The ravens are looking a bit sluggish. Tell Malcolm they need new batteries.

Thursday, July 19


Upcoming Server Maintenance

I'll be doing some maintenance on the server this weekend and next weekend.  Expect 30 minutes or so of interruption late Saturday night / early Sunday morning each time.

This post has been stickied until maintenance is complete.  Regular content appears below.

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Saturday, July 21


Daily News Stuff 21 July 2018

Tech News

  • Dell doesn't skimp on SSDs.  Rally turns out to have a very nice Toshiba XG5 which is not far short of the gold standard of the Samsung 970.  Only problem is it's kind of small for my needs at 256GB.

    If Dell refreshes their AMD Inspiron 27 lineup, there's a few things I'd like them to do:

    • Use the new LCD panel (as found in Rally Vincent), which is brighter and has a better colour gamut.  The old panel was good but a bit muted.  (I can't get any more detailed information from the control panel.)

    • Enable full USB 3.1 gen 2 (10Gbit).  Five USB 3.0 ports is nice, but it's a bit disappointing that they are "only" 5.0Gbit.

      Or Thunderbolt or USB 3.2, if either is practical.  But at least full speed USB 3.1.

    • Have some build-to-order options, or at least a higher-end model.  8 cores and an 8GB RX 580 is great, but 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD, and 1TB disk are all on the small side.  And with only two RAM slots, one M.2 slot, and one drive bay, upgrading means removing the old one.

    • Even better, make room for more internal options.  Four RAM slots would be a huge win, as would a second M.2 slot, even if it's slower bcause you ran out of PCIe lanes.  Consider ditching or shrinking the subwoofer and using the reclaimed space for a second 2.5" drive bay. It's not a very good subwoofer anyway.

    • Move the webcam up top like you've done with the Intel models.

    • While you're at it, 10Gbit ethernet would be great, since it's not something that can be readily upgraded.  (Or can it?  I need to check the service manual.  One reason I got these things is that almost everything is replaceable.)

  • It's all about the octo-onions or something  (via Hacker News)

    (Beyond real numbers and complex numbers, there are two more types of number - quaternions and octonions.  Quaternions are the core of computer graphics;  your graphics card is a huge array of quaternion calculators.  And that's it - there are no other generall useful types of number.  While our games are built of quaternions, it seems reality might be constructed of octonions.)

  • Reddit have redisigned their site to increase density.  It's kind of bad.  Density is not a design goal.

  • Apparently HP bought SGI at some point and I missed it.  Should have happened sooner while there was more left of SGI to buy.  Anyway, they have a new supercomputer if you are in the market for brains in a box.  (ServeTheHome)

  • Ceci n'est pas une iPhone.  (Motherboard, via Six Colors)

  • Is data pollution the new air pollution?  Connected cars may generate 1.5 million petabytes of data per year by 2020.  Which isn't far away at all.  F1 cars currently genreate 36TB of data over the course of a single race.  Self-driving cars can generate 1TB per hour.  (SemiEngineering, Barrons)

  • Chuwi has a nice looking toaster that doubles as a Windows PCVideo (via Fanless Tech)

    There's something very similar available from Australian retailer of cheap Chinese-manufactured goodies for A$219 (4GB/32GB).  That includes sales tax, and works out to US$160, which is a lot better than the Chuwi version at $240.  I'm tempted to buy one, throw in a spare 2.5" drive, and leave it to run Linux stuff for me, like tracking the Ethereum and Stellar ledgers.

    Update: Looks like the Kogan device is a rebadged ACEPC AK1.  Getting Linux working is possible but fiddly.  I've had that Grub problem on older servers as well, but Ubuntu 18.04 seems to fix it.

Picture of the Day
Brought to you by the Space Travellers Aid Bureau

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Friday, July 20


Daily News Stuff 20 July 2018

Tech News

  • Huawei moves to the Cortex A73 for its mid-range Kirin 710 SoC.  The A73 is close to twice as fast as the ubiquitous A53, so this is good news for cheaper phones and tablets.  (Fudzilla)

  • Google Cloud fell down.  More specifically, their load balancers fell down.  One of the key apps at my day job - with a ton of active users - is on Google Cloud and didn't so much as hiccup, because we just use DNS for load balancing and none of this fancy stuff. 

    Of course, the people using Google's load balancers are precisely the people most concerned about keeping their sites up and running.  (via Hacker News)

  • Western Digital is shipping ship shipping ships shipping shipping ships...  Sorry.  Is shipping 1.33 terabit QLC flash chips.  Most SSDs are MLC (2 bits per cell) or TLC (3 bits per cell), with an SLC (one bit per cell) cache for performance.  QLC is 4 bits for cell - hence the odd capacity; they've taken an existing 1Tb TLC design and updated it with a QLC controller.

    Upside is it's cheaper, downside is it's somewhat slower and has a shorter lifespan.  The long term plan is for QLC to largely replace spinning media. (Guru3d)

  • Why won't the Parker Solar Probe melt?  It's landing at night, obviously.  (Phys.Org)

Picture of the Day

Ship-shipping ships shipping shipping ships.

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Thursday, July 19


Daily News Stuff 19 July 2018

Tech News

Picture of the Day

By @NOEYEBROW313 on Twitter

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Wednesday, July 18


Daily News Stuff 18 July 2018

Tech News

  • AnandTech reports on VirtualLink - a new standard connector for VR headsets combining DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.1, and power delivery, so you aren't tethered to your desk by three separate cables.

    Hidden away in the article is this little tidbit: Version 1.3 of the USB-C standard allows you to take over the four USB 2.0 pins in alt-mode, and convert them to another bidirectional high-speed lane.  (Or two lanes for output only.)  Potentially, that means a 50% increase in throughput using existing cables - perhaps a 30Gbps USB 3.3 is in the cards, falling back to USB 3.2/3.1 as needed?  (AnandTech)

  • Backblaze blogs about their eleven-nines file durability and why, after the first few nines, that doesn't mean anything.  (via Hacker News)

  • Apple's new top of the line i9 MacBook Pro can't maintain the stated base speed of its CPU due to thermal throttling - to the point that it can be slower than the cheaper i7 model.   Video

  • If the Windows 1803 update left you with a useless disk partition containing OEM files that you can't access anyway here's how to fix it without breaking your computer.

Picture of the Day

By @NOEYEBROW313 on Twitter

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Tuesday, July 17


Daily News Stuff 17 July 2018

Tech News

  • Samsung announces LPDDR5 for next-generation mobile devices, with transfer rates up to 6.4Gbps.  That's 50% faster than their already very fast LPDDR4X. (AnandTech)

  • Amazon's day was sub-prime.  (TechCrunch)

  • ServeTheHome reviews the Intel Xeon Gold 5117 and the title sums it all up, really:

    Intel Xeon Gold 5117 Benchmarks and Review Why Bother 

    Verdict: Get an AMD EPYC instead.  (ServeTheHome)

Picture of the Day

A dragon hatching on Mount Colima, captured by Sergio Tapiro


Ubuntu 16.04 up and running in a VM on Rally

With MongoDB 4.0 and MySQL 8.0 and all those bits.

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Monday, July 16


Daily News Stuff 16 July 2018

Tech News

  • If you have two Dell Inspiron 7775s and cross link them via HDMI and configure one of them to use Radeon EyeFinity and then switch the other one to show internal video again, well, just don't do that.

    Normal Windows multi-display support seems to work just fine.  (Typing on Rally as a second screen for Tohru right now.)

  • Nvidia's Jepson embedded AI board supports PCIe 4.0 - and also 56 Gbps serdes.

    PCIe 1.0 was 2.5 Gbps, 2.0 was 5 Gbps, 3.0 is 8 Gbps but uses more efficient encoding, so it's very close to double the speed of 2.0.  PCIe 4.0 is 16 Gbps, and 5.0 will be 32 Gbps.  A lot of attention recently has been on 56 and 112 Gbps signalling, so this is set to continue for a while yet.  (WCCFTech)

  • Serverless is the big new buzzword for people who don't need to write real software.  Now you can serverless in QBasic.  (via Hacker News)

  • How will AMD's upcoming 32-core Threadripper CPU perform?  Well, we can get a good idea by overclocking AMD's existing 32-core EPYC CPUs.  The Threadripper will be Zen+ rather than Zen, so it will benefit from a faster cache and 12nm fabrication, but the core design and interconnect is identical.  32 cores at 4GHz, albeit with an external chiller similar to Intel's Computex demo.  Threadripper 2 will run on air cooling...  With a heatsink the size of a shoebox.  (via Reddit)

Picture of the Day

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Literally.  Zero degrees C overnight in my part of Sydney, and -3 in the western suburbs.  Not something that would fret those who live in temperate climes, but Sydney is subtropical; it hardly ever actually freezes here.


Update: Official low at the closest government weather station was 1.4C last night, and a rather brisk -4C out in Richmond.

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Sunday, July 15


Daily News Stuff 15 July 2018

Tech News

Picture of the Day

Chicago, 1969

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I May Have Goofed Slightly

I got my new computer.  Yay!

I got it up and running with no problems at all.  Yay!

I plugged it in as a second screen for my existing computer, and it worked immediately.  Yay!

The colour temperature, brightness, and gamut of the new display are noticeably different to the old one.  Oh, well, we can adjust -

When using it as a second display, it forgets all your adjustments and uses the defaults.

Rats.  Maybe there's a per-display adjustment I can do from the video card side of things.

Update: Yes!  Not full control, but I have full control of one display and brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation on the other.  They still don't match quite perfectly, but it's actually a closer match than my previous second screen.  I can't quite solve the contrast and gamut differences, because it seems that the new panel is just plain better than the old one.  I'll survive.

I once bought two Samsung professional IPS displays - from the same store, on the same day - that had as much difference as this.

And the fancy multi-system bluetooth keyboard and moose are now attached to both systems as well.

Update 2: Running Rally as a second screen for Tohru works, but not vice-versa.  I might just need a new HDMI cable; I haven't tried that one at 4K/60Hz before.  It syncs at first, then drops the picture and generally messes up.

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