A cricket bat!
Twelve years, and four psychiatrists!
I kept biting them!
They said you weren't real.

Tuesday, October 31


Daily News Stuff 31 October 2023

Return To Blender Edition

Top Story

  • Apple's M3 MacBook Pro is here.  Or will be in a week.  (Ars Technica)

    It's about 15% faster than the M2 model.

    A 14" MacBook Pro with 64GB of RAM and 4TB of SSD costs $4900.

    My 14" HP Pavilion with 64GB of RAM and 4TB of SSD cost me around $900.

    So...  Yeah.

  • The new M3 iMac has also been announced.  (Ars Technica)

    As well as the speed boost, the maximum memory has been increased from 16GB to 24GB.

    That extra 8GB of RAM will cost you $200.

    It retails for $20.

    So...  Yeah.

Tech News

  • Why does my code run slower on a 5950X running Linux than a 5625U laptop running Windows 11 and WSL?

    Probably cache latency.

    The 5950X has two CPU chiplets that share cache over a high-speed interconnect, while the 5625U is a single chip.  The chiplet design makes large CPUs cheaper to build but can do weird things to cache latency.

    This is a real question that is happening with some code I wrote recently; it's 50% slower on what should be a much faster CPU.

    Guess when I (eventually) build my new system I might want to go for the 7800X3D rather than the 7900.

  • So, how do those Qualcomm benchmarks for their upcoming Snapdragon X Elite hold up under independent testing?

    Just fine, actually.  (AnandTech)

    Ryan Smith at AnandTech got to try out two pre-production laptops under both Windows and Linux, and the benchmark scores he got matched Qualcomm's numbers and are genuinely faster than equivalent Apple M2 laptops.

    Of course, Apple just announced the M3 which if everyone's claims are accurate will give them back the performance lead in Arm laptops...  By 2.5%.

    Looking very good for Qualcomm at this point, except for the six month wait for these systems to arrive.

  • Most of the claims in an artist lawsuit against AI art companies have been dismissed for being, well, crap.  (Reuters)  (archive site)

    The Reuters article doesn't really give you the facts of the case, the claims of the plaintiffs, the arguments of the defendants, or the relevant laws.

    This Twitter thread does a much better job and is well worth reading if you're interested in this kind of thing.

    Essentially, while generative AI is new, to claim that it is infringing on your copyrighted works - under current law - would require that the work it produces to be substantively the same, not merely influenced by your own work.

    And that's simply not what generative AI does.

  • The Biden Administration has issued its executive order governing the development and use of AI systems.  (WhiteHouse.gov)

    As you would expect, it's a mix of useless bullshit, impractical bullshit, unconstitutional bullshit, and just, well, bullshit.

  • Speeding up Python by 17,000,000%.  (Sidsite)

    The article takes a real-world problem with analysing correlations in survey results (people who answered A in question 5 were most likely to answer D in question 15) and then tightens up the code until it squeaks.

    While the end result is pretty hairy (though much less so than some of the code I have to maintain) the first two optimisations are straightforward and make it run 50x faster.

Disclaimer: Beans again.

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Monday, October 30


Daily News Stuff 30 October 2023

In The Pool Edition

Top Story

  • Small Hadron Collider: Scientists have for the first time fired up the world's tiniest particle accelerator.  (Space)

    While early accelerators were much much smaller than today's giants like the Large Hadron Collider - which is an underground ring five miles across - this new device, called a nanophotonic electron accelerator, or NEA, reverses the trend entirely.

    It's the size of a dime.

    The electrons it produces have a millionth of the energy of the particles in the LHC, and there are far fewer of them, so the overall beam energy is tiny.

    What it does allow you to do though is produce a small and perfectly focused beam of radiation exactly where you want it.  Targeting cancer?  The beam is sharper than any scalpel.

    While it has been proven to work, practical uses - like performing surgery without having to cut the patient open - are likely still years off.

Tech News

  • Apple's M3 CPU is expected to be announced today.  (WCCFtech)

    It probably won't be a lot faster than the M2, but if it at least supports more memory it will be a big improvement.

    With all variants of Apple's CPUs the memory is soldered onto the CPU module.  You can't upgrade it, ever.  So if you don't configure enough RAM in your new Mac you've just bought some very expensive e-waste.  And with current the M1 iMac you can't configure enough RAM.  16GB is all you can have.

    (I have 64GB in my budget HP laptop.)

  • Lenovo is set to release YAPALAT - yet another perfectly adequate large Android tablet.  (Notebook Check)

    The Tab M11 has a definitely mid-tier but not awful CPU with two A75 and six A55 cores, a roughly 1920x1200 screen, and up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

    Make that screen anywhere from 7" to 9" rather than 11" - keeping the same resolution - and I'll buy three of them.

  • Apropos of nothing, I kind of had the impression that the block of land my house is on had no two sides parallel.

    Looking at the subdivision plan again after eighteen months I was reminded that this is not true at all.  The land is rectangular, but the house is at an angle.

    This may or may not become relevant in the near future.

Disclaimer: Goat wanted.  Full or part-time.  All the dead grass you can eat.

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Sunday, October 29


Daily News Stuff 29 October 2023

Bricking It Edition

Top Story

  • The Hugo Awards are here again and the Best Novel apparently did not go to a woke trash diversity pick.  (Gizmodo)

    I haven't read T. Kingfisher's (not her real name) Nettle & Bone, which won this year, but I have read her Paladin series and Clocktaur books, and they're fine.  Not the sort of genre-changing works we expect to see winning Hugos, but enjoyable reads.

    Which, sadly, might count as genre-changing these days.

Tech News

  • The Lexar NM790 is a low end (though not lowest-end) PCIe 4 SSD.  But what does low-end mean in late 2023?  (Serve the Home)

    It means that under sustained heavy write loads - the weak point for DRAMless budget drives - it slows down to as little as 1GBps.

    Which is...  Fine.  For most tasks, that's plenty.

    Sequential reads are over 7GBps, which is as fast as PCIe 4 will go.

    I wouldn't recommend it for a server, but for a desktop, particularly as a second disk, it seems like it would be great.

    The 4TB model sells for $189.

  • The new RTX 4060 Ti model from Asus takes the unused eight PCIe lanes and adds an M.2 slot with them.  (Tom's Hardware)

    A prototype had two M.2 slots - after all, they use four lanes each, and eight are available.  The problem is, Intel desktop CPUs can't split the lanes up like that.

    So rather than make a card that would only work fully in AMD systems, they took that second slot out.

  • Supposed specs of the upcoming Nvidia 40x0 Super cards.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The 4080 Super would be a cut-down 4090, the 4070 Ti super a cut-down 4080, and the 4070 Super would be an irrelevant overpriced piece of junk.

  • Should you buy a second-hand Nvidia 170HX from a bankrupt Mongolian crypto mining farm?  Probably not.  (niconiconi)

    These cost $5000 new two years ago, and are now on the market second hand for around $500.  The 170HX is a variant of Nvidia's A100, the top of the line, which cost over $10,000.

    The problem is, Nvidia lobotomised it to stop it cannibalising sales of the more expensive card.  It was good for mining Ethereum, but nobody mines Ethereum anymore.  Literally nobody, since there no longer is such a thing as Ethereum mining.

    On other tasks it's all over the map, performing anywhere from 3060 levels to the equivalent of the 3080.  Unless you know exactly what you want to use it for and have benchmarks to hand, best to avoid.

Disclaimer: I think we're gonna need a bigger lawnmower.

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Saturday, October 28


Daily News Stuff 28 October 2023

Age Of Empires Edition

Top Story

  • Tech layoffs are back with a vengeance. (Tech Crunch)

    Not just in the "big tech" firms that are 90% diversity hires at this point, but real companies building real products like Nokia, SiFive, and Solidigm (the name of Intel's SSD unit now that it's owned by SK Hynix).

    Wait, you say, didn't Tech Crunch tell us tech layoffs were a thing of the past?

    They did indeed, last month. And this article actually calls out their own previous reporting rather than hiding it under the rug:
    Last month, Alex wrote that tech layoffs were pretty much a thing of the past. Shouldn’t have said that, buddy, you jinxed it.
    Blame Alex.

  • My notebook unpooped itself. Not entirely sure what happened there, but I did get a new notebook set up last night just in case. (One I bought last year but haven't used much yet.)

Tech News

  • Asus has a big new Threadripper motherboard. (Tom's Hardware)

    Five PCIe slots (three of them PCIe 5), four ECC Registered memory slots, three M.2 slots, optional IPMI for remote management, and... Stuff. They don't have the full tech specs up yet since release isn't until next month.

    Only having four memory slots is a bit meh; in practical terms that means you can have 256GB of RAM where you can easily get 192GB on a regular motherboard. There are probably larger modules out there but they're not easy to find.

    Price TBA. Chance of me getting one: Slim.

  • The Threadripper Pro is getting benchmarked and is impressive. (WCCFTech)

    The 64 core and 96 core models now hold the top two positions on Passmark, 60% faster than Intel's fastest chip.

    And the 24 core 7965WX outruns the 64 core 3995WX, which is... Well, probably a quirk of the benchmark, because the individual cores are not twice as fast.

  • Intel's new 7529 pin CPU socket doubles as a waffle iron. (Serve the Home)

    You'll want to put it into low-power mode though or you risk burning your waffles.

  • Sam Bankman-Fraud says he didn't steal customer funds. (Tech Crunch)

    Rather, Alameda (which he controlled) borrowed the funds from FTX (which he controlled) without authorisation by the customers and with no plan to pay them back.

    Totally different!

  • Almost what I want: The Pimoroni Picovision has two RP2040s: One as the CPU and one as the video chip. (Tom's Hardware)

    The RP2040 is the chip used in the Raspberry Pi Pico. It has no dedicated video hardware, but the chip is so well-designed that not only can it generate video without external hardware, it can generate an encoded HDMI stream without external hardware. And the chip costs a dollar.

    This device is a main board with an RP2040 and an HDMI slot, plus a connector for a regular Pi Pico, plus 16MB of external RAM because if you're doing video the Pico's internal 256k fills up pretty fast.

    I'd like to see a single board with the two RP2040s and all the necessary connectors, but in the meantime this will do fine.

Disclaimer: Real-life city builder. Sounds... Expensive.

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Friday, October 27


Daily News Stuff 27 October 2023

Parks And Wrecks Edition

Top Story

  • Humanity is at risk from an AI "race to the bottom".  (The Guardian)

    What's the risk?
    A handful of tech companies are jeopardising humanity’s future through unrestrained AI development and must stop their "race to the bottom", according to the scientist behind an influential letter calling for a pause in building powerful systems.
    What's the risk?
    "We're witnessing a race to the bottom that must be stopped," Tegmark told the Guardian. "We urgently need AI safety standards, so that this transforms into a race to the top. AI promises many incredible benefits, but the reckless and unchecked development of increasingly powerful systems, with no oversight, puts our economy, our society, and our lives at risk. Regulation is critical to safe innovation, so that a handful of AI corporations don't jeopardise our shared future."
    What's the risk?
    In a policy document published this week, 23 AI experts, including two modern "godfathers" of the technology, said governments must be allowed to halt development of exceptionally powerful models.
    What's the risk?
    The paper, whose authors include Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio – two winners of the ACM Turing award, the "Nobel prize for computing" – argues that powerful models must be licensed by governments and, if necessary, have their development halted.
    What's the risk?
    The unrestrained development of artificial general intelligence, the term for a system that can carry out a wide range of tasks at or above human levels of intelligence, is a key concern among those calling for tighter regulation.
    None of these companies are working on AGI.  All of them are dumping huge amounts of money into glorified typeahead systems that understand nothing.

Tech News

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Thursday, October 26


Daily News Stuff 26 October 2023

First Rule Of Rules Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • The Biden Administration is set to unveil a "sweeping" executive order on AI next week.  (Washington Post)  (archive site)

    As an executive order, it can only affect the federal government, and the problem I see is that the order is unlikely to go far enough in curbing government use of AI bullshit.

  • In which academics reap what they have sown.  (The Verge)

    The story tries to pin the blame on conservatives, even though nobody in the story is to the right of Mao.  A typical AWFL college student goes off the deep end and files Title IX complaints - and this is her mistake - against every lecturer she ever had contact with.

    No.   Single out the weakest animal from the pack and take it down.  If you charge in they're going to see you coming and stomp you.

  • Boeing has now lost more than $2 billion - which used to be a lot - on two new Air Force jets.  (CNN)

    As in, two planes, not two new jet fighter programs.

    Air Force One A and One B - I guess - were supposed to total $3.9 billion.  Since the contract was signed during the Trump Administration, it's fixed-price, not cost-plus, so Boeing gets to eat the loss.

    Which of course means that they pass that loss on to customers, rather than the government passing the overrun on to taxpayers in the more traditional way.

  • Where ae all the laid-off workers from Big Tech going?  (Dev Interrupted)

    They're writing RPG IV for Mutual of Omaha.

    I mean, not all of them, but there were a lot of boring companies that actually do stuff that were looking for programmers, and if you move from California to Nebraska you can take a hell of a pay cut and still have more left over at the end of the month.

  • Team's Cardea Z540 is a 12GBps PCIe 5 SSD.  (Tom's Hardware)

    While PCIe 5 is in the "I still don't need it" category, it's only about twice the price of PCIe 3 storage and more than three times as fast.  It might even make a noticeable difference in some things.


Disclaimer: To be, or not to be...  Yeah, not to be, that's the ticket.

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Wednesday, October 25


Daily News Stuff 25 October 2023

Breathing Space Edition

Top Story

  • Qualcomm has shown off its new Snapdragon X Elite - an Arm CPU for laptops that might not suck.  (AnandTech)

    To be specific, an Arm CPU for laptops that might not suck and doesn't come from Apple.

    The benchmarks on offer aren't very detailed, but they do show it beating Apple's M2 in single and multi-threaded workloads - the single-threaded win being significant because previously Apple had the fastest Arm core around.

    It also beats Intel's 13800H on multi-threaded tests while using much less power, and beats AMD's integrated graphics by 80% - and AMD's integrated graphics are pretty good.

    Products are expected "mid-2024".

  • Apple is announcing its M3 chips next week, which is a bit of a spoiler.  But they'll need to increase single-threaded performance by around 12% to match Qualcomm.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Oh my God, it's full of beans.

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Tuesday, October 24


Daily News Stuff 24 October 2023

Poisoning Poisoners Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Because.

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Monday, October 23


Daily News Stuff 23 October 2023

Mushroom Mushroom Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Snake, snake, aah it's a - never mind, spider got 'im.

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Sunday, October 22


Daily News Stuff 22 October 2023

Future So Loud Gotta Wear Shades Edition

Top Story

  • Thanks to AI the future of programming may involve yelling in ALL CAPS. (Ars Tchnica)

    Or more specifically, involve "AIs" (which aren't) yelling at each other in ALL CAPS.

    In this case, ChatGPT (a chatbot) yelling at DALL-E (an image generator).

    And we know this because DALL-E is stupid (though good at producing images) and repeated the instructions ChatGPT yelled at it. It's an idiot savant to ChatGPT's idiot.

Tech News

  • Scaling to 15,000 functions and beyond. (OpenFAAS)

    15,000 functions is a few megabytes of code. Sure, this would have been tricky on a CP/M system; even with a hard disk you'd have to be careful optimising your overlays so you weren't spending all your time swapping code in and out. For it to be a problem in 2023 has to mean you're doing something incredibly stupid.

    So, first thing: We're not talking about regular functions in a piece of code here; we're talking about "serverless" functions running in the cloud. These do have their place, though they are horribly inefficient.

    Second thing:
    I started off by looking to hardware that I already owned. My workstation runs Linux and has an AMD Ryzen 9 5950x with 16C/32T with 128GB of RAM. Then, behind me sits the Ampere Developer Platform with 64C and 64 RAM. I paid an additional 500 USD to upgrade the Ampere machine to 128GB RAM in order to recreate the customer issue.
    The container limit of 110 per Kubernetes node means that even if you have a bare-metal machine like this, it’s largely wasted, unless you are running a few very large Pods.
    It took me a moment to unpack this. Every single one of those functions needs to run on its own container - a lightweight virtual server. 15,000 functions means 15,000 virtual servers. That's insanity.

    The rest of the article discusses the struggles to get 15,000 virtual servers deployed, which is only interesting if you enjoy watching train wreck videos.

    So we have:

    1. Serverless functions, which are useful in a limited role.
    2. Some crazy people who want 15,000 separate serverless functions, which is insane.
    3. Some crazy people who deploy every single serverless function as a separate virtual server.
    4. The poor guy who has to make all that shit work.

    Every company has some of this nonsense going on: "Yes, I know we did this to ourselves, but we have to make it work somehow." But this example is truly spectacular.

  • Unison is a language that is supposed to make this problem go away. (Unison)

    You define your functions, deploy them somewhere, and then leave it up to Unison to manage where the functions are running and send the calls to the appropriate servers.

    Sounds good.

    The website is terrible, though; half of it is reminders to join the slack channel.

    Also, this:
    tour/main> find : [a] -> [a]
    1. lib.base.data.deprecated.Heap.sortDescending : [a] -> [a]
    When a user asks for a list of the functions that take and return a sequence value, you should not sort deprecated functions to the top.

  • Why could reviewers not run Geekbench on the Google Pixel 8? Because Google blocked it. (Notebook Check)

    And why did Google do that? One has to assume, because the scores weren't very good.

    And checking some reviews, that seems to be the case. The Mediatek chip I mentioned yesterday is significantly faster than Google's powerhouse - 40% single core and nearly 100% multi-core.

  • The CEO of Hashicorp predicts that Silicon Valley will abandon open source unless open source stops, uh, being open source. (The Stack)

    If you didn't want to give your software away, mate, maybe you shouldn't have given your software away. It's not my fault that you're an idiot.

Disclaimer: It's not, is it? I didn't flood the world with idiot juice by accident at some point... Though if I had, that would explain a lot.

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