Richard Chirgwin

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Kicking Boston Dynamics' Spot

NERDS KICK PUPPY 'bot in brutal attack

Video K9 never had to put up with this type of thing: yowls of not-so-serious outrage have greeted the latest vid from bot-tastic US defence contractor Boston Dynamics. What the famous robotics outfit wants to demonstrate is that its latest product, Spot, has great stability and does a decent job of recovering from a momentary lack of …

NASA plots methane-detecting laser in SPAAACE

NASA is working on a laser-based instrument it hopes will be able to take flight to measure atmospheric concentrations of important greenhouse gas methane. The work is being led by Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Haris Riris, who collaborated with Jim Abshire of Goddard in developing the CO2 Sounder Lidar (light detection …

Android Patent Dispute: Microsoft, Samsung hug it out

Microsoft's patent row with Samsung over Android licensing has ended with a whimper, not a bang. Redmond has announced that the two firms are now back on speaking terms, and that no, you can't know the details. In a terse statement, Microsoft says actions both in US courts and arbitration in the International Chamber of Commerce …
Smart TV

Data retention: It seems BORING ... until your TV SPIES ON YOU

If there's one thing we can thank this whole Samsung privacy brouhaha for, it's casting data retention debates in a whole new light. As readers of The Register now know, Samsung decided that the best way to process voice commands in its new smart TVs is to send them off to the cloud. Since it can't distinguish speech meant to …

Cisco adds Ethernet VXLAN BGP support to Nexus switches

Cisco is giving another nod in the direction of support for open software-defined-network standards, announcing support for BGP EVPN on its Nexus 9000. BGP EVPN – Border Gateway Protocol, Ethernet Virtual Private Network – is an Internet draft authored by members from Cisco, Juniper, Verizon, AT&T, Alcatel-Lucent and Bloomberg …
The proposed Twinkle satellite

Brit boffins want £50 million to launch exoplanet observatory

A bunch of UK boffins led by University College London (UCL) is looking for funds for an exoplanet-watching satellite – but we're not talking Kepler-level money. The group hopes that £50 million – including launch costs – will be enough to kick off a three-year mission to get Surrey Satellite Technology to build a spacecraft to …
Mi Pad

Ericsson drags Xiaomi back to court in India

The ongoing battle between Ericsson and up-and-coming Chinese mobe-maker Xiaomi has blown up again, with the Swede saying its rival is ignoring a High Court order. In December 2014, the Delhi High Court blocked sales of some Xiaomi phones in the huge market for not paying royalties to Ericsson. The court order restricted Xiaomi …
Diamond's 7000-quid Ethernet cable

$10,000 Ethernet cable promises BONKERS MP3 audio experience

Got £6,899 (US$10,500) to spare and worried that a Cat-6 Ethernet cable is keeping you from hearing the very best of your NAS-stored collection of MP3s? Fear not, your moment has come, with this work of wonder from Audio Quest. El Reg notes that the advertisement indicates the age of Audio Quest's engineers. Since the super- …
france

France enacts law to block terror and child sexual abuse sites

France has moved to implement the Internet-blocking regime that became law in October 2014 as part of a suite of anti-terrorism legislation. The 2014 law allowed administrative orders blocking sites hosting child pornography content, or advocating acts of terrorism. The law has now been gazetted, here, meaning it can now be …
Zip HydroTap All-in-one

NBN Co strangles bird: satellite users limited to 20 GB / month

NBN Co is imposing new limits on satellite downloads, forcing ISPs to kill off plans with more than 50 GB monthly allowances. According to documents seen by The Register, the network-builder is once again finding its Interim Satellite Service effectively DDoSed by its popularity. “In response to complaints about poor …
glow in the dark cat could cure aids

They've finally solved it: Schrödinger's cat is both ALIVE AND DEAD

An international group of quantum physics researchers reckons it's come up with an experimental validation of the reality of the wave-function. It's one of quantum mechanics' most elusive concepts, ever since Erwin Schrödinger crafted the famous “Schrödinger's cat” thought experiment. In the current experiment, led by Martin …
Silicene's structure

Silicene takes on graphene as next transistor wonder-stuff

University of Texas boffins have offered up another material they reckon is a hot bet for future generations of Moore's-law-beating super-fast transistors: silicene. Throwing its hat into the ring as an alternate to the popular wonder-stuff graphene, silicene – a single-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms – is, like graphene, hard …

Siemens sighs: SCADA bugs abound

Another security advisory covering Siemens industrial kit has reached the public, this time covering wireless industrial networking hardware. ICS-CERT advises that the Ruggedcom range of 802.16e (Wimax, for those with long memories) switches from the company carries a range of vulnerabilities that let attackers scam admin …
Clockwork Orange

G.Fast sand-slinger says it's slung bits at 500 Mbps over 200 metres

Hold on to your cabinets: G.Fast chip shipper Sckipio has doubled the reach of its chipsets, and has demoed greater than 500Mbps speeds for a distance of 200 metres. To put that in perspective, 500Mbps over a distance of 200 metres equates to about one-third of a Usain*. The company is chuffed, because that's double the rather …

Australia's (current) PM Tony Abbott again calls for metadata trove laws to pass, ASAP

Australia's current prime minister Tony Abbott has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the head of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to renew his call for the country's data retention regime to pass parliament as soon as possible. Relying on briefings from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Tony Abbott stated that there …
eyeofSauron

Avoiding data retention will be as easy as eating a burger

A handy line of questioning by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has outlined the biggest shortcoming of the Attorney-General's Department's artificial distinction between “metadata” and “content”, while also giving those who wish their online activities to be harder to track handy hints on how to circumvent the planned retention …

Intel silicon photonics modules can't take the heat of the HPC kitchen

Chipzilla's first foray into silicon photonics has hit a snag, with Intel reworking its expected production runs to fix “quality issues” with its first modules. The company's 100 Gbps-and-beyond project is designed to push optical transmission right down to the system level. Using optical signals between system components like …

Singapore wants nation-wide internet of things, hold the internet

The government of Singapore, famously keen on connectivity, has issued a tender seeking a fibre network to connect an island-wide sensor network. The sensors will include surveillance cameras, according to AsiaOne, and are due to be rolled out by the end of the year. There will also be sensors in drains to provide flood …

US DoJ okays IEEE's patent troll BAN-HAMMER

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has okayed new IEEE standards licensing rules designed to end some of the seemingly-endless lawsuits over standards-essential patents - and the trolls aren't happy. A key step in bringing the new rules into effect, a “Business Review Letter” from the DoJ, has been completed with the department …
NBN FTTN cabinet

Opticomm wants peer relationship with NBN Co

Fibre infrastructure provider Opticomm is hoping the federal government will help it push NBN Co into standardising its retail service provider interfaces. Th company, which specialises in building fibre networks in greenfields housing developments, recently upgraded its core network, anticipating customer growth in the wake of …
Confused computer keyboard

Cisco simplifies software licences, by selling them under THREE programs

Cisco reckons it's unravelled the secret to the popularity of open source networking software projects: licence management in the world of proprietary kit is a pain in the neck. To deal with that, The Borg has decided to try out a revised licensing model on the world, under the banner Cisco ONE. Cisco's picked off a couple of …

AWS Go-ing Google's way

The Go language, familiar to those working in the wonderful world of Docker, is inching its way into the Amazon Web Services environment. In what'll be seen as a big win for the language, AWS is working on adding Go to its existing suite of SDKs – Java, C#, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, PHP and Objective C. Created by Google …
Angry-looking cat. Pic by  Guyon Morée from Beverwijk, Netherlands. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Google boffins PROVE security warnings don't ... LOOK! A funny cat!

The revised SSL warning interface introduced in Chrome 37, designed to teach users more secure behaviours, was only a partial success – according to the Chrome security team's own analysis. Confusing security warnings serve only to make users more insecure and normalise risky behaviours, according to Google. To try and beat that …

BURIED: Oz gov won't reveal telcos' guess at data retention costs

Australian federal government data retention plans remain in disarray, with the parliamentary committee investigating the legislation being told that the government is not going to had over the costings it's received from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which asked telcos to provide them on Christmas Eve. In what Australian Labor …
eyeofSauron

Telstra: we don't collect the metadata the government wants now

Yet again, the coaching that spooks and bureaucrats have given Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis has proven to be at odds with the realities of the telecommunications industry. In today's hearing into the government's metadata retention scheme, dominant telco Telstra said it does not retain any IP address assignments …
Clouds in blue sky

Big Switch pitches third fabric iteration in six months

Big Switch Networks is sticking to its start-up sprint, announcing the third iteration of its virtual networking environment since it initial release in July 2014. The challenge for the company will one day be the same as it is for every once-was-a-startup company: it's far easier to build the momentum that grabs the market …
Handshake

Trans-Pacific trade treaty close to signoff says USA

The US Trade Representative Michael Froman has tried to reassure the country's lawmakers that the interminable negotiations over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will conclude during 2015. However, as chief negotiators meet in New York with the hope of securing signatures by the middle of March, there's speculation that what …

Cisco says GHOST is more Casper than Sleepy Hollow

Cisco has put forward at least a partial response to 2015's first branded bug, GHOST, saying that in The Borg's world, the glibc vulnerability is probably of relatively low severity. That would, at least, explain why it's not being hunted with quite the urgency of something like Heartbleed in 2014: right now, Cisco's advisory …
Clouds in blue sky

Who's afraid of a virtual switch? Not big bad Brocade

The burgeoning market for bare-metal Ethernet switches isn't bothering Brocade, according to A/NZ senior director Gary Denman. Speaking to the media over a brace of start-of-year announcements, Denman said the bare-metal market, championed by Web giants like Facebook, remains a niche model. While Brocade is aware that companies …
hitahi t7k500 hard disk drive

Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

Forty-five disk drives, ten parity drives, and 33 spare disks: that's the optimum array size to protect data for four years with no service visits, according to a study published at Arxiv. The problem the study addresses is that the world's rush towards hyperscale data centres puts an awful lot of disks in one place, and the …
George Brandis

Australian spookhaus ASIO could retain private data FOREVER

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has told the government it's forgotten to set down how long ASIO is allowed to keep metadata handed over by telecommunications companies. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 requires that carriers hold data for two years. …
NASA animation of BL86 plus moon

Passing asteroid MOONS the HUMAN RACE

Space-watchers peering at the fly-by asteroid 2004 BL86 will have missed a detail that NASA caught: the flying mountain has its own moon. Future discoveries excluded, BL86 is expected to be the Earth's nearest-and-largest encounter for quite some years, until it approached its moon hadn't been seen. As Space.com states, the …
White House drone

'Boozed up' US drone spook CRASHED UFO into US White House

A drone crashed into the US White House because the government staffer flying the thing had hit the bottle, according to the New York Times. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee had already 'fessed up to careering the drone into the grounds of Prez Obama's gaff, sparking a security scare. The NYT has now fleshed …

Government's rushed NBN migration plan off to the ACCC

Industry objections notwithstanding, the federal government has okayed Telstra submitting its revised NBN migration plan to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In spite of industry concerns that the arrangements favour the incumbent, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the finalisation of …

Humanity can defeat SkyNet with BOOKS, says IT think tank

A group of researchers working for National ICT Australia reckons computer science courses need to look at artificial intelligence from an ethical point of view – and the popularity of sci-fi among comp.sci students makes that a good place to start. As the research team, which included NICTA's Nicholas Mattei, the University of …
Silicon micro-ring resonator

Photons link arms on chip to hasten march of quantum crypto

A multinational collaboration of boffins reckons it's come up with a chippable solution to one of the practical problems of quantum communications: getting a good source of entangled photons. While commercial quantum key distribution (QKD) devices already exist, getting as much of the process onto silicon is the foundation of …
Evil Android

Some Androids can be HOSED by WiFi Direct vuln

Google, which has been criticised by Microsoft for recent bug disclosures, is now downplaying a bug of its own. Core Security reckons there's a bug in the Android implementation of WiFi Direct, which if exploited would let an attacker force a reboot of a device. Google, however, isn't convinced it's critical, and isn't showing …
Puzzlecluster concept

Linux chaps want to recycle your mobe as a supercomputer

A Finnish group of phone developers, hoping to get the world interested in modular smartphones, has proposed a nifty idea for re-using their phone motherboards: turn them into clusters. The Linux-based Puzzlephone project wants to extend the life of smartphones by making more of the phone replaceable, on the premise that most of …

Watchdogs critical of Oz data retention regime

Ahead of parliamentary hearings this week into the Australian government's proposed data retention regime, privacy watchdogs have lined up to criticise the legislation. Australia's Privacy Commissioner Tim Pilgrim has warned that the data collected poses a serious threat to privacy, and recommends that mandatory data breach …
An example of side-channel instruction noise

Swots explain how to swat CPU SNITCHES

A variety of sneaky side-channel attacks have been demonstrated over the years: from measuring the amount of processor power devoted to encryption to using an antenna to pick up stray electromagnetic emissions from computers. Myth-of-recency headlines aside, learning what a computer is doing by listening to its electronics has …
Disney's Beagle Boys

Verizon posts WANTED poster for copper rustlers

Verizon is sick of having to refresh its copper network merely to replace stolen metal, and for the forth time since 2013 has posted a reward for information leading to arrests. The broadband brigands aren't fooling around, either. In the latest incidents more than 10,000 feet of copper were heisted by thieves, leading to the …

Nope. That's not our FAKE BOMB say Oz spooks and cops

For at least the third time in as many years, someone carrying real or fake explosives in a security training exercise has lost track of their cargo. Yesterday, that resulted in a full-scale security lockdown at Sydney's Circular Quay, the city's ground zero for tourism thanks to views of the city's iconic Harbour Bridge and …
The Valley - code

Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't: boffins

There's no such thing as an anonymous programmer: your coding style can unmask you, according to research led by Drexel University Comp. Sci. PhD student Aylin Caliskan-Islam. In work that has serious implications for anyone believing their open source project contributions are anonymous, the researchers find that as many as 95 …
Chicken Jalfrezi and rice with a beer. Pic by Shutterstock

Drinking to forget? OK. But first, eat a curry... QUICK!

If you've had the kind of Patch Tuesday that ends in a mass attack of BSODs, new vulns in Java and someone advertising your routes as traversing Norfolk Island, you're quite likely to head for the pub and thence to a curry. According to research published in Neuropsychopharmacology, is that one of curry's important active …
Clouds in blue sky

RHEL on VCE is ESA's new tech launchpad

The European Space Agency (ESA) has rolled Red Hat Enterprise Linux into its ESA Cloud, an ongoing cloud computing rollout. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is, as the company notes, just one of the platforms being used in the ESA Cloud. The cloud covers software development and testing; satellite data reprocessing; document management …
traffic light hacking

Australian traffic lights need better security says auditor-general

The Auditor-General of the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) and the state's roads bureaucrats are at loggerheads over whether or not traffic signal infrastructure is vulnerable to attacks over the Internet. In a report on critical infrastructure security, the audit office asserts that “systems in place to manage traffic …
The F-35B in the hover. Credit: Lockheed

US military finds F-35 software is a buggy mess

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) remains the problem child of the US military, with some operational tests abandoned in 2014, and buggy software proving a headache. The US military's Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) has released its latest annual report, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter chapter …

Turnbull says big telcos should subsidise bush comms

It looks like the federal government is getting its feet in a tangle, trying to reconcile the public good of the National Broadband Network with free-market doctrine. Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has floated his ideas of how to create a transparent mechanism to subsidise rural telecommunications, and it seems to …
The Mouse-Box - a PC in a mouse

Polish chap builds computer into a mouse

The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse. The Mouse-Box, currently at working prototype stage, packs a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM CPU, a micro-HDMI port, WiFi up to 802.11n, accelerometer, gyroscope, two USB 3.0 ports and 128 GB …

Data centre hunger gives Ethernet switch market a boost

Market research outfit Infonetics reckons the data centre Ethernet market is set for a shake-up as 25 Gbps and 50 Gbps drive the migration from 10 Gbps products. Reporting on third quarter sales from 2014, the company's Data Center Network Equipment report says with Broadcom set to ship its 25G and 50G silicon, it's vendors are …