M1 Max Chip May Have More Raw GPU Performance Than a PlayStation 5

Source: M1 Max Chip May Have More Raw GPU Performance Than a PlayStation 5

So what?

Back in 2019, I was starting to think about an upgrade to my 2014 MBP, which is a darn-near perfect machine. (My son has it now.) However, I didn’t want a TouchBar, nor to put up with a lack of a physical ESC key. There was never a “killer app” for the TB to make it interesting, and I use ESC extensively when running vim. So I thought I’d just wait, and see what the next generation would bring.

But then my wife started saying that we probably had the money for me to upgrade, and I don’t need to be told twice. When your wife is open to you making a major purchase, you do it, even if you’re not quite ready. So I bought a 2019 with an i9, 32 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD, and a Vega 20, hoping beyond hope that it would play some AAA games passably well. The total was $4,000.

The only thing I was really playing on the PC at the time was Civilization V. It played it about as well as my old PC, so I just kept playing it on there, to keep the heat load off the MBP.

Then I started playing Elder Scrolls Online, so I tried it on my Mac. It stutters every few seconds, like it’s texture thrashing, and I thought, well, Bethesda just didn’t optimize it for the Vega, and that’s too bad. But then I saw it running on a friend’s 2020 MBP, with only integrated graphics, and it runs… pretty well, actually! So I spent an extra $750 upgrading to the best GPU I could get, and it actually made gaming on the Mac worse for me. So I continue to play ESO on a twelve-year-old PC with an Athlon64 and a nVidia 9xx-series GPU. The fact that this rig plays the game pretty well only adds salt to the wound that my expensive MBP basically can’t play it at all.

The new MacBook Pro’s look perfect, and base models start out about half the price of this one. Ouch. If I had just waited a couple of years, and given up on the stupid idea that gaming on a Mac is ever going to be a thing, I’d be in computing nirvana now.

Whatever “power” they may put in the thing, I just don’t see gaming companies supporting it. Bethesda has already said that will not be porting ESO to M1. This isn’t surprising. I mean, there were only a handful of AAA titles ported to Mac when they were running Intel CPU’s and AMD GPU’s. Now that both halves of the whole are completely different architectures than their PC brethren, I don’t see any gaming companies making the effort.

Mac for programming. Playstation for gaming. Windows for ESO. God, I wish I could cut Windows completely out of my life. I’ve been tempted to move to PS for ESO, but I can’t give up my investment, and I couldn’t live without a whole slew of mods I rely on. I started playing ESO again because I’ve been shut in with health problems for a long time. Once I get better, if I would stop playing ESO again, I could put the PC back in the closet.

P.S. It’s so great to see Apple responding to clamorous and sustained criticisms of their MBP hardware from power users in places like Hacker News. (Including last night’s update to the Monterey public beta, which restores proper tabs in Safari.) It gives me hope that the platform will continue to be a good one for developers, and not be morphed into a mobile-like experience.

P.P.S. World of Warcraft has been ported to native M1. Maybe I should just switch MMO’s. I wonder what New Worlds’ situation is… Oh. Bootcamp. Nevermind. I didn’t buy a Mac to run Windows. I dual booted my PC’s between Linux for work and Windows for gaming for decades. No more. I think you should just buy a PC laptop if you’re going to do that.

David Sacks Says Facebook Isn’t the Bad Guy Here

Craft Ventures general partner and former PayPal COO David Sacks tells Emily Chang that, for all the bad rep Facebook has been getting, Facebook should not be uniquely to blame – and that the media, Hollywood, and the fashion industry all create more body image issues for teens and adults than the social network. (Source: Bloomberg)

Source: David Sacks Says Facebook Isn’t the Bad Guy Here

To sum up: The government is trying to do an end-run around the First Amendment, which prevents them from infringing the right to free speech, by getting private companies to do what they can’t do. Of course, we’ve known that for at least a decade now, but it’s interesting to see how they’re actually implementing the idea.

This guy points out that the “Facebook whistleblower” has been working with a Congressional committee for weeks, and the people on that committee are already on record as wanting censorship on social media. If you watch this, don’t be lulled into thinking that he’s excusing Facebook in the first half. He’s just setting up the ultimate point in the second half.

I posted this to Facebook. While I understand that not a lot of people in my circle would be into it, I got ZERO engagement with it. I’m wondering if Facebook didn’t shadowban the post.

A Computer Company | tyler.io

Things I want a computer company to be

  • Hardware manufacturer
  • Operating system vendor
  • Model for how to build the best software for their platform
  • Good corporate citizen
  • Inspiration

Things I don’t want a computer company to be

  • Music store
  • Music streaming service
  • Television studio
  • Movie studio
  • News aggregator
  • Fitness studio
  • Advertisement company
  • Bank
  • Credit card company
  • Bookstore
  • Subscription podcast service
  • Messaging platform
  • Video game distributor
  • Cloud storage service
  • Online meetings host
  • Email service
  • Health platform
  • Internet proxy
  • Software gatekeeper
  • Arbiter of other company’s business models
  • The entire amount of commerce
  • Monopoly
  • The Police

Source: A Computer Company | tyler.io

I self-hosted my “cloud” applications on my home network for years and years. It was a LOT of work. I finally gave up and gave my digital life to Google. Then I recanted Google, and gave it all to Apple, and then doubled down. When I look at the list like this, I get really unnerved about how much of my life would be lost if my Apple account got blocked, deleted, or stolen. My fallback position is that I ran Linux on the desktop for 19 years, and it works even better for the kind of work I do than macOS. I could switch back, and leave a lot of this list behind.

This is half the reason I haven’t given up on 1Password, and let Apple’s keychain have all my passwords. At least, if I lose my Apple account, I would still have my credentials to get into everything else.

I’ve been using my Apple email for my account name on web sites for several years now. I should probably go back to using my actual address, which I can forward however I like…

Ubiquiti and Networking Nirvana

For years, I’ve struggled with getting good networking at my house. We had our previous house custom built, and I had it wired thoroughly with CAT5 and RG-6. In my current house, there are coax drops in every room, but some are shorted, some I can’t trace, and some are shared among several outlets. It’s bizarre. There are a few RG11 ports and one RG45 — with a switch? — which I presume all go to the SBC box on the side of my house, to which I have no access.

When we first moved in, I upgraded to a monster Asus WiFi router in my office, which is in the basement. It was OK in the basement, and on the main floor, but spotty on the second floor, of course. Then it burned out. No problem, right? These days, there are lots of mesh WiFi systems on the market.

My next move was to get a Netgear Orbi. It worked, sort of. The problem was that it needed to be rebooted every few days. After months and months of this hassle, and one day where I had to reboot the stupid thing multiple times in a single day, I finally — literally — unplugged the unit in my office, and smashed it on the floor, to force myself to do something else.

I drove straight over to Best Buy, and bought a Linksys Velop, and… immediately regretted my life choices. Linksys’ setup application is even worse than Netgear’s. It’s a clown show of an IoT piece of junk. I fought through it, and finally got the system setup, and the speeds were decent. However, I found that every time I looked at the status on the app, the “middle” floor unit was offline, and needed to be rebooted. Then, one day, the whole system lost its mind, and needed to be re-setup from scratch. I continued to put up with these hassles, rebooting the one unit, and occasionally needing to reset a node.

This is where this story, and its followup, fits into this timeline.

Lest you think my experience with the Velop is an aberration, a good friend of mine has worked for many, many hours with Linksys tech support on his system, and after getting sent several particular firmware versions to try, was recently sent an entirely new set of units.

I had an Aha! moment, and bought 2 pairs of TP Link Powerline adapters to run a “backhaul” line for each of the 2 remote WiFi access points. This seemed to work better. The main floor unit stopped going offline. I thought I was finally on easy street.

Then one day, the entire system lost its mind again. The Comcast service had “locked up” on my modem — again — but this seemed to cause the Velop to not only stop working, but lose its configuration. Given how the setup app basically doesn’t work unless it can “phone home,” I guess it scrammed itself because of this. Whatever the reason, I found this completely unacceptable. I had to get WiFi working again, but I could only pair one of the secondary units. The other just completely refused to work again.

So I ordered a Ubiquiti Dream Machine, and 2 of their NanoHD access points. I use a lot of their gear for networking and security cameras at our church, and it’s not without a learning curve specific to their way of working, but since I knew what I was getting into, and I could afford it, I figured this was my only option left. At this point, I am convinced that all consumer-grade mesh systems on the market are just rubbish. I wasn’t willing to try Amazon’s or Google’s, or whatever. I thought that my existing Powerline adapters would provide the wired connection for the wired-only AP’s to get to the router.

I got the thing all setup, but my speeds were lacking. I pay for gigabit, but I don’t worry much about getting the whole thing. I know that’s not realistic. However, I tried to play Battlefield again, after a long hiatus, and I kept lagging out. Like, every minute. I realized that my Comcast setup was just not working right. Turns out that I was only getting 200 Mbps, and even that was spotty. I spent several hours trying different things and talking to their tech support — twice — and finally got them to straighten it out.

Then I tried to get my son to play Battlefield with me, and he kept lagging out. So I started working on the inside part of the network. I saw that TP Link offers an application to look at their Powerline adapters, and it will report the bandwidth you’re actually getting. I saw that my “backhaul” connections were only getting 100-200 Mbps. In effect, these adaptors were doing exactly what I needed them to do with the Velop: they kept the systems talking just enough to keep them from dropping offline, but continued to use the “mesh” for the actual WiFi traffic. Anyway, I reconfigured the 2 pairs into a single, 4-node network, hoping that this would improve the situation, but it made no difference. In the same room, power line adapters will get near their advertised 2 Gbps, but once you put them across circuits in your house’s electrical panel, the bandwidth is cut by a factor of 10.

In the beginning, I had used a pair of ActionTec coax adaptors to extend my network over to my boys’ PC’s, when they were in the basement. However, the unit I had was capped at 100 Mbps. I wanted to try the new ones rated for gigabit, but was nervous that they would work only as well as the Powerline adaptors. But the Amazon reviews — which, I know, goes against everything I believe about Amazon and ratings systems in general — kept saying that power line adaptors weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and that these were the real deal, and I believed them. So I bit the bullet, fully prepared to send them back. After a lot of tracing and fiddling, I got them setup where they could reach my access points, and they worked… great! This was the final straw to making everything work. They don’t have an app to look at effective bandwidth, but testing from my son’s Playstation shows that he can get 800+ Mbps all the way out the door.

And I haven’t lagged since.

I find myself looking at my Ubiquiti dashboard, and reveling in WiFi nirvana. I can’t believe how much money I’ve spent getting to this point, but now that it’s working like I expect, and it hasn’t missed a beat for many days now, so it feels like it’s been worth it.

To their credit, another friend has Ubiquiti’s Amplifi mesh product, and he says it’s been flawless for him. I was tempted to try their “Alien” version, with multiple units in a mesh configuration, but that would have been even more expensive than what I’ve got now.

The Pixar Story (2007)

Source: The Pixar Story (2007)

I just watched this documentary, and it was terrific, as a movie, and a biopic. A couple of things stuck out to me during the viewing. The first was how Steve Jobs funded Pixar, to the tune of $1M for 5 years. This wasn’t a lot of money for him. This wasn’t a lot of money to run a business on. The amount of money wasn’t interesting from either side. The process was the significant bit. In essence, this was venture capitalism in its infancy. Apparently, in 1990, this was novel.

This is the way the whole world works now. The entire empire of Amazon was built on burning VC money until they became the online titan they are now. For 20 years, they chewed through capital until they couldn’t be challenged. For Jobs and Pixar, it only took 5 years until they proved their “product” was great, via the massive success of Toy Story. One week after the release of the movie, they took the company public, in a reportedly wildly successful IPO, and Jobs cashed out.

That is genius.

Reddit’s disrespectful design

An overview of Reddits seemingly counter-productive changes.

Source: Reddit’s disrespectful design

The author says, “I’ve stopped using Reddit mostly because I no longer wanted to support a site that has aggressively started to employ disrespectful design patterns.” Excuse me, but “started?” They’ve been going down this road for years. I’ve stopped using Reddit entirely, and have the site blocked on my network, so that I can’t inadvertently give them traffic by clicking through a search result, as they have obviously paid through the nose for placement these days! Just about everything I search on has at lease one Reddit link in the first page of results. For awhile, I would click through to the page, wait for the site to load it’s 100 MB of scripts, dismiss the popups, expand the answers, and see what Google had supposedly found, but I gradually realized there is never a good answer on the site. Technical discussions are not what people are doing on the site.

500 comments on the HackerNews discussion about this post, and these are the only comments about porn:

This exchange is utter nonsense. Reddit is filled with porn. Thousands and thousands of subs are dedicated to it. If you have an account, and allow NSFW content — and take note that most of the viral posts on the site are marked NSFW, encouraging you to do so, even if you don’t necessarily want to look at porn — all it takes is one search on the site, and you can instantly infer how much of it there is. Yes, a lot of it is come-ons for someone’s paid site, but there is a virtually limitless supply of free, high-quality porn to accommodate everyone’s tastes.

No one wants to admit this. I will. I’ve had a look around. It’s bewildering how much of it there is, and how specific it can be. I’ve brought it up many times in various HN discussions, and no one even wants to acknowledge it. The exchange above is a perfect example of just ducking the issue entirely. In fact, the exact inverse of what’s stated here is true: Reddit is a porn site, with some user-interest topics (like gaming, audiophile headsets, or mechanical keyboards) to keep you engaged between wanks. One of these days, I expect PornHub to take a note, and start forums on their site about whatever people want to talk about. Who knows? Maybe they already do. I’ve not “researched” that site.

IT Project “Thermocline”

Source: https://brucefwebster.com/2008/04/15/the-wetware-crisis-the-themocline-of-truth

A thermocline is a distinct temperature barrier between a surface layer of warmer water and the colder, deeper water underneath. It can exist in both lakes and oceans. A thermocline can prevent dissolved oxygen from getting to the lower layer and vital nutrients from getting to the upper layer.

In many large or even medium-sized IT projects, there exists a thermocline of truth, a line drawn across the organizational chart that represents a barrier to accurate information regarding the project’s progress. Those below this level tend to know how well the project is actually going; those above it tend to have a more optimistic (if unrealistic) view.

This is all true, but the article assumes that everyone is acting rationally, in service to the stated goal(s) of the project, and that problems with the timeline are just honest mistakes. Unfortunately, in my 25 years, I’ve witnessed a nauseating amount of political infighting that sought to undermine projects in attempts to build and/or preserve personal power. This behavior employs the two things readily at-hand for ruining estimating: bad-faith technical decisions, and good, old-fashioned feet dragging. So the problem isn’t just people being wrong, there’s also a large component due to people actively sabotaging a project for their own purposes. 

I’ve spent most of my career in Fortune 250’s, but I’ve seen this happen in a couple of very small companies too. As someone with a personality that is honest to a fault, this has caused me a significant amount of distress in my career. More than once, I’ve been the lone voice in the wilderness crying about the forthcoming train wrecks, only to be ignored, and then ultimately blamed for the crash, because I was the only one that people could point to for having said anything about it at all.

Home Assistant

Open source home automation that puts local control and privacy first.

Source: Home Assistant

I’ve been through MythTV, Plex, Zimba, and OwnCloud, and eventually just given up on each of these self-hosting categories, and fallen back to using established service providers. This whole field of self-hosted home automation looks very cool, but even if I decide to go down this road, at this point, I’m just going to get into bed with HomeKit.

It’s kind of scary how much of my life now revolves around Apple. They do a lot of messaging about respecting the vast trust we users put in them. I know that doesn’t necessarily prove anything on its own, but they unquestionably have the best track record for trustworthiness among the big tech firms. They are certainly the most financially-aligned with user rights and privacy, and that’s really the only metric that matters. As long as Apple primarily makes money selling hardware, and their services are fundamentally just icing on that cake, then I think we’ll continue to get along just fine.

The Biden administration has already done a lot of interesting things to put a check on big tech and monopoly power, though we’ll see how this plays out over the next couple of years. I think some new laws should be written to codify these executive orders to direct regulatory agencies, once they’re proven in practice and tweaked. Otherwise, the next President can just reverse these things, which we’ve already seen through Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. It’s become a game.

Anyway, I hope Apple — like other monstrous companies — can read the prevailing winds, look at their balance sheet, and decide to let a little profit slip through their fingers in the name of giving users a little more privacy, a little more respect, and a little more freedom.

Windows 11 screenshots leak, show new Start menu and more

Screenshots reveal new Start menu and taskbar design.

Source: Windows 11 screenshots leak, show new Start menu and more

All I can say is, gosh, that Taskbar looks an awful lot like the one in macOS.

Also — and I’m just guessing, but — this new version will continue to have weekly, root-level, 0-day exploit patches.

Again, I posit that Windows is almost completely irrelevant to anyone, personally, other than PC gamers at this point. (And that demographic is getting hammered by bitcoin mining sucking up all the available gaming video cards.) The only reason that Windows continues to exert its influence on the computer market is company desktops. I have a feeling that, if you could factor corporate licenses out of the data, the computer operating system ecosystem would look completely different than any Ziff-Davis publication would have you believe. I wish I could find sales numbers for “PC” products versus Apple products from a company like Best Buy. Only then could we get a fair picture of what the market for operating systems looks like for actual people.