The ravens are looking a bit sluggish. Tell Malcolm they need new batteries.

Monday, March 01

Geek

Daily News Stuff 28 February 2021

We Don't Want Your Business

Tech News

  • You can mine Ethereum on Apple's M1 Arm chip.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Despite Apple's vaunted efficiency and TSMC's 5nm process, it is half as efficient as a previous-generation Nvidia card fabricated on 12nm.  And for throughput, it delivers between 3 and 4% of a 3060 Ti.


  • I recently mentioned Redbean, the tiny run-anywhere web server.  Take the binary, add your content directly to the file (since the binary is also a valid Zip archive), and run it directly on Windows, Mac, Linux, or Free/Open BSD - or boot directly into it from BIOS.

    And now Lua.

    Redbean+Lua+SQLite would make a <1MB application server that could be distributed as a single binary for every major platform.


  • Lastpass doesn't want you to use Lastpass.  (PC Perspective)

    Why exactly does a password manager need seven third-party tracking cookies?


  • In defense of dumb TVs.  (Framework)

    Kogan - Australia's own little Amazon Marketplace - still has a couple of store brand 4K dumb TVs.  And they're stupidly cheap.  I might pick up the 50" model before they disappear entirely, otherwise it's....

    Well, Philips does sell a 55" 4K monitor.  95% DCI-P3 gamut, DisplayHDR 1000, DisplayPort input, and a built-in 40W soundbar.  But it is a fair bit more expensive.  Also a reasonably-priced 43" monitor, though without DCI-P3 or HDR.


  • After killing CentOS, Red Hat now offers free RHEL subscriptions for open source nonprofits.  (ZDNet)

    Of course, before they killed CentOS they already did that.  It was called CentOS.  And you didn't have to beg for it.


  • Planned to clean my fridge, so I typed fridge cleaner into the search box when ordering my groceries.  Soapy water and paper towels would do the job, but I wanted to see what came up.

    What came up was a specifically food-safe disinfectant.  Kills the usual 99.9% of germs, but no harsh chemicals, it promised.  Took a look at the ingredients - water, ethyl alcohol, and vanillin.  Oh.  It's basically vanilla vodka at one tenth the price.

    I'm not sure exactly what proof it is; it doesn't say on the label.  After taking a whiff, I did what any enterprising scientist would do and sprayed a small puddle on the granite countertop and dropped in a lit match.  The puddle didn't catch fire, but the match burned with a blue flame for the next thirty seconds before finally going out.

    It also works really well at cleaning glass, and smells great.

    Update: They publish a safety sheet for it.  It's 25% alcohol by volume - 50 proof - and they list the flash point as 36°C.  Which doesn't mean that it catches fire at 36°C, it just means that it can catch fire at 36°C if you apply a match to it.  As does, for example, paper.


  • Speaking of Hololive and YouTube's algorithmic idiocy, apparently best doggo got demonetised for a while and had Wuhan Bat Soup Death Plague warnings attached to her videos.


Disclaimer: And the horse you rode in on.

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Saturday, February 27

Geek

Daily News Stuff 27 February 2021

You Idiots Edition

Tech News

  • Don't connect critical industrial control systems directly to the internet you idiots.  (Ars Technica)

    And if you do, don't leave them in programming mode.

    And if you do, when you update your résumé, just say you were in a Turkish prison for the past twelve years.

    Yes, there is also a nasty vulnerability in the key management used in Logix industrial automation systems, but you have to be doing several things wrong to even get to that point.


  • Turns out the water cooling doesn't help.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Dell gaming systems are infamously noisy.

    The Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 offers a water cooling option.

    It doesn't help.

    Shame, because you can actually buy one, which is not true if you try to buy the individual parts.


  • The Sabrent Rocket Q4 4TB is the fastest 4TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 drive on the market.  (Serve the Home)

    Also the cheapest.

    Yes, you guessed it.  But despite using QLC flash, it's not actually bad.


  • I wonder what happens if you simply add yeast to pancake batter, put it in a cake tin, and leave it to rise before baking?

    I'll find out tomorrow.

    The gluten-free bread I like has been out of stock for months, which is why I've been experimenting with making my own.  There are lesser alternatives - lesser than the brand I like, that is; still clearly superior to anything I've managed to produce thus far.

    At least chicken nuggets are available again.  There is one gluten-free brand available at one store, and it's been missing for weeks.  I was going to try making my own but the stuff I needed for that was also out of stock.

    I did find out, though, why gluten-free chicken nuggets are better than regular ones - in that they have more chicken and less coating than the regular kind.

    It's cheaper that way.  Pound for pound, the chicken costs less than the gluten-free coating, whether it's batter or breadcrumbs.


  • YouTube is a pile of crap.

    Yes, they shadowbanned Kiara, who has over 800,000 subscribers now, while she was in the middle of moving back home from Japan to Australia wink.  They took down Suisei's remonetisation celebration stream due to a copyright strike, after leaving her demonetised for a month without ever saying why.  Suisei has 780,000 subscribers.

    They also did this:



    Viva Frei has 350,00 subscribers.

    They also shadowbanned and demonetised Hardware Unboxed due to "suspicious activity" on their account.  What suspicious activity?  They didn't say.  How can this be resolved?  They didn't say.

    Hardware Unboxed has 750,000 subscribers.

    If you have a small YouTube channel you had better (a) back everything up and (b) hope the algorithm never notices you, because if it does, you are screwed.


Disclaimer: Slab and grue, yes. But it doesn't say how slab and grue.

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Friday, February 26

Geek

Daily News Stuff 26 February 2021

Desert Topping Floor Wax Edition

Tech News

  • Redbean is a small (200k) extremely fast (1 million requests per second) web server for static files and applications.  (Justine.lol)

    It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Net and Open BSD.

    Without recompiling.  The same binary runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Net and Open BSD.  Not currently for Arm-based Macs but that is coming - still in a single binary.

    To deploy your content, you change the name of the file from redbean.com to redbean.zip, add your files to the zip archive - because yes, it is also a valid zip archive, because why the hell not - change the name back to redbean.com, and run it.

    You can also apparently boot directly into it from BIOS, but that's only useful on a virtual machine; on actual hardware you'd have no drivers.


  • INTERCAL, YAML, and other horrible programming languages.  (Earthly)

    It's all fun and games until someone loses their mind.


  • Demand for semiconductors is currently as much as 30% higher than supply.  (AnandTech)

    Not memory, which is what usually gets bitten by supply crunches, but logic.

    It may be 12 to 18 months before things get back to normal.


  • The RTX 3060 is not actually bad.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's faster than a 2060 Super and close to a standard 2070 or the older 1080 Ti, and reasonably priced at $329, particularly with its 12GB of RAM.

    I couldn't find any available on Amazon or Newegg, but there are some listed in stock here in Australia, starting at A$869, which US$691 including tax, or US$628 before tax.

    So the cheapest available model is selling at a 90% markup over MSRP.


  • Lenovo's Thinkpad Fold X1 is the world's first foldable laptop except for all the others.  (Thurrott.com)

    It's essentially a 13" tablet that folds into a roughly 9" mini-laptop with an optional Bluetooth keyboard that snaps into place magnetically.

    It's about the same size as my HP Spectre x2 except that it folds in half.


  • Twitter will now let you pay to follow people.  (ZDNet)




  • Australia's stupid link tax law has passed through Parliament.  (AP)

    It had strong bipartisan support so you know it's bad.


  • Nvidia's dedicated mining cards are worse at mining than their gaming cards.  (Tom's Hardware)

    And the reason appears to be that they are using last-generation Turing chips - from the 1660 up to the 2080 Ti - and not current-generation chips.

    Turing was (is?) made on TSMC's 12nm process while Ampere is made on Samsung's 8nm process, so cranking out the older chips doesn't affect production capacity for the newer ones - except, as we noted, that demand is running at 130% of capacity anyway.


  • The language of technical difficulties is universal.

    I can't understand what Pekora is saying.  I can't understand what her chat is saying.  I can't even read her Minecraft setup screen, apart from the words "Hololive server" and "LAN".  But everyone knows what red text on a login page means.


Disclaimer: If we had some ham and eggs, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some ham and eggs.

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Thursday, February 25

Geek

Daily News Stuff 25 February 2021

Piglin Princess Pipico Edition

Tech News


Not Tech News - Not Any Kind Of News, Really

  • Faith in humanity restored, just a tiny bit.


Every Single Hololive Japan Opening Theme Video of the Day



I've been watching Hololive for months and I'd seen about 5% of these.


Disclaimer: Some of Aqua's openings may cause brain injury in vertebrates.

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Wednesday, February 24

Geek

Daily News Stuff 24 February 2021

Beck, Tig Beck Edition

Tech News

  • Big Tech Detective is a Chrome extension that block requests to Google.  (The Verge)

    Unsurprisingly, you have to install it manually.

    It's configurable to block requests to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and/or Amazon, and to block the page that made the request.


  • Console architecture from the NES to the Wii.  (Copetti)

    Each console gets its own page with a lot of detail; even so, some of the features need entire pages of their own.  Mode 7 on the SNES springs immediately to mind.


  • Betteridge's Law of Quantum Headlines: If your headline uses the word "quantum" the answer is no.  (ZDNet)

    In this case:
    Could quantum computers fix political polls?
    And they give the answer right there in the subhed, so they are at least nominally aware.


  • The trouble with Cassandra.  (Min.io)

    Specifically the trouble with using Apache Cassandra as a metadata store for object storage platforms like Amazon S3.  If that seems awfully specific, that's because MinIO is a storage platform like Amazon S3.

    It's open-source.  I didn't realise it was AGPL, but that shouldn't matter for 99% of applications where you just want to use it, rather than sell it as a product.

    If you want to sell it as a product, and can't work with AGPL, though, forget it.  Their Enterprise license is capacity based and costs four times as much as simply using Backblaze B2.  That is, the license alone costs more than outsourcing the whole thing.

    I suspect their audience is companies that want to use S3 APIs (why?) but need to control their own data.  A thousand bucks a month for long-term support on a 50TB storage pool is a lot less than even a potential privacy lawsuit.

    Oh yeah, the problem: Cassandra is not ACID.  It's not even eventually consistent, not by itself.  It's highly available, continuing to work even if parts of your network or multiple servers are down.  MongoDB by comparison will only work if a majority of nodes are available and you are connecting to that majority.

    It can also, by default, lose confirmed writes.

    So an object can be written to the datastore, be confirmed as available, and then if a problem occurs with the database - not the storage - be lost from the index and unfindable.

    Also, last time I checked - and admittedly it's been a while - MinIO didn't support user authentication or any other form of multi-tenant support; everything was owned by one user.  Now it does.  That makes it a lot more useful.


Disclaimer: It's all gone quantum.

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Tuesday, February 23

World

Daily News Stuff 23 February 2021

Minitru Approved Edition

Tech News

  • Building ByteDance's censorship machine.  (Protocol)

    If you're using a Chinese online platform, the Chinese government reads everything you say.  If you speak a language the spies don't know, you will encounter technical difficulties until you stop doing that.


  • They both blinked.  (Sydney Morning Herald)

    Facebook is unbanning Australia after some minor amendments to the shitty new link tax legislation.  They still have to pay the link tax, they just have more time to negotiate deals before any arbitration is triggered.


  • Samsung's S21 Ultra is a brilliant flagship phone but.  (AnandTech)

    Lacks a headphone socket, has no options for expandable storage, and starts at $1200.


  • JPEG XL is JPEG 2000 only good.  (Cloudinary)

    It supports transparency, overlays, animation (albeit very basic animation), and can be transcoded losslessly from existing JPEG images.  That is, both JPEG and JPEG XL are lossy, but there's no additional loss in the conversion.

    The sample images show that some of the competing formats - not JPEG XL - have interesting artifacts at high compression levels.  That is, they don't look like artifacts; they're not blocky, blurry, or smeared.  They just get the details wrong.  Flick between the original and compressed version and some of the fine details move.


  • JWCC is JSON with commas and comments.  (GitHub)

    Seems reasonable.


  • Concise Encoding is JSON with the lot.  (Concise Encoding)

    And a fried egg on top and spam.

    If you want JSON with the lot, the spec looks good.  If you want it in a language other than Go, time to roll up your sleeves.


  • Yes you can.  (Late Checkout)

    Article about Reddit - and how it is undervalued relative to the other social networks - mentions as a glaring flaw that you can't search within a subreddit.

    You can.  The UI isn't great; you either need to know the syntax, or enter your search and then choose to narrow it to a particular subreddit, but it absolutely works.

    Much of the advice given in the article seems similarly wrong.  The numbers are interesting, though.  Unless they are also wrong.  I didn't check.



Disclaimer: r/theydidntdothemath

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Monday, February 22

Geek

Daily News Stuff 22 February 2021

Random Cheery Thoughts Edition

Tech News

  • Thoughts from an Ethereum developer.  (GitHub)

  • Not 1984 but Brave New World.  (ZDNet)

    Is that better? Maybe, if the only available alternative was indeed 1984.

    The usual suspects have signed on to an Australian industry code aimed at stamping out that most dangerous of all scourges, misinformation.

    Of course, Facebook has taken it a step further and stamped out Facebook.  File that one under met or exceeded.


  • Liberals get the bullet too.  (BuzzFeed)

    Communists at Facebook are upset that the CEO has influence over corporate policy, and that they are prevented from simply deleting everything they disagree with.


  • Turning all of science fiction's dire warnings into Totalitarianism for Dummies guides.  (The Next Web)

    Today: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Precrime.


  • Vyolfers streamed Minecraft this morning and Reine is resuming her previously aborted stream right now.  I found that literally seconds before it went live.

    Their shopping mall is starting to look really impressive.




  • Half-price sale on organic gluten-free flours.  Don't care at all about the organic part, but do appreciate the gluten-free and half-price.  Have brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, lentil flour, and oat flour incoming.

    Just cross-checking, at half price they're cheaper than the inorganic equivalents but not radically so, except for the almond flour which is expensive no matter what.


Hardware Unavailable Video of the Day



Which unavailable graphics card should you buy?  A quick check in Australia showed the RX 550 and RX 6900XT in stock on the AMD side - at $149 and $2149 respectively.  Every card in between was out of stock.

On the Nvidia side things were slightly better, with the discontinued 2060, 2070, and 2080 being readily available albeit outrageously expensive, and the RTX 3090 selling at not too much above its list price.



Disclaimer: You there: Fuck off.  And when you get there, fuck off from there too.  Then fuck off some more.  Keep fucking off until you get back here.  Then fuck off again.

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Sunday, February 21

Geek

Daily News Stuff 21 February 2021

Dear Old Sadie Edition

Tech News

  • Planedrops keep falling on my head.  (Aviation24)

    But that doesn't mean - look out!  (Aviation Herald)

    Turbine blades fell out of a 747 engine taking off from Maastricht, and the engine inlet from a 777 taking off from Denver.

    Both planes had safe emergency landings, with only two minor injuries to people on the ground.  (Safety tip: Don't try to pick up fallen aircraft engine parts.)


  • That's basically what I wanted to build.  (Pimoroni)

    It's a board for the Pi Pico that supplies VGA, PCM and PWM sound (though you have to choose), and a microSD slot.  The only real hardware on the board is an I2C audio DAC for PCM sound; the rest seems to be passive components to let the Pi Pico show its strengths.

    The VGA output supports a maximum resolution of 640x360 in 15-bit colour, which is more than enough for my needs, and in fact a lot more than you can fit in the memory of the Pico, so they'd have to be doing similar tricks to those I described a while back - using a software CLUT to fill a line buffer that is then fed by DMA to the PIO.

    The advantage they have here is the Pico's intelligent PIO, which keeps things cycle-accurate without needing any external logic, which was the sticking point I ran into even before building a prototype.


  • Pimoroni has some other neat kits for playing with the Pico.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Someone at Tom's Hardware is something of a Pi Pico fan.

    I don't blame him, it looks like a fun and well-designed piece of kit.


  • At the other end of the Arm CPU scale, Apple's M1X will support 8 cores and 32GB of RAM unless it won't.  (WCCFTech)

    Technically 12 cores in total - 8 large and 4 small.

    Expect the usual articles explaining why no-one needs more than 32GB of RAM.  From people who run Mac Pro systems with eight times that much.


  • Binding to localhost:0 will automatically generate an available port number... Unless the system is already running 64512 services, in which case you're probably screwed anyway.


Cola Gremlin Video of the Day


She even hiccups.



Disclaimer: Change one parameter at a time.  Yeah, this latest baking experiment was not a success.

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Saturday, February 20

Geek

Daily News Stuff 20 February 2021

Ethicists Behaving Badly Edition

Tech News

  • Google has fired another one of its top AI ethicists.  (Reuters)

    In this case for violating their code of conduct and security policies involving moving research data outside Google's corporate network.

    Ethicists are consistently some of the most unethical people on the planet, so it doesn't surprise me in the least that even as unethical a company as Google is having trouble with them.


  • The state of the NAND Flash ecosystem.  (AnandTech)

    TL;DR: 10Gbit/mm².  That's, um, quite a lot.  Consider that the Raspberry Pi Pico has 2MB of flash memory, which would measure 0.0016mm² if manufactured on a leading-edge process, and the entire chip would barely be visible to the naked eye, even if you knew exactly where it was.


  • Never had a chance to get a Voodoo 5 6000 back in the day?  Why not build your own?  (Hot Hardware)

    Well, because the drivers are notoriously buggy and it's terribly slow by modern standards, but still, someone did exactly that, and the homebrew model looks better than the real thing.

    He also made it a PCI card (not PCIe) instead of AGP, so it's just about possible to find a motherboard that will support it.


  • Brave was leaking DNS requests for pages fetched over Tor due to a regression in the built-in ad blocker. 

    That's kind of bad.

    They had a fix available within 24 hours of being notified.

    That's pretty damn good.



  • Oh, Calli is streaming.

    Oh, she's doing a Japanese-only challenge.  Being Calli, this means that any time she accidentally speaks English she has to take a drink.

    Speaking of which, I was watching the Kiara/Calli farewell karaoke earlier.  (Kiara is heading back to Australia wink now that travel restrictions have been relaxed.)

    I stopped the chat in Chrome and opened it in Edge instead so it wouldn't make the music freeze and skip as it often does.

    Edge used 5.5GB of RAM for that one tab.



Oh No Haachama Video of the Day


If YouTube bans her and she has to start over again, that will just give her the opportunity to join Hololive EN Gen 2.

Update: Wait, she's got both the short (Haachama) and long (Haato) twintails now?  She must buy virtual shampoo by the pallet.



Disclaimer: "What the fuck" is technically omnilingual.  Otherwise she'd be plastered already.

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Geek

Daily News Stuff 19 February 2021

Gremlin Farm Edition

Tech News

  • In an effort to preserve at least some RTX 3060 cards for gamers, Nvidia has deliberately skorked their drivers to cut Ethereum hash rates in half  (AnandTech)

    And launched a new range of mining-oriented cards.

    Which rely on the exact same supply-constrained chips as the gaming cards.  But are worse at mining.  A lot worse.

    No, I don't know what they think they're playing at either.


  • Need more screen real estate on your laptop?  Got $20,692 of somebody else's money to spend?  Expanscape got you covered.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The Aurora A5 and A7 have up to seven screens - four 4K 17" displays, two 9" 2K displays, and a 7" touchscreen.

    They run on a Ryzen 7 4800U.  The A5 comes with 64GB RAM, 2TB of NVMe SSD, and 2TB of SATA SSD.  The A7 boosts that to 128GB RAM and 8TB total SSD.

    These are currently prototypes, but if you want one badly enough they will custom build it to your specs and deliver it to you.  The traditional markets for these would be film editing in the field and energy and mineral exploration, but both those industries are kind of in the dumps at the moment.


  • Intel just Osborne Effected Rocket Lake.  (WCCFTech)

    Well, not deliberately perhaps, this is a leak.  But according to the leak, Alder Lake will be 20% faster than Rocket Lake and ship in December, giving Rocket Lake a mere nine month lifespan, since it won't even launch until next month.

    Alder Lake will use a new socket - LGA 1700 - and support DDR5.  If it launches on schedule and delivers as expected, it will give Intel a lead over AMD for the first time in four years, since Zen 4 isn't expected until early 2022.


  • Microsoft Office 2021 will be available for purchase later this year.  (Thurrott.com)

    Which seems like a good time for it.

    Also, yes, purchase, as in you plunk down your money and then you get to use it.  Office 365 will still be there if you prefer that.


  • WhatsApp has explained what data it shares with Facebook and why.  (ZDNet)

    The answers are, respectively, everything, and fuck you.


  • Photoshop can no longer draw lines.  (Photoshop)

    It's been broken for months.

    Which just tells me it's time to cancel my subscription entirely because it's that long since I've used it.


Ground Beef Video of the Day


I noticed this account first because she does some nice fanart of Hololive members.

Then I found that she does drawing streams on YouTube.

Then I found that she does gaming streams on YouTube.


Then I found that she does English-language Minecraft streams, which are in short supply right now - at least on the channels I follow.  HoloEN hasn't done any since Kiara's house building a week ago, Moona and Reine's big shopping mall collab seems to be mostly in Indonesian, and Reine's planned English-language solo stream today got turned into Journey to the Savage Planet at the last minute because the Holoserver wouldn't talk to her.  (I should check and see what Pikamee has been up to, she might have something for me.)

Vyolfers only has 1770 subscribers so far, which is less than 1% of the smallest Hololive member, but it means that chat is a small group of friends and not a huge chaotic mess.

Oh yes, ground beef.  If you watch it, you'll see why.  She has a unique method of herding cattle.

Update: Dammit, I checked on what Pikamee has been up to, and her latest video - just a few hours ago - is an announcement about Monoe getting fired for an unspecified breach of contract.  Since VOMS only had three members that's a pretty serious blow.


Laptop Repair Video of the Day


Not Louis Rossman repairing a MacBook with a dead capacitor, but something better: Dave Jones repairing a Tandy 102 from 1986 with a dead PCB track.

Watching him take it apart, for a moment it seemed surprisingly sophisticated for the time, with an array of ten surface-mount QFP packages visible on a daughter board.  Then I realised that it needed ten surface-mount QFP packages just to drive the 240x64 monochrome LCD display, which these days you'd just connect over I2C or something.


Disclaimer: Satay squirrel is off.

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