Author Archives: pappp

Fujitsu’s Fugaku and A64FX Take Arm to the Top with 415 PetaFLOPs

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Neat, it panned out. The ascendancy of ARM is really weird, they went from being a flailing niche PC business clinging to life by licensing out one of the uglier RISC-ish designs from the 80s to being in everything from $1 micros, through fondleslabs, workstations, servers, and the largest operating supercomputer. Japan's heavily planned supercomputing program has been working out for them for like 40 years now; based on what I saw at SC Fujitsu's A64FX parts are the first actually-impressive high-end ARM parts (not a surprise, they've been building vector engines forever and appear to have mostly designed the SVE extensions based on that), and the Tofu interconnect is a truly impressive piece of tech. Plus the synchronization with the Apple ARM announcement really makes a spectacle of it.
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I Am Deleting the Blog

Source: Hacker News

Article note: That is a bummer, Slate Star Codex is usually a really interesting read and there are several old posts I regularly link. That the old media vs. new media "We're going to doxx you because journalism" shit is still going should be embarrassing for the dinosaurs by this point.
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This is Apple’s roadmap for moving the first Macs away from Intel

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: The annual rumor came true this time, Apple is going for a third (m68k -> PPC -> x86 -> ARM, though only two with the warmed-over NextStep platform) architecture change. If anyone knows how to do it, it should be them.
  • ARM Macs get a whole Apple SoC, with lots of components. [credit: Apple ]

After 15 years, Apple will again transition the Mac to a new architecture. The company announced at its developer conference today that it will introduce Macs featuring Apple-designed, ARM-based processors similar to those already used in the iPhone and iPad.

Tim Cook pegged this switch as one of the four biggest transitions the Mac has ever had. Alongside the move to PowerPC, the move to Intel, and the transition to Mac OS X, ARM will be one of the biggest Mac changes ever. Apple is promising "a whole new level of performance" with a "Family of Mac SoCs.

Longtime Apple users have been through all this before, with the transition from PowerPC to Intel and now for Intel x86 to ARM. All the big platform transition hits are coming back. The transition to ARM from x86 means that some Mac apps will be native and some won't. For apps that support both x86 and ARM, Apple is introducing the "Universal 2" binary that will package both codebases together. For apps that haven't made the transition to ARM yet, the Rosetta emulator is back as "Rosetta 2" and will now let x86 apps run on your ARM Mac, albeit with reduced performance.

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Apple announces macOS 11, “Big Sur,“ with an emphasis on design

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: This feels like a Windows 8 moment, that is a very "mobile inspired" whitespace-heavy, touch friendly, context sensitive shell presenting itself as a desktop OS.
Apple announces macOS 11, “Big Sur,“ with an emphasis on design

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

It's WWDC, and today Apple is announcing the next big version of macOS "Big Sur," which, after 15 versions of "OS 10.x," is actually version 11! Big Sur, like the previous versions, is named after a region in California.

Apple says Big Sur comes with an "entirely new interface" with "refinements in buttons and controls" and a new unified icon yet. Finder and most other apps feature a more transparent, top-to-bottom sidebar with an all-white (or all-dark) main section to the right. Toolbars have been redesigned, with the big gray window topper of previous versions getting the boot.

Control Center has arrived on the Mac, too. Clicking on the toolbar by the time will bring it up, just like the notification panel. Inside, you'll find sliders for the volume and display brightness, along with other power controls and media playback. You can drag controls into the status bar for quick access. Widgets have been reworked with a gallery display view, and you can easily drag them into the side widget bar.

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Discovering Dennis Ritchie’s Lost Dissertation

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Neat. There's a ...probably not super healthy for me to be self-reinforcing... oft-repeated lesson about the seriousness which which to take academic credentials in there.
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Supreme Court blocks Trump’s attempt to end DACA in 5-4 decision

Source: The Week: Most Recent Home Page Posts

Article note: Man, the right is having a bad time with their stolen supreme court seats not being adequate to reliably push their agendas this week. And they didn't take the arbitrary and capricious restriction 2a cases that were the only potential desirable outcome I was hoping for from the packed court, which makes it doubly weird.

The Supreme Court has ruled against President Trump on ending DACA.

In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the court blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before turning 16 from being deported, NBC News reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating that the administration's effort to end DACA was "arbitrary and capricious" and that it violated Administrative Procedure Act, so the rescission of DACA "must be vacated." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor joined Roberts. The opinion notes, however, that "the dispute before the court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so."

This decision came days after another loss for the Trump administration when earlier this week, the court ruled that gay and transgender Americans are protected from workplace discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, rejecting the administration's argument.

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The better solution to corporate holidays

Source: The Week: Most Recent Home Page Posts

Article note: I've been yelled at for making this argument.

This Friday is Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 that news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally made it all the way to Texas. Though it comes before the Fourth of July in our calendar year, Juneteenth celebrates a later and fuller Independence Day, a point of vital — though still incomplete — victory for black Americans' freedom and equality, as the nationwide protests against police brutality demonstrate afresh this year.

Those protests have put Juneteenth on corporate radars like never before. Major companies including Google, Nike, Target, and Mastercard have announced they will recognize the holiday, giving many or all employees the day off. But what most of these announcements don't make clear is whether this is a one-time thing. Lyft is an apparent exception — its announcement tweet says Juneteenth is an official holiday "[s]tarting this year" — but The New York Times' tweet says Juneteenth is a paid holiday "this year," and the NFL announcement references the "current climate."

What about next year and years to come? My guess is if the climate has changed, most of these companies will quietly forget the holiday about justice they presently find so convenient for dress-up wokeness. Some employees may successfully lobby to make the holiday permanent, but many corporations will be resistant for the usual corporate reason: Holidays cost money, and if there's no federal designation or critical mass of workers demanding the day off, it won't be given.

This is a problem for Juneteenth, but it's a bigger problem, too. Americans no longer prioritize a single set of holidays. We largely lack the cultural — and especially the religious and political — unity to celebrate the same things. What if we stopped pretending otherwise?

Our employment contracts, at the very least, could recognize this reality. The solution is simple and already familiar to corporate HR departments: floating holidays. These are paid days off to be used at workers' discretion, but they differ from vacation in that if you quit with unused floating holidays, there's no payout as with unused vacation days.

Some companies already include a few floating holidays in their benefits package, typically as a supplement to the standard schedule of 10 federal holidays. These extra days are conceived as a blanket accommodation for unusual beliefs. It's not a bad idea, but it's built on an increasingly incorrect assumption: that relatively few employees' beliefs will have them wanting different days off than the standard 10.

Instead of supplementing a fixed, universal schedule, floating holidays should be the entire arrangement. Simply give every employee something like 15 days a year of paid vacation to use to celebrate the days of their choice.

Calls to move in this direction may be inevitable as present religious trends progress. The United States is moving at a remarkable pace away from being a nation overwhelmingly composed of professing Christians. Religious diversity is increasing, and so too is religious disaffiliation. Granted, the only explicitly religious holiday on the standard list of 10 is Christmas, and much of its American celebration has no connection to Christianity. But it is still easy to imagine larger companies more and more discovering they have atheist or Jehovah's Witness employees who don't want to mark Christmas, alongside Muslim employees who'd rather take the day for Eid al-Fitr or Jewish workers who'd prefer to observe Yom Kippur, alongside observant Christians who want more time off for Christmas celebration. Floating holidays satisfy all of these preferences.

The political advantage to floating holidays is rising, too. The history of Thanksgiving has long put its contemporary celebration under scrutiny. Pacifists like me may not do much for holidays that glorify violence. Celebration of Columbus Day occasions an annual debate about the propriety of commemorating someone who by contemporary accounts and his own journals engaged in dehumanizing cruelty. Now, the timing of the protests sparked by George Floyd's death has likewise occasioned uproar over the neglect of Juneteenth.

Companies could continue to wade into these debates with often clumsy, performative forays into "woke-washed" marketing and HR policies, courting charges from various corners of tone deafness, insincerity, profiteering, and capitulation (all bad for the bottom line, I might note). Or they could simply announce a total shift to floating holidays, a more laissez-faire approach in which employees can celebrate whatever days they deem ethical or sacred without the interruption of vague corporate bromides about "history" or "diversity" or "love" or "family" or whatever.

This solution won't settle, of course, the larger question of what's worth celebrating. It won't even resolve disagreements about what days deserve public honor as opposed to private observance, especially the honor of recognition by the state. (Incidentally, if any day deserves to be added to the calendar of federal holidays, Juneteenth is it.) And it probably won't feel as immediately gratifying as corporate commitments to forever giving workers time off on June 19.

But it is achievable, realistic, and peaceable, which in our contentious nation is pretty high praise. It also guarantees you can commemorate Juneteenth.

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Justice Department proposes major overhaul of Sec. 230 protections

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: The "monitoring and reporting" verbiage in there is _absolutely_ a not-very-subtle prohibition on end-to-end encryption. This proposal isn't going anywhere for political reasons, but can also go fuck itself for that.
Photoshopped image of Attorney General Bill Barr rolling a giant boulder labeled Section 230 up a mountain.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

The Department of Justice today released a set of proposals calling for sweeping reform to the law that grants immunity to apps and websites for the content users post or share to them, following months of political rhetoric about the supposed suppression of conservative speech online.

The proposal outlines recommended changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. "The time is ripe to realign the scope of Section 230 with the realities of the modern internet," the DOJ wrote. "We must ensure that the internet is both an open and safe space for our society."

The report (PDF) stems from a nearly year-long investigation into Big Tech that began in the department's Antitrust Division last July. The DOJ said at the time that the probe would "consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online." The agency did not name names, but Amazon, Facebook, and Google were widely considered to be on the list.

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Against Cop Shit

Source: Hacker News

Article note: I don't put "Rigor and Grit" in the same category as the rest (An awful lot of my lab instructing is teaching students how to persevere and systematically solve a problem until it is actually solved, instead of going through proscribed motions and throwing it over the wall whether or not the result makes any sense), but I'm generally in agreement. Making schools adversarial, surveiled, conformity-enforcing environments is only rarely helpful. The part TFA, and most such proclamations, doesn't adequately address is how avoiding that requires having more avenues to get students who don't want to be doing traditional schooling into some mutually acceptable alternatives. At the college level, we have to do a lot of our performative rigor things because too many of our students have been taught to think of college in terms of "Obtaining this otherwise meaningless credential is a necessary and sufficient condition to obtain a job that will comfortably support you" and, as a result, will cheat to the greatest degree possible.
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University of Kentucky releases final plan for fall restart

Source: Kentucky.com -- Education

Article note: This is gonna be dumb and exhausting. It's going to be exhausting for me because we're effectively going to have to double our lab hours or dramatically pare down our lab offerings. Not-in-person finals with limited support are going to make it hard to make things trustworthy (and tempt people to do stupid intrusive things). At least it's plan-shaped and contains contingencies.

University of Kentucky students will begin their fall semester on Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally planned, the university’s final reopening plan released on Tuesday shows. COVID-19 testing will … Click to Continue »

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