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May 02, 2021

Daily Tech News 2 May 2021

Top Story

  • The Opera browser now supports decentralised domain name lookups. (Tech Radar)

    Okay, the story is slightly more complicated than that, but ultimately it doesn't make much more sense.

    A company called Unstoppable Domains sells domains under the .blockchain name space - called a top-level domain or TLD. They didn't buy the rights to .blockchain or register it with the appropriate authorities, they just did it. And the secret there is that anyone can do this. In fact, anyone has always been able to do this.

    The tricky part is getting other people to agree that you own .blockchain, but with the current bubble there's stupid amounts of money splashing around and money works great for convincing people to go along with stupid ideas.

    The stupid idea in this case is to use the blockchain to distributed domain name lookups, rather than DNS, which has been around since 1983. (Before 1983 the internet was so small that there was just a file with a list of all the servers.)

    The rationale here is that the blockchain - they use Ethereum, but any blockchain - is inherently distributed; the reason this is stupid is that so is DNS.

    Ethereum has so advantages in that it is transactional and auditable, so you can see exactly what changes have been made, when, and by whom. And everything is controlled by contracts so in theory no-one can steal your domain. In practice of course that can still happen, and will. If nothing else works they'll just break your kneecaps.

    Anyway, the real problem with all this is that it runs on Ethereum, and Ethereum is at a record high of $2900. (CNBC)

    Every change you make to your DNS settings with this system is an Ethereum transaction, and Ethereum transactions are paid in Ethereum coins, at a price that depends on the value of Ethereum itself and the gas price, which varies depending on how busy the network is, rather like this:

    That spike has passed, but earlier today if you had wanted to apply a single, simple DNS update via Ethereum, it would have cost your upwards of $300. And that's assuming that it really stopped at a gas price of 400 rather than breaking the tracking software and keeping right on going.

    This isn't registering a domain, it's just remembering to point www.my.domain at your web server as well as my.domain. $300 just for that.

    I'm paying less than that, per year, for two high-end virtual machines each capable of hosting hundreds of websites. In Australia, where hosting is a lot more expensive than the US or Europe.

    DNS updates, meanwhile, are free.


Not a classic from the 80s or 90s today, but a fun little show from 2015. Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, or Danmachi from the abbreviation of the Japanese title, is a fantasy series where the hero, in fact, does not at any point pick up girls in a dungeon.

One of the highlights though is this ending theme, by Kanon Wakeshima, a classically-trained cellist who decided to expand her horizons a little.



Tech News

  • TSMC, which manufactures AMD's Epyc CPUs, is using AMD's Epyc CPUs to manufacture AMD's Epyc CPUs. (Tom's Hardware)

    Not a huge story on the surface, except that TSMC is running billions of dollars worth of incredibly advanced manufacturing equipment that can't be interrupted, ever, even for a moment, without risking weeks of production, and they rely on AMD systems to control it all.


  • Turkey has pretty much banned cryptocurrencies. (Tom's Hardware)

    They say this is because the currencies are being used for criminal activities and funding terrorism, which, this being Turkey, is almost certainly true, but the key problem is that they aren't being used for the right criminal activities and funding approved terrorism.


  • Huawei may be releasing a 3:2 32" desktop monitor with a resolution of 4500x3000. (Tom's Hardware)

    I'm not sure why, though. Microsoft's Surface Studio - is that even still available? Okay, yes - has a 28" display with that resolution, but it's designed to lie almost flat so the whole thing can be used as a huge drawing surface by artists and animators. That makes sense; it's a niche market but a real one.

    I'm not sure who wants a standalone monitor like that. I currently have two 4K monitors each displaying two apps side-by-side. What I'd really like is a single huge screen measuring something like 50" with a resolution of 10240x2880, so I can have five apps at once with the the main one centered in my vision and no nasty gaps in between. The best I can currently get is 5120x1440, exactly half of what I want.


  • Got a slight ding in your shiny new iPad Pro? Didn't pay up-front for AppleCare+? That will be $699. (WCCFTech)

    Prefer to take it to an independent repair shop?

    You can't.

    Because fuck you, that's why.


  • Shared libraries considered harmful. (Kernel.org)

    Shared libraries were essential on early multi-user systems because they drastically reduced memory requirements when memory cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per megabyte. Now you get get as much second-hand server RAM as you want for $1 per gigabyte, so the complexities that shared code brings with it are coming to the fore.

    This is Linus Torvalds himself, and whatever you may think of him he does generally understand how Linux works.


  • Rocky Linux 8.3 RC1 is here. (Phoronix)

    A bit of history here: Once upon a time - 1995 to be precise - there was a popular Linux distribution called Red Hat. After some years that was split into two separate versions - Red Hat Enterprise Linux, or RHEL, which was stable and carefully tested and required a paid subscription, and Fedora, which was essentially the preview version of RHEL.

    Then the CentOS project came along, which took the source code for RHEL - which has to be published because it's all open source - stripped out any Red Hat proprietary content and trademarks, and gave it away.

    This being a pretty poor revenue model, the CentOS organisation ran short of funds, and Red Hat sponsored them because it was a good way of bringing in customers: Get them on CentOS, let them run into trouble, and sell them RHEL licenses and support agreements.

    Then IBM bought Red Hat, looked at this, decided that customers were not getting properly, I think the term is, serviced, and basically murdered the CentOS project.

    Rocky Linux, launched by one of the original CentOS creators and named after another (late) founder of that project, is funded in part by Amazon and Microsoft because, basically, lol fuck you IBM.

    Which is good for us, because we get a solid version of Linux for free.

    Except that I moved on to Ubuntu years ago, because CentOS 7 kind of sucked and CentOS 8 took seven forevers to finally arrive.

    Ubuntu certainly isn't perfect, but it ships like clockwork. Every two years there's a long-term support release, and then you wait three months for the critical bugs to be shaken out by other people so you can deploy it.

    (Actually 20.04 was pretty solid from day one. Depending on where you are reading this, you are likely connecting to a server running on Ubuntu 20.04.)


  • Chrome is getting a new feature that will let web apps read your computer's filesystem. (Bleeping Computer)

    There is no way this will immediately go horribly wrong.


  • Python has the same bug when dealing with retarded IP addresses as Perl and Node.js. (Bleeping Computer)

    8.8.8.8 is the IP address of Google's DNS service. 010.8.8.8 should be the same IP address, because you're supposed to interpret numbers with a leading 0 as octal ( base 8 ) rather than just decimal numbers entered by a sloppy typist or a programmer with OCD who insists that every three-digit field actually contain three digits.

    Up through Python version 3.8.0a3, what it actually did instead was tell you to fuck off. While technically incorrect, this was at least safe.

    With Python version 3.8.0a4 through to the current version 3.9.4 and preview releases of 3.10, it accepted your horrible IP address and passed it through to the underlying library...

    Which turned out to be broken, such that 010.8.8.8 was interpreted as 10.8.8.8, and whoever actually owned that IP address could steal all your data. Well, your DNS lookups anyway.


  • You can download Windows 10 21H1 update right now. (Thurrott.com)

    But why?


  • The developers of AI Dungeon developed a filter to look for child pornography. (Vice)

    Neglecting the fact that fantasy role-playing games are a 24-hour all you can eat murder buffet, the creators of the game went hunting for... Okay, look, these people are idiots. They read everyone's content in case someone engaged in inappropriate fiction.


  • A California appeals court has ruled that Amazon is liable for the products it sells to exactly the same degree any other company engaged in the same business activities would be. (MSN)

    Amazon is awash with blatant fraud and they have never done anything about it. About time someone called them on the carpet.



Right Light Rise Music Videos of the Day



This is Kanon herself singing the full theme, with a bunch of guys who may or may not be the band; I can't tell for sure. I hope this plays for everyone; the music is licensed by Warner so there aren't a lot of good copies around.



And here are Kanon and the band performing it live in concert. Now the entire crowd can join in the flag sequence. Right Light Rise starts at 31:42 if the player doesn't take you straight to it.


Anime Notes

Yesterday's comments (readers at my blog: the other comments) wandered into the relative merits of classic isekai - another world - fantasy shows Vision of Escaflowne and Fushigi Yuugi, which aired at roughly the same time.

Two words of advice here:
  • With Escaflowne, watch the TV series. If you're curious you can then also watch the movie, but don't watch it first. It tries to compress a 26-episode TV series down to 98 minutes, and it simply doesn't work.

  • With Fushigi Yuugi, watch the TV series, and then for the love of all that is holy, stop. There are three OVA sequels, but they are the anime equivalent of necrotising fasciitis.


It might not be be Yoko Kanno but it's better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick. Except for the Miaka! Takahome! parts. Those, I'd take the stick.


Disclaimer:That fun little show just got renewed for a fourth season, so be warned if you do start watching it.
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