* Posts by Gordan

591 posts • joined 15 Oct 2008

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HMRC opens consultation to crack down on off-payroll working in private sector

Gordan

Re: Risk vs Reward

"Does anyone know whether HMRC have ever responded to this frequently-made point about benefits?"

Not officially, but self employed (note: important distinction vs. ltd. company) people have in the past successfully sued their clients for statutory holiday pay and pension contributions after they were engaged as self-employed contractors and then found by HMRC to be caught by IR35. So there most certainly is legal precedent for it.

The real kicker here is that the client-side determination of IR35 status here is also coupled by the client's insistence that the contractor be operating through a ltd. company rather than as self-employed. This key point allows the client to dodge the employer's taxes and palm off the responsibility for them onto the ltd. contractor.

In other words, the entire setup is actively rigged for the government departments to dodge both employer's statutory liabilities/obligations _and_ employer's taxes and shift them onto the employee.

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Gordan

Re: Risk vs Reward

THIS.

The test for employment vs. self employment should be made the same for both employment rights and tax purposes. If your client isn't paying you statutory holiday pay and pension contributions, you are self-employed and should be taxes as such. If they are, you are employed, and your client is liable for deducting your taxes at source and providing at least the minimum statutory benefits.

Anything else effectively amounts to expecting a employees to pay employer's taxes.

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Oh, great, now there's a SECOND remote Rowhammer exploit

Gordan

Re: Remind me what memory ECC is for

The simple fact is that ECC _does_ make rowhammer ineffective in the few cases where it might plausibly be exploitable.

Flipping one bit is hard. Flipping two bits in the same memory row at the same time is exponentially harder. Flipping three bits is exponentially harder again.

ECC memory can:

1) Correct 1 bit errors transparently

2) Detect 2 bit errors (causes an NME and typically a kernel panic)

It takes flipping 3 flipped bits in the same row of memory to introduce an undetectable memory corruption with ECC memory. And flipping one is difficult enough. Not to mention you have to get extremely lucky to be operating on a row of memory adjecent to the one you are interested in corrupting.

TL;DR: Don't lose sleep over it, especially if you have ECC memory.

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Openreach and BT better watch out for... CityFibre after surprise £537m takeover deal

Gordan
WTF?

Re: Overbuild BS

@AC:

Are you actually arguing that monopolies and cartels are a good thing, and actual market competition is a bad thing?

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Gordan

Overbuild BS

"Providers could end up targeting the same lucrative areas to invest in fibre, rather than creating a more geographical spread."

It is a GOOD thing that they are all targeting the same areas. It means there will be competition wherever it is available, forcing providers to ensure they are providing a good quality service at a competitive price. Once they cannot take the piss by charging sky-high prices (anyone seen FTTPOD prices recently?), they will have to spread further and further out from cherry picked areas in search of more revenue.

Overbuild is exactly what is supposed to happen, and it is a good thing.

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Surprise! Wireless brain implants are not secure, and can be hijacked to kill you or steal thoughts

Gordan
Happy

Ghost in the Shell

More or less the premise the movie is based on.

(Icon because it seems to be the closest to "The Laughing Man" among the options.)

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You're a govt official. You accidentally slap personal info on the web. Quick, blame a kid!

Gordan

Re: Seems like deja vu

*All you need is a functional brain and an extremely basic notion of logic.*

Actually, it turns out that you don't need that functional a brain to be a civil servant:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/23/french_no_brainer/

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What a mesh: BT Whole Home Wi-Fi users moan over update

Gordan

Re: Dumb question?

"Openreach should be hived off from BT - the management of the latter is utterly inept and simply don't seem to give a shit."

THIS!

We would all be a lot better off if Openreach was freed of the dead weight that is BT.

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Gordan

Re: Dumb question?

"Any chance of install an open source firmware?"

Yes, you can put OpenWRT/LEDE on the HH5. Some soldering is required to get a working serial console, though.

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Gordan

Re: Dumb question?

"ditch the Hub 5 and replace it with a decent router/AP of your own"

The problem with the HH5 isn't the hardware. The hardware is actually pretty good. The problem is their customized firmware after a specific version. Never had any problems until that July 2016 firmware update. Before my contract was up I flashed it with OpenWRT (soldering required to get serial console up), and that worked just fine.

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Gordan

Re: Dumb question?

It's a major achievement for their customers that they even acknowledged that there is a problem.

BT Hub 5 got a firmware update back in July 2016 that made it unstable. It would reset under load. I was setting up backups at the time, and the uploads to the cloud would never complete because of this. After arguing the toss for a few months they sent me a replacement BT Hub 5, and that worked great for a week - until it, too got the same firmware update, and started resetting 100+ times per day.

After all this, I got one of the L2 support engineers to finally confirm there is a firmware big, and that they are working with people who work on the firmware to resolve it, but they I got a call back from his boss who flat out denied everything the one and only helpful person they have working for them told me. His advice? Get a standalone VDSL modem instead of using the one built into the BT Hub 5, but that was still totally not an admission of a problem (because there would be more people reporting it if I wasn't imagining it, and the 100+ hub resets per day they could also see from their side were obviously just a shared illusion).

The only bit of good news in this story is that my contract term was coming to an end so I took the opportunity to mentally note to NEVER sign up with BT again and switched to a different ISP.

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It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?

Gordan

If you are looking for something that is specifically in the Pi form factor, Asus Tinkerboard is much more advanced. The only downside of the Tinkerboard is that it's SoC is 32-bit, but that's hardly an issue on a board with less than 4GB of RAM.

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Gordan

"but proper GigE would make this far more appealing to me"

Why? It's not like you'll get that much I/O to/from the micro-SD card or a USB attached disk.

IMO for GbE to make proper sense they would need to add a proper SATA port.

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Meltdown/Spectre fixes made AWS CPUs cry, says SolarWinds

Gordan

Re: I don't get it

The problem is that switching context is in the order of magnitude of 100x slower in a VM than on bare metal (addding microseconds to nanoseconds).

That is why some workloads virtualize with minimal performance hit (few threads, low concurrency, mostly userspace CPU burn), and some workloads virtualize extremely poorly with a huge performance hit even without meltdown patches (anything highly concurrent such as compile farms, databases). I have measured performance hit from virtualization on some such workloads to be upward of 30% - and that was before meltdown patches came into play.

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Cool disk drive actuator pillar, Seagate – how about two of them?

Gordan

TL;DR

It won't make any difference to sequential I/O, including RAID rebuilds.

It will, however, double the throughput on random I/O.

This applies to both reads and writes, all that matters is whether the I/O is sequential or random.

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We translated Intel's crap attempt to spin its way out of CPU security bug PR nightmare

Gordan

"as designed"

Translation:

"We don't consider it a bug, so unlike back in the '90s when we replaced all Pentium CPUs affected by the FDIV bug, we will not be replacing any affected CPUs, under warranty or otherwise."

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Gordan

Re: Old is new again?

"And people say I'm crazy for using SPARC."

Are you sure SPARC isn't vulnerable to this?

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IBM lobs sueball at travel site Expedia for using some old Prodigy patents

Gordan

Wait - a patent filed in 1988 is still valid? Don't patents have a duration of 10 years with an option to be extended by another 10 in cases where it takes a number of years of development to productionize the invention (years that eat into the original decade)?

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Nvidia: Using cheap GeForce, Titan GPUs in servers? Haha, nope!

Gordan

Re: Sounds like good news....

LOL! I really want to see how this restriction could be even remotely enforceable.

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Seagate's lightbulb moment: Make read-write heads operate independently

Gordan

'90s Called...

... they were please somebody finally caught up with their disk designs. Anyone remember 200MB Conner Chinook dual actuator HDDs?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conner_Peripherals

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Dawn of The Planet of the Phablets in 2019 will see off smartphones

Gordan

Re: Pocketalypse

I have to say I'm dismayed by the trend of moving toward phablets. IMHO, the ideal form factor for a phone is about 3.5" (ZTE Blade). I grudgingly upgraded to a Moto G (1st gen) when Android 2.x went out of support and Android 4.x was never ported to it.

I find Moto G's 4.5" size unnecessarily big and bulky, but have been resisting upgrading to a newer phone because finding anything that is:

1) not bigger

2) supported by LineageOS

is pretty much impossible at the moment.

Until the market provides a sensibly sized device, it won't be selling me a new phone.

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Facebook, Google, IBM, Red Hat give GPL code scofflaws 60 days to behave – or else

Gordan

GPL enforcement is sufficiently rare that it is welcome, even from a vampire.

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Gordan

"The VMware case happens to be a sore spot in the open source community, because some consider the lawsuit counter-productive."

That seemed like it was very much a case of going in half-cocked and under-prepared. Yet it's this guy that gets all the flack despite being the competent one: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/10/18/linux_kernel_community_enforcement_statement/

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London mayor: Self-driving cars? Not without jacked-up taxes, you don't!

Gordan
Thumb Up

Re: What about the downsides?

"Unless of course the endgame is to tax cyclists"

That part sounds really good.

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Gordan

Re: I've never understood...

"1 litre of petrol is about 10kWh, so it would take about 3h 10m to get the equivalent of 1 litre of petrol through a 13A plug."

As a rule of thumb that will get you into the right ball park, burning petrol will get you 1/3 of the energy through the wheels, 1/3 will go out of the radiator as head, and 1/3 will leave via the exhaust pipe.

An overnight charge will get the vast majority of people enough for their total daily commute, with a little left spare on top.

There is also no reason you cannot fit 3-phase 40A supply in your garage at home. Power grid connection for a house is typically 40KW.

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Gordan

What about the downsides?

"London mayor Sadiq Khan has come out against driverless electric cars, telling Parliament that adoption of the vehicles by Londoners could harm government tax revenues, reduce the number of cyclists"

[...]

"The transport authority, whose chairman is Khan, expressed concern that driverless car technology could encourage Londoners to give up forcing themselves onto overcrowded trains or slow-moving buses packed onto the capital’s ever-busier roads"

Are there any _negative_ effects?

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MPs draft bill to close loopholes used by 'sharing economy' employers

Gordan

Re: More Info Please Or What's it Really All About

This relates relatively closely to the "lump of labour" fallacy.

The reality is that two things will happen:

1) A non-trivial fraction of the work currently done by people on 0-hour contracts will end up not being done at all because the net productivity isn't worth the cost of complying with extra regulatory requirements.

2) The remainder that does get done will end up being done by larger suppliers of such services with fewer employees for whom they have enough work to keep at full utilisation.

The net result is that larger business will squeeze smaller ones out of the market, and those who end up not getting one of those full time contracts with a larger supplier are going to end up on the dole and increase the burden on the state.

In other words, while it sounds like socialism for the worse off individuals it is actually corporate socialism helping only bigger businesses by reducing competition.

It's the same reason why big business generally supports extra regulatory requirements because they can afford to implement the required compliance, whereas for an upstart the burden of extra regulations means they are unable to grow to become a competitor.

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Parity's $280m Ethereum wallet freeze was no accident: It was a hack, claims angry upstart

Gordan

Re: Whilst I have sympathy..

"I can also expect that the 50 quid Fiat in my wallet will still be there when I reach the pub and also that it will buy me plenty of beer."

Not in Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe, Weimar Germany or other examples quoted above, at appropriate times. They were adding an extra digit to price tags of groceries in stores several times per day.

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Red Hat opens its ARMs to Enterprise Linux... er, wait, perhaps it's the other way round

Gordan

Re: What is really needed...

@Herby, Nick Kew:

Such things already exist:

micro ATX, 8 DIMM sockets for 128GB of ECC RDIMMs, 4x SATA, 2x PCIe x16

http://b2b.gigabyte.com/Server-Motherboard/MP30-AR1-rev-11

Samsung Chromebook 2 is superbly well made, especially the 13" 1080p variant, with an 8-core CPU and 4GB of RAM, and quite cheap especially for the build quality (far, far better than the flimsy Samsung Chromebook 1 of 5 years ago)

https://www.samsung.com/us/business/products/computing/chrome-devices/chromebook-2/chromebook-2-13-3-xe503c32-k01us/

Both have been around for at least 2 years.

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AMD, Intel hate Nvidia so much they're building a laptop chip to spite it

Gordan

Re: "Nvidia's dominance"?

"What you don't remember Intel Larrabee?"

Larrabee is what is now known as Xeon Phi.

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Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

Gordan

Re: WTF? How is this bad??

"Why? He's not feeding their share back to them."

Because GPL violations are unacceptable and somebody prosecuting the violators is infinitely better than nobody prosecuting them.

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Ad blocking basically doesn't exist on mobile

Gordan

AdAway

I'm quite certain it does exist, and while not as advanced as full fat desktop variants, it is definitely effective.

For example:

https://f-droid.org/packages/org.adaway/

Additionally, AdNauseam (and uBlock [Origin]) plugins work just fine on Firefox for Android.

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Red Hat acquires Permabit to put the squeeze on RHEL

Gordan

Re: Beer

"So you're saying a Linux using an initramfs can mount a userland filesystem (say FUSE-based) as /?"

Yes you most certainly can. I have patched zfs-fuse with that functionality and wrote dracut modules for it. I use it on all of my ARMv5 Linux systems. My patched and updated branch of zfs-fuse is in the latest Fedora.

Also, Grub 2.x already has enough zfs support in it to boot the kernel and initramfs from a ZFS file system, so there really is no barrier for using any variant of ZFS (fuse or kernel based) for the root file system.

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Gordan

Didn't Stop Canonical

ZFS ships with Ubuntu as of 16.04.

Any anyway, who gives a dead rat's ass about whether it ships with the distro or not? There are many, many packages used very day in the enterprise that don't ship with the distro. I've been using ZFS on CentOS for years.

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Red Hat banishes Btrfs from RHEL

Gordan

"What harm can there be in including BTRFS in their mix of supported file systems, especially at this stage in its development. It definitely smells like a political decision."

There's no harm, but it is a huge amount of labour intensive work to backport patches back into the RH distro kernel. RH don't follow LT kernel releases, them take a snapshot of a kernel with a .0 point release, and after that, everything they merge is cherry picked. This is extremely labour intensive and error prone, and they couldn't care less about it if by a miracle a mispatch doesn't blow up spectacularly at build time due to the very specific kernel config they use. (Example: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=773107 )

In fairness, RH aren't to be singled out for not taking advantage of the, IME, more stable mainline LT kernel trees; most distros seem to engage in this pointless and laborious rejection of upstream kernels for "not invented here" reasons.

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Britons ambivalent about driverless car tech, survey finds

Gordan

NIMBY-ism Strikes Again

**

"The implication is 'everyone else except me'," noted the researchers, "a response which suggests an element of uncertainty, or lack of trust, in the new technology."

**

That sounds like the very definition of NIMBY-ism, however they try to dress it up.

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IBM's contractor crackdown continues: Survivors refusing pay cut have hours reduced

Gordan

Re: Why contract these days?

"I don't think companies are allowed to do the furlough thing in Europe."

If you are a contractor, of course they are. They key distinction between employees and contractors is mutuality of obligation.

Employees have mutuality of obligation, employer is obliged to provide work for them to do (or rather, pay them whether they provide the work or not), and the employee is obliged to do it in line with the terms of their contract of employment.

Contractors have no mutuality of obligation, so yes, they can indeed be told to take two weeks off, obviously unpaid.

On the other hand, two weeks is plenty of time to attend enough interviews to secure an offer, if your holiday plans don't happen to coincide with it.

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Gordan

Re: Why contract these days?

"Who would want to work under these conditions?"

Contracting is not, and has never been for everyone. There is always more work for those at the top of their field than there are hours in the day, far too much to consider a permanency pay cut.

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That minutes-long power glitch? It's going to cost British Airways £80m, IAG investors told

Gordan

"emphasised that the failure "had absolutely nothing to do with changes to the way we resource our IT systems and services"."

It might not have had anything to do with the _cause_ of the outage, but what effect did it have on the time required to recover the service into a sufficiently functioning state to resume operations? The outage lasted 3 days. Would it likely have been substantially shorter with more skilled staff closer to the problem?

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AI-powered dynamic pricing turns its gaze to the fuel pumps

Gordan

Next:

Somebody writes an phone app to predict when fuel will be cheapest over the next few days. The war of AIs escalates until pricing markup strategy becomes completely random - at which point one retailer gives up and goes with the most competitive pricing they can afford. Others go out of business.

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While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

Gordan

Patches Built in February

The reason patches for XP were provided publicly at all is because MS had already written them - for XP POS (Point of Sale) edition, used for embedded systems like cash registers and ATMs. XP POS is supported until 2019, and as ElReg covered 3 years ago, XP can be tweaked to change it's identity and use POS patches directly.

So there is no conspiracy or foul play here - the patches were built in February because they were built for the POS edition. Don't expect any good will patches for XP after POS goes EOL in 2019 regardless of the outcry.

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Ad men hope blocking has stalled as sites guilt users into switching off

Gordan

One word:

AdNauseam

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Clone it? Sure. Beat it? Maybe. Why not build your own AWS?

Gordan

TL;DR

Use OpenStack.

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Yep. Bitcasa's called it quits

Gordan

$999/year!

It seems to me that their key problem was that their prices started to look ridiculous compared to the alternatives. Amazon Cloud Drive is £55/year for all you can eat storage, Backblaze and Crashplan offer unlimited backups for a similar amount, and Hubic offer 10TB for a similar amount. So their pricing seems to have been on the order of 10x higher than the alternatives.

So at a glance it looks like their key problem was that they failed to figure out how to do large scale cloud storage on the cheap to keep up with their competition.

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Uber drivers entitled to UK minimum wage, London tribunal rules

Gordan

Will this do anything...

... other than accelerate the disappearance of taxi driver as a profession the instant that the first self-driving car certified for unattended road use becomes available to buy?

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Self-driving cars doomed to be bullied by pedestrians

Gordan

Re: Automated lifts will never catch on

Very simple solution. Have a realistic looking dummy in the driver's seat. As long as you cannot tell at a glance whether it's a real human in the driver's seat or not, problem solved.

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Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Gordan

Re: EVGA SR-2

There are two classes of problems on the SR-2:

BIOS/Firmware bugs:

1) It struggles to POST with more than 48GB of RAM. The CPUs are rated for up to 192GB each, but a BIOS bug in MCH register initialization and timeouts prevents it from reliably POST-ing with 96GB. It can be made to work most of the time, but at the cost of running the memory command rate at 2T instead of 1T which has a significant impact on memory performance.

2) Some of the settings profile in BIOS clobber each other (IIRC 4 and 1, but I'm not 100% sure, it's been ages since I did any settings changes on any of mine.

Hardware bugs, substandard components, and design faults:

1) Clock generators get unstable long before the hardware. It's supposed to be an OC-ing motherboard, yet above about 175MHz bclk the clock stability falls off a cliff.

2) SATA-3 controller with it's 2x 6Gbit ports is behind a single PCIe lane with 5Gbit/s of bandwidth. So if running two SSDs off the SATA3 ports, the total bandwidth will be worse than running both off the SATA-2 ports hanging off the ICH10 SB.

3) SR-2 is advertised as supporting VT-d. This is questionable because there is a serious bug in the Nvidia NF200 PCIe bridges the SR-2 uses, in that DMA transfers will seemingly bypass the upstream PCIe IOMMU hub. That means that when running VMs with hardware passed through, once the VM writes to it's virtual address range that happens to be at the same place where the physical address range on the host of a hardware device's memory aperture, the VM will write it's memory contents straight to the device's memory aperture. If you are lucky, that will result in a write to a GPU's apreture and result in screen corruption briefly before it crashes the PCIe GPU and the host with it. If you are unlucky, it will write to a disk controller's memory aperture and write random garbage out to a random location on the disks.

This can be worked around to a large extent - I wrote a patch for Xen a couple of years ago that works around the issue by marking the memory between 1GB and 4GB in the guest's memory map as "reserved" to prevent the PCIe aperture memory ranges from being clobbered, but it is a nasty, dangerous bug.

Similarly, most SAS controllers will not work properly with the IOMMU enabled for similar reasons (I tested various LSI, SAS and Adaptec SAS controllers, and none worked properly).

4) NF200 PCIe bridges act as multiplexers in that they pretend there is more PCIe bandwidth available than there actually is. The upstream PCIe hub only has 32 lanes wired to the two NF200 bridges, 16 to each, but the NF200 bridges each make 32 available to the PCIe slots. So if you are running, say, 4x GPUs with each running x16, the net result is that even though each GPU will be showing up as being in x16 mode, only half of the bandwidth to the CPUs actually exists. This isn't so much a bug as dishonest marketing/advertising, similar to the supposedly SATA-3 controller.

5) SB fan is prone to seizing up. This has happened on all of my SR-2s within 2-3 years - not great when the warranty on them is 10 years, and even refurbs for replacements ran out over a year ago, with some motherboards still having 7 years left of their supposed warranty.

There are more issues, but the above are the biggest ones that stuck in my mind.

FWIW, I just ordered an X8DTH6 to replace the last of mine. There are too many issues for it to be worth the ongoing annoyances.

But I guess if the requirements are simple (no virtualization, mild or no overclock (so why buy this board in the first place?), <= 48GB of RAM), no more than one SSD hanging off the SATA-3 controller) it might just be OK enough for somebody who doesn't scratch the surface of what they are working with too much.

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Gordan

EVGA SR-2

It's a miracle you managed to get it working with any OS in the first place. There are more firmware and hardware bugs and outright design problems on that board (as in actual bugs, not just a faulty board - the fraction of the ones that are outright faulty is a separate (and unpleasant) story entirely). I just retired the last one of mine having happily replaced them with Supermicro X8DTH boards, which are pretty much the same spec only without all the engineering having been done by the marketing team.

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Uber: Why we use MySQL

Gordan

With MySQL there is the built in replication, Galera (you'd better know what you are doing and really mean it) and Tungsten (just don't go there).

With PostgreSQL there are too many to list off the top of my head, all with slightly different advantages and disadvantages, with some being very similar in bandwidth requirements and/or performance of MySQL's native replication.

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