Tech News Round-Up

Seems like we’ve done a good job of keeping business news in the Silicon Valley is Stupid thread. There’s not that much true technology news out there, so it all gets covered on Monday show threads.

But anyway, Github is having a lot of downtime lately. Kind of a big deal. Even though Git itself is distributed, so everyone’s code is completely safe, this is still a big problem. Lots of people are relying on Github for project management, issue tracking, documentation hosting, and CI/deployment among other things. Those parts of it are not automatically backed up on everyone’s computer. You can bring your source code away no problem. You’ll lose everything else.

Also, Ubuntu 20.04 releases today. It’s an LTS release that will be good for 5 years. Over the next few weeks I’m probably going to upgrade everything to the new version so I won’t have to deal with it again for a long time. Good news is that it’s a great performance improvement over 18.04.

Bad news is that it has some issues on WSL1. Seems like it’s going to be just fine on WSL2, though. I just have to wait for my Windows to update to a new enough release to get WSL2.

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Related, I’ve been a GitLab stan ever since Github was acquired.

I like them both. I like Gitlab a little big more, but it’s just less effort to go with Github. Gitlab is yet another thing I would have to go through the hassle of self-hosting.

Ubuntu 20.04 in its current state was about 25% faster

That’s huge!

I know, right? A soon as Linode makes it available, I’m updating all the servers.

Linode added it already. So speedy! I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.

In other news, apparently I am very late to the game on this. But I just learned about shingled magnetic recording. Apparently this is a technology in use on some magnetic hard drives. It increases storage capacity while harming write performance when data needs to be overwritten.

The problem is that drive manufacturers have been using it in drives without telling customers that the drive use it. People have bought drives they wouldn’t have bought if they knew the SMR was going on in there. Especially for certain applications like NAS (where a lot of magnetic drives get used these days) people REALLY don’t want SMR drives, but might unknowingly be using them.

So now instead of labeling which drives have it or not, Seagate is releasing a line of expensive drives that are certified SMR-free.

Does that mean we can just assume every other drive uses SMR?

Will discuss on Monday show.

Update: Good guy WD?

A for-profit was going to take over the .org TLD, but now ICANN SHUT IT DOWN!!


Oh shit, I did NOT expect them to do the right thing!

Talk about some Monday news!

Tim Bray, who you may remember from such hits as XML(!), works at Amazon. Well, worked, because he quit over the company’s firing of employees who were leading organization.

If you care about security in the slightest, turning off Secure Boot—on any computer, PC or Mac—is a very bad idea. The real solution is to make (encrypted) backups and keep them up to date.

This is all pretty fresh because I recently bought a new PC and took a deep dive into Secure Boot, UEFI, GPT, and Linux support for Secure Boot via shim.

With T2 disabled, anyone technically inclined can fuck with your Mac, and anyone who gets your password (say, after fucking with your Mac) can decrypt your disk (you’ve enabled disk encryption, right?). Likewise, Secure Boot prevents anyone without physical access from trying to install os-level malware on your Linux/Microsoft box. Microsoft has required Secure Boot support from OEMs since Windows 8.

Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, keep T2/Secure Boot on.

More info on the SRM situation:

TL;DR: SMR drives definitely significantly underperform compared to non-SMR. However, they are still adequately speedy for many tasks. The logic in the firmware is pretty impressive at how much it can overcome the performance issues inherent in SMR. The problem is that WD is using SMR to cut corners on cheap/small disks and tried to hide it. If they used the technology instead to make very large disks, and let the customer know about it, it might be praised as a great product for people who need a lot of storage and are ok with slower speeds.

Data backups seem like a good usage for SMR drives, but I would like to see TRIM support on Seagate ones (I’m not sure what WD supports). I have several Seagate Expansion SMR drives, and after you fill them up once, you see drastically reduced speeds from then on ever after deleting files. I’ve seen speeds lower than 10 MB/s after you fill a drive and try to write to it in bulk.

How are you writing to a full drive? It’s full!

I meant after you fill a drive with data and delete things. Since there is no TRIM support the drive still has to shuffle around unallocated chunks of deleted files, slowing down writes.

Ah, I see. The thing is, no matter what kind of drives you have, filling a drive is always going to cause problems. I always make sure to have enough free space breathing room. If it starts to get tight, I expand the storage. So I guess even if I used those drives, I would never encounter that problem.


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I’m surprised it only took 186 reels of microfilm to store 21TB of code.

If i remember right photo reductions made great strides. I doubt they are conventional micro form especially if the images in the article are accurate. Could be thousands of meters worth of film in one reel as well…