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May 05, 2021

Daily Tech News 5 May 2021

Top Story
  • Well, not news exactly, but I bought a new phone and a new tablet today. I've wanted a new tablet for quite a while, but I've been looking for an 8" Android tablet with at least a 1920x1200 screen to replace my ancient Nexus 7, and those to a first approximation do not exist. A Kindle Fire might suit, but those simply aren't sold in Australia. Before Amazon opened operations here they were hard to get; now they're impossible.

    So instead I got a Lenovo M10 FHD 2nd Gen (apparently also called the FHD Plus) which as the name suggests is a 10" tablet with a 1920x1200 screen. It's about 50% heavier than the Nexus 7, but that puts it at the same weight as premium tablets like the iPad Air - at a quarter of the price.

    And it has expandable storage and a headphone jack, which iPads don't. 4GB RAM and 128GB storage built in, which will be a relief because the ever-growing Google apps have choked the 32GB available on the Nexus 7. Price was A$250 on a one-day sale; it's now gone back up to A$300.

    Phone is an Oppo A91, last year's model, because for some unfathomable reason this year's cheap models have all gone back down to 720p screens. It's a 2400x1080 90Hz AMOLED screen with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. Again, it includes a headphone jack and expandable storage. And I have two spare 400GB microSD cards that I bought in the Cyber Monday sale last year, so those are finally going to see use. Price just under A$350.

    If I can't get one device the size I prefer, at least I can bracket it with two devices.

The opening for Record of Lodoss War, the biggest-budget - and best - anime adaptation of literally someone's D&D game of all time. Heaven knows they've thrown more money at dumber things with worse results.

Tech News
  • The price of Chia - the blockchain storage fiasco token - is dropping, but not before it consumed 2EB of storage. (Tom's Hardware)

    That's two billion gigabytes, wasted. On the other hand, it's fantastically more power-efficient than Ethereum or Bitcoin. Hard drives that are mostly just sitting there spinning use a lot less power than a box full of video cards or even custom ASICs, and Bitcoin uses over 10,000 times as much electricity as Chia.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch TeamGroup has launched a Chia farming SSD.

    I mentioned before that the heavy write workloads that Chia generates would fry a cheap consumer SSD. While TeamGroup is at best a second-tier SSD provider, these drives are rated for up to 12PB of lifetime writes - matching enterprise SSDs from Samsung like the one in our main server.

  • Don't wait up: AMD's Zen 4 might not arrive until Q4 next year. (WCCFTech)

    That's a big gap in AMD's schedule compared to the last four years. Intel - assuming they stay on target - is expected to have their 12th generation parts out this year, after an underwhelming 11th generation launch also this year.

  • Cinder is a performance-oriented fork of Python from Instagram. (GitHub)

    I'm not sure why it is, given that Cinder is unsupported while PyPy, a fast Python JIT compiler, has been around for years and is being used in production by many companies.

  • Well, fuck: A driver installed during Dell's BIOS update process allows local privilege escalation. (Bleeping Computer)

    Which means that if you have updated your Dell system's BIOS at any time in the last - oh, wonderful - the last twelve years, your computer is at risk.

    I avoid updating BIOS unless there is some specific problem I need to address, because I have ended up with expensive bricks when the update went wrong, but I have done this at least once on a Dell system I have in use right now.

    This bug doesn't mean you have been hacked, and it doesn't directly allow you to be hacked, but it potentially allows hackers to take complete control of your system if they get in some other way, and (for example) disable your virus scanner so that you never know anything is wrong.

  • Meanwhile a bug that's ben lurking in the Exim mail server for 17 years puts 60% of the world's email - and email servers - at risk. (The Record)

    My mail server did an automated update of Exim just a few hours ago, before I even saw this article. I get a notification for every application that gets patched. Usually it's PHP, which has always been a huge bowl of bug soup. Seeing Exim on the list is a little more rare.

  • Signal tried to run a truth-in-targeted-advertising campaign on Instagram. That got shut down very quickly. (ZDNet)

    Terrorism? It's complicated.

    Showing users exactly how they are being tracked? Gone in 60 Seconds.

  • Since it is illegal for the US government to spy on its own citizens without a warrant the US government is paying private companies to do it instead. (CNN)

    This is obviously illegal too - in fact, it is precisely as illegal for precisely the same reasons - but it ticks a box on the "wasn't me" checklist so nobody goes to jail twice as hard.

Anime Theme Song Videos of the Day

Today's 90's nostalgia is Devil Hunter Yohko, a six episode OVA series that ran from 1990 to 1995. Like Bubblegum Crisis, it has a substantial soundtrack for such a short series, with each episode getting a new theme song. This is Touch My Heart from episode 6.

And this is Full Moonlight from - I think episode 4 which was a musical episode. I probably bought this around 1996 or so, on VHS tape, with just one episode per tape, special import from the US, for around A$60.

I had fewer expenses back then.

Disclaimer: Also my back didn't hurt.
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