Shut it!

Friday, March 13


Daily News Stuff 12 March 2020

Operation Petticoat Edition

Tech News

  • Oppo's Find X2 and Find X2 Pro offer flagship specs at flagship prices.  (AnandTech)

    Snapdragon 865, configurations from 8GB/128GB to 12GB/512B, 6.7" 3168x1440 AMOLED display with 120 Hz refresh and 100% of DCI-P3, 48MP main camera, 32MP front camera in a hole-punch format, and from the looks of things, neither a headphone jack nor a microSD card.

    Prices start from €999.

  • If you want to build a microATX Ryzen system, high end options are thin on the ground but here's one from ASRock that should do the trick.  (PC Perspective)

    Despite its smaller size, it packs in four DIMM slots, two M.2 slots, eight SATA ports, two PCIe x16 slots (presumably x8/x8) and a x1 slot.

    It has a 7.1 audio chip, but for some reason does not have 7.1 audio output, with only 3 1/8" audio jacks.  If surround sound is important a sound card is the way to go, either PCIe or USB.

  • I have all of the Crusader Kings II DLC, thanks to a Humble Build-your-own Bundle that "saved" me an estimated A$450.  Now I just need to find time to conquer the medieval world.

    Of course Crusader Kings III is due out this year.

  • Your personal information is worth about a dollar.  (TechDirt)

    Because targeted advertising...  Doesn't work.

  • You only licensed that light bulb, bub.  (TechDirt)

    Philips is phasing out support for Gen 1 Hue light bulbs.  They're LED and have a lifespan of roughly forever; they just won't work anymore.

  • Where are all the Ryzen 4000 desktop APUs?  Oh there they are unless they're not.  (WCCFTech)

    These should be solid on the CPU side, with eight Zen 2 cores, but the new, faster Vega graphics will be limited by RAM speed; you'll probably want to go for DDR4-3600, which seems to be the price/performance sweet spot.

  • Don't look, Ethel!  (Medium)

    You looked into your node_modules directory.  You lose 1d6 SAN and are paralysed for 10 rounds.
    Sure enough, it’s a tweet from Hot Pockets, and I had already favorited it. In fact, every time you download express, you favorite this exact tweet from Hot Pockets: introducing their new signature hickory ham sandwich pastries filled with real ham, real cheese, and a variety of chef-inspired sauces.
    Make that 2d6 SAN.
    In case the above code snippet is unclear, allow me to summarize:
    • Ember prides itself on using Glimmer: a small, lightning-fast rendering library.
    • Glimmer brings in the entirety of Encyclopedia Brittanica, just to display the definition for the word "glimmer” in its help menu.
    • Our oceans are dying at an alarming rate, and we’re all too busy staring at our phones playing Pokémon to have a conversation about it.

    Just absolute madness.

    3d6 SAN. 

    This article is from 2016.  The situation is multiple orders of magnitude worse now.

    Ia Cthulhu.  Ia!  Ia!

  • Soap and water and scrub for 20 seconds.

  • If you're running Windows shares (or worse, Windows Server) update now.  (ZDNet)

    Which I tried to do, and it just sat at "Preparing updates - 0% complete - Do not turn off your computer" for a solid hour before I turned off my computer.

Disclaimer: Okay, turn off your computer.  See if we care.

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Wednesday, March 11


Daily News Stuff 11 March 2020

Not Quite Dinosaurs Edition

Tech News

  • Don't Panic.

    Got my weekly grocery delivery today.  Pulled it forward by a day, after last week's delivery was late by a day because - surprise! - delivery slots were booked out.

    Everything I ordered arrived.  No missing items, no substitutions.  I wasn't able to order antibacterial hand wipes but I still have a couple of packs of those, and they seem to be back in stock now.  Not sure how useful those things are against viruses anyway.  

  • Xilinx has announced its new high-end Versal range of FPGAs.  (Tom's Hardware)

    They come with support for PCIe 5.0 with CCIX and CXL interconnect, 100Gb and 600Gb Ethernet, and 112Gb PAM4 transceivers, which will likely form the basis of PCIe 7.0 when the time comes.  (Super-high-speed Ethernet uses multiple transceivers.  Even medium-high-speed Ethernet does, for that matter.)

  • Where are all the Ryzen 4000 laptops?  Oh, there they are.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Asus will be shipping three models on March 16, including some with their special edition 4800HS CPU.

  • There's a lawyer who's sure all that glitters is gold, and he's filing a lawsuit to Heaven.  (TechDirt)

    When he got there, the 9th Circuit was closed, and it turned out he couldn't get what he came for after all.

  • Teach your panda to do tricks.  (Toward Data Science)

    I needed to use Pandas for real production work for the first time today - working with the Google Trends API, such as it is.  It did the job just fine.

  • The dish is down.  The voyager falls silent.  (ZDNet)

    Well, not technically.  The Canberra radio telescope, part of the Deep Space Network, is offline for maintenance to replace a transmitter system that has been in operation for forty years.  This matters because it is the only transmitter that can send commands to Voyager 2, though others can receive data from the spacecraft.

    The Parkes radio telescope, which is the dish in the movie The Dish, will be getting its own upgrades following the Canberra dish.

  • More like GeForce Not.  (TechReport)

    2K Games is the latest to take their ball and go home, pulling all their titles from GeForce Now.  They're not saying why, but it's a safe bet they want more money, even though you have to buy the game before you can use it on GeForce Now.

Disclaimer: It does make you wonder.

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Tuesday, March 10


Daily News Stuff 10 March 2020

AI Is Getting Expensive Edition

Tech News

  • It seems I have only one copy of Pathfinder: Kingmaker.  I forgot to follow up on the backer registration thingy and now it doesn't work.  I'll send them an email and see what happens.

    Meanwhile, the Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous campaign has cleared two more stretch goals with 18 hours left on the clock.

  • Stop trying to make Arm servers happen, they're not going to...  Oh.  (AnandTech)

    Amazon's Graviton 2 processors are pretty competitive against AMD's Epyc 1 and Intel's Xeon Whatever.  Also, cheaper, since Amazon would like you to rent their hardware rather than AMD's or Intel's.

    Of course Epyc 2 is already here, but per core it's not a revolutionary improvement, at least on the integer side.  Looks like Arm really is viable on servers now, and not just on paper.

  • A $100 laptop?  (AnandTech)

    Well, $100 if you can find it on sale for $100.  List price is $240.

    The good: 4GB RAM, a 13.3" 1080p screen, a sensible keyboard layout with dedicated PgUp/PgDn/Home/End keys, and room for an M.2 SATA drive.  And the low-power Atom CPU means it gets nearly nine hours of battery life.

    The bad: Only 32GB of eMMC storage built in, so it will poop itself at the first major Windows update, and the N3350 CPU, while one of the newer and better Atom chips, is one of the slowest of the newer and better Atom chips.  Also the speakers are terrible, but the sound output on the headphone jack is fine.

    It should still be adequate for web browsing and watching videos.  All you need to do is find somewhere that actually sells it, then wait for it to go on sale.

  • If you want a laptop that's cheap but not that cheap, here are some solid options.  (ZDNet)

    Including a 17" HP with 8GB RAM and 1TB of disk for $299.  It has one of those old dual-core AMD Excavator APUs which were never very good, so it comes as no surprise that...  Oh.  That it is exactly twice as fast as the Atom in the $100 laptop above, which actually pushes it into the "pretty usable" category. 

    The screen in the $299 model is only 1600x900 though, and not IPS.  A 1080p IPS screen adds another $100 to the price, and you can get an entire laptop for that.

  • Pricing for all of Intel's 10th generation desktop CPUs has leaked.  (Tom's Hardware)

    AMD doesn't have much to worry about.  The 10-core 10900K is $562, vs. $499 for the 12-core 3900X.

  • You can't get one though.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Although details are embargoed, the embargo dates have leaked, and they don't all end until June 26.

  • TechDirt is drunk again.

  • The only thing worse than a VPN app that spies on you is a VPN app that gets you to install a root certificate and then spies on you.  (BuzzFeed)

    Who needs fancy DNS hijacking and MITM attacks when you can just steal the data right from the user's device?

Disclaimer: You're going to have a national philosophers' strike on your hands.

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Daily News Stuff 9 March 2020

Big Steps And Little Ones Edition

Tech News

  • IBM's X15 mainframe processor has over a gigabyte of cache.  (Tom's Hardware)

    256MB of L3 - the same as the larger Threadripper and Epyc models - plus an additional 960MB of L4.

    It's not your average processor.  (Wikichip)

    With only 12 cores it would be easily outrun by current Epyc and Xeon CPUs on a per-socket basis, but an IBM mainframe can contain a lot of sockets.

  • Australia's privacy regulator is suing Facebook, potentially for as much as $529 billion which I supposes is one way to balance the budget.  (Tech Crunch)

    They're not going to sue for such a ludicrous amount; Australia is not yet Europe.  But it may be not insignificant.

  • Intel's upcoming Alder Lake will be a 16-core mainstream desktop part unless it isn't.  (WCCFTech)

    It won't compete with the Ryzen 3950X though: Eight cores will be Cores, whatever Intel calls them nowadays, while the other eight will be low power, low performance, probably Atom derivatives.  Android devices have been doing this for years, and Windows now runs on Arm devices with big.LITTLE designs, so Microsoft must already have dealt with it.

  • It happens to the best bands: K-On! breaks up.  (Popular Mechanics)

    Oh, wait.  K mesons, also known as kaons.  I knew that.

    Apparently there's a rare and previously unverified decay path in K mesons that cannot be explained by the Standard Model of particle physics.  That path has now been confirmed - but still not explained.

Disclaimer: Peak oil, huh?

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Sunday, March 08


Daily News Stuff 8 March 2020

Elon Of Troy Edition

Tech News

Video of the Day

Rewatching Eureka.  Do they even make shows like this anymore?

Disclaimer: Don't buy any wooden horses.

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Daily News Stuff 7 March 2020

Oh Those Guys Edition

Tech News

  • Rambus has announced 3.2Gbps HBM2E memory and a matching controller.  (AnandTech)

    Which would be more impressive if Samsung hadn't already announced 5Gbps HBM2E.

  • Buffalo have a ruggedized miniature external SSD, with capacities up to 960GB.  (AnandTech)

    It has, for some reason, a USB 3.0 micro-B port.  You know, the horrible one used by cheap external hard drives.  $210 for the largest size.

  • A side-channel attack has been discovered that affects most AMD CPUs released in the past 9 years.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I had a quick skim through the paper and it seems to be legitimate, though notes on mitigation and the fact that this was disclosed to AMD last year suggest that it may already have been patched.  The flaw involves L1 cache address prediction, and changing the prediction mode or simply turning it off fixes the problem.

    It affects all Bulldozer chips and Zen 1 and 2, but not the Bobcat family (as used in the Xbox One and Playstation 4).

  • Not wanting to be left out, an unfixable and undetectable vulnerability has been found in all recent Intel processors.  (TechReport)

    It's a bug in the ROM - not flash, but mask-programmed ROM - in the secure enclave thingy within the processor that is supposed to provide certain guaranteed secure services.

    It doesn't seem that this can be compromised remotely, but if someone gets physical access to a server they could potentially use it to plant a completely invisible rootkit.

  • TechDirt seems to have sobered up but New York is drunk.  (TechDirt)

    A property owner was fined millions of dollars for...  Painting over graffiti.

  • South by Southwest has been cancelled.  (Tech Crunch)

    And nothing of value was lost.

  • A sequel to the well-received Pathfinder: Kingmaker is currently Kickstartering.  (Kickstarter)

    Pathfinder is an adaptation of the core rules of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd-ish Edition, which were released under the Open Gaming License some years ago.  The campaign setting is different and original, but the gameplay is familiar.

    Pathfinder: Kingmaker is an old-school isometric single-player party-based RPG for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and apparently coming soon to consoles.

    The Kickstarter for the new game is nearly over, with just three days left, but never fear: It has not only been funded but has met 14 stretch goals, ranging from dismemberment animations to hiring a full symphony orchestra to record the soundtrack.

    This is what Kickstarter is good for.  I love seeing this.

    I have at least two copies of Kingmaker (I backed it on Kickstarter and it was just in the February Humble Bundle) but haven't played it.

Disclaimer: At least two copies.

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Friday, March 06


Daily News Stuff 6 March 2020

Mary Who Edition

Not Exactly Tech News

  • Got my weekly grocery delivery today, from Coles this time because I wanted to stock up on their fried rice.

    No toilet paper.

    Went out to the shops this evening.  Toilet paper section at Woolworths - shelves stripped bare.  Toilet paper section at Coles - fully stocked, but two slightly unusual things:

    1. There was a security guard.  For the toilet paper aisle.  Well, he might have been there for the frozen vegetables on the other side, but I suspect not.
    2. They had nothing smaller than a 20 pack.

    So I guess I'm good for a while.

  • To add insult to injury:

  • Now who's laughin'?

Tech News

70s Music Video of the Day

1979 was really the 80s anyway.

Disclaimer: Go for the eyes, Boo!  Go for the eyes!  Raaargh!

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Thursday, March 05


Daily News Stuff 5 March 2020

Timey Wimey Child Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: It has a dumb name anyway.

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Wednesday, March 04


Daily News Stuff 4 March 2020

Alligator Gumbo Edition

Tech News

  • 80 is the new 64.  (AnandTech)

    Ampere's Altra is an 80 core Arm server processor, based on the N1 core design, which is in turn based on the A76.  Like AMD's Epyc processors it supports eight channels of DDR4 RAM and 128 lanes of PCIe 4.0.  Unlike the Epyc it's all on a single chip - possible because it only has 32MB of cache compared to 256MB on the high-end Epyc parts.

    Performance is, best case, sort of on par with the Epyc.  That's if you're running integer-only code that isn't too cache-sensitive, and you're using GCC.  But given that the 64-core Epyc and Threadripper arethe world's fastest CPUs, even matching them on some tasks is no small achievement.

    It uses 210W, so unlikely to show up in your next mobile phone.

  • Cypress is sampling USB4 controllers ahead of volume shipment in Q3.  (AnandTech)

    Exactly what parts of USB4 they support is another question, because USB4 is basically a merger of USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 3, with the added option of USB at 40Gbps as well as PCIe.  But there will of course be USB 4 Gen 1, USB 4 Gen 2, USB 4 Gen 2x2, and so ad infinitum.

  • How did software get so reliable without proof?  (Surfing Complexity)

    Correctness proofs are the Holy Grail of computer science, but like the Holy Grail they don't get used a whole lot.  Nevertheless, software systems of astonding complexity actually work.

    Partly because we learn what breaks them and refrain from doing that.

    In the case of Ethereum, this includes using it for any purpose at all.

Disclaimer: Objects in the mirror are behind you.

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Tuesday, March 03


Daily News Stuff 3 March 2020

Mostly Harmless Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Blimey, there's more to this redistribution of wealth business than I thought.

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