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

Monday, April 20


Daily News Stuff 20 April 2020

Half Baked Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Which are worth about $0.000024 each.

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Daily News Stuff 19 April 2020

Catoblepas R Us Edition

Tech News

  • Most of the Ryzen 4000 laptops announced so far have used H and HS series chips - 45 and 35W parts.  The new Zenbook 14 uses the 15W 8 core Ryzen 4700U.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It pairs the chip with 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM at 4266MHz, which should unlock the power of the integrated graphics....  And also has an Nvidia MX350 with 2GB of 7GHz GDDR5 on a 64-bit bus.  Which means that the dedicated graphics actually have less memory bandwidth than the integrated graphics, which has to be first.

    Specs for the rest of the laptop have yet to be announced.  Or leak, whichever.

  • A look at a fake Intel quad 10GbE network card.  (Serve the Home)

    Apart from not actually being built by Intel, it works perfectly.

  • How will tech hubs weather the pandemic?  (Tech Crunch)

    With any luck by sinking into the ocean, never to be heard from again.

  • A look inside AMD's Am2901 bit-slice CPU.  (Righto)

    Back before you could fit 300 million transisters into a single square millimetre, you might have only been able to build a 4-bit CPU at a reasonable price.  The Am2901 was a 4-bit CPU.  But if you wired two of them together, it became an eight-bit CPU, and if you wired eight of them together you had yourself a 32-bit CPU, albeit a rather slow one because of the external carry propagation.

    Despite that - and the complexity of building a real-world 32-bit CPU out of MSI parts - it saw adoption in many places where a full custom design was too expensive and standard logic too bulky: The famous Xerox Star workstation, computers onboard the F16C/D, and later models of the VAX-11 before the introduction of the VLSI-based MicroVAX.

Disclaimer: When this guy looks inside a chip, he really looks inside a chip.

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Sunday, April 19


Daily News Stuff 18 April 2020

Did I Mention The Buick Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: At this rate we should see 0nm chips with a 0W TDP by 2028, unless Intel chooses to jump the gun on that.

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Saturday, April 18


Daily News Stuff 17 April 2020

Missed It By That Much Edition

Tech News

  • Wuhan increased its bat soup death toll by 50%.  (New York Times)

    And that's their final offer.

  • Western Digital isn't the only one with the shingles.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Turns out everyone's doing it.  Literally everyone who still makes hard drives, which means Seagate and Toshiba.

  • Building your own ZFS-based NAS.  (Serve the Home)

    In case you don't have Synology units landing randomly on your doorstep.

  • Apple's HomePod is still widely misunderstood.  (9to5Mac)

    Clearly it's a pod that contains a home.

    [At this juncture your intrepid reporter attempted to find a clip of Bulma using her pods and instead discovered that YouTube is full of horrible perverts.]

  • Woolworths promises I'll get my lamingtons today.  What else did I order?  Hmm.  Brioche, carrot cake, peanut butter, iced tea, chicken tenders, Pepsi Max, vanilla and pomegranate cleaning spray....  Sounds like a party.

    Update: And they forgot all the frozen items.

Disclaimer: It works better once you remember that the show called them capsules.

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Thursday, April 16


Daily News Stuff 16 April 2020

Where The Heck Are My Lamingtons Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Please keep this disclaimer visible on your person at all times.

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Wednesday, April 15


Daily News Stuff 15 April 2020

That's Not How It Works Edition

Tech News

  • Fuck Dropbox.

    Seriously, if your cloud storage solution requires me to worry about keeping offsite backups you are doing everything wrong.

    My plan was to map Dropbox onto a Synology shared folder that gets snapshotted regularly so I could instantly recover the next time it decided to randomly delete all my files.  Of course, Dropbox doesn't let you do that (there is a reason, but I don't care) and it's madness anyway.

    I might try Microsoft's storage - whatever it is they call it - since I'm already paying for it with my Office 365 subscription.

  • AMD has released three new EPYC processors in the F series.  (Anandtech)

    These are large cache, high-frequency, low core count parts, up to a maximum of 24 cores.  They're a good alternative to the Threadrippers we just deployed at work if you're willing to lose a little clock speed (3.9GHz max instead of 4.5GHz) for more memory, more memory channels, more cache, and dual sockets.

    They also cost more, of course.

    Serve the Home has more.

    And so does Phoronix.

  • Western Digital Red NAS drives between 2TB and 6TB have shingles.  (Tom's Hardware)

    That's not necessarily fatal.  The real problem is that Western Digital didn't bother to mention that anywhere.

    SMR (shingled) drives behave weirdly during random writes, being bimodal.  They typically have a WAFL cache of 20GB or so, and random writes in that area are faster than any other mechanical drive, up to 2000 IOPS.  Outside that area though performance plummets to as little as 30 IOPS.

    It can also be a problem when replacing drives in RAID arrays - random writes can be so slow that the RAID controller (hardware or software) marks the new drive as failed and kicks it back out again.

    And RAID arrays are the entire target market for the Western Digital Red.

  • Both Samsung and TSMC are delaying 3nm GAAFET mass production until 2022.  (WCCFTech)

    Considering that AMD has just blown Intel out of the water with 7nm parts, and 5nm production is already ramping up at TSMC, a six-month delay in the next generation after that is not the end of the world.

  • GitHub is now free for private development.  (GitHub)

    If you need enterprise features or direct support you will still pay for that, but if you just want the standard GitHub features for private projects, that is now free.

    The Team plan, which includes a few extra features and more storage over the free plan, is now just $4 per user per month, which considering developer salaries is basically noise.

  • Python is turning into Node.js.  (Fly, Crash, Raise Exception)

    Most of our code at work is still Python 2.7.  This blog is Python 2.6.  While Python has served me well for a long time, I am considering abandoning ship.

  • regex2fat is a utility that converts regular expressions into FAT32 filesystems.  (GitHub)

    A: Haha OS-driven regex engine go brrrrr

    Do not try this at home.

  • I think I may just have to learn COBOL.  (The Verge)

    I've used what, 25, maybe 30 other programming languages over the years; one more isn't going to break me.  And the job security can't be beat.

Disclaimer: I'm back on Twitter now, so incoherent rants other than those focused on specific technologies will mostly go there.

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Tuesday, April 14


Daily News Stuff 14 April 2020

Do Not Send To Know For Whom The Beep Beeps Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: This new game requires a kernel module with complete access to everything you do.  That's a good thing.  -- Vox

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Daily News Stuff 13 April 2020

Beep Beep Edition

Tech News

  • If you want to use your new (I use the term loosely) Synology storage array as the home for your active BitTorrent downloads, you need to do two things. Or do one thing and avoid doing another:

    • Create a separate shared folder
    • Do not enable checksums

    Checksums protect your static files from unwanted changes.  If you enable checksums on files that are updated constantly in little pieces - which is the way BitTorrent do - the checksums quickly overwhelm the CPU in your Synology thingy.

    Which is not overly fast at the best of times.  (

    The 2012 model I have uses an Atom D2700, which scores 822 on PassMark.  The current model (2019) has a quad-core Atom C3538, which manages 2455.  Which is almost as much as a single core on the Ryzen 4800H laptop APU.  (I couldn't find a PassMark score for the 4800U just yet.)

    By way of comparison, here's Intel's 2011 3960X and AMD's 2019 3960X.  Those are rather faster.  And use rather more power, which is why I was looking for the 4800U, which has a comparable TDP to the Atoms.

    Also, the model I have only has 1GB RAM.  Works fine for storing static files - I get 100MB per second consistently.  Works fine for BitTorrent once I turned checksums off.  But I wouldn't want to use one of these as a Linux server.

    Even though that's what they are.

  • A nice feature of Synology's DSM is the Storage Analyzer, which tells you, for example, the you have five copies of the exact same 15GB file and you could maybe consider removing one or two.

    There's no automated deduplication feature, but from my experience with ZFS I can understand that.  (Synology uses Btrfs but the principles are the same.)  Running deduplication on ZFS with a large volume size and a small server murders disk performance - reducing it by as much as 80%. 

    The usual recommendation is 1GB of RAM for every TB of storage, just for the deduplication hashes.  My Synology units fall short of that by a factor of 16.  And as I might have mentioned, they aren't all that fast to begin with.

  • Another nice feature is that you can set a snapshot schedule per shared folder, so that you can, for example, have all your working files backed up every hour and all the hourly backups kept for ten days.

    Not that I had a problem after rebooting my PC today that might have required such a thing.  No.

  • Woolworths seem to have sorted out their online grocery ordering, after they were dropped in the poo first by the Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague, and then by their only competitor stopping grocery deliveries entirely.  They've changed the time windows and extended the delivery hours - which now extend from 4AM to 10PM. 

    But everything is available, with the exception of benzalkonium chloride based disinfectants (bleach is available in a hundred varieties), disposable gloves (reusable rubber gloves are in stock), and gluten-free brioche.  But that last is just the distribution center that handles deliveries, my local store had plenty.

  • Creating a SQL database in Go.

    Right when you are expecting the article to wrap up with "that's it for part one, in part two we will..." instead there's a working SQL database.  Well, sort of.  It doesn't do anything complicated like actually writing your data to disk, but it does let you create tables and insert and query data.

  • The HPE 620QSFP28 is a network card that can be found for $100 second hand.  (Serve the Home)

    It has - no surprise given the model number - a single QSFP28 port.  That can be configured as anything from four 10GbE or 25GbE ports, to two 40GbE or 50GbE, to a single 100GbE.  Assuming you have the appropriate cable.

    Also, if you plug it into a server that is not made by HP, it might not boot ever again.  Or at least until you pull the card back out and clear the CMOS.  Whichever comes first.

    My Twitter suspension is over tomorrow.  Let's see how long that lasts...

  • We've removed your privacy options, because fuck you that's why.  (EFF)

    I think I grabbed a screenshot when Twitter coughed this up a couple of days ago, but the EFF article has all the details anyway.  Essentially, protecting users' privacy was costing Twitter money, so they stopped doing that.

  • The new Mac Mini is so compact and upgradable!  (9to5Mac)

    Sure.  It's four times the size of a NUC and the storage is soldered in place.  Wonderful.

    But it does have an option for 10GbE, which is not something I have seen on the PC side of things, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

  • Performance fixes are being pushed into ZFS ahead of the release of Ubuntu 20.04 next week.  (Phoronix)

    That's cutting things a bit close.

    20.04 is a long-term support (LTS) release that will receive updates for five years.  But the important one is 20.04.1, which should land in July.  Until then, don't install this on anything you plan to put into production.

    I'm in this boat because I needed a very recent kernel to support the new Threadripper servers at work, but loading Ubuntu's updated kernel onto 18.04 broke ZFS.  So I'm running 19.10 right now, which ends support in July, right about when 20.04.1 should land.  And then I get to do rolling upgrades of the entire cluster.

    Fortunately, the way things have worked out I have a spare server in the new cluster.

    Phase 3 of our migration became Phase 2, and Phase 2 has been moved to "when we get to it" because we were able to arrange a price reduction on the existing servers.  So come July I have one server I can break, or even reinstall from scratch, without needing to migrate VMs and without our users noticing anything.

Disclaimer of the Day

The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.

Disclaimer: #include <disclaimer.h>

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Monday, April 13


A Note On Beeps

Synology units beep for lots of reasons.  Drive failures, fan failures, cache failures, power on, power off...  And also apparently when your DSM session times out.

And if you have DSM sessions on multiple Synology units because you just got them all set up and they time out a few seconds apart, you will get a whole series of beeps when absolutely nothing is actually wrong.

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Sunday, April 12


Daily News Stuff 12 April 2020

Recycled Hamster Bedding Edition

Tech News

  • Went out to the shops this afternoon to pick up a few things that didn't come with my grocery delivery, such as carrot cake, brioche, and Easter eggs.

    If you think that brioche is an extravagance and not an essential item in a time of Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague, well, when it comes to gluten-free bread my choices come down to brioche which is indistinguishable from the real thing and what appears to be compressed distressed recycled leftover hamster bedding.

    So yes, brioche matters.

    Anyway, things seem to be returning slowly to normal.  No toilet paper that I could see, but that did come with my delivery so no problems there.  Hand wipes, tissues, paper towels, all back in stock. 

    No issues with food at all except that I couldn't find the gluten-free lamingtons.  My favourite ice cream was on sale half price, so I picked up some of that.

    There is a shortage of soap of all kinds.  What are you people doing, eating it?  I mean, my shower wash smells like vanilla custard so I understand the temptation, but don't.

    Only seven new cases of WBSDP reported here in NSW yesterday, but it's the Easter long weekend and testing rates are down.  Still, it looks like locking everybody up in tiny little glass boxes and dousing them with bleach did the trick.

  • Speaking of toilet paper, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast covered the ongoing shortage in their latest episode.  It's not just panic buying and hoarding that's causing the problem; there is a genuine shortage.

    That's because there are two entirely different toilet paper supply chains - consumer and commercial.  Different products made to different standards from different raw materials and shipped by different distributors.  And right now nobody is using the commercial stuff, so it's just sitting on the loading dock while the consumer-focused companies scramble to keep up.

    That will change, but it could take another month for the commercial production lines to completely switch over.  Meanwhile, poop less.

  • Time machine landed in the wrong era?  Need a current map of Europe?  Got you covered.

    More here.  (DevianTart)

    Did you ever notice that the Sea of Marmara looks like an angry possum?

  • Intel's upcoming Comet Lake S processors will deliver less performance than AMD's current lineup while costing more.  (Tom's Hardware)

    A winning combination.  Just not for Intel.

  • Also, about those Intel TDP figures: The 65W 10-core  i9-10900F will draw 224W at full load unless it catches fire first.  (WCCFTech)

    224W is significantly more than 65W.

    The 16-core Ryzen 3950X is rated at 105W TDP but can peak at 146W.  But that's 40%, not 240%.

  • This guy ownes 46 F/A-18 Hornets.  (The Drive)

    Bet he doesn't have much trouble with the local Home Owners Association.  At least, not twice.

  • Don't update that MacBook!  (Tom's Guide)

    If you've already bricked your MacBook with Catalina, you may be able to recover by booting into recovery mode and running the first aid thingy.  I hope so, because all the Apple stores are shut and Louis Rossman is just one guy.

  • Turbo Pascal 3 is smaller than the touch command on MacOS Lion.  (Programming in the Twenty-First Century)

    I'm happy to report that touch on MacOS whatever the hell version I'm running, let's call it Caracal - touch on MacOS Caracal has slimmed down and is now only 60% of the size of Turbo Pascal 3.

    The touch command sets the date on a file to the current time.  Turbo Pascal 3 is a complete IDE and compiler.

  • Bootstrap is dropping support for Internet Explorer with version 5, due out this year.  (ZDNet)

    In fact, if the rollout is anything like Bootstrap 4, the main thing it will drop support for is all your existing code.

  • No, 5G doesn't cause Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague.  (MSN)

    If they'd actually call it by its real name rather than tiptoeing around it, maybe people would understand that it's a death plague caused by people in Wuhan eating bat soup.

  • What part of "opt-in" is too complicated for you to understand, Mozilla?  (Mozilla)

    Oh look, there's a bullet point saying that if you opt out they will actually respect that.  I SHOULD BLOODY WELL THINK SO.

  • Just how bad is the FISA debacle?  (Lawfare)

    Bad enough that even people who still claim that the Russia Collusion hoax wasn't politically motivated think it's bad.

  • John Conway (mathematician and creator of the Game of Life - no, the other one) and Stirling Moss have passed away.

  • It's true, a Google search for "can i feed my dinosaur ramen" returns no results.

    AnimeLab has this one tagged as Slice of Life.  Correct.

The Media Can Die in a Fire

  • The second worthwhile thing Bill Maher has done.  The first being Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.

  • The dark night of fascism is always descending in America and yet lands only in, as it turns out, rural England.

  • 1.5 million infected, 100,000 dead, plague markets hardest hit.

Anime Microsoft Paint Video of the Day

Anime Music Video of the Day

Brickmuppet brings you stop-motion Gundam masterpieces. I bring you hamsters.

Louis Rossman Saves a Macbook Video of the Day

It's electronic ASMR.

Disclaimer: On a scale of skinned knee to false vacuum state collapse, I'd rate it a supercaldera eruption.

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