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Richard Chirgwin

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Remy from Ratatouille

Another RAT crawls out of the malware drain

Yet another banking trojan has appeared, using browser hooking to steal data from Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox users. Dyreza, or Dyre, is pitched the usual way, via a phishing e-mail (a lesson that's never learned well enough for the approach to fail), and the e-mail contains what purports to be a zipped document that …
Cryptophytes

POND SCUM shine a path to more efficient solar cells

Researchers looking at the way algae use quantum mechanics in photosynthesis have found a genetic switch that turns the critters' “quantum coherence” on or off. It's been known for some time that photosynthesis takes advantage of quantum mechanics to improve light harvesting. As this IOP Science article explains in some depth, …
Jaromir's rotary mobile phone

Chap builds rotary dial mobile phone

If you miss the whirr-and-thunk of a rotary dial, you could download an app that imitates the rotary dialler, or you could make your own mobile with a rotary dial. For those that prefer something a little more physical, this Hackaday project should keep you busy with the soldering iron: a real rotary dialler (with appropriate …
management regulation1

Facebook didn't infringe Dutch inventor's patents: Jury

Facebook has beaten off a dead Dutch inventor in a lawsuit targeting The Social Network'sTM Timeline, Newsfeed, Groups and Photo Sharing features. At issue in the lawsuit were two patents by Dutch computer scientist Joannes Van Der Meer, who died in 2004, which the licensing litigant Rembrandt Social Media said Facebook had …

Firing range for infosec testing opens in Canberra

After six months' of preparation, the University of New South Wales has opened a cyber-security research centre in Canberra it says is designed to bring together academia, government, defence and business expertise. Sensibly, instead of having students with black-hat tendencies an interest in computer security practise on …
'Blue marble' image of Africa and the Middle East

Virtual Africa is the logical target for IP address colonists

Regrettable incidents like Microsoft's address reassignment are a reminder that IPv4 address exhaustion is becoming so acute it's impacting real operations. In Microsoft's case, as El Reg reported last week, Redmond occasionally cashes in the jar full of unloved IP addresses it brought back from abroad to find some it can use …
The Vessyl

IoT cup claims 'instant' identification of what's in it

Are you a Silicon Valley man-child, too distracted by the ethereal beauty of your last thousand lines of code, or too dependent on others to bring you stuff, to ever notice what you're actually drinking? Fear not. Rather than have to lift your head or sully your senses with the mundane world, you can now rely on the Internet of …
Project Loon patent image

Satellite 'net hype ignores realpolitik

Google is generating lots of utopian excitement with its various airborne Internet plans – Project Loon, its satellite acquisitions, its work with O3b (the “other three billion”). But is technology all that stands in the way of connectivity? This musing was prompted by this post by Larry Press, who is eminently qualified to ask …
Planetoid crashes into primordial Earth

NASA uses new technique to snap high-res asteroid images

A recent upgrade at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico has helped NASA capture high-res images of the asteroid 2014 HQ124, which passed fairly close by Earth last week. The upgrade allowed the researchers to operate the 305-metre Arecibo in tandem with other radio telescopes to improve the resolution of a technique in …

Apple, Cisco line up to protect offshore data

Apple and Cisco have aligned with Microsoft to support its fight against a US warrant that would give American law enforcement authorities access to data stored in offshore cloud servers. The two have filed a joint amicus brief in the case, adding their names to a list that includes Verizon, AT&T and the EFF. In late April, a …
qubit

Microsoft in hunt for the practical qubit

Redmond says it has joined the search for a practical qubit, in an effort to kick along the development of quantum computers. Head of research at Microsoft Peter Lee has told the MIT Technology Review digital summit that Redmond will be supporting research in other labs with funding, as well as doing its own work at its Station …

Google Fit will slurp YOUR heartbeat, weight, blood pressure from gizmos

If you have a disease that you don't want anyone to know about, maybe you shouldn't have it in the first place. Google's exec chairman Eric Schmidt hasn't come out with anything quite so astonishingly insensitive yet – but it can only be a matter of time, since the web giant now wants to become the world's aggregator of health …
Siats meekerorum

DINOSAUR BLOOD: JUST RIGHT, as Goldilocks might say, if drinking it

It's one of the mysteries of the ages: what temperature was dinosaur blood? Some studies seemed to show the physiology of warm blood, others cold. Now, research led by the University of New Mexico suggests they fell neatly in the middle. Led by PhD student and lead author John Grady, the researchers decided to take a fresh look …
Random numbers

L337 crackrz use dumb passwords too

Black hats are just as blithe about the passwords they use as the rest of the world, according to a bit of research by security outfit Avast. The anti-virus company's Antonín Hýža, writes here that after he'd built a dictionary of hacked hackers' passwords, the most common password was “hack”. Hýža says his work began because …

Google: Why should we pay tax when we make 'intangibles'?

Irritated at global moves to lop the odd choc truffle off its outputs, Google has launched a spirited defense of its right to underpay taxes in Australia, on the basis that the benefits it brings to the local economy are intangible. In an upcoming profile piece in the Australian Financial Review's style-and-fashion supplement …

Vendor mouthpieces promise to stop spamming Wikipedia

Eleven global-scale flackhauses have twigged to the idea that polishing their clients' turds on Wikipedia is a high-risk strategy, and have solemnly pledged not to do so. Last year, Wikipedia bit the bullet and began investigating cases of sockpuppeting – or, as Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner put it, “paid …
Placoderm mating

Wedding tackle started out as PROTO-SHARKS' LEGS, boffins say

Researchers from Australia and the UK have taken a look back over the fossil records of placoderms - an early type of armoured fish - and come up with a startling suggestion: some of the earliest male genital organs known to palaeontology started out as a kind of “legs”. Well, not quite legs, since placoderms were aquatic: …
Murchison Widefield Array telescope installation

Dream job ad appears: Data wrangler for Square Kilometre Array

Australia's Square Kilometre Array boffins – courtesy of Curtin University – have put up the spec for might just be a dream sysadmin job, so long as they're ready, willing and able to cope with what will ultimately be one of the world's biggest data firehoses. As already recorded by The Register, the Square Kilometre Array …

Urine a goldmine for fuel-cell materials: boffins

Over the centuries, urine has been collected for all manner of unpleasant industrial applications. Now, a new research paper suggests pee could be a big contributor to the future of carbon fuel-cell technology. According to this paper in Nature, doped collections of carbon atoms recovered from human urine have the right kind of …

Google calls on carriers to craft IoT plans

Google has offered up some uncommon good sense about the Internet of Things, telling a US conference that cheap networking is more important than fast networking for IoT applications. What's emerging in the machine-to-machine world of the IoT is that many “things” really don't have that much to say, and when they're saying it, …
putin topless

'Think of the children', Putin tells startup-land

Russian president Vladimir Putin has told a startup forum that the country isn't trying to clamp down on Internet freedoms, but is merely focussed on child protection. Reuters reports that Vlad has deployed the “think of the children” angle while trying to hose down fears that Moscow is tightening its grip on freedom of …
Nokia - NSN logo

Nokia networks biz slurps Australia's Mesaplexx

A seven-year-old Australian radio filter specialist has been bought by Nokia Siemens* Solutions and Networks to bolster its position in the small-cell and “hetnet” market. The Brisbane-based Mesaplexx, founded in 2007, put six years into developing filters, with its xCube technology reaching the market in 2013. The first …

Kiwis get cracking with gigabit residential broadband

While Australians wait for a copper network “upgrade” that can't be guaranteed to deliver better than 25 Mbps, a speed war has broken out across the Tasman, with residential gigabit plans arriving at wholesale prices that could see households pay under $NZ100 per month. The wholesaler has announced the offering is now available …
The new hexaquark

Massive news in the micro-world: a hexaquark particle

A German research synchrotron is trumpeting its find of a new exotic particle with six quarks – the largest quark number ever observed. The "dibaryon" (two baryons) is described in a paper in Physical Review Letters (abstract here, pre-print version here at Arxiv). If you're like this Vulture South hack, the paper reads as a …
Random numbers

Crypto-boffins propose safer buddy list protocol

One of the attractions of presence in communications services is that you know someone's available before you try to contact them. The flipside is that presence is also inimical to privacy. Now, a group of researchers has put forward a way to improve privacy of “buddy lists” but still allowing friends to know each others' …
Keying unit with attack and decay function knobs and switches

Remember Control Data? The Living Computer Museum wants YOU

If you've got a bunch of old computer languages under your belt, the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, Washington, wants you. It's a job that's definitely not for the faint-hearted: as well as being able to handle old IBM, DEC, HP and Control Data Corporation languages, you'd be expected to help create and debug hardware …
paper cut-out men holding hands in linked semi-circle

Cisco pitches small cells into BYOD-heavy enterprises

With the acquisition of UK small-cell outfit Ubiquisys completed last month, The Borg's next step is to line up the channel, and to that end, it's announced a partner program to help carriers convince companies they need indoor 3G/4G cells on their campuses. The Cisco Small Cell Enterprise Select program is designed to pitch a …

Five eyes spies good for us: Tony Abbott

While America has found itself apologising to the world at large – and to some allies, such as Germany – specifically, Australia's government has decided that the “Five Eyes” spook alliance is nothing to apologise for. On tour in Canada to line up investment and recruit allies against international climate change initiatives, …
CD_tree

Crack Telstra Cabling SquadTM goes all Tarzan to restore internet

Some time ago, this Vulture South hack had a not-uncommon experience: loss of broadband during a storm. It wasn't water that killed things, but lightning: 130-plus metres of cable was scorched. The cable was direct-buried, meaning there was no convenient conduit through which a new cable could be dragged. Telstra, to its credit …
management regulation1

US escalates Stingray mobe-snooping secrecy battle as judge unseals evidence

The FBI's long battle to keep details of its controversial Stingray mobile phone-snooping kit under wraps has escalated, with US Marshals raiding Florida police to prevent their records being released, while a Florida judge was busily unsealing court evidence covering the IMSI-catchers. The American Civil Liberties Union had …
Random numbers

Protecting code's secrets wins ACM prize

Better code obfuscation has attracted the attention of the prestigious Association of Computing Machinery, which has anointed an Indian-born developer working at IBM's TJ Watson Research Centre with an award for his work. Protecting code, even as a binary, from being reverse-engineered is difficult: any solution that encrypts …
Microsoft campus

Devs get first look at next Visual Studio

Microsoft is letting devs download the preview version of Visual Studio “14”, due for 2015 release, for feedback. The CTP – community technology preview – download is available here. It will work with Roslyn – more formally, the .NET Compiler Platform – that Redmond open sourced at its April Build conference. Roslyn exposes the …

IT gets $AU200 million new spend in Qld budget

The IT sector will be busily trawling through the Australian state of Queensland's budget papers, with the government yesterday announcing tech spends in health, emergency services communications, and online service delivery. Queensland Health, whose troubled history in IT has previously left it out-of-pocket by a cool billion …
Photo of a vintage analog modem with an acoustic coupler

NBN Co pulls in new CTO, CFO

NBN Co, which has completed its executive makeover, with a new CTO and CFO, is embroiled in a revival of an old debate: whether “up to” descriptions of broadband speeds are permissible in consumer law. Fuelling conspiracy theories about the NBN is the appointment of News Limited veteran Stephen Rue as CFO, while far less …
Adidas Brazuca World Cup ball

Balls to the World Cup: Brazuca wins in the wind

In soccer, the ball matters: Japanese boffins say the new six-panel design to be used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup is the most stable and predictable in many a long year. Of course, the balls used in the World Cup are nothing like what oldsters like this correspondent would recognise. The old-style ball has long been replaced at …
IBM 'through-silicon via' stacked chips

Calxeda co-founder unleashs 48-core ARM SoC

ARM vendor Cavium has revealed 48-core silicon it reckons will pitch it into high-end data centre and server apps. Cavium has hired Larry Wikelius, co-founder of failed ARM server silicon vendor Calxeda, and his former colleague Gopal Hegde (who played a part in creating Cisco's UCS servers). Both are insistent that now is the …

Telstra kills ZOMBIE BOXES all over Australia

The fire that took out a major regional exchange last year has inspired Telstra to start building bigger mobile exchanges for future emergencies – and it's also revealed that there's a bunch of redundant hardware still consuming carbon around the country. The 2012 fire in the Warrnambool exchange showed up various holes in the …
A cow

US dairy biz in a churn over TPP

Farmers, rather than economics or 'net freedom activists, are once again putting pressure on Trans Pacific Partnership negotiators, with the US dairy sector uniting against the proposed treaty. US negotiators have already found themselves stonewalled by the agricultural sector in Japan, which wants to protect local farmers ( …
iVEC's Magnus supercomputer

iVEC seeks testers for petascale powerhouse

As it prepares to ramp up to petascale level, the iVEC supercomputer facility in Western Australia is looking for early adopters to run its iron through its paces. iVEC's current Magnus machine, a Cray XC30 with 104 blades (four nodes per blade, two 8-core Intel Sandy Bridge processors) comprises a total of 3,328 cores …

Dodgy installer drops Trojan in Japanese Buffalo update

Buffalo in Japan is red-faced after its Website shipped Trojan-infected Windows driver updates for a bunch of its peripherals, including broadband routers, home NAS, and Bluetooth mice. According to this notice (Google translation here), the installers were modified to include Infostealer.Bankeiya.B, which steals bank account …

China blocks Google ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Chinese Web monitor Greatfire.org says the Great Firewall is interfering with Google searches in the Middle Kingdom ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The group says TCP connections to Google IPs are being blocked by the firewall, getting in the way of “search, images, translate, Gmail and almost all …

Global mobile roaming network a HOTBED of vulnerabilities

Security experts for Dutch telco KPN have swung the baseball bat at telcos, with research suggesting mobile roaming networks are so insecure you'd hardly need the NSA to break in and start capturing user traffic. They find the GRX – GPRS Roaming Exchange – network, which links the roaming traffic of 25 carriers worldwide, has …

Glassholes beware: This guy's got your number

An artist/engineer working in Germany is sure to have sparked the next Google Glass debate: is it okay to simply block them from a network you control? There's plenty of stories about “Glassholes” taking the devices where they're not wanted or aren't legal (for example, driving), with outcomes ranging from being charged to …
Facebook data center - server racks

Telefonica, Netronome jump into the NFV mosh-pit

Yet more ants are flocking to the Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) picnic, with announcements of tie-ups and reference designs from Telefonica and Netronome. Telefonica is jumping in with both feet, with a canned announcement of a project with Red Hat and Intel. That project aims to create “a virtual infrastructure …
Thing

Teeny GPU targets wearables, Things

This GPU isn't going to get Bitcoin enthusiasts worked up, but from a “wow that's small” point of view it's interesting: Vivante is shipping a range of GPUs that ranges from 0.3 mm2 up to 1.6 mm2 in size for IoT and wearables applications. The four devices the company's announced include two VGA/WVGA devices (the 100-200 MHz GC …
CSIRO's solar thermal station

CSIRO claims milestone in solar-powered steam turbines

The CSIRO is trumpeting a breakthrough in using solar energy to create “supercritical” steam suitable for powering electricity turbines. The $AU9.7 million demonstration project, at the agency's Energy Centre in Newcastle, hit a steam pressure of 23.5 megapascals (MPa) at a temperature of 570°C. That's significant, because it …
Kepler-10c artist's impression

'GODZILLA WORLD' of the DRAGON CONSTELLATION - scientists

Kepler-10c, dubbed the "Godzilla" planet by top international boffins, has a mass 17 times that of our planet - it has emerged this week - and orbits a star 560 lightyears away in the constellation Draco - the Dragon. The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA) announcement here has set reporters afire with the idea …

Failover in FOUR SECONDS? HP's SAP-specific iron hits the streets

HP has added two SAP-specific implementation to its ConvergedSystem product line: the CS900 for enterprise customers, and the CS500 for the smaller shop. The pitch from HP is that with a configuration purpose-built for different application environments, it can get customers firing with new servers, without the sysadmin having …

Scammers plead guilty to $AU500k Telstra scam

Three men have pleaded guilty to an Australian court over a scam that netted them more than $AU500,000 worth of mobile phones and fondleslabs from Telstra without payment. The Victorian County Court heard the three Indian men, on temporary visas, then sent the phones back to India for re-sale. The Herald Sun says the scam …

Sluggish Cisco damping Ethernet market, say kit-counters

The bread-and-butter enterprise networking market, Ethernet switches and routers, had a dreadful first quarter in 2014, but just how bad depends on which analyst you listen to. IDC says the Q1 value was $US5.2 billion, while Dell'Oro Group was a little more pessimistic, putting it at $US5 billion. The two companies estimates of …