Richard Chirgwin

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The Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre

Reg Oz chaps plot deep desert comms upgrade

It's been a while since The Reg travelled to the remote Australian community of Willowra to perform a Windows XP upgrade, and longer still since we updated readers on our plan to improve the internet connection in the town's adult learning centre. We'd like to fix the internet problem because the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre …

Dell draws Midokura into Open Networking project

Dell has expanded its Open Networking initiative with the addition of network virtualisation (NV) specialist Midokura. Under the partnership, Midokura's MidoNet software will become part of Dell's Open Networking reference architecture, and the two vendors will cooperate on marketing under a global reseller agreement. Vijay …
NIST's LEGO watt balance

Boffins weigh in to perfect kilogram quest with LEGO kit

How many boffins does it take to make a LEGO machine to measure a fundamental physical unit? Nine, apparently – but the outcome, a LEGO watt balance, can measure a kilogram with about one per cent inaccuracy. The serious point to the National Institute of Standards and Technology-led effort (NIST) is that with the Le Système …
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China's smartmobe darling Xiaomi locked out of India

Simmering tensions over smartphone patents in India are heating up, with a court smacking down Chinese mobe-maker Xiaomi following a patent infringement claim by Ericsson. The Delhi High Court granted Ericsson an ex parte injunction against the Chinese vendor, according to intellectual property blog Spicy IP, because Xiaomi had …

Merry Xmas, Neohapsis, here's your Cisco-dollars

Cisco is beefing up its security intelligence-gathering, snapping up privately-held advisory Neohapsis for an undisclosed sum. Neohapsis is a Chicago-based security advisory and bug archivist outfit, and will boost Cisco's risk management, compliance, cloud, application, mobile and infrastructure security offerings, according to …
An abandoned Telstra facility on the Stuart Highway

SURPRISE: Oz gov gives itself room to NEVER finish the NBN

The Vertigan panel's report on telecoms regulation in Australia was delivered in October and was mostly ignored by the nation's federal government, but the document has provided a fig-leaf for the abandonment of last year's pre-election promise* to complete the network (albeit with different technologies). According to the …

DoJ's extra-territorial data demands: now Ireland is baulking

The American Department of Justice's legal spat with Microsoft keeps sending out wider ripples, with Ireland now unhappy with the DoJ's blasé attitude about its jurisdictional reach. Microsoft has long been resisting a court order that decided e-mails are “business records” and demanding that Redmond pry open some servers in …
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Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

University of Manchester researchers reckon they've eliminated one of the mechanisms that might have linked mobile phones to cancer. The research is also bad news for those who think power lines are cancer-carriers. Dr Alex Jones in the University's School of Chemistry led a team examining whether weak magnetic fields affected …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Confused about 5G? So are we, say carriers

The world of 5G remains confusing – even to the carriers who we've been told are demanding the new standard as quickly as possible, it seems. With 4G penetration standing at just five per cent of the world's connections, a shortage of spectrum available for new standards, professional scepticism and plenty of hype, 5G has …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

Telstra's NBN boondoggle nearly set in stone: reports

Reports are emerging that the builder of Australia's national broadband network, NBN Co, has all-but struck a deal with Telstra over access to last-mile copper, plus a separate arrangement to absorb the country's cable broadband networks. The deals are reportedly so advanced they'll be tabled at a cabinet meeting, perhaps even …

Microsoft tries to defend Irish servers from US g-men invasion, again

Microsoft is continuing its battle against US demands that it hand over e-mail data stored in Ireland, arguing in its appeal that the US government would resist any demand by a foreign government that it hand over data stored in America. Detailed at Digital Constitution, the Microsoft brief filed on December 8 puts the …
Google Chocolate Factory

Google pushes 'go' on Android Studio

Worried Oompa-Loompas are questioning security guards and combing the wilds of Mountain View after it was discovered that Google has allowed a product, the Android Studio IDE, to escape from the Chocolate Factory's near-impenetrable Beta compound. The production-ready code has been spotted in the wild here after spending 18 …

Zombie POODLE wanders in, cocks leg on TLS

Google might have taken POODLE to a distant country road, let it out and driven away fast, but according to Qualys, the vulnerability has returned, repurposed, as an attack on Transaction Layer Security (TLS). Designated CVE-2014-8730, the new attack vector exploits the same class of problem as POODLE: an error in the handling …
NSA TTTC logo

GSMA denies latest Snowden leak

Mobile carrier club the GSMA has hit back against the latest round of Snowden claims, saying it can't find any evidence of “active targeting or compromise of GSMA systems, communications and stored documentation”. When The Intercept first ran its accusation – that the NSA and GCHQ successfully broke into the traffic of more than …

Gigabit-over-copper VDSL successor G.fast signed off at last

The long-awaited G.fast physical layer standard has been signed off by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), improving the chance that the world will see standards-compliant, interoperable kit start to ship in 2015. The ITU almost manages to work up some excitement about the announcement, reminding a grateful world …
Openstack log

Reds hoist flag of glorious SDN internationale

Huawei and Red Hat are the latest vendors to join hands and clink champagne in the ever-expanding software-defined networks (SDN) love-in. Under the partnership, the venerable Linux and open source expert will provide its OpenStack implementation to the Chinese telco vendor, which will run up its FusionSphere Cloud OS to act as …
Professor Martin Green, UNSW

Solar sandwich cooks at 40 per cent efficiency

Australian solar trailblazer Professor Martin Green's group at the University of New South Wales is claiming a world record in solar efficiency, and this time it's not the usual half-per cent incremental improvement. The Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics that Green directs says its combination of off-the-shelf …
Intel headquarters, Santa Clara

Intel to upgrade chip-test plant in China

Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims. The money will go towards upgrade a decade-old facility to try to assert its 900-pound-gorilla status in the mobile silicon business, for too …
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Dutch lawyers seek to overturn data retention

The Netherlands is the latest EU country to see pushback against excessive state surveillance of the Internet, with that country's criminal lawyers' association leading a court action against the state over its data retention laws. The association (the NVSA) has joined forces with the Dutch Association of Journalists, Privacy …
Random numbers

Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

In 2012 a group of Chinese quantum physicists pulled off an acclaimed success in quantum-based factoring, running an adiabatic quantum algorithm for the number 143, at the time believed to be the largest number ever factored in a quantum computation. It now seems that paper, here, could have overlooked something: in a new paper …
cloud

Pluribus ships network OS update and switch

US bare-metal startup Pluribus Networks is starting to close the kimono somewhat. Not that it's flipping the switch to proprietary hardware, but it is expanding the capabilities for formerly bare-metal switches to make them more enterprise-friendly, by shipping them with its own OS installed. According to the company's CMO Dave …
Daffy duck, shot (Wabbit season)

#Gamergate folk load flamethrower, roast own feet over GTA V 'ban'

Gamergate has flared anew, and perhaps less coherently, after discount department store chain Target Australia decided to take Grand Theft Auto V off its shelves in response to a successful petition on Change.org (after initially resisting the request). The new flareup's lack of coherence comes from the fact that plenty of …

Oz lawyers wig out over data retention

Four years into Australia's data retention debate, the country's peak body representing lawyers has managed to make a statement on the issue. The Law Council of Australia says it's adopted a policy opposing the mandatory data retention that the government wants to get through Parliament, partly because it's noticed that the laws …
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Facebook cosies up to ESET for malware detection

Facebook, which earlier this year started partnering with F-Secure and Trend Micro for malware detection, has added Slovak vendor ESET to its suite of security products. The previous tie-ups, detailed here, are worth noting to put the new partnership in context. F-Secure and Trend both pointed Facebook users at their free online …
cloud

Alca-Lu security stuff goes virtual

Yet more of Alcatel-Lucent's portfolio has escaped its hardware prison to be virtualised: this time, it's the vendor's security solutions. Alca-Lu's Motive Security Guardian (MSG) – based on technology that came with Kindsight Security Labs, which it acquired in April 2013 – is to be turned into a virtualised service, the …
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GCHQ boffins quantum-busted its OWN crypto primitive

While the application of quantum computers to cracking cryptography is still, for now, a futuristic scenario, crypto researchers are already taking that future seriously. It came as a surprise to Vulture South to find that in October of this year, researchers at GCHQ's information security arm the CESG abandoned work on a …
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Google will see other clouds and raise them a PCI certification

Google has announced that it's obtained Payment Card Industry (PCI) certification for its cloud platform, chasing Microsoft and Amazon into the cloudy payment space. The Chocolate Factory outlined the certification in this blog post, also announcing WePay as the first developer using the system. WePay supplied the usual …
The Monash University Bionic Eye

Donors back boffins' wireless eye replacement

Monash University's work on a direct wireless sensor-to-brain interface to bypass optic nerve damage has had a boost with donations totalling AU$2 million that will help get the technology ready for human trials. The university has announced that Marc Besen and Monash chancellor Alan Finkel have each chipped in AU$1 million, to …

Interop lab cranks up speed for a 100 G Ethernet world

As standards bodies and vendors gear up for Ethernet to speed up all the way to all the way out to 100 Gbps, end users are also going to need confidence that their kit will do what it says on the box – and that it'll be interoperable. To that end, the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory (IOL) has announced …

Hominid ancestors beat humans to the drinks cabinet, say boffins

Here's a surprise: the ability to metabolise alcohol evolved long, long before humans became brewers, wine-makers or distillers – about 10 million years before. In research published in PNAS (abstract here) in late November, a bunch of genetic detectives have worked backwards through the development of the enzymes that handle …

Boffins challenge Internet of Things' lust for power

The Internet of Things is going to vastly expand demand for the world's connectivity, and with it, there'll be a corresponding increase in the electricity devoted to computing and communications. The University of Melbourne's Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications is kicking off a new project to work out how that impact …

Japanese monster manifests new PETAFLOP POWER

Japan's ATERUI supercomputer has had its capacity doubled, leading the National Astronomical Observatory (NAO) of Japan to claim that it's currently word's the most power astronomical HPC facility. At Japan's Centre for Computational Astrophysics, ATERIU was already a top-100 machine, but the NAO says the CPU-replacement took it …

Vendors coalesce around 'MGBase-T' 2.5/5 Gbps Ethernet

The move beyond gigabit Ethernet is gathering pace, with a cluster of vendors gathering around the IEEE standards effort to help bring 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps speeds to the ubiquitous Cat 5e cable. Members of the MGBase-Talliance include Aruba Networks, Broadcom, Brocade, Delta Electronics, Freescale Semiconductor, Pulse Electronics …
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IETF takes rifle off wall, grabs RC4 cipher's collar, goes behind shed

The IETF is getting ready to finally kill off the venerable-but-vulnerable RC4 cipher. The group has issued a last call for comments before humming over a proposal that Internet-standard clients and servers need to quit using RC4 in Transport Layer Security (TLS). It's a simple enough change, but in the wide world of the …
Dunce

Australia dumbs down: Chief Scientist says research performance lags the world

Australia likes to flatter itself that it's good at sciences: the nation's scientists did, after all, invent WiFi and lots of other useful stuff. But when the nation looks in the mirror it should be honest and and admit it's wasting away, says a new report from the nation's Chief Scientist. In a report presented to the …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co details fibre/copper divide in new rollout plan

NBN Co has reconfirmed what's been known ever since the 2013 election: fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) builds are more-or-less frozen, and all new builds will be under its multi-technology model. Two weeks after its revised corporate plan capped Australia's experiment with fibre-to-the-premises, the network builder has published a …
Bitcoin bloodbath

Bitcoin laid bare: Boffins beat anonymity

The cyber-libertarian poster-child Bitcoin, meant to usher in a new age of anonymous transactions, is rubbish at protecting users' IP addresses according to research from the University of Luxembourg. In this Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) conference paper by Alex Biryukov, Dmitry Khovratovich and Ivan Pustogarov of …
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NSF goes cloudy with US$16 million super funding

The fatter-than-fat connections provided by America's ESNet to its research community are about to enable a more cloudy supercomputing approach for researchers, with the National Science Foundation has setting aside US$16 million to build new facilities in Indiana and Texas. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) …
Ancient skull found in cave in northern Laos

Siemens issues emergency SCADA patch

Got Siemens SCADA? Get patching: the company has issued updates for software using its WinCC application to plug a bunch of remotely-exploitable vulnerabilities. According to the ICS-CERT advisory, versions of the company's SIMANTIC WinCC, SIMANTIC PCS7 and TIA Portal V13 (which includes a WinCC runtime) are all vulnerable. …

Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature

App developers around the world are cursing Twitter for spilling the beans: spyware isn't a bug on iOS or Android, it's a feature. The world's favourite micro-blogging platform has quietly switched on a feature in which it looks at what other apps are running on a smartphone it's installed on. In the unlikely case that you'd …
Tesla's Elon Musk

Tesla confirms Australian launch date

Tesla, which earlier this year started scouting around for charging stations in Australia and has also popped up with displays in at least one Sydney mall, has confirmed December for its official launch. Renew Economy reckons the Sydney December 9 launch will include early Model S deliveries and announcements about where it will …
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Five-eyes partners dilute UN resolution criticising metadata collection

The “five eyes” surveillance partners – the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – have joined forces to nobble a UN General Assembly committee's statements on digital privacy. While the General Assembly's human rights committee has adopted a non-binding resolution saying that “unlawful or arbitrary” mass surveillance …
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BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network

BT's patent spat with US company ASSIA will start to be noticed by customers, with the carrier reportedly shutting down boxes that provide rate adaptation after it lost a crucial round of legal action. In December 2013, Britain's High Court ruled that BT had infringed ASSIA patents by developing DSL management platforms referred …
eyeofSauron

Snowden doc leak lists submarine'd cables tapped by spooks

Edward Snowden's latest document dump has confirmed the extensive list of submarine cables tapped by the NSA, GCHQ and others. A list of cables errily reminiscent to that The Register revealed in June has been made public by German broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung in a Google Drive dump here. As The Register's Duncan Campbell …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co makes it official - backhaul charges will fall

NBN Co has followed through on its promise to cut the price of its services with a 12.5 per cent snip off the price of its connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) as of 1 February 2015. Currently $20 per Mbps per month, the CVC will fall to $17.50 per Mbps per month under the new agreement, published in template form by the network …
NASA MMS screen grab

NASA preps mission to probe Earth's magnetic mysteries

Video Next March, all going well, NASA will launch a bunch of spacecraft to try and unravel the mechanism of what's called magnetic reconnection, a process by which Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect. It's not only a question of fundamental science: during magnetic reconnection, there's an explosive release of energy that' …

Boffins find Jackie Chan's SUPERCOP is good for something

Blu-Ray might not be setting the world afire, but boffins have turned up a surprising upside of the technology that can be applied to solar PV manufacture. It turns out the pit-and-peak pattern that encodes a movie on the disk helps improve light absorption if reproduced on the surface of a solar cell. Published in Nature …
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Disturbance in the force lets phones detect gestures with Wi-Fi

How would you like a phone that gives you gesture recognition - without needing to buy a new phone? That's the tantalising prospect offered by a project at the University of Washington (UoW), which uses the existing Wi-Fi capabilities of consumer-grade devices (laptops were used for the research paper) to work out peoples' …

Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first

While the world gets excited about Internet-of-stuff saving people from the exhaustion that follows putting down a smartphone or using a remote control to adjust the thermostat, there's a bunch of research still needed to get more serious applications like sensor networks bedded down. It's not just that the world is choosing …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Qualcomm joins Ericsson, Telstra in 450 Mbps LTE demo

Telstra has again demonstrated technology that will let lucky LTE users consume the entire 15 GB of its largest consumer post-paid broadband plan in less than 5 minutes. A repeat of the May 2014 demonstration of the same speed in conjunction with Ericsson, the latest demo brought Qualcomm into the fold. Qualcomm provided the …