Richard Chirgwin

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Wind turbine, image via Shutterstock

Software glitch, not wind farms, blacked out 60,000 in South Australia

Yet another reason that isn't wind farms has emerged for recent blackouts in the Australian State of South Australia: dodgy software. The ongoing politicking sparked by last year's “megastorm”-driven blackouts was revived earlier this month, when a heatwave swept across the country and caused another round of blackouts in the …
Wagyu Bull

BS Detection 101 becomes actual University subject

How could El Reg ignore this? – two University of Washington professors have assembled a course to teach students to identify bullshit. Biology professor Carl Bergstrom and assistant professor at the university's Information School Jevin West have devised the “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data” course as their small …

Watson can't cure cancer ... or all the stuff that breaks IT projects

A University of Texas audit report last week tipped a bucket on the conduct of a high-profile “Watson to cure cancer” project. The University has criticised the MD Anderson Cancer Center's “Oncology Expert Advisor (OEA) Project”, which since 2014 has poured tens of millions into seeing if IBM's Watson was smart enough to beat …
Used car on laptop

Connected car in the second-hand lot? Don't buy it if you're not hack-savvy

Cars are smart enough to remember an owner, but not smart enough to forget one – and that's a problem if a smart car is sold second-hand. The problem is as simple as you could imagine: people shovelling apps and user services into cars forget that the vehicle nearly always outlives its first owner. The global head of IBM's X- …

In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

UPDATED Colour us surprised: a Silicon Valley darling famous for belligerent market entries, raising middle fingers at regulators and having a relaxed attitude to tax has been accused of also completing a bingo-card of bad management that includes sexism, arse ass-covering, empire-building and malicious management. That startup is …
NBN

Competition and wholesale costs, not lack of fibre, crimp broadband in Australia

Like the sun rising, the release of a new Akamai State of the Internet report inevitably leads to opinion columns bemoaning Australia's slide on global league tables for broadband speed, most attributing it to the much-hated “multi-technology model” NBN. We're going to swim against the tide and suggest otherwise: the problem …
NASA's exploding star illustration

Baby supernova spotted, just three hours old and a real cutie

In the kind of observational serendipity that astro-boffins live for: spotting the explosion of a supernova mere hours after the explosion's light started reaching Earth. The catch, made in 2013 by the venerable Samuel Oschin 48-inch telescope as part of the Palomar Transient Factory Survey, is the “youngest” supernova …

Crypto-curious? Wickr's opened its kimono for code review

Ephemeral messaging application Wickr has opened up the core crypto software of its Wickr Professional app so others can review it. The repository is at GitHub. At this stage, the company is not offering the code for re-use. It's published under a purpose-written “review license” only, although the company says an open-source …
Losing money

Cisco shrinks: Revenue, profit and margin all dipped in Q2 2017

Get out the pen, walk to the whiteboard, and draw lines heading downwards: Cisco's Q2 2017 results showed year-on-year falls in revenue and earnings, and a router business close to free-fall. Cisco shed two per cent of quarterly revenue year-on-year, from US$11.8 billion to $11.6 billion, which was at the better end of its …

Republicans send anti-Signal signal to US EPA

US House Republicans Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) have demanded a probe into staff at the US Environmental Protection Agency who are apparently using private encrypted communications. Earlier this month, insiders at the EPA, the US Department of Labor, the Foreign Service, and possibly other agencies and …
Hammer, spanner and screw

Remote unauthenticated OS re-install is a feature, not a bug, says Cisco

Cisco's taken umbrage at accusations that its Smart Install (SMI) protocol is vulnerable to abuse. The problem – if there is one, because “it's a feature, not a bug” – is that if netadmins are using SMI to auto-configure switches installed in branch offices they need to know it doesn't enforce authentication. If an attacker …
Migrating birds in the cloud

Riverbed bakes SD-WAN into WAN optimisation

Riverbed is hoping to push more large-scale Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) deployments with a data centre version of its SteelConnect, plus integration of the system into its SteelHead appliances under the new moniker "SteelHead SD". The SteelConnect SDI-5030 provides an SD-WAN-capable data centre gateway gets integration with …
Robot looks into magnifying glass, human eye displayed. Photo by Shutterstock

Meet LogicLocker: Boffin-built SCADA ransomware

Let's start with the “calm down” part of the article: yes, LogicLocker is ransomware designed for programmable logic controllers, but no, the cyber-geddon isn't upon us. LogicLocker is a proof-of-concept written by David Formby, Srikar Durbha and Raheem Beyah of Georgia Tech (Formby and Beyah also disclose an affiliation with …
Spanner and bolt photo via Shutterstock

A spanner in the works: Google's cloud database hits beta, gets prices

Google's close to plugging a long-standing gap in its public cloud, with its Cloud Spanner distributed relational database hitting public beta. In January, we noted that Cloud Spanner, first detailed in a 2012 white paper, had landed as alpha in 2014 but was yet to become a commercial offering. The beta announced February 14 …
Tesla powerwall

Standards Australia might send Tesla's PowerWalls outside

Standards Australia is considering a change to building standards that might require storage batteries such as the Tesla PowerWall to be installed out-of-doors. Responding to an report in Renew Economy, the organisation confirmed to The Register that building standards relating to battery installations are under discussion. …
Fast Cloud

Clouds can compete with HPC, say boffins

The best clouds are genuinely competitive with do-it-yourself high performance computing – and Microsoft's top-tier Azure is the best of the lot. That's the conclusion from research conducted by Mohammad Mohammadi and Timur Bazhirov of Exabyte and offered as a pre-print at Arxiv. The two boffins took a simple approach to …

Feel like a spot of planet-hunting? Here's 1,600 suns worth of data

Here's a treat for amateur exoplanet-hunters and experts alike: 20 years' worth of observations from the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii, complete with application and tutorial. The data release, led by the Carnegie Institution for Science, includes 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 nearby stars. According to participant …
Yahoo

Explain! yourself! US! senators! yell! at! Yahoo!

A couple of US senators have accused Yahoo! of not cooperating with their attempts to investigate its now-notorious database security breaches. Republicans John Thune (chair of the US Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation) and Jerry Moran (chair of its sub-committee for Consumer Protection, Product Safety …
cloud

Cisco sacrifices iron, pushes gateway protection into cloud

Cisco's decided that the network perimeter is the wrong place for a Web gateway, so it's floating one into the cloud. Switchzilla, bowing to the inevitable decomposition of products into software, is pouring scorn on hardware gateways as inadequate and insecure as part of the pitch for its new "Umbrella" product. As a cloud- …
India's Prithvi Rocket

NORKS fires missile that India reckons it could shoot down in flight

While President Donald Trump hosted Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, North Korea decided the time was right for another missile test. But the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's 500 km test shot was thrown some shade by India, which on the weekend successfully test-fired a ballistic missile defence …

Oz consumer watchdog: 'up to' speeds shouldn't be in broadband ads

Australia's consumer watchdog is trying to ensure advertising offers comprehensible and accurate broadband performance information. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to regulate ads that spruik speeds “up to 100 Mbps” because consumers almost never experience the headline speeds advertised. …
Skydivers photo via Shutterstock

Chap scripts remote Linux takeover for sysadmins

Linux sysadmins with a sense of adventure: Tokyo-based developer Hector Martin has put together a set of scripts to replace an in-use Linux system over SSH. Over at GitHub, Martin's Takeover.sh is the kind of no-safety-net we imagine El Reg's readers will love. Takeover.sh is: “A script to completely take over a running Linux …
Traditional lattice pylons in the UK countryside

As South Australia blacked out, PM's office was told renewable power was not to blame

Following last year's megastorm and blackout in South Australia, Vulture South opined that the events had nothing to do with the state's use of wind power. Now, a freedom of information release reveals the government was advised to that effect before ministers started to cast blame. Left-of-centre think tank the Australia …
CSIRO's PAF being hoisted into position at Parkes

Interview: AARNet's Peter Elford on Australia's national research infrastructure

Australia is re-crafting the roadmap that guides its national research infrastructure, a task that covers everything from the network to the nation's high performance computing systems. The roadmap from the Office of the Chief Scientist was offered for public comment late last year. Guided by the hand of chief scientist Alan …

Euro bloc blocks streaming vid geoblocks

European Union citizens will soon be able to carry their streaming video subscriptions across borders, without virtual private networks but not necessarily for free. Negotiators of the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission have agreed to lift geoblocks within the EU, as part of copyright modernisation …