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

Sunday, April 11


Daily News Stuff 11 April 2021

No News Is No News Part 3 Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • Still no ETA on the WebNX server.  I did get a reply to my support ticket, just not an overly specific one.

  • A new algorithm makes CPUs 15 times faster than GPUs for some types of AI training.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I'm not sure if this is something where a counter-algorithm will quickly erase the advantage, or if this is an area where CPUs are intrinsically better if they can get enough FPU and memory bandwidth.  GPUs are still terrible at complex, branching code.  CPUs are merely bad at that.

    It uses AVX_512_BF16, which AMD doesn't have just yet, but in theory the algorithm should still let AMD CPUs outperform GPUs as well.

  • And you get new integrated graphics!  (WCCFTech)

    According to leaked AMD slides, next year's Raphael chips - the Ryzen 7000 family - will support Zen 4, DDR5, and PCIe 5.0, using TSMC's 5nm process, on socket AM5.

    And RDNA2 graphics - the same architecture as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.  A slower version I'm sure, but the same architecture.

    Unlike Intel, most of AMD's desktop chips have no integrated graphics at all.  Up to 16 cores where Intel maxes out at 8, yes.  Integrated graphics, no.  There are desktop version of their laptop parts with integrated graphics, but they're perpetually in short supply.

    Before Raphael arrives we'll be seeing Warhol - Zen 3+, DDR4, PCIe 4.0, and socket AM4, using TSMC's 6nm process, which is an improved version of their 7nm rather than a whole new node.

    The slide also lists the Cezanne Zen 3 laptop chips which have just started to show up, Rembrandt which is a Zen 3+ core with RDNA2 graphics for laptops, Phoenix, a laptop version of Raphael, and Lucienne, Barcelo, Van Gogh, and, uh, Dragon Quest because at some point you've just had enough of famous artists.  

    I'm not sure what all of those are; two look to be low-end laptop or embedded chips; the other two are a mystery.

    DDR5 is a big deal for integrated graphics, because it instantly doubles available bandwidth.  Or more than doubles: Each module in DDR5 provides two separate 32-bit channels, which can be significantly more efficient than one 64-bit channel, depending on the workload.

    AMD could easily increase the size of their integrated GPU, but right now it wouldn't do anything because they're limited by the speed of DDR4 RAM.  DDR5 fixes that.

  • The 11th Circuit has ruled that online shopping doesn't need to be accessible to the blind - IF.  (Ars Technica)

    The operative IF being that you offer other methods of access that are accessible.  If blind people can't access your website because it's overloaded with React garbage but you offer ordering by phone, that's acceptable under the ADA - according to the 11th Circuit.

    The 9th Circuit ruled the other way a couple of years ago, but the 9th Circuit is insane, so that might not mean much.

  • Why does Vim use HJKL for cursor keys?  (Hillel Wayne)

    I can't remember the last time I used HJKL in Vi except by accident, but it makes sense if you compare the Qwerty layout to the alphabet and control codes in ASCII.  In short, they designed it so that it would be easy to implement in the days when keyboards used - at best - TTL logic chips rather than microcontrollers

  • Genocide, schmenocide: Let me buy cheap Chinese crap.  (ZDNet)

    As commenters mentioned before, it doesn't seem that ZDNet has an editor anymore.  It's a group blog with a nice layout and no oversight.

    ZDNet usually gets just a handful of comments on their stories. This one has a huge thread and it is not friendly to to the author.

  • Genocide, schmenocide: Let me track those suckers potential customers.  (Wall Street Journal)

    Procter and Gamble worked with Chinese companies to attempt an end run around Apple's new privacy controls and target ads to users who are tossing their cookies.

    Apple aren't doing this out of any ethical principle - it's a battle for control of the end users - but it's still good to see big tech companies screwing things up for the other big tech companies.

  • Is site blocking reducing piracy or just distributing it more evenly?  (TorrentFreak)

    If you chose option B, you win a kewpie doll.

    Horrifying things, kewpie dolls.

  • The FBI has arrested a man who planned to blow up the internet.  (Bleeping Computer)

    He probably can't build an entrapment case, even though the FBI contacted him and offered to sell him C4, because he appears to have the IQ of a radish.

    There's a left-wing idiot in the comments over there, but the other commenters pounce on him.

What's Happening to Quebec Video of the Day

It's the Stanford Prison Experiment writ large.  Dozens of police raided an AirBNB houseboat rented by Rebel Media - without a warrant - and when told to come back with a warrant spontaneously declared the boat a crime scene.

Oh, and look!  If you follow the link, YouTube has stuck its oar in uninvited and stamped an official information link above the video.

Montreal is French for Melbourne.

What's Happening to Apple Video of the Day

2016 and 2017 MacBooks were plagued with display problems because a cable costing about half a cent was a few millimetres too short.  Apple not only knew about the problem but released new models with the same problem.

They then offered free repairs...  On just one specific model of the multiple models affected, while denying that the problem even existed in the other models even though they use the exact same cable.  They fixed this in the 2018 model but deny they changed anything even though the cable is clearly longer.

So now they're getting the daylights sued out of them

Oh, and Apple also aggressively targets unauthorised repairs - and doesn't authorise repairs either.  They'll authorise a third-party repair shop to replace the entire screen rather than repair it with just a new half-cent cable, though.

And when users raise these issues on Apple's forum, the posts mysteriously disappear.

Rossman was recently interviewed by The American Conservative and is pleased that for once a media outlet got the story right.

Disclaimer: I say we dust off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It might not work but it would look really cool.

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Saturday, April 10


Daily News Stuff 10 April 2021

Tired Protons Edition

Tech News

  • For some reason all my protons hurt today.

  • The EU Parliament wants 24x7 support with 30-minute response times for removing copyrighted material online.  (TorrentFreak)

    No problem.  Our Gold support tier starts at $30,000 per month.  If you need phone support, our Platinum tier from $80,000 per month provides live Level 1 support and a designated account manager.

  • Linux support is coming to Arm-based Macs with the 5.13 kernel.  (Tom's Hardware)

    This is an early release with the idea that it will boot and run, but don't expect (for example) working Thunderbolt support.  In fact, don't expect much of anything; this is more a base platform for other kernel developers than anything end users would want.

    The reason it matters is that the new M1 Macs are technically good - if limited - but are so far completely closed systems.  You can run one specific version of MacOS and nothing else.

    I have an iMac, but it's Intel-based and I could easily install Windows or Linux on it if I chose to do so.

  • AMD are coming out with the Ryzen 5900 - non-X edition - a 12 core 65W model you won't be able to buy.  (Tom's Hardware)

    You can't buy the 5900X anyway, because it offers the best price/performance of the Ryzen 5000 family and sells out instantly, but you double won't be able to buy the 5900 because it's an OEM-only part.

    What it does tell us, though, is that cutting the power from 105W to 65W reduces single-threaded performance by 5% and multi-threaded performance by just 10%.  That would leave it nicely placed to utterly crush Intel's 11900K, which you also can't get.

  • Sorry, I have a cold.  (The Register)

    A British airline significantly under-estimated load weight on three flights because they calculated the weights of female passengers using the title "Miss" as children.

    Which in turn was because the load calculation software was outsourced to another country with its own idiosyncratic usage of the titles Miss and Ms.

    Fortunately the miscalculation was still within the required safety range and there were no incidents, and the error was found and fixed within 72 hours.

    Makes me glad I work in an industry where if I make a really bad mistake people just get pissed that their fancy web integrations are down rather than getting scattered all over the landscape in pieces.

  • To absolutely no-one's surprise, an app for installing old versions of apps contained malware.  (Tech Crunch)

    APKPure would in fact install your desired apps, but it would also flood your phone with ads.

  • Hong Kong police have seized a contraband shipment of shark fins, sea cucumbers, and Nvidia CMX dedicated crypto mining cards.  (ExtremeTech)

    Gotta love a site that refers to the ongoing GPU shortage as a "peanut-butter-and-clusterfuck sandwich".

  • Major banks are threatened by DeFi - distributed decentralised finance.  (CNBC)

    Had to laugh at this line:
    There are, of course, many risks associated with DeFi, including its lack of regulation and protections.
    Because that's worked out so well in the mainstream financial industry.

    Anyway, DeFi as it stands is centered on Ethereum, and Ethereum is a total clusterfuck at the moment with no hope on the horizon of it working properly any time soon, with Ethereum 2.0 progressing at a pace that would embarrass a bank and the miners set to oppose it when it is finally ready for deployment.

    Ethereum 2.0 will significantly increase transaction throughput on the network and equally reduce transaction costs.  Great for users.  But the miners hate that because they're the ones getting paid those transaction fees.

    But without Ethereum 2.0 the network is doomed because it simply cannot keep up with demand.

    At my day job we've moved to alternate networks and I can now sit back and eat popcorn - on this issue, at least.

Wake Up, Dumdum Video of the day

(Stolen from Brickmuppet.)

Twitch Is Worse Video of the Day

I mentioned this in passing a few days ago: Twitch will not only ban you over accusations of being associated with the wrong people outside of Twitch itself, they have set up an anonymous email tip line and passed the job of adjudication to an unnamed outside company.

Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are awful, but Twitch is worse.

Disclaimer: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the Stasiest of them all?

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Friday, April 09


Daily News Stuff 9 April 2021

No Minutes, No Waiting Edition

Tech News

  • Yeah, the WebNX server still isn't back.  Still in the queue, apparently; I saw one person got word that his server wouldn't boot and needed a rebuild, but most either have their servers working again or are waiting.

    I'll be configuring my SSDNodes instance in Dallas on the weekend to give some more headroom.  While that's with a different provider to this virtual server, they're in the same physical building and ping time is measured in microseconds, making it easy to share load with a bit of VPN setup.

  • Intel's Sapphire Rapids server platform will ship next year.  (Tom's Hardware)

    There's a lot of details because engineering samples are already running outside Intel - if you're wondering what Samsung could test that 512GB DDR5 module against, well, here it is.

    It will have up to 56 cores using four chiplets, allowing Intel finally to compete against AMD's Epyc Rome parts.  But Rome was built in 2019, and Sapphire Rapids won't ship until 2022, by when AMD will have its 96 core Genoa parts out.

  • Asus has announced Ryzen 5000 NUC systems...  Sort of.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The PN51 is an update to the Ryzen 4000-based PN50, but in theory uses the newer chips.  In practice nothing has actually changed, because they use the 5300U, 5500U, and 5700U, which are all rebadged Ryzen 4000 parts.

    It's still a pretty nice system if you're looking for a small form factor PC.

  • Intel's upcoming DG2 graphics card is rumoured to compete with Nvidia's RTX 3070.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Rumoured by whom, the article doesn't precisely say.

    The only graphics card Intel currently produces is the DG1, which you can't buy, doesn't work in current systems, and runs slower than the integrated graphics in current laptops.  So if the DG2 is anything other than complete garbage it will be noteworthy.

  • The Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 has the Four Essential Keys.  (WCCFTech)

    Well, it looks like it does; it has four keys in the right place.  They could be controls for launching attack drones...  Actually, I'd be fine with that. 

    It has a 16" 16:10 screen at up to 2560x1600, with 165Hz refresh and 100% of DCI-P3 colour.  That's a great screen whether you're doing programming, business stuff, video or photo editing, or gaming.

    CPU is an 8 core Tiger Lake-H, and graphics options range from the RTX 3050 Ti to the 3070.  Memory and storage look like they go to 32GB and 2TB respectively; this isn't an official announcement, but taken from premature Amazon listings in China and Europe.

  • 600,000 stolen credit cards were stolen when a hacking site got hacked.  (Bleeping Computer)

    The data breach was apparently not reported to the European Privacy Commission as mandated by law.

    What is the world coming to?  If you can't trust a thief who thieves from other thieves, who can you trust?

  • The GMK NucBox is a Windows desktop squished into a 2" cube.  (ZDNet)

    It's not particularly powerful, and you won't be playing games much more sophisticated than Minesweeper, but with up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage it's no paperweight.

  • Data on 500 million LinkedIn users is being sold online.  (CyberNews)

    As far as I can tell, this is all public data that you can see for yourself on LinkedIn's site.  What happened is that people painstakingly saved all the pages and filtered out the data from the HTML.  Well, I say "people", but I really mean "Perl scripts".

    LinkedIn goes to significant lengths to prevent this, not because the data is private - it's explicitly public - but because it's their data and you worms aren't permitted access.

Just Some Photos, Don't Mind Me

Checking that the photo popup and slide show features still work properly.



Just Making the World's Sharpest Knife Out of a Cucumber, Don't Mind Me

If this guy ever gets together with Haachama, we're all doomed.

Disclaimer: You do, in fact, get used to it.

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Thursday, April 08


Daily News Stuff 8 April 2021

Red Queen's Race Edition

Tech News

  • EEVBlog is back.  (EEVBlog)

    Dave's servers are in the same water-affected part of the WebNX datacenter as mine, so this bodes well for my server coming back.  I don't have an ETA on my server just yet, but reports from other users show a steady stream of servers returning to life.

    As I mentioned, we have servers with WebNX at my day job, though apparently in another part of the datacenter, because two of them came back on line even before the safety inspection.

    This hasn't been fun, but it's a much better outcome than OVH, which simply burned to the ground.

  • Meanwhile our cloud provider at my day job sent out a reminder of "low impact planned maintenance" in our location and thirty seconds later all our sites went down.

  • Speaking of burning to the ground, Amazon's SC1 cold storage is now priced at 1.5¢ per GB.  (Amazon)

    Sure, that's more than Backblaze B2 object storage, but this is plain old disk.  You can mount it, format it with ZFS and your preferred deduplication and compression settings, and then just rsync everything across.  It's also encrypted by default, though that doesn't help if someone gets into your AWS account as happened with Ubiquiti.

    Getting the data back out costs considerably more - Amazon kills you on bandwidth fees - but it's a lot better than not being able to get your data back out.

    We just added rather a lot of this at my day job.  We had our data backed up to WebNX, but then WebNX disappeared.  So we've decided we now need three  geographically-separated locations, not just two.

  • Silicon Motion has announced their new SM2708 SD Express controller.  (AnandTech)

    They're mostly know for their SSD controllers - and this is basically that, squeezed down to SD and even microSD size.  With suitably fast flash it will offer transfer rates close to 2GB per second on a device the size of your fingernail.

  • Gigabyte has ATX and eATX motherboards for Intel's new Ice Lake SP processors.  (AnandTech)

    In theory these are aimed at servers, but there's nothing preventing you from using them to build a desktop system.  Some of the parts are potentially attractive for workstation use given the drastic price cuts and the absence of any Zen 3 Threadrippers.

    The 24-core single-socket model lists for $1450.  If it's actually available for that price, it's a little cheaper than current prices on Zen 2 Threadrippers, and not much more than scalper prices on the 16-core Ryzen 5950X.

  • Alienware has announced its first AMD laptop since 2007.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It comes with (up to) a Ryzen 5900HX, RTX 3070, 32GB RAM (probably upgradeable to 64GB), 4TB of NVMe storage, and a 15" 2560x1440 260Hz display.

    It also has the Four Essential what the fuck Alienware?

    It has four extra keys on the right of the keyboard, where PgUp, PgDn, Home, and End are found on respectable laptops, but they're used for volume control.

    Probably they can be remapped in software.

  • The HP Omen 15 2021 has similar specs and a possibly ideal keyboard layout.  (WCCFTech)

    A Ryzen 5900HX and  RTX 3070, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD - both look to be user upgradeable - and unfortunately a 144Hz 1080p display with no upgrade options.

    Oh, and a tenkeyless desktop keyboard layout - that is, everything in the proper place but no numeric keypad.

  • GnuCOBOL is COBOL from Gnu.  (SourceForge)

    I'm tempted to write the next version of Minx in it.  Not very tempted, but tempted.

  • Twitch has announced it will ban users for pretty much any reason, anywhere, at any time.  (Reuters)

    The list of reasons ranges from terrorism and child sexual abuse - which seem like perfectly valid reasons to want to remove someone from your site - to "hate group membership".

    And we all know who they're going to look to for a list of hate groups.

  • Facebook won't notify the 530 million users affected by the biggest data leak in human history.  (Reuters)

    A Facebook spokesmen told this reporter, "Who gives a shit?  What are they going to do, move to Parler?  Wait, you're writing that down.  Stop it!"

My Name is Ollie and Welcome to My ZED Talk Video of the Day

In which everyone's favourite zombie girl with a sword through her head chops down trees and waxes philosophical.

Disclaimer: Rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

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Wednesday, April 07


Daily News Stuff 7 April 2021

Road To Reality Edition

Tech News

Letters From Haachama Video of the Day

Congratulations to the crazy Aussie sheila on reaching 500,000 subscribers.

But Pixy, I hear you say, didn't she recently pass one million subscribers?

Well, yes, but that was in 2021, and Haachama is currently living in August of 2020.  The songs start at about the 8 minute mark if you want to skip ahead - with Cruel Angel's Thesis from Evangelion.

Disclaimer: I'm cross-posting these to Ace's blog at least until the server is repaired, and take no responsibility for the brain cells destroyed by unlicensed Haachama exposure.

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Post contains 638 words, total size 6 kb.

Tuesday, April 06


Daily News Stuff 6 April 2021

Recovering Dataholic Edition

Tech News

Facebook Stans Sailor V Video of the Day

If you use Sailor Moon's trademark phrase In the name of the Moon, I will punish you - or any variation thereof - you will get banned.  No appeal.

Note that my hosting provider is posting updates the Facebook and not to their own site, and you can't read Facebook without an account.

Disclaimer: <chorus>Because fuck you, that's why.</chorus>

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Monday, April 05


Daily News Stuff 5 April 2021

Well Fuck Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: And double fuck.

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Daily News Stuff 4 April 2021

It's Getting Hot In Here So Turn On The Air Conditioner Edition

Tech News

  • Intel vs. AMD: Who wins?  (Tom's Hardware)

    Comparing the 11900K and the 5900X it's a pretty easy win for AMD if you can actually find one anywhere which you can't.  Of all the Ryzen 5000 range the 5900X is the hardest to get.

  • Nvidia vs. AMD: Who wins?  (Tom's Hardware)

    Comparing he 3070 and the 6700XT the 3070 performs a little better overall and significantly better in ray tracing, but you can't get one.  The 6700XT is, so far, still available.

  • GitHub is being used to mine cryptocurrency.  (The Record)

    It's not a security breach though.  You can set up automated processes to test your code, and you can get those automated tests to mine cryptocurrencies for you.  It's comically inefficient and GitHub will terminate your account, but if you have nothing else to do with your time you might earn a few bucks before they shut you down.

  • A reasonably priced 2.5GbE switch?  (Serve the Home)

    Yes.  Albeit one designed by an idiot.

    The indicator lights are on the back.

  • Personal details for half a billion Facebook users are floating around on the internet.  (Bleeping Computer)

    I mean, on Facebook too, but in this case as a single huge dataset.

    I've never given Facebook my phone number, but Twitter will lock your account and force you to cough up your phone number to unlock it again.

Disclaimer: Because fuck you that's why.

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Sunday, April 04


Daily News Stuff 3 April 2021

Curse Of Vanishing Edition

Tech News
  • Tried my hand at fishing in Minecraft.  This is great in theory because fish let you tame cats and cats scare off creepers and creepers suck, and also because you can fish up certain types of enchanted items - bows, books, and fishing rods - that are otherwise hard to get.

    Wasn't having much luck with that part, until I fished up this item:

    It has every enchantment it is possible to have on a Minecraft fishing rod and all maxed out.  I could have done without the curse, but since getting that one I have fished up a ton of other goodies.

    No books of Fortune or Silk Touch yet, but I do have Unbreaking III to apply to my diamond pickaxe.

    Update: Well, I forgot I had it with me, went to feed the animals at my ranch, got jumped by pillagers, and the fishing rod is gone.  But it lasted long enough for me to get a replacement.  I just need to be level 24 to combine two of the other fishing rods it found for me and I'll have all the same enchantments but without the curse.  Only I just got killed by pillagers so my levels got reset...

  • SK Hynix is investing $106 billion in new fabs.  (AnandTech)

    That's still a lot, but it sounds like this is over a longer period than TSMC's similarly-sized investment.

  • Rocket Lake Xeons are coming.  (WCCFTech)

    I don't know why, but they are.

  • Zen 3 has a potential security vulnerability like Spectre.  (Phoronix)

    It's a side-channel attack and there's no proof-of-concept yet, but they're taking it seriously - and there's already a flag that can be set in the CPU to disable the specific feature, called Predictive Store Forwarding, that may be vulnerable.

    AMD's suggestion is to set this flag on applications that run untrusted code (e.g. web browsers) or at the kernel level if you can't do that.  It doesn't need a microcode or BIOS update.

  • Rust leaks your username.  (Bleeping Computer)

    The absolute path used when compiling Rust programs is baked into the binary code.  This has been known for a while, but the Rust team seems to have bee struggling with the concept of don't do that then.

Disclaimer: It hurts when I do this.

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Saturday, April 03


Don't Try This At Home

Before spending a couple of grand on a whole new computer, I thought, why not try updating the drivers?  The video drivers for whatever reason aren't getting updated by Windows, so why not install them directly?

Turns out the answer is, because then your mouse will stop working.

If you have a Radeon graphics card and a multi-monitor setup and one of the monitors is off - or detected as off because it's switched to another input - your mouse will act as if it has four broken legs.  This apparently is a known issue dating back to at least 2018.

The solution is to disable HDCP.  Because of course it is.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:12 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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