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Friday, July 31


Daily News Stuff 31 July 2020

Beyond The Shoe Event Horizon Edition

Tech News

  • I went out to the shops this evening for the first time in about three weeks.

    The process was slightly complicated by the fact that I threw out my shoes last weekend. At the time this seemed like a reasoanable thing to do, as (a) the heels had pretty much disintegrated and (b) I had at least four unworn pairs of shoes in the Strategic Shoe Repository at the bottom of the closet.

    I picked a pair of brown lace-ups, laced them up, and made it about two blocks before they fell apart.

    Not good.

    Trudged back home again and took a closer look at the remaining pairs. Turned out that I hadn't got a faulty pair; rather they'd been sitting there so long that the soles had denatured somehow and were only slightly stronger than damp cardboard. That's likely what did in the previous pair as well.

    Fortunately the fourth and final pair were made of a different material and were in good shape, so I did eventually make it to my destination and restock on gluten-free chicken nuggets and mi goreng and other essentials. You know you're eating the fancy ramen when it comes with five little sachets of stuff.

    Everything was open, including the RSL club, and pretty busy. Unlike Melbourne which right now is in total lockdown, again.

    This second wave is no joke though; it's killed nearly as many people as the first wave and much more quickly. Interstate travel has been largely halted until Victoria can get things back under control. I give it thirty years.

  • Philosphers discuss GPT-3. (Daily Nous)

  • GPT-3 discusses philosphers. (Pastebin)

  • Hacker News dicusses GPT-3 discussing philosophers discussing GPT-3. (Hacker News)
    One consequence of GPT-3 is that I am now highly sceptical of the human provenance of any HN comment on an article about GPT-3. It has made my HN experience objectively less enjoyable, because I’m constantly expending effort to spot nonsense and avoid wasting time reading it.

    Perhaps most worrying is not how "human-like” GPT-3 can be, but how "GPT-3 like” humans can be. When I am in "nonsense-detection” mode, I drill down into paragraphs to spot non-sequiturs etc and I find plenty of HN comments are rambling, contradictory, or I just can’t ascertain the meaning of the text.
    Yeah, pretty much.

  • GPT-3 channels Harlan Ellison by way of Fritz Leiber. (0bin)

    The first paragraph was provided as a writing prompt. The rest is GPT-3.

  • Looking at all this, you start to wonder how much of philosphy consists of deepities and the unvoidable conclusion is that it's deepities all the way down.
    We are all trapped in a cycle of life and death. Death is merciful. It brings an end to the suffering. We should embrace it when it comes.

    In other news, GPT-3 also seems to have a deep interest in art.

  • Envoy is a proxy sort of thing. (EnvoyProxy)

    It's what I'd call an application router. The idea is that you run an instance of Envoy alongside each of your applications. Your application listens and sends all its requests to localhost and doesn't need to know anything about where other services actually live.

    It handles HTTP, of course, but also MongoDB and Redis and PostgreSQL and generic TCP sockets.

  • Amazon has received the go-ahead to launch 3236 satellites. (The Verge)

    I'm so old I remember when that was a lot.

  • Sort by controversial. (Slate Star Codex)

    Three thoughts:

    1. This is a great idea for a new social network if you want to watch the world burn.
    2. It's probably fiction.
    3. It's probably not written by GPT-3.

  • Thanks for nagging me, Font Awesome.

    No, seriously.  I've been so busy the past week that I forgot about the 50% off FA 6 offer for backers of the FA 5 Kickstarter.  Grabbed it with 11 hours to go.

    $49 per year (regularly $99) for all their icons for five seats.  I'd forgotten that part; makes it a great deal for small companies with a few developers / designers.

Not At All Tech News

  • So, you decided to post this.

    Turns out I'm not the first person to think of the term cervixen in response to this nonsense.

Disclaimer: Probably.

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Thursday, July 30


Daily News Stuff 30 July 2020

Marchingup And Downagain Edition

Tech News

  • The Boothole bootloader vulnerability allows the Grub bootloader to execute arbitrary code.  (Bleeping Computer)

    Since that is the entire purpose of a bootloader, in most cases this means absolutely nothing.  But if you are running UEFI Secure Boot, this pokes a hole in it.

    On the third hand, you need to have root privileges to install this.

  • Real Capitalism 2.0 has never been tried.

    What a depressingly stupid article.  Socialists: Identifying real problems and making them worse since 1867.

  • You wouldn't download a Mac.  (GitHub)

    I mean, you can if you want.  The whole thing is only 239MB and it runs on pretty much anything.  Well, not itself, but apart from that.

  • Big Navi is big.  (WCCFTech)

    Leaks suggest 128 CUs - 8192 shaders - running at over 2GHz, more than twice as fast as anything AMD has produced to date, even ignoring the architectural improvements from Vega to Navi.

    As for when and how much, the leaks say HPC systems with 8 of the new cards will be available next March.  No prices and no details of consumer GPUs.

  • It's just a flesh wound.  (ZDNet)

    Arm fired the CEO of their Chinese joint venture over conflicts of interest - specifically that he was running his own competing investment fund.

    The CEO came up with a novel defense: He simply says he hasn't been fired.

Music Video of the Day

It fits perfectly with Ano Natsu de Matteru but the official video is not too shabby either.

Disclaimer: It's a bold strategy, let's see how that oh he's dead.

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Daily News Stuff 29 July 2020

Turtles, Termites, And Traffic Jams Edition

Tech News

  • According to Wikipedia, all DDR5 memory modules are registered.

    I took a quick look at the docs released by Micron, and they only discuss registered modules, but don't explicitly say that unbuffered modules don't / won't exist.

    If they are all registered - and we already know that DDR5 mandates on-die ECC - then there's little difference between desktop RAM and server RAM.  Just full-channel ECC in case of bus errors, and LR (load reduced) modules for maximum die stacking.

    I'm not certain if DDR5 being registered will work exactly as it does with DDR4, but if it does then the next generation of desktop CPUs will support at least twice as much memory, without needing to wait years for denser DRAM.

    Which means that the next-plus-one generation of even entry-level servers will likely support up to 32 cores and 256GB of RAM.

  • Zen 3 is due this year.  (AnandTech)

    Speak the name three times and it will appear.

    This means both server and desktop parts.  Also next-generation Navi cards for both gaming and datacenter use.  Oh, and Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.  It will be a busy few months for AMD.

  • A passively-cooled 10Gb home server/router from Supermicro for only $1500.  (AnandTech)

    It's no Cobalt Qube.

  • Two of Intel's next-generation Ice Lake Xeons beat a single current-generation Epyc.  (Tom's Hardware)

    By 7%.  If you use AVX-512, which Epyc doesn't have.  Will wait for more benchmarks, because Ice Lake should be a significant upgrade, if and when it ever arrives.

  • Someone needs to explain to physicists that humans don't live in trees.  (Vice)

  • A lot has been written about the technological singularity.  My view is that (a) it's impossible (at least the way it is depicted in science fiction) and (b) as far as it is possible, it is happening right now which is part of the reason everything is so fucking weird.

    I'm not the only one to make that observation.  (Less Wrong)

    Also of interest is this article about the potential speed of the singularity.  (Sideways View)

    The two things to expect when it really kicks into gear, is rapid shifting in the labour market leading to high unemployment, and at the same time, global GDP growth in the mid double digits.

    The key point of the notiong of the Singularity, though, is that at some point the trends go literally vertical, and that prediction of what things will be like on the other side of that point on the graph are impossible.  That is exactly what I predict will not happen, though if I'm wrong no-one will ever know.

Disclaimer: What's that?  There's an alternate-universe version of Bakarina where she's already into the main plot before she bonks her head?  Well, see you tomorrow, then!

Update: Although she's 15 years old rather than 8 this time, she's still the same lovable idiot.

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Wednesday, July 29


Daily News Stuff 28 July 2020

Don't Talk To Me About Life Edition

Tech News

  • Intel's Chief Engineering Officer has gotten the boot following five years of nothing.  (AnandTech)

    He features significantly in AdoredTV's latest video as the source of much of the internal politics that has derailed Intel these last few years.

    I have no independent information so I don't know if he's the cause of the problems, a convenient scapegoat, or a voluntary sacrifice to appease investors.

  • On the other hand there is now an i9-10850K.  (AnandTech)

    This is a 10900K only 100MHz slower and $35 cheaper.  I wonder how scaling it back just 100MHz affects power consumption.  I suspect the difference may be quite substantial.

  • A spiritual successor to the wildly popular Suikoden series - which I have never played - launched on Kickstarter and immediately crashed the entire site.  (Kickstarter)

    Three times, apparently.

    Despite that it was fully funded inside three hours and is now at three times its initial goal of Â¥53,808,516.  Which seems oddly specific.  Oh, and has already unlocked seven stretch goals.

  • Intel may or may not be outsourcing fabrication of their discrete GPUs to TSMC.  (WCCFTech)

    It would make more sense to do this with a brand new product with no existing market than with any of their core products, and TSMC is very familiar with producing GPUs.

  • Intel's Ice Pickle.  (Serve the Home)

    AMD's second-generation Epyc Rome parts, launched last year, were intended to head off Intel's 10nm Ice Lake Xeons.

    Rome launched on schedule.  Ice Lake didn't, still hasn't, and has only been promised to trickle out in limited quantities before the end of the year.  At which time AMD will be shipping the Zen 3 based...  Genoa?  Venice?  San Marino?  Milan, that's it.

    Which leaves Intel in a bind because their storage, networking, and FPGA divisions have started producing PCIe 4.0 devices, but the only x86 CPUs available with PCIe 4.0 are from AMD.

  • S3 considered harmful.  (Twilio)

    Why, yes, a cloud storage option that can be accidentally configured to be writeable by the entire fucking internet is a sensible idea that the world's largest cloud services provider should definitely offer.

  • Arm-based Macs will change the world.  (ZDNet)

  • Arm-based Macs are irrelevant - even to Apple.  (ZDNet)

    Clearly ZDNet got their writers to do these two articles as a deliberately provcative pair, but the first one comes across as, frankly, slightly insane.

  • Campbell's Law.  (Wikipedia)
    The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
    This is very close to one of Pixy's Laws - or at least a point I've discussed in relation to Google's Pagerank algorithm and its role in creating the entire comment spam industry.

    Not really surprising that someone pointed it out decades before me.

    Slightly surprising that I learned of this specific formulation from a left-wing educator explaining why left-wing education policy (which is to say, all education policy) so often does more harm than good.

Pixy Is Currently Reading

Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shite shimatta... a.k.a Bakarina and Jishou Akuyaku Reijou na Konyakusha no Kansatsu Kiroku a.k.a Bertia.

They're isekai / otome manga where the heroine is stuck in the role of the main villain.  Both girls work tirelessly to make things work out okay in the worlds they find themselves trapped in, hampered only by the fact that they collectively have the IQ of dish soap.

Wakfu Music Video of the Day

I know I've posted this one before, but I really like it so here it is again.

Anime Music Video of the Day

By the same creator.  I wasn't sold on this one instantly, but by the end I realised that it perfectly achieved what it set out to do.  And Ano Natsu de Matteru was a really nice little series.

Which is in two respects is the reverse of this one:

That video introduced me to Saint Motel, who I now love, and hooked me instantly.  But Konosuba is just kind of, well, bad.

Disclaimer: Or not so slightly.

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Tuesday, July 28


Daily News Stuff 27 July 2020

Doggone It Roy Gene Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Now look at that, what you have there is no bigger'n a grapefruit.

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Monday, July 27


Daily News Stuff 26 July 2020

Dead Crocs Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

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Sunday, July 26


Daily News Stuff 25 July 2020

Fair And Balanced Edition

Tech News

  • The Fairness Doctrine must end now.  (TechDirt)

    Never tiring of righting wrongs that aren't happening and excusing wrongs that are.

    I'm about to drop them from my list of sources as they're rapidly turning into a mirror image of One Angry Gamer.

  • Rocket Lake may hit 5GHz.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is Intel's 11th generation and it's not Skylake this time, it's Icelake or Sunny Cove or Emu Plains or some such nonsense.  Anyway, finally a significantly updated architecture with real IPC gains.

    It will apparently be a bit slower than the 10900K in some respects (down from 5.3GHz and 10 cores to 5GHz and 8 cores) but the IPC gains are estimated at 18% so it is better overall for most use cases.

    Still at 14nm and still probably eats electricity like a moose eats spirulina, but them's the breaks.  It should give Intel a clear lead on single-threaded performance for the time being.  Zen 3 will likely overtake the 10900K, but not the whatever they call the new chip is.

  • In the interests of creating a safe space for all our readers, we are kindly asking our readers to get fucked.  (Distractify)

    We in this case is Yahoo, who have just nuked their commenting system because, apparently, people were using it to comment.

  • The Chuwi Larkbox now comes with a free mini keyboard / controller / thing.  (Indiegogo)

    Was thinking about this the other day, because if you just take it and add a very stripped down version of Linux that boots straight into FreeBASIC, you have an instant retrocomputer, except that it has working HDMI and wifi and is really really fast.

    Well, almost.  I don't think FreeBASIC has an interactive mode; you'd have to write that.  But you could do that in FreeBASIC.

  • What is ReactiveX?  (ReactiveX)

    No idea, sorry.  I read that page twice and still don't know.

  • Ethereum is still fucked.

    62 is better than 100, the same way that a .45 to the chest is better than a .50.

Disclaimer: And when I say fucked, I mean fucked.

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Saturday, July 25


Daily News Stuff 24 July 2020

Minor Schedule Slip Edition

Tech News

  • Intel's 7nm process is a year behind schedule.  (AnandTech)

    Desktop 7nm is now expected by the end of 2022, with server parts in 2023 - more than three years behind AMD.

    This is a driving factor behind Intel's "Foveros" die stacking technology.  If you're tightly constrained on your leading-edge process, breaking out I/O functions to a second chiplet produced on an older process in plentiful supply has a multitude of benefits.

    It's probably possible to build a 64-core Zen processor on a single die, but shipping it in volume is an entirely different question.

    And despite these problems, Intel just posted another record quarterly profit.

  • Putting the new Ryzen 4000 desktop APUs through their paces.  (Tom's Hardware)

    They're not slow.  CPU side competes with Intel's brand new 10700K, and graphics side can play League of Legends - admittedly not the most GPU intensive game - at over 100FPS on max settings at 4K.

  • Prices for the 4000 Pro desktop APUs have also leaked.  (WCCFTech)

    It's a shame you can't buy them because they're pretty good value.  The 6 core / 7 CU 4650G Pro comes in at $209, just $10 more than the 3600 Pro without GPU.

  • The reason I'm so hyped for the Ryzen APUs is that this is just the beginning.  At 5nm, with DDR5 RAM, AMD will be able to double everything - 16 cores and 16 CUs - while keeping the die size the same and still keeping TDP under control.

    The 15W Zen 2 laptop chips are already faster than my 65W Zen 1 desktop CPU, and when AMD starts shipping 5nm parts they'll be Zen 3 if not Zen 4.

    A 16 CU Navi IGP would still be slower than my current RX 580, but would certainly not be slow.

    Going much beyond that would require either a large graphics cache or more memory channels - which is what we see in the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.  Both of those are really just Ryzen APUs with large IGPs.

    A Ryzen APU with quad-channel DDR5 would deliver gaming performance not far behind those consoles, but I'm not sure if the market is ready for it.

Disclaimer: P'raps not.

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Friday, July 24


Daily News Stuff 23 July 2020

Flagshipping Edition

Tech News

  • The Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro provides near flagship specs for just €999.  (AnandTech)

    Yay, I guess.

  • Shoulda bought AMD stock back in 2016.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Of course, had no money back in 2016.

    AMD has its earnings call next week, and will likely give us hints of future goodies to fuel uninformed speculation by tech bloggers.  Cough cough.

  • TechDirt is not partisan.  (TechDirt)

    Whenever you see a publication insist that it is not partisan, you know you have at most three paragraphs before they accuse Trump of putting children in cages.

  • Why Google needs a $99 tablet.  (ZDNet)

    I'd settle for $199 if it's any good.  (The article gives a reasonable list of requirements and says $150, despite the headline.)

  • Every problem I have with PyPy is due to its garbage collection.

    Case in point: If you use partials inside a loop in a Mustache template and process it through Pystache under PyPy, it can be an order of magnitude slower than CPython, despite the fact that PyPy averages 4.4x faster than CPython across a broad suite of benchmarks.  (And indeed outside of this specific case, Pystache is 4.5x faster under PyPy than CPython.)

    Another case in point: PyPy uses far more memory than Python.  Simple tasks that work fine under Python can leak gigabytes of memory and get the attention of the OOMK if you're not paying attention.

    I'm not sure how central to PyPy's performance that choice of garbage collection algorithm is to PyPy's performance, but it's annoying since it really has no other major flaws.  (Startup time for the JIT aside.)

    On the other hand, I was able to shave 1.5 seconds off the load time of a web application at my day job this afternoon.  We migrated servers a couple of months ago, from aging physical servers to the cloud, and in the process replaced EOL'd CPython 2.7 with still-supported PyPy 7.2.  This one app had been slow ever since, and today I finally got time to go down that rabbit hole.

  • In the fuck this shit department:

    We have Ethereum integrations into several of our apps at my day job.  Those integrations start to have problems when the gas price is above 4, and stop working when it's above 10 unless someone manually intervenes.

    Fortunately, at a gas price of 100 nobody's Ethereum integrations are working.  It's like using Amazon or Cloudflare - if they go down, so does half the internet, so no-one blames you for it.

Disclaimer: Still using my Nexus 7 after all these years.  Not the 2012 model, though.  That died.

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Wednesday, July 22


Daily News Stuff 22 July 2020

Indigestible Edition

Tech News

Picture of the Day

Comet Neowise puts in an appearance over the SpaceX launch pad.

Disclaimer: Fortunately Elon Musk is not technically a prince.

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