Richard Chirgwin

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Ding Dong, ALIENS CALLING

Sorry, sci-fi fans: pretty much anyone who's imagined what a near-light-speed spacecraft would look like has got it wrong, because they've forgotten its interaction with photons. Not only that, but according to a couple of scientists working for Raytheon, it doesn't matter whether Einstein's proposition that you'll never …
Periscope and Meerkat by Flickr user Anthony Quintano https://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/

Periscope smeared by streaming security SNAFU

Twitter's Meerkat-strangling live streaming app Periscope has had its first privacy SNAFU, leaking the titles (but not the content) of videos meant for private circulation only. Periscope allows users to stream live video into their Twitter feeds. The app debuted mere days after a very similar app, Meerkat, became the Bong! …
Inside the Google Lab where surgeons prepare the human/dog experiment

Google plans ROBOTS to SLICE YOU OPEN AND CUT YOU UP

Google has signed a deal to collaborate with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon to work on surgical robotics applications. The J&J statement says the two companies will “bring together capabilities, intellectual property and expertise” in building a robotic-assisted surgical platform, with the kind of supporting sentence that …

AMD opens kimono on chip futures a little more

The best way to protect corporate secrets is to announce them at a tech conference in Japan, which is why word is only just arriving of AMD's February reveal of a clustering roadmap. Consumer and commercial business lead Junji Hayashi told the PC Cluster Consortium workshop in Osaka that the 2016 release CPU cores (an ARMv8 and …
A hammer and bent screw

Cisco wipes its memory from susceptible-to-Row Hammer list

Cisco has worked through data centre and switch products that may have been vulnerable to the Row Hammer vulnerability, and decided there's nothing with the bridge brand on the front that's subject to the bug. Back at the beginning of the month, Google cheerily announced to the world that writing and re-writing memory in DRAMs …
ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) is one of six detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – image by Maximilien Brice CERN/Science photo library

Short circuit at Large Hadron Collider slows return to matter-mauling

The eager Igors of CERN are going to have to wait a little longer before they try to destroy the universe: it turns out that the upgraded Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has a short circuit in one of its dipole circuits. Mere days before the LHC's keenly-anticipated Earthproton-shattering return to operations, the main dipole …
MIT's entanglement machine

Atomic clocks' ticks tamed by 3,000 entangled atoms

MIT and University of Belgrade boffins have taken a big step in applying the quantum property of entanglement to macro systems: they're claiming to have roped together more than 2,900 rubidium atoms with a single photon. In what lead author Vladan Vuletić says is a “new class” of entangled states, in work that they believe will …
Clouds in blue sky

Accedian goes hybrid NFV in carrier QoS product

Rather than pull out all the stops on network function virtualisation (NFV), telcos would like to stage their implementations one piece at a time, according to Canadian vendor Accedian Networks. That's the rationale behind the approach the company announced late last week, in which it wants to offer an enterprise-to-data-centre …
Opportunity in clean room

Opportunity suffers another flash-memory 'amnesia' moment

A flash memory reformat left NASA's Mars rover Opportunity with a brief episode of what the agency calls “amnesia” – thankfully, without any loss of scientific data. NASA adds that Opportunity was also able to continue its normal activities, such as using its robotic arm to examine a rock target called Athens. It's one of a …
Puppet Labs Logo

Puppet Labs pulls strings on Docker, AWS and bare metal

Puppet Labs is adding code management and updates to its Node Manager in a big refresh in Puppet Enterprise 3.8. The company is particularly touting Docker container provisioning, as well as provisioning for bare metal and AWS infrastructure. Tim Zonca, director of product marketing at Puppet Labs, told Vulture South the …
Privacy image

Samsung forgets fingerprints, focuses its eye on YOURS

When Samsung shoved the Galaxy S5 out the door last year, one of the things it put front and centre was the new ability to log on with one's fingerprint. Fast forward twelve months and Sammy looks to be giving that idea a finger of a different sort, by signing a deal with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to put iris- …
NASA ARM rock-grabber

NASA: We're gonna rip up an ASTEROID and make it ORBIT the MOON

NASA has decided that putting a lump of rock from an asteroid into orbit around the Moon is better than trying to hook a whole asteroid. The ARM – Asteroid Redirection Mission – has settled on what the space agency called “Option B”, sending a spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid big enough to have boulders on the surface and …
Dark Souls II knighty knight

Chipzilla spawns 60-core, six-teraflop Xeon Phi MONSTER CHIP

Intel has set some rumours to rest, giving a media and analyst briefing outlining details of its coming 60-plus core Knights Landing Xeon Phi chip. Opening the bag to let the cat see a little bit of light, Intel has told journalists at a briefing at its Hillsboro, Oregon fab that the “honking big die” for the Knights Landing Phi …
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

Cisco patches IOS to stop automation exploitation

Cisco's turned up vulnerabilities in automation software that open the door to denial-of-service and limited access to devices. The company's Autonomic Network Infrastructure (ANI) feature in IOS provides self-management for various IPv6-supporting routers and Ethernet switches. One of the ANI features is to remove the need for …
Columbia University's full-duplex IC

Big barrier to 5G cracked by full-duplex chippery

Take a look at mobile standards like LTE and you'll notice that duplexing is difficult: it's either accomplished by separating uplink and downlink in time or frequency. Why? Because it's really hard to use closely-spaced frequencies for uplink and downlink in the small space of a smartphone: the two signals will inevitably …
Artist's conception of a watery asteroid being torn apart white dwarf GD 61

SCARESTEROID of the week to miss Earth on Friday

The UK press has noticed that NASA's Small Object Database Browser seems to show an asteroid passing close to Earth – and therefore we're all going to die on Friday. We won't: while object 2014-YB35 will pass within 2.8 million miles (4.48 million km) of Earth, which qualifies as a “near miss” in astronomical terms, it's not …
2001: A Space Odyssey

TOP500 Supers make boffins more prolific

A comparative analysis of supercomputer ownership by US universities seems to suggest that TOP500-class iron gives institutions a quantifiable edge in physics, chemistry, civil engineering and evolutionary biology. In the kind of rational decision-making that will upset HPC sales teams, the Clemson University research is …
Australian Government 2.0 taskforce logo

Boffins deflate digital economy bubble with hard economic data

Australians are getting their regular consultant-driven exhortation to ride the “digital economy” horse to wealth and prosperity, even though it turns out that for every digitally disruptive dollar that flows from the fingers of keyboard warriors, two dollars escapes the science lab into the economy. We're working with a few …
NBN Co by Dushan Hanuska https://www.flickr.com/photos/hanuska/

Melbourne fibre expert calls out 'fibre cost doubled' claim

The idea that the planned fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rollout of Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) may have ended up meeting its cost targets has received a high-profile endorsement from emeritus professor Rod Tucker of the University of Melbourne. Speaking to US conference, professor Tucker said the claim in the …
Picard Facepalm

Wind turbine blown away by control system vulnerability

It had to happen, we suppose: since even a utility-grade wind turbine might ship with a handy Webby control interface, someone was bound to do it badly. That's what's emerged in a new ICS-CERT advisory: CVE-2015-0985 details how turbines from US manufacturer XZERES allow the user name and password to be retrieved from the …
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

IBM in China: Big Blue sees red, hopes to grow Middle Kingdom's tech

IBM has stated explicitly what its recent strategy had already suggested implicitly: Big Blue has decided to get more strategic in China. Having confirmed it's throwing its Power chip blueprints at system manufacturers in the Middle Kingdom, IBM's CEO Virginia Rometty has told Reuters IBM needs to go beyond treating China as a …
Privacy image

Metadata retention is no worse than STALKING: Turnbull

Metadata retention, which George Brandis has most frequently described as reading the front of an envelope, is also like standing outside a lawyer's office watching who goes in and out. That metaphor emerged perhaps accidentally from communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, in explaining why there's no need to exempt what many …
Tangle of cables attached to a telegraph pole

What horrors lurk in the future: Networks without sysadmins

Interview At Cisco Live Sydney, your humble hack at Vulture South got to spend time with distinguished engineer and CCIE number 1609 Alvaro Retana to talk about the future of routing, networks that can run themselves, and the internet at large. The Register: What are the problems we're trying to solve in the world of routing today … what …
Samsung Solid Immerse GT-B2710

Can your code survive crappy 2G? This open-source traffic controller will test it

A two-year project inside Facebook has culminated in the release of software to test how well applications and servers work under degraded network conditions – all the way down to rickety 2G. The idea behind Augmented Traffic Control, open-sourced on GitHub, is to improve the delivery of material on under-performing networks. …
...that's gonna hurt

HUGE Aussie asteroid impact sent TREMORS towards the EARTH'S CORE

Australia is home to the largest asteroid impact crater on Earth. The 400km-wide crater is more than twice the size of the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, which is often attributed with wiping out the dinosaurs. The new find in the Warburton Basin in Central Australia is a stunning 400km-wide impact zone from a huge asteroid that …
Ken Sheriff's Mandelbrot printout, with IBM punch-cards

Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

A programmer better known for work on Arduino has shown off handy vintage mainframe skills, getting an ancient IBM 1401 to buzz away on its 1403 line printer to produce the classic Mandelbrot fractal image. It's not as trivial as it sounds. In this blog post on the “12-minute Mandelbrot”, Ken Shirriff explains that programming …
Twisted light image - University of Rochester

Boffins twist light to carry 2.05 bits in one photon

Orbital angular momentum – in photonics short-handed as “twisted light” – can help expand the capacity of comms systems using quantum communications. Since quantum key distribution (QKD) is already a commercial, if pricey, market segment, quantum communication science is of a more practical application today than quantum …
Clouds in blue sky

Juniper, Mirantis get cloud-cozy

Juniper Networks and Mirantis are getting cozy in an arrangement designed to get better scalability out of OpenStack clouds. The two outfits announced the tie-up at the end of last week, with Mirantis saying the relationship will bake Juniper's Contrail into its OpenStack environment. Contrail will sit alongside the existing …

Apple boots Windows 7 out of Boot Camp

The Cupertino fruit factory has decided to boot old versions of Windows out of the camp, quietly not-announcing that only Windows 8 and 10 will run on the latest flavours of the dual-boot "Boot Camp" utility that ships with this year's new Macs. The new policy means that the recently-announced MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pro …
eyeofSauron

Want to hide your metadata? You probably can't

With every development in Australia's data retention debate, the question arises: “how can I stop the government getting its hands on my metadata?” Routinely, often non-technical journalists give the glib answer to “use encryption”, rattle off their favourite list of technologies, and over-simplify things to the point of danger …
Bret Hartman, VP and CTO, Cisco

Everything is insecure and will be forever says Cisco CTO

While in Melbourne enduring the antipodean version of Cisco Live!, The Register's networking desk met veep and CTO Bret Hartman. Here's what he told us about network security, a field he feels is basically doomed. Forever. The Register: The last twelve months tells us we have insecure devices connected through gateways, sending …
French cartoon, 1790: devil disguised as man walking tightrope

F5 hammers out a virtual load balancer

After two years digesting its acquisition of LineRate, F5 Networks is now shipping one of the key outcomes of the buy, a fully-virtualised lightweight load balancing solution. As part of a broader virtualisation push that also includes an iron-free version of its Big-IP application delivery controller. According to director of …
Broadcom BCM88770

Broadcom targets terabit switch markets with fat StrataDNX chipset

Broadcom wants a bigger footprint in the router and switch market with the next iteration of its top-line silicon, the StrataDNX line. While conceding that merchant silicon isn't going to push Cisco or Juniper Networks out of the network core where the biggest traffic flows exist, Broadcom reckons the ability to support beyond- …
Zombie cloud

D-Link patches yet more vulns

D-Link is moving to patch a bunch of vulnerabilities in consumer products, which almost certainly means that most users either won't know the patch is happening or won't run the update. The first CERT advisory, here, covers DCS-93 series network cameras (models 930L, 931L, 932L and 933L using version 1.04 2014-04-21 of the …
UNSW's nickel foam electrode

Boffins FOAMING over a Nickel's worth of hydrogen

As a power source, hydrogen has a bunch of problems, but at least one of them – the cost of obtaining the gas – might be closer to a solution. Right now, most commercial quantities of hydrogen are derived from fossil fuels because electrolysis of water into hydrogen is expensive. Boffins from the University of NSW reckon that a …
Picard Facepalm

Apple Safari update BORKED private browsing

At some point between Version 6.2.2 and Version 8.0.3, Apple has accidentally jettisoned private browsing in Safari. As described by Macissues, users of recent Safari versions on the newest flavours of OSX are finding that so-called “private” URLs are turning up in the SQLite database that stores Favicons. In other words, if …

Listed US tech provider bribed Oz bank worker say cops

Updated A former banking industry IT executive has been arrested in Sydney for bribery over the handling of "lucrative" contracts. Police in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) made the arrest, but have provided scant detail about the matter. But the contract must have been big: as the boys in blue say “To date, more than US$1 …
Giant flower beetle with remote control

Boffins build Cyborg beetles, fly them by remote control

Video Scientists working at the edge of the creepy have demonstrated fine-grained remote control of critters known as giant flower beetles, with the idea that they could carry payloads into difficult places in activities like search and rescue. The boffins have shown off their test subjects being instructed to take off, turn and hover …

Pub O'clock probe finds thousands of repeated 512-bit RSA keys

Four researchers, a zmap scan and a Friday afternoon have shown that while sys admins are cleaning the FREAK bug out of their Web servers, broadband routers remain a perpetual feast. The boffins from Royal Holloway at the University of London – Martin Albrecht, Davide Papini, Kenneth Paterson and Ricardo Villanueva-Polanco – …
Mulder in The X-Files

SAP admits - shock! - it sells to governments, denies that means backdoors

SAP is wrapped up in possibly the silliest conspiracy theorising The Register has seen yet, issuing an angry denial that having sold software to government agencies means it built backdoors into its products. Well – it's probably an angry denial, but it's phrased with the good manners of corporate PR. The kerfuffle began with …

BlackBerry joins the FREAK show

BlackBerry has joined the lengthening list of FREAKed-out vendors, publishing a list of currently-vulnerable software and promising fixes as soon as possible. The famous FREAK is the vulnerability that OpenSSL inherited from the 1990s, because America's rules at the time meant “export-grade” encryption was limited to a maximum …

Malcolm Turnbull proposes taxing Google and Facebook ads

Australia's Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has his eye on the revenues collected by multinational online ad platforms like Google. Apparently raising a white flag on the government stopping multinationals from shipping profits offshore to avoid tax, Turnbull has floated the idea of levying Australia's goods and …
Barbed wire against a clear blue sky

Dread Pirate Roberts' first mate Peter Nash faces life behind bars

Updated An Australian faces life behind bars in the USA after entering a guilty plea for his role in Ross Ulbricht's Silk Road operation. Peter Phillip Nash, who went by the tag “Samesamebutdifferent” on the online drug bazaar, put his hands up to narcotics and money laundering charges. Nash was arrested in the Australian city of …

Princeton boffins sniff Tor users' IDs from TCP ACKs and server sweat

Tor is regularly recommended as a vital privacy protection technology, and just as regularly, researchers discover ways to de-anonymise users, and the latest of these has just hit Arxiv. The research, led by boffins from Princeton, demonstrates ways to de-anonymise Tor users with access to just one end of a communication path, …
Facebook malware

Ow.ly plus AWS plus Box roped into worm-spreading spree

Users with a bent for nasty content and too much trust in shortened links are helping to spread a Facebook worm, according to researchers at Malwarebytes. Senior researcher Jérôme Segura has documented a Kilim-family worm that attracts users by promising smut with a link that's been shrunk by link-shortening service ow.ly. The …
Oracle frankenstein

Oracle adds secure-ish boot support to its Linux distro

Oracle has released a new secure-boot version of its Linux, but the new issuance is attracting criticism that it's not actually secure. The issue, according to a series of Tweets by Linux engineer Matthew Garrett, is that Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel supports kexec_load() and carries the same signature as the kernel …
padlock

Yahoo! spaffs! out! plugin! to! bring! crypto! to! everyone's! email!

Yahoo! has shown off an OpenPGP-based end-to-end e-mail encryption it says will be offered as a plug-in by the end of the year. Its aim is to make PGP-based encryption more accessible to the everyday layperson. Described in this blog post by Purple Palace chief information security officer Alex Stamos, the mail encryption code …
Zombie rising from the grave

Cisco FREAKs out, starts epic OpenSSL bug-splat

Cisco admins will be watching and waiting for fixes, with the company announcing that many of its OpenSSL implementations are carrying a bunch of post-POODLE fleas. The Borg has been looking over its kit and software since the OpenSSL project disclosed a bunch of vulns in January, and on March 10 detailed the impacts it's …
Blood image

Ericsson unplugs 2,200 more staff

Ericsson's move to focus on software is to hit another 2,200 jobs in Sweden, the telco vendor has announced. The cuts focus on roles in R&D and supply, the company's statement says, but admin and sales roles will also be affected, along with external consultants. The vendor says R&D remains important, but reducing the number of …

Alibaba hopes to roll net-connected car out of the cave

China's Alibaba and SAIC Motor Corp have decided the country needs to get its cars connected to the Internet, and have inked a $US160 million deal to get the ball wheels rolling. According to Reuters, the joint venture between the two will be worth a billion yuan, and targets 2016 as the launch date for the Middle Kingdom's …