Dear Santa, thank you for the dolls and pencils and the fish. It's Easter now, so I hope I didn't wake you but... honest, it is an emergency. There's a crack in my wall. Aunt Sharon says it's just an ordinary crack, but I know its not cause at night there's voices so... please please can you send someone to fix it? Or a policeman, or...
Back in a moment.
Thank you Santa.

Saturday, October 13


Daily News Stuff 13 October 2018

Tech News

Social Media News

  • Remember Facebook's data breach affecting 50 million people?  Remember how it was possible that as well as your private details, your access tokens (OAuth) might have been leaked?

    Well, that second, even worse problem affects 30 million people.  (Bleeping Computer)

    If you're using OAuth in an app, you need to be looking seriously at notifying users and requiring 2FA when they log in from a new device.

Video of the Day

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Friday, October 12


Daily News Stuff 12 October 2018

Tech News

  • Razer announced the Razer Phone 2.  (AnandTech)

    It's a phone.  It does game stuff.  It has a 5.7" 2560x1440 120Hz HDR display, a Snapdragon 845, 8GB RAM, and 64GB of storage.  Dual exposed front-facing speakers as well, so sound will be better than most.  No headphone jack though.

  • Huawei announced the Honor 8X.  (Anandtech)

    It's a phone.  It does big screen stuff.  It has a 6.5" 2340x1080 display, up to 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, and a Kirin 710 CPU.

  • Samsung announced the Galaxy A9.  (AnandTech)

    It's a phone.  It does camera stuff.

    Exact CPU is not specified, but it has 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, a 6.3" 2220x1080 AMOLED display, and one-two-three-four-five cameras.

    That's a 24MP front-facing camera, a 24MP rear main camera, an 8MP rear 120° wide angle camera, a 10MP rear zoom camera, and a 5MP depth-of-field camera.  The last camera is used in combination with the others to improve the image quality.

  • An IBM PC emulator in 4043 bytes.

  • Tomas Bohr - Niels Bohr's grandson - investigated to see if there could be a classical solution to quantum mechanics along the lines of de Broglie's pilot waves.  Nope.  Turns out grandpa was right all along.  Bohr the Younger came up with a thought experiment that would decide the matter one way or the other - and then conducted the experiment for real. 

    This is cool, but not a surprise to most physicists, who are firmly in the "the Universe is fundamentally weird" camp.

  • Google's Pixel 3 supports wireless charging and works with a Samsung charging pad.  (Android Central)

    So does the Nexus 4, from 2012.

  • In Australia?  Can't buy the Pixel Slate?  Too bloody expensive anyway?  Missed out on HP's September sale?

    No worries mate!  HP's October sale has the same Spectre x2 with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD, including keyboard and pen, for the same A$1350 including tax and delivery.  Again, that's about the same price as the entry level Celeron/4GB/32GB Pixel Slate with keyboard and pen.

Social Media News

Video of the Day

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Thursday, October 11


Daily News Stuff 11 October 2018

Tech News

Social Media News

Video of the Day

Full episodes are now showing up on YouTube, all legal and stuff.

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Post contains 208 words, total size 2 kb.

Wednesday, October 10


Daily News Stuff 10 October 2018

Tech News
  • Intel announced their brand new 8 core mainstream processors - expensive but good.  They showed off benchmarks that displayed the benefits of the new chips relative to AMD's own 8 core mainstream processors.

    Reviewers are under embargo until the 19th, so no detailed benchmarks are available except for the official Intel ones.

    Which are a bit...  Odd.

    The Intel results seem fine - mostly - but the comparison AMD results are...  Off.  Lower than they should be.

    Almost as if the AMD CPU had been, I don't know, artificially limited by inappropriate settings and software.

  • Things just keep getting worse for Bloomberg.  Another of their sources has spoken out against the Ricegate article saying that his research has been misrepresented.  (Serve the Home)
    Specifically, this researcher has seen hardware hacks on specific individual servers, not limited to SuperMicro, and not done as part of a production run, but added after the fact and switched during shipment.

    Bloomberg, meanwhile, is refusing interviews and instead has published a new article alleging that unnamed sources say that unnamed unspecified chips added to unknown motherboards at an indeterminate manufacturer were used to break security at an unmentioned major US phone company.  Every major US telco has gone on record to deny this.  (Ars Technica)  [Don't read the comments.  After the first page it's complete crazy town.]

    Bloomberg seem to have gone full Dan Rather.  Maybe they'll be vindicated, but I rather (hah) doubt that.

  • TSMC has taped out their first second-generation 7nm parts with 5nm to enter risk production in Q2 2019.  (AnandTech)

    Intel is still hoping to get 10nm parts into mass production by the end of 2019, which will put them roughly in parity with TSMC's first generation 7nm.  (The numbers are about 40% real and 60% marketing fluff.)

    [While this is bad for Intel, having multiple companies on a roughly level playing field is good for the consumer in the long term.  Intel clearly held back technology from consumers for many years because of a lack of competition, as we can see by how quickly they released 6 and 8 core parts after AMD challenged them with Ryzen.]

    TSMC's 5nm is about 45% smaller than their 7nm process, but only uses 20% less power.  So you can roughly double the number of transistors on a chip, but that would lead to a 60% increase in power consumption.

    This sort of thing is why Nvidia have divided their new GPUs into specific modules for rasterisation, ray-tracing, and AI.  If all you're doing is rasterisation, the other modules can sit idle and not use any power.  And since the rasterisation cores don't need to be able to do ray-tracing or AI, they can be kept simple and power-efficient.

    Expect to see a lot more of that in the future as we head on down to 3nm.

  • Google announced the Pixel Slate, their first ChromeOS tablet.  (AnandTech)

    It's a 12.3" device with a 3000x2000 display and a detachable keyboard and optional pen, with up to a Core i7 CPU and 16GB RAM.

    Waaaait a minute....

    Yeah, it's pretty much the same hardware as my Spectre x2, though with slightly better battery life, a lot less storage (maximum is 256GB), only one USB port, and way more expensive.  Starting at US$599 for the 4GB model with a Celeron CPU and just 32GB of storage, plus $100 for the pen and $200 for the keyboard, the cheapest config runs as much as I paid for the Spectre x2 with a Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 1TB of SSD.

    Fortunately that doesn't matter because it's not available in Australia at all.  (Finder)

    Also, why would anyone even want a premium ChromeOS tablet?  Cheap Chrome laptops for education, absolutely, but a tablet that runs close to US$2000 when fully configured?

  • Google also released the Pixel 3.  (Android Central)

    It's a phone.  It does phone stuff.

  • Evil-doers are using the EU's fictional right to be forgotten to erase stories about them using the EU's fictional right to be forgotten to erase stories about their evil-doing.  (TechDirt)

    Everything goes down the memory hole.

  • Microsoft may be looking to buy Obsidian.  (WCCFTech)

    I'm okay with that.  If anyone is going to buy Obsidian, I'd prefer it to be Microsoft.  But WCCFTech, so take it with a pound of salt.

  • Boltons is a collection of small libraries for Python that augment the builtins.  Hence the name.

    Supports 2.6, 2.7, 3.3 and up, and PyPy.

  • RedHat's Flatpak considered harmful?

Video of the Day

Everyone's forgotten Bloomberg already, it's time to pile on Intel.

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Tuesday, October 09


Daily News Stuff 9 October 2018

Tech News

  • That Bloomberg China rice chip hacking story continues to spiral down the plughole.  Risky Business has an update to their earlier podcast including an extensive and enlightening interview with one of Bloomberg's sources, who has, um, reservations about the story as published. 

    Specifically, he notes that Bloomberg seems to have taken hypothetical instances he provided as background information, "confirmed" them with other sources, and printed them as fact.
  • Intel's 9th generation chips are here.  (AnandTech)

    The leaks had every detail exactly right, so the launch is not especially exciting.  They are, nevertheless, great chips, reclaiming the high ground of the mainstream desktop from AMD, albeit at a higher price.  AMD is set to fire back with 7nm parts at CES in January.

    Top of the line i9-9900K has 8 cores and 16 threads for $488.  That's not cheap, but it's half the price of earlier 8 core chips from Intel.

    The i7-9700K and i5-9600K have the usual pricing, 8 cores and 6 cores respectively, and no hyperthreading.  That means that performance for those parts is basically unchanged from 8th generation - more cores, but fewer threads.

    They also have fixes for some of the Spectre / Meltdown security bugs - except on the top-of-the-line 28 core parts.  That will have to wait until next year.

  • Google+ is dead sunsetted.  (TechCrunch)

    They had a data breach affecting 496,951 users - not passwords, but names, addresses, occupations and stuff like that.

    So 1/100th the size and far less severe than the Facebook breach.  I guess Google was looking to pull the plug anyway.

    Jason Snell adds:
    Sunset as a verb means what you might think it means. It’s moving to a farm upstate. It’s going to a better place. It’s following Frodo to Valinor, the Undying Lands across the sea to the west. Where does the sun set? Where Frodo is, probably happy and playing with your childhood pets every day. It is an ex-service.
      (Six Colors)
  • Amazon has home brands.  (Quartz)

    Which is good, because half the stuff on Amazon is either garbage or fake, or fake garbage.

  • Urmila Mahadev has solved a surprising - and surprisingly difficult - problem in quantum computing: How to tell if a quantum computer has actually quantumed.  (Quanta)

Video of the Day

I'd give the pilot of Series 11 a solid B.  It's no Eleventh Hour, but it lays good groundwork.  Jodie Whittaker does well and I think will be an excellent Doctor.  Cringe factor is quite low in the episode itself, though the surrounding materials are apparently triple-distilled.  (I avoided most of them.)

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Monday, October 08


Daily News Stuff 8 October 2018

Tech News

Video of the Day

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Post contains 218 words, total size 3 kb.

Sunday, October 07


Daily News Stuff 7 October 2018

Tech News

  • The Bloomberg hacking story, which would be the biggest tech story of the year if it were true, has disappeared without a trace.

  • Microsoft has pulled the Windows 10 October Update.  (ZDNet)

    If you've already downloaded it but not installed, probably best not to install at all.  It seems in rare cases it can lose files from your system drive, though they are recoverable.

  • Update your Git.  (Bleeping Computer)

    Not sure how critical this really is.  Downloading a malicious project using Git could infect your computer, but if you download a malicious project, you just downloaded a malicious project.

    I guess if someone managed to slip this into a popular project it would be a great infection vector, but that's fixed now.

Enjoy your weekend, and your long weekend if you have one!

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Saturday, October 06


Daily News Stuff 6 October 2018

Tech News

Social Media News

Video of the Day

Sure, the second theme song is the classic everyone recognises, but I really like this one as well.

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Friday, October 05


Daily News Stuff 5 October 2018

Tech News

  • The top story of the day is The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies. (Bloomberg)

    The story is that a tiny chip - smaller than a grain of rice - was added to certain SuperMicro motherboards, used by companies including Apple and Amazon and various US government departments, that would subvert the security of the BMC module (a sort of remote control for servers) and allow hackers arbitrary remote access.

    The story has been corroborated by official statements from Apple and Amazon.

    No, wait, not corroborated, what's the other one? Excoriated.

    They did everything but declare Bloomberg anathema and launch a holy war, and I wouldn't be all that surprised if that happens tomorrow.

    Over the course of the past year, Bloomberg has contacted us multiple times with claims, sometimes vague and sometimes elaborate, of an alleged security incident at Apple. Each time, we have conducted rigorous internal investigations based on their inquiries and each time we have found absolutely no evidence to support any of them. We have repeatedly and consistently offered factual responses, on the record, refuting virtually every aspect of Bloomberg’s story relating to Apple.

    On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, "hardware manipulations” or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server. Apple never had any contact with the FBI or any other agency about such an incident. We are not aware of any investigation by the FBI, nor are our contacts in law enforcement.
    Today, Bloomberg BusinessWeek published a story claiming that AWS was aware of modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in Elemental Media’s hardware at the time Amazon acquired Elemental in 2015, and that Amazon was aware of modified hardware or chips in AWS’s China Region.

    As we shared with Bloomberg BusinessWeek multiple times over the last couple months, this is untrue. At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government.

    There are so many inaccuracies in ‎this article as it relates to Amazon that they’re hard to count. We will name only a few of them here. First, when Amazon was considering acquiring Elemental, we did a lot of due diligence with our own security team, and also commissioned a single external security company to do a security assessment for us as well. That report did not identify any issues with modified chips or hardware. As is typical with most of these audits, it offered some recommended areas to remediate, and we fixed all critical issues before the acquisition closed. This was the sole external security report commissioned. Bloomberg has admittedly never seen our commissioned security report nor any other (and refused to share any details of any purported other report with us).
    So far there is no independent verification of any of Bloomberg's claims. All their sources are anonymous, and none have spoken to any other news outlet.

    There's basically two ways this can go: Either two of the world's largest companies just invited regulators and class-action lawyers to tapdance on their heads, or Bloomberg just proved once again that those layers and layers of fact-checkers are less use than a fishnet umbrella on the Moon.

    Serve the Home is dubious and adds this:
    First and foremost, I think we need to call for an immediate SEC investigation around anyone who has recently taken short positions or sold shares in Supermicro. With the accompanying Supermicro stock price hit that was foreseeable prior to the story, if anyone knew the story would be published, and acted on that non-public or classified information, the SEC needs to take action. There seems to have been over 20 people that knew about this.

    This article by the grugq [seriously] delves deeper.  His conclusion: BMC is an active threat in itself, but the Bloomberg story fails in achieving even basic standards of verification.

    My take on all this - provisional, pending actual evidence - is that Bloomberg got played.  And they got played because they are morons.

    interested in getting a security story out would take it to Bloomberg - they are completely and utterly incompetent to evaluate such claims, or even to research the story.

    Any actual security researcher would have a field day with this.  Any skilled security researcher would have it blown wide open inside a week.  Bloomberg took three years to report on it, and at the end, they still have nothing to show but anonymous hearsay.

    Who perpetrated the hoax, and for what reasons, is an open question, and we may see hints based on which three letter agency shows up to ask pointed questions of the idiots at Bloomberg.

    As a side note: Any tech journalist who is still reporting this as "well sourced" is not to be trusted about anything, not even reading press releases verbatim.

  • Nokia is making phones again. (AnandTech)

    More than that, they seem to be making really good phones.

Social Media News

Video of the Day

Toucan play at that game.

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Thursday, October 04


Daily News Stuff 4 October 2018

Tech News

Social Media News

Video of the Day

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