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Richard Chirgwin

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The Yutu lunar rover

Jade Rabbit nearly out of hop

The Jade Rabbit (Yutu in Chinese) moon probe is pretty much on its last legs, according to reports emerging from China. The spacecraft had surprised the country's space scientists in February by waking up in spite of an unspecified “mechanical control abnormality”. Its initial behaviour in December had been encouraging: it …
Huawei campus Shenzhen

Huawei sprinkles more SDN dust on enterprise kit

Huawei has expanded its software-defined networking support with the launch of the snappily-named Huawei Agile Data Center Cloud Connect Solution, which El Reg is reluctantly going to have to shorten to ADCCCS to stay within its keystroke budget. The solution is based on two main components, the vendor says: its CloudEngine data …
Broken CD

Still watching DVDs? You're a PLANET-KILLING CARBON HOG!

Here's one idea to get the world moving on carbon abatement: close the remaining DVD video industry and get everybody onto streaming. Of course, in countries like Australia, where rights-holders routinely hold back streaming availability in favour of TV broadcasters, where BitTorrent will get you Game of Thrones sooner than …
Bring out your dead - Monty Python

Telstra backs a couple of percent of NICTA's budget

Australia's incumbent telco, Telstra, has put forward a touch over a million dollars with negotiable extensions to research body NICTA, which is at risk of being a casualty of the Australian government's cuts to science, research, and education. The federal government announced in its budget that public funding for NICTA would …
Burning copyright symbol. Photo by: Martin Fisch http://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/ on flickr"

iiNet trial killed ISP-content talks, says Brandis

Australia's government is “actively pursuing” the issue of online piracy, but the talks once pursued between government and ISPs remain a dead duck, according to an exchange in a Senate Estimates hearing yesterday. In response to questions from Greens senator Scott Ludlam, attorney-general George Brandis has told Estimates that …
Andromeda at 12 and 22 microns. Pic: NASA

Did NASA probe detect a KILLER GAMMA-RAY burst in Andromeda?

Sky watchers are rapidly turning their instruments in the direction of Andromeda, after NASA's Swift spacecraft spotted what looks like a deadly gamma-ray burst spotted at 9:21 PM UMT, May 27. That's got astrophysicists excited, because Andromeda is our nearest galactic neighbour, which means the data collection from the event …
Troll in cross hairs

Smut-spreading copyright trolls lose John Doe case

Notorious copyright troll AF Holdings has had a second “copyright shakedown” smacked down, with the US Court of Appeals denying it access to end user data. The decision seriously undermines the model by which many copyright trolling operations function. AF Holdings had sought the names and addresses of more than a thousand John …

Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

E-mail and SMS hold-outs are a danger to the Internet because they foul up media giants' tracking, according to analysts with an interest in flogging social tracking services to media giants. If you're old enough, you'll remember that if you wanted to tell a friend – or a group of friends – about an interesting link, you'd e- …

Ditching renewables will punch Aussies in the wallet – Bloomberg

The Australian government's plan to scrap its Renewable Energy Target (RET), pitched as a way to cut power bills down under, will drive up electricity prices. That's according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF). Bloomberg NEF believes that while the short-term (2015 to 2020) cost of the RET to consumers is AU$ …
2001: A Space Odyssey

Apple plots HOME INVASION at WWDC

Apple is rumoured to have its eye on the smart home market, allowing folks and hackers alike to control lighting, heating and so on in houses and apartments. And it has at least one patent on the indoor tech. Crucially, though, today's smart-home rumour has finally aroused some excitement – and lots of stories – ahead of …
APX Central cable route

SubPartners confirms plan for Perth-Sydney sub cable

Australia is to get its fourth Perth-Sydney fibre connection, but it's got a twist: instead of thousands of kilometres of trenching, SubPartners is planning a submarine cable for the build. Designed to connect to its planned APX-West Perth-Singapore cable, the APX-Central will skip around Western Australia's south-western …
Drosophilia under a laser

Linux app lets you control fruit fly brains - with frikkin' LASERS

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords … a collaboration between researchers in Vienna and the US has produced high-resolution laser-control over fruit flies. If you have access to the necessary kit (cameras and a galvanometer) to track the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster in their experiment), plus a 635nm and a 808nm …
Turnbull with Switkowski in Blacktown

Telecomms regulation neglected in anti-NBN crusade

Here's an idea: instead of the $AU10 million worth of reviews designed to pursue an ideological crusade against the National Broadband Network, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull could instead get to work on fixing the creaking competition mechanisms of Australia's telecommunications industry. It won't happen, of course: …

Windows XP fixes flaws for free if you turn PCs into CASH REGISTERS

A German web noticeboard has published instructions on how to keep getting the free Windows XP updates that enterprises are having to pay for. According to this thread at Sebjik.com, all that's needed for 32-bit Windows XP installs is to edit the registry so that it tells Microsoft you're using POSReady 2009. As Betanews notes …

128-bit crypto scheme allegedly cracked in two hours

Crypto researchers are preparing to scatter the ashes of a class of Discrete Logarithm Problems (DLPs) as the future of security, following a claim by Swiss researchers to have cracked a 128-bit crypto scheme in two hours. So as not to frighten the horses, The Register will start by pointing out that our understanding of this …
Samsung UE8500 78-inch curved TV

Samsung chair regains consciousness

Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee has emerged from his coma, a fortnight after he suffered a heart attack. According to The Korea Herald, he awoke while family members were watching a baseball game while visiting, and were “making noise” when Samsung Lions hitter Lee Seung-yeop hit a home run. Lee has been under treatment at the …
3-rotor WWII Enigma

Congress divorces NIST and NSA

The US Congress has passed a bill that removes the NSA's direct input into encryption standards. According to a report at ProPublica, an amendment to the National Institute of Standards and Technology act removes the requirement that NIST consult with the NSA in setting new encryption standards. Following the Snowden …
Murchison Widefield Array telescope installation

SKA under budget cloud in the Great Oz Science Brain Drain

In the midst of swingeing cuts to scientific research in Australia, the Square Kilometre Array project has emerged as a possible victim of the 2014 federal budget. Among the minutiae to emerge from the budget papers is this: SKA funding is only committed for another two years. Australia won the right to host the low-frequency …

Kiwis unplug supercomputer after intrusion

New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has deployed perhaps the ultimate security device - an RJ 45 plug's locking tab - to protect its 34 Tflops FitzRoy supercomputer after its security was breached. The locking tab was employed after the $NZ12.7 million machine, installed in 2011, was …
management regulation1

Apple wheels out sueball cannon, again

Apple and Google might have decided on a ceasefire in their global patent mutually-assured-destruction battle, but Cupertino-versus-Korea continues to grind on. In its latest move, Apple has fired off two new sueballs: one seeks a permanent injunction preventing the sale of now nearly-obsolete Samsung products in the US; the …
Airbus A380 lift-off. Picture courtesy of Airbus

Fuel for jets DOES grow on trees

Western Australian farmers who have spent decades planting trees to try and combat salinity might get a payoff: providing jet fuel to Perth airport. A study, Sustainable Mallee Jet Fuel, commissioned by Airbus and undertaken at the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, found that carbon emissions from jet fuel …
padlock

CERN and MIT chaps' secure webmail stalled by stampede of users

A bunch of CERN alumni has taken time out of the weighty world of particle physics to take another shot at cracking the e-mail encryption nut. Their offering, Proton Mail, has gone into public beta, and proved so popular the group has had to suspend new registrations while it upgrades its servers. As a concept, encrypting e- …
cloud

European Grid Infrastructure project condenses shared cloud

After a three-year project, the European Grid Infrastructure project has pulled the big red switch on its federated cloud, which it says pools the resources of academic iron in 19 EU countries. Drawing on the “academic private clouds and virtualised resources” of its members, the EGI Federated Cloud hosts a variety of OS images …
bug on keyboard

Cisco slurps security scanner

Cisco has continued the expansion of its security portfolio with the acquisition of malware analysis outfit ThreatGRID. The acquisition target was founded in 2012, one of the then-burgeoning number of companies that pushed malware analysis, threat intelligence, and security analytics into the cloud (supplemented by an on-premise …
Oliver Twist

IANA starts handing out recovered IPv4 addresses

As IPv4 address-exhaustion shambles ever closer, IANA has begun handing out recovered addresses. It's not going to save the world from implementing IPv6 – carrier-grade NAT is more likely to give service providers more breathing space than a few million addresses that turned up down the back of the lounge. The distribution of …

Wacky 'baccy making a hash of FBI infosec recruitment efforts

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to hire more infosec professionals to help fight cyber-crime, but can't find the people they need because there's too much weed to weed out from the talent pool. No, really: the Wall Street Journal is reporting that FBI Director James Comey made that exact complaint in a speech delivered …

Son of ACTA pours fuel on IP trade fire

Activists are mobilising against another international trade treaty, with the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations between America and the EU starting to cause angst. Negotiating texts of the treaty began leaking earlier this year, and that has given policy analysts time to look under the skin of …

E-cigarettes help you quit – but may not keep you alive

A five-year study by University College London suggests that e-cigarettes may, in fact, help people quit. Between 2009 and 2014, the researchers at UCL, with funding from Cancer Research UK, surveyed more than 5,800 smokers who'd tried to quit without either prescription medications or professional support. The sample size …

Schneider Electric asks users to patch Heartbleed again

Industrial controller vendor Schneider Electric has found that while its own kit wasn't affected by the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug, there are some third party components that need work. In an advisory published here (PDF), the company says a third-party software component, Tableau from Wonderware, could re-introduce a Heartbleed …
Child labourers

Tech sector still loves its slaves: study

They avoid paying tax at the top, and avoid paying workers at the bottom: a new study into the supply practises of the tech sector finds most participants don't know where their materials come from and don't really seem to care. That's what emerges from a Baptist World Aid report that scored 39 kit suppliers – covering all …
Pringles Can antenna

Telstra asks users to be its next backhaul network

With a single announcement, Telstra has accidentally skewered the argument that fixed networks are obsolete: the carrier plans to rollout a $AUD100 million cities-and-towns WiFi offload network, which will shift traffic from smartphones and tablets off the 4G network and onto the nearest bit of copper oxide* it can find. Telstra …
Cisco DX70

Cisco reboots PC with $1500 'Scandafornian' Android fondleslab

In the face of some tough quarters, Cisco has used its Cisco Live event to show its bold vision for the future: a $US1,500 big-screen Android tablet with webcam, noise-cancelling audio, apps, and multi-user logins. No, really, that's the Borg's new pitch. As we all know, Cisco's business is hardly buoyant at present. So with …

Uncivil engineering: US society skewers self-published science

If you thought civil engineers were one of society's more conformist cohorts, think again: according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, they're rampant copyright pirates. Their crime is to publish full versions of their own research papers online, once those papers have been published by the ASCE's journals, and they've …
Wifi interference on weather radar

Weather forecast: WiFi storms make meteorologists look mad

A problem in a world of global WiFi equipment is that global spectrum allocations aren't consistent, and in some places, kit clashes with applications like weather radar. A group of Austrian researchers is looking at how to clean up radar images spoiled by nearby WiFi kit. In a paper published on the Arxiv pre-print server, the …
NASA's Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft

NASA finds cash for Kepler's K2 planet-spotting mission

With budget reviews complete, NASA has okayed the extension of the Kepler mission, and has managed to find dollars to keep alive a bunch of other space astronomy missions. It's bad news for the Spitzer mission, which at this stage is set to be cut in the new budget. The infrared space telescope, launched in 2003, exhausted its …

US negotiators in Singapore to unblock TPP negotiations

America's free trade tourists have returned to Singapore on yet another attempt to unlock stalled talks over the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty. Hailed by business and government alike, the 12-nation treaty has been criticised on various grounds: the secrecy of its proposed text, the lack of consultation in many countries, …
Photo of a stack of $100 bills

Google staggers toward BEEELLION-dollar Twitch gobble - report

The Chocolate Factory has reportedly developed a yearning to take a bigger bite out of the video game streaming market, and has offered a cool billion to take over Twitch. Variety, citing “sources familiar with the project” (presumably because they are a better source than someone picked at random off the street), says the …
STONED virus hexcode

Bitcoin blockchain allegedly infected by ancient 'Stoned' virus

A curious and probably accidental artefact has popped up in the Bitcoin blockchain, with a user reporting that it's identified as containing a virus by Microsoft's Security Essentials. The reason El Reg is inclined to think it's accidental: in this discussion on a Microsoft discussion board, user edc678 says MSE is identifying …
Mathematical formula for base station caching

Boffins suggest storage be baked into mobile base stations

In the race to keep mobile performance in line with user demands, carriers around the world are spending big on splitting their cellular networks into ever-smaller chunks. New research suggests that adding some spinning rust to base stations could help improve efficiency, at lower cost. The modelling, carried out by Ejder Baştuğ …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

'Play nice and share': OECD to spectrum owners

It's a given that the world is short of radio spectrum: now, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is calling on new models of spectrum management involving license-holders sharing their spectrum for unlicensed applications, and “incentive auctions” designed to persuade licensees like broadcasters …

Optus buries nasty for NBN Co in its annual results

A strong – almost stunning – rate of 3G-to-4G conversion hasn't stopped Australia's number two mobile carrier Optus losing mobile customers to market leader Telstra, and only its rigorous cost-cutting has allowed the carrier to return a profit for FY 2013-2014. Although the carrier's 4G base shot up from 785,000 people in 2013 …
CatalystNVRAM

Livermore lab opens Catalyst super to industry users

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory “Catalyst” supercomputer, which started sucking its first electrons in November 2013, is now open for industry workloads. When Igor pulled the big red switch last year, the lab touted features like the 800 GB of Flash attached to each of its 304 nodes via PCIe, in addition to the per- …
padlock

Get cracking on STARTTLS says Facebook

Facebook has debunked the idea that SMTP STARTTLS encryption still isn't taking hold, after an analysis of the billions of messages it sends to millions of servers each day. In this blog post, The Social NetworkTM says the numbers are clear: “STARTTLS has achieved critical mass and there is immediate value in deploying it”, and …
Abbott and Costello dressed as policemen

Self-proclaimed LulzSec leader to be tried in July

After repeated delays by prosecutors, alleged LulzSec “leader” Matthew Flannery has finally had a trial date set, for July this year, in a case expected to last just two days. Working under the name Aush0k, Flannery was originally pitched to the media as a “significant risk” and a “leader” of LulzSec, a claim many doubted at the …
A boat full of Fail

Qld government in social media policy linkrot FAIL

Watch what you post – that's the message of a cringe-makingly awful video created by the Queensland Government's Department of Natural Resources and Mines. Seeking to remind banana-bending public servants – those that remain after savage cuts – that they need to be mindful of anything they do on social media, the video (below, …

Linux distros fix kernel terminal root-hole bug

Linux admins need to get busy patching, as a newly discovered bug has emerged in the kernel's tty handling – and it lets logged-in users crash the system, gain root privileges, or otherwise modify and access data they shouldn't. This memory corruption flaw is certainly nothing like OpenSSL's remotely exploitable Heartbleed – CVE …

Cisco sprinkles more SDN goodness into the access network

Cisco is pushing its “Evolved Programmable Network” architecture further into the access network, with a slew of product releases designed to make the access network more “cloudy”. First, let's get through the list of serial numbers. The new products cover optical access, Ethernet access, TDM access, management and …
eyeofSauron

IETF plans to NSA-proof all future internet protocols

The IETF has taken the next small step down the long, long road of protecting user traffic from spooks, snoops and attackers, setting down the basic architectural principle that new protocols should resist monitoring. It's not going to be a trivial undertaking: practically every layer of the Internet protocol stack has its …
Picture of the Miss Piggy puppet

NBN CO told to pretty itself up for bankers by 2017

Australia's NBN Co, the company building the once-FTTP now-“multi-technology model” National Broadband Network (NBN), has been given a deadline: look sexy to private investors by 2018. That's when the government has decided it will cease funding the network in any way, with last night's federal budget setting down the financial …
Dark matter map

Boffins search for dark matter in abandoned Australian mine

Australian physicists are looking at an unused gold mine in the Victorian town of Stawell to see if it's a suitable spot for a dark matter detector. As reported in the Wimmera Mail Times here, the Stawell Gold Mine Future Possibilities project has okayed the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at Terascale (CoEPP) to start …