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Richard Chirgwin

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MIT and CERN's secure webmail plan stumped by PayPal freeze

The Proton Mail project, which offers end-to-end encrypted webmail from the user's browser, has had a stick thrust into its operational spokes courtesy of PayPal. The MIT-and-CERN-inspired project, based on Switzerland, had decided against VC funding for reasons of credibility among users. Instead, it relies on users willing to …
Cambridge's superconducting magnet levitating

Cambridge's tiny superconducting magnet breaks strength record

Boffins at the University of Cambridge say they've packed the equivalent of three tonnes of magnetic force into a superconducting material roughly the size of a golf ball. In what they call a “trapped field” experiment, the university says its researchers managed to cram a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into the brittle “high …
NBN FTTN cabinet

Keep monopoly or make network expensive, NBN Co warns

Australia doesn't need to revise its telecomms competition policy, says NBN Co – except if the policy is interpreted as allowing infrastructure-based competition to its national network. That's the conundrum the company building Australia's reduced-scope national broadband network has raised in its submission to the competition …
China's Tianahe-1A Supercomputer

China's world-beating Tianhe-2 super has brawn, not brains

China has put a lot of iron into its 2.5 billion yuan (roughly $US400 million) world-beating home-grown supercomputer, but concerns are now emerging that too much attention on the hardware has come at the expense of giving the system usable software. The latest TOP500 report reconfirmed the position of China's 3-million-core, …

Western Australia considers ban on R18+ games

The Australian State of Western Australia (WA) is reviving the country's vexed games classification debate, with a new report suggesting the state government should consider banning games currently carrying an R18+ classification. The suggestion is contained in a report from the Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for …
Abbott and Costello dressed as policemen

New South Wales' prime plod pushes data retention, again

NSW Police, through its commissioner Andrew Scipione, has offered a clear picture of the world it wants for Australians: a plod on every Internet connection to protect us from terrorists. Scipione made the remarks in a speech to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, reports of which, such as one from Fairfax Media, suggest he asked …

Facebook Australia's 'small company' status makes it a small target

There's an old joke about failed CEOs, which runs “how do you create a small company? Give a big one to CEO X”. Facebook has found a new wrinkle: you build a small company merely by getting regulators to agree that it's a small company. Apparently in order to manage its corporate reporting requirements in Australia, that's just …

NSW government agencies bend over and take it from telcos

Even though telecommunications contracts are an eternal staple of government contract management, government agencies in the Australian state of New South Wales lack the expertise needed to get the most out of the agreements they sign with carriers. That's the conclusion of a report prepared for the government by the auditor- …
India's PLSV-C23 rocket on launch pad

Indian rocket set to sling five satellites

India will today attempt to launch several satellites that will include Earth imaging and microsatellite payloads. The nation's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) specialises in hoisting satellites into sun-synchronous polar orbits, with 25 successful launches recorded by April 2014. Perhaps its highest-profile launch in …

Web collab outfit Assemblage becomes Cisco's latest appendage

Cisco's vision for the enterprise might still be telepresence and $US1,500 Android tablets, but The Borg is at least prepared to consider that some people might want their collaboration to come as cheaply as possible. To that end, the company has just bought WebRTC/HTML5 collaboration startup Assemblage, which pitches itself as …

Qld Health payroll worker charged over fake overtime claims

Not only did Queensland Health's notorious botched IT upgrade cost the state upwards of a billion dollars: it's also alleged that the chaos created an opportunity for a dodgy worker to siphon tens of thousands of dollars from the department. The state's Crime and Misconduct Commission is alleging 46 counts of fraud against an …
Workers in a Foxconn plant, credit: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

Foxconn CEO: 'Suicides weren't our fault'

An investor meeting has heard from Foxconn's CEO that the worker suicides that plagued the company in recent years weren't the company's fault. Urging patience among investors as the Chinese giant works to reinvent itself beyond product assembly, hiring thousands of researchers and looking at everything from cloud services to …

Facebook 'manipulated' 700k users' feelings in SECRET EXPERIMENT

Facebook let researchers adjust its users' news feeds to manipulate their emotions – and has suggested that such experimentation is routine, which is seemingly how the idea got past the advertising firm's ethics committees. In 2012, the trick cyclists, led by the company's data scientist Adam Kramer, manipulated which posts from …
Perseus galactic cluster

'Sterile neutrinos' re-ignite 'we found dark-stuff' debate

Astro-physicists remain cautiously (around media) excited (among themselves) about an unexpected X-ray signal discovered in a survey of galactic clusters. Having first put their findings in the public sphere in March, as reported by The Register at the time, the work has now passed peer review to hit the presses in the …

SQL fights back against NoSQL's big data cred with SQL/MDA spec

With the growing popularity of big-data tools like NoSQL databases and Hadoop, it might have looked like SQL could be in line to be moved on from “venerable” tag to “obsolete”, but last week, the ISO SQL working group agreed to start work on SQL/MDA (multi-dimensional array) specs. The people behind SQL have decided it's time to …

Google pries open YOUR mailbox, invites developer partners

Google's announced a grand plan for email that involves letting World+Dog write apps to access your inbox, just so long as you've given them permission to do so. Hailed by some as “replacing IMAP” (good luck with that, Google, if it's your aim), the new Gmail API is more prosaically outlined by the Chocolate Factory's Eric …

Boffins untangle why your software builds fail

Dependency errors aren't just the bane of Linux users living the configure-make-install life: they also have a significant impact on developer productivity that could be dealt with in the tools developers use. That's one of the conclusions arising out of a new analysis, carried out by researchers from Hong Kong, the University …
Qantas A380 tail

Australia relaxes in-flight device use rules

Australia is following the US in eliminating the air-flight ritual of switching off electronic devices during take-off and landing. If, however, you're the kind who dreads listening to an hour of someone else's life between Sydney and Melbourne, don't worry: voice and data communications with the outside world will still be …

Queensland man arrested on charges including Bitcoin theft

Back in March, a man from the Queensland town of Kingaroy identified by News Limited as Shane Duffy was charged for breaching the systems of Riot Networks.Those attacks included copying files and briefly hijacking the company's Twitter account, and in April, a Maryborough magistrate confirmed bail conditions that forbade him …

Extreme Networks adds OpenDaylight to SDN suite

Extreme Networks has followed up its brand-new membership of the OpenDaylight Foundation (ODL) with an ODL-based OpenStack software defined networking (SDN) platform. The company had, two years ago, hitched its wagon to the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). It now explains its new focus on ODL on the basis that OpenDaylight- …
Double Facepalm; when one facepalm is not enough.

Passwords in plaintext? NOT OK, Cupid

“Encrypt passwords”: that's the message coming from Australia's privacy commissioner, at the conclusion of his investigation of the huge data breach of the Cupid Media dating operation in 2013. Among the 42 million customers whose data was exposed in the breach of the Queensland-headquartered company were 245,000 Australians, …

Bitcoin is MONEY, says Canada

Canada's government has enacted what's believed to be the first legislation worldwide to define the status of crypto-currencies: they're money and have to be accounted and reported as such. The laws, under the gripping title An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget Tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and Other …
Internet Engineering Task Force logo

HUMMING about standards is NOT VOTING, says IETF RFC

It's nice to know that the 'net boffins of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), while they're dealing with trivia such as building an NSA-proof Internet, working out the next generation of routing protocols, making sure our VoIP calls connect, and slinging the 'net into the outer planets, can still find time for the …
An Amazon Prime Air drone

FAA shoots down delivery by drone plans

The United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn't mention Amazon Prime Air, but it's intentions look pretty clear: toy aircraft, including the remote control quadcopters mooted by Jeff Bezos in a December 2013 interview with CBS, aren't for commercial purposes. As readers will recall, Bezos sparked equal measures …
Yahoo! Aviate

Yahoo! Bids! To! Own! Your! Smartmobe! Home! Screen!

Yahoo! is continuing its search for relevance, launching an Android environment that would let the ad-farmer run your smartphone's home screen. Pitched as a convenience thing, the app, called Aviate, was debuted in this Tumblr post. Product manager Mark Daiss writes that the aim of Aviate is to make “your phone smarter by …

Cisco okayed for UK government comms

Cisco has had a bunch of products certified as secure by the GCHQ's information security arm, the Communications & Electronics Security Group (CESG). The certification only covers the products to handle information up to the UK government's “Official” classification – that is, most government information. However, as the …
The Tardis in a field

TIME TRAVEL TEST finds black holes needed to make photons flit

University of Queensland researchers have doubled-down on the question of whether quantum mechanics can exhibit “time travel” behaviours, producing a simulation of time travel using a single photon following a “closed timelike curve” (CTC). No, it's not actually time travel. Rather, the UQ work is looking at what we can predict …

LONGER flights burning MORE fuel can CUT planes' climate impact

British scientists have suggested that the world's airlines could cut their climate impact – by flying further and therefore burning more fuel. The seemingly-paradoxical claim is based on a calculation of the climate impact of contrails on the world's climate. The researchers suggest that rather than simply calculating the …

Vodafone Australia's 'doubles user traffic' on free weekend

Vodafone has unintentionally exposed the miserly behaviour of Australian mobile data users, while hyping data usage over the “free data weekend” it declared to apologise for network outages. It turns out that punters hammered the network with a stunning eight Kbps per user. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Voda customers “ …
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Content control freaks are peddling futility, says iiNet

ISP iiNet has kicked back against the idea that site-blocking will solve Australia's allegedly-huge rate of online piracy, calling the idea “futility-on-a-stick”. The service provider, which has broken ranks with most of the industry by positioning itself as a vocal opponent of the copyright industry's prescriptions for …

Mellanox gives InfiniBand a 5 BILLION PACKET/sec cloud dose

Networking tech firm Mellanox is broadening its 100Gbps InfiniBand portfolio – and is hoping that the new products and capabilities will help it expand its footprint outside its supercomputer home territory. Following on from its demo of 100 Gbps cables last March, the company is using ISC 2014 in Germany to launch the Switch-IB …
BrickArms' Toy taliban figure

Jihadist fears spark new spook powers

Australia's federal government is reportedly about to use Australians travelling to fight with jihadists in Syria as the basis for giving new local powers to ASIO. The Daily Telegraph has been briefed by cites “intelligence sources” as saying that laws soon to go to parliament will give the Australian Security Intelligence …

Appeal to again seek code for Australia's secret election software

Michael Cordover, who last November failed in his attempt to get the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to release its vote-counting software, now hopes to raise the funds to challenge the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Back in November, the AEC decided that there were too many trade secrets embedded in its …

Zombie patents raid TI's wallet for $US3 million

Yet another patent troll non-practicing entity (NPE) has accumulated important wins in US courts, with US Ethernet Innovations (USEI) scoring a $US3 million win against Texas Instruments in a Texas US District Court. The company, which acquired patents from 3Com, had filed its suit against Texas Instruments in 2011, complaining …

POTUS promises Trans Pacific Partnership text

The text of the Trans Pacific Partnership remains secret at the moment, but President Barack Obama intends to present it to the public in November. According to Reuters, POTUS' remarks were made on Friday after discussing the timeline with New Zealand prime minister John Key during a visit to Washington. President Obama is …
HbbTV logo large

Rejoice, Australia! SBS trials SOCCER AND SEX on ONE SCREEN tech

Australian broadcaster SBS, which during the 2014 FIFA World Cup ran a movie promo called “Sex Before Soccer”*, has quietly launched an HbbTV beta to the tiny handful of viewers that have suitable TVs. HbbTV – Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV – lets people with suitably-equipped Internet-connected TVs or set-top-boxes navigate …
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Cisco open-sources experimental cipher

Cisco is offering up an experimental cipher which, among other things, could help preserve the anonymity of data in cloud environments. In putting what it calls “FNR” (Flexible Naor and Reingold) into the hands of the public, The Borg says its work is currently experimental rather than production software. Cisco software …
Enhanced images of the M51 galaxy

Sky-scraping boffins mash amateur astronomers into huge virtual telescope

Amateur astronomers worried that Big Astronomy would render them obsolete can relax: the kinds of techniques used to create huge virtual telescopes are now being applied to the huge collections of astro-pics published on the Internet. As keen astronomy-watchers know, the effective aperture of telescopes can be expanded by …
Evil Android

Columbia U boffins HACK GOOGLE PLAY to check apps

It's the app developer's equivalent of hiding the door keys under the mat: researchers from Columbia University have found Android apps containing the developers' secret keys. That's a more serious issue than the old “don't re-use passwords”: the thousands of credentials embedded by developers, blithely assuming they're not …

Microsoft, insurance giant hitched to pitch home automation

Microsoft is taking another crack at home automation, this time by backing startups with an accelerator launched in partnership with American Family Insurance. The two outfits will run a four-month accelerator program at Redmond between September and December. Redmond's announcement quotes evangelist and veep Steve Guggenheimer …
Suitcase bulging with cash

CloudFlare slurps CryptoSeal

CryptoSeal, which got itself out of the consumer VPN business last year to sidestep the fate of Lavabit, have been snapped up by CloudFlare. The Y Combinator-funded operation shuttered its consumer VPN service because it said complying with a government demand for an individual's data could only be met if it handed over the keys …

Digital Post Australia goes titsup in orderly fashion

Having fought a lawsuit against Australia Post (the nation's postal service) to have the right to offer its service, the much-hyped but ultimately-unwanted Digital Post Australia (DPA) is shutting down, saying its service is “not sustainable at this time”. DPA's closure might give pause to communications minister Malcolm …
troll

Luxembourg patent troll suing world+dog

Another patent troll has appeared on the horizon: Enterprise Systems Technologies, armed with a handful of patents originally assigned to Siemens, has taken out the sueball machine-gun and fired off shots at Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Amazon, and Audience. The Luxembourg-headquartered company has filed the lawsuits in Delaware. …
RoboCop

Oz trade minister: TPP will happen in 2015

Australia's trade minister Andrew Robb has refined his understanding of when the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership will be finalised, putting the deadline somewhere in the first half of 2015. Robb, who in January said the deal would be finalised “soon”, now sees the US electoral cycle as putting a boundary around the …

Careful with 'fibre speed record' hype: which record's been broken?

Last January, NASA's Energy Science Network (ESNet) ran a test that achieved 91 Gbps end-to-end data transfers. The test made belated news this week in another outlet that touted ESNet as a "shadow network" faster than Google fibre. Leaving aside the inappropriateness of that hype, it got El Reg thinking about the business of …
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Microsoft eggheads publish JavaScript crypto code for devs

Microsoft Research has published an under-development JavaScript crypto library, for exposure to developers and researchers interested in cloud and browser security. Designed to work with HTML5-compliant cloud services, the Microsoft Research JavaScript Cryptography Library uses the W3C WebCrypto API to expose crypto functions, …

Tor is '90 per cent of the net' claims City of London Police Commish – and he's dead wrong

Yet again, someone who should know better appears to be hyping up the size of the so-called “darkweb” to push an agenda. As reported by TorrentFreak, the remarks were made to the IP Enforcement Summit in London. According to that report, among other things, Commissioner Adrian Leppard of City of London Police said: “Whether it’ …
blackmail

Nokia paid off extortionist in 2007: Finnish TV

A Finnish broadcaster has revealed that Nokia paid a ransom to keep the app-signing keys of its Symbian operating system secret, in an extortion case dating back to 2007. According to MTV News, the former mobe giant, whose Symbian phones were market leaders back in the day, paid out “millions of Euros” in the extortion. As El …

Cisco swallows Tail-f, burps out network orchestration plans

Cisco has – depending on your attitude – either bolstered its cloud portfolio or knocked out a competitor, with the $US175 million acquisition of Swedish network orchestration vendor Tail-f. The company and its staff will be Borged into Cisco's Cloud and Virtualization Group led by Gee Rittenhouse, on completion of the cash and …
Huawei campus Shenzhen

Operators shackled to GSM, so Huawei ties GSM to LTE

Huawei and Vodafone have run a trial in Spain that demonstrated GSM and LTE transmissions co-existing on the same spectrum. The idea behind Huawei's GL DSS (GSM-LTE dynamic spectrum sharing) is to let operators roll out their shiny new LTE infrastructure without restricting the spectrum available to the (currently) larger …