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ę Saturday Overnight Open Thread (1/22/22) | Main | EMT 1/23/22 Ľ
January 23, 2022

Daily Tech News 23 January 2022

Top Story

  • Far-right hate group the Patriot Front was hacked and 500GB of data has leaked onto the internet.



    In this video where they accidentally leave the camera running, several members of the Front remove their masks and out themselves, leading them to being tracked down by the Twitter mob and losing their jobs, homes, bank accounts, pet wombats, and so on.

    Not.

    Because they very carefully keep their masks in place while they swear allegiance to Hydra and then pretend to fumble with their glasses. They supposedly believe the camera is off but strangely you never get a good look at any of them.

    It's not so much that they're feds, as that they are incompetent feds. They trust in the fact that the mainstream media is even more incompetent and corrupt than they are, and for the most part, they're right.



Questions and Answers

  • From Peter the Not-so-Great:
    I have an older Apple Mac Mini (bought in 2015, IIRC) with an Intel Core I5 1.4 GHz processor, 4 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 Ram, and an Intel HD Graphics 5000 graphics processor. The Mac is still running the OS it came with from the factory (OS X El Capitan v10.11.6). I use it almost exclusively for Web surfing, and I'm finding the browser (Safari v11.1.2) is starting to hiccup from time to time, especially if I have lots of tabs open with Youtube videos or other resource hogs (e.g. tabs closing on their own, prolonged freezes with the Spinning Beach-Ball of Doom).

    What can I do to upgrade/fix the OS and browser so that things run more reliably? In particular, what are the latest versions of OS X and Safari I can install that (a) are still available, (b) will run on my Mac, and (c) have as few of Apple's more Orwellian innovations as possible? Would you recommend a different browser? Or, to turn an old phrase on it's head, should I just buy a PC?
    I have an iMac from 2015 running 10.14 and it mostly copes fine with web browsing. I also have a dual-core Windows laptop from that year with a similar CPU to that Mac Mini. What I suspect is happening is you're running out of RAM thanks to years of web page bloat, which means that nothing you do to the OS or browser is likely to help much.

    Unfortunately, the model you have probably has the RAM soldered in place, so yeah, time to just buy a PC.


  • From Fred Z:
    Where did the code formatting "rule" for brace bracket indentation come from? I hate it and wont use it.
    Ah, stories from the Indentation Wars.

    My advice is use Python.


  • From gourmand du jour:
    I have a number of external HD devices, they have a lot of audio, pictures, etc.

    While the devices still work my older computer, they don't work with my newer one (MacBook Air with the M1 chip running Monterey OS). The manufacturer of the external device (Western Digital) says they no longer make drivers to support older devices (which are about a decade old).

    Is there any work-around?
    I'd heard of Western Digital abandoning their older low-end NAS devices, but that just means you don't get updates, they should continue working without new drivers as long as they're already configured. Same goes for USB hard drives.

    Rafal Gan Ganowicz suggests they may be formatted with the (very) old HFS, which is possible and would explain why they won't work with a new Mac.


  • From Zho Bai-den:
    I'm looking for a laptop that doesn't have an oversensitive touchpad; I've bought a couple that seem to open links with the slightest, unintentional touch. I have adjusted all software settings.The Apple Mac works for me, but I won't have one. Is there a brand or model line that has the "right touch"?
    That's a good question, but I stay as far away from the touchpad as I can - partly for exactly that reason.

    The newer Dell Inspiron models seem to be decent on this, but I mostly use mine via a wireless keyboard and mouse and an external monitor, so I'm not the best person to ask.


  • From Wingnutt:
    since retiring a number of years ago, my computer skills have atrophied. Have a Thinkpad that's still operating fine on Win10 ... but never gets used unless my Surface bites the dust. Thinking of converting the Thinkpad to linux. a) workable for a laptop? b) best distro to use? and c) wipe the hd and start from scratch, or go with dual boot?
    Linux generally works well on laptops these days as long as you don't have brand new hardware that hasn't received a Linux driver yet. For a Thinkpad a few years old you should be fine.

    I'd suggest giving Ubuntu a try. Mint is also popular for desktop/laptop use for normal humans.


  • From Rafal Gan Ganowicz:
    What is a great external SSD for a boot drive? Thunderbolt 3 is available, and from what I hear if you get a Thunderbolt SSD your speeds are about double of what a USB-C drive can offer.
    Basically there's three ways to go here: Samsung has a pretty nice range of USB-C SSDs which are really tiny and reasonably fast. OWC makes their own Thunderbolt SSDs including models that let you install up to four of your own M.2 drives and run up to 3x faster than the Samsung drives. Or you can get a USB-C drive case off Amazon and make your own.

    A good Thunderbolt case with a good drive inside it will be up to twice as fast as a USB-C drive. USB 4 is as fast as Thunderbolt but I haven't seen any devices supporting its full speed yet - and in any case it doesn't help you because if you found a USB 4 device it would fall back to USB 3 speeds when plugged into Thunderbolt.


  • From Braenyard:
    Pine Phone, you did a review on the Pine Phone and its cousins and provided links. I didn't save the address to that post.

    Do you have an updated opinion?
    Can you provide a link to that old post?
    This is my most recent mention of the PinePhone.

    I haven't used one, but the specs on the current model are at least functional. It's around 50% faster than the little Lenovo tablet I just got and that runs fine most of the time.

    It's expensive for the hardware specs, but if you want to break free from the Google / Apple diarchy, there aren't many other options.


  • From Fox2!:
    Do you have any idea when Apple is going to release a 27 inch iMac with the A series chip? The 27 is still being offered with an Intel chipset, which means immediate obsolescence when they finally release the A chip version.
    I've seen the usual rumours but nothing more than that. When it does finally show up remember that it won't be upgradeable at all - everything will be soldered in place.

    I would be surprised if they don't announce something this year, but my guess would be later rather than sooner.


  • From WillowViney:
    You say that Node and npm suck. I don't disagree with that opinion, so what do you consider to be the best alternative to Node for new web projects? Deno? Something else?
    Python. Ruby if you prefer it. Nim or Crystal if your development cycle allows for compile times. Or Go, or Java.

    JavaScript has no place on servers.


  • From Nimrod:
    There are several problematic issues with modern consumer tech (more or less related), and everyone would weight them differently. What would your hw/sw/service recommendations to minimize concerns for each of these:
    1) concerned about surveillance capitalism
    2) concerned that China is asshoe
    3) concerned about hostility to conservative/traditional/non-elitist worldviews
    That's not a small question!

    1. Don't use cloud components. Software as a service can work. Cloud servers - bare instances of Linux running in a huge datacenter somewhere - can work. Cloud databases, cloud message queues, cloud search engines - those are anathema to any sort of freedom.

    2. For the most part China doesn't seem to go asshoe on consumer devices, probably because they know it could cost them a trillion dollars a year. Huawei was banned for putting backdoors into 5G mobile networks, not into their phones. The biggest story I've seen was Bloomberg's coverage of a hardware hack put into Supermicro servers at the Chinese factory - and that story was bullshit.

    3. If you go with cloud servers and back up to an entirely separate cloud, and avoid anything that locks you into one provider (cloud databases are particularly bad) then you can pick up and move anytime. For years this blog was hosted with a Texas company that was solid on free speech issues, but they got bought up by a larger corporation.

    Main thing is don't lock yourself in.


  • From buddhaha:
    Is there an 8" tablet (or thereabouts - smaller can't read, bigger gets awkward), that runs a privacy oriented os, ie: something non-apple other than android.
    Not that I know of. You could try updating a Lenovo or Samsung tablet with something like LineageOS, but support for tablets is patchy at best.


  • From Aetius451AD:
    I was going to ask whether anyone had seen anything about new rare earth mines being opened in addition to the chip manufacturing plants. Then I thought: do they just dig rare earth material out of the ground and send it straight to the chip plant? It would have to be refined at some level, right? Are there separate refineries or are they done at the mining end (or the chip end?)
    One thing to note is that rare earth elements aren't actually rare; several countries including Russia, Canada, the US, Australia, and Brazil each have proven reserves sufficient to provide the entire planet. On a recent discovery in Brazil:
    The price of neodymium is now U.S. $300,000 a tonne, and we have 28 million tons* of it.
    The problem with rare earth elements is that refining them is an environmental nightmare and everyone is perfectly happy to leave China to poison their own countryside.

    Also, rare earths aren't used much in chip production; it's mostly very very pure silicon and very very nasty solvents.

    * I think that's actually 28 million kilograms. 28 million tons of neodymium would be a lot.


  • From Bitblt:
    I'd been thinking of trying to acquire a new desktop after the new year to replace my aging i7-950 / currently GTX 970 build. (Not liking change, I like to buy sweet-spot high-end and then ride it for a very long time with occasional upgrades.) Originally I was thinking of trying for an AMD 5950x / RTX 3080 system. But the AMD 7950x announcement and rumors of RTX 4000 later this year have me wondering if I should wait. Especially with the new mobo chipset with updated PCI and RAM support, and the sweet IPC bump on the CPU arch. Thoughts?
    Zen 4 looks like it will be a really great upgrade. It's a shame it's taking so long to arrive - two whole years, how dreadful - but it brings a new core plus PCIe 5 and DDR5.

    Intel already has all that and their platform is honestly not bad if you avoid the highest-end chips that use 50kw of power at idle. The problem biting Intel is that DDR5 right now is very expensive without actually being any faster than DDR4 in most applications. That might be resolved in nine months or so when AMD's new chips and motherboards appear.

    AMD has also announced that the new Socket AM5 will be a long-lived design just like the current AM4, which first appeared in 2016. Intel sockets generally change every couple of years.


  • From Bitblt again:
    You keep mentioning and linking this Hololive and related stuff. I'm out of the loop. What is that, and what's the background on it?
    Some background from my personal perspective might help. I spend long hours alone at home at my desk, sometimes late at night, and I find that having something playing on the second monitor can help prevent me from getting even more distracted and wasting time on Twitter or wherever.

    For a few years I was a dedicated listener to a long list of podcasts, including networks like This Week in Tech and The Incomparable. But as we moved into 2020 a lot of the stuff I was listening to on ostensibly tech or geek culture topics was becoming unpleasantly political, and by "unpleasantly political" I mean batshit crazy communism. The same stuff that had wrecked Twitter by 2018.

    But around that time, this surfaced in my recommendations on YouTube, the only time Google has gotten anything right since about 2013.



    It's only a 20 second clip but it was enough to make me say What the heck? and take a closer look. And then I found there's no escaping the rabbit hole.

    This is Hololive:



    Yes, there's a lot of them. (That's seven videos edited together by a fan, which explains why some of the transitions aren't perfect.)

    Basically Hololive is a 24/7 international all-girl improv comedy channel. Unwoke, unpolitically correct, irreverent and chaotic. They even have their own Bugs Bunny character - you see her for a couple of seconds in that video, her name is Usada Pekora and she has 1.8 million YouTube subscribers.

    They sing, they dance - they have live concerts using full motion tracking and 3D models, they draw - at least two are successful commercial artists, they play an awful lot of Minecraft, and they don't take any shit from anyone.



    Hololive's own background is also interesting. Parent company Cover Corp was working on a new AR device, that replaced expensive motion tracking with a regular iPhone and clever software, but they weren't having a lot of success breaking into the market.

    Then in 2017 two Japanese girls fresh out of high school approached them and said what they needed was their own virtual spokeswoman. One of them is now Tokino Sora with 900,000 subscribers, and the other is referred to as A-chan, and is a senior manager overseeing activity across the entire company.



    The pivot was spectacularly successful, and Hololive is basically a money factory. Their smallest channel - and they have dozens - has close to 300,000 subscribers, and the largest is approaching 4 million.

    I think a lot of people are sick of hypocritical woke crap and are looking for entertainers who will simply tell it like it is. The 2D characters they use and the stage names (and a very strict corporate policy protecting their privacy) give them enough distance that they don't need to maintain a pretense in their opinions.

    They don't get explicitly political but in this benighted age that itself is a profound political statement.

    And beyond the official content - and there's so much of that that it's impossible to watch it all - there's an absolute avalanche of fan content, from cute video clips:



    To entire virtual worlds:



    So forget Hollywood, forget Netflix, forget podcasts, I really don't care anymore. I'll be over here in the corner juggling hedgehogs.

    Also, Hololive is the main reason I bothered to get back on Twitter. They post their stream announcements there.

    This is Gawr Gura of Hololive EN, the most successful virtual YouTuber of all time:



    Okay, yeah, she's a bit of a ditz on some things. But she can maintain both sides of a conversation for four hours at a time, every day, without ever repeating herself, and for the most part while doing three other things at the same time, and that's a rare talent.


Tech News

  • Australia's Secretary for Home Affairs has made comments on the surveillance state that are almost sensible. (ZDNet)
    Pezzullo wants "everyday Australians" to have the confidnce that it would be "highly unusual for any of their data, any of their devices, or indeeed any of their engagement through their devices with data, to be the subject of surveillance or interception".
    ...

    "I think the more immediate pressing problem for the citizenry is to actually understand what companies are doing with that personal and sometimes intimate data," he said.
    Yes.
    "Everything that government will do will always be purposely designed by the parliament to be much more restricted than that."
    Forgive me if I don't trust you fuckers the width of a single electron.


  • If you want an 8k resin-based 3D printer the Phrozen Sonic Mini is one. (Tom's Hardware)

    I don't know that much about resin-based 3D printing, but the models this turns out looks pretty nice. You do need specially formulated resin to get that 8k detail but if you use that the results are impressive.


  • Everything has two prices. (Raptitude)

    The first in dollars, the second in time.

    Since I got two pay increases last year I'm pretty much at saturation point on the second price. I was planning to use my holiday time over Christmas and New Year to rebuild my home office, but then the blockchain we use blew up and I ended up working an 80 hour week instead of a zero hour one.


  • Why are skyscrapers so short? (Works in Progress)

    Short answer: Elevators.

    Long answer: Still elevators.


  • 90 WordPress themes and plugins had backdoors added to them in a supply chain attack. (Bleeping Computer)

    This is novel in that the plugins didn't already contain backdoors.


  • McAfee Enterprise Agent on the other hand, did. (Bleeping Computer)

    Installing the security software had the neat effect of making systems dramatically less secure.

    It's now been fixed.



Party Like It's 1980-ish Video of the Day



It's Australia Day week here so yes, you're going to get 7 days straight of the best 1981 Australia has to offer.

Yes, 1982 was better - stellar year for Aussie music - but we're not up to 1982 yet.

And in case you're wondering, once again yes, it's about Errol Flynn.



Disclaimer: I'm Elvis Presley!
digg this
posted by Pixy Misa at 04:00 AM

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