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Richard Chirgwin

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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 …
management regulation2

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

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 …
hand with thumb up

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 …
Glorious future of China

Huawei's and ZTE's SDN embrace: soft power in vendor-land

China's network hardware sector has taken another step into the world of openness with ZTE joining the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project. As ZTE and (even more enthusiastically) Huawei cosy up to the world of open networking, Vulture South is moved to wonder whether there isn't an exercise of “soft power” emerging. ZTE is …

100 IT workers face the axe at CSIRO

The Staff Association at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) reckons that among the nearly 900 jobs being cut from the science agency, IT and comms is to lose at least 119. The group has put together an analysis of documents provided to it by management under the agency's enterprise …
Concept pic of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle during re-entry. Credit: ESA

ESA's spaceplane cleared for lift-off in February 2015

Arianespace has put the launch of its IXV spaceplane back on the schedule, announcing a February 2015 date for the flight. The launch was recently postponed, but the organisation now says it's agreed with French space agency CNES that IXV – the Intermedia eXperimental Vehicle – will ascend to space on February 11 2015. The IXV …
padlock

Crypto protocols held back by legacy, says ENISA

The EU Agency for Network Information and Security (ENISA) has updated its 2013 crypto guidelines, designed to help developers protect personal information in line with EU law, and has sternly told crypto designers they're doing it wrong, in two reports released late last week. At the protocol level, cryptography suffers from …
cloud

OIF and ONF to co-operate on standards

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) has started work on APIs for the software-defined networking era. The work is a follow-on from the joint meeting of OIF and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) that identified what's missing in optical transport APIs to let user applications talk to the underlying network. The ultimate …
Homer Simpson confronts rigged voting machine

E-vote won't happen for next Oz election

Australians won't have the chance to vote electronically any time soon, after a parliamentary committee put the idea on ice. Beloved of netizens for at least 20 years, 'net voting – as distinct from other ways in which IT&T change our electoral processes – was pitched to the committee on the basis that people “would rather be …
Galaxy simulation

Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data

The Illustris Project, a universe-scale simulation created in 2013 at MIT and unveiled in May 2014, is now offering its first data products as downloads for researchers. The large-scale cosmological simulation of galaxy formation, as it describes itself, has half a petabyte containing 12 billion resolution points and in a full …
Bittorrent Sync 2.0 screenshot

Bittorrent wants to sink Dropbox with Sync 2.0

Bittorrent is taking Sync out of beta with an alpha version of Sync 2.0. (Look, it's not Vulture South's fault. That's what the outfit says, right here.) The premium version it's announced – US$39.99 a year – claims unlimited-size file storage, and is pitching the strong crypto and distributed storage as offering better …
The particle tube deconstructed at LHC

CERN's 2014 Xmas gift from the Large Hadron Collider: Two new baryons

Analysis of Large Hadron Collider data collected in 2011 and 2012 has turned up two new subatomic particles: a couple of baryons that are six times as massive as a proton. The atom-smasher's LHCb experiment produced data that looks a lot like particles designated Xi_b'- and Xi_b*- which were first predicted by Canadian particle …
Leaf

Greening the copper with NFV, lower power optics from GreenTouch

The GreenTouch group, which researches less power-hungry networking technologies, is pitching an NFV-style home gateway architecture as one way to curb broadband networks' appetite for electrons. The vendor-and-research partnership was set up in 2010, and now lists nearly 50 member organisations listed. Leading its latest …
cloud

Extreme adds switches and partners

Extreme Networks has launched a quartet of switches and a management appliance, in what it says is an expansion of its software defined network (SDN) strategy. Back in June, the company launched its OpenStack SDN platform. That launch wrapped a bunch of API toolkits together with NetSight management and Purview optimisation …
iVEC's Magnus supercomputer

IVEC's Magnus crashes Top 50

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is all smiles after the SC14 announcement that its upgraded Magnus iron has landed in the world's top fifty supercomputers. The 35,712-core Haswell-based Cray XC40 cracked 1,097 teraflops on the Linpack benchmark, which put it at position 41 on the list. At the end of September, the machine's …

Apple slapped in YET ANOTHER patent battle

Apple has to fork out US$23.6 million to a former pager company after a jury decision in the US District Court, Eastern Texas. Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, which had filed a variety of patents back in the 1990s when it operated the SkyTel pager network, wanted US$237 million from Cupertino but didn't get it. Its …
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Hewlett Foundation lays out MEELLIONS on security

The Hewlett Foundation has found US$45m in its other jacket, and has anointed three lucky US universities to spend on security research. MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley will share the simoleons, in a program MIT says is designed to generate a “robust marketplace of ideas”, whatever that is. On a more pragmatic basis, the …
Cat yawning

Netflix tags March 2015 for ANZ launch

Netflix has finally unbagged the cat, giving a date for its long-mooted, sometimes-denied Australia and New Zealand launch: March 2015. Apart from the usual shopping-list of titles, the Internet-streaming net-neutrality-warrior says it'll be including 4K content in its service, which will cause a wry and bitter laugh among …

Boffins train robots to pull apart LCD screens – without breaking them

Computer scientists at the University of New South Wales are teaching robots to rip apart computers for recycling. Of course, while it's easy to use a machine to disassemble something, their trick is to do it while preserving key components. Which isn't quite as easy as it sounds. The group, comprising researchers from UNSW's …
NASA Nature Run screen grab

NASA launches new climate model at SC14

After 75 days running on the 43,000-core, 1.21 petaflop Discover supercomputer cluster at the Goddard Centre for Climate Simulation, producing 4 PB of data, NASA has put together a global model showing how atmospheric carbon dioxide – CO2 – gets distributed in air currents around the world. Youtube Video The model is based on …
The concrete blocks available for our rocket motor testing

'Pirate block' proposal back on Oz agenda

Australia's government is once again rumoured to favour the idea of ordering ISPs to block Websites accused of hosting copyright-infringing content, or linking to it. In the wake of its confirmed-then-denied-then-confused messages over whether or not its data (miscalled “metadata” to confuse citizens and journalists) retention …
Nvidia

Nvidia doubles Tesla grunt at SC14

Nvidia's SC14 eye-catcher is the next increment in its HPC GPU accelerator, the Tesla K80. The successor to the Tesla K40, the K80 is pitched as double-your-everything: twice the performance and twice the memory bandwidth. Unsurprisingly, the company reckons its target will be data analytics and scientific computing applications …

The optic NERVE of it: Intel declares WAR on InfiniBand

It's no surprise when Intel announces a new processor architecture – that's its main game, after all. However, along with the Knight's Bridge chips released at SC'14, the company seems to have declared war on the HPC mainstream, announcing an optical comms architecture designed to compete with InfiniBand. The Omni-Path …
CSIRO's giant titanium bugs

CSIRO carves out another 75 jobs

The CSIRO has had to announce yet more staff cuts after one of its divisions failed to meet an external funding target. According to the CSIRO Staff Association, the digital productivity flagship is one of the agency's targets for the cuts, along with researchers in agriculture and advanced manufacturing. The latter is the home …
Another tree anchors the cable

NBN Co screws lid on FTTP coffin

NBN Co has set in place the new rollout principles announced last week, in the form of a new corporate plan. Published yesterday, the 2014-2017 plan lays out the company's expectations now that the “multi-technology mix” has been set in stone. In the event that NBN Co is able to complete its negotiations for access to Telstra's …

Simon's says quantum computing will work

One of the hard parts of quantum computing is turning laboratory qubits into a calculation of anything. Now, South African scientists claim they've tested a handful of qubits against a 20-year-old algorithm to demonstrate that yes, a quantum computer can run it “faster” than a classical machine. Regular readers of quantum- …
Moonbase Otago's OneRNG entropy generator

Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age

One of the many bits of technology that attracts paranoia in a post-Snowden era is random number generation, and a New Zealand developer hopes to help solve that with an all-open entropy generator. As often happens in Middle Earth New Zealand these days, Paul Campbell of Moonbase Otago is invoking Tolkien by naming the project …

Pre-digital computer 'cranks out' Fourier Transforms

A group of American engineers have rescued and returned to operation a Fourier-Transform-calculating machine designed in the 19th century. The machinery is an impressive reminder not only of what could be achieved in the pre-digital era, but also of the genius of its designer Albert Michelson, a name less-known to the general …

Cisco targets India with new investment

In a move interpreted as an endorsement of the new Indian government headed by reformer, and digital service delivery believer, Narendra Modi, Cisco wants to turn around its fortunes in India, and is reportedly putting US$1.7 billion on the table as part of its strategy. The Economic Times reports the commitment, which The Borg …
Random numbers

EVERYTHING needs crypto says Internet Architecture Board

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) has called for encryption to become the norm for all internet traffic. Last Friday, the IAB issued a statement saying that since there is no single place in the Internet protocol stack that offers the chance to protect “all kinds of communication”, encryption must be adopted throughout the …
Uncov chronicles the failure of Web 2.0

Parliamentary committee says data retention should need a warrant

An Australian parliamentary committee has taken aim at the nation's proposed data retention regime, saying it fails tests of privacy, necessity and proportionality on several grounds, and called on the government to require warrants for data collection. The bipartisan Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights last Friday ( …
cloud

Alcatel-Lucent buries EDGE routers in x86 server fleet

Alcatel-Lucent is the latest firm to announce that it's turning its entire routing code base into a virtual router to run on x86 server platforms. The VSR (Virtualized Service Router) is described by the company as a “suite of software applications” based on the company's non-stop routing code, and the company's planning a …
Artist's impression of Philae on Comet 67P

BOING, BOING! Philae BOUNCED TWICE on Comet 67P

It almost sounds like a cartoon from the 1950s: The Philae lander, which on 12 November had a successful rendezvous with Comet 67P after being released by the Rosetta spacecraft, bounced not once but twice, before finally settling on the surface of the space-rock. As reported quite soon after the landing, the boffins in charge …

GIANT sunspot returns, bigger and belchier than ever before

Sunspot AR12192, which thrilled astronomers and caused a little concern among technologists in October with its size and an X-class flare, is about to come back into view of Earth, bigger than ever. The sunspot has spent some time on the far side of the Sun, but that hasn't stopped scientists from analysing its activity and …

Mellanox preps to ship 100 Gbps adapters

Mellanox has rounded out its 100 Gbps InfiniBand interconnect strategy with the release of single/dual port adapters. The ConnectX-4 release follows the March announcement of 100 Gbps-capable cable solutions and the aggregate 7.2 Tbps, 100ns-latency 36-port EDR (enhanced data rate) SwitchIB product in June. The ConnectX-4 VPI …
Cisco CEO John Chambers speaking at Cisco Live! 2014

Cisco ends Q1 an inch ahead of guidance

Cisco has farewelled its chief financial officer after announcing results that showed a still-beating heart somewhere in the giant switch market. Net income for the Borg's first quarter was reported at US$1.8 billion, on revenue of $12.2 billion, about US$40 million ahead of Wall Street's expectations. The company also announced …
management regulation2

Ethernet patents claim smacked down by US judge

Ethernet Innovations' sue-the-world strategy is beginning to unravel, with a California judge invalidating two of its patents and ruling that another two, on which it had based its lawsuits, hadn't been infringed. Companies who had decided to settle might be wishing they'd resisted, with Acer, Dell, HP and a bunch of other …
Broadcom's WICED Sense IoT dev kit

Broadcom wraps new partners into warm IoT embrace

Broadcom has spread its arms around a bunch more Internet of Things partners, to expand the reach of platforms like WICED Smart, WICED Wi-Fi, RoboSwitch, StrataConnect and NetXtreme Ethernet. The company says its aim is to make it easier and cheaper for developers, particularly in start-up land, to get its hands on Broadcom …

Chipzilla to add new production line in Vietnam

Intel has announced that it's to expand its CPU manufacturing plant in Vietnam. Chipzilla plans to spin up a second production line in the Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) fab, according to remarks made by the local subsidiary's CEO Sherry Boger to a seminar on Monday. According to Tuoi Tre News, the Boger said the new production line …
cloud

Researchers show off three-domain international SDN

New Zealand and American researchers have demonstrated a different slant on SDN, creating a test network that spanned three border gateway protocol (BGP) domains and two countries. Calling it the first “Internet-scale” software defined network, the Kiwi research network REANNZ, America's ESnet research network, and Corsa …
Image of HAL eye from 2001 movie with Chrome logo in eye

729 teraflops, 71,000-core Super cost just US$5,500 to build

Cycle Computing has helped hard drive giant Western Digital shove a month's worth of simulations into eight hours on Amazon cores. The simulation workload was non-trivial: to check out new hard drive head designs, the company runs a million simulations, each of which involved a sweep of 22 head design parameters on three types …
Grey-scale Motzart transmitted by twisted light

Sixteen shades of grey survive Viennese quantum optics test

Viennese researchers have taken another important step in the development of communications systems using optical angular momentum (OAM), a.k.a. “twisted light”, as the basis of the modulation. What's different in the latest work is that the group, from the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum …

Italian appeal court clears seismologists of manslaughter

The pain remains, but at least not the crime. In a case watched by scientists around the world, six Italian seismologists who had been found guilty of manslaughter for failing to predict the L'Aquila earthquake have had their convictions overturned by an appeals court. They had been sentenced to six years in jail and a fine of € …

German spies want millions of Euros to buy zero-day code holes

Germany's spooks have come under fire for reportedly seeking funds to find bugs – not to fix them, but to hoard them. According to The Süddeutsche Zeitung, the country's BND – its federal intelligence service – wants €300 million in funding for what it calls the Strategic Technical Initiative. The Local says €4.5 million of that …