Richard Chirgwin

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Uber apologises for Sydney siege surge pricing SNAFU

Uber to Australia: Legalise UberX and we'll GIVE you DATA

Uber has told Australia it wants to stop butting heads with regulators and will offer them traffic data as their quid pro quo for official recognition. The company told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's 730 programme last week that “We have a lot of information about how people are moving around their cities, so there's …
Oxford University's multi-gigabit visible light comms demo

Lightbulb moment for visible light networking: 200 Gbps without a fibre

If you think the multi-gigabit per second performance promised by WiFi communications is hot, think again: research out of Oxford University is claiming 100 Gbps and beyond in homes using free-space optics. The research, led by photonics engineer Dominic O'Brien, uses a base station to communicate with computers using light …
wine

SWINGBELLIES! Take heed AGAIN: Booze shortens your life

It might be time to bury the “J-curve” – not the hockey stick that confuses the climate debate, but one that booze-pimpers like – according to a study that just hit the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). The curve in question is the one that says “moderate drinking is the best”, based on studies purporting to show that …
67P_Churyumov_Gerasimenko_August_8th

Update - Boffins: COMETS are like FRIED ICE CREAM. Mmm

Boffins working for Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have created comet-like stuff in a cryostat. Along the way, they've decided that your average comet is kind of like fried ice-cream: squishy on the inside, crusty on the outside, with organic chemicals dusted on top. Both the ESA's Rosetta and NASA's Deep Impact …

Cricket's nervous nineties are a THING, say econo-boffins

Cricket's “nervous nineties”, in which batsmen hit the brakes as they approach milestones like a century, aren't just an invention of television and radio commentators. Queensland University of Technology (QUT) statisticians say it's a measurable thing. According to research from QUT's Business School, the numbers from 3,500 one …
Cisco CEO John Chambers speaking at Cisco Live! 2014

Cisco hits the disco as unified comms, wireless sales are lookin' frisk, yo

Just watch that elephant dance: Cisco believes it's managed something Silicon Valley startups often die trying to do, “pivoting” the business to reverse a downward trend. CEO John Chambers sounded cat-swallowed-cream pleased during The Borg's Q2 2015 results call, and investors agreed, adding five per cent to the company's share …
Facebook's 6-pack

Hey, network giants: Facebook swigs from an 'open' 6-PACK of tech

Facebook has taken another step towards kicking the traditional switch vendors out of its network, setting their chassis-based switches in the cross-hairs. The Social NetworkTM has created a chassis and fabric for the Wedge switches it let loose on its data centres last year. Announced at today's Facebook Networking@Scale event …

Linux kernel set to get live patching in release 3.20

A collaboration between SUSE and Red Hat is going to bring relief to Linux users the world over: they'll be able to patch their systems without reboots. The live patching infrastructure looks set to become available in version 3.20 of the Linux kernel. The two organisations introduced their distribution-specific live patching …
Nano heat mapping at UCLA

Boffins turn nano-wires into their OWN thermometers

We know that electronic components get hot, but understanding the fine detail of heat in a circuit feature measuring nanometers is difficult. Infrared imaging relies on wavelengths that are bigger than the features involved, leading to low resolution. Touching a spot with a (tiny) thermometer is high resolution, but its accuracy …
Google car

Back seat drivers fear lead-footed autonomous cars, say boffins

If you're the kind of person who reaches for a phantom brake-pedal when forced to be a passenger in a car, you're not alone. Research from psychologists in the US and UK suggests everybody's like that and that this tendency is going to be a problem for autonomous car-makers. In short: whether they say so or not, most passengers …

Bitcoin, Litecoin, cash, watches seized from alleged software pirates

US authorities, moving on what they allege was a ring selling pirated Microsoft license keys, have seized US$7 million of assets from companies in Missouri, Nevada, Washington state and Maryland. The seizures include US$25,000 worth of Bitcoin and US$1,269 from an individual identified in the filing in the Western District Court …
Cable laying plow

NZ regulator okays cable to Oz

A second trans-Tasman submarine fibre cable is a small step closer, with New Zealand's Commerce Commission (NZCC)reportedly giving the Tasman Global Access (TGA) project the competition green-light. The cable was first mooted in 2013, as a partnership between then-TNZ (now Spark), Telstra, and Vodafone New Zealand. The project …
A microwave tower

Telstra's rivals eye point-to-point frequencies for country mobile

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is proposing a spectrum reallocation to give mobile carriers access to 1800 MHz spectrum in regional areas, extending the footprint of 4G networks. However, Telstra isn't entirely pleased at the prospect. Currently, it's one of the largest users of the 1800 MHz band, …
Troll in cross hairs

IEEE rubber-stamps new patent policy

As expected, the IEEE has adopted a patent policy designed to reduce the scope for trolling for standards-essential technologies. While companies contributing to IEEE standards often hold patents covering their contributions, there's always been an expectation that they would allow competitors building products under a standard …
Kicking Boston Dynamics' Spot

NERDS KICK PUPPY 'bot in brutal attack

Video K9 never had to put up with this type of thing: yowls of not-so-serious outrage have greeted the latest vid from bot-tastic US defence contractor Boston Dynamics. What the famous robotics outfit wants to demonstrate is that its latest product, Spot, has great stability and does a decent job of recovering from a momentary lack of …

NASA plots methane-detecting laser in SPAAACE

NASA is working on a laser-based instrument it hopes will be able to take flight to measure atmospheric concentrations of important greenhouse gas methane. The work is being led by Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Haris Riris, who collaborated with Jim Abshire of Goddard in developing the CO2 Sounder Lidar (light detection …

Android Patent Dispute: Microsoft, Samsung hug it out

Microsoft's patent row with Samsung over Android licensing has ended with a whimper, not a bang. Redmond has announced that the two firms are now back on speaking terms, and that no, you can't know the details. In a terse statement, Microsoft says actions both in US courts and arbitration in the International Chamber of Commerce …
Smart TV

Data retention: It seems BORING ... until your TV SPIES ON YOU

If there's one thing we can thank this whole Samsung privacy brouhaha for, it's casting data retention debates in a whole new light. As readers of The Register now know, Samsung decided that the best way to process voice commands in its new smart TVs is to send them off to the cloud. Since it can't distinguish speech meant to …

Cisco adds Ethernet VXLAN BGP support to Nexus switches

Cisco is giving another nod in the direction of support for open software-defined-network standards, announcing support for BGP EVPN on its Nexus 9000. BGP EVPN – Border Gateway Protocol, Ethernet Virtual Private Network – is an Internet draft authored by members from Cisco, Juniper, Verizon, AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent and Bloomberg …
The proposed Twinkle satellite

Brit boffins want £50 million to launch exoplanet observatory

A bunch of UK boffins led by University College London (UCL) is looking for funds for an exoplanet-watching satellite – but we're not talking Kepler-level money. The group hopes that £50 million – including launch costs – will be enough to kick off a three-year mission to get Surrey Satellite Technology to build a spacecraft to …
Mi Pad

Ericsson drags Xiaomi back to court in India

The ongoing battle between Ericsson and up-and-coming Chinese mobe-maker Xiaomi has blown up again, with the Swede saying its rival is ignoring a High Court order. In December 2014, the Delhi High Court blocked sales of some Xiaomi phones in the huge market for not paying royalties to Ericsson. The court order restricted Xiaomi …
Diamond's 7000-quid Ethernet cable

$10,000 Ethernet cable promises BONKERS MP3 audio experience

Got £6,899 (US$10,500) to spare and worried that a Cat-6 Ethernet cable is keeping you from hearing the very best of your NAS-stored collection of MP3s? Fear not, your moment has come, with this work of wonder from Audio Quest. El Reg notes that the advertisement indicates the age of Audio Quest's engineers. Since the super- …
france

France enacts law to block terror and child sexual abuse sites

France has moved to implement the Internet-blocking regime that became law in October 2014 as part of a suite of anti-terrorism legislation. The 2014 law allowed administrative orders blocking sites hosting child pornography content, or advocating acts of terrorism. The law has now been gazetted, here, meaning it can now be …
Zip HydroTap All-in-one

NBN Co strangles bird: satellite users limited to 20 GB / month

NBN Co is imposing new limits on satellite downloads, forcing ISPs to kill off plans with more than 50 GB monthly allowances. According to documents seen by The Register, the network-builder is once again finding its Interim Satellite Service effectively DDoSed by its popularity. “In response to complaints about poor …
glow in the dark cat could cure aids

They've finally solved it: Schrödinger's cat is both ALIVE AND DEAD

An international group of quantum physics researchers reckons it's come up with an experimental validation of the reality of the wave-function. It's one of quantum mechanics' most elusive concepts, ever since Erwin Schrödinger crafted the famous “Schrödinger's cat” thought experiment. In the current experiment, led by Martin …
Silicene's structure

Silicene takes on graphene as next transistor wonder-stuff

University of Texas boffins have offered up another material they reckon is a hot bet for future generations of Moore's-law-beating super-fast transistors: silicene. Throwing its hat into the ring as an alternate to the popular wonder-stuff graphene, silicene – a single-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms – is, like graphene, hard …

Siemens sighs: SCADA bugs abound

Another security advisory covering Siemens industrial kit has reached the public, this time covering wireless industrial networking hardware. ICS-CERT advises that the Ruggedcom range of 802.16e (Wimax, for those with long memories) switches from the company carries a range of vulnerabilities that let attackers scam admin …
Clockwork Orange

G.Fast sand-slinger says it's slung bits at 500 Mbps over 200 metres

Hold on to your cabinets: G.Fast chip shipper Sckipio has doubled the reach of its chipsets, and has demoed greater than 500Mbps speeds for a distance of 200 metres. To put that in perspective, 500Mbps over a distance of 200 metres equates to about one-third of a Usain*. The company is chuffed, because that's double the rather …

Australia's (current) PM Tony Abbott again calls for metadata trove laws to pass, ASAP

Australia's current prime minister Tony Abbott has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the head of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to renew his call for the country's data retention regime to pass parliament as soon as possible. Relying on briefings from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Tony Abbott stated that there …
eyeofSauron

Avoiding data retention will be as easy as eating a burger

A handy line of questioning by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has outlined the biggest shortcoming of the Attorney-General's Department's artificial distinction between “metadata” and “content”, while also giving those who wish their online activities to be harder to track handy hints on how to circumvent the planned retention …

Intel silicon photonics modules can't take the heat of the HPC kitchen

Chipzilla's first foray into silicon photonics has hit a snag, with Intel reworking its expected production runs to fix “quality issues” with its first modules. The company's 100 Gbps-and-beyond project is designed to push optical transmission right down to the system level. Using optical signals between system components like …

Singapore wants nation-wide internet of things, hold the internet

The government of Singapore, famously keen on connectivity, has issued a tender seeking a fibre network to connect an island-wide sensor network. The sensors will include surveillance cameras, according to AsiaOne, and are due to be rolled out by the end of the year. There will also be sensors in drains to provide flood …

US DoJ okays IEEE's patent troll BAN-HAMMER

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has okayed new IEEE standards licensing rules designed to end some of the seemingly-endless lawsuits over standards-essential patents - and the trolls aren't happy. A key step in bringing the new rules into effect, a “Business Review Letter” from the DoJ, has been completed with the department …
NBN FTTN cabinet

Opticomm wants peer relationship with NBN Co

Fibre infrastructure provider Opticomm is hoping the federal government will help it push NBN Co into standardising its retail service provider interfaces. Th company, which specialises in building fibre networks in greenfields housing developments, recently upgraded its core network, anticipating customer growth in the wake of …
Confused computer keyboard

Cisco simplifies software licences, by selling them under THREE programs

Cisco reckons it's unravelled the secret to the popularity of open source networking software projects: licence management in the world of proprietary kit is a pain in the neck. To deal with that, The Borg has decided to try out a revised licensing model on the world, under the banner Cisco ONE. Cisco's picked off a couple of …

AWS Go-ing Google's way

The Go language, familiar to those working in the wonderful world of Docker, is inching its way into the Amazon Web Services environment. In what'll be seen as a big win for the language, AWS is working on adding Go to its existing suite of SDKs – Java, C#, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, PHP and Objective C. Created by Google …
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Google boffins PROVE security warnings don't ... LOOK! A funny cat!

The revised SSL warning interface introduced in Chrome 37, designed to teach users more secure behaviours, was only a partial success – according to the Chrome security team's own analysis. Confusing security warnings serve only to make users more insecure and normalise risky behaviours, according to Google. To try and beat that …

BURIED: Oz gov won't reveal telcos' guess at data retention costs

Australian federal government data retention plans remain in disarray, with the parliamentary committee investigating the legislation being told that the government is not going to had over the costings it's received from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which asked telcos to provide them on Christmas Eve. In what Australian Labor …
eyeofSauron

Telstra: we don't collect the metadata the government wants now

Yet again, the coaching that spooks and bureaucrats have given Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has proven to be at odds with the realities of the telecommunications industry. In today's hearing into the government's metadata retention scheme, dominant telco Telstra said it does not retain any IP address assignments …
Clouds in blue sky

Big Switch pitches third fabric iteration in six months

Big Switch Networks is sticking to its start-up sprint, announcing the third iteration of its virtual networking environment since it initial release in July 2014. The challenge for the company will one day be the same as it is for every once-was-a-startup company: it's far easier to build the momentum that grabs the market …
Handshake

Trans-Pacific trade treaty close to signoff says USA

The US Trade Representative Michael Froman has tried to reassure the country's lawmakers that the interminable negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will conclude during 2015. However, as chief negotiators meet in New York with the hope of securing signatures by the middle of March, there's speculation that what …

Cisco says GHOST is more Casper than Sleepy Hollow

Cisco has put forward at least a partial response to 2015's first branded bug, GHOST, saying that in The Borg's world, the glibc vulnerability is probably of relatively low severity. That would, at least, explain why it's not being hunted with quite the urgency of something like Heartbleed in 2014: right now, Cisco's advisory …
Clouds in blue sky

Who's afraid of a virtual switch? Not big bad Brocade

The burgeoning market for bare-metal Ethernet switches isn't bothering Brocade, according to A/NZ senior director Gary Denman. Speaking to the media over a brace of start-of-year announcements, Denman said the bare-metal market, championed by Web giants like Facebook, remains a niche model. While Brocade is aware that companies …
hitahi t7k500 hard disk drive

Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

Forty-five disk drives, ten parity drives, and 33 spare disks: that's the optimum array size to protect data for four years with no service visits, according to a study published at Arxiv. The problem the study addresses is that the world's rush towards hyperscale data centres puts an awful lot of disks in one place, and the …
George Brandis

Australian spookhaus ASIO could retain private data FOREVER

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has told the government it's forgotten to set down how long ASIO is allowed to keep metadata handed over by telecommunications companies. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 requires that carriers hold data for two years. …
NASA animation of BL86 plus moon

Passing asteroid MOONS the HUMAN RACE

Space-watchers peering at the fly-by asteroid 2004 BL86 will have missed a detail that NASA caught: the flying mountain has its own moon. Future discoveries excluded, BL86 is expected to be the Earth's nearest-and-largest encounter for quite some years, until it approached its moon hadn't been seen. As Space.com states, the …
White House drone

'Boozed up' US drone spook CRASHED UFO into US White House

A drone crashed into the US White House because the government staffer flying the thing had hit the bottle, according to the New York Times. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee had already 'fessed up to careering the drone into the grounds of Prez Obama's gaff, sparking a security scare. The NYT has now fleshed …

Government's rushed NBN migration plan off to the ACCC

Industry objections notwithstanding, the federal government has okayed Telstra submitting its revised NBN migration plan to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In spite of industry concerns that the arrangements favour the incumbent, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the finalisation of …

Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

A group of researchers working for National ICT Australia reckons computer science courses need to look at artificial intelligence from an ethical point of view – and the popularity of sci-fi among comp.sci students makes that a good place to start. As the research team, which included NICTA's Nicholas Mattei, the University of …
Silicon micro-ring resonator

Photons link arms on chip to hasten march of quantum crypto

A multinational collaboration of boffins reckons it's come up with a chippable solution to one of the practical problems of quantum communications: getting a good source of entangled photons. While commercial quantum key distribution (QKD) devices already exist, getting as much of the process onto silicon is the foundation of …