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Richard Chirgwin

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Rocket Lab's Peter Beck with a model of Rutherford

Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

A new outfit launched in Auckland, New Zealand, believes that by next year it'll be ready to sling satellites spacewards for as little as $5m. The only hitch is its need to recruit a few rocket scientists – ah, about 30 – who are prepared to relocate to New Zealand. Rocket Lab has just kicked off an American presence to help the …
Microsoft's Sharks Cove

Microsoft bakes a bigger Pi to cook Windows slabs

Microsoft is looking for a footprint in the mini-single-board-computer market dominated by the Raspberry Pi, with the launch of the Intel Atom-based 'Sharks Cove' machine it hopes will attract developers with an interest in tablets. That's an interesting move: the tablet market is hotly contested, with vendors entering and …
Cat 5 cable

Telcos renew calls to limit metadata retention

Australian internet service provider (ISP) iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has (once again) come out swinging against proposals in Australia to introduce a mass data retention regime, telling a senate committee that the head of ASIO doesn't understand what law enforcement is asking for. Dalby was addressing the …
Candle in the dark

Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency

A fire on the International Space Station (ISS) – intentional of course – has provided hints at the kinds of research needed to make engines on Earth cleaner and more fuel efficient. Surprisingly, the experiments turned up flames burning at lower temperatures than thought possible. In the research, astronauts set fire to large …
Doom

Bitcoin on ATM? Pfft! We play DOOM on ours

Back in January, a Register commentard recalled a magazine cover of days of yore, depicting Doom as if it were running on an ATM: now an Aussie tinkerer has brought the vision to life. As shown in the YouTube video below, the hardware hackers obtained a presumably-retired NCR Personas ATM – one that runs Windows XP – and got id …
Google Chocolate Factory

Google Maps community competition falls foul of Indian regulations

Google has found itself in hot water in India, with the country's Central Bureau of Investigation launching a formal investigation into Google Maps for allegedly publishing the location of sensitive military bases. The problem arose because of a community competition held last year - Google's Mapathon 2013 - in which the …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout

NBN Co – via Telstra Wholesale – has revealed which apartment blocks will be the first to get FTTP under commercial trials of a rollout plan designed to thwart cherry-picking by competitors. The Telstra Wholesale rollout publication (PDF or Excel, here) obliquely identifies suburbs in Sydney (Millers Point and Haymarket), …
Random numbers

Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins

Researchers from Denmark's Aalborg university are claiming that Internet could move traffic five times or more faster than it does today. The downside? Doing away with how TCP/IP currently functions. In this announcement, Aalborg professor Frank Fitzek provides a (somewhat sketchy) outline of what he calls “Random Linear Network …
Google UK office logos

Google outlines research priorities for boffin grants

Google, through luminary Vint Cerf, has given the world a glimpse of its immediate research priorities. You'll be pleased to know that The Chocolate Factory still ranks freedom of speech and expression, Internet governance, standards, accessibility, access and IP protection as things it thinks need more study. In this post from …
Boeing 787 battery fire

BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff

Battery capacity remains a big issue in devices ranging from phones to electric vehicles – and one of the biggest constraints is the materials used to make electrodes. A paper published at Nature Nanotechnology (abstract here), offers a promising lead for improvements as boffins say they've hit on a way to replace today's anode …
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is warning that two iconic Australian astronomy facilities – the Parkes radio-telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array at Narrabri, are at risk of closure after the federal government pulled $AU114 million from the agency's funding. The …
Google Chocolate Factory

Google's Canadian 'memory hole' to continue

Google – and arguably free speech – has suffered another “memory hole” setback in its Canadian wrangle with kit vendor Equustek Solutions, and in response has begun taking down links well beyond Canada where the court case is taking place. As we reported in June, the court battle involves Google only incidentally. Equustek's …

IEEE gets to work on 25G Ethernet MAC standards

The IEEE has launched a study group to give 25 Gbps Ethernet standardisation a push along. Hang on, you might ask, don't we already have Ethernet running at speeds higher than 25 Gbps? Yes, but only as multiple links running in parallel: a 40 Gbps Ethernet connection is four 10 Gbps Ethernet serial links strapped together, and …
Malcolm Turnbull

Lower prices are BAD FOR CONSUMERS, says Turnbull

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has intervened in an Australian Consumer And Competition Commission (ACCC) inquiry, warning Australia's competition regulator not to cut the wholesale price of fixed line services. The letter, co-signed by finance minister Matthias Cormann, warns the ACCC that varying the price of Telstra …

Fortinet fawns over fast-if-unfashionable ASIC

Fortinet is making hefty claims for its latest firewall release. In a world obsessed by squeezing performance out of virtualised functions running on white-box servers, the company is puffing its feathers over a new ASIC it says bestows Terabit-per-second performance on its biggest iron. The ASIC is dubbed NP6, a lower power …
Heating air to create optical waveguide

The answer to faster wireless is blowing in the wind

If you make enough hot air, it'll act as a waveguide for optical signals and behave something like an optical fibre. Don't, however, stick your eye in the beam. To create the “air waveguide” described in this paper at Arxiv, the boffins from the University of Maryland were letting loose at least enough heat to burn paper, …

Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade

Mozilla has released a bug-and-security update for Firefox, with 11 security fixes, three of them critical. Chief among the security patches is a use-after-free bug the organisation says was discovered by one James Kitchener. From the advisory: “Mozilla community member James Kitchener reported a crash in DirectWrite when …
Double Facepalm; when one facepalm is not enough.

Stop begging, startup-land, and start YELLING at Catch of the Day

Thank you, Catch of the Day: in taking three years – three years – to own up to a data breach (and by the way doing it late on a Friday afternoon), Australians have had a first-rate demonstration of why we need data breach disclosure laws. It would be welcome news that the egregious Asshat-of-the-Day episode has finally …
Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz, Macquarie University

All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on

The 5G arms race has commenced, but beneath the duelling “my 5G is faster than your 5G” demos, there's serious work going on – and whatever the future of 5G, that work will change the future of mobility one way or the other. With that in mind, The Register spoke to Professor Eryk Dutkiewicz of Macquarie University. In May, …
Transformer Pulsar J1023

Second galactic flip-flop pulsar surprises boffins

“Where did it go?” is the kind of question astrophysicists love to answer, and work by NASA's Fermi gamma-ray space telescope has helped find out what happened to a radio pulsar that seemed to go dark in 2013. The mystery arose in June 2013: a pulsar's radio beacon vanished to be replaced by a huge increase in its gamma ray …
cloud

VeloCloud stitches together virty WAN

A startup called VeloCloud has taken the wraps off a cloudy WAN-as-service offering designed to help enterprises wean themselves off branch networks using private WAN services like MPLS or T1 links. Talking to The Register, VeloCloud's CEO Sanjay Uppal (an alumnus of Webvan among other things, but let's not hold that against him …
Octoblu's Chrome demo

IoT has too many platforms, says IoT platform startup

Yet another startup wants to take over the business of connecting your Internet of Things devices. Octoblu, which has “emerged” from “stealth mode” (if you don't count Tweets about its financing in May, or its joining the AllSeen Alliance in June) is pitching an open-source platform called Meshblu that connects devices with or …
Keep out sign with deleted expletive

EFF looses Privacy Badger to munch cookies and scripts

Chrome and Firefox users can get a better handle on who is tracking their browsing, with the EFF releasing its Privacy Badger browser plug-in to public beta. Privacy Badger, which went in front of alpha testers in May 2014, both exposes Websites' tracking behaviour and lets users control what sites can see. As the EFF explains …
Job cuts jpeg

Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off

Broadcom is exiting the cellular baseband business, a decision that's has bitten hard, with the company announcing layoffs of around 2,500 employees – around 20 per cent of its total workforce – worldwide. Its latest SEC filing shows the company turned in a loss of $US1 million for the quarter, a collapse from the previous …
Flying pig

Cisco relaunches Developer Network

Cisco has picked up a lipstick-gloss in one hand and a pig in the other, by re-launching its developer program to have another shot at attracting third party coders to its platforms. For not the first time, The Borg has hit upon the idea that getting others writing functions and applications for it is a big chunk of its future. …
Today's bloated CPE

WTF is ... Virtual Customer Premises Equipment?

As software-defined networking takes off, it's become the basis of a parallel development: network function virtualisation. NFV is a boon to the data centre. For decades now, giants and minnows of the networking industry alike – Cisco and all of its competitors, along with anybody offering firewalls, WAN optimisation devices and …
Cat yawning

Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil

The world's second-richest man, Carlos Slim, has called for a radical overhaul of the world's working arrangements, suggesting a combination of three-day weeks, longer hours, and later retirement. The Paraguay.com news agency reports Slim's comments, which were made to a business conference in Paraguay called “Growing Together …
A bat swing captured by MAP

Boffins fill a dome with 480 cameras for 3D motion capture

Move over Gollum: Carnegie-Mellon boffins are working on 3D motion capture that works without tracking sensors, and can pull together images from hundreds of sensors. Their work, documented in full here, goes way beyond the motion capture tricks that let Peter Jackson give Gollum and King Kong to the world: they put their …
SK Telecom / Ericsson Elastic Cell

SK Telecom, Ericsson trial 'elastic cell'

SK Telecom and Ericsson have demonstrated a technique they call “elastic cells”, which the two say should improve mobile connectivity in difficult environments. Ever since the earliest days of mobile phones, phones have logged into the base station that presents them with the “best” signal. Each handset is dedicated to the cell …
Hyperbolic map of the internet. Credit: Nature Communications

CAIDA to survey peers, colo sheds and ISPs for new map of internet

CAIDA – the group of router boffins established at the University of California to research 'net traffic and look for solutions to threats to Internet stability – has given itself a new name. If you're thrifty with your letters and don't want to learn a new acronym, you'll be pleased to know that the name change is from the …

Cisco's first 8 Tbps MONSTER router goes live at Telstra

Ten months after the hype first hit the interwebs, Cisco has started pumping electrons through the first live install of its NCS 6008 giant router, at Australian carrier Telstra. Back in September 2013, the Borg described Telstra as one of the customers “deploying the Cisco NCS”, a statement which in retrospect could be …
The VolksPC

Debian Linux, Android share a bed in upcoming distro

A new Linux distribution is looking to overcome the limitations of Debian on ARM, by running both Linux apps and Android apps in native mode. Produced by the group that created the MicroXwin kernel-based X Windows implementation, the VolksPC distribution is designed to give users an ARM-Debian environment that supports Debian's …

Data retention: ASIO says Web browsing habits would need a warrant

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has renewed its call for Australia to implement a data retention regime, with director-general David Irvine telling a Senate committee that it's asking for nothing that doesn't already happen, and promising that it will treat Web browsing differently to e-mail …
Fastpass logical diagram

Kill queues for fast data centres: MIT boffins

MIT researchers hope to speed up networking inside the data centre with concepts that will look familiar to old networking hacks: they propose a central arbiter for network traffic that picks out a predetermined path before a packet is transmitted. The boffins call the scheme Fastpass, and its other characteristic is that the …
management regulation2

Brandon Gray aka Namejuice suspended by ICANN

An accused domain slammer with an international footprint has been temporarily suspended by ICANN, more than a decade after the first complaints about its operations. Brandon Gray Internet Services is accused by ICANN of letting its resellers mine whois for registrant data, which would be used to send “your domain is about to …

Writing about an Australian Snowden would land Vulture South in the clink

Australia isn't just passing a spooks' charter: it's creating a regime in which journalists would be as much at risk as the whistle-blowers whose efforts they chronicle. Here's the bill, and here's the explanatory memorandum. In spite of Attorney-General George Brandis' insistence that the government doesn't intend to target …
ATLAS experiment "candidate event"

CERN data explains how Higgs heavies other matter

Ever since the putative discovery of the Higgs boson in 2011, one of the next-big-thing searches in physics has been to confirm the mechanism by which the exotic particle imparts mass to other particles. Now, a team led by boffins from Brookhaven National Laboratory think they've contrived just such a test. In work conducted at …
Map showing Narrabri in NSW

Supposed 'leader' of LulzSec pleads guilty to hacking, hubris

Matthew Flannery, once paraded by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as the “leader” of international hacking collective LulzSec, has pleaded guilty to the five remaining charges against him, in Gosford Local Court. Flannery has waited since April 2013 to have the case settled. He is to be sentenced at a later date. At the …
eyeofSauron

Australia gets spooks' charter, new leak penalties

Australia's government has introduced its “spooks' charter” to parliament, wheeling ASIO chief David Irvine in front of a press conference to convince Australians of deadly threats to their liberty that justify the erection of a surveillance state. The new legislation introduces a single warrant covering networks of computers ( …

Fox wants Time to wrap up even more content

Rupert Murdoch, through 21st Century Fox, has launched a $US80 billion unsolicited takeover offer for Time Warner, to a chilly reception from its target. The deal was proposed by Murdoch's vehicle during June, but says that Time Warner “declined to pursue” the proposal. At the moment, Fox says, “We are not currently in any …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

ACCC should be regulated: Vertigan NBN review

The first slab work by the Vertigan panel, the group assembled to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of Australia's National Broadband Network (NNB), has landed and suggests the industry is happier with dealing with NBN Co than it is with the Australian Competition and Consumer Comission'ss (ACCC's) regulatory processes. Broadly, …
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

UN to Five Eyes nations: Your mass surveillance is breaking the law

Edward Snowden should be shielded from prosecution because the world needs people willing to expose violations of human rights, says the UN's High Commissioner for Human rights Navi Pillay. Speaking at the launch of a report into digital privacy, Pillay said Snowden's revelations “go to the core” of the UN's concerns about mass …

Data centre Ethernet speed club signs Brocade

The industry consortium formed to boost cloud data centre Ethernet links has signed another member: Brocade Networks. With the current 10/40 Gbps Ethernet spec under stress from growing cloud loads, the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium (a snappy name sure to become more familiar than WiFi) is laying down specs for 25 Gbps (single …

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT

Elon Musk has taken another step in his transformation into James Bond supervillain, with the FAA granting SpaceX approval to start building its own spaceport in Texas. The FAA has issued a “Record of Decision” (PDF here) stating its support for the issuing of licenses to SpaceX. The facility, to be built near Brownsville, …

Mozilla and Facebook snip a further five per cent from all JPEGs

Just four months after loosing the mozjpeg encoder on a waiting world, Mozilla has updated it to version 2.0, at the same time announcing that Facebook is testing the new iteration. The Social NetworkTM has also slung Mozilla $US60,000 towards the development effort in anticipation of mozjpeg 3.0. Mozjpeg, first released in …

OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh

The embedded Linux distro OpenWRT has updated native IPv6 support – allowing devices to automatically pick up an IPv6 address, as well as an IPv4 one, from an ISP if possible. The release candidate is code-named “Barrier Breaker” and runs the Linux 3.10 kernel. OpenWRT 14.07's improved IPv6 support with DHCPv6 is useful for …
Illustration of Barak Dayan's photonic router

New photonic router works by flipping reflective atom's lid

Quantum boffins from Israel's Weizmann Institute have demonstrated a two-input/two-output router that works entirely with single photons – no electronics required. It's not the first time a photonic router has been demonstrated, but what's different about the Israeli work is that everything is photonic: the device has two …
White flag

Remember when Google+ outed everyone by their real names? Now Google's sorry

In another attempt to get someone, anyone, spending time on Google+, the Chocolate Factory has abandoned its “real names only” policy. The policy has been criticised for its entire existence. The company began deleting accounts that didn't pass its real-names test in 2011, without any particular consistency of enforcement. In …
Dambuster_Mohne_dam_breach

Mandatory data breach laws back on Australian agenda

Australia's on-again, off-again debate about data breach notification laws is on again, courtesy of a report into financial system regulation, at least until the government cans the idea (again). Register readers will recall that a Privacy Alerts bill was proposed by the previous government before the 2013 election, then delayed …
Plaques in the retina fluorescing in a scan

Get an EYEFUL OF CURRY for the sake of your brain

Researchers at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have announced that turmeric – the root that imparts a distinctive yellow colour and subtle flavour to curry – has clinical applications in testing for Alzheimer's disease. The boffins have been working on retinal imaging as a test …