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Tech myth debunk thread

Spotty

This thread is for TECHNOLOGY related myths only. The LTT forum is not the place for conspiracy theories about politicians and aliens. 

If the thread goes off topic again it will be locked and warnings may be issued.

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On 12/13/2019 at 12:58 PM, mr moose said:

In the early 80's the commadore 64 was sold as a personal computer.  The term PC was already embedded in most IT (it was called IT then) circles by then.  A home computer was often sold as a PC, just that people called them home computers because they had one at home rather than at the office.

At one point in time there was "Computer" "Minicomputer" and "Microcomputer". The last one is explicitly what the PC is. Yes, when they were 50lbs and not portable at all.

 

The "PC" basically only ever described the original 8088 IBM 5150. After that point "PC Compatible" was the term used until everything but the Mac as competition went out of business for the home computer market. Then of all things, the Mac switched to the same CPU as the "PC Compatible's" and thus you could even run Windows on a Mac, thus putting the entire "PC vs Mac" out to pasture.

 

Like it might be fair to call a smartwatch, smartphone and tablet (eg iPad, not tabletPC) as belonging to a family of nanocomputers (of which H/PC (Handheld PC) and PocketPC were both Microsoft marketing terms of early PDA devices, and those were all bigger than current smartphones.)

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On 12/13/2019 at 11:17 PM, Mira Yurizaki said:

A few that keep bugging me that I see people say:

 

X Application is Single Threaded

My main issue with this is the meaning of the term literally. Most applications are not single threaded. They have multiple threads.

 

...

Therefore, an application doesn't need to explicitly support simultaneous multi-threading to take advantage of it. If it has multiple threads to run, it's already taking advantage of it.

Eh, no. The reason "X is Single Threaded" is because the application is incapable of using those threads in any form that splits the load evenly. For example most games use exactly 1/(number of cores), and no more. So on a dual core system this is not unreasonable, but on a quad core or larger, it becomes immediately obvious when an application has not been designed to use multiple threads.

 

But many applications simply can not be multithreaded because of bad programming practices. For example "forking" a process is an extremely inefficient use of CPU and Memory resources, and this continues to be the default settings in many programs, including ones that are capable of multi-threading because of plugins/extensions that are not thread-safe. For example, Apache HTTPD continues to be prefork on Linux and BSD systems because of mod_perl or mod_php still being used by developers instead of the socket process manager servers (eg php-fpm.) What makes it worse, is that people continue to believe the myth that "forking" is the correct model when it's the worst option.

 

I've run web servers in multithreaded mode for over a decade. What made it possible was the predecessor to php-fpm which was fcgid. That allowed PHP and Perl to work on multithreaded systems while leaving php and perl (any anything else like python or ruby) to run in their single-threaded process without the overhead of spinning up one apache httpd server per script. It improved things so much that those machines ARE STILL RUNNING this configuration today.

 

So how do we get php, perl, python, ruby to be multithreaded? You can't. Most scripting languages are designed to do scripting, not heavy lifting. Javascript in the web browser? not threaded, web workers are not threads, they are preforks. Web browser tabs? preforked processes that you can actually see in task manager. Now there is a reason for the latter, one tab can't crash another, and can't access the memory of other tabs. But it wastes so much memory and CPU resources. There is something extremely sad and annoying about seeing 20 tabs take 4GB of RAM.

 

But it doesn't stop there. Go take a look at the kind of threading available in Unreal, Unity, Game Maker, and such. Two of these don't support threads. Unity doesn't support threads because it doesn't have a thread-safe API and Game Maker doesn't have any threads to speak of. If you want to use threads you're better off with GoDot and Xenko support threading in their scripting languages.

 

When people complain about games being single threaded, they are talking about games made in engines like Unity, or HTML5 engines that can't make use of threads as a consequence of the platform. Sure, you can certainly make something cool, and the game engine will only use threads for what can safely parallelism, if it's designed to use it, but in most cases, that's simply not a thing.

 

Only two things are ever really parallelized in games. Image/video decoding and AI/Physics. In the former, it's usually take care of by a GPU library, where as the latter barely makes a dent in CPU usage except in particle/cloth physics. In other words, you might see a game use 30% on a quad core, but that's only because that 5% is the media decoder that can operate in a separate thread. The actual playback still has to take place in the main thread. This is why you typically see program audio stutter along with frame drops in DX9 and earlier programs. Newer games use use callback API's that tell the main thread when they're done to copy the buffer. 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, Kisai said:

At one point in time there was "Computer" "Minicomputer" and "Microcomputer". The last one is explicitly what the PC is. Yes, when they were 50lbs and not portable at all.

 

The "PC" basically only ever described the original 8088 IBM 5150. After that point "PC Compatible" was the term used until everything but the Mac as competition went out of business for the home computer market. Then of all things, the Mac switched to the same CPU as the "PC Compatible's" and thus you could even run Windows on a Mac, thus putting the entire "PC vs Mac" out to pasture.

 

Like it might be fair to call a smartwatch, smartphone and tablet (eg iPad, not tabletPC) as belonging to a family of nanocomputers (of which H/PC (Handheld PC) and PocketPC were both Microsoft marketing terms of early PDA devices, and those were all bigger than current smartphones.)

 

A lot of computers in the 80's were refereed to as personal computers, the term pc compatible came to mean IBM compatible colloquially, but the term PC was always used to mean any computer a single user would operate.  Be it home computer, micro computer or whatever.

 

Several PC's from the 80's were advertised as PC's:

 

ZX spectrum

commadore,  most variants

Amstrad CPC (actually in it's name the Color personal computer)

 

When I was in the 80's it was common to call it a personal computer or PC. 


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15 hours ago, Froody129 said:

Don’t know if it’s been answered earlier but it should be. The formula has (radius)^2 on the bottom. So a doubling in distance should result in a quarter of the radiation. The same is true for gravitation and static electric charge 

That's a distance-square relationship. More accurately inverse distance square. 

 

1/r^2

 

Thanks for clarifying my intuition. I need to take more (any) physics courses. 


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Myth: Quality = Price (i.e. high quality = expensive, and low quality = cheap)

Fact: Quality is an ability to repeatedly and consistently meet a metric. If a product uses cheap parts, is assembled cheap, price is cheap, and still meets or surpasses that metric, that is high quality. Marketing uses what you think quality means to make their product seem upscale or high end.


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1 hour ago, The1Dickens said:

Myth: Quality = Price (i.e. high quality = expensive, and low quality = cheap)

Fact: Quality is an ability to repeatedly and consistently meet a metric. If a product uses cheap parts, is assembled cheap, price is cheap, and still meets or surpasses that metric, that is high quality. Marketing uses what you think quality means to make their product seem upscale or high end.

While I agree with that in general, keep in mind that, generally speaking, price can be an indicator of quality. The old adage that you get what you pay for is true more often than not. A product that uses cheap parts, is assembled cheaply, has a cheap price tag, and still meets a certain standard usually will not last as long or otherwise be as reliable as the higher priced product. On the flip side of the coin, many higher priced products are higher priced only because of their name reputation that they acquired in the past. Quality vs. price evaluation has to be done on a case by case basis.


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One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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11 hours ago, Froody129 said:

This is just high school physics. Your terms for it explain it better than mine. 

But it's fun 😛 

I took HS Physics for morons (as opposed to AP or IB)... and then during undergrad I did the liberal arts track(foreign languages) instead of the science track (1 year of physics/chem) even though I had a mathy major (and minor).  A lot of my learning has been autodidactic beyond that, a lot coming from debating people more knowledgeable than me on forums. 

Distance square relationships are pretty common though. I tend to think of it as the baseline for cases where a point transmits information/data/power across a plane (or more accurately a portion of a sphere's surface).

As much as I can, I try to have intuitve understandings for things as opposed to formulas (e.g. I don't remember how to generate a set of eigen vectors but I recognize that they represents weights wrt directions when you're trying to reconstitute data points via a series of orthogonal planes)
 

12 hours ago, amdorintel said:

depends what you want to do in life, but its not necessary at all.

Be able to engage in in-depth conversations at a high level with people who know their stuff. 

E.g. I'd like to be able to have a chat with Ian Cuttress about CPU manufacturing processes and be able to keep him on his toes (he has a PhD in computational chemistry from Oxford). 

Or be able to keep up with Wendell Wilson on CS and IT concepts (sort of around that level, I didn't feel too far off when I chatted with him at LTX and we've had some email banter after)


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2 hours ago, Lady Fitzgerald said:

While I agree with that in general, keep in mind that, generally speaking, price can be an indicator of quality. The old adage that you get what you pay for is true more often than not. A product that uses cheap parts, is assembled cheaply, has a cheap price tag, and still meets a certain standard usually will not last as long or otherwise be as reliable as the higher priced product. On the flip side of the coin, many higher priced products are higher priced only because of their name reputation that they acquired in the past. Quality vs. price evaluation has to be done on a case by case basis.

How about “perceived quality and quality are not always the same thing”?


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9 minutes ago, Sauron said:

Myth: this thread is not yikes.

DEBUNKED

This thread is, in fact, yikes.

Try the one on the particulars of PSU design or the one on the new Mac Pro.  Those are my “Yikes” threads right now.  I really wish I could follow the PSU one but it just got too deeply technical for my ability and I had to drop it.  Too bad really.  It was clearly useful stuff.


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1 hour ago, Bombastinator said:

How about “perceived quality and quality are not always the same thing”?

I'll cheerfully give you that. Actually determining which is actually perceived quality and which is actually quality might be a touch tricky, though.


Jeannie

 

As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!

 

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4 hours ago, Bombastinator said:

How about “perceived quality and quality are not always the same thing”?

 

3 hours ago, Lady Fitzgerald said:

I'll cheerfully give you that. Actually determining which is actually perceived quality and which is actually quality might be a touch tricky, though.

Okay, then how does one perceive quality?


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44 minutes ago, The1Dickens said:

 

Okay, then how does one perceive quality?

Not sure of the context but I'll say this.

 

Look at Apple. It's the opposite of that.

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Oh, I've got one: Interlaced resolutions are not half their progressive scan resolutions (ex. 1920x1080i not being 1920x540) because of how interlacing works.

Conversely, half of an interlaced resolution being a progressive scan resolution only works if that resolution in context is intended to be displayed in a different way (like 720x240p vs. 720x480i).

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This thread is for TECHNOLOGY related myths only. The LTT forum is not the place for conspiracy theories about politicians and aliens. Thread cleaned. If the thread goes off topic again it will be locked and warnings may be issued.


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On 6/29/2019 at 11:14 AM, Mira Yurizaki said:

While I'm hoping there's more data available about testing between the two architectures, the ISA doesn't make a processor faster or slower, it's the implementation of it.

I would tend to agree, to a point. The design of an ISA does affect how certain algorithms are implemented on that platform, and that can cause performance differences even if all other things are the same.

For example, let's take an addition operation on two theoretical processors, one is accumulator based, and the other is register-register based.

In the first, the add operation might look something like:

  1. Load operand0 to the A register
  2. Load operand1 to the B register
  3. Add
  4. Store the Accumulator in memory.

This method requires three memory accesses, and all three are conducted one at a time. The other architecture might have multi channel memory, so:

  1. Add operand0 and operand1
  2. Store the accumulator in memory.

If we assume that all other things about the processor are the same, for example memory times, clock speed, and clock cycles per memory access and add operation are equivalent, then the first processor takes twice as long as the second processor to complete an addition.

I'm not arguing that this is the case with ARM and x86, I'm just arguing that it is possible that ISA differences could lead to performance differences, even if the processors are otherwise comparable.


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Myth: ESD kills components instantly
 

ESD usually does not instantly kill a device. Static electricity is extremely weak current shock of upwards of 1000 V. It is unlikely to kill a device completely but can definitely damage individual circuitry causing all sorts of strange, abnormal, and seemingly untraceable issues.


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On 12/15/2019 at 3:17 AM, Kisai said:

But many applications simply can not be multithreaded because of bad programming practices. For example "forking" a process is an extremely inefficient use of CPU and Memory resources, and this continues to be the default settings in many programs, including ones that are capable of multi-threading because of plugins/extensions that are not thread-safe. For example, Apache HTTPD continues to be prefork on Linux and BSD systems because of mod_perl or mod_php still being used by developers instead of the socket process manager servers (eg php-fpm.) What makes it worse, is that people continue to believe the myth that "forking" is the correct model when it's the worst option.

Forking a process takes advantage of multicore cpu no differently than threads. It is not a bad programming pratice in any way, shape, or form, for webservers especially. If bussiness care about memory usage and efficiency, they wouldn't be picking scripting langauge and instead use C/C++ whose alogrithms of say O(n^3) would already outperform something like O(nlongn) in JavaScript or python by several magnitude. 


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From respected youtubers I have heard heat radiates upwards. No it doesn't. In the Earth's atmosphere hot gas and liquid rises. In your PC hot air goes where the fans blow it.

 

Linux and Mac can't get viruses: sure but this is not 1990. They can get malware and ransomware. Your ISP provided modem/router is likely running an old linux kernel that can be exploited and have its DNS hacked.

 

RAID0 is dangerous. Sure it's dangerous for your business. For your games that you downloaded from steam? Na.

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4 minutes ago, Geoff35674567 said:

From respected youtubers I have heard heat radiates upwards. No it doesn't. In the Earth's atmosphere hot gas and liquid rises. In your PC hot air goes where the fans blow it.

These are not mutually exclusive statements. Hot air does rise. But the fans blowing it apply more force to essentially override the aids natural tendency to rise. 
 

and if your airflow isn’t good enough, hot air can indeed rise and create hot pockets in the case. 

4 minutes ago, Geoff35674567 said:

Linux and Mac can't get viruses: sure but this is not 1990. They can get malware and ransomware. Your ISP provided modem/router is likely running an old linux kernel that can be exploited and have its DNS hacked.

Agreed here. 

4 minutes ago, Geoff35674567 said:

RAID0 is dangerous. Sure it's dangerous for your business. For your games that you downloaded from steam? Na.

Depends on what you’re using it for. To store games that can be redownloaded? Sure no problem. Just as long as it’s not data you can’t afford to lose. 


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14 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

These are not mutually exclusive statements. Hot air does rise. But the fans blowing it apply more force to essentially override the aids natural tendency to rise. 
 

and if your airflow isn’t good enough, hot air can indeed rise and create hot pockets in the case. 

 

Has anyone measured this? I doubt the force is strong enough to measure. Look how big a hot air balloon needs to be to lift people.

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1 hour ago, straight_stewie said:

-Snip-

With modern processor design, the ISA is largely a moot point now because the ISA that software is exposed to gets broken down into micro-ops that are then re-arranged and scheduled.

 

Also, if a processor doing the first listing had fancy features like OoE and and superscalar pipelining while the second one was basically a super basic processor with a three-stage pipeline, the first one could potentially execute code faster even thought there's more lines of code.

 

10 minutes ago, Geoff35674567 said:

Has anyone measured this? I doubt the force is strong enough to measure. Look how big a hot air balloon needs to be to lift people.

What @dalekphalm is saying is going to apply no matter what. Hot air will try to find a way to rise. However, I agree with you that the fans will also just make it a moot point anyway because fans generate something else that also moves air: an air pressure differential.

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1 hour ago, wasab said:

Forking a process takes advantage of multicore cpu no differently than threads. It is not a bad programming pratice in any way, shape, or form, for webservers especially. If bussiness care about memory usage and efficiency, they wouldn't be picking scripting langauge and instead use C/C++ whose alogrithms of say O(n^3) would already outperform something like O(nlongn) in JavaScript or python by several magnitude. 

Demonstrably false. When the same quadcore machine can deal with 2000-4000 threads, but only deal with 100 prefork sessions, there is something certainly wrong with forking processes that has a lot more to do with programmer incompetence and/or laziness. You can not secure a web server. Period, and all you gain from preforking is being able to ignore memory leaks/stalls from crappy scripting languages.

 

If a threaded process is 100MB and has 100 threads, and a prefork process is 100MB per process, the latter is using 10GB of RAM to accomplish the same thing, which if the system doesn't have that much RAM or CPU time to spin up new processes, starts to be impaired by the virtual memory system. That's why DDoS's are successful all the time, because they target this lazy attitude toward resource conservation. Meanwhile if you spin up 4000 threads that take up 1MB each, you're still far ahead of the prefork model with 100 processes.

 

Writing a site in C, is just not going to be a thing, and writing a site entirely in python, ruby, php or any other scripting language that doesn't have the capability to do threading kneecaps the performance of the system. One Wordpress site consumes as much cpu time as 100 small sites, but consumes as much CPU power as infinite sites on the same machine without scripting language support. How else do you think bulk-hosting sites operate? And you know how WP sites try to solve it? By adding yet more scripting language plugins that try to turn it back into a static site. What a mess.

 

I'm not going to tell a news site to stop using WP if WP is what they designed their site for, but good grief the amount of money just being flushed down the toilet on hosting costs by using WP is nothing to sneeze at.

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8 minutes ago, Vacras said:

Here is one:

Windows is way too much hassle to setup with drivers compared to macOS or Linux.

If you're using hardware from a not-obscure vendor, Microsoft typically pushes driver updates through Windows update. Though the driver isn't likely to be up-to-date, not that it matters most of the time anyway.

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