Hacker News - Tuesday, October 24th 2023
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When creating a branch in Git, you may encounter a situation where a tag with the same name already exists. This message suggests that creating the branch with the same name as the tag might lead to unforeseen consequences. Git commands often accept both branch and tag names, which can cause confusion when they share the same name. Therefore, before proceeding, Git wants to confirm if you are intentionally creating the branch with the same name as an existing tag. Creating a branch with the same name as a tag can result in unexpected behavior as some Git commands may treat them interchangeably. It's crucial to be aware of this potential confusion when working with branches and tags to prevent unintended consequences. Double-checking your intention to create the branch is Git's way of ensuring that you are consciously making this decision.
Unified versus Split Diff
The author discusses the issue of code reviews and the limitations of using unified and split diffs. They suggest that for simple and small changes, both views are sufficient. However, for larger and more complex changes, they feel that neither view is adequate. Instead, they advocate for a code review approach that focuses on the codebase at a specific point in time, paying attention to the recently changed areas but also conducting a general review as if they were writing the code themselves. The ideal diff view for the author would consist of the current state of the code on the left (which is also the on-disk state) with changes subtly highlighted in the margins. On the right, they would like to see the unified diff for the portion of the codebase currently visible on the left. Unfortunately, such a format is not well-supported by existing tools, as most tools prioritize reviewing diffs rather than the actual code. The author describes their low-tech and inefficient workflow for conducting code reviews, which involves checking out pull requests locally and using a script to erase commits while keeping all the changes. They then use their normal staging and committing workflow to review the code, relying on shortcuts in the editor to navigate between changes. The author wishes for an easier way to review code without having to build custom tools.
Psychedelic Mushrooms Hit the Market in Oregon
The legalization and decriminalization of psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, is leading to exciting possibilities in mental health treatment. Psilocybin has been shown to alter brain activity, distort perceptions, and transform emotions, potentially offering breakthroughs for individuals with conditions such as PTSD, substance addiction, and treatment-resistant depression. The recent expansion of access to psilocybin in Oregon, Colorado, and various cities has sparked both enthusiasm and caution among researchers. In Oregon, a middle-of-the-road approach has been taken, requiring accountability and oversight without mandating a doctor's supervision or specific medical diagnoses. Dr. Janis Phelps, director of the Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies, initially had reservations about the decriminalization movement. However, she has since changed her mind, recognizing the potential of an open door in Oregon to advance the use of psychedelics in ways that traditional, methodical approaches cannot. While concerns about profiteering and exploitation remain, the opportunity for exploring new therapeutic avenues with psilocybin is becoming increasingly promising.
Cascade: CPU fuzzing via intricate program generation
Cascade is a RISC-V CPU fuzzer that aims to detect bugs by generating valid, long, and complex programs. Unlike existing fuzzers, Cascade focuses on complying with fundamental properties of effective CPU fuzzing campaigns. It detected 37 new bugs (29 new CVEs) in five RISC-V CPUs, surpassing all other existing fuzzers combined. Cascade generates intermediate and ultimate versions of programs with complex data and control flows, using feedback from a golden model of the ISA. By entangling data flow into control flow, bugs in the data flow are more likely to cause non-termination, indicating the presence of a bug. Cascade also features a bug reduction mechanism that reduces bug-triggering programs into just a few instructions while preserving the bug-preserving behavior. The bugs discovered by Cascade have significant security implications, including information leakage and denial of service. Cascade is open-source and currently implemented only for RISC-V CPUs. It is suitable for quick checks as well as longer runs and can be used in CI/CD pipelines.
NASA just sent a software update to a spacecraft 12B miles away
NASA has completed a critical software update for the Voyager 2 probe, which is currently over 12 billion miles away from Earth in interstellar space. The update aims to prevent the same problem experienced by its sister probe, Voyager 1, last year. In 2022, NASA reported issues with Voyager 1's attitude control system, which resulted in confusing telemetry data. Although Voyager 1 was not permanently affected, NASA wants to avoid similar challenges with Voyager 2. The software update, transmitted over the course of 18 hours, serves as an insurance policy for the future exploration of interstellar space. Due to the distance of the probe, the data it sends back is unique and valuable. Following a readout of the attitude control system's memory, the Voyager 2 update is set to be triggered on October 28. NASA plans to use Voyager 2 as a test bed before sending the patch to Voyager 1, which is over 15 billion miles away. The update will extend the probes' lifespan before potential equipment failures occur.