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

Tuesday, November 19

Geek

Daily News Stuff 19 November 2019

Shocked Shocked Edition

Tech News



Disclaimer: Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

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Monday, November 18

Geek

Daily News Stuff 18 November 2019

Slow News Edition

Tech News


Disclaimer: Some say the world will end in 1984,
Some say in Brave New World.

At this point though there's no mistake -
We're living in Connie Willis's Remake.

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Sunday, November 17

Geek

Daily News Stuff 17 November 2019

Zoom Enhance Edition

Tech News

  • So for some reason if I add magnification to my reading glasses prescription I can use regular lenses instead of high refractive index ones and they get a lot cheaper.

    Looks like my cunning plan to replace my 7" tablet with a 6" phone is a go.

    Since I have a couple of promo codes from buying three pairs of new glasses earlier this year I'll probably get the reading glasses with built-in ZOOM ENHANCE and some prescription sunglasses as well.  That will give me five pairs of glasses and a spare set of frames for only slightly more than one pair cost me through a major eyewear chain last time. 

    (I found a frame I like that comes in five different colours so they'll all be colour coded, though I already find that when I'm not wearing glasses in the first place it's not particularly easy to distinguish the gold distance pair from the rose gold reading pair.)

  • Linux containers - often referred to as LXC or LXD - work just fine and are very easy to install and configure except for the networking which is fucking crazy.  I have them running now on virtual servers both for our stuff here and for my day job - so I can get one server from Digital Ocean or IBM or other cloud provider, and subdivide it and have different apps and services each running in their own little box without having a minimum monthly charge for every tiny app I might want to deploy.

    I was planning to move the whole of mu.nu and mee.nu to an LXC environment last year but the deployment dragged on forever due to network configuration problems (and general lack of time to fight those network configuration problems) and eventually I gave up on the idea because the server was costing me a lot of money and we weren't able to use it.

    Then a couple of weeks ago I realised that judicious use of SSH tunnels would have got me 95% of the way there and given me flexibility on distributing where the actual networking endpoints lived.  Realised that about a year too late to have used that trick to migrate us all to that lovely server I had at the time.

    Oh well.  Back to monitoring the bargain racks at reliable hosting providers again.

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/DuckDuckCat.jpg?size=640x&q=95

  • Rip all the threads!  (WCCFTech)

    Newegg has 8 core Threadrippers for $150 and 12 cores for $267.  And motherboards for $240, which is not exactly cheap but is not unreasonable either if you need 64 PCIe lanes for something.

    Of course, it is going to be superseded in a couple of weeks, but the cheapest Thirdripper will be $1400 plus a motherboard, so there is still room for a product like this.

    Meanwhile the second-generation 2920X is $370 on Amazon.  Which means that even with the motherboard it will work out cheaper than a 3900X (assuming you can find a 3900X).

  • Wikichip has a story on that trillion-transistor pizza-scale AI chip but their site has the hiccups right now so the page might not load.

    The article discusses how they manage die yield when the die is the size of a dinner plate.  There are - according to the spec - 400,000 individual cores on the chip, but there are several thousand spare cores that can be enabled before each chip is sold to take the place of failed cores in the grid.

    Yes, this chip has between 4000 and 6000 extra cores just to cover wafer defects.

  • New AMD Epyc servers from Quanta.  (Serve the Home)

    Not that interesting really unless you're specifically looking to buy one of these, except for the point that 1U servers can now squeeze in 12 2.5" front-accessible drive bays.

    And squeeze is the right word, because that leaves half an inch total per drive to account for the hot-swap drive caddy, the frame holding the drive caddies, the airflow between those, and the case of the server itself.

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/Catastrophe6.jpg?size=640x&q=95

  • Apple has banned apps in any way relating to vaping including those designed to manage medicinal marijuana.  (ZDNet)

    They've even gone so far as to cancel the developer account of PAX Labs, developer of, uh, the "iPhone of marijuana vapes".

    Whatever you may feel about them, the devices are legal in many locations and Apple has no legal or moral obligation to police them.  They just chose to do so.

  • Google, meanwhile, is perfectly happy to collect all your medical data.  (ZDNet)

    Without your consent, or, apparently, even your knowledge.  They just hoovered it all up.  (Whether we're talking the vacuum cleaner or J. Edgar remains to be seen.)

  • Microsoft is killing Cortana.  (Thurrott.com)

    The digital assistant.

    For Android and iOS.

    In some countries outside the United states.

    I have never used it off Windows and hate it on Windows, but it was the only such service that worked across all devices.

  • Google manually changes search results, and they do it all the time.  (MSN)

    Originally published in the Wall Street Journal, but that's paywalled and MSN seems to have the full text of the article for free.

    The Journal found that Google engineers tweak the algorithm to favour certain companies, manually adjust autocomplete text and featured results, blacklist sites in certain contexts or indeed entirely, while Google executives lie about all of this.

    This comes as little surprise to anyone who has been awake any time in the past decade, of course.


Video of the Day



Nice CPU, but that's a hell of a BIOS bug AMD. (Watch from 1:00 to 1:30 to see what I mean.)

The Ryzen 3500U routinely beats the Intel i5 8250U - and uses less power. And it's cheaper. And it can actually play games.

This looks like a pretty decent device. $550 with 12GB RAM, 256GB SSD, a 1080p IPS touchscreen, and a pen. But no dedicated PgUp / PgDn / Home / End keys.

And of course this is still Zen+ - Zen 2 laptop chips will be out early next year and should deliver significant performance and power improvements.



Disclaimer: Moderator, ban thyself.

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Saturday, November 16

Geek

Daily News Stuff 16 November 2019

Magic Number Edition

Tech News

  • I've dropped One Angry Gamer from my list of sources because I'm sick of the bullshit that goes on in the comments over there.  They may just be trolling, but I've had enough.  Looking for a site that covers that sort of news that isn't run by crazy people.

  • Apple will be forced to open its NFC function to other payment processors.  (9to5Mac)

    The ruling comes from Germany, but there's an investigation going on in Australia over this as well.

  • Dell's latest XPS 13 2-in-1 has an Ice Lake CPU.  (AnandTech)

    That means up to 4 cores (meh) but also up to 64 graphics cores (which I already have in my HP Spectre).

    It comes with a 13.4" 1920x1200 or optionally a 3840x2400 16:10 display, which is nice in a market full of 16:9 screens.  There's no GPU cache, but it uses LPDDR4X-3733 RAM, providing about 50% more bandwidth than the typical 2400 or 2666 DDR4 RAM.

    It has dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys, but Home and End double up with F11 and F12. There is literally no spare room available though, so I'll give them a pass on that.

    Ports are minimal, but it includes the essentials: Two Thunderbolt 3, microSD, and headphone jack.  Weight is 1.33kg - 2.9lb.

    It's not cheap - fully configured with the 4K screen, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD it comes to A$3999 - but it is the closest I've seen to my ideal laptop.  The 2-in-1 thing is of no use to me personally - it's a 180° hinge, not a detachable keyboard - but doesn't really detract from the device either.

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/YunocchiSpacer.jpg?size=640x&q=95

  • The Supreme Court will hear the appeal over the stupid Google v. Oracle Java API case.  (TechDirt)

    The original decision from about ninety years ago was carefully reasoned and clearly correct, so naturally it got overturned by the Federal Circuit.  The Supreme Court loves smacking the Federal Circuit around, so there's a good chance the original correct ruling will be reinstated.

  • RISE 2020 will take place in 2021.  (Tech Crunch)

    This is - or was - a huge annual tech conference held in Hong Kong.  Not any more.

    Thanks China.

  • Facebook is busy working on its Libra blockchain platform thingy.  (Tech Crunch(

    Because all those bothersome regulations only apply to running a blockchain.  You can develop and release whatever the hell code you want.

  • Amazon is a flea market of fake crap.  (Washington Post)

    No shit, Sherlock, says everyone who has ever gone shopping for an SD card.

  • Google has cancelled its weekly all-hands meetings after discovering the company is run by idiots.  (CNBC)

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/KannaWhat.jpg?size=640x&q=95

  • A new Chrome feature intended to save memory ran amok Tuesday and killed over five trillion people.  (ZDNet)

    More specifically, a lot of companies depending on internal web apps tested and deployed for Chrome discovered that the new feature would save memory by delivering them to the White Screen of Death.

  • Don't charge that phone!  (ZDNet)

    Fake or hijacked public USB charging stations can hack your phone and send your private data off to Latveria in milliseconds.

  • Most Americans correctly believe they are being constantly tracked.  (MIT Technology Review)

    I already used no shit, Sherlock, didn't I?

  • Three executives from Apple's custom CPU division have left to start their own company.  (9to5Mac)

    They are planning to compete not with other mobile chip designers (tricky) but with Intel and AMD for the mainstream market (all but impossible).

    Within five years they'll be out of money and someone will buy them.

  • A couple of days ago I said of the Realme 5 Pro that
    It would be even easier if Oppo would just ship stock Android and stop screwing things up
    Well.

    This is the Umidigi (formerly UMI) F1.

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/UmidigiF1.jpg?size=480x&q=95

    It has a mid-range Helio P60 CPU (four A73 and four A53 cores), a 6.3" 2340x1080 screen with a teardrop notch, 4GB RAM, 128GB flash, 16MP front and rear cameras, dual SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD, a headphone jack, a fingerprint reader, and a USB-C connector.

    And stock Android.

    Android 9.0 at the time of this review in May, not sure if there's been an update yet.  (GadgetGuy)

    Setup is typical stock Android with no hint of a UI or other overlays, nor does it try to get you to create a UMIDIGI account at setup – good so far. And you can recover old apps by signing into Google Play or copy apps and data over from another Android phone.

    A$280 from Amazon Australia with free delivery.  (Or A$250 for the boring looking black version.)

    There is also an F1 Play model selling for A$300.

    The difference is a bit confusing: The Play is mostly the same, but is configured as 6/64GB rather than 4/128GB and has a 48MP main camera.  For just A$20 more, that's an interesting tradeoff, since with stock Android it should support adoptable storage and I can add another 200GB no problem.  (And even if that doesn't work 64GB for apps and 200GB for storage is fine.)

    Only catch is that model ships directly from Umidigi, rather than from Amazon, so another week for delivery, and if you need to return it you may have a problem.

    Now, the interesting thing is in between those two - yes, exactly splitting the A$20 price difference at A$290 - is the Umidigi X.  This is again a Helio P60 with a 6.3" 2340x1080 screen, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, dual SIM or SIM plus microSD, a headphone jack, and an AMOLED screen with in-screen fingerprint sensor.

    Oh, found the catch.  That Amazon page lies.  The screen on the AMOLED model is actually 1548x720.  (Umidigi)

    That's not terrible, but I do want a 1080p display.  Because my next tablet might well be this phone and a new pair of reading glasses.

    Finally, if you've decided that you're not willing to compromise, the Umidigi S3 Pro at A$350 comes in a 6/128GB configuration with a 48MP main camera and a Helio P70...  Which is about 5% faster than the P60.

    But it's not available in shiny red.

    I think the F1 is the safest choice since it ships from Amazon themselves and includes an Australian fast charger.

    Really the only reason not to buy the Umidigi F1 is that they just announced the Umidigi F2.

    Upgrades include 6GB RAM, a 6.5" screen, room for two SIMs and a microSD card, Android 10, a quad-camera array with a 48MP main sensor, and a 32MP selfie camera.  It looks like it will be more expensive, and it's also not shipping yet.


Disclaimer: Democracy dies in hide replies.

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Friday, November 15

Geek

Daily News Stuff 15 November 2019

Crabs In A Bucket Edition

Tech News



Disclaimer: I already made that joke.

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Thursday, November 14

Geek

Daily News Stuff 14 November 2019

Distelfinks R Us Edition

Tech News

  • The Google Pixel 4 XL with 64GB storage costs A$1279.

    It has 6GB of RAM, a 16MP main camera, no fingerprint sensor, no headphone jack, and no microSD slot.

    The Oppo Realme 5 Pro with 128GB storage costs A$399.

    It has 8GB of RAM, a 48MP main camera, a fingerprint sensor, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot.

    This is not a difficult decision.  (TechRadar)

    It would be even easier if Oppo would just ship stock Android and stop screwing things up, but this one is unusual in that it's readily available in Australian retail outlets, so I'll take it.

    In addition to the Realme 5 Pro there's also a Realme C2 at A$199, a Realme 5 at A$299, and a Realme XT at A$499 with an OLED display.  They're all good value for money, but the 5 Pro is probably the pick of the litter.

    It even looks pretty.

    http://ai.mee.nu/images/Realme5Pro.jpg?size=600x&q=95

  • Turns out that rumoured 16" MacBook Pro is real.  (AnandTech)

    Fully configured it comes in just short of A$10,000.

    Admittedly, fully configured includes 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD.

    The MacBook 16 also comes with Radeon Pro 5300M or 5500M graphics - AMD's new low-end Navi parts with up to 8GB GDDR6 RAM.

    Perhaps most significantly, they've ditched the terrible Magic Keyboard, replacing it with a new and slightly less terrible Magic Keyboard with old-style switches and an entire millimetre of key travel.  The escape key has also escaped from wherever they had it penned up, because that's back too.

  • The Buffalo LXW-10G2/2G4 switch has two 10G ports and 4 2.5G ports.  (AnandTech)

    That's okay, I guess.  If the price is right.  And they decide to sell it outside Japan.

  • Twitter and Instagram begin a new round of experiments to find faster ways to burn shareholders' money.  (TechDirt)

    Just soak it in liquid oxygen like a pro.

  • Ring is Amazon's attempt to be Google.  (TechDirt)

    Amazon isn't run by idiots to nearly the same extent as Google (the ocean of fake microSD cards listed on their store notwithstanding) but the Ring program is creepsville.

  • Motorola's new Razr will cost $1499 unless it doesn't.  (WCCFTech)

    It's a flip phone with a 6.2" 2142x867 folding display and an additional 2.7" 800x600 display on the...  Front?  Back?  Outside?  Wherever.  It has a 16MP outside camera and a 5MP inside camera, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage.

    Sorry, this is the Verge, but it's genuinely cool to see this thing in action.



    It's expensive, but it looks like it's a solid device.

  • Another day, another Intel security bug.  (Kernel.org)

    This one is slightly different.  There's a feature called TSX in Intel CPUs that lets you handle transactional code without conventional (and slow) locking mechanisms.  Turns out it also lets you run side-channel attacks on a server running untrusted code.

    The Linux kernel patch disables TSX on all Intel CPUs.

  • Faster and cheaper than a B Ark.  (Tech Crunch)

    1. Announce a contract with ICE or some other widely despised institution like the Mayo Clinic or the American Red Cross.
    2. Outraged idiots resign.
    3. Costs drop while productivity soars.
    4. Competitors hire your cast-off idiots and go broke.
    5. Profit.
     
  • Let them eat MacBooks.  (Thurrott.com)



    You can't succeed, apparently, unless you buy overpriced Apple toys.

  • Facebook deleted 3.2 billion fake accounts over the last two years.  (One Angry Gamer - oh, whatever, you're a grown-up)

    I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, These are the people who can't tell revenue from profit.  I bet it's 3.2 million.

    I thought that too.  I was wrong.  (Facebook)

    Ugh.

  • Game developers are worried that Google might not cancel Stadia.  (Ars Technica)
    "The biggest complaint most developers have with Stadia is the fear that Google isn't going to cancel it," Fwen Grey, developer of Stadia launch puzzle game Mine, told GamesIndustry.biz in recently published comments.  "Nobody ever says, 'It might actually work this time,' or 'Streaming isn't a complete dumpster fire.'  Everyone accepts that streaming is pretty much dead.  The biggest concern with Stadia is that it might actually survive."
    Or at least, it would have made more sense if she had said that.


Video of the Day

So, remember that terrible piece of crap that Paramount coughed up earlier this year in the shape of a Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer and everyone hated it?



They fixed it.

I mean, it's still a Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer but now it looks something that you could actually take the kids to see without requiring a pre-cinematic lobotomy.  Not quite up with the first Detective Pikachu trailer, but miles ahead of, say, Star Wars.

I still love that first Detective Pikachu trailer.



Haven't watched the movie, but I've seen the trailer eleven times.


Disclaimer: I give it six months.

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Wednesday, November 13

Geek

Daily News Stuff 13 November 2019

I Didn't Do It Edition

Tech News



Disclaimer: Or not.

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Tuesday, November 12

Geek

Daily News Stuff 12 November 2019

Red Sky At Night, City's Alight Edition

Tech News


Disclaimer: To shreds, you say?

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Monday, November 11

Geek

Daily News Stuff 11 November 2019

Limits.Conf Edition

Tech News

  • Ubuntu 20.04 will disinclude Python 2.  (Phoronix)

    Since it will be out three months after support is dropped for Python 2, that's no surprise.

    Fortunately for me, PyPy (the Python compiler) will continue support for Python 2 indefinitely.  Because the chances of me porting 250,000 lines of code before New Year's Eve are slim.

  • Did we mention that nobody likes the Pixel 4 very much?  (ZDNet)

    Fortunately there is a simple solution to all the problems with the Pixel 4: Don't buy it.  Google is run by idiots.

  • Microsoft Edge is coming to Linux.  (MSN)

    On the one hand, it's based on Chromium, which runs just fine on Linux, and on the other hand, I'm more prepared to trust Microsoft at this point than Google, so...  Bring it on, because Google is run by idiots.

  • Terminator won't be back.  (Forbes)

    Don't click on that link.  Forbes now has adblock detection and is just filled with crap if you turn your adblocker off.

    Anyway, while Joker - an actual good film - nudges ever closer to the billion dollar mark (for an R-rated comic book movie with a $55 million budget that has not been released in China), the new Terminator film fell into a vat of molten metal and disappeared.

    The article linked above (don't click) makes the laughable assertion that:
    It’s a sign that making a better sequel couldn’t save a franchise for which general audiences stopped caring decades ago.
    Better than what, exactly?

  • YouTube has begun banning commenters for using too many emojis.  (Engadget)

    First worthwhile thing they've done in years.

    Okay, yeah, Google is run by idiots.


Disclaimer: * soft nofile infinity and beyond!

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Sunday, November 10

Geek

Daily News Stuff 10 November 2019

Containers In Containers Edition

Tech News

  • Intel looks set for another meh year in 2020.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Comet Lake will still be 14nm, and will max out at 10 cores.  And it will require a new socket.  And it will use more power than a 16 core Ryzen.  And it will have less than half the PCIe bandwidth.

  • AMD's RX 5500 looks set to replace the existing RX 570, 580, and 590 cards unless it doesn't.  (WCCFTech)

    It replaces the existing cards' 256-bit GDDR5 memory with 128-bit GDDR6, so almost the same speed but cheaper to manufacture.  It's aimed squarely at Nvidia's GTX 1650 - but Nvidia are about to launch their 1650 Super as a counterattack.

  • Secrets of the Hitachi 6309  (WikiChip)

    The 6309 was a clone of the 6809 (as found in the Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer and the Hitachi Peach) but had a few hidden features.  The 6809 was notable compared to other 8 bit CPUs for having a multiply instruction; the 6309 added division.

    It also provided block transfer instructions like the Z80 and a 32-bit accumulator.  No other 8 bit CPU - as far as I am aware - had that.

  • All six major browser vendors are rolling out DNS-over-HTTPS in a big middle finger to ISPs and governments.  (ZDNet)

    Also, six?  Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple...  Their list includes Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi, so they don't count one of the seven as "major".

  • Microsoft clarifies its strategy for Windows application developers.  (Thurrott.com)



    Actual quote:
    Moving forward, we’re looking forward to being able to continue to evolve the app model space to make it less of a hard left-right decision for you but something that is a choice you can make as a developer later on, and not as an initial change.
  • Disney is planning to airbrush its own content on its own streaming service.  (One Angry Gamer - do not read the comments)

    Anyone familiar with the story of Song of the South - it has never been released on home video in the US - will be completely unsurprised at this move.

  • The Chrome spell checker does not believe unsurprised is a word.

  • Diablo IV won't be out for years but Blizzard is already planning microtransactions, seasonal content, and expansion packs on top of the full-priced game.  (One Angry Gamer - do not read the comments)

  • No, an AI hasn't solved the Three-Body Problem you idiots because we already have a proof that there is no general solution for the Three-Body Problem.  (LiveScience)

    The comments at Slashdot (unlike certain other sites) are actually informative on the subject.  (Slashdot)

  • Instagram is hiding likes, which are kind of the entire and only purpose of Instagram.



  • Julia has threads.  (Julia)

    It's had sort-of threads for a while, but with 1.3 - which isn't out yet - they are officially in beta.

    That's because it does some complicated and clever stuff with them.  You can fire up as many threads as you like - including having nested loops that each spawn threads all over the place - and it will make sure that the end result all makes sense and doesn't kill your computer.


Video of the Day



Season Two of If It Was Any Nicer You Couldn't Afford It is here.

Louis Rossman has been doing MacBook repair videos for years, but only hit the big time after he started live-vlogging his attempts to find new retail space in New York City.


Bonus Video of the Day



Barring the stable door after Barbara Streisand has bolted.


Extra Bonus Video of the Day

Sargon mentions in passing YouTuber's accounts being stolen and YouTube basically shrugging and washing their hands of the problem.  This is discussed here.



Apparently, the scam is that a "prospective sponsor" finds a YouTuber and sends them a computer program to try out for themselves before agreeing to say nice things about it.

What that program actually does is it steals their YouTube credentials and sends them off to North Korea or some place like that, where a virtual chop shop has the channel parted out and sold off for pennies on the dollar before the day is out.

Meanwhile YouTube sends an email saying "we'll look into it, maybe" and the North Koreans have already deleted eleven years of your content.


Disclaimer: Time to deploy the A Ticket to Tranai solution.

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