Saturday, April 04


Daily News Stuff 4 April 2020

Essential Business Edition

Tech News

  • Corona-Chan: Spreading the Love offers nearly 600 pages of pulp fiction at the unbeatable price of $0.00.  (Amazon)

  • LXD 4.0 LTS is out.  (Linux Containers)

    It brings a lot of new features, including support for running virtual machines.  If you're confused by that since the whole point of LXD is virtualisation, they mean fully isolated virtualisation, with a different kernel running on the virtual machine, compared to the regular mode of containerisation, where your apps run directly on the system kernel, but with tightly controlled resource access.

    This is great because I was looking at running LXD and KVM in parallel, and now I just need to add --vm to specific instances when spinning them up.

  • Caddy 2.0 rc1 is out.  (GitHub)

    Caddy is a rather nice proxy server that I use both here and at my day job.  (It's also a general-purpose web server, but I don't use it much for that.)

    It's dead easy to install and configure, flexible, reliable, pretty fast (though not the fastest) and supports automatic HTTPS via Let's Encrypt.

    The main change in 2.0 is that it is optionally configurable via an API as well as the regular config files, so if you have a cluster with multiple Caddy instances you can have a central script that deploys live changes to proxy servers right across the cluster.

    (I need to read up on how it manages shared certificate pools, though I know it does that.)

    Another neat thing that they enabled just a couple of months ago is HTTPS for internal / intranet sites.  It deploys a local key authority that you add to your trusted list in your browser or OpenSSL config, and thereafter it can issue and manage certificates as needed.

    We use OpenVPN but having SSL as well keeps web browsers happy and helps prevent accidents.

  • Redis 6.0 rc3 is out.  (GitHub)

    Getting close!  The big feature for me in Redis 6 is local caching - the client can keep cached data in local memory and receive notifications when it is invalidated.

    I've seen that some of our code at my day job that having a local Redis instance on the same server delivers user-noticeable performance improvements over a central instance on a different server.  This should solve that in many cases, without needing to modify your code or install extra Redis instances.

  • Zoom: Okay, yes, we routed your secure communications through China.  Our bad.  (Tech Crunch)

  • Zoom: Okay, yes, maybe it was a bad idea to let anyone jump into any call with a public link.  (Tech Crunch)

  • Intel's 10980HK draws more power than AMD's 3950X.  (Notebook Check)

    30% more.

    The 10980HK is an 8 core laptop chip.  The 3950X is a 16 core desktop chip - admittedly running here in eco mode, though the performance loss is relatively small, just 5% in the sample benchmark.

    Intel's chief selling point for these processors is the slightly higher boost clocks, but those slightly higher boost clocks require enormous amounts of power, making the whole thing self-defeating.  Until they can get to 7nm though - their 10nm process is largely a bust - there's not much else they can do except slash prices.

  • Don't drink lice medicine!  (Sydney Morning Herald)

    Common lice treatment Ivermectin has been found to kill the Coronavirus, at least in human cells growing in a petri dish.

    The fact that another anti-parasitic agent appears to be effective against this virus is intriguing.  The hypothesis is that these drugs don't target the virus directly - there's no clear mechanism for that - but instead change chemical pathways within host cells just enough that the virus can no longer replicate effectively.

    Rather like chemotherapy, the trick is to kill the disease without without also killing the patient.

  • SK Hynix is planning to introduce DDR5-8400 modules.  (AnandTech)

    That would be a huge benefit to AMD's APUs, which are notably bandwidth-limited on regular DDR4.

    An interesting point in the article is that DDR5 supports on-chip ECC, so it protects from bit flipping of the memory itself.  If that's a standard feature on all DDR5 RAM that's a big advance, because ECC support outside of specific server CPUs and motherboards is patchy at best.  (For example, Ubuntu 18.04 doesn't support ECC on Thirdripper even if your hardware and BIOS support it.)

    This doesn't protect against bit flipping of data in transit across the memory bus - you still need extra chips and extra memory lines for that.  But it's probably enough for 95% of desktop and workstation tasks, and I'd be happy deploying a server for on it.

    Supported capacities for DDR5 dies are 8Gb, 16Gb, 24Gb, 32Gb, and 64Gb.  That means unbuffered modules up to 128GB - potentially, though that would make for a very large die - and 24GB and 48GB modules thrown into the range.  24Gb dies could probably be produced right now, and make a convenient step before 32Gb.

  • Nim 1.2 is out.  (Nim)

    Nim is to Python as Crystal is to Ruby: As close as possible to the parent language and still be compiled to really, really fast code.

    The advantage of Crystal is that it compiles directly - Crystal code goes in, portable x86-64 binary comes out.  Nim compiles to C++, and then compiles that.  That design can make for hard-to-find bugs, so I've avoided Nim even though the language is attractive, though I haven't heard of problems specific to Nim in this regard.

    The advantage of Nim is it's already at 1.2 and runs on Windows.  Crystal is working towards 1.0 and towards running on Windows.

  • China is preparing for the next pandemic.  (Bloomberg)

    Sorry, China is preparing to cause the next pandemic.  And Bloomberg is here to explain why this is a good thing.  Can't have people forced to buy their monkey livers safely packaged and refrigerated at the supermarket to avoid tens of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic damage, oh no.

  • SpaceX broke another Starship prototype during testing.  (Ars Technica)

    Hooray for testing!

  • Twitter blamed Firefox for leaking direct message information.  (Mozilla Hacks)

    Took me a moment to understand that Twitter wasn't setting an appropriate cache header for private data, so if multiple people were using Firefox on a shared computer it could potentially expose direct messages.

    Which is not nothing, but is a fairly specific security problem.  Nobody sprayed Twitter DMs across the internet, not this time.

  • A closer look at AMD's Epyc 3451.  (Serve the Home)

    This is a low-power 16 core chip based on Zen 1, and aimed at high-end embedded solutions, such as mid-range NAS and SAN hardware.  It does well compared to its direct competition, but with a maximum clock speed of 3.0GHz it's not going to outrun current Ryzen, Threadripper, or Epyc 7000 parts.

  • Your computer no longer needs to miss out on all the Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague fun.  (ZDNet)

    The COVID-19 malware will disable your task manager and then rewrite your MBR to prevent you rebooting, and then send all your passwords and private data off to a C&C server while wiping your disk.

    Nearly as delightful as the real thing.

  • Hackers have destroyed 15,000 Elasticsearch servers in the last two weeks.  (ZDNet)

    Elasticsearch is great.  Simple, fast, reliable search....  Unless you have documents with a lot of different fields in which case it used to work fine on but if you upgrade will suddenly collapse in a heap but NEVER MIND THAT.


    Years ago they decided that passwords were a key enterprise feature and shouldn't be in the open source release, and that a unified API where every single function is available to everyone was a great idea.

    This is the inevitable result.

  • First Threadripper server is up and running at my day job.  Looking to order two or three more next week, and I'm going to see if I can swing one for us here.

    For my day job, this means that I will finally have 10Gb Ethernet everywhere, and all data and applications on ZFS on enterprise NVMe.  What that means is that backups go from being a chore to being trivially easy.

    The need for Ubuntu 19.10 to enable ECC support is annoying, though; it means I'll need to plan to upgrade all our servers in July once 20.04.1 comes out.

    20.04 is LTS but based on my experience with 18.04 I wouldn't recommend it until the .1 update lands.  19.10 has been out for a while and is stable, but is only supported by Ubuntu for 9 months from release.  LTS releases like 18.04 and 20.04 are supported for five years, but 18.04 doesn't give me ECC on this hardware and 20.04 isn't out.

    So I have to plan for a rolling upgrade of an LXD cluster in the near future, something I have never done before.  I'm setting up a little test lab using a virtual private cloud at Binary Lane, which is costing me about A$1 per day for a three-node LXD cluster, or about seven cents American.

Video of the Day

Some people, when confronted with an integer overflow, think "I know, I'll use a double".  Now they have 2.000000000001 problems.

Disclaimer: Future's so bright, gotta eat bats.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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