Richard Chirgwin

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Australia ignores data retention in summer slack-off

The Australian federal government's strategy of conducting inquiries on a short time-scale approaching holidays is paying off in spades when it comes to data retention. The Register has already noted the government's rushed Christmas-eve questionnaire to the telecommunications industry about the costs of data retention. There's …
Hydrogen filling station

Toyota to Tesla: we can play the free patent game as well

CES 2015 Toyota has taken a gauntlet and tossed it in the general direction of Elon Musk, telling the CES audience it will loose a hoard of patents relating to hydrogen fuel-cell cars on the world. The 5,650 patents to be made royalty-free between now and 2020 cover “approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated …
Robonaut shakes hands with with his human counterpart. Pic: NASA

ISS Robonaut gets LEGLESS ... in spaaaace

There's nothing to spoil an unboxing like a product that doesn't work. That's the unfortunate fate of NASA's beloved Robonaut 2 project: during December, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts tried adding legs to the machine, but they didn't work. Robonaut has been helping with ISS chores for some time. Last year, …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

WAM, bam, thank you QAM

CES 2015 Startup MagnaCom is using CES to pitch a technology it reckons offers wireless comms an attractive combination of better spectral efficiency and higher capacity. Those claims are based on what the company calls WAM, which it's pitching as a possible replacement for the ubiquitous QAM-based modulation. QAM is a standard …
Original Start button placement

Ford recalls SUVs … to fix the UI

Ford has issued a recall for its Lincoln MKC SUVs, because drivers trying to operate the gearshift are shutting the car down by mistake. As computers invade the world of motor vehicles, and car-makers replace the old ignition key assembly with a start button, it seems they're having to relearn the basics of interface design. In …
Another tree anchors the cable

Verizon wants to sell 'antiquated' copper assets, stick to wireless for voice

Verizon's copper networks are now so old it says wireless is a better option for voice and low-speed data services. Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam told a Citi briefing that along with looking for opportunities to offload some of its copper assets, part of the company's strategy to retire its copper is wireless. “We're moving a …
Snowden image

Snowden leaks lack context says security studies professor

With the wash-up from December's Snowden leaks still sloshing around the 'net, The Register decided to discuss how to interpret the leaked documents with Thomas Rid of King's College London. In November, Rid (Professor of Security Studies) and colleague Robert Lee (currently undertaking his PhD at King's) published a piece …
2001: A Space Odyssey

The weirdly-synched life of the Google Nest household

Along with World+Dog, Google is trumpeting its Internet of Things vision at CES. It's pure accident that it looks, to the sceptical eye, like a world in which there's a single API to invade everybody's lives. At first glance it looks like the typical Utopian vision of Silicon Valley, but Vulture South took a second look and …
Privacy image

Boffins spy I in your little eye

Researchers from the University of York's psychology school have found that faces reflected in your eyes can be captured in high enough resolution to be identified. To demonstrate not only that the images exist, but that they can be identified, Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr got volunteers to perform recognition tasks. Using a …
eyeofSauron

HTTPS bent into the next super-cookies by researcher

A UK consultant has demonstrated how a feature of the secure Web protocol HTTPS can be turned into a tracking feature that is, in the case of some browsers, ineradicable. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), described in RFC 6797 (here), is a mechanism that helps sites redirect users from the insecure HTTP version to the …
The Tanami Desert en route to Willowara

Australia: even more empty than you imagine

In a release that went largely unnoticed in the lead-up to Christmas, the Australian Bureau of Statistics launched a data product designed to simplify regional and international comparisons. The Australian Population Grid 2011 (that is, it uses the 2011 Census data) plots Australia's population against a 1km2 grid. Prior to the …
NASA graphic of space debris in low Earth orbit. Pic: NASA

RMIT boffins fast-track space junk search

Researchers at Australia s RMIT University, working with EOS Space Systems, reckon they can plot the trajectory of space junk with just two five-second samples of the target's trajectory. EOS has previously proposed using lasers to bump objects in orbit, and is building a joint tracking facility in Western Australia with …
Falcon 1 launches from Kwajalein

You're late, Falcon 9: Look what you've done to NASA’s DSCOVR launch!

The delay of the SpaceX Falcon launch - slated for December 2014 - has had a knock-on impact on another NASA mission, with the agency announcing that its DSCOVR blast-off will have to wait until after 29 January. A joint NASA/NOAA project, DSCOVR (the Deep Space Climate Observatory) will provide real-time solar wind monitoring, …
Monty Python foot UHDTV

This one shall pass! Not even a flesh wound from ‘Monty Python’ SPACE ROCK

It would probably be a real downer if an asteroid that impacts Earth had a funny name, so Reg readers will be pleased to know that's not going to happen. Asteroid 13681 Monty Python will is making its closest pass as we speak – but at 2.4 Astronomical Units, or more than twice the average Earth-Sun distance, and it's too far …
Internet of Things

Even China's Academy of Science thinks wearables are privacy problem

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Australian National University, h Dakota State University, Sydney University and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have looked over the state of play in the Internet of Things, and find that concern for privacy is lacking. Their …
Road closed

VPN users reckon Netflix is blocking them

Netflix is being accused of planning to enforce its terms and conditions by blocking connections from services that bypass geographic blocks. If the reported blocking proves effective, users in nations not served by the media streamer would find themselves stuck with the company's limited local catalogue, rather than continuing …

For the love of Bong! He's Chief Contract Killer Evangelist... for WHAT NOW?

Comment We're in one of those phases of the tech biz where imitation equals innovation, if you add excremental incremental changes and a personable plonker to spokesperson The Coming Revolution. Having lived through this once before, this scribe can't work up a good hype-cycle over boilerplate “innovation”. It's colour-by-numbers stuff …
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 …
management regulation1

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 …
medical_doctor_health_channel

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 …
Spying image

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 …
Facebook privacy image

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 …
Random numbers

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 …
padlock

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 …