Over 200 offensive slurs could soon be banned from competitive Scrabble
> The North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) seems poised to remove hundreds of offensive slurs from tournament-level Scrabble play.
> Words that are “used to cause offense on scatological, prurient, profane or other grounds” are not under discussion this time around. NASPA publishes an obfuscated, anagrammed list of which offensive words fall into each category.
The lives upended around a $20 cheeseburger
> A cash-strapped rancher, a virus-stricken meatpacker, an underpaid chef, a hungry engineer: The journey of a single burger during a pandemic
A bit dramatic, but a good look at the food supply chain.
The Art of the Bad Faith Argument
> The person who types “lol” is never actually laughing; the person who types I’M SCREAMING is silently dabbing at a screen. In the same way, the person who is perpetually shocked and outraged and brimming with righteous fury is almost always lying to themselves. They’re as affectless as the rest of us: play-acting, downloading synthetic emotions, and then passing them on.
Rainbow – an attempt to display colour on a B&W monitor
> The aim of this project was to display a colour image on a black and white monitor, by overlaying an acetate bayer filter over the monitor and mosaicing a colour image.
SAT solver on top of regex matcher
> A SAT problem is an NP-problem, while regex matching is not. However, a quite popular regex ‘backreferences’ extension extends regex matching to a (hard) NP-problem.
Unix's design issue of device numbers being in stat() results for files
> Sometimes, you will hear the view that Unix’s design is without significant issues, especially the ‘pure’ design of Research Unix (before people who didn’t really understand Unix like Berkeley and corporate AT&T got their hands on it). Unfortunately that is not the case, and there are some areas where Research Unix made decisions that still haunt us to this day. For reasons beyond the scope of this entry, today’s example is that part of the file attributes that you get from stat() system call and its friends is the ‘device number’ of the filesystem the file is on.
I think it’s a bit exaggerated to say this is an issue that haunts us. More like a historical note.
Die shrink: How Intel scaled down the 8086 processor
> The revolutionary Intel 8086 microprocessor was introduced 42 years ago this month so I’ve been studying its die. I came across two 8086 dies with different sizes, which reveal details of how a die shrink works. The concept of a die shrink is that as technology improved, a manufacturer could shrink the silicon die, reducing costs and improving performance. But there’s more to it than simply scaling down the whole die. Although the internal circuitry can be directly scaled down, external-facing features can’t shrink as easily. For instance, the bonding pads need a minimum size so wires can be attached, and the power-distribution traces must be large enough for the current. The result is that Intel scaled the interior of the 8086 without change, but the circuitry and pads around the edge of the chip were redesigned.
Stupid std::tuple tricks: Getting started
The New York Times is opting out of Apple News
How CDNs Generate Certificates
> Obviously, to do stuff like this, you need to generate certificates. The reasonable way to do that in 2020 is with LetsEncrypt. We do that for our users automatically, but “it just works” makes for a pretty boring writeup, so let’s see how complicated and meandering I can make this.
> It’s time to talk about certificate infrastructure.
> I still believe it would be possible to build a high quality editor based on the original design. But I also believe that this would be quite a complex system, and require significantly more work than necessary.
A few good ideas and observations could be mined out of this post.
Classic ThinkPad Thermal Paste Change
> Those who know me know that I am a bit fan of the oldschool Lenovo ThinkPad laptops with real 7-row keyboards. I own several *20 models from 2011 including W520, T420s and X220 ones. They still rock when it comes to ‘laptop computing’ and they are dirt cheap on any auction platform. They only got one flaw … that thermal compound on CPU (and sometimes GPU) gets older a lot faster then these laptops.
Geeking out over arbitrary boundaries
> Reddit today had this delightful map, I think drawn by PeterVexillographer, of “the largest city in each 10-by-10 degree area of latitude-longitude in the world”:
Some commentary on the near misses.
Path Building vs Path Verifying: Implementation Showdown
> In my previous post, I talked about what the issue with Sectigo’s expired root was, from the perspective of the PKI graph, and talked a bit about what makes a good certificate verifier implementation. Unfortunately, despite browsers and commercial OSes mostly handling this issue, the sheer variety of open-source implementations means that there’s a number of not-so-good verifiers out there.
> In this post, I’ll dig in a little deeper, looking at specific implementations, and talking about how their strategies either lead to this issue, or avoided this issue but will lead to other issues.
It’s pretty much all terrible, except the parts that are extremely terrible.
The US electrical system is not 120V
> It’s more than 120V. It’s even more than the other 120V! It is the sum of the two (and sometimes a different two!) that makes us who we are. Learn about the US electrical system in this not-at-all snarky video!
Is WebP really better than JPEG?
> I think Google’s result of 25-34% smaller files is mostly caused by the fact that they compared their WebP encoder to the JPEG reference implementation, Independent JPEG Group’s cjpeg, not Mozilla’s improved MozJPEG encoder. I decided to run some tests to see how cjpeg, MozJPEG and WebP compare. I also tested the new AVIF format, based on the open AV1 video codec. AVIF support is already in Firefox behind a flag and should be coming soon to Chrome if this ticket is to be believed.
Finding the Story
> I see that Star Trek: Voyager has added a new character, a Borg. (From the photos, I also see that they’re still breeding women for breast size in the 24th century.) What ticked me off was the producer’s comment (I’m paraphrasing), “The addition of Seven of Nine will give us limitless story possibilities.”
I would watch dan luu trek.
Reverse-engineering and comparing two Game Boy audio amplifier chips
> The Nintendo Game Boy contains an audio amplifier chip for sound through a speaker or headphones. In this post, I reverse-engineer this chip and compare it with the later Game Boy Color chip (reverse-engineered earlier). Unexpectedly the Game Boy Color uses an entirely different amplifier design from the original Game Boy, which may explain why the two systems sound different.
Discovering Dennis Ritchie’s Lost Dissertation
> It may come as some surprise to learn that until just this moment, despite Ritchie’s much-deserved computing fame, his dissertation—the intellectual and biographical fork-in-the-road separating an academic career in computer science from the one at Bell Labs leading to C and Unix—was lost. Lost? Yes, very much so in being both unpublished and absent from any public collection; not even an entry for it can be found in Harvard’s library catalog nor in dissertation databases.
Unsubscribe: The $0-budget movie that ‘topped the US box office’
> But on 10 June, one box office-topping movie was watched by just two people, in one cinema. Unsubscribe, a 29-minute horror movie shot entirely on video-conferencing app Zoom, generated $25,488 (£20,510) in ticket sales on that day. Nationwide, the movie hit the top of the charts, according to reputable revenue tacker Box Office Mojo. The budget of the movie: a flat $0. How was that possible?