I'm in the future. Like hundreds of years in the future. I've been dead for centuries.
Oh, lovely, you're a cheery one aren't you?

Friday, August 23


Daily News Stuff 22 August 2019

Plugged Nickel Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Plugged with what, though?

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Wednesday, August 21


Daily News Stuff 21 August 2019

The Secret Of NNP Editon

Tech News

  • Ugh.  Migraine.

  • Intel just announced 6 core low-power laptop CPUs.  (AnandTech)

    With a base clock of just 1.1GHz and a boost clock of 4.7GHz, how these new 15W U-series chips perform depends far more on real-world power and thermal characteristics than paper specs.

    They also have new 4-core ultra-low-power 7W Y-series parts, with a similarly huge gap between base and boost clocks.

    Devices are expected to arrive in October, which somehow isn't far away.  When did that happen?

  • Intel also has a new AI chip that is not the size of a small pizza.  (Tom's Hardware)

    In fact the whole board fits into an M.2 slot.

    The chip, called Spring Hill, has two Ice Lake cores and twelve ICE cores (Inference Compute Engine) because that's not fucking confusing at all.

  • Intel also also has a much bigger AI chip that definitely does not fit on an M.2 card.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It doesn't seem to be the same architecture, except for the basic point that both contain a ton of low-precision multiply units.

  • Speaking of that's not how it works, Mike, there is no First Amendment right to a White House Press Pass.  (TechDirt)

  • That 400,000 core pizza-sized AI chip I mentioned yesterday uses less than 40 milliwatts of power per core.  (Tech Crunch)

    But when you multiply that by 400,000 it comes out to 15 kilowatts.  Which is more than a pizza oven.

    Also, since this would be a low voltage part, they must be feeding it with kiloamps of current.  So this is one chip that isn't going to make a quick transition to consumer products.

  • Bitbucket kills Mercurial support.  (Bitbucket)  [Link fixed]

    Bitbucket kills Mercurial support
    Bitbucket kills Mercurial support
    GitHub came and and broke our heart
    We can't undo let's rm *

  • IBM open-sources the Power architecture.  (The Next Platform)

    Twenty years too late, IBM.

Disclaimer: Ugh.

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Tuesday, August 20


Daily News Stuff 20 August 2019

Wombats Are Us Edition

Tech News

  • The Cerebras Wombat* is the latest flung poo in the AI monkey war.  (AnandTech)

    It has 400,000 cores implemented using 1.2 trillion transistors, 18GB of internal SRAM, and 9PB/second of on-chip bandwidth, packed into a compact 46,225 mm2, i.e. the size of a small pizza.

    And yes, it's a single chip.

    What does all that hardware do?  8-bit multiplications.  Lots of them.

    And it's programmable in Python.

    It's not that TSMC module with the HBM2 though.

    * They call it the WSE but that's a terrible name so I gave it a better one.

  • On the other end of the scale, UPMEM is adding an 8-core processor to each 4Gbit DRAM chip.  (AnandTech)

    So an 8GB module has 128 cores and a fully-populated 256GB server would have 4096 cores.  The cores are implemented directly on the DRAM die.  No-one does this because DRAM production is very different to CPU production, and the resulting CPU cores can only run at 500MHz.  But with 4096 of them, does that really matter?

    Well, yes.  But for certain tasks - they cite genomics - it can be 20 to 40 times faster than conventional servers.

    Definitely not that module with the HBM2.

  • IBM announced the Power 9 AIO which is an update to the existing Power 9 architecture with a 25GHz memory bus.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This kind of thing has been tried for years and has never taken off, because although it offers more memory bandwidth per socket it has never provided more memory bandwidth per dollar.  Rather the reverse.

    And dollars can buy you more sockets.

    Still not that module TSMC was showing off.

  • Gizmodo's new owners are clueless.  (TechDirt)

    Well, sure.  They bought Gizmodo.

    Lots of great one-liners in the article, such as
    The company still employs some great investigative reporters
    We're still talking about Gizmodo?  Just checking.

  • The Ruby rest-client package got compromised.  (GitHub)

    Time for capability-based programming languages.

  • Why ElementaryOS left Medium and returned to 1993.

  • Julia 1.2 is out.

    Julia is a clean and elegant language for scientific computing.  Fortran done properly.  It has one major problem (for certain users) in that it uses an optimising JIT compiler rather than static compilation.  That allows the language to provide generic functions without eldritch horrors like C++ templates, but means it's a pain to generate distributable binaries.  Not impossible, but a pain.

  • Gmail went down.  (Bleeping Computer)

    I noticed this one because it was during the day Australia time and we use Gmail for work.  And then it stopped working.  Fortunately not for very long.

  • A bug in iOS 12.4 means you can jailbreak your iPhone.  (ZDNet)

    But given the nature of the bug, so can a malicious app.

    But apps can only be downloaded from the App Store, and we all trust the App Store, right?

  • Twitter is banning state-run media organisations from buying advertising on the platform after being criticised for showing Chinese anti-democracy propaganda.  (The Next Web)

    ABC, BBC, CBC hardest hit.  Oh, and SBS.  Yeah, we have two of them.

    I give Twitter 48 hours before they completely fuck up this basically sensible decision.

  • Bill Nye the Chromebook guy vs. Best Buy.  (ZDNet)

    Key takeaway:
    "So who buys that $999 Pixelbook?" I wondered.

    "No one," he said.

Video of the Day

Bonus Video of the Day

Disclaimer: 48 hours is probably FAR too generous.

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Monday, August 19


Daily News Stuff 19 August 2019

And Minecraft Makes Three Edition

Tech News

Retrocomputing Journal

That cheap source of H750s I found is no longer quite so cheap; in fact, no longer cheap at all, having increased overnight from $6.04 to $13.23.  Yech.  On the other hand it looks like DigiKey went in the opposite direction and is now under $10.

Still, if I need to use two of them due to the pin limitations, it might not hurt to look at other parts.  As long as it has at least 1MB RAM and an LCD controller that can display 960x540 - and supports ARMv7 - any experiments I run with the dev kit I have will port straight over.

The RZ/A1L starts at A$22.45 which is still more than two of the H750s, but has the advantage that it's only one chip to worry about, and has 3MB of RAM compared 1MB on the H750.  Also it has two larger siblings if I should need more memory, pins, or graphics performance.

It suffers from some of the same pin assignment craziness, so if you want to use the LCD controller you can only have a 16-bit external memory bus, but having 176 pins instead of 100 is about 76% less constrained.

Disclaimer: The drink you drink when you're not drinking a...  Wait.

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Daily News Stuff 18 August 2019

Lesnerization Considered Harmful Edition

Tech News

Book Recommendation

Pulled Spat Knocked by Michael McClung

If you're looking for tightly-plotted fantasy noir, you can't go wrong with these, particularly with three volumes at the low price of whatever the hell the price is because Amazon won't tell me.  This collection includes
  • The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids
  • The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Good Eye
  • The Thief Who Knocked on Sorrow's Gate
Hence the slightly odd title.

Our heroine is Amra Thetys, a minor thief (as you might have guessed) who wants little more than to avoid becoming the subject of anyone's plans, which (as you might have guessed) is exactly what happens to her.

The books are shortish - two hundred-odd pages each - but they're written with the style and pacing of a detective novel rather than epic fantasy.  They don't feel short; they feel exactly as long as they ought to be.

Free on Kindle Unlimited too.  I bought the individual volumes over the past couple of years and just caught up with book five.

Another one I'd recommend is Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence though the price on that collection bounces around like a rubberised squirrel.  The first three novels are great - Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Full Fathom Five - but the fourth is a prequel and prequels never work. 

The writing is fine but Gladstone painted himself into a corner given what we already know from reading subsequent events.  Either a key character has to be completely unsympathetic or most of the characters have to be idiots and unfortunately it ended up being the latter.

Skip that one.  It's called Last First Snow.  Read the ones with numbers in the names.

Disclaimer: I have a cold and have thrown out my back again (though not as bad as last time) and every time I sneeze I get shooting pains that start in my toenails and exit out my hair so I'm kind of grouchy right now.

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Saturday, August 17


Daily News Stuff 17 August 2019

Flatflation Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Because   that's why.

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Daily News Stuff 16 August 2019

Bipple Bopple Beep Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Ow.  Ow.  Ow.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:43 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 151 words, total size 2 kb.

Thursday, August 15


Daily News Stuff 15 August 2019

International Brain Parasite Awareness Month Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Do or do not, that is the question.  Whether it is nobler in the mind's eye to suffer the blaster bolts of outrageous fortunes, or take robotic arms against a sea of troubles...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:47 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 350 words, total size 4 kb.

Wednesday, August 14


Daily News Stuff 14 August 2019

Imagine Animal Farm Only It's The Chickens Who Take Over Edition

Tech News

  • Google is run by idiots.  (Wired)

    And staffed by lunatics.

    The Wired article repeatedly tries to suggest that some of the problems faced by Google over the past four years stem from outside causes, but the content makes it clear that it is all of their own doing.  One name in particular appears twenty-five times and in any competently run company would appear once followed by a note that that individual's contract was terminated for cause.

    The silver lining is that many of the worst of the lunatics resigned in protest over their idiotic tantrums being given due consideration i.e. ignored.  But the CEO of YouTube is one of the chief offenders, and she's still firmly in place and destroying shareholder value at a truly impressive rate.

  • A 3000-series Threadripper might have leaked out via Geekbench.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's a 32-core CPU with a base clock of 3.6GHz and 128MB of L3 cache, and there's only one company in the world producing chips like that.  The multi-core score is 15% faster than a 2990WX which is exactly where you'd expect it to be.

  • TechDirt is talking nonsense today.

  • Twitter says fuck you and your fucking edit button you fucking fucks.  (Paraphrased.)  (Tech Crunch)

    Meanwhile, Twitter announced a new feature that would sing users' timelines to them in three, four, or five-part harmony.

  • Why Medium sucks for programming articles.  (Medium)

  • Netflix is fucked.  (The Hollywood Reporter)

    That's what "inflection point" means, right?

  • Ethereum lagged in dapp users in Q2 but its price doubled.  (The Next Web)
    Despite price increase, it wasn't all plain sailing for Ethereum in Q2.
    No, you idiots, the problems were caused by the price increase.  If the price of Ethereum doubles, the cost of running a distributed app on the Ethereum blockchain also doubles.  How the hell is anyone supposed to absorb that?

  • Inside the world of "terrible" 3 cent microcontrollers.

    Which are actually pretty good.

Retrocomputing Journal

Microchip's A5 range, which is available for A$15 with 16MB of built-in RAM, has a rather nice display controller.  It supports a base layer, which is not just a fixed colour but a full frame buffer with up to 32-bit RGBA pixels, two overlays also with up to 32-bit RGBA, a high-end overlay with up to 32-bit RGBA or 4:4:4 YCrCb and colour space conversion, and a hardware cursor. 

The hardware cursor, it turns out, can be the full size of the screen and supports 32-bit RGBA.

All layers support alpha blending and chromakey, and the three overlays can be rotated, upscaled, and downscaled as needed.  And there's a post-processing unit that can take the resulting blended output and write it back into RAM for you - although the video output is turned off for one frame while it does that, so it's fine for screenshots but terrible for streaming gameplay sessions.

It also has a built-in Class-D amplifier for 16-bit audio.

What it lacks, though, is a blitter (the H750 and RZ/A1 have that), a JPEG encoder (which both the others also have), or a 2D GPU (which the A1M and A1H have, though not the A1L).

Also it's only available in BGA which makes prototyping extremely painful.

So the chip of choice to build a New Amiga remains the RZ/A1M (or A1H), except that it's rather expensive at around A$45.  The only reasonably priced source is Avnet (under A$30) and they're out of stock most of the time because they're the only reasonably priced source.  Update: Oh, yeah.  A$39.  The A$45 version is the automotive grade; I only really need that if I'm planning to run at an ambient temperature of 125C, in which case all my users would be dead.

The development kit is also pretty expensive.  It's aimed at building automation and automotive use, not hobbyists.  The H750 developer board was the price of a nice lunch; the RZ/A1 kit is the price of a month's worth of groceries.  Update: Found a developer board that's the price of a week's worth of groceries.

I'll be continuing with the H750 as a first project - it's much cheaper and much simpler - and if that succeeds will look at the RZ/A1M as a second system.  Which means it's doomed.

Disclaimer: Two legs good, four legs bad.

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Daily News Stuff 13 August 2019

Freezer Tetris Edition

Tech News

Retrocomputing Journal

I wonder if I can find an excuse to put eleven microcontrollers on a single board.

Disclaimer: That's one louder.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 12:25 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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