMD has another, much more powerful laptop CPU in the wings, with at least twice the graphics performance.  No word yet on when that one will ship.

Disclaimer: Enter the Carousel.  Or don't.  That's cool too.  The age of thirty is in demand.

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Monday, July 15


Daily News Stuff 15 July 2024

Unskilled And Unaware Edition

Top Story

  • To avoid sea level rise, some researchers want to put barriers around the world's most vulnerable glaciers to slow them down.  (Science)



    In 2008, the Ilulissat Glacier in Greenland had a calving event in which it shed a single iceberg covering three square miles.  It sheds 35 billion tons of icebergs in the average year.

    And moving glaciers don't leave much of anything in their wake, except rubble.

    I mean...  Okay, it's not impossible.  If you want to build an anti-glacier barrier, go right ahead.  Yes, I'll make popcorn, but if you succeed I'll gladly give you credit.

    Update: Skip the first four paragraphs of the article and go to the fifth, which explains things a lot more clearly.  They don't want to build an anti-glacier barrier, but a barrier for warm ocean currents to shield glaciers at the point they enter the sea.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Or p'raps not.

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Sunday, July 14


Daily News Stuff 14 July 2024

One Inch From World War III Edition

Top Story

  • Meet the soft robots that can amputate limbs and fuse with other robots.  (Tech Crunch)

    I for one welcome our Mengelean Borg overlords.
    In one demo video, we see a soft quadruped robot crawling along when a falling rock traps a back leg. The reversible joint attaching the leg is heated with current, allowing the robot to break free of its leg and escape. Although it’s not shown in the video, the limb can be re-attached, as well.
    Oh.  They can amputate their own limbs.  That's still slightly horrifying, but much less so.

    Kind of like a lizard that drops its tail, uses it as a club to beat a frog to death, and the reattaches the tail and eats the frog.


Tech News

  • The goggles do nothing!  Pushing the 9950X to 320W doesn't really help much.  (WCCFTech)

    At 120W it's essentially tied with the 253W Intel 14900K, and at any power level above that it rapidly breaks away.

    Interestingly the upcoming sixteen core laptop chip codenamed Strix Point Halo is rated at 120W, so that will deliver what is currently considered leading-edge desktop performance.

  • Speaking of the 14900K, I wouldn't.  (Tech Radar)

    The problems with Intel's high-end chips persist.

    A study of crash logs for video games showed that for some types of problem, 90% of all recorded errors happened on the 13900K and 14900K.  Those chips are just pushed too hard and run too hot.

    This is not an Intel problem in general;  it only seems to affect the company's top-of-the-line consumer desktop chips.  But that's bad.  If you buy their most expensive chips you don't expect to get dramatically worse reliability.

  • Disney's internal Slack was allegedly hacked, with 1.1TB of data exfiltrated.  (HackRead)

    I haven't encountered this site before, but it looks the Web3 is going great of online services.

    Bookmarked for later reference.

  • Signal is downplaying a security flaw that it has now fixed after a Twitter drama.  (Bleeping Computer)

    This was a local security issue, rather than an online one.  Anyone with access to your computer could read your Signal history without needing your password.  The local database was encrypted, but the encryption key was sitting right there for anyone to use.

  • Linksys Velop routers send your WiFi passwords to servers in the US.  (StackDiary)

    In plain text.


  • Speaking of which, I just picked up a mesh wifi system for the new house - a D-Link M32 Eagle Pro three node setup.  I've been running a router I had before the move, but the coverage is not that great.

    I probably went a little overboard, though.  The bundle was 75% off on a one-day sale so I bought two, which should be enough to cover the house, the garage, the entire garden, and a couple of my neighbours.

  • The NSA has rediscovered the tape of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Hopper's 1982 lecture, but says it lacks the ability to read it.  (MuckRock)

    It's one inch Ampex reel-to-reel video tape, which is hardly uncommon.  It took me two minutes to find a commercial service that will convert an entire tape to digital format for $150.

  • The Sipeed Lichi Pi 3A is a development board for RISC-V programmers.  (Liliputing)

    RISC-V itself is an open-standard competitor to Arm.  Anyone can build their own processors with no licensing fees, which makes it attractive to companies like Western Digital, who need to embed multiple processor cores into ever SSD they make.

    The board itself starts at $49 for a bare module with 4GB of RAM, going up to $139 with 16GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a carrier board with two M.2 slots.

    This is slightly confusing because the Lichee Pi 4A already exists and is more powerful, just lacking those two M.2 slots.

  • Journalists for Censorship strikes again: Shooting conspiracies trend on X as Musk endorses Trump.  (The Verge)

    Following the assassination attempt on Donald Trump at his rally in Pennsylvania, the left did what the left does best: Act like crazy people in public.
    On X, neither trending topic about the shooting is flush with particularly robust or coherent conspiracies; clicking through, you’ll largely find short posts from X users saying that the shooting looks fake or is a stunt. (There is no evidence of either.) But by placing the subjects into X’s trending topics area, the conspiracies are elevated to more people.
    The complaint here seems to be that Twitter is not censoring Democrats.

    I can see how this would be bad for the Democrats.

Disclaimer: I for one welcome our self-dismembering underlords.

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Saturday, July 13


Daily News Stuff 13 July 2024

Fast News Day Edition

Top Story

  • That's going to leave a mark: Call and text records for the past six months for almost all AT&T customers have been stolen in the slow-motion train wreck that is the Snowflake breach.  (Tech Crunch)

    Snowflake was an online data analytics platform with some major customers including Ticketmaster and Santander Bank.  Technically I think Snowflake is still operating but I wouldn't expect them to be around for much longer.

    While Ticketmaster is international and the number of customers affected far outweighs AT&T, in that breach the hackers got your name, address, last four digits of your credit card, that kind of stuff.

    In this hack they got the phone numbers of everyone 110 million people called or texted over a period of six months.  And it's all out there, forever.

    It does not (according to AT&T) include the contents of the text messages, and calls even if recorded for whatever reason would not be stored in this kind of database.  I hope.  That would raise it from a mere disaster to a catastrophe.

    And if you're not an AT&T customer you might still be affected if your phone company uses the AT&T network behind the scenes.

Tech News

  • Meta has dropped the special restrictions it had placed on Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts.  (The Verge)

    You can enjoy the screaming in the comments there, if you like.

  • Emmanuel Goldstein's X faces big EU fines as paid checkmarks are ruled deceptive.  (Ars Technica)

    Sorry, I mean Elon Musk.  It's pure coincidence that every Ars Technica article mentioning SpaceX, Twitter, Tesla, or Starlink has the name ELON MUSK in it as a signal for the zombies to swarm.

    Anyway, the headline is a lie.  There is no such ruling.

    But EU Bookburner General Terry Britain claims that blue checkmarks used to denote trustworthy sources of information which is either a direct lie or a sign of galloping early-onset Alzheimer's.

    Musk fired back asserting that the EU offered Twitter an illegal secret deal under which they would hold off on fines if the company would enact secret censorship under their direction.

    Terry Britain claimed that the EU doesn't do that, but...  It does.

    Also interesting to see on that article, Ars Technica's creative director Aurich Lawson getting savaged by his own mob.

  • Don't run your Ryzen 9 9950X at 60W.  (WCCFTech)

    More leaked benchmarks, but there's something interesting here because the same tests were run at power levels of 60W, 90W, 120W, 160W, and 230W, with the last of those being the maximum boost power setting without manual overclocking.

    At 60W the CPU ran cool at 41C and managed 4GHz on all cores.  Bumping it up to 90W pushed the temperature to 49C but the clock to just over 5GHz.  At 160W it reaches 5.55GHz and at 230W 5.6GHz, so there's no real point in going over 160W.

  • Emmanuel Gold - sorry.  SpaceX's Falcon 9 has been grounded after issues with a second stage caused the latest cluster of Starlink satellites to miss their orbital target.  (Reuters)

    They are trying to boost the satellites into the correct orbit with the on-board ion drives - really - but even if that works it will reduce their service life.

    This comes after, if you weren't keeping track, 365 consecutive Falcon 9 launches without issue.

  • Looking to buy a Z80 computer before supply of the chip runs out forever?  Tindie (who) and Zeal have you covered.  (Tindie)

    For $180 you get a 10MHz Z80, 256k of flash storage, 512k of RAM, VGA graphics, and four voice sound synthesis.

    It's kind of neat if you're into retrocomputing.

  • Speaking of retrocomputing the German navy is working on phasing out eight inch floppy disks.  (Ars Technica)

    I have no idea why they are used because the ships involved were commissioned in the mid-nineties, by which time even 3.5" floppies had been around for a decade, and eight inch models had been dead for years.

  • A "red team" from CISA broke into another federal agency and had free rein in its network, undetected, for five months.  (The Register)

    Wait, the federal government noticed a massive problem in only five months?

  • Peer review is essential for science.  Unfortunately it's fucked.  (Ars Technica)

    Well, they use the term broken, but I felt it needed a little more oomph.
    The practice of peer review was developed in a different era, when the arguments and analysis that led to a paper’s conclusion could be succinctly summarized within the paper itself. Want to know how the author arrived at that conclusion? The derivation would be right there. It was relatively easy to judge the "wrongness" of an article because you could follow the document from beginning to end, from start to finish, and have all the information you needed to evaluate it right there at your fingerprints.

    That's now largely impossible with the modern scientific enterprise so reliant on computers.
    Specifically because scientific papers very rarely include the code used to analyse the data.  All the assumptions - and the errors - in that code are hidden from reviewers.

    Noting that peer review is f - broken, the author, not a journalist but real life astrophysicist Paul Sutter, moves on to science's second line of defense, replication, where things are no better:
    There's a complex swirling septic tank of problems that all contribute to the replication crisis, but the first issue is that replication isn't sexy. You don't get to learn new things about the world around us; you just get to confirm whether someone else learned new things about the world around us. As an added ugly bonus, non-results often don't even get published. Novelty is seen as a virtue, and if you run an experiment and it doesn’t provide a positive result, journals are less likely to be interested in your manuscript. Additionally, because replication isn't seen as sexy, when it is done, it isn't read. Replication studies do not get published in high-impact-factor journals, and authors of replication studies do not get as many citations for their work. This means that their h-index is lower, which lowers their chances of getting grants and promotions.
    What's the solution?  I'm glad you asked:
    Altogether, the scientific and technical publishing industry rakes in about ten billion dollars a year, often with double-digit profit margins. Of course they don't want this ship to change course. I can't really blame them; they’re just playing by the accepted rules of their own game.
    Yes, there isn't one.

  • Despite selling literally dozens of units, several of which were not returned, developers are ignoring Apple's wildly expensive and basically useless Vision Pro AR headset.  (Ars Technica)

    Not even porting existing iOS apps.

  • OpenAI is reportedly working on an AI that can reason, instead of just regurgitating pre-digested Reddit posts and telling you that backpacks are as safe as parachutes when jumping out of a plane.  (Ars Technica)

    Well, first up, Terry Winograd, SHRDLU, 1968.
    Person: Had you touched any pyramid before you put the green one on the little cube?
    Computer: YES, THE GREEN ONE.
    Person: When did you pick it up?
    Person: Why?
    Computer: TO GET RID OF IT.
    Person: Why did you do that?
    Person: Why did you clear off that cube?
    Person: Why did you do that?
    Person: Why did you do that?
    Second, that parachutes and backpacks thing is really an answer given by Google's AI Overview.  (Fast Company)

    And it's based on a real result from a real scientific study.  (NPR)

    But it's a study of whether people actually read scientific papers.

    The plane was parked on the ground.

Disclaimer: The author has not made this disclaimer available in your location.

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Friday, July 12


Daily News Stuff 12 July 2024

Dead Intranet Theory Edition

Top Story

  • Could AIs become conscious? Right now, we have no way to tell.  (Ars Technica)

    Because we haven't properly defined the terms.

    What kind of AI?  SHRDLU from 1968 (yes, I keep mentioning that) displayed more evidence of consciousness than ChatGPT, and examining its abilities we see clear indications of a primitive level of conscious.

    There's a term in AI, sphexishness, referring to the golden digger wasp, Sphex ichneumoneus.  Like many wasps, the sphex wasp will paralyse its prey to serve as food for its larvae.  In this case it will paralyse an insect, drag it back to its burrow (it's a digger wasp), check that the burrow is safe, and then put the prey in the burrow to serve as a larder for the baby sphexes.

    The thing is, if you move the paralysed insect while the sphex is checking the burrow, it will move it back next to the burrow, inspect the burrow again, and then drag it into the burrow.

    And if you move the insect again while the sphex is re-checking the burrow, the cycle will repeat.  No matter how many times you do this, the sphex will not change its behaviour.

    SHRDLU was able to explain why it did what it did, step by step.  It didn't get angry at being given repeated nonsensical orders, but it could account for every action that it took.

    Anyway, can computers become conscious?  Well, they are already more conscious than insects, and have been for decades.

    Can computers become conscious with all the complexity as human consciousness?  Certainly not currently; they are not remotely powerful enough.

    Can LLMs become conscious?  A single LLM, no.  LLMs are designed specifically to avoid that.

    A pair of LLMs in a feedback loop?  Maybe, yes.  But likely also psychotic.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Node.js is the prostate cancer of Computer Science.

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Thursday, July 11


Daily News Stuff 11 July 2024

Megabels Edition

Top Story

  • Construction of a Bitcoin "mine" in a Texas town has caused a massive outbreak of hypochondria and innumeracy.  (Time)
    On an evening in December 2023, 43-year-old small business owner Sarah Rosenkranz collapsed in her home in Granbury, Texas and was rushed to the emergency room. Her heart pounded 200 beats per minute; her blood pressure spiked into hypertensive crisis; her skull throbbed. "It felt like my head was in a pressure vise being crushed," she says. "That pain was worse than childbirth."
    Sounds nasty, but what does that have to do with Bitcoin?
    Over the course of several months in 2024, TIME spoke to more than 40 people in the Granbury area who reported a medical ailment that they believe is connected to the arrival of the Bitcoin mine: hypertension, heart palpitations, chest pain, vertigo, tinnitus, migraines, panic attacks.
    Over several months, dozens of people had a variety of symptoms ranging from the purely physical to the neurological to the psychological.  In a town of 11,000, and since they say "the Granbury area", let's note that the county is home to 60,000 people.
    "I’m sure it increases their cortisol and sugar levels, so you’re getting headaches, vertigo, and it snowballs from there," Bhaloo says. "This thing is definitely causing a tremendous amount of stress. Everyone is just miserable about it."
    You're sure.  Great.
    Not all data centers make noise.
    Yeah, this is not a serious article.
    Jenna Hornbuckle, 38, lost hearing in her right ear and was diagnosed with heart failure; ear exams document her hearing loss along with that of her 8-year-old daughter Victoria, who contracted ear infections that forced doctors to place a tube in her ear.
    Bitcoin is bad in many ways.  It does not cause heart failure or ear infections.
    As rock music blares from the speakers and other patrons chatter away, Rosenkranz pulls out her phone and clocks 72 decibels on a sound meter app—the same level that she records in Indigo’s bedroom in the dead of night. In early 2023, her daughter began waking up, yelling and holding her ears. Indigo’s room directly faces the mine, which sits about a mile and a half away.
    Okay, there's a tiny problem there.
    Shirley sticks his recorder out the window and the numbers on it flicker up and down as the roar washes over it. Eventually, the recorder caps out at 91 decibels, which the CDC estimates as roughly in between the output of a lawnmower and a chainsaw.
    91 decibels is pretty loud.  Even on a still night, at a distance of a mile and a half, it would be barely louder than leaves rustling in the trees.

    To register 72 decibels at that distance, the Bitcoin "mine" would have to be as loud as a Shuttle launch, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tech News

Disclaimer: That seems like a you problem.

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Wednesday, July 10


Daily News Stuff 10 July 2024

AGL Edition

Top Story

  • The FTC has banned messaging app NGL (not gonna lie) from hosting minors after catching them systematically lying. (Washington Post)

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.
    The complaint alleged that NGL tricked users into paying for subscriptions by sending them computer-generated messages appearing to be from real people and offering a service for as much as $9.99 a week to find out their real identity. People who signed up received only "hints" of those identities, whether they were real or not, enforcers said.
    After users complained about the "bait-and switch tactic," executives at the company "laughed off" their concerns, referring to them as "suckers," the FTC said in an announcement.
    And now NGL has to fork over five million dollars.

    Suckers indeed.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Unplugging it works too.

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