Wednesday, October 31


Daily News Stuff 31 October 2018

It's Halloween, but I have a cold, so I'm going to ignore anyone who knocks on my door (don't think we had anyone last year, it's not much of an event in Australia) and eat all the chocolate myself.  The one thing that does happen is that share packs of chocolate (Freddos, Caramello Koalas, Turkish Delight and so on) are all half price.


Tech News

  • Apple finally updated the Mac Mini, after leaving it to rot for four years.  After previously eliminating the high-end four core model, all new models have at least four cores.  Pricing starts at $799 for four cores, 8GB RAM, and a miserable 128GB of SSD, and rises rather rapidly to $4199 for six cores, 64GB RAM, 2TB of SSD, and a 10Gbit ethernet port.

    The new model has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is nice; not clear if that's two independent controllers like the MacBook Pro.

    It's still four times the size of an Intel NUC though.

    Interesting thing: It supports 64GB RAM.  It has two SO-DIMM slots.  This is the first product I've seen actually shipping with 32GB unbuffered DIMMs.  The reason this is interesting is that my Dell desktops, Tohru and whatsherface - Rally Vincent - have two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots as well.  This means that at some point I will be able to upgrade them to 64GB as well, cashflow permitting.  32GB is probably enough, but if memory prices do come down it will be nice to have that option.

  • Apple also updated the MacBook Air which had languished nearly as long as the Mac Mini.

    It gets the MacBook Nothing's retina display, sluggish CPU, terrible keyboard, and high price.  Um...

    In Australia, a MacBook Air with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD costs A$2769.  A similarly configured ThinkPad E485 costs A$1125 right now, and has a quad core Ryzen APU which will mop the floor with the ultra-low power Y-series chip in the Mac.

  • Apple also updated the iPad Pro, which hasn't been languishing, particularly.

    It received the very latest A12X CPU, smaller bezels, a redesigned pencil, and USB-C, while remaining every bit as overpriced, locked down, and generally useless as before.  Actually even more overpriced - between $150 and $270 more depending on the model.

  • I was spot-checking a geolocation database for my day job as part of a project on social media taxonomies, and the data insisted that Sydney is named for the Greek god Dionysus.  I said, Go home geolocation database, you're drunk, but it turns out to be true.  In a rather roundabout fashion over a couple of millennia.

  • Apple also announced, but has not yet released, an update to the MacBook Pro family, which is basically brand new.

    The update involves replacing the Radeon R560X Pro with the new Vega Mobile family.  (AnandTech)

    It's not clear yet how much of an upgrade this is.  Vega 20 has 20 cores, compared to 16 on the R560X, but it also has a newer architecture and more that double the memory bandwidth.  So somewhere between 25% and 100% faster.  Depending on stuff.

    This is also the first product announcement with Vega Mobile, which has been in hiding most of the year.

  • As many as 96% of people are immune to CRISPR.  (EXOME)

    This is bad, because it means that gene therapy might not work on them.

    Fortunately, scientists believe they have figured out a way to bypass the immunity by altering the structure of the CRISPR-Cas9 protein, so our catgirl-enriched future is safe.

Social Media News

  • Vice applied to buy Facebook ads on behalf of every single sitting US senator.

    All of their requests were approved.

    They previously applied to buy ads for Mike Pence, the DNC, and ISIS.  Those were approved too.  Only a request to buy ads for Hillary Clinton was turned down.

    I don't have much time for Vice, but this is good reporting.  Credit where it's due.

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1 I'm seeing a lot of blathering about how the A12X is some kind of super-duper CPU, mainly, as far as I can tell, because the single-core Geekbench is about as high as a Ryzen 1600X.  Ok, fine.  Let me know when you can run something similar in compute power to Handbrake or Eclipse or something, and how it does in comparison to a desktop machine.  Or when Apple sticks it in a MacBook so you can do the same kind of tests.
I mean, maybe it is the equivalent of a Ryzen 7 or a mid-range Core i7, but I'm not prepared to believe it until someone offers credible evidence of it actually performing that well in real-world scenarios.

Posted by: Rick C at Thursday, November 01 2018 07:00 AM (Q/JG2)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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