Meet you back here in half an hour.
What are you going to do?
What I always do - stay out of trouble... Badly.

Tuesday, August 21


Daily News Stuff 21 August 2018

Tech News

  • Paper launch day for Nvidia's RTX 2000 family.  Cards will actually be available following Talk Like a Pirate Day.  (I don't know why either.)  (AnandTech)

    Despite WCCFTech being WCCFTech, their leaks on these cards were 100% accurate.  Top of the line 2080 Ti will have 4352 shaders and 11GB of 14Gbps GDDR6 memory.

    More interesting (potentially) is that these are the new Turing architecture with Tensor cores for AI processing and a dedicated ray-tracing unit.  When Nvidia talk about huge performance gains, they are talking about these new functions, not about the actual graphics, which look to be only 10-20% faster depending on the card. 

    Also, price increases across the board, so you have that to look forward to.  Though to be fair, these are far cheaper than the recently announced professional versions, and I don't think you'll find the same AI or ray-tracing performance cheaper anywhere.

  • The annual Hot Chips conference is on and one of the first presentations is on Samsung's M3 chip, a high-end fully custom ARM design.  Samsung are working to catch up with Apple here, because Qualcomm are dragging their feet in that department.  (AnandTech)

  • Apple may release a new MacBook Air and a replacement for the 97-year-old Mac Mini.  Or not.  (Bloomberg, via Tom's Hardware)

  • Shuttle announced this chunky little nugget.  (WCCFTech)
    No, I don't know why either.

  • Template languages always end up Turing complete.  The Minx template language is Turing complete, if you really want to do that.  (Well, mostly.  The template engine solves the Halting Problem by nuking your page if your template code issues too many instructions.)

    So either plan for that, or don't implement a template language.

  • There is a new vulnerability that impacts everything.  Unless there isn't or it doesn't.  It gave me a headache and I closed the page, and now I've lost the link.  Just assume you've already been hacked and everything is gone.

Social Media News

  • Turkeys of a feather flock together.  Does that chart stack vertically, or overlap?  Either way, it's bad.  Turkey is responsible for something between 40% and 80% of the censored Twitter accounts worldwide, depending.  (Techdirt)

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Monday, August 20


Daily News Stuff 20 August 2018

Tech News

  • JavaScript client and server apps are vulnerable to regex attacks.  (Bleeping Computer)

    Well, the headline refers to JavaScript, but the real culprit is single-threaded event-driven model for server applications.  We invented multitasking for a reason, you clowns.  All these problems were solved in the early sixties, but nooo, you had to go and reinvent everything.

  • Slow news day, busy work day.  More tomorrow.

Anime News

  • There's a 4K remaster of Cardcaptor Sakura.  I have the remastered 1080p Blu-Ray edition of Bubblegum Crisis, and it looks great, but this is the first I've heard of an anime series going 4K.  It was done on 35mm film, so the resolution is there, but the detail isn't.  I don't know if they've touched up the art; they didn't do that for the El Hazard re-release, which does look great, but the resolution allows you to see all the flaws in the original hand-painted cels.

    Update: Ah, it looks like they remastered it in 4K but released it in 1080p.  That makes sense - there's no point in remastering it twice, there's not point in going higher than 4K, and there's no much point in releasing it at higher than 1080p right now.

Pixy is Watching

The entire damn Index / Railgun saga or bust.

Videos of the Day

The opening credit sequence for Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi) is one of my favourite in all of anime.  It tells you everything that will happen in the show without spoiling it; only after watching the show can you see the layers of significance in each frame.

Oh, and the song is good too.

Some guy in his mom's basement (seriously, that's the name of his YouTube channel) analyses it much more deeply than I ever did and shows just how much attention to detail goes into the creation of a good opening sequence.

SPOILER WARNING: The credits above are safe to watch, but DO NOT watch the analysis below if you haven't seen the show already.  (And if you haven't seen Erased, watch it, it's great.)

Also, I never noticed there were two versions of this.  Totally missed it.  And the difference is hugely significant.

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Sunday, August 19


Daily News Stuff 19 August 2018

Tech News

  • The T2 chip in the new MacBook Pro crashes randomly.
    The T2 chip controls the touchbar.  Oh, and also storage encryption.  So if it stops working it bricks your laptop.  It does automatically reboot after crashes, but it would be kind of nice if it didn't crash in the first place.

    Here's a thirty-seven page forum thread from users whose $4800 MacBooks crashed with related errors.  (MacRumors)

  • If you read AnandTech's Threadripperoo review before, well, they've updated it slightly.  Like, another 12,000 words.  (AnandTech)

  • The wonderful thing about standards, is standards are wonderful things.  Wait, no, that's tiggers.  Meanwhile here's 13 next-generation form factors for high density NVMe SSDs.  (AnandTech)

  • Testing AMD's StoreMI with Intel's Optane produces terrible results.  Credit to Linus for persisting and finding out why - not a fault specifically in either product, but StoreMI likes to cache everything, and a 32GB Optane drive isn't big enough to produce good results on huge game files.  Giving it 256GB of SSD for the cache fixed everything.

    But warning: Once you have used a drive under StoreMI you have to hard reformat it before you can use it anywhere else.

    Oh, wait, now you don't need to watch the video.  Oops.

Video of the Day

Building the how fucking much?!

Picture of the Day

Looking for a house?  Art by Atna joy.

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Saturday, August 18


Daily News Stuff 18 August 2018

Tech News

  • RAM prices may drop 25% next year. (Tom's Hardware)

    Well, it's a start, but it would still leave prices at more than twice their low point five years ago.

  • ARM unveiled their client CPU roadmap and intentions to challenge Intel. (AnandTech)

    Ooh! New architecture?


    Well, new cores then?


    So... Marketing?


  • MSI's PS42 laptop is a 14" model with 1080p screen (adequate), quad core CPU (good), optional discrete GPU (great - oh, it's a crappy MX150, never mind) and A SENSIBLE KEYBOARD LAYOUT. (AnandTech)
    Wait, why is the trackpad all the way over there? And... Is that the webcam? DAMMIT MSI!

  • New Jersey's court IT is run by idiots. Claiming changes done in order to comply with NIST recommendations, they have done exactly what NIST recommends against - maximum (not minimum!) password lengths, mandatory expiry, and security questions. (TechDirt)

  • FASTER is a fast open source key-value store (the core of a database) from Microsoft. How fast? Up to 160 million operations per second fast.

    Ooh! It supports some sort of binary tree for sorting?

    No, only hashes. (PDF)

    Well fuck.

    (You can build any data structure on top of a binary tree. You can only build unordered structures on top of a hash, which is far more constraining.)

  • 24 cores and I can't type an email.

    A day in the life of a Chrome developer at Google gives you great insight into why everything sucks so much on modern computers.

  • The Protectli FW4A is a four-port firewall appliance for small(ish) offices. Install your own OS - there are various BSD and Linux distributions designed for exactly this. All the network controllers are Intel, so it should be compatible with anything and everything. (ServeTheHome)

    The thing I noted is that it has a VGA port. That's pretty much essential because the alternative is rigging a serial connection somehow. But I don't have anything on my desk that takes VGA in - I'd have to dig an old monitor out of the spare room.

    Its big brother (sister?) the FW6A has six ports (fairly obvious) and includes HDMI. It's not much more expensive - $419 vs $349 including memory and storage, and includes a lot more USB ports - and you don't need to dumpster dive for a monitor to set it up. Go for that one. Or just air gap your coworkers, that's pretty good too.

  • Princess Evolution RaaS is not a poorly translated FM Towns game from 1993. Well, it might be that too, who knows. But the gameplay in the 2018 version sucks. (Bleeping Computer)

  • AMD is now shipping their 35W low-power desktop APUs, the 2200GE and 2400GE. These have the same specs as the 2200G and 2400G except for clock speed. Capped at 35W instead of 65W they will throttle under load much sooner. (FanlessTech)

    AMD is also believed to be planning a 45W high-power laptop chip to complement their existing 25W laptop parts. And when I say "believed to be planning" I mean "everything except the price and ship date has been leaked".

Social Media News

Video of the Day

Intel is run by poopy heads.

Music Video of the Day

Picture of the Day

Pixel pirates from PixelJoint. This was cut into tiles and created by 33 different artists, but works very well on the whole.

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Friday, August 17


Daily News Stuff 17 August 2018

Tech News

  • RetroManCave reviews the Sharp X68000 Pro.

    The original X68000 with its distinctive dual vertical slices pops up in manga from time to time.

    Art by @xiao_woo.  Frequently NSFW.

  • Google says "We don't collect your location if you turn location tracking off.  We don't do that.  We don't.  Okay, we collect a little bit.  Rather a lot, really."  (Tom's Hardware)

  • Microsoft's Cortana exposed as double-agent.  (Tom's Hardware)

    If you had certain "skills" enabled, locking your computer didn't really do much, because Cortana is still active.  This is fixed in the most recent Windows 10 update, which is why it's being publicly announced now.

  • As any D&D player knows, you need to use fire to properly kill a troll.  Works on patent trolls too.  (TechDirt)

  • NVIDIA's 2080 Ti might have 4352 shaders and 14Gbps GDDR6 RAM up from 3584 shaders and 11Gbps GDDR5X RAM on the 1080 Ti.  (WCCFTech)

    Normally I suggest taking anything from WCCFTech with a pound of salt, but this is so unexciting that it's probably entirely accurate.

  • TinyWL is a Wayland compositor in 500 lines of C.  That's more than 39 lines of Python, but these things are commonly enormous masses of unreadable code, so it's nice to see.

  • If you need a 56 core dual Xeon workstation with 768GB RAM and 7.1 audio the Supermicro X11DAC might be the motherboard for you.  (ServeTheHome)

    One caveat: It has 16 DIMM slots.  It has 12 memory channels.  16 is not divisible by 12.  (Apple shipped a Mac Pro with a similar arrangement, years ago.)

  • After noting that AMD's 32 core 2990WX runs dramatically faster on Linux than on Windows 10, Phoronix went back and ran those tests under Windows Server as well, both 2016 and the 2019 preview.

    Windows Server was generally no better and sometimes significantly worse.  (Phoronix)

    Linux has the benefit here of having been ported to hundreds of weird architectures over the years.  The unbalanced memory paths of the 2990WX are nothing compared to some of the crazy shit out there.

  • Mozilla has stomped on another 23 nosy browser extensions.  Which means they will be automatically disabled in your browser, so no particular need to worry.  (Bleeping Computer)

Social Media News

Chip Diagram of the Day

AMD's Zeppelin die has 32 lanes of PCIe, but only 24 are available in Ryzen CPUs.  Where did the rest go?  This diagram from Wikichip explains it.

If you look at this diagram, the chip doesn't just have 8 cores, 20MB cache, and 32 PCIe lanes.  It also has four ethernet ports, four USB 3 ports, and eight SATA ports.  All of those - a total of 48 potential connectors - go into a switch and then are routed out to 32 multi-function I/O lanes.  

AMD offers chipsetless chipsets for Ryzen - the A300, B300, and X300.  These low-cost parts have no I/O features at all, and instead rely on the USB and SATA ports built in to the CPU.  That ties up pins that would otherwise be available for PCIe, leaving a maximum of 24 total PCIe lanes available.  All the functionality is there, but you run out of CPU pins trying to connect to it all at the same time.

(Those 12G PHYs are just what you think - they run at up to 12Gbps, 50% faster than PCIe 3.0 and twice as fast as SATA.  This speed is used for socket interconnect on dual CPU EPYC servers, but not on desktop Ryzen parts.)

Picture of the Day

Bake-o-Mat, the better bread boffins!  Fresh baked in 9 seconds using ATOMIC ENERGY!

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Thursday, August 16


Daily News Stuff 16 August 2018

Tech News

  • SemiEngineering offers a roundup of new memory technologies including Intel's 3D XPoint / Optane, how each works, and what we can expect. Some of these are already shipping in products, though not even Optane has made it to the mainstream yet. (SemiEngineering)

  • Istio is a thing what does stuff with bits. If you read that article and end up crosseyed, don't worry, I do this for a living and it had the same effect on me. (The Next Platform)

  • TinyWM is a window manager in 50 lines of C.  Or 39 lines of Python if you prefer.

  • Badly behaved MacOS apps can click on security alerts to grant themselves access to your computer.

    This is not good. (Bleeping Computer)

  • The Australian government is run by idiots. And this is the good bunch, of the two choices of idiots.  They are proposing to force back doors into all cryptographic security, without, they claim, weakening the security.  Which is a mathematical impossibility, but there you have it.

Social Media News

  • Twitter is run by idiots.
  • Twitter's app ecosystem is imploding with API features being cut with no clear guidelines for how the replacement methods will work or what they will cost developers. Some apps have cut functionality, others have shut down entirely.

    Twitter did offer some sample pricing for very small numbers of users. Only problem is, it's insane:
    Pricing for Premium access is $2,899 per month for 250 users. To cover this cost, a third-party app would need to charge over $16 per month to break even.

Video of the Day

I've posted this one before but I really like it so here it is again.  Also, I now know what the expression "crab bucket" means, having recently re-read Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals.

Bonus Video of the Day

I was looking for the opening credits.  Couldn't find a good version, but the entire series is on YouTube, so whatevs.

Picture of the Day

Still no NBN.  Art by Li Chen of Exocomics.

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Wednesday, August 15


Daily News Stuff 15 August 2018

Tech News

  • For Intel, it's a new day so there's a new speculative execution vulnerability. This one is called Foreshadow by researchers and L1TF by Intel - Level 1 Terminal Fault because it relates to the level 1 cache permission checking termination logic. (Ars Technica)

    Fortunately I didn't get around to migrating to Digital Ocean just yet. We run VMs for - half a dozen of them with more on the way - but on dedicated rather than shared hardware, so this exploit mostly doesn't apply. (Digital Ocean)

    An interesting point is that Intel has already provided a patch that largely resolves the problem, unless you are running hyperthreading. I'm not sure about other cloud providers, but my understanding is that Amazon run customer-specific CPUs with hyperthreading disabled, and have done for years. As core counts increase we may start seeing a trend towards disabling hyperthreading by default - as seen in the upcoming eight core i7 chips. (Or so rumour has it.)

  • Google still tracks your location when you turn off location tracking. Because "don't be evil" got too complicated. (Fudzilla)

  • NVIDIA's new high-end graphics cards are using Samsung's new 16Gb GDDR6 memory. This is another thing that will trickle down to consumer parts fairly quickly. It's 40% faster than the fastest commonly-used GDDR5 memory (14Gbps vs. 10Gbps).

  • Faxes are now haxes. Network-attached multi-function printers too. (The Register)

    If you have an HP multi-function printer on your network, the time to update the firmware is right now. Some of the more recent models apparently update themselves automatically, but it's definitely something to check. You may have a wonderful high-tech firewall that blocks every single thing, but hackers can just dial straight in to your fax machine.

    This sort of thing has been going on for some time, really. There was a story years ago about a company that kept having outbreaks of computer viruses even after patching every single PC and server on the network.

    Turned out the source of the infection was a colour laser printer, which had an internal hard drive for storing fonts and print jobs.... And viruses.

  • PCWorld tested the Threadripper 2990WX just like everyone else (not me) and found something interesting.  Though it trails behind the fastest Intel chips on some tests (because of memory latency, OS scheduling, or something else) that's when you are testing one application at a time.

    They tried running Blender and Cinebench at the same time - and it ran Cinebench as fast as the 18 core Intel i9-7980X running Cinebench alone.  (PCWorld)

Social Media News

  • Twitter have apparently Level Two Restricted Alex Jones' account. Not suspended, but restricted, so his account is still active and his tweets are still up, he just can't tweet any more for a few days. (CNet)

    I have had two Level 2 restrictions and seventy-one Level One restrictions so far this year. The most recent was this:
    Alex Jones is like tiny baby.

  • TechDirt has some nice You CAN yell FIRE! in a crowded theatre t-shirts.

  • TwitterSafety says: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Video of the Day

Cat Video of the Day

Wait for it...

Picture of the Day

This is the component I mentioned I was waiting for to build the new social blogging system. I already had a couple of designs I'd licensed, but this is the one I really wanted. I already have version 1 & 2, but those were just designs (PSD / Sketch), not web pages (HTML / CSS). This has some actual web pages as well as the design files so I can jump in right away.

Cat Picture of the Day

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New Server? New Server!

May have just snagged a deal on a 12-core server with 128GB RAM and 8x1TB SSDs in hardware RAID.  Older CPUs (E5-2620) but new SSDs.  And 200TB monthly bandwidth included.

Update: Yes, confirmed, deploying now.  When I'll have time to migrate everything I don't know, but that will kick some pretty serious ass.  And they give a 75% discount on these older servers for the first month so you can plan your migration without doubling your server bill.

My original plan for deploying the new system involved a server with 1TB of SSD for the databases and another with 6TB of RAID-1 disk for file storage, but this means everything can go on one server with pure SSD storage.  (There's yet another server for all the backups.)  Costs a little more, but zero worries about database growth or memory footprint.

Update Too: I looked up the specs of the E5620 CPU to check that it was what I expected, and the benchmarks were about half of what I thought they'd be.  So I was wondering if I'd bought the wrong server, then looked again, and entered E5-2620 properly and was much happier.

Update Free: I can't read.  Server has regular disks, not SSDs.  Well, good thing it's 75% off the first month.  I thought it was an awfully good deal...

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Tuesday, August 14


Daily News Stuff 14 August 2018

Tech News

  • Chuwi announced their Lapbook SE, a $299 Gemini Lake Atom laptop. 4GB RAM, 32GB + 128GB storage (eMMC and SSD), 13" 1080p IPS screen, and it has separate PgUp, PgDn, Home, and End keys. (AnandTech)

    Intel doesn't use the Atom name any more - this is publicly a Celeron N4100 - because the first seven generations of Atom chips sucked. This one is a lot better, at least for single-threaded workloads, about twice the performance of the previous generation. On multi-threaded workloads this specific chip underperforms because it's limited to 6W of power.

    Unfortunately, comments on AnandTech say that Chuwi's customer support and product consistency are iffy at best.

    But you can't say it doesn't come with a decent selection of ports.

  • AMD's Threadripper 2950X and 2990WX are out and the benchmarks are coming in and they're... A bit all over the place. The $899 2950X is a consistently solid performer, but the $1799 2990WX appears to suffer from architectural or software limitations, with many benchmarks coming in slower than the cheaper version. This is specifically a chip for people doing 3D rendering and a few other tasks. If you want to run lots of virtual machines for development, the 2950X or an EPYC 7401P is a better bet. (AnandTech)

    Next year with the introduction of 7nm parts, we'll likely see 24 or 32 core Threadrippers without the limitations of the current generation.

    Update: Thanks to StargazerA5 for pointing me to Phoronix, who compared performance between Windows 10 and four flavours of Linux.

    A notable case of poor performance in the benchmarks on other sites was 7zip compression.  Phoronix ran the same test on Linux, with, well, see for yourself.

    Yes, it's 140% faster.

  • NVIDIA announced their new Turing architecture, which adds AI and ray-tracing to a conventional graphics core. Due out in Q4 2018. Priced about the level of a good used car. (PCPer)

    But mainstream versions will follow and prices will come down. A lot, with the cryptocurrency mining bubble well and truly popped at this point.

  • If you're using Dropbox on Linux, time to reformat your computer. They're dropping support for any filesystem but Ext4. (Bleeping Computer)

  • IBM has you covered if you need PCIe 4.0 support today. You also get up to 192 CPU cores and 64TB of RAM. Which is a lot. (The Next Platform)

  • A group of mathematicians seeking to prove that the was no general solution to the "nearest neighbour" problem instead found a general solution for the "nearest neighbour" problem which I suppose is almost as good. (Quanta)

    I'm going to need to read up on this one, because this is something that I might actually be able to apply in my day job. Unlike, say, a proof that dark energy is incompatible with string theory, which only really applies to my side projects.

  • Get your Humble Data Science Bundle today!

    If you like that sort of thing...

Social Media News

  • The Unblocker is a Twitter bot that will tell you what blocklists you are on.

    It's been silenced by Twitter.

Video of the Day

K-On! for penguins.

Meta Video of the Day

Deconstructing K-on! for penguins.

Picture of the Day

Panda Ant, Panda Ant, friendly neighbourhood Panda Ant...

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Monday, August 13


Daily News Stuff 13 August 2018

Tech News
  • AMD announced the Radeon PRO WX 8200, a workstation Vega 56 card with 8GB HBM and four mini-DP outputs.  At $999 it's less than half the price of the WX 9100 while delivering 80% of the performance - but it does have half the memory, so if you need 16GB the 9100 is your only option.  (AnandTech)

  • Lenovo announced the ThinkPad P1, a workstation version of their popular X1 Carbon.  With a 15.6" 4K screen, six core CPU, up to 64GB ECC RAM, 4TB of SSD, and NVIDIA Quadro graphics squooshed into a 1.7kg frame, this is an impressive system.  (AnandTech)

    Unfortunately it has a numeric keypad, which I hate on laptops because it pushes the keyboard and trackpad off center.  Fortunately, there's no way I can afford one so it doesn't matter a whole lot.

    Correction: The P1 does not have a numeric keypad; I was looking at a comparison photo with the larger P72 and misidentified what was being shown.

    Rather, it has a similar key layout to the ThinkPad E, with PgUp / PgDn by the arrow keys and Home / End by the function keys.  Not my ideal layout, but workable.
    So if anyone wants to drop one off at my door, I'm now interested.

  • Birds eating your blueberries?  Maybe a laser cannon array is the answer.  (NPR)

    To be fair, a laser cannon array can answer most questions.

  • On average, programmers and writers create 10 lines for each line that reaches their audience.  The reasons why this happens are complex and hard to eliminate, but the ratio is pretty consistent.

Video of the Day

Ducks explain wormholes.

Bonus Video of the Day

Red panda = best panda.

Picture of the Day

Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon, re-imagined by @LittleJem4.

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