Richard Chirgwin

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Superluminous quasar J0100+2802

COSMIC FATTY from the DAWN of TIME simply can't exist – astroboffins

Researchers from Australia and China have turned up an unfeasibly large black hole that almost dates back to the beginning of time. At 12 billion times the Sun's mass, and in a quasar that was a million billion times as energetic as the Sun, it's not actually the largest black hole ever spotted. However, its redshift indicates …
International Space Station

Russia considers keeping its own half of the ISS alive after 2024

Russia has decided that if Europe ends its involvement in the International Space Station (ISS), it will undock and keep its half alive. A meeting of the Roscosmos science and technical council has recommended that the Russian space agency continue to support the ISS until 2024. After that, the Federal Space Agency statement …

Juniper okays Elliott Management's board nominees

Juniper Networks and activist investor Elliott Management are fluttering the “peace in our time” paper, with the network ironmonger agreeing to appoint two new Elliot-approved directors to its board. The deal will hopefully give the company some respite from a year of corporate turbulence that saw the appointment and axing of a …
Tails logo

Snowden's favourite Linux - Tails - rushes sec-fix version to market

Tails, the secure live-boot Linux made famous by Edward Snowden, has had a major revision release to Version 1.3. The new version, released after testing since February 12, combines various security fixes with new apps and simplified install, the developers say. The developers want to kill off the previous version, Tails 1.2.3 …
Clouds in blue sky

Cloud boffins build cheap content delivery network in the cloud

Take a bit of cloud, add a bit of money, and stir in a bit of boffinry, and you could build your very own content distribution network (CDN). That's the conclusion of a Canadian/Chinese/American research project, who've put together what they call a “generic framework” for crowd-sourced live-streaming using AWS and Microsoft …

Avaya joins SDN club with ONA-nism

Avaya is the latest of the big names to drink the software-defined networks (SDN) Kool-Aid, launching its Open SDN Fx architecture on a waiting world. Along the way, the company is giving various open projects a kick along. Its SDN Fx Fabric Orchestrator Ethernet controller appliance offers northbound and southbound interfaces, …
Flying pig

NBN Co numbers suggest FTTP build could be done for close to Labor's budget

The real cost of completing Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) in its originally-planned fibre-to-the-premises configuration may well have been close to the $AU43 billion first budgeted, according to data presented by NBN Co's CEO and CFO to a Senate Estimates hearing. Yesterday, CEO Bill Morrow and CFO Stephen Rue …
linkedin logo

LinkedIn values your privacy at ONE WHOLE LOUSY DOLLAR

LinkedIn, which leaked millions of passwords in 2012, has settled the class action that followed its egregious error. The original leak was made to a Russian doc-drop site, and it quickly emerged that the recruitment site social network for business wasn't salting the passwords it hashed before storing them in its database, …

Love rats show sex while drunk will sober you up, say boffins

Sydney University boffins reckon there just might be such a thing as a sobering drug – and that it's something the body makes naturally. In joint research with the University of Regensburg in Germany, the researchers found that in drunk rats, the so-called “cuddle hormone” oxytocin ameliorated alcohol's effect on the drunken …

Apcera goes hybrid

Platform-as-a-service outfit Apcera has announced its hybrid cloud solution is nearly ready to go, with demonstrations in March and general availability in Q3 of 2015. The company, in which Ericsson purchased a majority stake last year, is going to show off the offering at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in early March. …
MIT's picowatt radio chip

MIT demos picowatt radio for Internet of Things

MIT boffins working on low-power radio have given the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) an insight into how standby power can be cut in Internet of Things devices. It's a thorny problem: if, for example, a sensor is waiting to be polled so it can answer with a snippet of data, the radio has to be in a state …

A billion things are already on the IoT: Verizon

Verizon reckons the Internet of Things is no longer a “nascent” market, reporting that there are already more than a billion devices out there running business-to-business IoT operations. In its “state of the market” report (free with registration) covering the IoT in 2015, the company predicts that the B2B IoT space will pass 5 …
ipv6_illo

Cisco IPv6 processing bug can cause DoS attacks

Cisco has announced that NCS 6000 and Carrier Routing System (CRS-X) – heavy hunks of iron used in the service provider market – have an IPv6 software bug that needs patching. The bug impacts the ways Cisco IOS XR units parse IPv6 packets and an attack exploiting the problem could result in a forced restart of the line card that …
Cherry

NBN Co's HFC build will be DOCSIS 3.1 ready, but use 3.0 only

NBN Co has settled on its key partner for the HFC part of its network, with Arris nominated to provide cable termination and passive equipment. The deal, reported by Comms Day as being worth AU$400m, sees Arris, the company that acquired Motorola's HFC business, pip Cisco for the cable network business. Arris executives today …

Brocade's IP strategy stutters in flat first quarter

A recovery in storage area networking product revenues has offset sliding IP networking sales to give Brocade a first quarter 2015 revenue result of US$576m, up two per cent quarter-on-quarter and the same amount year-on-year. Although flat year-on-year at at US$353m, the SAN segment swelled nine per cent in Q1 2015, reversing a …

Greens want better metadata access oversight

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has warned of what he thinks is a likely ALP opposition “rollover” on data retention. Speaking to the IT Leaders Forum, a weekend conference for technology media. Ludlam said the opposition is likely to “send a few good, stout-hearted people out to make statements” before caving in. Ludlam …
HP

HP flicks white box switch: NOT a Facebook wannabe? Stuff our open kit in your cloud

Less than a week after Cisco's John Chambers dismissed the “white box” switch category, HP has entered that market with its own open architecture switches. The company wants to start with “web scale” cloud operators who don't want to imitate Facebook or Google and run up their own systems from scratch. However, according to CTO …

Juniper targets LTE deployments with carrier switches

Juniper has opened the gate to let a couple of carrier routers out of the cage, along with enhancements to its Junos Space network management system. The two devices – the ACX500 and ACX5000 – target mobile backbone networks. The ACX500 is designed for routing traffic from small scale base stations, with system throughput of 6 …
Photograph of the killer shrimp. Pic: Defra

Prawn cocktail offers hot new way to make solar cells

Wrap your laughing gear around this: researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have discovered that materials from shrimp/prawns can replace expensive elements in solar cells. The boffins working on nano-structured solar cells found that chitin and chitosan can make the quantum dots that are coated onto structures …
Cellular basestation antenna

ZTE ups 5G investment

Chinese mobe-maker ZTE is ramping up its R&D by ¥400 million RMB*, and wants 800 new engineers in China, Europe and the US – all to help it keep pace with 5G development. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal the company's chief scientist, Dr Xiang Jiying said that the company sees the technology's touted 1,000-times 4G's capacity …

Cisco gives waiting world ConfD for low, low, price of $0

Cisco has offered up a sweetener to those worried that its 2014 acquisition of Tail-f would see the latter's products Borged into utter anonymity, offering up a free version of the ConfD NETCONF implementation. Tail-F accepted a cheque last June, a transaction Cisco initiated in order to get its hands on the Swedish company's …
ABS population density calculated on the national grid

Australian government may take leave of its census

Updated Australia's government is considering radically restructuring its national census. The exercise, which cost $AU440 million in 2011, is under the microscope as the government assembles its 2015 budget. Fairfax reports that the census could be delayed or replaced with a smaller survey. The Australian is less certain of the census …

Alca-Lu cooks up 400 Gbps router interconnect

Increasing data centre interconnect requirements have prompted Alcatel-Lucent to introduce 400 Gbps line cards for its high-end routers. Manish Gulyani, product marketing veep for the company's IP Business, told The Register there are multiple aims with the launch: it eliminates kit that would otherwise be needed to interconnect …
Google Chocolate Factory

Google's email-for-iOS app Sparrow is pining for the fjords

Two-and-a-half years after Google bought the French email client Sparrow, it has decided the client gets in the way of pushing Apple fans to its own Inbox service. Hence, apparently, to get iOS and OS X users to head for Inbox, the Chocolate Factory has pulled Sparrow from the App Store. Even the iPhone version, which was …
Yahoo! facial reconition

Yahoo! Boffins! Improve! Face! Search!

A research collaboration between Yahoo! Labs and Stanford University has yielded a fast and simple approach to facial recognition. If you're the kind of person that finds features like being tagged in images on Facebook unsettling, you might not see this as good news: not only do the researchers' Deep Dense Face Detector claim “ …
Implementing SDN - difficult choices

SK Tel, Cisco sign with ON.Labs

SK Telecom reckons software-defined networking (SDN) is going to be the Way of The FutureTM and has signed up as a member of the ON.Lab open source project. ON.Lab is an open source SDN platform that targets the carrier market, integrating a network operating system (Onos), network hypervisor (OVX), virtual network development …
Privacy image

Australia's PM says data retention laws think of the children

Australia's Federal Government, and its agencies, are working to drum up political support for the nation's controversial data retention legislation. Prime minister Tony Abbott offered favoured outlets early access to a speech to child protection charity Bravehearts, in which he said the data retention regime is needed to battle …
Mars

Boffins baffled by the glowing 'plumes' of MARS

A group of amateur astronomers has discovered a tricky conundrum for the professionals, documenting atmospheric plumes - or something that looks uncannily like them - above Mars... where they should not occur. The observations, made in March 2012 and written up for Nature here (PDF), found plumes in the Red Planet's atmosphere …

Juniper CEO axed after SALES FAIL: report

When former Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir departed the company in November 2014, the company cited customer negotiations as the reason. Ostensibly voluntary, Kheradpir's departure looked from the outside as if he was pushed rather than jumping. Juniper's statement merely said the board and Kheradpir had “different perspectives” …
Intel president Renee James

Intel President Renée James says Chipzilla's diversity efforts are moving too slowly

Intel president Renée James has taken the company's diversity message to India, saying that women's challenges to reaching the C-level are the same on the subcontinent as they are in the USA. In an interview with The Economic Times' Corporate Dossier columnist, James said things hadn't changed in her 25-year career, and that …
Three Telstra vans restore one line

Telstra copper at crisis point, endangers NBN, says union

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) has called out Telstra's copper network, saying that this year's bad weather has left 20,000 lines out of service in NSW alone. The number could be higher, if you believe reports from News Ltd that the number is over 41,000. 2015 hasn't been kind to Telstra, with …
Privacy image

Dutch DPA says government's data retention plans still illegal

The Netherlands' Data Protection Authority has criticised that government's proposed data retention legislation. The government put forward amendments to its data retention regime in response to the April 2014 European Court of Justice decision that invalidated the EU's Data Retention Directive (along the way causing trouble for …
Nvidia

Gamers reach for BFG after Nvidia turns back the overclock

Laptop-wielding gamers are up in arms over a driver update from Nvidia, which disables overclocking in the company's gaming-laptop-targeted GeForce GTX 900M devices. Those who installed the drivers had their clock settings wiped, and according to TechPowerUp, even third-party overclocking tools have been blocked. The change was …
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Australian government's 'cyber-security' review delayed

One day after Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott promised a more hard-line approach to national security, the government has delayed a cyber-security review. Over the weekend, the PM's YouTube channel carried a statement (video at the end of this story) in which he complained that Australia's treatment of immigrants-turned- …
Multivendor NFV service chaining demo

Telco heavyweights pass packets in NFV demo

NTT, NEC, Hitachi, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and ALAXALA have put together a key test of interoperability in the network function virtualisation (NFV) world. They've shown that the NFV concept of “service chaining” – putting together virtualised services by directing traffic through the addresses of services rather than (say) …

Cisco puts elastic in the fabric

Cisco has announced the next piece of its software-defined networking strategy: a long-distance interconnect designed to simplify workload mobility between data centres. The “stretched fabric” release of its Application Centric Policy Controller (APIC) allows each of the leaf and spine switches that form a fabric to be located …
Sorry we're closed

M0n0wall comes tumbling down as dev throws in the trowel

The open-source m0n0wall firewall project has been discontinued. The project's author, Manuel Kaspar, has posted that his reason for pulling the plug is simple: “there are now better solutions available and under active development”. The end of the project is in part illustrative of the challenges that face any small-scale open …
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, …