1. 5

    Prepping a security update for TenFourFox, doing a roadgeek write-up, probably a couple small blog pieces.

    1. 2

      I’m actually more excited that it will run Lynx cartridges with an adapter.

      1. 4

        Part of me thinks this is a good idea because Perl 6 has been in this sort of.. semi-existent? state for far too long and Perl itself has a lot of preconceived notions (..and baggage) that come with it.

        But part of me also wonders if it actually matters. I haven’t really seen much demand for Perl 6 over the years. I have seen a lot of Perl 5 users who are perfectly happy with Perl 5, though.

        1. 7

          I’m absolutely happy with Perl 5 and continue to use it on a daily basis. It’s been my go-to scripting language ever since I learned 4.036 in 1995 for a computational linguistics course (it determined parts of speech with a dictionary and a basic grammar, and I got an A).

        1. 0

          … and the 2 people out there with old SGI workstations running OpenBSD wept.

          Seriously I’d be curious if this was a sizable community - I know sometimes these old architectures can have a surprising user base.

          (Witness the hue and cry when 32 bit was threatened by Canonical :)

          1. 1

            Well, there’s always NetBSD/sgimips, though all of my SGI hardware runs IRIX 6.5.

            1. 0

              Ah, IRIX 6.5 - good old SVR4 UNIX. I still miss it in some ways :)

          1. 4

            My only thought on this is that the lack of automatic redirection could be a feature instead of a bug: no spying through redirect chains, for example. This isn’t that but it’s a step towards it.

            I do think itemtype 3 is a dog’s breakfast and is ripe for more conventions on how to make those messages useful, and parsing it into more user-friendly representations based on those conventions sounds helpful, but I wouldn’t add automatic redirection to a client myself. I think there’s too much potential for abuse. If I ever implemented something like this myself it would be strictly manual.

            1. 2

              The intention was a permanent redirection because I am aware of the problems with non-permanent redirections. Also, the lack of redirection bit me a last year when a site I was following started returning errors. It took me a while to realize the site structure had changed and I missed the memo on the restructuring.

            1. 2

              I have read through a few pages of the website to see if this is a tongue in cheek joke but it seems genuine and I have to admit I would have likely considered using it a few years ago as I prefer its interface to what we ended up with.

              1. 3

                Yes, I think this guy is totally on the level. It’s his hobby, it interests him, and people use it. It’s actually quite polished, considering, and it’s clear he takes pride in his work. And as a point-of-sale app you can do a lot worse for actual money out.

                1. 1

                  The UI is too noisy. You want to give the operator just the information they need. Local stores usually just display the product description, the price, and a symbol for categories (eg taxable or food stamps). Tax and total displayed prominently in one place on the bottom. They don’t display rate since most people know it.

                  The local systems have only this. That’s where I diverge where I prefer extra information and options allowed using some command or key press. If you need it, you can get to it. If you don’t (99% of time), you don’t even see what you don’t need.

                1. 5

                  Starship is the minimal, blazing fast, and extremely customizable prompt for any shell!

                  As long a said shell is one of bash, fish or zsh.

                  1. 15

                    Your point is fair, because installing for Fish/Bash/Zsh is all they explain; but I’m not sure it’s accurate, because Starship’s core is indeed shell-agnostic AFAICT. Below is the core call. It prints the colourized prompt for the current user/host/directory, which is what every shell’s prompt function must boil down to. Starship’s shell-specific initialisations provide code to compute $cmd_duration etc. for every prompt, but in the end they all make the core call.

                    starship prompt \
                        --status=$exit_code \
                        --keymap=$keymap \
                        --cmd-duration=$cmd_duration_in_seconds \
                        --jobs=(jobs -p | wc -l)
                    

                    All those flags are optional, if you shell doesn’t store command duration or whatever.

                    To prove this particular shelly pudding, I edited my ~/.tclshrc to look mostly as follows:

                    if {$tcl_interactive} {
                    
                        package require tclreadline
                    
                        namespace eval tclreadline {
                            proc prompt1 {} {
                                return [exec starship prompt]  # <-- Starship here
                            }
                        }
                        # go to tclrealdine's main loop.
                        tclreadline::Loop
                    }
                    

                    That got me the Starship prompt in my Tcl REPL. And cd’ing to a Git repository got the Starship prompt to display information on Git’s dirtyness, active branch, and all that jazz. So yes, as long as your shell’s prompt-function can call external programmes, and is running in a VT100 terminal emulator, and that terminal emulator has a Powerline font installed to render the fancy characters — Starship will work for that shell!

                    1. 7

                      Oh, well in that case, I’m happy to be proven wrong. I do wish they had a section along the lines of

                      For other shells, the command starship prompt may be used to generate the prompt, but setting it depends on the shell itself.

                      if only to prevent my embarassing myself with a kneejerk response.

                      1. 3

                        Noted!

                        We will be writing up some docs on how to write your own starship wrapper for your shell of choice.

                    2. 6

                      tcsh users unite. (My default shell since 1995.)

                      1. 5

                        Similar to how “portable” these days mostly means “works on Windows, macOS and GNU/Linux [sometimes musl/busybox/Linux by accident]” these days, I guess. Not that it’s a good thing, but I can see how they’d arrive at that marketing claim.

                        1. 1

                          Works on the most common shells on the most common operating systems.

                          ?

                          1. -2

                            And people use some strictly posix shell interactively as their preferred shell?

                            get real.

                            1. 10

                              Who said anything about strictly posix? There’s quite a few BSD users and developers on here. OpenBSD for example uses ksh as a default, and its version of ksh has even been ported to various linux distros (under oksh or loksh, usually). FreeBSD uses tcsh, and NetBSD (IIRC) ash.

                              1. 2

                                Your parent comment was just plainly POSIXLY_INCORRECT

                              2. 5

                                I use eshell as my preferred shell.

                            1. 1

                              For those of us who are only following this in a very cursory manner, does anybody have a quick rundown on the upsides and downsides of RISC-V vs OpenPOWER? My internet searching did not turn anything up that was relevant.

                              1. 2

                                My bias is clearly with Power, but I find RISC-V promising, and I think it will get in the performance ballpark eventually. I don’t think it’s there yet, though, and if you want a non-x86 system in the Intel/AMD performance range then Power is your choice. That’s the big difference.

                                There are various arguments about which ISA is more pragmatic and where their deficiencies lie, but frankly other than their various idiosyncrasies I think both are adequate. It’s just that POWER9 is big and beefy and here today. Combine that with my long familiarity with the arch and it was a no-brainer for me.

                              1. 17

                                “Tim put it best, though, when he said that “it’s going to allow people to trust their computers again.” “

                                That is such BS. Great turn of events and write-up. You just can’t trust your PC to not be subverted: there’s ample hiding spaces but no way to know what lurks there. I wrote a little about that here in general and here on smartphones with points relevant to these products.

                                The owner-controlled principle is a different improvement. I’m all for that. Looking at [mono/oligo]-polies w/ DRM and lobbyists, it might be more important than actually securing the computers given the damage that comes with transfer of power and control from the many to the rich, powerful few.

                                1. 6

                                  Is there a market for a modern consumer CPU that can’t run Netflix? Even with a freely licensed ISA and reference implementation you probably couldn’t get a useful chip for much less than $10M.

                                  1. 9

                                    I find it sad that we’re so fixated on consumption of a particular category of big-budget media that we prioritize it above all else when choosing a computer. I was recently re-reading Hackers by Steven Levy, and I think we’ve largely lost sight of what wonderful, versatile machines computers truly are. The enthusiasm of the 70s Bay Area hardware hackers, as described in part 2 of that book, is particularly inspiring. Not because I want to hack on hardware, but because these people grasped how awesome computers are. Of course, personal computers were just starting to become available back then; now they’re commonplace. But I think we’ve lost some perspective if we’re going to dismiss an open CPU architecture like POWER9 because the digital distributors of Hollywood movies won’t target it.

                                    1. 6

                                      Exactly. Most Netflix customers are probably not on desktop computers anyway, they’re on smart TVs, tablets, phones… It’s sad that none of the hardware companies ever said “this is a professional product, it explicitly does not support DRM because it’s not for content consumption” about anything. Like, even the blue “pro” Radeons support HDCP, I’m pretty sure.

                                      It’s all because… well, it’s not worth it because the only people who care about this are just us. A thousand enthusiasts on a few online forums. The vast majority of customers are not bothered by DRM support at all even if they don’t consume DRM’d movies. Sad.

                                      1. 5

                                        This is why the “enthusiasts” need to get off our collective butts and find ways to make consumers care.

                                        “DRM means when you buy those 14.99$ films on Google Play they can take it away from you at any time without offering you a refund” is a great talking point and suddenly everyone I’ve talked to has started to care. Maybe not enough to change their lives immediately, but they start thinking more about where they are spending their money.

                                        1. 3

                                          There have already been significant events like that, at least for the Apple media store. It gets a blip of media coverage, everybody shrugs, and it passes.

                                          People don’t own their personal data, let alone their playable media. And they’ve decided that the tradeoff is worthwhile.

                                          Honestly, and I hesitate to bring this up since it smacks of politics, the best way to get people to care about this is to first ensure they make enough money to afford to care, and only then get into the anti-“media licensing” propaganda.

                                        2. 2

                                          Yea, looks like 70% of Netflix usage is on TV, with 15% on laptops/desktops.

                                          https://www.vox.com/2018/3/7/17094610/netflix-70-percent-tv-viewing-statistics

                                      2. 8

                                        If the primary application is to run a closed source DRM video player on a platform that would philosophically find it anathemous, I don’t think any amount of money will fix that problem.

                                        1. 1

                                          I don’t like the DRM video player, but I can’t live with it if it’s properly sandboxed.

                                        2. 2

                                          Most people watch netflix on a tv, so probably I guess.

                                          1. 2

                                            As you see with Raptor, whatever you get will cost more while supporting less of common software. That’s how it works when competing against rich incumbents in hardware. Outside of OpenPOWER, the products will probably be a lot slower, too. Some might be in OpenPOWER just because there’s no JIT or hand-written assembly. This kind of thing is not a mass-market product if talking general-purpose computing. That’s why I keep recommending they sneak these CPU’s and alternative OS’s into appliances or “solutions.”

                                            1. 3

                                              I’m sympathetic to this view, but then it never gets thought of as “general purpose,” and becomes just another boutique application-oriented CPU. I think there’s a role for Power in that, mostly because there already is, but I’m unconvinced that’s the way to break into the larger market consciousness.

                                              1. 2

                                                I was mostly countering your trust claim. Even people from backgrounds as different as @lattera and I agree current methods can’t work due to all the shared resources in hardware. The very definition of covert channels ensures that shared resources will be used against you unless you’ve put an enormous amount of effort into and had luck regarding them. That’s on top of all the regular hacks that keep coming in. So, no, you can’t trust the “open, owner-controlled” boxes either.

                                                Go old-school with it like Cold War era. No or limited tech. Good hiding places. Disconnected from the net. Heck, one of my favorite movies this year, Captive State, illustrates many methods for doing so. I have a feeling that was intentional by whoever made it. If folks haven’t seen it, I’ll say that it spends some time introducing the characters/situation, activates the operation, and is 100% good/intense from that moment forward. Epic.

                                            2. 1

                                              Movie DRM is mostly on the GPU side rather than CPU, isn’t it?

                                              1. 1

                                                Nope. The GPU mostly stays out of the way.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Really? HDCP definitely requires GPU support (well, display adapter, not the GFX part of course), isn’t HDCP the most important component of modern DRM?

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Yeah it’s more about the display output pipeline than the GPU. Key management is also a big deal.

                                                    But whatever, my point was that there are things that virtually all consumers want to do with their general purpose computers that are incompatible with my aspirations for freedom. This makes it hard for me to see how such CPUs will be produced at a volume they makes them economical.

                                          1. 5

                                            Still waiting for that POWER9 based laptop with classic 7-row ThinkPad keyboard …

                                            1. 3

                                              it’s 90W - it’s going to be one of those incredibly thick gamer laptops at best

                                              1. 3

                                                What prevents them from making a one with 2 cores and SMT4 at 25W envelope? :)

                                                1. 6

                                                  The market for it. (Also, the 90W figure is for the 4-core part that pretty only exists as chaff that RCS uses and IBM otherwise wouldn’t. POWER9 is designed for 4-8 thread clumps - IBM sells single-core/thread models, but those use firmware DRM to be restricted)

                                                  1. 1

                                                    Which ones are those?

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Servers like the S812 Mini. The AIX configuration has more cores, but the i configuration is limited to a single one.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Oh, yes. IBM i definitely plays by different rules.

                                                  2. 3

                                                    The limiting factor for the 4cores aren’t the cores itself, but all the peripheries like the PCIe host bridges, the core interconnect, the onchip accelerators, the MMU etc.

                                              1. 6

                                                So what does all this mean? In practice it seems the only architectures one runs across are x86-64 and ARM. Is anyone here using Openpower? What is your use case?

                                                1. 24

                                                  I’m typing this (and wrote up the post) on a Talos II. It’s my daily driver computer. I wanted something I could trust, and I didn’t want to feed the x86 monoculture, and I have more money than sense.

                                                  It’s great. I like it a lot. It just works. (Fedora 30.)

                                                  1. 6

                                                    can you share some impressions on power consumption and noise? I’m not asking for specifics (unless you measured it already and have the data handy) but because I live in a small single bedroom flat and the only place I could place it is in the living room, so if it is too noisy it is bad. Power also plays a big role because if it is like the dual G5 it will add a ton to my usage.

                                                    1. 12

                                                      This dual-4 T2 pulls around 170W. The earliest firmware was deafening, but the current firmware is pretty much silent. It’s much less noisy than the Quad G5 sitting next to it, even when the G5 is throttled down.

                                                      That said, in your situation given that it’s a big EATX hulk, you’d probably be happier with a Blackbird. It’s smaller (mATX, though I’d strongly advise a standard ATX case for it) and cheaper. My notes on my own Blackbird are here ( https://www.talospace.com/2019/06/a-semi-review-of-raptor-blackbird.html ) but the TL;DR is budget for a single-8 and a GPU and you’ll be very happy with it.

                                                      1. 3

                                                        thanks for the tips and the link : )

                                                    2. 2

                                                      Why are these things so expensive? Nearly $3k for a single 4-core CPU + motherboard? How does it compare in speed to other commercially available processors?

                                                      1. 6

                                                        Economies of scale. AMD and Intel are shipping ~a million times more units.

                                                        1. 0

                                                          Yep, and I can get a Raspberry Pi for $35. $3k is absurd regardless of scale. Also, IBM seems to be behind a lot of this? It’s not like it’s being produced out of someone’s basement (which still wouldn’t justify $3k). Sounds like people ripping you off. :)

                                                          1. 15

                                                            Running an obscure architecture is always going to cost (much) more than a mainstream one (which is why I don’t, personally).

                                                            Yep, and I can get a Raspberry Pi for $35

                                                            ARM chips have much better economies of scale even than x86.

                                                            It’s not like it’s being produced out of someone’s basement

                                                            Setup costs dominate in a chip fabrication run. If you only sell 10k units, you have to sell them for quite a bit more to cover those costs.

                                                            1. 5

                                                              Why is everyone here talking about the chips? The POWER9 CPUs are relatively reasonable, $400-500 for the 4-core is similar to Ryzen 7 1800X launch price. It’s the Raptor mainboards that are extremely expensive.

                                                              1. 3

                                                                They aren’t extremely expensive. They’re cheaper than the low-volume RISC workstations from SGI and Sun that came before them. They were quoting me five digits for good workstations. Anyone wanting many CPU’s would pay six to seven. What people are missing is the Non-Recurring Engineering [1] [2] expenses are huge, must be recovered at a profit, and are divided over the number of units sold. The units sold are many times less than Intel, AMD, and ARM. These boards are also probably more complex with more QA than a Pi or something.

                                                                So, they’ll cost more unless many times more people buy them allowing scale up with lower per-unit price to recover NRE costs. If they don’t and everything gets DRM’d/backdoored, then everyone who didn’t buy the non-DRM’d/backdoored systems voted for that with their wallet to get a lower, per-unit price in the past. Maybe they’re cool with that, too. Just their choice. Meanwhile, higher-priced products at low volume are acceptable to some buyers trying to send the market a different signal: give us more-inspectable, high-performance products and we’ll reward you with higher profit. That’s Raptor’s market.

                                                                [1] http://hardwarestartupblog.com/hardware-product-development-manufacturing-cost-vs-nr-cost-nre/

                                                                [2] https://predictabledesigns.com/the-cost-to-develop-scale-and-manufacture-a-new-electronic-hardware-product/

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  Ah, that’s good to know! Thanks for clarifying :)

                                                                  I was mostly asking about the CPU + motherboard combo, and I didn’t see that you could buy them individually. Are there other motherboards that also work w/ it?

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    Only Raptor sells boards standalone, others are part of very expensive servers, e.g. from IBM itself

                                                                2. 1

                                                                  Sure, this all makes sense as a producer - but seems like a lot to ask of consumers.

                                                                  I guess it’s working, though. 🤷

                                                                3. 1

                                                                  That Pi probably doesn’t come close to a POWER in performance, esp single-threaded. Intel and AMD are only real comparisons.

                                                                  1. 5

                                                                    Yeah, POWER9 is a big hot chip, while the Pi can run without a heatsink. But the latest Pi, upgraded to Cortex-A72, is pretty much “ultrabook grade” performance. Totally desktopable :) I’m writing this from a quad A72 system in fact (with 8GB RAM though, and a big AMD GPU).

                                                                    The Pi has a software advantage: e.g. Firefox has a full IonMonkey JIT for aarch64 enabled out of the box. For POWER, there’s only a WIP unofficial baseline JIT port by /u/classichasclass. My ARM system might even beat the POWER9 in some JavaScript benchmarks right now :)

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      I know they’re impressive cuz I did some web browsing on my Pi 3 at the house. They’re just not a POWER9. The difference comes from full-custom design that costs a fortune. The POWER’s will have higher per-unit prices due to the much lower volume vs x86’s.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        The performance of the Pi4 is supposed to be 4x that of the Pi3 at the same price-point, so the Pi3 isn’t really a reasonable method for comparing with.

                                                                    2. 1

                                                                      Sure, so that’s where my original question gets to. What does this compare to? Is it intended to compete w/ Xeons? Intel extreme CPUs? Which ones? I was just asking for a means of comparison, which seems hard to find.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Xeons and EPYC’s that I can tell. High-end performance, esp multi-threaded. IBM’s material. A questionable attempt at a benchmark. Throw in side benefit that almost all malware targets x86. That will continue to be true so long as POWER-based desktops remain niche.

                                                                        Since it’s RISC, you can also get better performance on some security mitigations due to fact that x86 optimizes for specific usage. For example, implementing a reverse stack where data flows away from stack pointer might require more indirection on x86 stack-based design than POWER. There was also work in OpenBSD on reducing ROP gadgets or something that got way more done on ARM than x86 for similar reasons. Could be true for POWER, too.

                                                                        I’m also wondering about acceleration possibilities from modifying microcode (i.e. custom opcodes) if it’s as open as they claim. Karger et al modified VAX’s microcode to both speed up and boost security of their VMM’s fast path. One team long ago had a HLL-to-microcode compiler, too. I figure there might still be NDA’s involved in that, though.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          work in OpenBSD on reducing ROP gadgets or something that got way more done on ARM than x86 for similar reasons

                                                                          Yeah, because x86 instructions are arbitrary length, polymorphic gadgets are a thing (jumping into the middle of an instruction to interpret everything from there as unintended instruction). Any ISA that’s not ridiculous-length doesn’t have this “feature” :)

                                                                4. 6

                                                                  You were looking at the more expensive offer, here is board+cpu for $1450: https://www.raptorcs.com/content/BK1B01/intro.html

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    Ah! That’s a bit more reasonable. Still, my original question was more about what other kinds of CPUs these should be compared against. In terms of performance/watt, are they competing w/ the Xeon line? or like i7 extremes? Is that the right way to compare them or does it give someone an unfair advantage? That’s more what I was curious about.

                                                              2. 14

                                                                I use it as my desktop computer as well (ubuntu 19.04), and everything basically just works for me as well. For me, there are two main reasons for using it. One is that all the firmware is open source (Apache licence) w/o any tivotisation (this includes the firmware that is somewhat akin to the Intel Management Engine or AMD’s PSP), so it is truely “owner-controlled” and free. The other thing that makes it very appealing to me is the Power ISA itself, which doesn’t have a lot of the insanity you find in x86. As an added benefit, they have a very well documented and interesting microarch with Power9.

                                                              1. 9

                                                                As it stands the POWER ISA has a decently comprehensive ecosystem, with a reasonably wide ranging instruction set. I’m curious as to whether this includes some of the PowerPC stuff still used in embedded systems or whether that stuff is covered by FreeScale (Motorola) IP.

                                                                I do think designing a POWER CPU would definitely be a fun exploratory project now that all of the stuff is openly available though.

                                                                1. 4

                                                                  My thinking is this is just OpenPOWER (i.e., POWER8 and up). But I’d be delighted to be wrong.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    You mean cores or instructions? I haven’t been in PowerPC in over a decade, but I remember PowerPC being a subset of POWER in terms of ISA.

                                                                    1. 9

                                                                      In the 32-bit era, yes. However, 64-bit PowerPC and Power ISA are pretty much synonymous. The classic example is the G5, which is truly a member of the PowerPC family (“PowerPC 970”), but is a 64-bit processor basically consisting of a POWER4 with an AltiVec unit bolted on. You can see this in the instructions, for example (no mcrxr, no dcba, 128-byte cache line behaviour with dcbz, exactly the same as this POWER9).

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        That makes a ton of sense. Thanks for the history lesson!

                                                                      2. 3

                                                                        Instructions. AFAIR the embedded versions of PowerPC add a bunch of instructions and other architectural features to support hardware things, but you might be right.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Great pics. Even had some Tadpoles in there for folks that wanted to use SPARC. Whereas, I just learned there were PA-RISC laptops. PA-RISC had unique memory protection at some point. Wonder if the CPU’s in those laptops had that.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        What do you mean, “unique”?

                                                                        The CPUs in these two lappies were off-the-shelf. The SAIC Galaxy 1100 is just a 9000/712 with some board rework and peripherals in a rugged case, thus a standard PA-7100LC. The PrecisionBooks were based on the HP Visualize-C workstations using PA-7300LCs. The only other portables I’m aware of were the Hitachi systems which used a Hitachi-specific PA-RISC chip I don’t know much about.

                                                                        I like PA-RISC. Working on a K250 was my first job out of college, so it has a place in my heart.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          “What do you mean, “unique”?”

                                                                          This. Itanium got that and more (pdf) since it shared the same design lead IIRC. That link is also an advertisement for Secure64’s SourceT OS and DNS that were custom designed to use those mechanisms. Looks like they switched to hardened Linux due to death of Itanium. Their old OS is described here with some pentesting by Matasano.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            Oh, gotcha. Yes, these should support that, I think it’s intrinsic to the architecture or at least everything from the PA-7000 on up.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        I thought everything would be ported by hand or use high-level languages that would synthesize the SIMD code. The latter being able to make ports to MIPS64 or RISC-V easier later. Nah, yall took a much better route. Amazing.

                                                                        1. 3

                                                                          I don’t know if it’s better but it’s certainly more convenient. I’m not sure I like taking this to its logical conclusion (i.e., every other architecture’s vector unit operations expressed in terms of Intel SIMD and those essentially becoming the standard operations), especially since I know when rewriting the SSE2 VP9 decoder there were quite a few improvements I could make and more efficient AltiVec operations I could use. But it took me weeks to do that work. I “vectorized” KANN in about a minute. That’s pretty hard to argue with.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            I see what you’re saying. I can’t find my SIMD languages in a quick search. Prolly lost the bookmarks. Did find Sierra that let you express it in C++. Might do another search for SIMD languages or whatever in near future.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              packed_simd, simdeez, ispc… they don’t quite have the word “language” attached to them, but they are portable SIMD abstractions.

                                                                              (fun story about how ISPC ended up with a NEON backend)

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Thanks. The story was another good reminder of why companies better revoke access after employees leave.

                                                                        1. 2

                                                                          Die, floppy disks. DVDs and audio jacks: you’re next.

                                                                          Just kidding about the audio jack.

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            I bought a new phone recently, and I was so mad (at Google, but also at myself for not checking) to find that I had to use USB-C headphones and that I had to install and configure them before they worked. Why is this necessary? (It reminded me of the first USB key I got in ~1999—it was utterly useless because I needed to install drivers for every machine I used.)

                                                                            1. 10

                                                                              Not only that, I’ve seen people move their USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups with Power Delivery charger around each port of their computer to try and find the one which will actually accept power. There are tiny dark-grey-on-black hieroglyphs next to each port on my new laptop marking which ones are USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups with LightningStrike or Thunderbolt OSR2 Enhanced or whatever it’s called, while others are USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups with DisplayPort alt-mode LTS Edition. Thank god my eyesight is in normal human range; I’d hate to try and work this out with vision difficulties! The laptop will only boot from USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups Mass Storage Edition on certain ports, and blithely ignore boot media in others. This is unmarked and undocumented, so my passable eyesight is no help here.

                                                                              The cable situation is even worse. There are a zillion different types of cables, which are supposed to have markings (i.e., black-on-black embossings that nobody will be able to see). These will allegedly identify which cables are base USB C 3.11 for Workgroups, and which ones support delivering a value meal along with your data, or whatever other hare-brained scheme they cram in there next. Presumably they’re following the logic of whoever makes SD cards: make them look like NASCAR jackets and maybe people will learn what all the weird symbols mean. But of course most of the cables are made in China and are totally unmarked, so the iconography is moot. The only cable you can trust is the one that came with your gizmo.

                                                                              We’ve gone from having function-specific ports that were visually distinct, though an all-too-brief golden age of “match the plugs and it’ll probably work”, to a bunch of function-specific ports which all look the same. Anyone involved with USB C 3.11 for Workgroups should be deeply ashamed of themselves, with the exception of that Benson guy who calls people out on their terrible cables.

                                                                              1. -1

                                                                                Not only that, I’ve seen people move their USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups with Power Delivery charger around each port of their computer to try and find the one which will actually accept power.

                                                                                So rather than acknowledging that when companies do the right thing, and make all USB-C ports accept power, it’s easier for the user, you instead choose to blame the standard which allows said ease of use, on the shitty manufacturer who implemented it in a half-assed way to save a few dollars.

                                                                                The laptop will only boot from USB Type C 3.11 for Workgroups Mass Storage Edition on certain ports, and blithely ignore boot media in others

                                                                                Yet again, completely unrelated to USB - your laptop is a POS.

                                                                                We’ve gone from having function-specific ports that were visually distinct, though an all-too-brief golden age of “match the plugs and it’ll probably work”, to a bunch of function-specific ports which all look the same.

                                                                                We’ve gone from dozens of single-use ports that are fucking useless for the user if they don’t happen to have that type of peripheral, and will make the peripheral useless with their next computer because the specific set of single-use ports will have changed and converters are simply not practical or available, to the ability for manufacturers to provide ports that are multi-purpose, and can connect multiple legacy single-use ports with inexpensive, readily available adapters.

                                                                                This same argument (single-use ports are better) is made about even expensive laptops, like the MacBook Pro. People whine and whinge about the lack of HDMI and fucking SD card readers - and ignore that they’re completely useless for a whole bunch of people.

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                                                                                  So rather than acknowledging that when companies do the right thing

                                                                                  I have literally never seen anyone do this completely right.

                                                                                  You instead choose to blame the standard

                                                                                  No, I blame everyone. You know this industry: the ideal world specified by a standard and the set of implementations people must interoperate with are often two distinct worlds.

                                                                                  […] connect multiple legacy single-use ports with inexpensive, readily available adapters.

                                                                                  The few adapters I have seen have neither of these properties. Sitting a laptop in a plate of dongle-spaghetti is not an improvement. And then you have to break out your magnifying glass to find out whether this particular adapter talks DisplayPort alt-mode or DisplayLink. Reading online, one is painless and the other is impossible.

                                                                                  Oh, and: this is painful enough for people who work with tech for a living. I feel for all the normal people who have had this shoved onto them; I have no idea how anyone not immersed in this stuff could make head or tail of it.

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                                                                                    I have literally never seen anyone do this completely right.

                                                                                    Apple’s TB3-supporting computers all do it “right”, and even their now-discontinued Macbook (which had USB-C but not TB3) did it “right”, from what I can see.

                                                                                    The few adapters I have seen have neither of these properties.

                                                                                    Few? Have you actually looked for any? USB-C to <Insert combination of USB-A, Ethernet, Some form of video, Some form of card reader> are ridiculously common amongst accessory makers.

                                                                                    Sitting a laptop in a plate of dongle-spaghetti is not an improvement. So, before USB-C was a thing, the devices somehow didn’t have wires? With adapters you’re doing one of two things:

                                                                                    • you’re connecting one or more devices via single-port adapters - in which case you just have a slightly longer cable(s); or
                                                                                    • you’re connecting multiple devices to a single multi-port adapter - in which case you’ve moved the ‘spaghetti’ of multiple cables away from your computer..

                                                                                    And then you have to break out your magnifying glass to find out whether this particular adapter talks DisplayPort alt-mode or DisplayLink.

                                                                                    I don’t even understand this complaint, unless you just searched for “weird proprietary confusing display tech” and got a result for DisplayLink. The manufacturers who support it in hardware seem to be limited to those who also make the same shitty decisions like “hey we’ll put 8 USB-A ports, but only 2 of them are high speed, guess which”.

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                                                                                Annoying, isn’t it? And they can’t undo the decision.

                                                                                The flipside is that I just carry around wired earpods in my pocket wherever I go. It’s okayish.

                                                                                I keep telling myself “They need that room on the hardware for other things, like AR.” But I’m unfamiliar with hardware engineering, so that’s just a bedtime story.

                                                                                The worst is that all the adapters for car <-> phone are useless now. And bluetooth cars aren’t really prolific, at least among my family members.

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                                                                                  I think the reality is that they save a little bit of money on the BOM by leaving out the jack and associated components, and when they sell thousands/millions of units they earn a bit extra.

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                                                                                    Adding to your BOM idea, it’s also more expensive to waterproof an audio jack, from what I have heard.

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                                                                                      I’m not the expert, but I don’t why waterproof headphone jacks would be more expensive than waterproof USB ports.

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                                                                                        You already need to have a USB port, so a headphone jack is one more thing to waterproof/IP certify.

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                                                                                          But is the cost of that anywhere near significant on the total cost of developing a new phone that will sell millions of units?

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                                                                                            Bean counters are that way… There was a managed switch by Ubiquiti where the OS had serial console support, the board had the controller, and even had the RS232 header in place, but the port was not soldered. Some people ended up cutting a hole in the enclosure and soldering the port to it.

                                                                                            That would be a very cheap addition with a lot of value for the customer. But someone probably got a bonus for saving $0.01 per unit.

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                                                                                              That’s kind of my whole point above.. saving a few dollars on a unit when you expect to sell millions of them adds up.

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                                                                                                That only considers the cost side. There’s also a benefit side: more people interested / not turned off, so you sell more units. If cost is low enough, adding a feature is a no-brainer. I wonder about the math here.

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                                                                                                  That’s not what is happening though. It would seem that consumers are ‘too invested’ in the Apple brand, for example, to move away entirely from the product line when Apple decides to remove features.

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                                                                                          Yes, I think it was so claimed by Apple when they got rid of the headphone jack and added IP67 dust and water resistance — both in the same iteration with iPhone 7.

                                                                                          TBH, it doesn’t necessarily make much sense — what’s the big deal with simply designing a proper IP67-rated headphone jack component like they already do with all the other parts?

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                                                                                    I’d be fine using Bluetooth everywhere if it actually heckin’ worked. I tried to pair my phone with my car once to play music without an aux cable. Never again.

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                                                                                      What’s wrong with DVDs? They’re now so wide open pretty much anything will play them.

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                                                                                        DVD-ROMs are okay, but video DVD format builds on top of PAL/SECAM/NTSC analog television with interlacing, which is too harsh legacy. It’s basically a crudely digitized VHS. It have to go just like Kodak Photo CD, despite jpeg, maybe, is even more ancient tech.

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                                                                                          Image quality is what’s wrong with DVDs IMO.

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                                                                                            I literally don’t have a device in my house that will play DVDs. I have two 2018 computers (one mini desktop, one laptop), a 2011 laptop, and a 2018 (purchased, probably 2017 model) receiver.

                                                                                            The weird thing is my car will (apparently, I’ve never actually tried it) play a DVD.

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                                                                                              They lose data very quickly. Even allegedly archival quality DVDs

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                                                                                            the people who will miss the boat by waiting around for RISC-V

                                                                                            What do you mean? Are you saying that RISC-V will never be practical for a general-purpose computer, or that it will somehow get there too late?

                                                                                            Also, I wonder if a lighter Wayland compositor than Mutter would run reasonably well on a Blackbird without a GPU.

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                                                                                              The latter. I think RISC-V will eventually get into the same performance range but I don’t see that being imminent. Just my own uninformed forecasting.

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                                                                                                Full-custom design like POWER costs many, many times more than standard cell like most of these RISC-V’s use. It requires expensive people and tools with more risk of having to redo designs after an expensive prototype doesn’t work. Most hardware is standard cell simply because there’s not enough volume to justify cost of doing full custom.

                                                                                                You’re forecasting was correct. It’s also why also ran ISA’s keep dying off. It was way too expensive to build new ones with lower, sales volume. When Compaq dumped Alpha, they said they were spending up to $150 million a year on CPU development. Modern nodes probably cost more. By comparison, SiFive raised a little over $125 million up to its Series D with largest round under half of that.

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                                                                                                  I wish there was more we hackers could do to support them, but buying embedded devices I have no use for even for fun can’t be it. I’d be happy with the kind of cpu power you can get on a “top shelf” RISC-V, but I want more RAM and I want decent video options. I don’t need programmable shaders and a full pipeline, but a good blitter and plenty of vram would be a start. And I need it documented, if I wanted to just run a low-power linux box I’d buy another RPI

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                                                                                                    Personally, I wish them the best, but if I were spending folding money on a non-mainstream platform, it would not be on something that runs a free Unix. I’d much rather have a weird-ass pseudo-Amiga or BeBox or something.

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                                                                                                      weird-ass pseudo-Amiga

                                                                                                      Yeah, that stuff is POWER too, so you’re not escaping free Unix :D

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                                                                                                I wonder if a lighter Wayland compositor than Mutter would run reasonably well on a Blackbird without a GPU

                                                                                                Yes: Weston has a decent pixman based software renderer.

                                                                                                Though.. seriously, not using a GPU in 2019 is just a bad idea, especially for a video playing system.

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                                                                                                  Yeah, gopher encryption is a hot topic in the gopher space, so you’re not the only one. Rain, solderpunk, & I have been arguing about it for a while…

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                                                                                                    I remember this. I’ve actually got a gopher+TLS listening on 7443 but no one talks to it currently, primarily for the reasons of service discovery you mention, I would imagine.

                                                                                                    I think gopher is a good fit for retrocomputing and those would be the systems least likely to use TLS. Maybe the solution is something new that still keeps the menus and all that, as you suggest.

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                                                                                                      I’m also not aware of any gopher clients that talk TLS—I know mine doesn’t [1]. What’s the host? I’d be interested in trying it out.

                                                                                                      [1] But it could be easily added, as the Lua framework I’m using supports TLS.

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                                                                                                        I’m also not aware of any gopher clients that talk TLS

                                                                                                        VF-1

                                                                                                        Clic

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                                                                                                          The very host proxying this post. :)

                                                                                                          I have a very rudimentary proof of concept browser that essentially keeps a history, tries 7443 first, and then 70, and remembers for future connections. I’m not sure this is the right approach but I can’t think of a better one right now.

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                                                                                                            What host is proxying your post?

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                                                                                                              I was trying to be cute but I think I failed. I mean the host proxying what rain1 wrote, i.e., Floodgap.

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                                                                                                                Ah. I tried it out and yes, it worked. But it was a temporary hack to my gopher client, and I’m not sure how I would go about supporting this.

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                                                                                                      So, basically, he likes TMTOWDI, which really applies to practically any version of Perl. Perl 6 certainly has some interesting idiomatic features but I could find some arbitrary problem to write a clever one-liner in Perl 5, too.

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                                                                                                        Because PC gaming is largely a windows monoculture.

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                                                                                                          This + video games are one of relatively few applications that run directly on the end user’s machine, rather than through a browser, which makes that distinction particularly relevant for developers.

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                                                                                                            I remember there were attempts to change this, though. There was the Games Kitchen back in the early Power Mac days which was allegedly a trial balloon to attract more ports and hopefully first-party titles to the Mac (if you go to the About window in Mac Dark Forces, there’s a shout out). But Apple never had their heart in it and this lasted well into the Jobs era. Gabe Newell when asked why Valve’s Mac support was so poor back then famously complained that they would find problems they wanted fixed, and someone would say they would, and that someone would end up working somewhere else, and their problems never got repaired because then it was a new someone else who was unaware of them. I’m not sure if that’s why they never released Half-Life for the Mac, despite the fact that Logicware pretty much had it completed, but it was certainly why there was never a Half-Life II ( http://archive.videogamesdaily.com/features/gabenewell_valve_iv_sep07_p1.asp ). But Valve never cracked the formula themselves either. The Linux-based Steam Machines didn’t exactly sell off the shelves.

                                                                                                            At the end, I guess it’s where the market is.

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                                                                                                            I have never done much Perl, but I enjoyed playing with it one spring at university. Who here is using Perl regularly?

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                                                                                                              I used to work at Booking.com, which has about a million lines of Perl in production. It was good times, I quite enjoyed working with it.

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                                                                                                                It was my main language from about 1998-2008. I don’t write programs in Perl anymore, but I regularly use perl -ne, perl -pe, and perl -i -p -e on the command line and in scripts.

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                                                                                                                  Same here. Back in the days of “traditional sysadmin” I used Perl for most tasks, be it small processing scripts or CGI web apps. These days Perl has fallen out of fashion and as much as I still like writing things in Perl 5, none of my colleagues wants to touch Perl code, so I end up doing much more Go, or sometimes Python (but I’m not a huge fan of Python).

                                                                                                                  That said, I did manage to semi-sneak some Perl 5 into production a while back, and recently replaced a complicated shell script which was doing all sorts of echo | grep | sed | xargs etc. - I put the Perl replacement up for review and most people said it was “surprisingly readable” and that no other language could have done it as well.

                                                                                                                  Perl definitely still has its place, but there’s too much stigma around it now.

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                                                                                                                    It’s possible to write reasonable Perl, but it’s very easy to make unreadable Perl if one isn’t careful. Unfortunately, sysadmins under duress was the most significant Perl userbase, while not one known for taking time on scripts. (Not helping Perl’s reputation for readability also: JAPH)

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                                                                                                                      Agreed, TMTOWTDI is both good and bad. Perl lets you take shortcuts, so people take them. PHP is arguably just as bad for this (I guess because it evolved from Perl).

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                                                                                                                  Never tried perl5, but I’ve been using perl6 quite a bit lately and I really enjoy it.

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                                                                                                                    I use Perl regularly, as my “secret weapon” when consulting and/or writing API backends.

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                                                                                                                      I used perl from 2005-2010 on closed source code (a fastcgi ad-server, of all things). I remember going through the camel book(s) at the same time, and quite enjoy it. I’ll miss the Perl conferences more than the language though. :p I never got to an expert level though, so it can be that.

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                                                                                                                        I don’t use much Perl anymore but I really miss how well regular expressions were integrated into the language.

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                                                                                                                          2/3 of my regular clients are Perl shops (the third is teaching, and that’s mostly Python), so Perl is basically my dayjob :)

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                                                                                                                            I use Perl(5) for fun (personal projects, coding challenges etc).

                                                                                                                            I’ve broken it out in anger at work for some ad-hoc log parsing stuff too .

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                                                                                                                              Not only is it the scripting language I usually reach for, and have since 4.036, but most of the externally facing services on Floodgap.com are written in Perl including the HTTP and gopher servers.

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                                                                                                                                I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank you for making TTYtter back in the day!

                                                                                                                                I still use Oysttyer daily. Best Twitter client bar none.

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                                                                                                                                  Hey, thanks! :)

                                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                                I believe The Register is still a perl shop :~)