Sunday, November 07


Daily News Stuff 7 November 2021

Nobody Goes There Anymore Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Our hosting provider has 12900K servers.  Not too horribly expensive either, and 60% faster on both single and multi-threaded workloads than our current main server.  (The Phoronix article from yesterday included Python benchmarks, and they are very good on Alder Lake.)

    There's a problem though: Our current servers (but one) have ECC RAM.  Intel desktop CPUs don't support ECC, with rare exceptions.  AMD CPUs do, and that's what we currently have.

    DDR5 RAM has on-die ECC.  That doesn't catch all possible errors, and I don't have any hard data on the percentage of errors it does catch, but it's something.  I'd be willing to run my own servers on desktop DDR5.  We survived a datacenter catching fire; we can survive the rare memory error that isn't caught by on-die ECC.

    But the biggest DDR5 server they are currently offering is only 16GB because that is also out of stock everywhere.

  • Amazon is planning to launch 7774 new communications satellites, expanding on its current fleet of, uh, zero.  (The Register)

    You have to crawl before you can leap, I guess.

  • A drone tried to blow up a power substation in Pennsylvania last year.  (Wired)

    Or rather, someone tried to use a drone to do so, planning to drop a thick wire across two existing conductors to short things out.  The drone crashed and the attack failed, because they had disabled the camera feed to avoid being traced.

    The article discusses anti-drone technologies from signal jamming to killer drones to geofencing to actual literal eagles, but somehow doesn't ever suggest building a roof.

  • There's more - and cheaper -  Alder Lake chips coming in a couple of months.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The i5-12400 looks like it might be very good for the average user.  Reasonably priced, relatively low power, integrated graphics if you don't want to splash out on a graphics card, and still six full-size cores.  No low-power cores, but on the desktop that's not a huge loss.

    The other three models listed all lack integrated graphics, and given the pricing and availability of graphics cards right now are not nearly so enticing.

  • Speaking of Intel's desktop integrated graphics, how do they hold up?  (Phoronix)

    This being Phoronix, they're testing under Linux, but it should be much the same as on Windows.

    The answer is: Poorly.  

    Better than the 11th generation parts, yes, but they still get their clocks cleaned by AMD's 5700G.  On gaming tests the AMD part is up to twice as fast, and on GPU compute workloads as much as five times.

    Intel has dramatically improved the performance of its integrated graphics - on their laptop parts.  Their desktop parts, not so much.

  • Yikes.  Thunderstorm is right on top of me. 

  • Stop making students use Eclipse.  (Nora Codes)

    Or NetBeans, or PyCharm, or whatever.

    Now, if you're a professional Python programmer - or just working on your own projects in the evening - you need to be using PyCharm.  But there's a good argument for starting out every student with a Linux command line and nothing else.

    In fact, there's a good argument for starting out every student with a Commodore 64.

  • Spending $5k to learn how database indexing works.  (Brian Anglin)


    On MySQL or PostgreSQL or, frankly, anything sane, this would have been Huh, that's not as fast as I'd have expected followed by a scan of the slow query log followed by some swearing followed by the addition of an index.  Which you could likely do without any - hang on, I actually need to do that, let me see.


    Yes, without any downtime at all.  Took me 0.82 seconds.  I tried to do it last week while the database was under heavy load and ended up in table metadata lock hell, and had to come up with a workaround, but now that things are quiet again it's trivial.  It's a pretty straightforward task but not when you're running services for a 100,000 person live event.

    Anyway, a missing query, coupled with a larcenous billing model, produced an API request that cost fifteen cents.  Which may not sound like a lot, but by way of comparison we were fielding - I think the number was 280 API requests per second - during that event. 

    Deploying our own services we have a $2000 per month main database server, a physical, not virtual, 96 core AMD Epyc system, with an easily understood billing structure: Every month they bill us $2000.  If we'd faced the same issue described in the article, we'd have been hit with a bill for as much as $150,000 per hour.

  • The chip industry is spending $2 billion a week to scale up production.  (EETimes)

    Shortages and delays are affecting every part of the production line.  If you haven't already bought your electronic gadgets for Christmas, start shopping for socks, because you're probably not going to get that iPod Pro Plus Max Mini in time for Little Timmy or Aunt Tammy.

    And you may want to start planning for Christmas next year, because it's not going to get better quickly.

  • You haven't bought a new computer!  Why haven't you bought a new computer?  Here's our free 18 page report explaining how this is all your fault.  (Microsoft)

    Get all the way fucked, Microsoft.

  • Peloton cut its revenue forecast by $1 billion and saw its stock plummet by 35% after Apple introduced new privacy controls preventing them from tracking everywhere you go and everything you do.  (Yahoo Finance)

    Which is - from their own mouths - a very convincing argument that Peloton is a massive scam that needs to be erased from the face of the Earth.

Anime Opening Video of the Day

It's Komi Can't Communicate.  I can't say I love the song, though maybe it will grow on me, but again, they've nailed the feel of the manga here, and the manga is wonderful.

And I can't say I've watched it, because I long since cancelled my Netflix account, and AnimeLab, formerly independent but now Funimation, doesn't carry it.  This is the first show since Little Witch Academia that has made me care about Netflix at all.

Disclaimer: Kind of like a sweaty NFT.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:57 PM | Comments (17) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
Post contains 1422 words, total size 12 kb.

1 " Most UK workers haven’t changed their device during the pandemic – here’s why that’s a big problem "

"Most" makes the headline less meaningful. "workers" shouldn't be using "device" "big" makes the ridiculously danging subhead less meaningful. "problem" is a sad attempt to make a stupid point into clickbait. "here's why that's" the person who unearthed this construction should be dug up, shot, hanged, burned, reburied, and then hanged in effigy.

Posted by: nromal at Monday, November 08 2021 12:03 AM (obo9H)

2 Complexity - first shop I worked at had a management feeping creature complex.  Bells & whistles - more, more, more & faster, faster, faster. Then crash and burn with people onsite 24x7 scrambling for almost two months to set things right...but we were salaried, so no problem with overtime costs.

Posted by: Frank at Monday, November 08 2021 12:12 AM (rglbH)

3 "The article discusses anti-drone technologies from signal jamming to killer drones to geofencing to actual literal eagles, but somehow doesn't ever suggest building a roof."

Well, if a publication has funding from an organization, most of the writers are probably stupid.  But there are two reasons a roof might not be obvious. 

Have you ever seen a US power substation?  There is a really tall transmission line pole, and wires go down from it, to the really big weather proofed transformers, and from there the wires go back up to the smaller transmission line poles.  (Smaller poles are wood, larger are steel truss.)

Reason one, the default assumption may be building the things in the open.  Designers may be locked into that mindset, and not talking about it it.  It may have been originally decided that open air was cheaper.  The big transformers do have to be replaced from time to time, and tearing open a building each time would be expensive. 

Reason two, it may be that if you have a roof, a safe design will require a bigger foot print. 

Anyway, putting a roof on is not a simple task.  At a minimum, you would have to shut things down while the roof is going up.  If it requires getting different transformers, the proposal is not feasible.  Because of Thor power tools, there is not a great inventory of transformers that are not actively being used. 

This is a federal push to address.  From a non-federal perspective, ordinary attention to who is moving may be enough physical security.  Because if you are not a fed, the probable threat actors are mainly the feds, and people that the current regime is using the feds to back.

The feds talk a nice game about providing improved security, but the Democrats have used influence over funding to suborn some of the security organizations.  And the Democrats are at the root of many of the important security problems.

Posted by: PatBuckman at Monday, November 08 2021 01:58 AM (r9O5h)

4 Part of it is complexity.  Some of it is the way funding finds people to do stuff through management.  This last is basically going to reflect every flaw with usual operating practice in a society.  Like having HR folks in position to be pushing "Oh, these young people are digital natives, we obviously need them."  SOP in America has been growing more screwed up over decades, and having folks senior in government crazy enough to attempt communist revolution is making the go alongs to get alongs behave stupidly destructively with the things they are touching everywhere.  In theory, maybe the engineers of physical stuff have been able to carve out safeguards, and are still able to defend them.  In practice, I fear that the delay of building physical things is meaning that the constant FUBAR physical systems will be becoming obvious later.

And Microsoft can piss up a rope when it comes to replacing devices. 

Posted by: PatBuckman at Monday, November 08 2021 02:16 AM (r9O5h)

5 The Alder Lake desktops use UHD 770, and by that naming, I'm assuming they're just a refresh of the boring, crappy desktop iGPU Intel's had for years.  I wonder why they didn't put Xe into them (just like I wonder why AMD's foot-dragged so long on putting Navi into their Ryzen APUs.)

Posted by: Rick C at Monday, November 08 2021 02:36 AM (Z0GF0)

6 "at $1.5 per 10 million rows"


Posted by: Rick C at Monday, November 08 2021 02:41 AM (Z0GF0)

7 EE times article is BS. a) Coordination won't work. b) Putting machine learning in cars is nonsense. c) It wasn't a Black Swan. It was enemy action, /foreseeable/ enemy action. d) Government will be unpredictably harmful for the near future.

Posted by: PatBuckman at Monday, November 08 2021 04:16 AM (r9O5h)

8 Drone defense - will they reinvent barrage balloons?

Posted by: Frank at Monday, November 08 2021 04:24 AM (rglbH)

9 I'm a scientist/engineer first, programmer second, but I am a programmer. I've developed a bit of taste for staying close to the metal, procedural, and *simple* with the code that I write, mostly to do modeling. 
As far as I can tell (and I may be off-base), containers are a bad attempt to paper over to Linux's failure to solve DLL hell, python's failure to solve library version conflicts, etc. Most servers in the world are Linux, so server software is particularly hammered by this. Add in the general global-nature of the stack of libraries for languages like python, and people have decided, instead of somehow putting dependencies with the application in a folder, to spin up an entire virtual machine (don't argue, it's a VM) containing an entire language version to wrap up all the loose ends.
Once upon a time, Windows had DLL hell too: The idea was pieces of software would refer to shared libraries to save hard-drive space. The problem was pieces of software would step on each other, because of version conflicts with the libraries. Anything breaking backwards compatibility would break every piece of software that depended on the library. Then hard drive space got cheap, and instead every application has it's own set of dlls that lives in the application folder. Same on macs. Any libraries which are actually shared are things which never change, or never break backwards compatibility that live in system32. 
Problem sovled. For compiled apps, on systems that allow this.
Python somehow never learned this lesson. Same with the vast pile of stuff that ends up in /usr/lib on Linux. Instead of every application installing itself to its own folder, each application not bothering the others, Linux needs complicated package managers to deconflict all the libraries. In python, if application A needs version x of pytorch, and application B fails with version >y of pytorch, I need two entirely seperate installations of python. That's insanity. 
Instead of unsnarling the insanity, software engineers seem to have doubled-down on it, and created this tangled nightmare of complexity that I can't spare the brainpower to even attempt to untangle.
Perhaps the same problems apply to web-applications on servers using php/java/whatever.
Anyway, THIS WAS A SOLVED PROBLEM IN 200x. Windows 95/Xp/7 never managed to have these issues. It's amazing that it eats the entire mental bandwidth of an entire discipline in 2020.

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Monday, November 08 2021 05:22 AM (hRoyQ)

10 Flatpaks, etc, are another attempt that Linux is using to dig out of dll hell. They're heavily disguised application folders that bundle the dependencies. My only gripe with them is they are hard to open to browse around in.
Far better, IMO, than anything involving Docker. Kubernetes repels me from a purely phoenetic standpoint: It sounds too painfully trendy to be real, and I don't want to ever have to know what it is, much less associate with people who think a painfully particular blob of software constitutes "a technology". (The gas turbine is a technology. Silicon lithography is a technology. Powerpoint is a lovecraftian mistake that is ending civilization, and Gitlab may be it's successor.) Seriously, what is it with these names? Hadoop, Drupal, Bippityboppity. Ugh. Get off my lawn, and call me back when you want to pay me $$$ in exchange for applications, not "user-stories". (sarcasm)

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Monday, November 08 2021 05:35 AM (hRoyQ)

11 "But there's a good argument for starting out every student with a Linux command line and nothing else."
Maybe for system administrators, but for average, non-technical users I can't disagree more.  And I'm certainly not alone.  Linus from Linus Tech Tips has been doing a Linux Gaming challenge where he and one of his staff go to Linux for day to day, especially gaming use, and evaluate how ready it is for average gaming users.  (Videos not yet released on You Tube)  They've discussed a lot of the issues on their WAN show, and one of the points he constantly hammers is how over dependent Linux is on the command line and how bad this is from a UX point of view.  And I fully agree.  I date back to the C64 days and I've been daily driving Linux for about 3 years now.  Every time I have to go to the command line to do something, I'm having to piece together half understood commands from different websites hoping I don't somehow FUBAR my system.  It's the major reason I won't recommend Linux to non-technical friends and relatives.  Having tech support people through a GUI via a phone call to fix something is bad enough.  Having to help them use a command line... *shudder*

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Monday, November 08 2021 05:36 AM (0vRQl)

12 PPS: I avoid IDEs in general these days. I've been far more productive with a text editor and a set of python scripts that call the compiler/linker on the code. That way, I can arrange projects how I want, with the structure that I want, without needing to force-fit everything into the project structure that this or that IDE needs.
VSCode/Atom/nano and a command line is what I've found to be most useful. I did have to go through a learning curve to understand the compiler and linker, but with that out of the way, it's fairly painless to organize library-projects and link them without becoming beholden to someone's do-everything environment.

Posted by: MadRocketSci at Monday, November 08 2021 05:54 AM (hRoyQ)

13 I read that drone article yesterday, and "put up a roof" was my first thought as well. It wouldn't even have to be a real roof, even just some reasonably strong netting on poles would solve much of the problem, and would be quick enough and cheap enough to install that it's a reasonable answer when applied to thousands (tens of thousands?) of sub-stations nation-wide. A better answer would be something like a geodesic dome of plastic panels, which is again relatively cheap and easy to build and install, and solves more problems. In much of the country it just has to stand up to minor weather, obviously in the tornado or hurricane zones more would be required.

Posted by: David at Monday, November 08 2021 07:29 AM (t/97R)

14 StargazerA5 - In this case we're talking about computer science undergrads, not (for example) a high school introduction to programming class.  Though a Commodore 64 or something like it might go well there too.

David - Yeah, a sturdy nylon mesh would do just as well as a solid roof for this sort of attack.
MadRocketSci - I'm not in love with Go as a programming language, but its ability to produce a single binary, containing all dependencies, that runs on any version of Linux - that I do love.  It's not the only language to support that, but it makes it easy.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, November 08 2021 09:18 AM (PiXy!)

15 The only thing worse than a point'n'drool menu system, is those absurd touch-screen interfaces that phones and tablets have.
"Click on the start menu.  Okay, now move your mouse over, and hopefully you can scroll down throught your programs.  Yes, try to find a folder under that named 'Accessories' or maybe 'System Tools' or perhaps 'Microsoft' or it might be called 'Lunchables' depending on whether you installed the 2021H2 update.  See if there's a program somewhere named 'Search My Files' or 'Find Files and Folders' or maybe 'Query File Index Tables'.  Right, now click on that.  No, just click on the start menu again, to repoen that set of cascading, and scriolling nested menus.  Yes.  No, don't move your pointer over the news tab there, because that will force popup a multimedia ad that you can't stop playing.  Oh, too late.  Okay, so we'll just wait a few minutes for the ad to finish playing.  Call me back in a while."

Posted by: normal at Monday, November 08 2021 10:00 AM (obo9H)

16 "ts ability to produce a single binary, containing all dependencies, that runs on any version of Linux - that I do love"

ld $(LDFLAGS) -static

Posted by: normal at Monday, November 08 2021 10:02 AM (obo9H)

17 Which unfortunately absolutely nobody does.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, November 08 2021 01:16 PM (PiXy!)

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

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