What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Friday, February 07

Geek

Daily News Stuff 7 February 2020

Doctor Whom Edition

Tech News

  • Not tech news exactly, but the new season of Doctor Who started on New Year's Day but I held back based on poor previews and ratings and reviews which I studiously avoided watching because I still fully intended to watch the show itself, and, being down with a stomach bug today, did.

    The first two episodes of Season 12, Spyfall parts 1 and 2.

    And...  It's good.

    Not great, perhaps.  Chris Chibnall still can't write dialogue (Steven Moffatt is brilliant at that), the pacing was a bit off in places, and it did feel the need to drive the message home with a croquet mallet a couple of times - but - all that said, still substantially better than anything in Season 11.  Better than half of Season 10 for that matter.

    So, very cautious thumbs up and will continue watching.  I'll report back if they promptly take all my hopes and smash them on the TARDIS floor as seems likely based on recent performance.

    Update: Crash.

    Update Two: Okay, maybe not.  The opening two-parter was pretty solid.  The next episode was bad and unsalvageable.  Then one flawed but interesting.  Then two interesting but flawed.  Five out of six worth watching, and the other one - episode 3 - can be safely skipped without missing anything from the season arc.

    The season arc stuff is mainly in episodes 1, 2, and 5 so far.

    Oh.  Spoiler: There's a season arc again.  Doctor Who is much better with season arcs.  My favourite year of the classic series was season 16, mostly because of Mary Tamm, but also because of the Key to Time.


  • Li Wenliang, the first of the eight doctors who tried to raise the alarm over the Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague only to be suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party, has now died of the disease he tried to warn us about.  (Reuters)

    Beijing is not learning:
    China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, its top anti-corruption body, said on Friday it would send investigators to Wuhan to probe "issues raised by the people in connection with Dr. Li Wenliang.”
    Central Commission for Discipline Inspection?  They barely even filed the numbers off their copy of Brave New World.


  • 80TB hard drives are on the way.  (AnandTech)

    The secret is they have fricking lasers on their heads.  Literally.


  • The driver software for Wacom tablets sends the details of every application you open to Google.  (Tom's Hardware)

    An ethereal spokesbeing for Wacom Corporation explained that this was necessary "for reasons that are beyond your human understanding".


  • In a case of the vanta calling the kettle black Google has demanded that Clearview cease and desist from scraping websites.  (TechDirt)

    Which, let us not forget, is the foundation for all of Google's business.


  • Is the future distributed narcissism?  (a16z)

    Not if I have anything to bloody say about it, sunshine.


  • A look at that weird Netgear switch with the scattershot port arrangement.  (Serve the Home)

    Again, it has four 1Gb ports, two 2.5Gb, two 5Gb, one 10Gb RJ-45, and one 10Gb SFP+.

    One concern I had was the fan - it's not passively cooled - but it's rated at just 21dBA which you are not going to even hear unless the rest of the room is dead silent.


  • Don't buy these Apple products.  (ZDNet)

    Most of them, to be honest.


  • Australia has a National Blockchain Roadmap which sounds like it is going to be executed every bit as swiftly and competently as the fucking NBN.  (ZDNet)

    On the other hand...  Good.  Maybe they'll somehow break it all and we can go back to abaci.


  • Nvidia has launched its own cloud gaming service.  (Tech Crunch)

    It's initially priced at $5 per month and you can play games in your Steam, Battle.net, or [name that shall not be spoken] libraries.  Also, you need to live in the US, Europe, Korea, or Japan, or really like lag.

    It's speculated that this is the customer that CC150 CPU was designed for.


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

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Geek

Daily News Stuff 6 February 2020

Faster Better Cheaper Edition

Tech News

  • Samsung is shipping LPDDR5 RAM with speeds up to 6.4Gbps.  (AnandTech)

    This is initially aimed at phones, but is good news few the new generation of mobile APUs with more powerful integrated graphics.  Intel and AMD both support LPDDR4x at speeds up to 4.266 Gbps, and this will provide 50% more bandwidth than even that.


  • What in the world is the Intel CC150?  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's an 8 core / 16 thread part with no turbo boost, locked at 3.5GHz.  That means single-threaded performance suffers, but multi-threaded performance matches the i7-9700K while power draw matches the much slower i5-9500.

    This points to it being a part for small servers for a large customer, that has somehow leaked out onto Chinese markets.


  • Don't post people's private information to Twitter you idiots.  (TechDirt)

    This is not Twitter screwing up, this is the reporter whose account was suspended screwing up.

    If you have a news story that involves leaked private information, post a link to the news story, not the leaked private information.


  • Twitter for iPad now lets you turn off that annoying search column unless it doesn't.  (WCCFTech)

    For browser users, you can hide it using the block element feature of AdBlock Plus.  Makes the Twitter UI much more bearable.  Does nothing to fix the content though.


  • Don't use Alpine Linux for Docker images of Python apps.  (PythonSpeed)

    Not that I was planning to, but it can increase the time to build a new image from 30 seconds to 25 minutes.

    And also break your app.  That too.


  • Windows Search went down due to a networking problem at Bing.  (The Verge)

    I first saw this story and said - what?  How?

    Then I realised they meant that horrible search function in the Windows taskbar, which I have permanently disabled on all my computers.  Not file search.


Disclaimer: Blame it on the woogie.

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Thursday, February 06

Geek

Daily News Stuff 5 February 2020

New Lamps For Old Edition

Tech News

  • Can a high-end enterprise SSD from 2017 beat a low-end one from 2020?  Yes.  Maybe.  Some of the time.  (AnandTech)

    The 2020 model has much more consistent performance at low queue depths.  The 2017 model performs better at sustained heavy workloads because it has far more reserved capacity (overprovisioning).

    New old stock enterprise SSDs seem to be quite common in the marketplace and can be solid value.


  • An Asus BIOS update appears to have leaked the details of four new Epyc CPUs.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Including a 16 core model with all eight chiplets active.  It has 256MB of L3 cache, which requires 8 CPU dies, and a base clock of 3.5GHz.  That might be an interesting part depending on how it is priced, which I guess depends on how many partly-functional CPU dies AMD has on hand.


  • Don't panic about the Great Iowa Caucus Disaster of '20.  (TechDirt)

    Just, when anyone brings up online voting, drown them  (9to5Mac).


  • Chrome 80 is out.  It has stuff.  (Bleeping Computer)

    I'm not aware of anything Google has fucked up with this specific release, and it has the usual swarm of security fixes, so go to it.


Disclaimer: She turned me into a European cave salamander.

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Wednesday, February 05

Geek

Daily News Stuff 4 February 2020

Baby It's Cold Inside Edition

Tech News

  • Just had to get up and turn off the air conditioning because it was too cold.  That's a welcome relief after 10 days where it was too hot even with the air conditioning running 24 hours a day.


  • JEDEC - the memory industry standards body - has announced an update to HBM2 with speeds now up to 3.2Gbps per pin.  (AnandTech)

    That's slower than GDDR6, which runs at 14Gbps.  But where a GDDR6 chip has 32 data pins, an HBM2 chip has 1024.

    Also, Samsung, a leading supplier of HBM2, immediately said "watch my beer" and announced 4.2Gbps HBM2.


  • Intel is fighting back against AMD's Epyc with a new lineup of Cascade Lake Xeons which are pretty much identical to the old lineup of Cascade Lake Xeons.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Sure, that'll work.


  • VMWare has an important announcement.  (Tom's Hardware)

    That's marketing speak for we're raising prices.
    Today we announced an important update to our per-CPU pricing model, reflecting our commitment to continue meeting our customers’ needs in an evolving industry landscape.
    We're raising prices a lot.
    This new pricing model will give our customers greater choice and allow us to better serve them.
    Doubling them.


  • Twitter has a habit of suspending accounts and forcing you to provide your mobile number to re-activate them.

    Anyone can then look up your mobile number and match it to your Twitter account.  (Tech Crunch)

    If this were entirely optional and clearly presented, it wouldn't be a problem at all.  But given that the second part happens by default and the first part is forced upon you, not so good.


  • Apple wants to standardise SMS OTPs to improve 2FA.  (ZDNet)

    With the rise of SIMjacking, SMS OTPs are a bad idea for anything significant anyway.  


  • Neo4j 4.0 is out.  (Neo4j)

    Neo4j is a graph database - that is, rather than having records in tables it has records in tables but they are linked to other records in other tables.  Or, rather than having a user record that has lots of friend records that are implicit connections to other user records, a user record has lots of friend links that are explicit connections to other user records.

    This is great for asking questions like "how many people I follow are following this other person" although you can do that pretty easily with SQL anyway, or "what is the shortest path connecting me with Kevin Bacon" which is a massive pain to answer with SQL but trivial to do with a graph database.

    I've played with it briefly in the past, but never used it live, and didn't realise that previously you could only run one Neo4j database per server.  Of course in the age of LXC and Docker you can have a hundred servers if you need to, but still.

    Also, you can now run one Neo4j database across multiple servers.  We built a custom graph database cluster at my day job, years back, to answer Kevin Bacon questions in real time on very large datasets.  It was pretty simple because we only had one record type and a couple of relationships, but having an off-the-shelf solution would have been nice.

    (Though these days a single Epyc server would be able to handle that workload without blinking anyway.)


  • There's a story floating around that YouTube has banned videos relating to elections that make false claims about candidates.  (Slashdot)

    I went to the source and found that it's not nearly so insane as that  (Google Blog)

    They ban videos making specific and verifiably false claims about candidate eligibility, and, uh
    video that has been technically manipulated to make it appear that a government official is dead
    like for example Ruth Bader Ginsburg since 2011.

    Of course, YouTube continue their brain-damaged push to "raise up authoritative voices" i.e. promote the major TV networks who all (a) lie constantly and (b) want to see YouTube dead in a ditch.


  • An online voting app with just 2000 users crashed under the load and reduced the state of Iowa to ashes.  Andrew Yang hardest hit.


  • Become one with the salamander.



Disclaimer: They are only apparently compelled to move in order to mate, which they do approximately once every 12.5 years.

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Monday, February 03

Geek

Daily News Stuff 3 February 2020

Pursuing Panini Edition

Tech News

  • Don't install CDisplayEX.  Unless you have a download file from 2017 or earlier.  The current version has malware, and previous versions had different malware.


  • There's a new Robert Heinlein novel.  (Amazon)

    The manuscript was originally thought lost and only fragments remained.  Then someone dug through all Heinlein's files and put all the fragments together in the right order and realised that they had the entire thing.

    On the other hand...  This is an earlier version of The Number of the Beast.

    On the gripping hand, it is reportedly significantly different and reads more like early Heinlein than late.  Same characters, same setup, but about a third of the way through it heads off in the opposite direction.

    Release date is March 24.


  • Intel's Xe GPUs will support 8-bit integers.  (Tom's Hardware)

    But then so did the 8008.  (I stopped to see if the 4004 supported 8-bit data.  It did not.)


  • Cui bono?

    Who benefits from the Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague?  Skype.  (Bloomberg)

    Also, bats who don't want to be made into soup.  Skype bats.


  • The Space Jam website is still up.  (SpaceJam.com)


  • A brief history of everything web dev.  (eev.ee)

    Which is how I learned that the Space Jam website was still up.


  • Get your 288GB archive of flash games here!  (Bleeping Computer)

    38,526 games with a launcher utility and standalone player.

    And yes, it includes Epic Battle Fantasy 1 through 4.  5 is available on Steam (and is well worth the price if you like not-entirely-serious old-school RPGs).

    Full game list.  (Blue Maxima)


  • India will spend ₹8000 crore on quantum computing.  (ZDNet)

    Not included in the budget: Learning to count like normal people.  A crore is 100 lakh; a lakh is ten thousand.  It is written - cover your eyes if you're sensitive to numbergore - 1,00,00,000.

    In other words, about a billion dollars.
    Fibre to the home connections through Bharatnet will link 100,000 gram panchayats this year.
    A 100,000 gram panchayat is a small hippopotamus used to deliver milk.


  • Apple has extended its lead in the tablet market due to nobody bloody well making any Android tablets that aren't either complete garbage or absurdly expensive.  (Thurrott.com)

    $100, sure.  $1000, no problem.  In between?  Tumbleweeds.

    And that's in the US.  In Australia you can't even buy the Kindle Fire.  Can't get it from Amazon Australia, and Amazon US won't ship it to you.  Won't even show it in search results.


  • Google is experimenting with Chrome to show the search query in the URL bar rather than the search URL.  (Bleeping Computer)

    The behaviour of the Chrome URL bar is starting to get seriously weird.  If you cut and paste URLs as often as I do it's...  It's like that quiet neighbour who everyone knew was going to construct a meat dragon one day.


  • Testing Ubuntu 20.04 (which isn't out yet) on a $199 Walmart laptop.  (Phoronix)

    This beastie - the Motile M141 - has a Ryzen 3200U; at the bottom end of the Ryzen laptop range, but still far better than an Atom processor.  It has 4GB RAM (upgradeable , though apparently only one DIMM slot), a 128GB SSD (which is enough to actually run Windows and is also upgradeable), a 1080p IPS display, HDMI, four USB ports, probably microSD, and wired Ethernet.

    I just checked and it's listed at $279 right now, which isn't quite as much of a bargain.


  • Spotting fake antiques with carbon-14.  (LiveScience)

    Atmospheric nuclear testing significantly increased the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere, resulting on what is called the Modern Era - the point at which carbon dating doesn't work because every living plant in the entire world has been arbitrarily contaminated.

    That is, you can't reliably tell how old something is if it's newer than about 1950, but you can easily prove that it was made after 1950.  Because on the classical carbon dating scale it gives a reading that indicates it was made in the future.


  • Between December 30 and January 1, eight doctors in Wuhan sounded the alarm over a new SARS-like virus appearing in the city.  (MSN)

    Chinese authorities sprang immediately into action...  And arrested them.


Disclaimer: Fight for your right to Chinese Communist Party.

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Sunday, February 02

Geek

Daily News Stuff 2 February 2020

02/02/2020 Edition

Tech News

  • I re-enabled Dropbox over the weekend.  And...  It did the right thing.

    In fact, it did the clever thing.  It said to itself, aha, I lost 5400 files that you didn't really delete - and it put them back.  It didn't need to upload them again first, it just pulled them out of the ether.

    On the other hand, it did delete them all from my iMac (which also has Dropbox installed) and then resync them.  So that part was dumb.


  • I also wiped my Lenovo Ideapad and reinstalled Windows from scratch.  Which basically, surprisingly, just worked.  I managed to free up enough space to do the latest Windows update - which was a chore since it only has a 32GB eMMC drive in the first place (which was why I was able to buy it for less than A$200) - but then it got stuck in a boot loop where it would try to undo the upgrade, fail, reboot, and try again forever.

    If you have a 32GB device like that, don't even try to upgrade to new Windows 10 releases (though the regularly monthly patches work fine).  When the time comes, backup all your files - I mean, it's only 32GB, how many files can you have - wipe it, and reinstall.

    I tried installing the 32-bit version of Windows 10 since that's supposed to save a significant amount of space but it said no no no.


  • Also pulled all the drives out of my old desktop PC (Nagi), stuck them in USB enclosures, and plugged them into Tohru.

    Interesting point is that they all worked perfectly.  SSDs are supposed to have a limited power-off lifespan and Nagi has been turned off for two full years, but the two SSDs came right to life with all their previous contents.

    I am now in the process of scanning 40TB of disk and doing SHA-256 sums of every file so that I can start pruning the duplicates.

    There are a lot of duplicates.

    At least WSL makes things like that fast and easy.


  • On the new server front, $150 per month gets us either:

    • One Ryzen 3900X server with 64GB RAM and 2 x 1TB NVMe SSDs, or

    • Two Ryzen 2600 servers each with 64GB RAM and a 1TB SATA SSD

    The advantage of the former is that (a) all that CPU is available to anything that needs it and (b) super fast NVMe drives.

    The advantage of the latter is that (a) we'd have twice the total RAM and (b) no single fault can take everything down.


  • Happy World Palindrome Day!




  • Intel is dropping Nervana for Habana which sounds like they're abandoning Buddhism for Communism with a broken spell-checker. (Tom's Hardware)

    These are two AI startups Intel acquired for $350 million and $2 billion respectively.  This change means that the NNP-T and NNP-I chips I've mentioned here previously are now expensive and not particularly effective paperweights.


  • Investors betting against Tesla lost their shorts. (WCCFTech)

    Unless they didn't.


  • All major web browsers support HTTP status code 451, Unavailable For Legal Reasons. (Mozilla.org)

    But then, they all support code 418, I'm a teapot.


  • Free is a C-like language that compiles to SMPL. (GitHub)

    SMPL is a variant of Brainfuck that supports pointers.
    Honestly, I'm not sure I still understand the complete scope of how the entire compiler works.  A lot of it seemingly works by magic.  Nevertheless, I'll still try to give a meaningful explanation.  Do not trust this software because I honestly have no idea why it works.


  • There is no reason for a mail server to run as root in the first place. (ZDNet)

    Yes, there are workflows that require it. Stop using those workflows.



Disclaimer: Thunderbolts and lightning are kind of a relief after two days of 35C and 100% humidity.

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Saturday, February 01

Geek

Daily News Stuff 1 February 2020

What I Mean Is, Why Edition

Tech News

  • Dammit, I hit shift-click there.  Ugh.


  • Looking for a mini-ITX X570 server motherboard with only one M.2 slot and one PCIe x4 slot?  No?  Because that's kind of useless?  Well, ASRock has one anyway.  (AnandTech)

    It does have dual 10Gb Ethernet, 8 SATA ports, and four SO-DIMM slots supporting ECC, so it packs a lot into the mini-ITX form factor.  Just not I/O.


  • Intel's Core i9-10900K is 2% faster than the 9900K.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The boost clock is 5.1GHz, up from 5GHz.  Oh, and it does have 10 cores instead of 8, so there's that as well.  But that is less impressive than it once was given that AMD is already shipping 16 core desktop parts in volume.


  • We previously reported on Apple's response to the EU's call for a standard charger port on all phones.

    They said no.

    The EU said LOL and voted 582-40 in favour of the resolution anyway.  (Apple Insider)

    This is not a law.  It's not even a bill.  Nothing in the EU is so simple.  It's a resolution to call for action by the EU Commission, which can respond with a LOL of its own if it chooses.


  • A look at the Xeon E-2286G, a mumbleenth-generation small server CPU from Intel.  (Serve the Home)

    Oh. That one's six cores.  I should be looking at the E-2288G.

    I'm looking at moving servers and have found a provider with reasonably-priced options for both Ryzen and Xeon E servers, so I need to do a little bit of reading and compare.  Ryzen is almost certainly faster at a given price point, but Xeon has much more mature motherboards in the server space, and one of these chips is easily faster than the two servers I'm running now, combined.  

    Also a lot cheaper.


  • Dip your fingers in molten iron when you're done with them too.  (Economist)

    Forensic technicians can now not only match your fingerprints, but accurately date them.


  • Security firm Avast found a great new business model: Collect everyone's personal data and sell it to everyone else.  (Tech Report)

    Well, they didn't exfiltrate the files from your PC, but they did track all the websites you visited, how frequently you visited each and how long you stayed on the page.

    Avast's response to this was:
    Oh no we've been caught.
    I may have paraphrased slightly.


  • The iPhone will be getting 117 new emojis this year.  (9to5Mac)

    Newly approved icons by the Unicode standards body include bubble tea, a weird thing that I think is supposed to be a seal, three-day-growth shopping mall Santa, and gender-inclusive-person coughing up blood.


Disclaimer: Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

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Geek

Daily News Stuff 31 January 2020

Humidity Wave Doesn't Have The Same Ring Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.  And that's what gets results.

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Thursday, January 30

Geek

Daily News Stuff 30 January 2020

Weevils Be To He Whose Weevil Sinks Edition

Tech News


Disclaimer: I shall call it...  Steve.

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Wednesday, January 29

Geek

Daily News Stuff 29 January 2020

Don't Mind The Bees Edition

Tech News

Anime Stuff

Watching The Ancient Magus' Bride.  I was reading the manga and then remembered that it had got an anime series.  Its slow-paced - one chapter to one episode - but that suits the feel of the story at least early on.  I'll see how it goes where there's more action.  The anime goes past where I've read up to, so I'll be able to compare the two from both directions.

Only real problem is the anime translates "Slay Vega", which is an already odd enough term, as "Sleigh Beggy".  And it gets used a lot in the first few episodes.

The manga has - deliberately - very few cues as to exactly when it is set.  When they visit London only the old landmarks are actually drawn.  There's a double-decker bus seen crossing a bridge, but those have been around since the 1950s.  A fairy indicates that skyscrapers exist, and boxy ones rather than nice Art Deco ones, so again the 1950s or later.

But the Magus himself mentions computers with multi-user operating systems as a metaphor he'd expect a teenager to understand, so despite all the peaceful English countryside and steam trains it's definitely the 21st century.


Disclaimer: Do bugs even have pockets?

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