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Richard Chirgwin

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Facebook data center - server racks

Facebook wants Linux networking as good as FreeBSD

Facebook wants better comms performance from the Linux kernel, and is recruiting developers to get it. Its job ad, here, says the House of Zuck wants a Linux kernel software engineer who will focus on the networking subsystem. “Our goal over the next few years is for the Linux kernel network stack to rival or exceed that of …
Fujitsu's Xlfx

Fujitsu takes next-gen HPC chip on the road

Fujitsu is getting ready to tout its next supercomputer silicon at the upcoming Hot Chips conference, a follow-up to the first peek given in June. The silicon the outfit plans for next-generation big iron, the SPARC64 Xlfx, is Fujitsu's hope for exascale computing: a 32-core, 1 Tflop (double precision) / 2 Tflop (single …
Google Chocolate Factory

Gmail gains support for non-ASCII email addresses

Google has decided to give a two-year-old IETF e-mail standard a push towards universal adoption, by switching on support for RFC 6530 international character support in Gmail. The RFC was crafted to allow people “to use close variations on their own names (written correctly in their own languages and scripts) as mailbox names …
NEMA 5 plug socket

Officeworks recalls dangerous USB charger

Dodgy USB chargers are in the news again in Australia, with stationery giant Officeworks recalling a charger on safety grounds. The recall comes six weeks after the death of a Sydney woman, Sheryl Aldeguer, was attributed to an unsafe charger. At the time Rod Stowe, the Fair Trading Commissioner in the Australian State of New …

'POWER from AIR' backscatter tech now juices up Internet of Stuff Wi-Fi gizmos

Researchers who last year demonstrated they could harvest stray RF signals to power RFID tags have scaled-up their technology to power Wi-Fi devices. The University of Washington team is pitching their ultra low-power “backscatter harvesting” technology with the inevitable Internet of Things (IoT) tag, since if it could be …
A self-portrait taken by the curiosity rover

Two years on, Curiosity's still in the same crater

Its wheels are eroding and its (parody) Twitter account is grumpy, but the Mars Curiosity Rover has celebrated two years in space. Yes, it has been two years since we sat on the edges of our seats, watching (if we were able to) or listening (in the case of this scribe, who was in his car at the time, thankful for the broadcast) …
Blood image

African samba queen: Don't cut off pirates' net connections – cut off their FINGERS

Sick of anti-piracy schemes that don't work? Bored with endless debates about whether or not to sever infringing downloaders' connections? How about a real deterrent – like amputation? That, according to reports out of Nigeria, is what one of that country's most prominent performers is suggesting. African samba crooner Stella …

Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley

With Tesla and Panasonic prepping the giant erection called the GigaFactory, Morgan Stanley has penned an investor note predicting that Elon Musk's big battery footprint will become a major disruptor to power utilities. It's hardly disinterested, since the financiers were underwriters for a Tesla fundraising round in the past, …

Six MEEELLION gigabytes-a-year space 'scope wins funding

The multi-billion pixel, multi-colour, all-sky-surveying Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is getting ready to go into its main construction phase, with America's National Science Foundation approving the build budget. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) has announced the NSF funding here. Overall …
management regulation1

Cisco slings small change at CSIRO over WiFi dispute

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has wrapped up a loose end in its long-running patent arguments over WiFi, winning an American judgement against Cisco over royalty payments for CSIRO's technology. The long-standing argument wasn't over patent infringement – both parties agreed …
Matthew Martin's "turkeys" cartoon, 1983

Australia's metadata debate is an utter shambles

As much as anything, Australians should fear the government's metadata retention proposals because it's becoming increasingly clear that our politicians have no idea what they're proposing. Within a single day of the prime minister, Tony Abbott, taking to the microphone with attorney-general George Brandis and foreign minister …
Two teenage girls - one whispering in other's ear

BAD VIBES: High-speed video camera records your voice from trash

Run a camera fast enough and its images can capture sound from the way nearby objects vibrate, according to boffins from MIT, Adobe and Microsoft. The experiments, announced by MIT, worked so well that they claimed to have recovered sound from the leaves of plants, and the vibration of a crisp packet. The latter, as the …
RFID_snail_trio

Tiny steps: HTTP 2.0 WG looks for consensus

The long-awaited HTTP 2.0 protocol has inched a step further towards completion, with the IETF issuing a last call on the two key documents of the spec, with comments to end on 1 September. The two drafts in question are the core HTTP 2.0 document, and the HPACK header compression format. It's been a long road to get to HTTP 2. …
Sony PRS-T2 Reader

Sony reads the future, quits e-reader market says German report

Earlier this year, Sony decided to quit the North American e-book market and get Kobo to supply content for readers in the US and Canada. The company then staged similar retreats in Europe and Australia. Now, the former Japanese powerhouse has decided to quit the device market as well – worldwide. According to German site Lesen. …

65 patches later and Java STILL breaks stuff

Software tool vendors are complaining that recent updates to Java are breaking their environments. The problem seems to be in JVM's bytecode verification, in Java 8, Update 11 and Java 7, Update 65. According to InfoQ, developers running into the bug include JRebel (from ZeroTurnaround), the Groovy programming language, the …

'Big data' predicts stock movements, boffins claim

Researchers from the Warwick University's business school reckon they can predict the next crash, by watching Google searches and Wikipedia. The supposed power of Google as a predictive tool has been popular in academia ever since The Chocolate Factory unveiled Google Flu Trends back in 2008. Its usefulness for real-world …

Cisco patches OSPF bug that sends traffic into black holes

Cisco has shipped a patch for a buggy Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) routing implementation it says offers exploits that include traffic blackholing or interception. As the advisory notes, the vulnerability “could allow an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of the OSPF Autonomous System (AS) domain routing table, …

Danes cram 43 Tbps down ONE fibre using ONE laser

Denmark has hauled in some cable in the ongoing tug-o'-war over who has the fastest fibre, claiming a 43 Tbps record using a single laser. The Ultra High-Speed Optical Communications (UHSOC) group at the Denmark Technical University says its demonstration puts it far ahead of the 32 Tbps record formerly held by the Karlsruhe …

Users should PAY for their piracy says Turnbull

Australia's government is applying its customary confusion to the copyright debate, with the two ministers most associated with the issue giving divergent messages on how best to solve the country's supposedly-chronic piracy. Late last week, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull – one of the two signatories to the leaked-then …

Your fitness tracker is a SNITCH says Symantec

If you're the kind of person whose gadgets auto-tweet your exercise, sex or sleep habits – all vanguard applications of the odiously-named “quantified self” movement – you can be tracked, identified and hacked, according to Symantec. In this post, the security outfit explains that the age-old desire for gadget convenience has, …
The 30m dish at Warkworth, New Zealand

Kiwi satellite earth station recycled – as radio telescope

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is celebrating “first light” from its new radio telescope – a 30m, 30-year-old former satellite Earth station that was once New Zealand's primary link to the outside world. The AUT telescope is now getting ready for a mission studying star formation, the centre of the Milky Way, galactic …

5G about the whole network, not just speed, says Alca-Luminary

So in The Register's ongoing untangling of what 5G might mean, we spoke to Tod Sizer of Alcatel-Lucent. Sizer – Dr Theodore (Tod) Sizer – is Vice President of the Wireless Research Program in Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, and he told El Reg that 5G has to be about more than eye-opening press-dazzling showing off what vendors can do …
Random numbers

Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8

AgileBits wants more apps to use 1Password's strong passwords, and has released an extension on github to that end. The idea is that app developers can grab the extension, write a few lines of code into their apps, and allow their app users to create strong passwords during registration. Naturally, this would also push users …
The quantum cheshire cat

Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low

Imagine this: when Australian cricketer Shane Warne bowled “the ball of the century”, a delivery that drifted one way, then hit the pitch and spun the other, the reason batter Mike Gatting was bamboozled was because the spin took a different path from the ball. That's the phenomenon boffins claim they've observed in experiments …
Burning copyright symbol. Photo by: Martin Fisch http://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/ on flickr"

Recording lawsuit targets Ford, GM in-car CD recorders

The recording industry has spotted another potential target of tax-by-lawsuit: the auto industry, for in-car media players. In a complaint available at Scribd, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) names General Motors, Ford, and component suppliers Denso and Clarion as supplying recorders that don't comply with …
The RPi-compatible Odroid-W

Korean vendor launches wearable RPi clone

Korean outfit Hardkernel has snuck out a Raspberry Pi-compatible board it says targets developers with an interest in the wearables and Internet of Things space. Due to ship towards the end of August, the Odroid-W uses the same Broadcom SoC as the popular Raspberry Pi – Broadcom's BCM2835. It includes an RPi-compatible 15-pin …

Cisco's application-centric infrastructure arrives at last

Cisco has quit with the long talk and started the walk, announcing that its Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is to ship as a full solution on July 31. The Borg's “here comes our software-defined networking (SDN) solution” Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) can now be ordered with ACI enabled. Cisco …

Keep your iPhone calls private, whispers Signal

The crew at Open Whisper Systems has announced Signal, an app offering encrypted voice calls between iPhones. The open source group has been working on its projects ever since Whisper Systems, co-founded by Moxie Marlinspike, was acquired by Twitter in 2011 – an acquisition that took its Redphone Android project offline, amid …
cloud

UTAS 13,000 Gflop NECTAR node live

The University of Tasmania has flicked the switch on its new node of the national NECTAR research cloud, under an $8.75 million collaboration with the CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division. Its node, which has been progressively rolled out since May 2014, has 21 Dell AMD Opteron-based C6145 machines with a total 2,668 …
Hacker image

Canada's boffins need A WHOLE YEAR to recover from China hack attack

Canada's CIO has pointed the finger at China over a security breach at the nation's National Research Council. Ongoing attempts to breach the research agency's computers led the NRC to hit the “off” switch on Monday of this week, according to Canada's CTV News. Those attacks had continued for a month. CTV notes that the …
cloud

DARPA collab launches fast cloud-to-cloud provisioning

A DARPA-driven project based on OpenStack has been demonstrated in the US, with the bold claim that it will eventually lead to sub-second provisioning for connectivity between clouds. The world is already familiar with the concept of elastic clouds, with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and World+Dog offering some variant on such …
Facebook privacy image

Ethicists say Facebook's experiments not SO creepy

The Ethical Research Project has weighed into the argument over the ethics of Facebook's “creepy” social contagion research, doing the unthinkable: actually asking ordinary punters how they feel about being lab rats. Interestingly, the study suggests that users might have not felt too badly about the Facebook work, if anyone had …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co pricing under spotlight

NBN Co is considering revising its wholesale pricing model, and has approached the industry for comment. According to industry newsletter Communications Day, the usage-based Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) charge, which has been subject to criticism since it was first announced in 2010, may be either overhauled or eliminated …
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 …