Why did you say six months?
He's coming.
This matters. This is important. Why did you say six months?
Why did you say five minutes?

Saturday, April 22


Daily News Stuff 22 April 2023

Sudden Total Existence Failure Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • The Asus Vivobook 15X is almost a very good laptop.  (Asus)

    It has a 15.6" 120Hz 2880x16201 OLED display covering 100% of DCI-P3 colour, the Four Essential Keys in the form of a three-column numeric keypad, an eight core 15W Ryzen 7730U CPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB SSD2, a physical webcam privacy shutter (something I appreciate since I work from home and have to join online meetings multiple times a day), one USB-C, three USB-A, HDMI, and a headphone jack (no microSD here either), and a separate power jack if you don't want to charge over USB-C.

    There are just a couple of problems with this.

    First, the digit 3 in 7730U means it's a Zen 3 chip despite being a 7000-series CPU, and the most recent Zen 3 U-series chip is the 6800U.  But the 6800U doesn't work with DDR4 RAM, so either the specs are wrong, or...  Well, the specs aren't wrong.  The 7730U isn't last year's 6800U, but the previous year's 5800U.

    It's not exactly the same; the CPU side of things runs 100MHz faster.  But the performance differences between the CPU sides of the three chips are minimal, and all are very strong performers given their minimal power draw.

    On the graphics side though the 7730U is a potato compared to the 6800U.  Not even half as fast.  It's comparable with Intel's Xe graphics at lower power, but that's all.

    Oh, and that screen resolution?  It's an "up to".  An up to that doesn't exist.  The 1TB SSD is also an up to, but at least you can upgrade that yourself.

    And the RAM is half-upgradeable - 8GB soldered and 8GB in an SO-DIMM.  So in theory you can upgrade to 40GB though that will lose dual-channel mode.  I'm not sure exactly how bad that would be for performance but it couldn't be worse than running out entirely with 16GB of soldered RAM.

    It is cheap, and it's light at 1.6kg, and the screen, whole only 1080p, really is OLED and really does cover 100% of DCI-P3.

    I keep mentioning that, and I should explain what it means.  DCI-P3 is the colour system used for digital movie projection, so if your screen covers 100% of that, it means it can display every colour visible in an IMAX cinema.

    The Acer laptop I mentioned yesterday can't do that.  I couldn't find a review of the exact model that measured the screen colours, but two similar models clocked in at 36% and 38% of DCI-P3, which is, um, bad.  My current laptop covers 100% of the smaller sRGB colour space, or did before the screen went funny, which was quite acceptable if not startlingly vivid.  The Acer screen covers about 54% of sRGB.  That's like looking outside on a cloudy day through a dirty window.

    The Vivobook can't go all the way to 64GB of RAM and doesn't have a discrete graphics card.  On the other hand it should run much cooler and has a vastly better screen, though not as vastly better as Asus tried to make me believe.

    It's not much more expensive despite the Acer being discounted by 45% right now and the Asus being at list price.

    So maybe.

    There's a model that fixes all of these shortcomings: 3200x2000 screen, 13980HX, 32GB RAM upgradeable to 64GB, and an RTX 4060.  It does cost A$3399 vs A$1399 though.  Also it's not available.

  • There is no AI, only Zuul.  (New Yorker)

    The article explains that what is currently being touted as AI is nothing of the sort, just a glorified typeahead tool, and the concerns about its impact are mostly nonsensical.

    It then -this is the New Yorker after all - proposes a global totalitarian nightmare state to allay these delusional fears.

    Yeah.  No.

  • I'm not sure if all AI ethicists are fascists, but the correlation is unmistakable.  (Overcoming Bias)

    Build a bridge out of them.

  • The Atari 800 XL is back.  (Revive Machines)

    Almost.  Well, an FPGA implementation of it.

    I only read up on the details of the Atari internals recently.  The custom graphics chip was a clear predecessor to the Amiga hardware and much more sophisticated than I had realised.

  • ChatGPT can write code.  The code is terrible.  (The Register)

    ChatGPT is aware of this, but won't tell you unless you ask.  Or possibly even then.

  • Google's Bard chatbot has also been updated to write code.  (The Verge)

    Bard is, if anything, less reliable than ChatGPT.

  • Twitter has stopped labeling state-affiliated media as "state-affiliated media" after the state-affiliated media threatened to leave the platform over being labeled as "state-affiliated media".  (The Verge)

    The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.  It was their final, most essential command.

Dear Current Anime Season, What Is Preventing You From Looking Like This Video of the Day

Dirty Pair Flash (the second half of this video) wasn't even good, and it still blows away almost everything airing right now.

(I won't even mention western animation.)

Disclaimer: The Party's lesser known penultimate command was as follows:
Pop a poppler in your mouth when you come to Fishy Joe's
What they're made of is a mystery
Where they come from no one knows
You can pick 'em, you can lick 'em
You can chew 'em, you can stick 'em
If you promise not to sue us you can shove one up your nose.

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Friday, April 21


Daily News Stuff 21 April 2023

Four Day Eekend Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Speaking of a great weeping and a gnashing of teeth Buzzfeed News is shutting down and firing 180 staff.  (Variety)

    So, first, Buzzfeed News by itself had 180 staff?

    Second, whatever you think of Buzzfeed, they actually published the Steele Dossier when everyone else was hiding it from view.

  • Is Intel's slowest CPU any good?  (AnandTech)

    Yes, actually.

    The 13100F only has four cores and costs around $100 but it is faster than the eight core Ryzen 1700 I was using until last year.

    Faster than the laptop I am typing this on, faster than the Xeon E-2136 I use as a development environment, and not much slower than a 1240P laptop.

  • Speaking of 1240P laptops, I'm thinking of buying an Acer Aspire 7.

    It doesn't have a high-resolution screen, just 1080p.

    The Four Essential Keys aren't in my preferred layout.

    But it has a decent CPU (last year's i5-1240P, if you hadn't guessed), dedicated graphics (just a GTX 1650, but plenty for playing Minecraft on the go), charges over either a dedicated port or Thunderbolt / USB-C, and has easily replaceable DDR4 RAM which I already have 128GB of sitting around.  Apart from the Thunderbolt port it has three USB-A ports, HDMI, and a headphone jack - and wired Ethernet, which is becoming a rarity these days.  No microSD slot but I can get by without that.

    It's a bit on the big and heavy side - it's a 15" model and the same size and weight as the 16" Gigabyte Aero I like -  but it also has the advantage of being around one fifth the price of the Aero.

    Which used to be a lot.

  • Oh, right, the reason that came up is because (a) my current laptop has 16GB of RAM and 16GB simply isn't enough.  32GB is a good minimum; 64GB if I want to run Linux VMs locally for testing.

    Which I do, because I currently pay ($TOO_MUCH) per month for a dedicated development server in Sydney.  It runs pretty well, and has six cores, 32GB of RAM, and 800GB of SSD, which is all I could ask for.

    But it's a virtualised dedicated server and as such can't run VMs itself, only containers.  Since I already have RAM and an SSD for upgrades the laptop could take over and pay for itself in six months, while at the same time being a (mostly) better laptop than my current laptop.

  • The RTX 4070 isn't selling so Nvidia is making less of them.  (WCCFTech)

    There's more money to be made selling high-end cards at $30,00 a pop to AI nuts.

    The GPU market is AMD's to scoop up at this point but they haven't released any new cards since the 7900 XT.

  • The Asus Ally handheld game console should squish the Steam Deck in terms of performance.  (WCCFTech)

    It has 8 Zen 4 CPU cores vs. 4 Zen 2 cores on the Steam Deck, and 6 RDNA3 graphics cores vs. 4 RDNA2 cores.  (RDNA3 is about 30% faster than RDNA2 for a given core count.)

    Price and launch date have yet to be announced.

Disclaimer: Hot water, good dentistry, and soft lavatory paper.

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Thursday, April 20


Daily News Stuff 20 April 2023

Crabbuckit Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Crab Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Check out the crabs in the bucket.

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Wednesday, April 19


Daily News Stuff 19 April 2023

Three Rusks for Elon Musk Edition

Top Story

  • Carcinisation is the process whereby everything that isn't already a crab, gradually becomes a crab. (Wikipedia)

    King crabs are not crabs. Nor are porcelain crabs, or hermit crabs, or coconut crabs, or hairy stone crabs. They are all the result of carcinisation, where various other decapod crustaceans evolved exactly the same outward characteristics as true crabs, to the point that you can't really tell them apart.

    This also happens to social networks.

    Yes, they turn into crabs.

  • Not my analogy either: This article by Ellis Hamburger (really) formerly of Snap - the company behind Snapchat - makes the point that all social networks start out as butterflies and evolve into crabs. (The Verge)

    It's well-written and has the insights expected of someone who spent years on the inside of one of these companies watching naive promises gradually wither in the face of commercial reality and the fact that people in large groups basically suck.

    The author doesn't have a solution to this and doesn't pretend to offer one:
    Users seem doomed to be unhappy in this overquantified world of "social." And businesses seem doomed to expect more from the social services they create. Perhaps this was just a blip in the journey of tech, born of a time when oversharing was novel and fun. Indeed, I remember the joy of posting hundreds of photos to Facebook the day after a party, excited to relive those memories with friends. At the time, it felt like a new form of connection.

    Now, I just text them.

    A big part of the reason here is that the financial incentives of the social media companies are horribly skewed:
    However, the promise of ads may simply be too good to turn down. Advertisers are simply willing to pay more for the product than its actual users. In Facebook’s case, the company makes something like $200 per year of ad revenue on each American user, but how many of those users would pay $15 / month to use Facebook? According to one study, not many.
    If you're more valuable as a product than as a customer, that's how you can expect to be treated.

    The thing is, the ads really aren't worth anything. I've seen one ad in all my years on social media that inspired me to buy something, and I didn't, and now I've forgotten what it was for.

Tech News

  • Cory Doctorow, writing about TikTok, called this process "enshittification". (Pluarlistic)

    They're editing the likes of Agatha Christie, P. G. Wodehouse, and Roald Dahl to avoid offending modern sensibilities - of illiterates - but at least we have a new generation of wordsmiths like Doctorow to fill in the gap.

    Bitter sarcasm aside, Doctorow has been observing the tech industry for a long time, and when he is reporting fact rather than his personal opinions he can provide some useful insights.

    He's a lefty - worse, a left-libertarian - so his preferred solution to every problem is to leave everything in the hands of private companies but regulate bad outcomes out of existence, which works about as well as holding your breath until you turn blue and requires about the same level of intellectual effort.

    He is at least partly right: Twitter has crippled its APIs for exactly the same reason that Amazon murdered its Smile program where you could direct a tiny percentage of the value of your purchases to a charity of your choice: You're already on the platform, and the competition is already dead, so they don't give a fuck anymore. You're just crabs in the bucket with them, and they're the big crab.

  • And finally just by way of comparison here's the same argument made by a doctrinaire lefty who is just so stuffed full of love that she'll beat your brains out with a claw hammer if you so much as blink in the middle of her five-and-a-half thousand word temper tantrum. (Substack)

    Five and a half thousand words of blaming every bad thing that has ever happened on "the right", from Twitter being taken over by fascists like Vijaya Gadde to her favourite shade of eyeshadow (moonbat grey) being withdrawn because of lethal levels of cadmium compounds.

    Even she recognises that all social networks turn to shit.

    She just doesn't recognise her own role in that process.

  • Minisforum has a cheap Ryzen 7735HS based mini PC wait is that the ASRock industrial SBC I spy? (AnandTech)

    Looks like it, with the two HDMI ports on the back and the two USB-C ports at the front. I'll have to do a close check.

  • Broader price cuts might be coming to the RTX 4070. (Tom's Hardware)

    Nvidia's 3000 series cards all sold out immediately at launch. The 4000 series cards have never been difficult to find - because people just aren't buying them.

  • Nvidia doesn't care much because their growth market isn't $600 cards for gamers, it's $30,000 cards for AI startups. (Tom's Hardware)

    Elon Musk reportedly just bought thousands of such cards for his new venture, X.AI.

    The AI boom is the new blockchain boom, only worse for everyone.

  • Twitter meanwhile will no longer suspend your account for the vile crime of (checks notes) correctly identifying someone's name of gender. (Tech Crunch)

    The previous regime at Bird Central treated this as worse than murder. The usual suspects are up in arms that the corporate stormtroopers are no longer willing to enforce their delusions.

  • Firefly can compile BEAM applications to WASM. (GitHub)

    Which sounds like a complete fucking nightmare to me, but it can also compile BEAM applications to native code, which could be great.

    BEAM is the runtime environment for Erlang, the language invented by Ericsson to run large-scale telephone switches. The idea behind Erlang is that if a system is large enough, some part of it is guaranteed to be broken at any time. You can't predict failures, but you can predict with certainty that failures will happen.

    Erlang is designed to handle this and automatically pick up whichever part of the system has died and get it running again on whichever parts of the system are still working. It's robust and powerful and at least reasonably efficient, but running Erlang applications means first installing a complex and unfamiliar environment. Like Java written by aliens.

    Firefly should make it possible to deploy Erlang applications just like you would anything else. And to run them in the browser too, though nobody in their right mind would try that.

  • Reddit will begin charging for its API. (Tech Crunch)

    Remains to be seen if the plans they offer are as stupid as Twitter's.

  • Next-gen Python tooling, written in Rust. (Astral)

    The secret to making Python run fast is not to use Python.

    I suppose slow corporate suicide is better than fast.

  • The FTC is planning to target AI that violates civil rights (what?) or is deceptive. (Reuters)

    Not sure how AI could violate civil rights, even in law, let alone in practice.

    But given that LLMs like ChatGPT are trained explicitly to lie, the industry is fucked if the FTC actually follows through here.

  • An open letter to epic fantasy readers. (Monster Hunter Nation)

    Basically a slap in the face to Patrick Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin:
    I’ve written something like 25 novels, 50 short stories, 6 novellas, edited 4 anthologies, and even wrote a non-fiction book about gun rights since George Martin’s last Game of Thrones novel came out
    My italics.

    I read the first Game of Thrones book. It was certainly well-written, but all the characters were awful. I never read further, and never watched the TV show.

    I read half of the first volume of Patrick Rothfuss' series, whatever it is called. The character introduced at the beginning is interesting. He has a past; he has depth, and damage, and is still standing and trying to do the right thing. So the book immediately ditches him for a literally interminable flashback to his past as a whiny kid who never fails at anything and deserves only to be served up as dragon bait.

    It don't know why those two series took up so much mindshare when there's so much else on offer - old and new - but it's probably to do with crabs.

Never Fear Music Video of the Day

Disclaimer: You can't always get what you want, because crabs.

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Tuesday, April 18


Daily News Stuff 18 April 2023

Cheep And Chearful Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: If we could burn stupid for heat we could melt the glaciers tomorrow with the power of a single tech journalist.

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Monday, April 17


Daily News Stuff 17 April 2023

Missed It By That Much Edition

Top Story

  • I noted last week that the RTX 4070 was overpriced in Australia, needing to be under $1000 if it were to have any chance of success.

    Today - just days after the launch - some cards have already been reduced to $999.

    Still fat and ugly - the nicer two-slot models have not seen price cuts - but at least slightly less horribly expensive.

  • The Gigabyte Aero 16 is also overpriced in Australia.

    Just saying.

Tech News

Hidden Delights Music Video of the Day

So I was hunting around Crunchyroll for something worth watching and I tripped over Ningen Fushin.  The story was different enough to give it a try, the characters aren't too aggravating, and it has an animation budget of at least 500 yen.

Seriously, the fight scenes are barely animated at all.

This ending, though, is wonderful.  I'm going to watch the whole season just so I get to see this ending eleven times.

Disclaimer: Would have bought two if I'd known.

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Sunday, April 16


Daily News Stuff 16 April 2023

Almost Nearly Edition

Top Story

  • Future ChatGPT versions could replace a majority of work people do today says Ben Goertzel, an idiot.  (ZDNet)
    "You don't need to be incredibly creative and innovative or make big leaps to do most people's jobs, as it turns out," said Goertzel.
    Perhaps not, but if you're a pathological liar, people tend to notice.

    And that's what ChatGPT is.  It's inherent in the design, because it's a language model, not a fact model.
    "Tools like Grammarly decrease the need for human copy editors," Goertzel said. "They don't entirely eliminate [the job] but they decrease that need. Automatic tools [can be used for] writing journalistic articles. They've been writing ... sports score summaries and weather reports for a long time."
    Seeing some of the crap that passes for journalism, you could replace the whole lot with a short Perl script and get better results.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Aargh.

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Saturday, April 15


Daily News Stuff 15 April 2023

Zero Alarm Fire Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: And not the entertaining kind.

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Friday, April 14


Daily News Stuff 14 April 2023

Slightly Less Worse Edition

Top Story

  • The project at work that has been eating all my time lately is winding down now, leaving me only 200% busy instead of 500%.

  • The hackers who hit Western Digital got away with 10TB of data.  (Tech Crunch)

    Which is smaller than my Steam library, so it rather depends on what's in there.

    They're asking for at least $10 million in ransom not to release it to the public.  I doubt they're going to get a penny.

Tech News

  • A suspect has been arrested in the San Francisco murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee.  (Mission Local)

    Nima Momeni is apparently another tech executive and knew Lee, and they were seen together on the night of the killing.

    Much has been made about this murder and San Francisco's descent into chaos under the policies of communist nutcases, and now that a suspect has been arrested the media are trying to pretend that this means that San Francisco is somehow not descending into chaos.

    Hey, we arrested one guy for one crime.  That means that everything is okay.

  • Nvidia's RTX 4070 is here, and at least in Australia they killed it on pricing.

    That is, the pricing killed it.  Between A$1100 and A$1250, when it needed to be under A$1000.

    At the high end it's only $100 cheaper than a 4070 Ti, and just $50 cheaper than the currently discounted models of AMD's Radeon 7900 XT, a much more capable card.

    The 4070 is a compact and well-designed two-slot card - if you can get the Nvidia Founder's Edition, which we can't here.  Almost all the available cards are much larger cards and hideously ugly.  The hold-out in that trend is Inno3D, not a leading brand, but they've come up with some reasonably nice two-slot designs, and a choice of black/silver and white/silver if you want to match your case.  They have a two-slot 4070 Ti in the same black/silver design as well.

    Still undecided which way to go here.  The 20GB 7900 XT is very competitive against anything Nvidia has right now unless you specifically want to play games with ray tracing, or run code that uses the Cuda compute API.   On the other hand, I'd probably be just fine with a 6700 at one third the price.

  • The Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT have received price cuts to compete with the 4070 if you can find them which I can't.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The Radeon 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT have ceased to exist in Australia.  I can get a not entirely terrible deal on a 6800 if I want to bother importing it from the US which I don't.

    Again the 6700 sings its siren song, before that too disappears.

  • On the other hand, the dirt-cheap pricing on the 4TB Team MP34 has reached these shores, so I can buy it from a local retailer (that is, within a day's travel of New House City) instead of importing from the US.

    I plan on getting at least five of these for my new PCs; it's less than half the price of equivalent drives from only a year ago, and it's a proper TLC model with DRAM cache, not a DRAMless QLC model like the Crucial P3, the only competition it has in its price range.

Disclaimer: It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of sardines in this crazy world.

-- An earlier, unused script for Casablanca.

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Thursday, April 13


Daily News Stuff 13 April 2023

Thursday the 13th Part 2 Edition

Top Story

  • Nvidia's RTX 4070 is here and it's not terrible.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's as fast as the previous generation's RTX 3080 while being $100 cheaper and using 40% less power, or to put it another way, 20% more expensive and 30% faster than the RTX 3070.

    It has 12GB of VRAM as standard which is enough in most cases, but I wouldn't buy an 8GB card for a system I wanted to use for gaming.  (A cheap 8GB card for light gaming is a different matter.)

    It's a regular two-slot card rather than the monstrous three-slot models that Nvidia and its partners have been shipping lately, and though Nvidia recommends a 650W power supply and it includes a 300W-rated 12-pin power connector, it should run in pretty much any system built in recent memory.

    Paired with a Ryzen 7900 (65W based power, around 90W peak) it should provide a almost reasonably priced and very capable system for serious work and what was high end gaming just a few months ago while running happily on a 450W power supply.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Rofl, perchance to copter.

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