* Posts by quadibloc2

28 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Jan 2022

Scandium-based nuclear clocks promise punctuality for next 300 billion years


Of Course

It's easy enough to keep time by microwaves, since they can be put into an electrical circuit that connects to a clock.

And it's easy enough to measure distances with the wavelength of light, just by using an interferometer.

That's why, in the past, while the second was defined as 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a hyperfine transition in Cesium-133, the metre had been defined as 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the spectral line associated with the 2p10 to 5d5 transition of Krypton-86.

But then they decided to keep only the second, and define the speed of light as exactly 2.99792458 * 10^8 metres per second, requiring distance to be derived from microwaves, which are more suitable to measuring time than distance. I felt this was a mistake, but maybe I'm wrong, and they have found ways to manage to get an improvement in the accuracy of the metre out of this.

Now, we would have to switch to X-Rays. Which can't be seen in an interferometer, making it hard to measure distance with them, and whose oscillations we have no way to turn into electrical pulses for counting either. So we could have a supremely accurate definition of the metre and the second, but one that is impossible to actually put to use to calibrate anything.

Right now, the particular resonance involved is known to have an energy of 12.38959 keV. This is only seven digits, and we will need to know the value of the resonance to nineteen digits to even use it as a theoretical definition to the possible accurace of one part in 10^19.

So, while it is an interesting first step, who knows how long it's going to take to fill in the missing pieces?

Oh, wait a moment. It is possible to perform X-Ray diffraction experiments. So you diffract these X-Rays from scandium with a crystal, and once you measure the angle by which they've diffracted... you have now measured the spacing between atoms in the crystal by one part in 10^19, and you can use that to calibrate something because that might actually be measurable directly. And no doubt there are other ways that scientists can figure out.

Bombshell biography: Fearing nuclear war, Musk blocked Starlink to stymie Ukraine attack on Russia


Appropriate Response

The United States should extradite him to Ukraine to face trial.

US sanctions fail to stop Russia connecting with Cisco hardware



Given that Turkey is a NATO member, surely they can be doing more to ensure that no one in Turkey is sending equipment to China that isn't supposed to be sent there.

If not... well, admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO will just have become simpler.

Unless things change, first zettaflop systems will need nuclear power, AMD's Su says


Of course

Nuclear power plants exist, and are carbon-free. So what's the problem?

Well, of course there is a problem. If a computer uses as much power as a whole city, getting that power in to the computer, and cooling the computer, will be impossible.

The answer, though, would be not to build impractical computers. So the growth rate in performance would have to slow to match the growth rate in efficiency once the limit on power consumption is reached.

If ways to improve efficiency at a faster rate than at present are achieved, great. If not, well, we will have to do without zettaflop machines for a while.

Debian dev to the rescue after proposal to remove Itanium from Linux kernel


Sad to See

In a way, I was sad to see Intel dropping support for the Itanium architecture. But once that happened, this was inevitable.

The DEC Alpha and the reasons for its being dropped have already been noted.

But the architecture I'm most sad about losing is the 680x0; I'm still very sad that we don't still have new chips being made to this day with the full 68020 architecture - not just ColdFire - and chips which implement a 64-bit extension to the 680x0 architecture, so as to make it a fully current architecture, still competing head-to-head with x86.

Chinese semiconductor industry: This Western chip ban alliance stinks


Obvious Response

If China feels that Western semiconductor restrictions are causing serious harm to the world economy, there is an obvious alternative open to them to resolve this. The United States is putting restrictions on the sale of Western technology to China because this technology could be, and has been, used by China for mililtary purposes.

So all China has to do is abolish its military, and then there would be no reason for sanctions. This would eliminate a lot of the friction between the United States and China, particularly after regime change.

The Balthazar laptop: An all-European RISC-V Free Hardware computer


Re: The Keyboard's a Killer

However, I am being slightly unfair. If I were in charge of such a project, I would also design in a bizarre and unusual keyboard! However, it would be one more like a standard typewriter keyboard, rather than less so. I would design a keyboard like that of the Tandy Model 100 portable computer - with the same basic 44 keys for printable characters other than space as many office typewriters, including the Selectric I and II. The characters on the missing keys? I would use the CTRL key with keys other than letters to allow them to be typed. As well, all the control characters that aren't achievable by CTRL-A through CTRL-Z would be assigned to the control shifts of the number keys; ctrl-zero being NUL, and ctrl-3 through ctrl-7 being ESC through US.

Possibly DEL could be ctrl-backspace.

And to make things even more typewriter-like, one would have to use ctrl rather than shift on the comma and period to get less than and greater than.

This way, both shift keys, backspace, and enter would all be handily in reach for touch-typists!


The Keyboard's a Killer

If it costs extra to swap out the keyboard that comes with it, somehow purchase a Lenovo replacement part, and use an adapter, to have a standard keyboard, this is a sure way to get a vast number of people to dismiss the unit out of hand. Now, of course, if people want as cheap and powerful a laptop as possible that is maximally conformant with existing standards, so they can easily buy lots of softwere for it... they're going to get a Windows laptop with an x86-64 processor.

So I suppose they're figuring that this product is for the adventurous. And if it's aimed at children in schools, perhaps the idea is not to endanger their health with a non-ergonomic keyboard.

Surprise! China's top Android phones collect way more info



This is hardly surprising, given that China is a totalitarian dictatorship. Google should review its license terms for Android to ensure it is in no way complicit in surveillance used for political repression. Of course, since some portions of Android are open-source, perhaps ARM needs to be brought on board as well.

India's Supreme Court finds Google's appeal against monopoly fines unappealing


One Question

Given the court's finding on what business practices are required of companies supplying software to be used on smartphones in India, I have just one question.

Is it possible to buy an iPhone in India?

It would seem like it shouldn't be.

China shops around US bans to power its nuclear weapons research program


Re: What's wrong with letting them play bomb simulations?

The bomb simulations the Americans are really worried about are the ones that let them design better real bombs. Not tactical simulations, but physics simulations.


China is a Big Country

As long as you can walk into a computer store and buy an Nvidia graphics card off the shelf, then obviously people acting on behalf of the Chinese military are going to be able to walk into a computer store and do just that, too. Of course, many of the sanctioned Western devices of interest are for use in servers rather than home computers, which is why shell companies are involved - but of course this sort of thing can be easily done since the government of the PRC obviously has no interest in enforcing U.S. sanctions against its own military.

Thus, the only real cure is to have a 100% ban on shipping advanced Western technology to anyone in the PRC. Our computers, our smartphones, our video cards, and so on... will just have to be assembled in Malaysia, Indonesia, or India instead of China.


Re: Seriously....

No, they're not. The People's Republic of China's most advanced chipmaker is SMIC, and while they recently appear to have developed a 7nm process, that process doesn't involve the use of Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography, EUV.

Advanced western chips from Intel are made in the United States, Israel - and some of them are made for it by TSMC now.

Some Nvidia chips are made for it by Samsung, and the rest are made by TSMC.

TSMC is not in the People's Republic of China, and the U.S. can indeed request that the government of the sovereign state in which it is located not allow exports of chips made with their advanced technology to the People's Republic of China. They have made such a request, and that country's government has acceded to that request.

Of course, there is an understandable possible source of your confusion. TSMC stands for Taiwan Semiconductor. The official name of the country usually referred to as Taiwan is, of course, the Republic of China.

So in a way, you're correct. Chips made by TSMC are made in the historic nation of China. However, while both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China are part of the historic nation of China, that doesn't mean that they are one country under one government. Even though the People's Republic of China does indeed make a territorial claim to Taiwan.

The two countries issue their own passports. The People's Republic of China harasses the Republic of China by intruding into its airspace and territorial waters with military airplanes and naval vessels. Xi Jinping is the leader of the People's Republic of China. Tsai Ing-Wen is the leader of the Republic of China.

Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near


Why is Firefox Dying?

It would seem like this sort of thing is the perfect reason to stop using Chrome, and to use Firefox instead to browse the Web.

Fusion won't avert need for climate change 'sacrifice', says nuclear energy expert


We Have an Acceptable Option

We don't have fusion power yet, but we do have fission power. So we should be producing enough energy so that we can get to net zero carbon emissions immediately without any major economic sacrifice.

There will still be some adjustments, such as people using trolley buses instead of cars to get to work. Although methanol fuel could allow people to have cars even if they can't afford an electric car.

Safari is crippling the mobile market, and we never even noticed



Lobbyists don't have nearly as much power in most European countries as they do in the United States.

So it seems as though Apple's efforts to derail this law will come to naught, no matter how much it tries.


What if Apple lobbies U.S. politicians, to convince them that if this law is passed, it's unfair trade discrimination against Apple, a U.S. company? So if they pass the law, Europe won't be able to export things like wine to the U.S.? That seems to be the likeliest direction for something to happen, although even there Apple won't be able to get the U.S. government to do anything too blatant.

RISC-V needs more than an open architecture to compete


Bad Advice

This article is giving the RISC-V very bad advice, despite the fact that what it is saying is very true.

Yes, RISC-V needs to find a niche where it is "first" instead of a runner-up.

But the way to do that is not to decide on a niche, and then pursue it, and fail because you picked the wrong one.

The niche where RISC-V will matter... needs to reveal itself. One possibility, for example, might be scientific workstations, because the RISC-V standard includes some nice vector instructions, so some RISC-V processor might come along that out-competes the NEC SX-Aurora TSUBASA for that market. But that will happen if someone makes the investment.

Ransomware the final nail in coffin for small university


The Real Problem

The real problem is that it was possible for the ransomware to operate on the institution's computers.

It shouild not have been possible for any unauthorized programs to install themselves without seeking permission from the user.

Why isn't Windows secure? That is the question we should be asking.

The last time anyone lost data due to ransomware, a hundred years from now, should be a hundred years ago, so that it will be understandable people don't bother making backups for that reason. (They should still make backups for other reaons, like computers being destroyed in a fire or struck by lightning.)

World's top chipmaking equipment maker claims Chinese rival may infringe IP


As Noted Above

Given that China is restricted from purchasing ASML's most advanced chip fabrication equipment by export controls, and China regards being able to place as advanced microelectronics as possible in its military hardware as vital to its national security, the chances of enforcement action being taken by Chinese authorities are, of course, minimal.

One can understand that ASML felt that it needed to go through the motions in any case as part of its responsibility to its shareholders or other investors.

Intel joins RISC-V governing body, pledges $1bn fund for chip designers



Although no doubt RISC-V is superior to the mess that is x86, it is generally regarded as less efficient than typical RISC architectures such as ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, SPARC, and so on and so forth.

Of course, the last time Intel tried to design an architecture of its own that was comparable to typical RISC architectures, we got the Itanium.

AMD was working on a line of ARM server chips - with tech that ended up in Ryzen, on which AMD wisely focused its limited resources. No doubt Intel has strategic reasons for not wanting to compete in that space, but surely they could if any other company brought that space into existence.

Also, given how well just-in-time compiling works these days, it's possible that AMD could bring out, in future, a line of x86 server chips that suffer almost no loss of efficiency from being x86 instead of RISC, through using a different x86 implementation technology - like the Transmeta Crusoe.

I could be completely mistaken, but maybe it might be possible to make some powerful and energy-efficient chips with that kind of technology, even if they would not be able to offer the kind of single-core performance needed for gaming. If so, the need to abandon x86 would be reduced still further.

Top Chinese Uni fears Middle Kingdom way behind on tech – and US sanctions make catching up hard


Back in the Days of Mao

there were those who dared to say that China should be happy with catching up with Russia, and they were denounced by those who proclaimed that China would not only catch up with the U.S., but surpass it!

Of course we're still waiting, despite all the help Ronald Reagan was so kind as to give China by dropping most of the technology sanctions against it, to put pressure on Gorbachev.

Of course realistic assessments of what everyone knows about China's tech situation are not for public consumption in China! That is sufficiently unsurprising as not to even be news. However, until China goes back to vacuum tubes, and no longer has any nuclear capabilities, it will still be advanced enough to pose a menace to Taiwan, which is what counts.

To our total surprise, Apple makes adding alternative payment systems to apps 'painful, expensive, clunky'


Surprised Here!

I'm surprised - that Apple allowed adding alternative payment systems to apps in any manner whatsoever, no matter how painful, expensive, or clunky.

EDIT: Oh, a court in the Netherlands gave them absolutely no choice. At least until the United States decides that this is discrimination against U.S. exports, and will result in halting trade with the EU until legislation is enacted to protect Apple from such decisions.

UK.gov threatens to make adults give credit card details for access to Facebook or TikTok


Public Safety

Surely the government could develop some system of age verification for the Internet that wouldn't involve a risk of credit card theft or identity theft, instead of something like this. If they're not going to make that effort, how can they be viewed as serious?

Of course, it would cost money for people to go down to a government office to get an additional card...

FBI seizes $3.6bn in Bitcoin after New York 'tech couple' arrested over Bitfinex robbery


A Real Name

I know that Lichtenstein is the name of a country - but it is also a surname. There was a famous artist, in the field of Pop Art, that had it as his last name.

Court papers indicate text messages from HMRC's 60886 number could snoop on Brit taxpayers' locations


The Real Issue

It's one thing if the police can locate people through data that is used internally by the telephone system.

It's quite another thing, though if anyone - not just HM Revenue, but any private business - that uses a service, instead of a cell phone, to send text messages to people can request that their locations be given to it. The telephone service providers may have that information internally, as a result of how cellular phone calls are routed, but they should not be releasing it to anyone except the police.

Actually, location info should, of course, be provided in one other case in addition to use in assisting police investigations. It should be provided when emergency calls are made for police, fire, or ambulance services, such as when calling 911 in North America, or, I believe, 999 in the UK.

UK, Australia, to build 'network of liberty that will deter cyber attacks before they happen'



And here I thought the undersea capabilities were extra fiber optic cables, so that Internet access would be harder for the errant fishing boat to cut off. Since they were talking about computers and the Internet.

Big shock: Guy who fled political violence and became rich in tech now struggles to care about political violence


Maybe Not Mistaken

What can we actually do to rescue the Uyghurs that won't start a global thermonuclear war? So while it may not be accurate to say that nobody cares, if nobody can actually do anything, how can you tell?

Ukraine shrugs off mass govt website defacement as world turns to stare at Russia


The Issue

The people of the Ukraine are human beings.

Therefore, they have the right to live in freedom under a democratic government, with no concern whatsoever about the possibility of foreign aggressiion of any sort whatsoever. (Incidentally, this also applies to the people of Taiwan, who also are human beings.)

Their rights have already been violated twice.

Russia invaded the Crimea.

After this, the Russian government stated that it did not want any other part of the Ukraine's territory.

But subsequent to that, the eastern Ukraine was invaded by Russian soldiers - just not in uniform, as "volunteers".

Sanctions didn't prevent that, so there is no reason to expect that they wouldn't prevent a second invasion of the Ukraine. So U.S. and NATO troops should be deployed immediately to the line of control in the Ukraine, so as to render a Russian invasion of the Ukraine genuinely impossible, thus ending the crisis.

Not that Russia will escape sanctions.

Until Belarus has undergone regime change, for diverting an Irish passenger airplane, Russia, for obstructing this, should remain under punishing sanctions.