Richard Chirgwin

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NSW vocational education gets re-org to revive its comatose budget

Its budget gutted, in part, by dogged devotion to a failed software project, the Australian State of New South Wales Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions are to be reorganised to eliminate its current structure of individual regional institutes. Instead, in a strategy conceived by the same minister as paid …
Dwarf planet 2015 RR245

Newly spotted distant dwarf planet orbits the Sun every 700 years

Astroboffins are excited about a newly-discovered dwarf planet, despite not knowing what it looks like. The discovery of 2015 RR245 comes from the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS), which back in March spotted alignments in Kuiper Belt Objects that fuelled the controversial “planet X” theory. The new object has so …
Boy with a backpack hides his eyes and cries. Pic by Shutterstock

A bad day for DBAs: MIT boffins are replacing you with a mere spreadsheet

MIT boffins reckon they've cracked one of the tough nuts of usability, creating an easy-to-use SQL interface for non-database administrators. The tool, SIEUFERD, has been in gestation since at least 2013 (Oracle mentions it here), but considering the problem it addresses has been around since the 1970s, let's not be harsh …
his low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took multiple images on Aug. 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A little image magic gets Curiosity's wheels turning again

The Curiosity Rover is not about to become a nuclear waste dump on Mars as the trundling science lab has become mobile again after a glitch put it in safe mode last week. The root cause of the bug is a little mysterious, but NASA reckons an image transfer mode brought about the glitch, so the agency will avoid using that mode …

Microsoft adds a little badda Bing to Project Oxford AI tools

Microsoft has taken its Project Oxford suite of machine intelligence tools and merged it with other software interfaces to form a new package: Cognitive Services. Launched in May 2015, Project Oxford offered face recognition, and speech and image processing. It was highlighted in CEO Satya Nadella's talk at the Build …
Grandmotherly woman knits. Photo by shutterstock

Florida U boffins think they've defeated all ransomware

Researchers from the University of Florida and Villanova University reckon ransomware can be stopped by watching what it's doing to the target's files. Taking a “save what you can” approach, the authors of this PDF reckon in their tests they were able to lower the boom on ransomware when it had encrypted just 0.2 per cent of …
Tesla

Tesla whacks guardrail in Montana, driver blames autopilot

Evidence continues to mount that the Tesla's Autopilot system probably isn't anywhere near as bad as breathless reporting would have it, with the third reported accident in the US since the feature was launched in October 2015. Given the accident rate human drivers experience – the US road toll for 2014, for example, was more …
Piggy bank, image via Shutterstock

Clouds will gather again after wispy Q1, says IDC

The cloud infrastructure market dipped in the first quarter of 2016, but analyst outfit IDC reckons the full-year result will be much brighter, with the segment slated to pass US$37 billion for the full year. IDC Cloud Infrastructure Forecast IDC's cloud infrastructure forecast for 2016 According to the Prognosticator's …
DSS 35 deep space telescope

SETI mulls reboot: Believing the strangest things, loving the alien

SETI (the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) is both exciting and disappointing: exciting because of peoples' eternal wish for someone else to be out there; and disappointing because life proves so hard to find. The SETI Institute's Nathalie Cabrol is wondering whether the whole idea needs something of a reboot, a …
Live news illustration with microphones and cameras

Is Pokemon Go leaky?

A Microsoft UX chap who likes playing around with APIs reckons he's caught a howler in the sensational Pokemon Go app: it's using HTTPS but not checking certificates properly. As a result, Tweets Den Delimarsky as @DennisCode, the app doesn't notice a proxy between the user and the server. Pokemon Go... get yourself whatever …
GNU logo

In mourning for Nano, chap crafts 1k-loc text editor

Ticked off by the news that Nano opted out of GNU, a programmer called Salvatore Sanfilippo has written his own text editor. What's impressive about it is that it provides a basic code editor with syntax highlighting and search, without ncurses as a dependency, and in a mere 1,000 lines of code (at Github). Why did he decide …
Telstra from Shutterstock

Consumer advocates call on Telstra to set customers free after outages

Australian consumer group CHOICE wants Telstra to release customers from their contracts, after months of repeated outages. Presenting its latest analysis of telecommunications plans, which unsurprisingly bells Telstra as the most expensive kitty in the litter, CHOICE says “free data days” are no longer an adequate response …
ARM's Cordio Internet of things button

IoT puts assembly language back on the charts

Let's do the time warp again: according to an outfit that tracks programming languages, the Internet of Things is re-igniting demand for assembly language skills. Software consultancy TIOBE's Programming Community Index has turned up the re-emergence of assembly programming in its monthly index (the definition of the index is …
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'We shall overcome' net neutrality, sing Euro telcos in the key of 5Gs

Europe's telcos have found a reason to shed any ambivalence they had about 5G, waking up with a shared vision that the technology can help them fend off Internet neutrality rules. Even better – for the telcos at least – they've found a willing ear in the person of European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society …
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Samsung's Galaxy S7 launch

Facebook likes Rich Heley, former Tesla veep

Facebook has head-hunted one of Tesla's prize head-hunts: Rich Heley, which the 'leccy car maker lured from Apple back in December 2013. At Apple, Heley worked on design, manufacturing techniques and supply chain, which made him a good fit for what Elon Musk needed. Facebook's now snared Heley into its hardware design …
man crying, image via Shutterstock

Ad agency swipes 'unnamed bloggers' for calling out its cynically fake 'save a refugee' app

Ad agency Grey Singapore has thrown a tantrum and handed back the Cannes Lion bronze award it won for its now-infamous “I Sea” app. As we previously reported, the WPP-owned ad agency, under its Grey for Good brand, had boasted that the app would crowd-source the search for refugee boats adrift on the Mediterranean Sea. The …

1 in 20 Wendy's burger joints hacked? No, make that 1 in 3 – 1,025 in total

Wendy's has 'fessed up that the malware infection in its cash registers, first thought to have impacted 300 restaurants, hit more like 1,000 outlets, and says an unnamed service provider let the attackers into its systems. The American fast-food chain has owned up that the number of its stores in the US with bank-card snooping …
Penguin wedding cake, image via Shutterstock

Linux cloudy tie ups: SUSE and Microsoft, Canonical and Pivotal

It's a big week for Linux cloud tie-ups, with SUSE and Microsoft expanding their partnership, and Canonical becoming Pivotal's preferred operating system in Cloud Foundry. In the SUSE/Microsoft deal, the Linux outfit joins two Redmond programs: the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance, and the its test drive program. The …

Unmasking malware in TLS connections? It can be done, say Cisco researchers

A group of researchers who work for Cisco* reckons malicious traffic in TLS tunnels can be spotted and blocked – without decrypting user traffic. That's good news in the corporate setting, because today's protection relies on the controversial approach of terminating the encryption to inspect the traffic. In this paper at …
Curiosity selfie as it drills for water

NASA curious about Curiosity's fourth 'safe mode' event

NASA mission scientists are puzzling over why the Mars Curiosity rover entered “safe mode” during the weekend. In safe mode, the rover puts itself on hold: it ceases most activity, keeps itself safe, and follows a sequence to resume communications. The unexplained glitch was announced by NASA here. So far, the status update …
Man in a suit drinking tea out doors reading from his tablet

Apache needs HTTP/2 patch

Apache has patched a serious authentication bug that affected sysadmins using HTTP/2 – it wasn't checking X509 client certificates properly. The client certificates are typically used when the system is secured by chip-card tokens, or software-generated tokens. The bug affects versions 2.4.18 to 2.4.20 and is patched in HTTPD …
OpenCellular prototype

OpenCellular: Facebook tests its open templates on base stations

Facebook's unleashed a slab of mobile networking technologies which that hint at how it would like remote communities to connect to the outside world. OpenCellular draws on what Facebook's learned in its Open Compute Project and open networking efforts like 6-Pack and Wedge: a design that will be open-sourced over time, to …
Blackmail

FTC wants a date with Ashley Madison's fembots

The US Federal Trade Commission has decided to add Ashley Madison's “fembots” to the company's long list of woes. The existence of the fembots – fake profiles used to keep men on the “Life is short, have an affair” forking out funds in case they got lucky – was revealed after the infamous hack of the site. The investigation …
Cartoon - Private SNAFU

TP-Link abandons 'forgotten' router config domains

TP-Link, rather than recovering domains it forgot to renew, is going to abandon them. The domains in question are tplinklogin.net and tplinkextender.net. They offered configuration services for buyers of the company's home routers and Wi-Fi link extenders, and are identified on stickers on some devices (not all: two TP-Link …
Gaia's camera under construction

BEELION-star dataset to land in September

It's time for astroboffins and enthusiasts to start clearing space on their hard drives: the European Space Agency has scheduled its first Gaia mission data drop for September 14, 2016. The ESA says data in the release will include a billion stars' positions and G magnitude, the product of observations from July 2014 and …