Greg's recent activity

  1. Comment on Does this button work? Investigating YouTube’s ineffective user controls in ~tech

    Greg
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    This isn’t surprising, but it’s definitely good to see it rigorously tested and backed up with hard data. The whole “I’ll avoid clicking on X, despite wanting to watch it, because it’s not worth...

    This isn’t surprising, but it’s definitely good to see it rigorously tested and backed up with hard data.

    The whole “I’ll avoid clicking on X, despite wanting to watch it, because it’s not worth having my feed polluted by Y for the next month” behaviour is very real.

    6 votes
  2. Comment on Inside a highly lucrative, ethically questionable essay-writing service in ~humanities

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I’d say “the point at which the vast majority of your customers are using it to cheat” is pretty clearly over the line, even if we might end up quibbling about a more marginal case. The best...

    I’d say “the point at which the vast majority of your customers are using it to cheat” is pretty clearly over the line, even if we might end up quibbling about a more marginal case.

    The best argument I can manage in their favour, and it’s one I feel is far too devil’s-advocatey to really have merit, is that college itself is an essentially arbitrary requirement for many careers and treating it as a checkbox exercise to achieve that specific end is at least understandable. Plagiarism is barely even a concept in many areas of business, and employing someone else to do work on your behalf is totally standard. They’re following the observed rules of the society we all live in, rather than the rules of the academic institution that they didn’t feel they had a meaningful choice about attending.

    All of that still rings hollow to me in many ways, but it at least seems logically consistent. Still not ethical, but arguably pragmatic.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Defective altruism - the repugnant philosophy of “Effective Altruism” offers nothing to movements for global justice in ~humanities

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I didn’t find the first part of the article especially convincing, and I also thought it was a little frustrating in its generalisations (apart from anything else, why is utilitarianism needing a...

    I didn’t find the first part of the article especially convincing, and I also thought it was a little frustrating in its generalisations (apart from anything else, why is utilitarianism needing a few moral “patches” to work well inherently a problem? Who’s arguing that axiomatic purity is a requirement here?).

    What I did find interesting is his description of longtermism, which I hadn’t come across. If anyone truly believes in that as laid out, I’m frankly terrified of them; he explains it as the maximisation of absolute rather than per capita utility over time, to the extent that a proponent would consider it more moral to have a multiplanetary society of many billions with low quality of life compared to a small overall population where everyone has a very high quality of life.

    The idea that utility can be quantified and maximised resonates with me, the idea that blindly increasing it by adding more people to the calculation is in any way valuable strikes me as totally insane.

    That said, I’m not sure how widespread that belief is within the EA community, and the article doesn’t make it particularly clear, so it could be an extremely fringe interpretation. I certainly hope that’s the case, at least.

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Introducing Whisper (OpenAI speech recognition model) in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Those sound like some interesting tests for sure! I just re-checked the audio against the text above and noticed another nuance: only the line is in the "preamble voice", and that only shows up in...

    Those sound like some interesting tests for sure!

    I just re-checked the audio against the text above and noticed another nuance: only the line

    File 1. No Adverts from audiobooksforfree.com

    is in the "preamble voice", and that only shows up in the tiny.en run. The second part of what I would consider the preamble

    A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Part 1, being a reprint from the reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., late of the Army Medical Department

    is actually read by the main narrator, and shows up in both of the second two but not in the large. Either there's some more context sensitivity going on in the large model, or it happened to hit a bug here that made it look smarter than it is! Given that it does show in the other two models, I'd lean towards the former, but it's too small a pool to be certain.

    [Edit] And if it is indeed context sensitivity, it’s going to depend very much on your use case whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Introducing Whisper (OpenAI speech recognition model) in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I've done a run with the smaller models to compare speed and quality. In this very limited test, the relative speeds I saw were around half as fast as the docs would suggest compared to the large...

    I've done a run with the smaller models to compare speed and quality. In this very limited test, the relative speeds I saw were around half as fast as the docs would suggest compared to the large model, but I'm sure the dataset they generated the estimates from is far more rigorous than the three runs here!

    Full output, all from the same MP3 file linked above:

    Initial reaction is that the large model is fast enough and 'better enough' to be the right choice for anything a human will be reading, but the smaller models could be very useful for feeding into further machine processing (e.g. a locally hosted voice assistant).

    I find it interesting that the large model was the only one to filter out the preamble, as well. It's read in a different voice to the main text, so I'm not sure if it was deliberately rejected for that reason, deliberately rejected by some kind of context inference, or accidentally rejected.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on EVGA terminates NVIDIA partnership, cites disrespectful treatment in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    It’s a really good point, actually, and it does make me wonder if NVIDIA would be so unhappy with that situation? Get everyone on founders edition cards and keep the whole pie for themselves....

    It’s a really good point, actually, and it does make me wonder if NVIDIA would be so unhappy with that situation? Get everyone on founders edition cards and keep the whole pie for themselves.

    There’s been a bit more info coming out in the last few days, and apparently EVGA’s GPU margins are especially low due to their manufacturing model; they are indeed around 5% while some other manufacturers are closer to 10%. Combine that with the reason everyone’s particularly upset about this - unusually high quality and good customer service from EVGA - and it paints a picture of them as an outlier in terms of high costs and low margins, but not to an absurd degree. If anything I’d call them the thin end of the wedge, and it’ll be interesting to see if any other partners do go the same way.

    3 votes
  7. Comment on Introducing Whisper (OpenAI speech recognition model) in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I ran a quick test against the first chapter of A Study in Scarlet from Gutenberg (9556-1601) - using the large model with CUDA enabled on a 3080 took just under seven minutes to crunch a 16...

    I ran a quick test against the first chapter of A Study in Scarlet from Gutenberg (9556-1601) - using the large model with CUDA enabled on a 3080 took just under seven minutes to crunch a 16 minute audio file, so more than twice as fast as real time. That's audiobook quality, so I'm not sure whether background noise and/or poor encoding would force it to work harder.

    According to the GitHub repo the speeds of the smaller models increase as powers of two, meaning that the fastest (lowest accuracy) model would be ~64x faster than real time on the hardware I'm using - and presumably a lot more on server grade GPU cores.

    6 votes
  8. Comment on EVGA terminates NVIDIA partnership, cites disrespectful treatment in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    EVGA are apparently making more overall profit on their PSUs than GPUs despite the 80/20 revenue split in favour of GPUs; from the numbers I could see in a few minutes of searching it looks like...

    If they don't find an alternative market, they're dead.

    EVGA are apparently making more overall profit on their PSUs than GPUs despite the 80/20 revenue split in favour of GPUs; from the numbers I could see in a few minutes of searching it looks like GPU margins are at 5% and dropping.

    Assuming those numbers are accurate, it makes the logic in what they're doing a bit clearer: focus on doubling the size of their PSU business and they'll make more absolute profit than they are now, with less than half the required capital, and significantly lower risk because the most capital-intensive part of their business is no longer held at the whims of a third party.

    8 votes
  9. Comment on Disney chief Bob Chapek sees clear path for Hulu to merge with Disney+ once Comcast buyout is complete in ~tv

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Surprisingly, Disney probably couldn't afford it even if they wanted to - when they bought Fox, Disney's market cap was ~$170B and Fox's was ~$70B. Disney's now just under $200B and Comcast are...

    Surprisingly, Disney probably couldn't afford it even if they wanted to - when they bought Fox, Disney's market cap was ~$170B and Fox's was ~$70B. Disney's now just under $200B and Comcast are over $150B.

    1 vote
  10. Comment on We spoke with the last person standing in the floppy disk business in ~comp

    Greg
    Link
    I really enjoyed this! It's surprisingly heartwarming to read about someone who happily admits he essentially fell into the business, clearly cares about his customers and employees, and spends...

    I really enjoyed this! It's surprisingly heartwarming to read about someone who happily admits he essentially fell into the business, clearly cares about his customers and employees, and spends his days providing a valuable service to the small niche of people who need it. It's a nice antidote to all we hear about the Amazons and Googles of the world.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on Disney chief Bob Chapek sees clear path for Hulu to merge with Disney+ once Comcast buyout is complete in ~tv

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Yeah, I think you're right and that Disney are pretty well committed to that line of thinking, but Hulu specifically is kind of in limbo because it's ended up being part owned by two companies...

    Yeah, I think you're right and that Disney are pretty well committed to that line of thinking, but Hulu specifically is kind of in limbo because it's ended up being part owned by two companies that each have their own competing first-party streaming platforms as well. Seems like Comcast are just running out the clock to maximise what they get for their stake, which makes sense given the terms of the deal.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on Ideas how to unlock Google's blocking of my YouTube RSS feeds in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    OK that's useful, it does suggest they've flagged your IP for one reason or another. Could be something on your side (maybe even as simple as your RSS client polling too often?), but it could also...

    OK that's useful, it does suggest they've flagged your IP for one reason or another. Could be something on your side (maybe even as simple as your RSS client polling too often?), but it could also be that your ISP is using CGNAT and you're getting blacklisted for the actions of others on the network - or even mis-flagged simply because there are just too many normal users sharing that one IP address.

    Ironically, the way to test that would be the exact opposite of my original question: if you do have access to a VPN you could fire it up and cycle through some different IP addresses with everything else held constant to see if it makes a difference. It's not perfect, because VPN IPs are significantly more likely to already be blacklisted than individual ones, but if you do manage to hit one that works it'd be another useful data point.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Ideas how to unlock Google's blocking of my YouTube RSS feeds in ~tech

    Greg
    Link
    Are you using a VPN? I've noticed that Google sometimes blocks me from normal search if I'm using a VPN and in a private browser window, even though it will work fine through the VPN in a normal...

    Are you using a VPN? I've noticed that Google sometimes blocks me from normal search if I'm using a VPN and in a private browser window, even though it will work fine through the VPN in a normal window, presumably because the lack of identity headers in combination with the IP address flags something in their systems. Since your RSS client presumably isn't sending any identifiable headers or cookies, that may be what you're hitting.

    You might at least be able to narrow it down by seeing if the RSS link opens in your browser, and if there's any difference there between normal and private sessions? If that works, you can potentially narrow it down further by using curl or similar to send the same headers as your browser but the same user agent as your RSS client, to see if that's having any impact.

    2 votes
  14. Comment on Common ORM Misconceptions in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I hadn't thought about it like that, but I like it! I find ORMs too much of an abstraction for my liking at the best of times, so I'm definitely biased, but given that I've occasionally had to...

    I'm banking on "knowing SQL" as my retirement plan the way "knowing COBOL" is today.

    I hadn't thought about it like that, but I like it! I find ORMs too much of an abstraction for my liking at the best of times, so I'm definitely biased, but given that I've occasionally had to debug situations where the query planner needed handholding to execute a handwritten piece of SQL efficiently I think (hope) we've got a while before ORMs entirely eat our lunch.

    3 votes
  15. Comment on Requesting resources for de-googling in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I think the high per-search cost is likely to at least somewhat be a function of low absolute volume. It's not 100% clear from the post but it seems to suggest that number is just total...

    I think the high per-search cost is likely to at least somewhat be a function of low absolute volume. It's not 100% clear from the post but it seems to suggest that number is just total infrastructure spend divided by total search count - which is quite reasonable, because that is what it costs them to serve a search today.

    A lot of that spending (web crawling, page analysis, index storage, etc.) will scale with the size of the index rather than the number of queries, so as time goes on and user numbers hopefully go up that gets amortised quite significantly. Larger players also get to exploit more traditional economies of scale in their hardware, connectivity, etc., so as a finger in the wind guesstimate I can see them reducing those per-search costs 2-3x with 10x the active users.

    2 votes
  16. Comment on Requesting resources for de-googling in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    That may well be exactly what I need, thanks!

    That may well be exactly what I need, thanks!

    2 votes
  17. Comment on Requesting resources for de-googling in ~tech

    Greg
    (edited )
    Link
    Does anyone happen to know of a photo platform that provides the same type of feature extraction and search that Google does? Self hosted or paid would both be fine, but I haven't seen anything...

    Does anyone happen to know of a photo platform that provides the same type of feature extraction and search that Google does? Self hosted or paid would both be fine, but I haven't seen anything out there that brings in actual image analysis yet.

    Part of me wants to say "hey, I'll build it myself, all the parts already exist" but honestly I also recognise the amount of other stuff I'm trying to do and ideally I don't want to consign this to the ever growing heap of started but not finished ideas!

    2 votes
  18. Comment on EchoSVG: Pure Java SVG renderer with level 4 CSS selectors in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Very interesting, I'll have to take a look at this - I was doing some SVG work earlier in the year and I was very surprised to find out that Illustrator is capable of producing files that it can't...

    Very interesting, I'll have to take a look at this - I was doing some SVG work earlier in the year and I was very surprised to find out that Illustrator is capable of producing files that it can't then properly read back in, despite them being totally valid; I never did find an open source tool that was able to handle them correctly. The workflow we ended up with depends on accessing the macOS Preview engine via the CLI, so switching to something open and cross platform would be a big win.

    1 vote
  19. Comment on Liz Truss to be next UK Prime Minister in ~news

    Greg
    Link
    After becoming leader of the Conservative party with just over 57% of party members' votes (81,326 of 141,725 total), Liz Truss will take over as Prime Minister from Boris Johnson when she is...

    After becoming leader of the Conservative party with just over 57% of party members' votes (81,326 of 141,725 total), Liz Truss will take over as Prime Minister from Boris Johnson when she is formally appointed by the queen tomorrow.

    For those less familiar with the UK system, our Prime Minister holds the office as a function of leading the party with a majority in the House of Commons, rather than being directly elected to the role. As such this wasn't a general election, simply an internal change of party leadership triggered by Johnson being forced out earlier in the year.

    What this actually means for the country is still an open question. I haven't spoken to anyone who thinks she's going to do much good, but she also doesn't appear significantly worse than her predecessor. Her overall popularity is low, and it seems quite possible that we'll get another general election earlier than the Jan 2025 deadline one way or another.

    5 votes