Richard Chirgwin

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Australian telecoms regulator watching over Telstra HFC/NBN deal

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has flagged Telstra's deal to build and maintain plenty of the hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) parts of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as something it needs to watch. The concern is that Telstra's AU$1.6 billion deal to fix the copper and help nbnTM rollout HFC services …
Cortana on a Mac courtesy of Parallels 11

Appliance-maker Liebherr chillin' with Microsoft, prototyping another Internet fridge

Microsoft has added another wrinkle to an idea that refuses to die: the 'net-connected refrigerator. Thankfully, Redmond has skipped the idea of putting a browser on the fridge. Instead, drawing on Silicon Valley's conviction that everybody is a 23-year-old software developer who can't cook, clean house, or shop without help …
Crow photobombs telescope Webcam

SETI searchers: We still haven't found what we're looking for

Stand down, one and all: there's not even cool new science in this week's “alien signal”, let alone a SETI success: the signal seems to have come from "terrestrial origins". The odd signal turned up over the weekend: an 11 GHz picked up by Russia's RATAN-600 telescope. The original observation, it was thought, might have …
Nurse erects drip behind privacy curtain at hospital bed. Photo by Shutterstock

That Public Health study? No, it didn't say 'don't do chemo'

“Chemotherapy kills” was bound to pique our interest, especially since in the best traditions of modern research, its source was a badly-reported scientific study. The screaming headlines were just as you'd expect: “Chemotherapy warning as hundreds die from cancer fighting drugs” from Blighty's The Telegraph; almost the same …
Robot AI Woman

Baidu peddles PaddlesPaddles, floats open source AI tech

Since Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and World+Dog have one, it's no surprise that Chinese giant Baidu would pitch an artificial intelligence offering at the waiting world. Right now, it describes PaddlePaddle – Parallel Distributed Deep Learning with a few extra capitals added – as a pre-release version. The real thing will …
 French bulldog puppy wears plastic devil horns and cute expression. Photo by Shutterstock

OpenBSD 6.0 lands

OpenBSD developers might be keen on the 1980s in their artwork, but not in their operating system: Version 6.0 has just landed, and the maintainers have killed off VAX support. Apart from a logo that pays homage to the cover art for the iconic album The Wall, there's a fair amount of new stuff landing in OpenBSD 6.0. W^X – …

Patch now: Apple emits fix for Pegasus spyware bugs in OS X, Safari

Those vulnerabilities last week that let government snoops monitor iPhones, iPads and iPods? Turns out they're present in desktop Safari and OS X, too – and Apple has quietly pushed out patches for them. This isn't a big surprise because iOS and OS X, and mobile and desktop Safari, share big chunks of code, so flaws in Apple …
Nerd fail photo via Shutterstock

Census fail to get Oz Senate probe; NDIS fix promised this year

Australia's Senate has voted to establish a committee to look into the Australian Bureau of Statistics' August Census IT collapse. The news comes as the government promises to fix another slow-motion train wreck by the end of 2016 – the online portal for the country's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Senate …
nest

Nest developers become Oompa-Loompas in Google shake-up

Another month, another Alphabet attempt to restructure its Internet of Things businesses into something coherent and successful. It's probably been on the cards ever since Nest CEO Tony Fadell quit in June this year: Alphabet has assimilated the thermostat-and-smoke-detector platform team into Google. The news comes courtesy …

Now the Olympics is over, Theranos is withdrawing its Zika test application

Now that the Olympics is over, there's no apparent athlete-borne Zika pandemic, and the virus doesn't guarantee a headline, Theranos has withdrawn its emergency application to have the Food and Drug Administration approve its blood test for the virus. The emergency approval would have let the company pitch its wares as a Zika …
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Cisco SOHO switches patched for SOHOpeless vuln

This week's Cisco patch round includes a critical vuln in the kind of product least likely to get patched – a small business Ethernet switch. The Small Business 220 Series Smart Plus switches ship with a hard-coded SNMP community string, which means if it's visible to the Internet, a remote attacker can access its SNMP objects …
Child sized crash test dummies at the TRL

Crash test dummy? Love the excitement of breaking an OS? Fedora 25 Alpha has landed

If you're a chronic complainer and nit-picker with a spare machine and a willingness to suffer multiple crashes, weird screen artefacts and possible data loss: Fedora 25's alpha has landed ahead of its anticipated November 2016 release. If you want to help the developers by breaking stuff, don't risk dual-boot on OS X if you' …
inspector clouseau

Good job, Oz feds: Conroy wants you investigated for privilege and contempt

As was inevitable, the fate of the “NBN documents” is off to the Australian Senate's privileges committee. The referral to the committee was a formality, since nobody in the Senate wants to find themselves raided by the Australian Federal Police for receiving leaked documents. However, Senator Stephen Conroy, chief target of …
Minor Planet Center image of 2016 QA2 orbit

Blink and you missed it: Asteroid came within 90,000 km, only one sky-watcher saw it

A small asteroid made a rare, close pass between Earth and the moon on August 28. 2016 QA2 is estimated by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) as being somewhere between 25 and 55 metres in diameter – so small that it nearly passed without notice. The MPC's note about the asteroid attributes its discovery to Brazil's SONEAR …

Cisco is the new container for ContainerX

The container market just got a new 900-pound gorilla: Switchzilla has landed in the segment with its acquisition of eighteen-month-old ContainerX. The acquisition target is a container management specialist whose first beta landed in November 2015, with general availability arriving in June this year. While Cisco digests its …
Cortana on a Mac courtesy of Parallels 11

Microsoft's beta language service gets C# dev kit

Microsoft has pushed out a C# software development kit (SDK) for its in-beta language parsing API, LUIS. LUIS – the Language Understanding Intelligent Service – is another chunk of the chatbot capability Redmond is so keen on. It's a model-making environment which Microsoft reckons helps developers teach existing apps to …
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HPE yawns, stretches, and patches January OpenSSH bug in virtual access products

HPE customers have just been issued patches related to the lighttpd daemon and OpenSSH for remote access devices. The vulns are in the company's HPE Remote Device Access: Virtual Customer Access System (vCAS). vCAS is designed for IT shops to provide remote support access to customer networks. The company has disclosed three …

Lawyers! win! millions! in! bonkers! Yahoo! email! snooping! case!

A bunch of lawyers have persuaded Yahoo! to keep scanning e-mails for advertising and pay their fees. The class-action case was launched in 2013, and finally got the formal green-light to go ahead last year. The Purple Palace wanted to scan e-mails passing through its systems, so as to deliver targeted advertising to those …

Dropbox: Leaked DB of 68 million account passwords is real

A leaked database purported to contain login information for 68 million Dropbox accounts is the real deal. The cloud biz confirmed the authenticity of the records to The Register, with independent verification from IT security guru Troy Hunt. The archive, which is being shared online, contains Dropbox user IDs and hashed …

Li-Fi with my little eye … a vulnerability

Proponents of visible light communications (VLC) like “Li-Fi” love reminding us of the bonkers speeds they can get (200 Gbps last year, for example), but just like its radio-spectrum counterpart, it needs protection against eavesdropping and jamming. In this paper at Arxiv, Warsaw University of Technology researcher Grzegorz …
NIST's SET Pump electron-counter

Pump-priming the new ampere: NIST works to count electrons in silicon

The ampere, a perpetual embarrassment to the world of scientific standardisation, is due to get a measurable physical standard in 2018, and America's National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) hopes to help provide its definition. Most SI base units have a clear physical definition – the metre is defined by the …
Tesla crash

Reports: Autopilot will go on strike if you're not paying attention

Rumours are emerging that Tesla is going to restrict the behaviour of its controversial Autopilot feature. The move follows criticism of the company after highly-publicised accidents, including the fatality in May when a car under Autopilot ran underneath a semi-trailer. Although nobody's offered evidence associating the …

SETI Institute damps down 'wow!' signal report from Russia

The killjoys at the SETI Institute -- killjoys all over the world, really -- are damping down wild speculation that a Russian instrument has seen a “possible” alien transmission. Right now, as it happens, nobody knows what was spotted by the RATAN-600 telescope in Russia, partly because its operators kept the observation under …
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Fifty bills for new Oz parliament, nothing much for tech

The tech sector's going to have to take care of itself in 2016, at least as far at the Turnbull government's legislative agenda is concerned. As federal parliament resumes in Canberra, the government is choosing between different hills to die on – its union-regulating Building and Construction Commission bill, a corrosive …

NZ-funded Hawaiki cable signs DRFortress for landing station

Australia and New Zealand got a small step closer to a third Pacific crossing, with submarine cable upstart Hawaiki signing DRFortress in Hawaii to operate its landing station. The on-again, off-again, on-again cable signed TE SubCom as its construction partner in 2013, but the project went into cold storage while the builders …