Richard Chirgwin

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turbine

For pervasive 5G and IoT, prepare for wind turbines on cells

As growing user populations and hunger for mobile capacity drive ever-smaller cell sizes (even before the advent of 5G), electricity becomes a problem. A group of researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology reckon renewables will be the only way to power the small cell networks of the future. In this …
The NGTS telescope array

Earth-bound exoplanet hunter's eyes blink open

The European Space Observatory (ESO) is reporting “first light” from the world's latest exoplanet hunter, an Earth-based optical instrument in Chile. The Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) at the ESO's Paranal observatory in the north of the country will, like NASA's Kepler space telescope, try to detect exoplanets as they …
Random numbers

Security? Don't bother until it's needed says RFC

All-or-nothing approaches to security are part of what's making it so hard to achieve acceptable protection, a new RFC suggests. Written by Viktor Dukhovni of Two Sigma, RFC 7435 argues that the way current systems fail is a discouragement to good security. A binary failure – if two peers in a conversation don't have the same …

Got a GE industrial Ethernet switch? Get patching

GE is the latest industrial kit vendor to send users patching to protect against hard-coded credentials in Ethernet switches. IOActive disclosed the vulnerability to ICS-CERT, which issued this advisory (details here CVE-2014-5418 and here CVE-2014-5419). The vulnerability occurs in various GE Multilink managed Ethernet …
padlock

ISO floats storage security standard

The International Standards Organisation reckons the world needs help securing its data, so has published a new storage security standard to cover it. Because The Register isn't about to shell out 198 Swiss Francs to read the whole thing, we're constrained in our ability to tell you exactly what it contains, but we note that the …

Australia tries to ban crypto research – by ACCIDENT

While the world is laughing at UK PM David Cameron for his pledge to ban encryption, Australia is on the way to implementing legislation that could feasibly have a similar effect. Moreover, the little-debated Defence Trade Control Act (DTCA) is already law - it's just that the criminal sanctions it imposes for sending knowledge …
IBM's new mainframe

MAINFRAMES are SO NOT DEAD: IBM's launched a new one

At least twenty years after pundits first pronounced the death of the mainframe, IBM has released a new one. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the market, but IBM will be hoping that the billion dollars it's poured into developing the new z13 mainframe will get the big end of town as excited as Big Blue itself is. …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

5G needs new connectivity methods, say Spanish boffins

While millimeter-wave radio frequencies are hyped as the future of high-speed wireless networks, they're severely range-limited. A group of Spanish boffins has proposed using user context information like location to help mobile devices get the best speed. As they explain in their paper at Arxiv, it's not enough just to run an …

BATMAN LASER builds smaller, faster hard drives

Swiss boffins working at the Paul Scherrer Institute have explained a mechanism allowing magnetic bits to be switched using lasers, and have turned up an accidental nano-scale Batman logo. The boffins, as part of an international team with collaborators in Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, reckon their work could let storage …
Clouds in blue sky

OVS to add virtual networking to code-base

The Open vSwitch (OVS) community has announced that it's adding virtual networking to its project. As explained in this post, the Open Virtual Networking (OVN) project is designed to provide a “lightweight control plane” to support familiar virtual networking abstractions – in particular, Layer 2/3 networking only, so as not to …

Attackers planting banking Trojans in industrial systems

Trend Micro researcher Kyle Wilhoit says the latest attacks on SCADA and industrial control networks are turning out to carry rather pedestrian banking Trojans, and have been on the rise since October 2014. Talking to DarkReading, Wilhoit said rather than Stuxnet-style attacks, ne'er-do-wells are dropping banking Trojans into …

Mellanox to upgrade Monash University's HPC fabric

The Monash University R@CMon high-performance CloudX OpenStack computing cloud is to get a back-end upgrade thanks to Mellanox. R@CMon is a 2,300-plus core machine, one of the eight nodes that forms Australia's National e-Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) research cloud, with preconfigured IaaS configurations of …

Welcome to 'uber-veillance' says Australian Privacy Foundation

Regulators are way behind the game when it comes to wearable and IoT privacy, and users are willingly conspiring with companies that don't care about them to help create a society of “uber-veillance”. That's the grim conclusion reached by Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) board member and University of Wollongong researcher …
Friends Reunited, new homepage, credit Friends Reunited screengrab

Computers know you better than your friends

Your Facebook Likes provide a signal to your personality so accurate, a computer can know you better than everyone but your very nearest and dearest, claim Cambridge boffins. In a study published at PNAS (abstract here, PDF here), the researchers used Facebook Likes as the signal to model a computer-based “personality judgement …
Visual Studio

Microsoft thinks of the children with VS2013 Git release

Microsoft has clambered aboard GitHub's educational effort, tossing Visual Studio Community 2013 and a few other goodies into the mix. The Github Student Development Pack was launched last year, targeting aspiring devs aged 13 and over. Visual Studio Community 2013 (launched in 2014, natch) is already free, so the aim is …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN migration arrangements favour Telstra, say competitors

With the Australian government's multi-technology model for the National Broadband Network (NBN) set in stone, competitors to dominant carrier Telstra are concerned that proposed transition arrangements give the incumbent too much power while crimping the reach of regulator the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The …
ANU's Manjin Zhong

Boffins' quantum USB stick trumps fibre optic reliability

The lifetime of quantum memories – a crucial component of practical quantum computing and communications – is typically less than a second. Now, work led by the Australian National University has turned up quantum states that last as long as six hours. That “coherence time” – how long an entangled state can be preserved – is …
Cosmic rays hitting Earth

India digs deep to bury neutrino-hunting chamber

India is joining the world of exotic particle research, announcing US$235 million worth of funding for a neutrino observatory in the country's south. Approval for the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), proposed in 2013, means construction of the underground complex can now begin. The 1,300 metre deep cavern under the …
slow_sign

Australia's Akamai ranking has nothing to do with the NBN

There's never any shortage of ways for Australia to feel inadequate about its broadband performance, and speed comparisons are a perennial favourite. With Akamai's latest State of the Internet report hitting the Internet at the end of last week, Australians are in for another bout of soul-searching: while our year-on-year …
Photo of Kim Jong-un using an archaic computer

SURPRISE: Norks' Linux distro has security vulns

Well, that didn't take long: mere days after North Korea's Red Star OS leaked to the west in the form of an ISO, security researchers have started exposing its vulnerabilities. According to this post at Seclists, the udev rules in version 3.0 of the US and the rc.sysint script in version 2.0 are both world-writable. Both of …

Dread Pirate Roberts suspect's defence holed below the waterline

The judge presiding over the pretrial of alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht has smacked down the accused's attempts to have some charges dropped ahead of the start of next week's trial. Judge Katherine Forrest's decision was given orally during December with the court stating its reasoning would be published in full, which …
big droplets falling from rain cloud

Cray, IBM to boost NOAA's super powers

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched the next phase of an upgrade process which it says will increase the power of its supercomputing systems tenfold. The upgrade, to be carried out by IBM and Cray, is due for delivery by October, and when it's completed the administration's two hunks of …
The SPIDER instrument prior to launch

Antarctic boffins hope stratospheric gravity wave hunter returns to Earth

Boffins in Antarctica are nervously watching the skies for the planned descent of an instrument package hoisted into the stratosphere on January 1 with the aim of seeking out gravity waves. The experiment, called SPIDER, combines a polarimeter designed to look for signals that would either validate or exclude “GUT-scale” (grand …

Australia ignores data retention in summer slack-off

The Australian federal government's strategy of conducting inquiries on a short time-scale approaching holidays is paying off in spades when it comes to data retention. The Register has already noted the government's rushed Christmas-eve questionnaire to the telecommunications industry about the costs of data retention. There's …
Hydrogen filling station

Toyota to Tesla: we can play the free patent game as well

CES 2015 Toyota has taken a gauntlet and tossed it in the general direction of Elon Musk, telling the CES audience it will loose a hoard of patents relating to hydrogen fuel-cell cars on the world. The 5,650 patents to be made royalty-free between now and 2020 cover “approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated …
Robonaut shakes hands with with his human counterpart. Pic: NASA

ISS Robonaut gets LEGLESS ... in spaaaace

There's nothing to spoil an unboxing like a product that doesn't work. That's the unfortunate fate of NASA's beloved Robonaut 2 project: during December, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts tried adding legs to the machine, but they didn't work. Robonaut has been helping with ISS chores for some time. Last year, …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

WAM, bam, thank you QAM

CES 2015 Startup MagnaCom is using CES to pitch a technology it reckons offers wireless comms an attractive combination of better spectral efficiency and higher capacity. Those claims are based on what the company calls WAM, which it's pitching as a possible replacement for the ubiquitous QAM-based modulation. QAM is a standard …
Original Start button placement

Ford recalls SUVs … to fix the UI

Ford has issued a recall for its Lincoln MKC SUVs, because drivers trying to operate the gearshift are shutting the car down by mistake. As computers invade the world of motor vehicles, and car-makers replace the old ignition key assembly with a start button, it seems they're having to relearn the basics of interface design. In …
Another tree anchors the cable

Verizon wants to sell 'antiquated' copper assets, stick to wireless for voice

Verizon's copper networks are now so old it says wireless is a better option for voice and low-speed data services. Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam told a Citi briefing that along with looking for opportunities to offload some of its copper assets, part of the company's strategy to retire its copper is wireless. “We're moving a …
Snowden image

Snowden leaks lack context says security studies professor

With the wash-up from December's Snowden leaks still sloshing around the 'net, The Register decided to discuss how to interpret the leaked documents with Thomas Rid of King's College London. In November, Rid (Professor of Security Studies) and colleague Robert Lee (currently undertaking his PhD at King's) published a piece …
2001: A Space Odyssey

The weirdly-synched life of the Google Nest household

Along with World+Dog, Google is trumpeting its Internet of Things vision at CES. It's pure accident that it looks, to the sceptical eye, like a world in which there's a single API to invade everybody's lives. At first glance it looks like the typical Utopian vision of Silicon Valley, but Vulture South took a second look and …
Privacy image

Boffins spy I in your little eye

Researchers from the University of York's psychology school have found that faces reflected in your eyes can be captured in high enough resolution to be identified. To demonstrate not only that the images exist, but that they can be identified, Rob Jenkins and Christie Kerr got volunteers to perform recognition tasks. Using a …
eyeofSauron

HTTPS bent into the next super-cookies by researcher

A UK consultant has demonstrated how a feature of the secure Web protocol HTTPS can be turned into a tracking feature that is, in the case of some browsers, ineradicable. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), described in RFC 6797 (here), is a mechanism that helps sites redirect users from the insecure HTTP version to the …
The Tanami Desert en route to Willowara

Australia: even more empty than you imagine

In a release that went largely unnoticed in the lead-up to Christmas, the Australian Bureau of Statistics launched a data product designed to simplify regional and international comparisons. The Australian Population Grid 2011 (that is, it uses the 2011 Census data) plots Australia's population against a 1km2 grid. Prior to the …
NASA graphic of space debris in low Earth orbit. Pic: NASA

RMIT boffins fast-track space junk search

Researchers at Australia s RMIT University, working with EOS Space Systems, reckon they can plot the trajectory of space junk with just two five-second samples of the target's trajectory. EOS has previously proposed using lasers to bump objects in orbit, and is building a joint tracking facility in Western Australia with …
Falcon 1 launches from Kwajalein

You're late, Falcon 9: Look what you've done to NASA’s DSCOVR launch!

The delay of the SpaceX Falcon launch - slated for December 2014 - has had a knock-on impact on another NASA mission, with the agency announcing that its DSCOVR blast-off will have to wait until after 29 January. A joint NASA/NOAA project, DSCOVR (the Deep Space Climate Observatory) will provide real-time solar wind monitoring, …
Monty Python foot UHDTV

This one shall pass! Not even a flesh wound from ‘Monty Python’ SPACE ROCK

It would probably be a real downer if an asteroid that impacts Earth had a funny name, so Reg readers will be pleased to know that's not going to happen. Asteroid 13681 Monty Python will is making its closest pass as we speak – but at 2.4 Astronomical Units, or more than twice the average Earth-Sun distance, and it's too far …
Internet of Things

Even China's Academy of Science thinks wearables are privacy problem

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Australian National University, h Dakota State University, Sydney University and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have looked over the state of play in the Internet of Things, and find that concern for privacy is lacking. Their …
Road closed

VPN users reckon Netflix is blocking them

Netflix is being accused of planning to enforce its terms and conditions by blocking connections from services that bypass geographic blocks. If the reported blocking proves effective, users in nations not served by the media streamer would find themselves stuck with the company's limited local catalogue, rather than continuing …

For the love of Bong! He's Chief Contract Killer Evangelist... for WHAT NOW?

Comment We're in one of those phases of the tech biz where imitation equals innovation, if you add excremental incremental changes and a personable plonker to spokesperson The Coming Revolution. Having lived through this once before, this scribe can't work up a good hype-cycle over boilerplate “innovation”. It's colour-by-numbers stuff …
The Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre

Reg Oz chaps plot deep desert comms upgrade

It's been a while since The Reg travelled to the remote Australian community of Willowra to perform a Windows XP upgrade, and longer still since we updated readers on our plan to improve the internet connection in the town's adult learning centre. We'd like to fix the internet problem because the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre …

Dell draws Midokura into Open Networking project

Dell has expanded its Open Networking initiative with the addition of network virtualisation (NV) specialist Midokura. Under the partnership, Midokura's MidoNet software will become part of Dell's Open Networking reference architecture, and the two vendors will cooperate on marketing under a global reseller agreement. Vijay …
NIST's LEGO watt balance

Boffins weigh in to perfect kilogram quest with LEGO kit

How many boffins does it take to make a LEGO machine to measure a fundamental physical unit? Nine, apparently – but the outcome, a LEGO watt balance, can measure a kilogram with about one per cent inaccuracy. The serious point to the National Institute of Standards and Technology-led effort (NIST) is that with the Le Système …
management regulation1

China's smartmobe darling Xiaomi locked out of India

Simmering tensions over smartphone patents in India are heating up, with a court smacking down Chinese mobe-maker Xiaomi following a patent infringement claim by Ericsson. The Delhi High Court granted Ericsson an ex parte injunction against the Chinese vendor, according to intellectual property blog Spicy IP, because Xiaomi had …

Merry Xmas, Neohapsis, here's your Cisco-dollars

Cisco is beefing up its security intelligence-gathering, snapping up privately-held advisory Neohapsis for an undisclosed sum. Neohapsis is a Chicago-based security advisory and bug archivist outfit, and will boost Cisco's risk management, compliance, cloud, application, mobile and infrastructure security offerings, according to …
An abandoned Telstra facility on the Stuart Highway

SURPRISE: Oz gov gives itself room to NEVER finish the NBN

The Vertigan panel's report on telecoms regulation in Australia was delivered in October and was mostly ignored by the nation's federal government, but the document has provided a fig-leaf for the abandonment of last year's pre-election promise* to complete the network (albeit with different technologies). According to the …

DoJ's extra-territorial data demands: now Ireland is baulking

The American Department of Justice's legal spat with Microsoft keeps sending out wider ripples, with Ireland now unhappy with the DoJ's blasé attitude about its jurisdictional reach. Microsoft has long been resisting a court order that decided e-mails are “business records” and demanding that Redmond pry open some servers in …
Crop of doctor with pen and clipboard

Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

University of Manchester researchers reckon they've eliminated one of the mechanisms that might have linked mobile phones to cancer. The research is also bad news for those who think power lines are cancer-carriers. Dr Alex Jones in the University's School of Chemistry led a team examining whether weak magnetic fields affected …
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Confused about 5G? So are we, say carriers

The world of 5G remains confusing – even to the carriers who we've been told are demanding the new standard as quickly as possible, it seems. With 4G penetration standing at just five per cent of the world's connections, a shortage of spectrum available for new standards, professional scepticism and plenty of hype, 5G has …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

Telstra's NBN boondoggle nearly set in stone: reports

Reports are emerging that the builder of Australia's national broadband network, NBN Co, has all-but struck a deal with Telstra over access to last-mile copper, plus a separate arrangement to absorb the country's cable broadband networks. The deals are reportedly so advanced they'll be tabled at a cabinet meeting, perhaps even …