Kieren McCarthy

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Google, Honeywell put away Nest patent knives

A long-standing lawsuit between thermostat company Honeywell and Google over the Nest smart thermostat has been settled, with both sides agreeing to a "long-term patent cross-license agreement". No details beyond that vague agreement were provided. So it's unclear whether there was any financial compensation, or agreement that …
Kieren McCarthy, 06 May 2016
Bitcoin punch cards

Bitcoin's chief boffin blocked

The Bitcoin Foundation's chief scientist Gavin Andresen has paid the price for supporting a claim by Australian Craig Wright that he is the secretive creator of the digi-currency, Satoshi Nakamoto: his write access to the crypto-currency's core code repository has been revoked. Yeah Wright's boasts were quickly debunked and …
Kieren McCarthy, 06 May 2016
Toshiba NB500

Tosh names new boss

Toshiba has named a new CEO. Satoshi Tsunakawa will take over from Masashi Muromachi who himself replaced the previous CEO in July last year following an accounting scandal. Tsunakawa is a veteran of the Japanese electronics giant and will take over in June following approval of his position by shareholders. Muromachi will …
Kieren McCarthy, 06 May 2016

FCC urged to pause its fight against America's $20bn cable-box rip-off

Sixty US congressman have sent a letter [PDF] to Tom Wheeler – chairman of America's internet mall cop, the FCC – urging him to "press pause" on plans to open the cable box market to competition. In it, the elected representatives argue that the proposal to force large telco companies to allow third parties to produce set-top …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 May 2016

'Bitcoin creator' Craig Yeah Wright in meltdown

The creator of Craig Wright, Craig Wright, has managed to stay in the news for a fourth day: this time for having a depressingly inevitable meltdown following his failure, yet again, to prove he is the inventor of digi-currency bitcoin. Earlier this week, the Australian went direct to three UK media outlets -– the BBC, …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 May 2016
Snooping image via Shutterstock

Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network

The UK government has, on World Password Day, repeated its advice against the common security practice of routinely changing passwords. "In 2015, we explicitly advised against [the practice]," a post by GCHQ's Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) notes. "This article explains why we made this unexpected …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 May 2016
Slices of madeira cake

Nokia joins Z-Wave

Nokia has joined the Z-Wave Alliance, an organization that aims to push the Z-Wave standard into smart homes. The mobile phone company joins nearly 400 companies that are backing the low-power wireless internet of things (IoT) standard. Currently Z-Wave is the most popular IoT technology on the market, at least in terms of …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 May 2016
A dog wearing glasses, on a park bench reading the news paper

Third-level dotcoms gone

UK-based registry CentralNic is closing up online micro-communities under a number of second-level domains including gb.com and se.com. In about a year's time – April 30, 2017 – domain names sold under ar.com, gb.com, hu.com, kr.com, qc.com, no.com. se.com and uy.com will no longer work. CentralNic has been offering names …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 May 2016

Cops deploy StingRay anti-terror tech against $50 chicken-wing thief

Police in Maryland, US, used controversial cellphone-tracking technology intended only for the most serious crimes to track down a man who stole $50 of chicken wings. Police in Annapolis – an hour's drive from the heart of government in Washington DC – used a StingRay cell tower simulator in an effort to find the location of a …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 May 2016

UK govt admits it pulled 10-year file-sharing jail sentence out of its arse

Exclusive The UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has admitted it simply made up an official justification for 10-year jail sentences for copyright-infringing file sharers. In response to a freedom of information request by The Register asking for details on the "unpublished research" that was cited in defense of the …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 May 2016

Vixie on net security woes

The solution to the planet's endless online security problems is to quit adding more technology to the mix. That's according to the CEO of Farsight Security and one of the internet's early pioneers, Paul Vixie, who has written a blog post telling people to "stop trafficking in black boxes and magical thinking." The problem, …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 May 2016
Brazil flag

Brazil shuts WhatsApp

A Brazilian judge has, for the second time, ordered the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging service to be shut down across the country for 72 hours. A judge in the north-east state of Sergipe has told the country's four main telcos to block the service, cutting off tens of millions of users for the second time in five months. …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 May 2016

Engineer uses binary on voting bumpf to flag up Cali election flaws

In the race for one of California's two Senate seats, one candidate has hit on a novel way to draw attention to himself and his platform: binary. The official voter information guide, delivered to all homes across the state, includes details of all of the 34 candidates standing, most including a paragraph of introductory text …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 May 2016

Getting shafted the Silicon Valley way

Recap If there was one standout moment from the latest episode of tech satire Silicon Valley it would have to be when our eponymous hero finds out he is being shafted by his new CEO while in the background a thoroughbred horse is literally shafted by a white stallion. Subtle? No. Hilarious? Yes. And so our favorite valley TV show …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 May 2016
Doctor Nick Riviera

Google AI gains access to 1.2m confidential NHS patient records

Google has been given access to huge swathes of confidential patient information in the UK, raising fears yet again over how NHS managers view and handle data under their control. In an agreement uncovered by the New Scientist, Google and its DeepMind artificial intelligence wing have been granted access to current and …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2016

ICANN in a strop that Intel, Netflix, Lego, Nike and others aren't using their dot-brand domains

Some of the world's biggest brands, including Intel, Nike, Target, Netflix, Lego, UPS and the NFL have been told to put their namesake dot-word domains live in the next three months or risk losing them altogether. Domain name overseer ICANN has warned 200-plus companies in a blog post that there is a 12-month deadline from …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2016

PayPal probed over Venmo cash-flinging app

PayPal says it is under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged "deceptive or unfair practices" involving its Venmo app. In a filing with the SEC, the online payment giant said it has received a "civil investigative demand" from the FTC last month requesting documents and answers to a series of …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2016
Oracle Ellison Sparc T4 launch

Oracle gobbles Textura

Oracle has bought payment company Textura for $663m. Textura is a leading payment management system for the construction industry, and Oracle intends to roll it into its Primavera software suite which has recently been re-architected for the cloud. Textura shareholders will receive $26 in cash per share. Textura processes $3. …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2016

Your mother has a smooth forehead, Klingon language lovers roar at Paramount

The Language Creation Society is very unhappy about an effort by movie studio Paramount to copyright the language of bumpy-headed Star Trek aliens, the Klingons. In an amicus curiae brief filed with an LA court, the society claims that Klingon is a "living language" and cannot be owned. "The greater whole is a living …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2016

Nearly two billion in the bank and yet this VC is slowly losing his beach-blocking battle

The six-year effort by VC Vinod Khosla to prevent public access to a California beach may be going against the billionaire. In a 3-0 ruling, a San Francisco appeals court reinstated part of a lawsuit brought against the Sun Microsystems co-founder that will now allow lawyers to argue that the land's former owners had granted a …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Apr 2016

UC Davis chancellor suspended after headlines like this one undo $175,000 online name-scrubbing efforts

Linda Katehi, the chancellor of the University of California, Davis, has been suspended pending an investigation into the decision to spent hundreds of thousand of dollars improving Google search results for her name, amid a range of other questionable activities. The decision to put Katehi on paid administrative leave was …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Apr 2016
The Zuckerberg comic cover. Image: Bluewater

Zuck's $16m security bill

Facebook has spent $16m on security for its CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the past five years, an SEC filing has revealed. Last year, the social media giant spent $4.26m on "home security" for The Zuck; the year before that $5.6m. It has also spent about $500,000 a year on private jets for the CEO. "Because of the high visibility of …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Apr 2016

Denham new UK Info Com

Canadian Elizabeth Denham has officially been named the new UK Information Commissioner. She will start June 29. As expected, Denham was formally approved by the House of Commons' culture, media and sport select committee yesterday, following her recommendation by Culture Secretary John Whittingdale last month. Officially she …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Apr 2016

The Internet of Things edges toward a practical reality

There are countless problems with making the so-called "internet of things" (IoT) a pragmatic reality: hardware, software and standards to name the big three. But this week at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco, at least two of them have started to find solutions. During one of its exec's main keynotes, Samsung …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Apr 2016

Move over Amazon Alexa – Samsung's hot assistant bot Otto's trying to build an empire

The success of Amazon's voice-controlled Echo speaker has not gone unnoticed. At Samsung's annual Developer Conference in San Francisco, the company showcased a prototype "digital personal assistant" called Otto as a way to highlight its newest technologies. Otto, the company was quick to stress, is a "reference design" and …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Apr 2016

Samsung's little black box will hot-wire your car to the internet. Eek!

Samsung is developing a small black box device that will plug into your car under the dashboard and instantly turn it into a smart, connected car. Speaking at its annual Developer Conference in San Francisco, the director of the company's Connected Car program, Val Zinchenko, showcased a rectangular black box roughly three …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Apr 2016

Cloud! IoT! APIs! Collect all the data! Samsung wins today's tech bingo

Samsung has launched a new cloud service, aimed at the internet of things (IoT), that lets companies collect, store and act on data from any device. The Artik Cloud service is named after the company's line of chips that it announced a year ago that are specifically designed to be small and work for wearables and other …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Apr 2016

It's World IP Day! Celebrate by making money from a dead teenager

It's World Intellectual Property day! So it's time again to think about the plight of IP lawyers, tens of thousands of whom are forced to undergo the daily indignity of people shaking their heads at them as they try to explain why everything in the world, including your own thoughts, are owned by someone else and you should pay …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2016

T-Mobile US gobbles up another 2.2m customers

For yet another quarter, "uncarrier" T‑Mobile US has shown that there is money to be made in giving customers what they want. Its revenue for Q1 2016 was up on the year-ago period to $8.6bn, beating analysts' expectations: Revenues: Up 10.6 per cent year-on-year to $8.6bn. Service revenues up 13 per cent year-on-year to $6. …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2016
Man reading newspaper with glasses on his head

OpenStack admin exam

The OpenStack Foundation has launched an administrator certification so cloud sysadmins can be recognized as having the requisite skills to oversee OpenStack environments. The Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) exam was announced last year but is now available online at the foundation's Training Marketplace. To quality, …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2016

Theranos lab safety probe

Controversial blood-testing company Theranos repeatedly failed to meet lab standards despite asking for extra time to come into compliance, new documents released by the US federal medical regulator CMS have revealed. The documents [PDF], released under a freedom of information request, highlight "serious deficiencies" at its …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2016

Silicon Valley, season 3: CEO Richard learns humility, tech style

Recap While everyone was getting excited about a sexy witch turning into a distinctly unsexy witch over on Game of Thrones, the true nerds tuned in last night to catch the season 3 opener of Silicon Valley – Mike Judge's caustic and hilarious satire on our favorite den of disruption. It did not disappoint. It's been nearly a year …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2016

FBI ends second iPhone fight after someone, um, 'remembers' the PIN

For the second time, the FBI has dropped a legal attempt to force Apple to unlock an iPhone at the last minute. Earlier this month, the FBI backed away from the high-profile San Bernardino case the day before it was due in court by claiming it had paid a third party (apparently $1.2m) to unlock the phone. This time it's a …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Apr 2016

More questions than answers, literally, from America's privacy rules

Analysis New privacy rules put forward by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that are intended to give consumers more rights over what ISPs do with their data have left policymakers scratching their heads. When FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced last month that he would issue a "notice of proposed rulemaking" – or NPRM in …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Apr 2016
A dog wearing glasses, on a park bench reading the news paper

Clinton's $1m troll fight

The Hillary Clinton Super PAC is planning to spend $1m hitting back at online trolls. A new task force called Barrier Breakers claims it will "help Clinton supporters push back on online harassment and thank super delegates." It argues that "Hillary’s supporters are more enthusiastic than Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters, yet …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Apr 2016
A dog wearing glasses, on a park bench reading the news paper

FBI spies on how many?

The US House Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to the director of national intelligence James Clapper asking him exactly how many US citizens the security services are spying on. "We write to ask that you provide us with a public estimate of the number of communications or transactions involving United States persons …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Apr 2016
Newspapers

Facebook clickbait cull

Facebook is tweaking its system in an effort to reduce the number of misleading articles people see in their news feed, aka clickbait. The social media giant is analyzing how long people actually spend reading the article they click on as a way to discern its importance. It claims to have accounted for long articles so human …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Apr 2016

Amazon attempts rule fudge to take exclusive control of new dot-words

Amazon is trying to get around rules aimed at preventing it from gaining exclusive control of common words online. If successful, the online retail giant is likely to expand its approach to new dot-words, including ".book," ".song" and ".tunes" – despite the world's governments having explicitly said they are opposed to the …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Apr 2016

Ten years in the clink, file-sharing monsters! (If UK govt gets its way)

Analysis The UK government will insist on jail sentences of up to 10 years for illegal file sharing, despite its own public consultation saying the opposite. In an act of almost unparalleled Whitehall hubris, the decision was announced in the foreword to a report [PDF] that revealed only two per cent of respondents agreed with the …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Apr 2016

Big Cable threatens to sue FCC: You can't stop us ripping off customers

The US National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has threatened to sue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if it pushes ahead with plans to open up cable boxes. Speaking at a press conference Thursday, the NCTA's president – and former FCC chair – Michael Powell said that the plan to force cable companies …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Apr 2016

FBI's PRISM slurping is 'unconstitutional' – and America's secret spy court is OK with that

Hopes that reform to the US government's mass surveillance infrastructure would yield real results have been dealt a blow after the opinion of a public advocate to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was rejected. Amy Jeffress was asked to give her opinion on the FBI searching in the vast PRISM database for …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Apr 2016

Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

The US government has poured cold water on the idea of making changes to the new Privacy Shield agreement that will cover transfers of people's private data between the US and Europe, potentially putting the entire agreement at risk. Under secretary of commerce for international trade, Stefan Selig, told Reuters that the US …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Apr 2016
management intelligence

Bio biz Theranos probed

Troubled blood-testing company Theranos has confirmed it is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Attorney's Office over claims it misled investors and government officials. In a letter to its partners, the company said it felt obliged to provide information on ongoing investigations …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2016

Hand over our code to China? We're no commie patsies, Apple cries

Apple's fight with law enforcement has stepped up again, with the iPhone giant forced to deny that it hands over user information to Beijing while refusing the authorities at home. Speaking at a hearing of US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Apple's general counsel Bruce Sewell said that the Chinese …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2016
Speedometer by Nathan E Photography, Flickr under CC2.0

Law prof Lessig cuffed

We are all equal in the eyes of the law. Which helps explain how both Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessing and hippie ice cream makers Ben and Jerry ended up being arrested in the same spot this weekend. The author of Code is law and highly unsuccessful presidential candidate, Lessig was in Washington DC as part of the …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2016

Europe's digi-boss tells YouTube to cough up proper music royalties

The European Union's digital chief has told YouTube that it needs to start compensating copyright owners properly. Andrus Ansip is currently updating Europe's copyright rules and spoke publicly about how the Google-owned video site was providing far less to copyright owners than competing services such as Spotify. "This is …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2016
Man shouting through a mega phone with abstract communication icons in the background

Assange lawyer dies

Top lawyer John Jones QC, known for representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has died. "With immense sadness we share the tragic news of the death of John Jones QC," said a statement from his legal firm, Doughty Street Chambers, where he was the head of its international criminal law team. It did not provide any details …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2016

Big telco proxies go full crazy over cable box plan

The decision by the FCC to tackle the national rip-off that is cable boxes has entered crazy land with the publication of the proposed rules and formal backing by the Obama administration. A public comment period has formally opened on the proposal [PDF] to force cable companies to adopt a standard format for their information …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Apr 2016

House passes broadband bill despite promise of White House veto

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that it claims will prevent federal regulators from setting broadband prices, but critics say it's little more than an effort to undermine net neutrality regulations. During a sometimes heated discussion in Congress on Friday, representatives voted 241-173 to pass HR 2666 – the No …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Apr 2016

Mac hinge may change

In news that might change the arc of mankind, reports have emerged that Apple may change the hinge on one of the laptops it sells later this year. Even though the existence of a new hinge design made from metal injection molding is only a rumor, scientists are looking into whether the Earth may stop spinning on its axis. …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Apr 2016