* Posts by Elledan

335 publicly visible posts • joined 3 Mar 2017


Windows 11 update blocking some users from logging in


Windows 7 was clearly the last Windows OS you didn't have to actively fight against

Every time I set up a new Windows system - whether for myself or someone else - it was always a pretty zippy experience, with usually the copying of the installation files (or image decompressing) taking the most time. Creating an account was that one tiny step in the whole process, mostly consisting out of setting an admin password and possibly creating a personal account (depending on the Windows version).

That something that used to be something so insignificant and boring in all the right ways is now something where you have to actively fight over with the OS is just tragic.

When I first installed Windows 10 on a new system a few years back, it still had the 'create local account' option easily accessible, but with each major update ('service pack'?) it harasses me again to create a MSFT account and log into the mainframe. The option to tell it to f' off becomes more and more hidden with these updates too.

A few years of using Windows 10 has taught me that I don't enjoy the OS, as it always gets in the way. It's MSFT reminding you at every point that you don't own the system, that the whole OS is just a marketing campaign for MSFT services, and how dare you use it like it's Windows 7 or XP, or even 2000.

I honestly loathe Windows 10, and am not looking forward to suffering through the Windows 11 'experience', where it sounds like things still break at the whim of MSFT, while the number of configuration options and tweaks that would have made the OS feel comfortable dwindle with each 'update'.

But maybe Windows 12 will fix everything? One can only hope...

SiFive RISC-V CPU cores to power NASA's next spaceflight computer


Bleeding Edge in space?

With the RISC-V vector extensions only recently stabilised, and many other feature sets still in flux, this seems like a really odd choice for a project that should be able to remain unchanged for the next 20+ years or so, without OTA updates and fixes to patch up whatever ISA and architectural issues that may have remained undetected until it's running for a decade in a deep space probe or so.

As uncool PPC is, you'd be hard-pressed to find any stability or other 'exciting' issues with it. Same for older ARM and x86 cores.

CERN draws up shutdown plans to save energy


Re: 1.3 TWh per year

Tight-lipped? EdF has the maintenance schedule and expected restart dates for each of their reactors right on their website.

Most of the NPPs undergoing maintenance/repairs were scheduled to be back online by December this year already, long before the recent announcement.

Together with the energy-saving measures already implemented, I don't expect CERN to have to shutdown. Only blackouts and load shedding are likely to incur in Germany, but that really is their own darn fault for removing 8 GW of capacity from their grid.

Linus Torvalds says Rust is coming to the Linux kernel 'real soon now'



Wake me up when the Linux kernel merges Ada code into it.

Until then I'll be moving more systems over to BSDs.

US must adopt USB-C charging standard like EU, senators urge


Yet Another Cable

The pre-micro-USB era of mobile devices was pretty rough, there's no denying that. Hunting down a Nokia, Motorola, 30-pin Apple or Sony-Ericsson charger depending on the device was just infuriating. Voltages from chargers were all different. Now it's all USB-something, though the charging voltages are a complete mess between QC, USB-PD and heavens know what other proprietary 'quick charging' protocols exist.

In my opinion the original 'unified charger' law was already sufficient, as it reduced an insane number of proprietary connectors to just two: USB (micro/C) and Apple's Lightning. Meanwhile, however, the possibility of you using a random phone charger for anything more than trickle charging your phone at 2.1A (or less) is low, as things like Quick Charge (Qualcomm) are proprietary protocols, with USB-PD not nearly as established as people may think.

Heck, even a basic USB 'charge only' outlet is already cursed, as the after-the-fact USB-IF standard of shorting the data lines to indicate a charging-only USB connector was already preceded by a number of competing Apple, Samsung, etc. 'standards' that use things like resistor values to indicate charger capacities, among other things. This is why Apple devices have always disliked drawing power from anything but an Apple-blessed charger.

In short, the whole 'it must be USB-C' move is basically pretty dumb, as the market already did that, and even Apple is already headed that way, after previously ditching Lightning on its iPads. Specifying 'USB' as the physical interface is good enough, but where things are still a complete hellscape is with the countless incompatible charging standards.

Will it be USB-PD, even though it's a complete nightmare to implement? Something else? Why is it so hard to get anything standardised here?

MIPS discloses first RISC-V chips coming in Q4 2022



After a brief stint with opening up the MIPS ISA under similar terms as RISC V (and OpenPower), it seems the shambling zombie that was MIPS has now finally disintegrated. Not too surprising.

Still seeing a lot of MIPS SoCs in older networking and AV gear, but everything produced the past 15 years or so appears to use ARM instead. Guess MIPS was a fun ISA while it lasted, but it's hard to fight against x86, ARM and Power on multiple fronts when your marketshare drops year over year.

Mars Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance are talking again


Should have a nuclear drone carrier

Imagine if Perseverance could drive to place itself over Ingenuity and pick it up to store it inside a drone-bay for safe keeping and perhaps maintenance. As an RTG-powered rover, it is massive enough that such luxuries (i.e. weight & complexity additions) can be justified. Especially if it's part of the scientific mission.

Now that Ingenuity has proven what such devices are capable of on Mars, it may be that the next nuclear-powered rover will carry multiple of such (improved) drones onboard, which can then land and take-off as required for the mission.

Ingenuity is probably not long for this Universe at this point, but may herald a very exciting new chapter of Martian exploration.

RISC-V takes steps to minimize fragmentation


Difference with OpenRISC & OpenPOWER

Exactly how this make RISC-V as an ISA specification different from either OpenRISC or OpenPOWER?

If fragmentation is in fact bad and not a feature bullet point, then what is the point behind allowing anyone to modify it and still call it 'RISC-V'?

A lot of this messaging feels overly complicated and confused.

Chip shortage to end this year – at least for us: Xiaomi



Reading responses by car manufacturers and analyst reports, they seem to also concur that the situation for them is likely to improve by the second half of this year as well. It would seem that this first half of 2022 sees many demand gaps being filled, which should allow for other demand to be filled faster.

With some luck this should mean that the situation will improve very rapidly. Whether things will be 'normal' again by the end of 2022? Doubtful, but it does seem likely that 2023 will be a lot less terrible for sourcing components and as a result for buying the devices they go into, whether cars, PS5s or GPUs.

Intel updates ATX PSU specs, eyes PCIe 5.0 horizon


Re: Still not seeing the point of ATX12VO

The selling point of ATX12VO is not the 12VO part, but the high efficiency during idle and standby. After doing research on this topic for an article, it's quite clear to me that this is achieved mostly due to the higher demands for low-power (idle) efficiency. And thus with the new ATX 3.0 spec these new PSUs should achieve similar efficiency levels.

As for the 3.3/5V rails, these are very useful for devices like HDDs, SATA SSDs and other peripheral devices. Having the mainboard provide these rails instead of the PSU rather defeats the purpose and increases the cost and complexity of mainboards, which are already skyrocketing in price.

With ATX 2.0, PSUs have already switched to providing mostly 12V, with these lower voltage rails being generated generally from a 12V source within the PSU (group-regulated or VRMs), making modern ATX 2.0 PSUs rather similar to what's proposed for ATX12VO, with the added convenience that mainboards don't have to assume part of the PSU's functionality.


Still not seeing the point of ATX12VO

The problems of 12V-only PSUs have been covered in great detail since last year, mostly related to the clunkiness of moving part of the PSU to the mainboard and doing POL power conversion. Add to this the upgrade issue of ATX & ATX12VO PSUs and mainboards not being compatible (without an adapter that nukes any claimed efficiency benefits), and it becomes less of a 'let's use this different PSU' and more of a 'who wants to manage two distinct inventories?' question.

I'm more excited to see the new efficiency standards making it into ATX 3.0, which should get that standard closer to ATX12VO's standby efficiency without requiring new mainboards (and associated e-waste).

Having some feedback channels back to the PSU beyond its sense wires is also good to see. All too often the moment when you realise that the PSU cannot provide enough GPU juice is when something like Furmark or an intensive game causes the PSU to bail out to protect itself.

Win 11 adds 'requirements not met' nag for unsupported hardware


Removing the transparancy from Windows

Even in the Win8.x days - loathsome as its UI was - the OS still trusted you, the user, to know WTH you were doing. Most of us are used to just checking the listed hardware requirements and making our own judgement call on whether installing the OS on a specific piece of hardware is a good idea. Nothing keeping you from trying to install Win7 on some old dusty rig you had lying around, poorly advised as it may be.

My current rig (Core i7 6700K, 32 GB RAM, GTX 980 Ti) should be able to run Windows 11 without any issues, even if I may not have the latest and greatest CPU extensions. Yet even if I were to plug a TPM module into the mainboard, it would still be marked as 'unsupported' due to the 'old' CPU. Disregarding that Skylake was the foundation of Intel CPU designs until Alder Lake. What's 'obsolete' about my rig again?

The worst part of this is probably that instead of you - the user - purchasing an OS and being left free to make your own mistakes on your own hardware, instead MSFT is getting to decide what your hardware should look like, down to 'features' that are completely unwanted by most, such as TPM. Add that on top of the increased adware and forced online registrations/'services' being hoisted on you when using 'free' Win11, and it makes one question who is the 'product' being sold here.

I just want to be able to purchase an OS like I used to in the olden days with Win98, 2k, XP and 7, and MSFT to otherwise leave me to my own devices. Literally.

Asahi Linux reaches 'very early Alpha'


Re: 53G of disk space?

Asahi itself needs only about 18 GB according to the developer, but it appears that MacOS upgrades break if you have less than a certain amount of free space.Ergo 53 GB total free, but not required for Asahi itself.

China's tech hub relaxes COVID restrictions to restart industrial production


Re: The off-ramp

To be fair, Taiwan, South Korea and New Zealand have targeted a practically Zero Covid strategy as well until recently (because Omicron is 'mild'). Not surprisingly, South Korea is currently going through an absolutely terrible surge with Omicron.

Whether Zero Covid is the right strategy or not is hard to say at this point, but it feels rather like wearing a mask: best case you avoided serious damage, worst case you made yourself look like a fool.

Looking at the very low infection rates during Summer 2020 in Europe, I honestly wish that we'd pursued a Zero Covid strategy back then. But I guess Summer holidays were more important.


The off-ramp

The major problem with China's ZeroCovid strategy is that the country is surrounded by other countries which do not follow a ZeroCovid strategy. As a result, continuous infections and reinfections are incredibly hard to avoid without simply blocking people from leaving and entering the country.

What makes the situation worse for China is that of a population with relatively low vaccination rate, using vaccines with low efficacy. Getting as close to a 100% vaccination rate using one of the upcoming Chinese vaccines (mRNA & subunit) would at least provide more resistance against outbreaks within the population.

Unfortunately, as seen in Hong Kong, many elderly people tend to reject vaccines, which has led to the absolutely insane death count observed over the past weeks.Supposedly the infections in mainland China originated from Hong Kong, which means that the leaders in HK will probably have a thing or two to explain to Beijing...


Re: "Beijing simply will not tolerate substantial COVID-19 outbreaks"

In China, Japan and other Asian cultures, it's very common to wear a mask when you're feeling under the weather. Not incidentally, this really cuts back the number of flu & common cold cases every year.

As for pretending that B.1.1.529 (Omicron) is somehow harmless is hopefully optimistic and highly premature. While the people who end up in the ICU due to COVID-19 are the ones who got a bad lung infection, but SARS-CoV-2 doesn't just affect the lungs.

Current indications are that we're looking at a slowly incoming crisis with mini strokes, brain & cardivascular damage, all due to how the SARS-CoV-2 attacks any tissue with ACE2 receptors (i.e. most tissues). Blood clotting issues are currently on the rise in young individuals, with early reports indicating that many more individuals aged <30 are being admitted to hospital due to blood clots getting into bad places.

Just because Omicron isn't destroying lung tissue as effectively as previous variants doesn't mean it's 'harmless', since it does appear to undermine one's general physical health at least as effectively long-term as other strains.

JavaScript library updated to wipe files from Russian computers


Re: Any sanctions?

The hilarious thing about NPM is that it's not just JavaScript. Many dependencies in NPM contain C, C++ and other code that gets compiled into a native binary upon installation.Especially when you use NodeJS, you give up any pretense of sandboxing, as still kind of happens with browser-based JS (gaping security holes like WebGL aside).

This means that NPM packages should be treated as native code, and you have to ask yourself whether you feel comfortable whatever random code happens to get sucked down along with all other dependencies whenever you run 'npm install'.

If your habit is to run whatever PythonScript or C or Rust or D you copy blindly off GitHub, StackOverflow, etc., then you're pretty much in the same boat as the NodeJS devs who get their systems wiped or encrypted by malware on a monthly basis because someone YOLO'ed something naughty into the NPM repos again.

SiFive bags $175m to further challenge Arm with RISC-V


Re: Open ARM

In what sense is RISC-V about any of those things you mentioned? From a cursory glance RISC-V looks mostly like a text-book MIPS clone ISA, following a similar layout for e.g. conditionals. Yes, this will affect the underlying design and the software written for it, but whether any of it is necessarily better than MIPS, or ARM, or Power, or even x86_64 is still very much up for debate.

Especially when RISC-V's vector and many other extensions aren't even finished parts of the ISA yet. It's more of a concept of something that 'could be'. But so did AMD figure it could conquer the world with its 3DNow tech before Intel steamrolled it with MMX, SSE and we're now doing AVX, even as AMD ran over Intel's own 64-bit ISA (Itanium).

It's a harsh world out there, and as you mentioned, there's a much more to a system architecture than just the basic CPU core. Proprietary IP blocks, licensing vector extensions instead of rolling your own... depending on your target market it might be better to just suck it up, get an ARM ISA license and roll your own cores that work with any existing ARM-based software and extensions.

Kinda like what Apple did, for example.


Open ARM

So if Arm were to pull an OpenPower move and make the ARM ISA open and royalty-free, exactly what would the appeal of RISC-V/SiFive be?

On which note, what is the appeal of RISC-V here compared to the much more established Power ISA for desktop & server usage? The actual chip design is still proprietary, no matter what.

Ukraine's nuclear plants: Chernobyl off diesel power, explosions explained


Re: Not quite correct there.

Mostly depends on the age of the spent fuel relative to when they were removed from the reactor. Once they have been removed from the reactor and no longer subjected to the neutron chain reaction, the heat they produce is from the transuranics and other actinides that were formed as the uranium-235 did its fission thing.

The most energetic isotopes are for example iodine, with a half-life of 8 days, so presumably at Fukushima Daiichi there would still have been quite an amount of such short-lived (and thus energetic) isotopes present, which meant that their SFP required active circulation to keep the fuel rods from getting too warm.

In the case of Fukushima Daiichi's SFPs, they did heat up the cooling water to the point where the zirconium cladding of the fuel rods were no longer submerged, but instead got exposed to the hot steam. Steam + hot zirconium is an excellent catalyst to create hydrogen. And since TEPCO had not done the installation of hydrogen venting (which was performed at TMI), eventually this hydrogen found an ignition source and went boom, destroying the roofs of multiple of the reactor buildings. This did make it really easy for fresh cooling water to be added to the SFPs afterwards, however.

To get a proper meltdown with corium forming and everything, you pretty much need to be running the fuel in an active reactor. When Chornobyl NPP had its meltdown, it was running the reactivity in the bottom of the reactor at roughly 10x its rated output, causing an intense formation of heat. That not only literally flipped the lid on the reactor vessel with a steam blast, but also caused the surrounding material to start melting.

SFPs are significantly less exciting, generally being just fancy self-heated swimming pools with blue bottom lighting.

Experimental WebAssembly port of LibreOffice released


Worse than...

I hope we can all agree that running LibreOffice in a browser with WASM doesn't even serve a ephemeral purpose like climbing Mount Everest which at least gives you an amazing view and experiences to (fondly) look back on.

Running desktop apps in browsers via WASM is an unarguably worse experience than just installing and running the desktop version. I know people like to use e.g. Google's online 'office suite', but that is also a good example of the compromises it takes to make it a half-way appetising experience.

Yeah, pretty sure I'm happy enough just running LO 7.x natively :)

RIP Ninjacat: No longer fits in Windows 11 world


Shooting the messenger

So this is supposed to be an improvement rather than a marketing rebrand, then?

With how the current Windows 11 Alpha lurched off the assembly table, I'm somehow not feeling very convinced that anything has fundamentally changed at MSFT. Heck, I'm still not convinced that MSFT cares even a little bit more about what end users want (including not losing data) than they did back in the Windows 7 days.

This feels more like a constant rebrand cycle on the side of MSFT as they circle down towards inevitable doom, but refuse to face the fact that they themselves are the problem.

But call me a cynical git :)

Joint European Torus celebrates 100,000 pulses: Neither Brexit nor middle age has stopped '80s era experiment


Re: 40 years in the making

That's one of the reasons why stellarators are at all realistic today, yeah. With solid simulations we were able to figure out the plasma dynamics and create magnet shapes to fit these. Doing that kind of work with trial-and-error like in the olden days would have been exceedingly slow, frustrating and expensive.


Re: 40 years in the making

Back then the assumption was that Z-pinch fusion reactors would work for energy production, which it would turn out they didn't. That's when the attention turned towards this crazy Soviet concept of the tokamak reactor.

Tokamaks are ahead in the race now, with China's HL-2M and EAST leading the way to the HL-2M successor, which should be a prototype for a commercial fusion plant.

Right behind tokamaks are stellarators like the German Wendelstein-7X, which just had cooled divertors installed to enable it to run continuously with plasma. If it passes, the Wendelstein-8 (or whatever it'll be called) may form a first prototype of a power-producing stellerator fusion reactor.

Glib statements about the decades it's taken do a lot of injustice to the incredibly hard and very fundamental science that had to be done and many painful lessons that were learned. Thanks to all of the R&D (with admittedly a massive funding drop in the 1980s), we know more about plasma physics than ever before, which is also incredibly useful with e.g. astrophysics.

Just sayin' :)

European silicon output shrinking, metal smelters closing as electricity prices quadruple, trade body warns


Re: But...

Admittedly people were a bit too optimistic about Z-pinch nuclear fusion, the UK most of all. Britain was so certain that they had it all figured out with their fusion reactors, until they discovered to their dismay that there were unexpected instabilities in the plasma.

Though with JET and other fusion reactors, the UK is still very much in the race. Its (relatively) healthy attitude towards nuclear means that there's at least some interest in funding fusion R&D. Quite unlike countries like Germany which beyond the Wendelstein-7X stellarator has basically killed all nuclear R&D.

China with HL-2M, EAST, etc. is also making big leaps forward to solving the remaining issues with tokamak-based fusion, such as long-term stability, fuel breeding from lithium, and cranking up that Q factor. I'd be shocked if we didn't see something very much like a production-level fusion reactor by the early 2030s, even if it's more likely to be in China than the UK or US.

Keep calm and learn Rust: We'll be seeing a lot more of the language in Linux very soon


More symbol soup

Problem with Rust is that it violates the Steelman requirements in just about every way imaginable. It doesn't use clear code without the use of cryptic symbols, it doesn't reduce the number of ways in which code can be written for certain functionality. It doesn't promote the prevention of logic errors, or the prevention of invalid return values (e.g. contract-based programming).

It's really not very different from C++, just with yet another weird set of symbols to learn, no OOP and no templating. The DoD has certified (a) C++ (subset) for use in jetfighter avionics, so it cannot be that problematic if it gets to join the likes of Ada/SPARK.

Perhaps the most cardinal sin of adding Rust to the Linux kernel is that it means that the code base with that is no longer in a single language, but schizophrenically split up into a multitude. People (like me) who had to deal with the craziness of Objective-C, with mixed C and Smalltalk syntax can attest to this. Yet Objective-C has the distinct benefit of being a single language, not two distinct and incompatible ones.

Basically, either rewrite the Linux kernel in Rust, or leave it in C. Don't go mixing languages.

Product release cycles are killing the environment, techies tell British Computer Society


Can still get that new fondle slab, if upcycling

One thing which is rather frustrating about especially smartphones and kin is that these have rather fancy SoCs inside. Quad+ ARM processors that can go toe-to-toe with the Raspberry Pi 4, not to mention Snapdragon 888-equipped phones that are already being tossed out today for the new shiny, or just a busted screen.

What if there was some way to pop the mainboard out of these phones when they're unwanted and re-use them as an SBC, perhaps on a carrier board, like the RPi CM system?

That'd be a free-ish 100k+ quite capable SBCs in the US every day alone apparently that could go to schools, poor families, etc., or just sold on for more profit than e-waste would fetch.

Samsung faked its way out of its earlier 'upcycling' program, but maybe a business plan like the above could appeal to the beancounters. Who doesn't want to make money on a product twice?

We're closing the gap with Arm and x86, claims SiFive: New RISC-V CPU core for PCs, servers, mobile incoming


Re: AMD's pre-Zen era

AMD didn't force Intel to go 64-bit. AMD forced Intel to give up on Itanium as the new 64-bit architecture by showing Intel that x86 in the form of x86_64 was the better approach.


Looking forward to the independent reviews

While it's fun to see a company grandstanding on its upcoming products, we've seen too much of this from large companies (remember Itanium? AMD's pre-Zen era?) to put blind faith into what some upstart company claims.

Faster than existing commercial designs or close to them from competitors is a bold claim to make. Unless there's some hidden talent working on the underlying (proprietary) design that hasn't been poached yet by Intel, AMD, Apple, NVidia or any of a dozen others, my bet would be on it being an 'okay' design, that'll happily compete with the desktop x86 & RISC-V CPUs coming out of China today, but not an Intel, AMD or Arm killer.

Happy to welcome more competition, of course.

Not just deprecated, but deleted: Google finally strips File Transfer Protocol code from Chrome browser


Soon HTTP as well?

When it comes to the thousands of public FTP servers out there that serve up everything from archived documents to publicly available software, it's always been convenient to just download these straight from the browser rather having to whip out the ol' FTP client.

FTP has a massive benefit over HTTP here in that it is actually stateful, with a persistent connection and resuming downloads simply bloody works, instead of HTTP(S)'s adorable feature of having you start over a 1 GB download from scratch at 97% because your connection had a bit of a wobble.

With the move to eliminate HTTP as well, I imagine that before long anything that isn't HTTPS (or HTTPA?) will be cordoned off except for those of us who still know our way around archaic tools that speak these obscure protocols.

Enthusiasts dash for RISC-V computer with GPU


More a matter of blobs

What really appeals in a platform are open drivers and APIs. I can't count the number of SBCs that are essentially e-waste because with newer Linux kernels gradually support for more hardware features vanish. Only a small fraction of hardware features like GPU support (including encoding/decoding) ever make it into mainline Linux.

Regardless of the ISA, if these boards are doing the same nonsense trick with driver blobs, they're just ever so more e-waste the moment the manufacturer drops active support. This is where x86 and similar platforms have a massive leg up on ARM in terms of openness.

Fatal Attraction: Lovely collection, really, but it does not belong anywhere near magnetic storage media


Re: Sleep switch too

Speaking from personal experience: a smartphone or equivalent would do the same.

I first noticed this when I put a smartphone on the left side of a 2012 MacBook Pro's palm rest and had it suddenly go to sleep, only to wake up again when I removed the smartphone.

Makes me wonder what level of magnetic field in an office would be sufficient to put all MacBooks to sleep.

As Google sets burial date for legacy Chrome Extensions, fears for ad-blockers grow


But privacy

First they came for browser plugins (NPAPI), then the browser extension system in Firefox (XUL), then WebExtensions v1, and now it seems that v2 will be taken behind the barn for its final earth-bound performance.

What irks me the most about these developments is how much it assumes that browser users are either morons or sheep (or both). While it's definitely true that by making APIs more powerful they also comes with more responsibility, there are in fact a lot of endusers who are not complete morons.

Most of us survived the days with NPAPI-based plugins and even ActiveX-based plugins without as much as a scratch. And then there were those who managed to install every useless plugin that came with a CD in the mail. These same people will happily find other ways to have their system used in botnets and their personal data exploited. Often by filling in phishing forms and other forms of social engineering.

Fact of the matter is that none of this is about protecting user privacy, or protecting them. This is only about restricting what a user (slash sheep slash victim) is allowed to do, and with it developers.

If Google truly gave a damn about security and privacy, they'd take a good hard look at the security flaws in their JavaScript engine that allows for such fun things like snooping on other browser tabs or even outright escape the JS 'sandbox' (more of a sieve these days). Who even trusts running random JS from the Web on their system these days? You'd have to be an idiot or blissfully ignorant to allow that.

Part of me is happy that there are NPAPI & XUL-enabled alternatives to Chrome (and modern Firefox), in the form of browsers like Pale Moon, Basilisk and kin. If I'm going to be shooting myself in the foot, I want to be the one who chose to do it through my own idiocy and not because of someone else's poor judgement.

Fukushima studies show wildlife is doing nicely without humans, thank you very much


Re: Warmed or Hot

Dealing with spent LWR (light water reactor, most nuclear reactors out there) fuel is easy. The French have been reprocessing their spent LWR fuel rods for decades now and as a result have only a small volume of nuclear 'waste', of which many isotopes are actually darn useful for everything from medical and other sciences as well as medical treatments.

The Russians are well-progressed with fast neutron reactor tech, with their BN reactors (active since the 1970s) and new BREST-300 reactor that's under construction currently. All of these are capable of burning up spent LWR fuel after pyroprocessing.

The main reason why reprocessing of spent fuel isn't done more, and not more fast reactors already exist isn't because it's tough, but because the once-through uranium fuel cycle is so goddarn cheap that the extra expense of reprocessing or pyroprocessing & using it as fuel in FRs just isn't that attractive, economically speaking.

That is, until recent improvements in these technologies that are bringing the cost down hard. That's why Russia's BREST-300 and similar FRs stand a good chance of chewing up spent LWR fuel soon. TerraPower's Natrium reactor is another FR like the BN-series that will happily use up the spent LWR fuel in the US once the first plant comes online in a few years.

Nuclear waste only exists in the head of those who are victims of propaganda, or those with an anti-nuclear agenda.

Don't like the new Windows 11 Start or Taskbar? Don't worry – Microsoft's got your back


You mean QA-siders?

Ever since MSFT disbanded dedicated QA teams for things like Windows and Office, things have been sliding downhill quickly. You don't need to be a genius to realise that asking developers to test their own code (and that of their colleagues, natch) is a terrible idea, and 'Insiders' (AKA unpaid testers) are not a replacement for a QA department.

I predict Win11 will remain a painful sequence of embarrassing and data/career-destroying bugs, just like Win10 has been so far.

Semiconductor veterans gather to design customizable, chiplet-based RISC-V server processors



In the (equally royalty-free) Power & MIPS ISAs there are provisions for co-processors right in the ISA itself, which it sounds like what these guys are advertising, only by brutalising an ISA and making it incompatible with standard toolchains.

You'd think that as essentially a straight MIPS clone, RISC-V would have similar provisions instead of making ecosystem (and ISA) fragmentation seem like a feature. But maybe custom ISAs without all the effort was what these customers are going for anyway?

Bonkers rocket launch sees craft slip sideways, barely climb and tear up terrain


Gemini flashbacks

Who doesn't remember those glorious videos of early US rocket launches, with rockets falling back to the pad before exploding, or falling sideways before exploding, or just exploding?

When LV0006 was doing its unexpected lateral translation I was fully expecting it to create a similar fireball, not to make its way out of the conveniently left open gate to lightly scorch the grass. Not to mention rise from the clouds and smoke to climb (slowly) up into the air.

As Scott Manley noted in his video analysis of the incident, it looks like there was an explosive oopsie near the engine that turned off, with part of the raceway - that normally covers the wiring on the outside of the craft - torn off. Hard to tell what exactly went wrong there, but for all we know it might have to do with the quick disconnect setup triggering an overpressure event of some type.

Still best to do the explodey part & RUDs early in the development program, rather than while carrying a customer's payload, that's for sure.

Microsoft does and doesn't want you to know it won't stop you manually installing Windows 11 on older PCs


2015-era systems thrown under the bus

For people like myself who are using original Skylake systems (like i7 6700K), this whole Win11 thing seems like a clear signal that we should be looking somewhere other than Windows. Maybe if there was something really major to be gained from installing Win11 might it be worth the risk, but it seems to be just more of the schizophrenic Win10 experience, with a slightly less hideous (though MacOS-like) UI.

Maybe when Win10 support ends in 2025 will I be looking at upgrading this system. Possibly Win12 or Win13 will be worth it again :)

Robots don't smoke, says Alibaba, and that's why they deliver parcels so fast


Awaiting the day

Imagine every house having a small helipad where delivery drones can perch on before depositing the item you ordered perhaps mere minutes ago safely into a receptacle and flying off again. Not only would it be a dream for any home shopper, it'd also finally solve the problem of having to curse one's way down two dozen flights of stairs every single time there's a delivery at one's flat which of course does not have an elevator, and no, the delivery guy will not walk up all those stairs.

China's Mars rover assigned extended mission after exceeding life expectancy


Rules of the game have changed

Between China kicking off its space program in the 1990s and SpaceX beginning its first development a number of years later, we're now well and truly into a new phase of space exploration. Gone is the artisan, easy-does-it approach, instead we get the breakneck pace again that defined the 1950s and 1960s with the Space Race.

This is further hammered home by the dozens of larger startups in this space, many of whom are leisurely zipping past the old giants like Boeing. In this regard China's space program is rathe rlike those startups, only backed by the financial might of the entire Chinese state.

Makes a Chinese Moon base by the 2030s seem eminently realistic.

Git 2.33 released with new optional merge process likely to become the default: It's 'over 9,000' times faster


Git is not a file revision system

One of the major thinking errors people make when switching from CVS, SVN, Hg, etc. to Git is that they assume that it is a file-based revision control system. Instead Git is essentially a filesystem. Or, as put in the Git documentation:

"Instead, Git thinks of its data more like a series of snapshots of a miniature filesystem. With Git, every time you commit, or save the state of your project, Git basically takes a picture of what all your files look like at that moment and stores a reference to that snapshot."

(Source: https://git-scm.com/book/en/v2/Getting-Started-What-is-Git%3F)

In this regard it's probably easiest to think of Git akin to ZFS and other snapshot-based filesystems. Within that mindset it's a lot easier to grok why Git is so painful to use where a file-based VCS would make so much more sense.

Green hydrogen 'transitioning from a shed-based industry' says researcher as the UK hedges its H2 strategy


Might be worse than burning coal

After the recent study by Howarth et al. [1] on the carbon cost of 'blue' hydrogen, many questions are being raised about how much sense it even makes, and whether burning the natural gas directly doesn't make more sense. Taking leakage into account, as well as the inefficiencies of carbon capture, blue hydrogen might very well be worse than burning coal in terms of its effects on the climate. Less polluting probably, though.

There's also the thing that CCS has never been applied on this scale, and we still have to sort out small details like where we would be storing all of this captured CO2 and prevent it from simply leaking into the atmosphere during a careless moment or leak in whatever reservoir is picked.

As for green hydrogen, at this point there is only one realistic source of it, and that is from nuclear power. At least if we want to have significant amounts of it. That's why e.g. in Poland companies are looking at having SMRs installed to produce both electricity and hydrogen for industrial processes.

Industrial processes is highly likely where hydrogen will remain for the foreseeable future considering how much hydrogen is used by these processes, and how long it'll take for production to ramp up.

[1] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ese3.956

China starts testing tech to harvest solar energy from orbiting panels


Doesn't add up.

Consider the costs of getting all of that mass up in orbit, with essentially zero way to maintain or repair it, with the conversion losses of going from light to electricity, to microwaves, then back from microwaves to electricity. This is a project that would be hyper-expensive, prone to complete failure and with only a fraction of the ROI of building, say, a nuclear power plant, whether fission or fusion (research or commercial).

It's a nice prestige project for China, but its practical use is roughly zero.

Starliner takes off ... back to the factory and not space


Tough cookies

While a glacial pace was not that unusual since the 1970s, with countless delays and schedule revisions for everything from the Space Shuttle to anything else vaguely space-related, this is not that era any more, as SpaceX's upcoming crew missions to the ISS keeps rubbing in. Yes, that upstart company people were laughing at a decade ago.

Even as next month is likely to see the first orbital flight attempt by a SpaceX Starship, the rest of 'old Space' seem to be just standing around in bewilderment, trying to figure out whether they can get a crewed capsule to the ISS, or a first uncrewed SLS rocket into space before SpaceX does a crazy LEO-to-LTO mission before returning to Earth after scooping up a bit of Moon dust for funsies.

At this rate Boeing Space is quickly proving itself to be not only irrelevant and outdated, but (like Blue Origin) sooner harmful to progress than helpful, what with lobbying US Congress to keep the sweet, sweet pork flowing.

COVID-19 cases surge as do sales of fake vaccination cards – around $100 for something you could get free


The eternal constant

Making people do the right thing for themselves and for others is practically impossible, as we have seen with trying to make people eat healthy, exercise and stop smoking and drinking. Yet, much like with a belligerent child who refuses to eat their veggies and vows to never, ever eat veggies, it's obvious that there are limits to what society can accept.

Part of living in a society is to accept certain rules, such as 'don't steal' and 'don't kill'. This makes willingly and knowingly risking death or injury to thousands of others at least akin to manslaughter. Vaccines, along with antibiotics, are what allows society to thrive in ways that were impossible before. This makes anti-vaxxers and especially folk like these who try to dodge the rules and thereby endanger even more people a very real threat to society's existence.

And the worst part? It's for their own good, as currently being demonstrated by many enthusiastic volunteers in ICUs in Florida, Texas and other US states.

Engineers work to open Boeing Starliner's valves as schedule pressures mount


Props to SpaceX

Watching Boeing fumble its way through Starliner development and testing makes one realise just how boring the Dragon capsule development and testing was. And Boeing is supposed to have done this before.

Does the world need another cross-platform framework? Tough, here's JetBrains with Compose Multiplatform



I thought that JavaFX had kicked Swing to the curb years ago already? Does anyone honestly still use Swing beyond legacy applications?

Good on the JVM platform for having another GUI standard, I guess.

Tesla battery fire finally flamed out after four-day conflagration


Flow batteries?

We have been promised that flow batteries would make grid-level storage cheap and safe since at least the 1980s. Instead it seems that these lithium-ion batteries are what we'll be rolling with for the foreseeable future.