Shut it!

Wednesday, March 03


Daily News Stuff 3 March 2021

300% Overclock Edition

Tech News

  • Reading through the details of the PicoDVI project from yesterday I'm struck by how simple (relatively) it is to encode low-resolution graphics into a TMDS signal - the encoding used by DVI and HDMI.

    The project itself uses RGB pixels rather than a palette, which makes the code more complicated and slower.

    The hard part is sending out three synchronised bitstreams at 251.75MHz, but the Pi Pico can do that, if you first overclock it to 251.75MHz, which it can also do.  I don't know of any other microcontrollers that can do that - the clock-accurate encoding part, I mean - previously you used an external FPGA if you needed something like that.

    I want 480x360 rather than 640x480, and I don't know how well that will work, though there is no defined minimum resolution for DVI or HDMI.  It would still require a small overclock for a 60Hz refresh, but 6% rather than nearly 100%.

    The great thing though is I don't need to build anything to try it, just wait until one of these projects ships, then plug it into a cheap monitor and start fiddling with the timing parameters.

    For a real project I'd make a small board with two RP2040s - the Pi Pico chip - connected over SPI, and just a couple of SPI flash chips, a voltage regulator, and other minor things.  Simple enough when you know someone who does this for  living.

    VGA is even easier, of course - you don't have to do all that nasty encoding, which leaves headroom to actually draw stuff on screen.

  • At the other end of the scale the Threadripper Pro is now shipping to retail customers.  (AnandTech)

    Prices range from $1150 for 16 cores to $5490 for 64 cores.

    The Asus Threadripper Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI motherboard will set you back an additional $1000 or so, which is not a bad price given its feature set, which ranges from dual 10G Ethernet and remote management to seven PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, seven M.2 slots, and audio with a claimed 120dB SNR.  About the only thing it lacks is Thunderbolt 4.

    This is all still Zen 2, though; there are no Zen 3 Threadrippers or Epycs available at retail yet.

  • The Asus ProART B550-Creator does have Thunderbolt 4.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The only AMD motherboard I know of that does, though there are a handful with Thunderbolt 3.

    It maxes out at 16 cores and 128GB of RAM, only has one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot and two M.2 slots (and the second would be PCIe 3.0 since it's a B550 board), and the dual Ethernet ports are only 2.5G, but that's still a solid little platform.

  • The Radeon 6700 XT will be launching in four hours.  (WCCFTech)

    That's 3AM here.  Not staying up.

    The one thing I'm interested in is how much Infinity Cache it has - if any.  The 6800 and 6900 models have 128MB; leaks indicate this might have 96MB.  That should be enough for 1440p gaming, and could also hint at where AMD is going next with its APUs.

  • The US Navy is a bunch of pirates.  (TorrentFreak)

    Specifically, they have been found liable in a case before the Federal Circuit.  Given that they did in fact install the software in question on half a million computers without paying for it, this seems like a reasonable ruling.

    Of course, they won't pay for the (up to) $500 million in damages either.

Disclaimer: And neither will I.  At least, not directly.

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Daily News Stuff 2 March 2021

Sit And Click Edition

Tech News

  • Intel's 670p is their new high-end QLC SSD.  (AnandTech)

    High end for QLC that is, which means low end.

    It's much improved over the earlier 660p and 665p.  Only problem is it costs more than a good TLC drive like my WD Black SN750 - $155 for Intel's 1TB model vs $130 for the WD.

    Intel will need to bring prices down by 30% before it makes any sense at all.

  • Speaking of 30% cheaper, if you try to order the Asus Zenbook 14 from Amazon Australia, the US model - delivered to Australia, in Aussie dollars, including Australian sales tax - is 30% cheaper than the Australian model.

    The only difference is the plug on the charger.

    The Zenbook 14 has USB-C.

    The Zenbook 14 does not support USB-C charging because fuck you that's why.

  • This could be something.

    Its a host board for the Pi Pico with microSD, USB, audio out, and from the looks of it, HDMI.

    Tom's Hardware says DVI but you can see there's no DVI connector.

    What they likely mean is a port that is physically HDMI and electrically DVI, which actually works perfectly well up to 1080p.  You don't get audio that way, but on the other hand, implementing it that way is royalty free, which matters a lot for small runs of hobby boards like this.

    Update: Oh my God.  (GitHub)

    So, DVI and HDMI use encoding called TMDS.  You can't just dump a digital RGB signal onto the cable; you have to encode each of the three colour channels as a 10-bit serial stream - at ten times the native pixel clock.

    That's precisely what they're doing.

    In software.

    They do overclock the Pico from its nominal 133MHz to 252MHz to get the necessary serial clock, but it works.  They can in fact drive two 640x480 60Hz DVI monitors from a single Pico, entirely in software.

  • I can get fried rice again.

    There are two big supermarket chains here in Australia.  One of them offered a quite nice store-brand microwave chicken fried rice in those long-life pouches that last about a year in the pantry.  A couple of months ago I went to order more and they were nowhere to be found.

    Now the other supermarket mysteriously has what looks exactly the same chicken fried rice except with their own store brand on it.

    I haven't been eating it as much lately because they recently started offering even better frozen versions that aren't much more expensive, but it's good to have a supply tucked away in the pantry.  In an emergency you can just eat it as a rice salad; it's already cooked.  Tastes better hot, but it's not bad cold.

  • It's likely that Apple will soon switch from their proprietary Lightning port to USB-C for all their mobile devices.  That will cause a lot of e-waste as people throw out existing devices, adapters, and cables because while they don't say it they expect Apple to fuck everything up.  (ZDNet)

    Why do they expect Apple to fuck everything up with the switch to USB-C?

    Because they already is.

  • Rocket Lake launches on March 30 unless it explodes on the pad.  (Hot Hardware)

    Which it probably won't because a certain retailer has already been selling them and benchmarks are out in the wild right now.

    The 11900K comes close to the Ryzen 5800X on Cinebench in both single and multi-core tests,  But the 11900K is the top of the line Rocket Lake part, and the 5800X is AMD's mid-range desktop part.  On the eleventh hand, the Ryzen 5900X and 5950X are pretty hard to find, though the 5800X seems to be in good supply.

  • I really should buy a new router to replace the one that caught fire.

Disclaimer: Because the one that caught fire ain't feeling too good.

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Monday, March 01


Daily News Stuff 1 March 2021

Onwards And Sideways Edition

Tech News

  • AMD's 4th gen Epyc Genoa will have stuff unless it doesn't. (WCCFTech)

    Specifically, up to 96 Zen 4 cores, 12-channel DDR5, 128 lanes of PCIe 5.0, and a 6096-pin socket.  In a two-socket system 48 PCIe lanes of each CPU will be used as interconnect, making 160 lanes available for I/O.

    Supposedly with a 320W TDP configurable up to 400W.  Current Threadrippers peak at 280W, and most Epycs are lower; 400W is rather a lot.

    But a 96-core 4th gen will easily match two 64-core 2nd gen Epycs.  It will also have twice the I/O bandwidth and more than twice the memory bandwidth.

    I had seen speculation of 96 cores and wondered how they'd fit the 12 chiplets required - even with 5nm it would be a tight fit.  The answer is, make the socket bigger.

    It's also rumoured to support AVX-512 which is currently the only server benchmark Intel can still win.

    It won't appear until the first half of next year, though.

  • Wonder if they'll support three channel DDR5 on socket AM5.  The desktop I/O die is currently one quarter of the Epyc I/O die, so if they keep that ratio, it would mean three memory channels.

    Doubt it - though it would make for amazing APUs

  • WASM everywhere everywhere. (GitHub)

    It's a Web Assembly interpreter compiled using that run-anywhere C library.


  • Don't plug your new Arm-based Macbook into that USB-C dock.  (ZDNet)

    Because it might die.

    Two points worth noting.  First, Apple blames the dock.  Second, they've released a software patch for it.

  • The invoice for the viewscreen was in your spam folder.  (ZDNet)

    Alexa supports over 90,000 Skills.  What do they all do?  Amazon doesn't know, or much care.

  • Microsoft has a patch for that horrible NTFS bug, where you can scramble your filesystem by opening a file with a particular name.  (Hot Hardware)

    You can't have it.

    The patch, that is, not the bug.  The bug you can have.

    To be fair, this is because they are allowing beta testers to beta test.  Pushing a buggy filesystem patch out to a billion users would not end well.

Disclaimer: But it would certainly end.

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Daily News Stuff 28 February 2021

We Don't Want Your Business

Tech News

  • You can mine Ethereum on Apple's M1 Arm chip.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Despite Apple's vaunted efficiency and TSMC's 5nm process, it is half as efficient as a previous-generation Nvidia card fabricated on 12nm.  And for throughput, it delivers between 3 and 4% of a 3060 Ti.

  • I recently mentioned Redbean, the tiny run-anywhere web server.  Take the binary, add your content directly to the file (since the binary is also a valid Zip archive), and run it directly on Windows, Mac, Linux, or Free/Open BSD - or boot directly into it from BIOS.

    And now Lua.

    Redbean+Lua+SQLite would make a <1MB application server that could be distributed as a single binary for every major platform.

  • Lastpass doesn't want you to use Lastpass.  (PC Perspective)

    Why exactly does a password manager need seven third-party tracking cookies?

  • In defense of dumb TVs.  (Framework)

    Kogan - Australia's own little Amazon Marketplace - still has a couple of store brand 4K dumb TVs.  And they're stupidly cheap.  I might pick up the 50" model before they disappear entirely, otherwise it's....

    Well, Philips does sell a 55" 4K monitor.  95% DCI-P3 gamut, DisplayHDR 1000, DisplayPort input, and a built-in 40W soundbar.  But it is a fair bit more expensive.  Also a reasonably-priced 43" monitor, though without DCI-P3 or HDR.

  • After killing CentOS, Red Hat now offers free RHEL subscriptions for open source nonprofits.  (ZDNet)

    Of course, before they killed CentOS they already did that.  It was called CentOS.  And you didn't have to beg for it.

  • Planned to clean my fridge, so I typed fridge cleaner into the search box when ordering my groceries.  Soapy water and paper towels would do the job, but I wanted to see what came up.

    What came up was a specifically food-safe disinfectant.  Kills the usual 99.9% of germs, but no harsh chemicals, it promised.  Took a look at the ingredients - water, ethyl alcohol, and vanillin.  Oh.  It's basically vanilla vodka at one tenth the price.

    I'm not sure exactly what proof it is; it doesn't say on the label.  After taking a whiff, I did what any enterprising scientist would do and sprayed a small puddle on the granite countertop and dropped in a lit match.  The puddle didn't catch fire, but the match burned with a blue flame for the next thirty seconds before finally going out.

    It also works really well at cleaning glass, and smells great.

    Update: They publish a safety sheet for it.  It's 25% alcohol by volume - 50 proof - and they list the flash point as 36°C.  Which doesn't mean that it catches fire at 36°C, it just means that it can catch fire at 36°C if you apply a match to it.  As does, for example, paper.

  • Speaking of Hololive and YouTube's algorithmic idiocy, apparently best doggo got demonetised for a while and had Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague warnings attached to her videos.

Disclaimer: And the horse you rode in on.

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Saturday, February 27


Daily News Stuff 27 February 2021

You Idiots Edition

Tech News

  • Don't connect critical industrial control systems directly to the internet you idiots.  (Ars Technica)

    And if you do, don't leave them in programming mode.

    And if you do, when you update your résumé, just say you were in a Turkish prison for the past twelve years.

    Yes, there is also a nasty vulnerability in the key management used in Logix industrial automation systems, but you have to be doing several things wrong to even get to that point.

  • Turns out the water cooling doesn't help.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Dell gaming systems are infamously noisy.

    The Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 offers a water cooling option.

    It doesn't help.

    Shame, because you can actually buy one, which is not true if you try to buy the individual parts.

  • The Sabrent Rocket Q4 4TB is the fastest 4TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 drive on the market.  (Serve the Home)

    Also the cheapest.

    Yes, you guessed it.  But despite using QLC flash, it's not actually bad.

  • I wonder what happens if you simply add yeast to pancake batter, put it in a cake tin, and leave it to rise before baking?

    I'll find out tomorrow.

    The gluten-free bread I like has been out of stock for months, which is why I've been experimenting with making my own.  There are lesser alternatives - lesser than the brand I like, that is; still clearly superior to anything I've managed to produce thus far.

    At least chicken nuggets are available again.  There is one gluten-free brand available at one store, and it's been missing for weeks.  I was going to try making my own but the stuff I needed for that was also out of stock.

    I did find out, though, why gluten-free chicken nuggets are better than regular ones - in that they have more chicken and less coating than the regular kind.

    It's cheaper that way.  Pound for pound, the chicken costs less than the gluten-free coating, whether it's batter or breadcrumbs.

  • YouTube is a pile of crap.

    Yes, they shadowbanned Kiara, who has over 800,000 subscribers now, while she was in the middle of moving back home from Japan to Australia wink.  They took down Suisei's remonetisation celebration stream due to a copyright strike, after leaving her demonetised for a month without ever saying why.  Suisei has 780,000 subscribers.

    They also did this:

    Viva Frei has 350,00 subscribers.

    They also shadowbanned and demonetised Hardware Unboxed due to "suspicious activity" on their account.  What suspicious activity?  They didn't say.  How can this be resolved?  They didn't say.

    Hardware Unboxed has 750,000 subscribers.

    If you have a small YouTube channel you had better (a) back everything up and (b) hope the algorithm never notices you, because if it does, you are screwed.

Disclaimer: Slab and grue, yes. But it doesn't say how slab and grue.

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Friday, February 26


Daily News Stuff 26 February 2021

Desert Topping Floor Wax Edition

Tech News

  • Redbean is a small (200k) extremely fast (1 million requests per second) web server for static files and applications.  (

    It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Net and Open BSD.

    Without recompiling.  The same binary runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Net and Open BSD.  Not currently for Arm-based Macs but that is coming - still in a single binary.

    To deploy your content, you change the name of the file from to, add your files to the zip archive - because yes, it is also a valid zip archive, because why the hell not - change the name back to, and run it.

    You can also apparently boot directly into it from BIOS, but that's only useful on a virtual machine; on actual hardware you'd have no drivers.

  • INTERCAL, YAML, and other horrible programming languages.  (Earthly)

    It's all fun and games until someone loses their mind.

  • Demand for semiconductors is currently as much as 30% higher than supply.  (AnandTech)

    Not memory, which is what usually gets bitten by supply crunches, but logic.

    It may be 12 to 18 months before things get back to normal.

  • The RTX 3060 is not actually bad.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's faster than a 2060 Super and close to a standard 2070 or the older 1080 Ti, and reasonably priced at $329, particularly with its 12GB of RAM.

    I couldn't find any available on Amazon or Newegg, but there are some listed in stock here in Australia, starting at A$869, which US$691 including tax, or US$628 before tax.

    So the cheapest available model is selling at a 90% markup over MSRP.

  • Lenovo's Thinkpad Fold X1 is the world's first foldable laptop except for all the others.  (

    It's essentially a 13" tablet that folds into a roughly 9" mini-laptop with an optional Bluetooth keyboard that snaps into place magnetically.

    It's about the same size as my HP Spectre x2 except that it folds in half.

  • Twitter will now let you pay to follow people.  (ZDNet)

  • Australia's stupid link tax law has passed through Parliament.  (AP)

    It had strong bipartisan support so you know it's bad.

  • Nvidia's dedicated mining cards are worse at mining than their gaming cards.  (Tom's Hardware)

    And the reason appears to be that they are using last-generation Turing chips - from the 1660 up to the 2080 Ti - and not current-generation chips.

    Turing was (is?) made on TSMC's 12nm process while Ampere is made on Samsung's 8nm process, so cranking out the older chips doesn't affect production capacity for the newer ones - except, as we noted, that demand is running at 130% of capacity anyway.

  • The language of technical difficulties is universal.

    I can't understand what Pekora is saying.  I can't understand what her chat is saying.  I can't even read her Minecraft setup screen, apart from the words "Hololive server" and "LAN".  But everyone knows what red text on a login page means.

Disclaimer: If we had some ham and eggs, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some ham and eggs.

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Thursday, February 25


Daily News Stuff 25 February 2021

Piglin Princess Pipico Edition

Tech News

Not Tech News - Not Any Kind Of News, Really

  • Faith in humanity restored, just a tiny bit.

Every Single Hololive Japan Opening Theme Video of the Day

I've been watching Hololive for months and I'd seen about 5% of these.

Disclaimer: Some of Aqua's openings may cause brain injury in vertebrates.

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Wednesday, February 24


Daily News Stuff 24 February 2021

Beck, Tig Beck Edition

Tech News

  • Big Tech Detective is a Chrome extension that block requests to Google.  (The Verge)

    Unsurprisingly, you have to install it manually.

    It's configurable to block requests to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and/or Amazon, and to block the page that made the request.

  • Console architecture from the NES to the Wii.  (Copetti)

    Each console gets its own page with a lot of detail; even so, some of the features need entire pages of their own.  Mode 7 on the SNES springs immediately to mind.

  • Betteridge's Law of Quantum Headlines: If your headline uses the word "quantum" the answer is no.  (ZDNet)

    In this case:
    Could quantum computers fix political polls?
    And they give the answer right there in the subhed, so they are at least nominally aware.

  • The trouble with Cassandra.  (

    Specifically the trouble with using Apache Cassandra as a metadata store for object storage platforms like Amazon S3.  If that seems awfully specific, that's because MinIO is a storage platform like Amazon S3.

    It's open-source.  I didn't realise it was AGPL, but that shouldn't matter for 99% of applications where you just want to use it, rather than sell it as a product.

    If you want to sell it as a product, and can't work with AGPL, though, forget it.  Their Enterprise license is capacity based and costs four times as much as simply using Backblaze B2.  That is, the license alone costs more than outsourcing the whole thing.

    I suspect their audience is companies that want to use S3 APIs (why?) but need to control their own data.  A thousand bucks a month for long-term support on a 50TB storage pool is a lot less than even a potential privacy lawsuit.

    Oh yeah, the problem: Cassandra is not ACID.  It's not even eventually consistent, not by itself.  It's highly available, continuing to work even if parts of your network or multiple servers are down.  MongoDB by comparison will only work if a majority of nodes are available and you are connecting to that majority.

    It can also, by default, lose confirmed writes.

    So an object can be written to the datastore, be confirmed as available, and then if a problem occurs with the database - not the storage - be lost from the index and unfindable.

    Also, last time I checked - and admittedly it's been a while - MinIO didn't support user authentication or any other form of multi-tenant support; everything was owned by one user.  Now it does.  That makes it a lot more useful.

Disclaimer: It's all gone quantum.

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Tuesday, February 23


Daily News Stuff 23 February 2021

Minitru Approved Edition

Tech News

  • Building ByteDance's censorship machine.  (Protocol)

    If you're using a Chinese online platform, the Chinese government reads everything you say.  If you speak a language the spies don't know, you will encounter technical difficulties until you stop doing that.

  • They both blinked.  (Sydney Morning Herald)

    Facebook is unbanning Australia after some minor amendments to the shitty new link tax legislation.  They still have to pay the link tax, they just have more time to negotiate deals before any arbitration is triggered.

  • Samsung's S21 Ultra is a brilliant flagship phone but.  (AnandTech)

    Lacks a headphone socket, has no options for expandable storage, and starts at $1200.

  • JPEG XL is JPEG 2000 only good.  (Cloudinary)

    It supports transparency, overlays, animation (albeit very basic animation), and can be transcoded losslessly from existing JPEG images.  That is, both JPEG and JPEG XL are lossy, but there's no additional loss in the conversion.

    The sample images show that some of the competing formats - not JPEG XL - have interesting artifacts at high compression levels.  That is, they don't look like artifacts; they're not blocky, blurry, or smeared.  They just get the details wrong.  Flick between the original and compressed version and some of the fine details move.

  • JWCC is JSON with commas and comments.  (GitHub)

    Seems reasonable.

  • Concise Encoding is JSON with the lot.  (Concise Encoding)

    And a fried egg on top and spam.

    If you want JSON with the lot, the spec looks good.  If you want it in a language other than Go, time to roll up your sleeves.

  • Yes you can.  (Late Checkout)

    Article about Reddit - and how it is undervalued relative to the other social networks - mentions as a glaring flaw that you can't search within a subreddit.

    You can.  The UI isn't great; you either need to know the syntax, or enter your search and then choose to narrow it to a particular subreddit, but it absolutely works.

    Much of the advice given in the article seems similarly wrong.  The numbers are interesting, though.  Unless they are also wrong.  I didn't check.

Disclaimer: r/theydidntdothemath

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Monday, February 22


Daily News Stuff 22 February 2021

Random Cheery Thoughts Edition

Tech News

  • Thoughts from an Ethereum developer.  (GitHub)

  • Not 1984 but Brave New World.  (ZDNet)

    Is that better? Maybe, if the only available alternative was indeed 1984.

    The usual suspects have signed on to an Australian industry code aimed at stamping out that most dangerous of all scourges, misinformation.

    Of course, Facebook has taken it a step further and stamped out Facebook.  File that one under met or exceeded.

  • Liberals get the bullet too.  (BuzzFeed)

    Communists at Facebook are upset that the CEO has influence over corporate policy, and that they are prevented from simply deleting everything they disagree with.

  • Turning all of science fiction's dire warnings into Totalitarianism for Dummies guides.  (The Next Web)

    Today: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Precrime.

  • Vyolfers streamed Minecraft this morning and Reine is resuming her previously aborted stream right now.  I found that literally seconds before it went live.

    Their shopping mall is starting to look really impressive.

  • Half-price sale on organic gluten-free flours.  Don't care at all about the organic part, but do appreciate the gluten-free and half-price.  Have brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, lentil flour, and oat flour incoming.

    Just cross-checking, at half price they're cheaper than the inorganic equivalents but not radically so, except for the almond flour which is expensive no matter what.

Hardware Unavailable Video of the Day

Which unavailable graphics card should you buy?  A quick check in Australia showed the RX 550 and RX 6900XT in stock on the AMD side - at $149 and $2149 respectively.  Every card in between was out of stock.

On the Nvidia side things were slightly better, with the discontinued 2060, 2070, and 2080 being readily available albeit outrageously expensive, and the RTX 3090 selling at not too much above its list price.

Disclaimer: You there: Fuck off.  And when you get there, fuck off from there too.  Then fuck off some more.  Keep fucking off until you get back here.  Then fuck off again.

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