I’ve written before, in Contemplating the Cute Brick, that I’m a big fan of Intel’s NUC line of small-form-factor computers. Over the last week I’ve been having some unpleasant learning experiences around them. I’m still a fan, but I’m shipping this post where the search engines can see it in support of future NUC owners… Continue reading Some PSAs for NUC owners
Comes the word that Saleforce.com has announced a ban on its customers selling “military-style rifles”. The reason this ban has teeth is that the company provides “software as a service”; that is, the software you run is a client for servers that the provider owns and operates. If the provider decides it doesn’t want your… Continue reading The dangerous folly of “Software as a Service”
Ever had the experience of not realizing you’re a subject-matter-expert until someone brings up a topic on a mailing list and you find yourself uttering a pretty comprehensive brain dump about it? This happened to me about home and SOHO routers recently. So I’m repeating the brain dump here. I expect I’ll get some corrections,… Continue reading The low-down on home routers – how to buy, what to avoid
I’ve recently become aware of RISC-V. Verry innterresting. Technical introduction here (somewhat out of date; hardware support is broader and deeper now, and I have seen video of a full Linux port running Doom), but the technicalia is not mostly where I’m going with this post. I’m seeing a setup for a potentially classic disruption… Continue reading RISC-V is doing disruption right
Massive concurrency and hardware parallelism are sexy topics in the 21st century. There are a couple of good reasons for this and one rather unfortunate one. Two good reasons are the combination of eye-catching uses of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) in games and their unexpected secondary uses in deep-learning AI – these exploit massive hardware… Continue reading Pessimism about parallelism
Some years ago I predicted that eventually the core of your desktop PC would morph into a physically tiny compute engine that would merge with your smartphone, talking through standard ports and cables to full-sized peripherals like a keyboard and (a too large to be portable) flatscreen. More recently I examined the way that compute… Continue reading Contemplating the cute brick
My apprentice and A&D regular Ian Bruene had bad experiences with a cheap home router/WiFi recently, and ranted about it on a channel where I and several other comparatively expert people hang out. He wanted to know how to get a replacement solid enough to leave with non-techie relatives. The ensuing conversation was very productive,… Continue reading How to get a reliable home router/WiFi box in 2018
There’s a very interesting article just out, C Is Not a Low-level Language;. in which David Chisnall punctures the comforting illusion that C is really a “close-to-the-metal” language and relates this illusion to the high costs of Spectre and other processor-level bugs. Those of us who think seriously about language design have long been aware… Continue reading Embrace the SICK
The build-a-better-UPS project is progressing nicely. About a week ago we had first hardware lightup; I successfully threw messages over an I2C bus to the 20×4 LCD we plan to use as a status display. Hey, it’s not the power plane (yet) but it’s something.
Much has changed in UPSide over the last week. Ground has been broken on the software; one key piece of the control daemon, the policy state machine, now exists.
The design of UPSide is coming together very nicely. We don’t have a full parts list yet, but we do have a functional diagram of the high-power subsystem most of which can be expanded into a schematic in a pretty straightforward way. If you want to see what we have, clone the repo, cd to… Continue reading UPSide needs a battery technologist
Somebody using the handle JeffyPoooh (yes, ‘ooo’) left a comment on The Register that is an only slightly exaggerated summary of the reasons for UPSide:
The current state of play is: We have a high-level system design and a map of the behavior states. We have a capacity target (300W for 15 mins) and a peak-continuous-load spec (400W) We know we’re going to build a double-conversion design and we’re considering a couple of alternative topologies. We pretty much know the… Continue reading How to get started on the UPSide project
Yesterday I posted about how the streetlight effect pulls us towards bad choices in systems engineering. Today I’m going to discuss a different angle on the same class of challenges, one which focuses less on cognitive bias and more on game theory and risk management. In the face of uncertainty, buy options. This is a… Continue reading In the face of uncertainty, buy options.
A week ago I argued that UPSes suck and need to be disrupted. The response to that post was astonishing. Apparently I tapped into a deep vein of private discontents – people who had been frustrated and pissed off with UPS gear for years or decades but never quite realized it wasn’t only their problem.… Continue reading Announcing: The UPSide project
Warning: this is a rant. I use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to protect the Great Beast of Malvern from power outages and lightning strikes. Every once in a while I have to buy a replacement UPS and am reminded of how horribly this entire product category sucks. Consumer-grade UPSes suck, SOHO UPSs suck, and… Continue reading UPSes suck and need to be disrupted
I’ve been ill with influenza and bronchitis for the last week. Maybe this needs to happen more often, because I had a small but fundamental insight into network scaling theory a few minutes ago. I’m posting it here because I think my blog regulars cast a wide enough net to tell me if I’ve merely… Continue reading Odlyzko-Tilly-Raymond scaling
This last week has not been kind to the Great Beast of Malvern. Serenity is restored now, but there was drama and (at the last) some rather explosive humor. For some time the Beast had been having occasional random flakeouts apparently related to the graphics card. My monitors would go black – machine still running… Continue reading Trials of the Beast
About five years ago I reacted to a lot of hype about the impending death of the personal computer with an observation and a prediction. The observation was that some components of a computer have to be the size they are because they’re scaled to human dimensions – notably screens, keyboards, and pointing devices. Wander… Continue reading The midrange computer dies
The British have a phrase “Too clever by half”, It needs to go global, especially among hackers. It can have any of several closely related meanings: the one I mean to focus on here has to do with overconfidence in one’s intelligence or skill, and the particular bad consequences that can have. It’s related to… Continue reading Too clever by half