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February 09, 2023

Daily Tech News 9 February 2023

Top Story

  • Google and Microsoft have discovered this thing called the "web" and decided it needs to die. (Tom's Hardware)

    Google had a good try at this previously with its PageRank algorithm, which ranked websites based on the number of incoming links, which created an epidemic of comment spam and fake websites that persists to this day.

    What Google and Microsoft plan to do now is to cut out not just the middleman but the creators themselves. Rather than search engines taking you to the websites that contain the original content, the tech companies will use AI to rewrite the content - since expression can be copyrighted but facts cannot - poorly - because that's what AI currently does.

    If you've tried searching for rare subjects recently you'd have noticed that search engines have been going down hill, overwhelmed by the crap epidemic that they themselves spawned.

    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold,
    Time to just burn it down and walk away.

Tech News

  • ASRock's new 4x4 NUC uses a Ryzen 7000 - sort of. (Liliputing)

    This is why I said previously not to buy anything without your secret decoder ring. This NUC uses AMD's Ryzen 7735U. The first 7 means it's a 2023 model. The second 7 means it's fairly high end. The 5 at the end is stupid, inconsistent, and in this case irrelevant.

    And the 3 means it's a Ryzen 6800U and all the other numbers are lies.

    The Ryzen 6800U is a great CPU and you shouldn't hesitate to buy it. The Ryzen 7740U if and when it shows up should be even better, but not hugely so.

  • I've noted multiple times that Apple is increasingly locking down its hardware so that it cannot be upgraded, or increasingly, even repaired.

    But they haven't yet gone so far as encrypting the batteries.

    If you buy a OnePlus tablet and the battery fails, you need to take it to your nearest authorised OnePlus service center - which doesn't exist.

    Also, batteries always fail. They have a limited lifespan due to the chemical reactions involved, so they need to be easy to replace.

    Which is why manufacturers make this as difficult as possible.

  • If you want to build your own retrocomputer based on a new old chip like the eZ80 or the 65C265, you quickly run into a problem: The CPUs are still in production and readily available (though they cost more than newer, faster designs like the RP2040) but the video chips from the day like the MC6845 were discontinued decades ago.

    There are still sources - the chips were churned out by the millions during the 80s and they just don't die - but there's an alternative (short of using an FPGA): EVE.

    It's designed for controlling LCD interfaces in embedded devices, but it has a completely generic interface with with a QSPI host bus, RGB digital output and HSYNC/RSYNC pins. Add a few resistors and you can get 64, 512, or 4096 colours out and plug it into anything with a VGA input - becoming rarer but also still readily available.

    The range starts with 256kB of on-chip RAM and a maximum resolution of 480x320, and a price of $4. With 1MB RAM and a resolution of 1280x800 it only increases to $5.90, but that's probably overkill for a retrocomputer.

    It includes onboard fonts in multiple sizes, starting at 8x8 and going up to a huge 36x49, and a sound generator that handles basic MIDI music. It seems to only have a single voice but can also play back 8-bit PCM or uLAW audio if you need something fancier.

    Seems like a handy thing to have around.

Disclaimer: Now I just need a soldering iron. And the bits to solder. And the bits to solder them onto. And some solder.
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