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Richard Chirgwin

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Ad regulator pulls down Branson-backed magic undies

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decided that Wireless Armour, which promises to protect your crown jewels from nasty WiFi signals, can't be advertised in Blighty. The underwear, which has sought funds on Indiegogo and later attracted the high-profile backing of Richard Branson, claimed that silver threads in …

EMC is shopping for Indian startups

EMC has revealed that it's set aside US$2.3 billion for acquisitions, and is tagging the startup sector in India as one target for its shopping expeditions. The company has told India's The Economic Times in India that it has a particular eye for startups in that country. Chirantan Desai, who heads up EMC's emerging technology …
Privacy image

Irish credit unions in privacy breach

Irish credit unions are in the midst of a privacy storm, with that country's privacy watchdog accusing some institutions of trafficking in illegally-obtained data. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) says it's investigating whether some credit unions hired private investigators to obtain confidential data from …

Ericsson to roll Ciena kit into Telstra

Ericsson's February 2014 agreement with Ciena has paid off in Australia, with the two to work on a major optical network upgrade for incumbent Telstra. Beyond Ericsson's canned announcement, details of the upgrade are sketchy, but the carrier is keen to get its hands on Ciena's 100 Gbps packet-optical system which Ericsson …
1990s-era submarine cable from Alcatel-TCC

Google's so smart it's discovered SHARKS HAVE TEETH

The world's submarine cables are subject to a brand-new threat: sharks. As detailed in this article in the New York Times, shark bites emerged as an increasing problem in a new cable crossing the Atlantic, causing four segments of the cable to fail. As AT&T points out, the shark-bite problem is specific to optical fibre cables …

Boffins brew TCP tuned to perform on lossy links like Wi-Fi networks

The world is awash with proposals to improve the venerable TCP/IP protocol. The latest, from researchers at the University of Cincinnati, addresses shortcomings in the protocol's behaviour on wireless networks. Since wireless, rather than a coloured Ethernet cable, is the default connection for most devices, how WiFi handles TCP …

Avago divests another chunk of LSI to Intel

Fresh from its acquisition of LSI, Singapore-based Avago Corporation has carved out the Axxia network processor business and flogged it to Chipzilla for US$650 million. Axxia's silicon targets data centre networking applications with PowerPC and ARM architecture devices for switches and line cards. The company has around 650 …

Oz telco results season! Telstra booms, Optus slides

Telstra continues to gorge on the Australian telecommunications market at the expense of its competitors, leaving Optus with a focus on squeezing efficiencies out of its operations to stay profitable. The incumbent and number-two carrier have both announced financial results today, telling starkly different stories. Telstra's …
Ciscoblood

Cisco revenue dip means 6,000 staff to be de-assimilated

Facing rising competition, Cisco has announced another round of layoffs – 6,000 – in financial results that beat analyst expectations but were still flat. Presenting the company's latest quarter results, CEO John Chambers announced the latest round of layoffs, but was at least able to give a sliver of good news, with revenue …
Network Functions Virtualisation

ETSI publishes nine network function virtualisation standards

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is seeking industry comment for a bunch of network function virtualisation (NFV) standard drafts published at the beginning of August. NFV, the emerging partner to software defined networks (SDN), is the separation of functions like firewalling, packet inspection and the …
NSA parody T-shirt

Naughty NSA was so drunk on data it forgot collection rules

Declassified documents from America's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) shows that even the NSA didn't know the limits of what it was supposed to collect, and overstepped its authorisations for years. The documents were released to the Electronic Privacy Information Centre in response to an FOI request, and record …
The new Twitter logo. Pic: Twitter

One in 12 Tweeps are bots

In its latest SEC filing, Twitter has enumerated what its users have long believed: a small but significant slab of its accounts aren't humans. According to the filing, Twitter says it's created a “new metric that is comprised of only such active users” that run updates “when there was no discernible user action involved”. In …
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

CSIRO spells out cash-strapped astronomy future

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has explained how it plans to trim its astronomy work, after more than AUD$100 million was cut from its budget. With around 17 per cent, or AUD$3.5 million, sliced from its already-slender astronomy budget, the agency has just $AUD17 million to work …
Google Chocolate Factory

Beware of Greeks bearing spammy small omicrons, says Google

A week after switching on non-Eurocentric character support in Gmail, Google has announced that it's working to get its spam filters working in the new world. Last week, the Chocolate Factory flipped the switch on non-Latin character support. That gives it a brand-new spam-catching issue to address, as it explains in this blog …
eyeofSauron

Poll: Australians hate government data retention plan

Polling by Essential suggests that Australians aren't behind the government's plan to force the telecommunications industry to retain data about subscribers' online activities. According to the research, only the government's own base of voters is in favour of the data-retention* plan, with 59 per cent of Coalition voters …

Bath boffins put BUGS on chips – on purpose

Don't debug this chip: boffins at the University of Bath have embedded bacteria on a chip to create a cheap water-quality sensor. Instead of needing expensive lab kit to see if water is safe to drink – a serious problem anywhere the civil infrastructure is lacking – the bio-sensor contains bacteria that produce an electric …
dropbox privacy security eye

Xiaomi updates cloud messaging after privacy scare

Chinese mobe-maker Xiaomi has changed the defaults on its cloud messaging service, in response to concerns raised by F-Secure that it was storing users' private data. At issue is a service provided for its Mi phones, which was switched on by default until the over-the-air update was issued. In this blog post, F-Secure notes that …
Nest Labs' The Nest

Google leaves STUPID vuln on Nest devices

Google's Nest thermostat, poster-child for its Internet of Things ambitions and data collector of your home habits, gives root access to anyone with a USB drive and a quarter-minute to spare. That's the conclusion that Yier Jin, Grant Hernandez and Daniel Buentello have come to, and told the world in their presentation to …
A Telecom comms container in the desert

Telstra puts US$270 million into cloudy PVR biz Ooyala

Telstra has snapped up 98 per cent of digital TV streaming service Ooyala, a Silicon Valley outfit that it says combines streaming with analytics. In slinging US$270 million, the carrier is wrapping up the kind of TV retransmission that lost Optus a court case two years ago, when its TV Now service was ruled illegal by Australia …

NIST wants better SCADA security

America's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to take a hand in addressing the SCADA industry's chronic insecurity, by building a test bed for industrial control systems. The Reconfigurable Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Testbed is only in its earliest stages. According to this RFI, the …
FASTER cable route

Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging

Google plans to contribute to a $300m project that aims to traverse the Pacific with a new high-capacity submarine cable. The FASTER project will have a design capacity of 60 Tbps on six fibre pairs, each carrying 100 wavelengths of 100 Gbps, as this NEC media release says. The cable will connect two landing points in Japan – …
Dunce

No, minister Turnbull, IP addresses aren't part of routine billing data collection

Australia's government is still trying to explain exactly what its metadata retention regime will capture, in spite of last week's intervention into the debate by the formerly-silent communications minister Malcolm Turnbull. Meanwhile, president of the Internet Society of Australia Narelle Clark has cast doubt on the assertion …

TracBeam sues Apple over location

TracBeam, which earlier this year sued Google and Ericsson over location technology, has launched against Apple on the same grounds. The company's complaint alleges that Cupertino is infringing four of its patents covering using base station signals to estimate the location of mobile phones. The patents (listed in full at the …
A quantum-diamond experimental chip at TU Vienna

Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers

Building simple quantum gates is common, but creating something that could be built on transistor-like scale is a huge challenge. Now, boffins from the Technical University of Vienna, Japan's National Institute of Informatics, and NTT's Basic Research Labs are offering an architecture they reckon can be scaled up. What the …
Freescale Internet of Things car

PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things

PricewaterhouseCoopers reckons the business end of the Internet of Things is going to hit its straps in 2015, reporting that 20 per cent of US businesses polled in its most recent Digital IQ Snapshot are putting money into sensors of some kind. Unsurprisingly, the industries most keen on sensors are industries already famous for …
blackphone

Blackphone rooted at BlackHat

A security researcher at BlackHat has sparked a “did-he-didn't-he” Tweet-storm over the extent of an alleged “hack” of the “secure by design” Blackphone. The Twitter argument continues, with @TeamAndIRC first announcing that it only took five minutes to root the Blackphone* (see Bootnote); then backtracking on one claim because …
ANU's water tractor beam

ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water

The Starship Enterprise won't be deploying a tractor beam in space any time soon, but in what could be a boon for people trying to control oil spills, Australian National University physicists have created a tractor beam in water with simple wave generators. Their demonstration (video at the bottom) shows the ANU boffins …

NetScout sues Gartner over magic quadrant placement

NetScout has taken offence at its low placement in the all-powerful marketing tool, the Gartner magic quadrant, to such an extent that it's suing the analyst firm. In paperwork filed on August 5, the network software vendor has come out swinging at Gartner, accusing it of running a “pay-to-play” operation. “Gartner is not …

Zero-day hits Symantec endpoint products

Get patching, sysadmins, there's a zero-day in Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP). This US-CERT advisory is alerting anyone who ignored Symatec's note about the issue. CVE-2014-3434 is a local access vulnerability with a public exploit. A client buffer overflow can cause a blue-screen-of-death on the client, which could also …

Ecuador follows Bitcoin ban with digi-currency proposal

Ecuador has decided a state-backed digital currency might help it to avoid a financial crisis. Bloomberg reports that the South American nation will implement a fiat digital currency that's to sit beside the US Dollar, its current legal tender. The nation will institute a monetary authority to administer the dollar, the report …
Facebook data center - server racks

Facebook wants Linux networking as good as FreeBSD

Facebook wants better comms performance from the Linux kernel, and is recruiting developers to get it. Its job ad, here, says the House of Zuck wants a Linux kernel software engineer who will focus on the networking subsystem. “Our goal over the next few years is for the Linux kernel network stack to rival or exceed that of …
Fujitsu's Xlfx

Fujitsu takes next-gen HPC chip on the road

Fujitsu is getting ready to tout its next supercomputer silicon at the upcoming Hot Chips conference, a follow-up to the first peek given in June. The silicon the outfit plans for next-generation big iron, the SPARC64 Xlfx, is Fujitsu's hope for exascale computing: a 32-core, 1 Tflop (double precision) / 2 Tflop (single …
Google Chocolate Factory

Gmail gains support for non-ASCII email addresses

Google has decided to give a two-year-old IETF e-mail standard a push towards universal adoption, by switching on support for RFC 6530 international character support in Gmail. The RFC was crafted to allow people “to use close variations on their own names (written correctly in their own languages and scripts) as mailbox names …
NEMA 5 plug socket

Officeworks recalls dangerous USB charger

Dodgy USB chargers are in the news again in Australia, with stationery giant Officeworks recalling a charger on safety grounds. The recall comes six weeks after the death of a Sydney woman, Sheryl Aldeguer, was attributed to an unsafe charger. At the time Rod Stowe, the Fair Trading Commissioner in the Australian State of New …

'POWER from AIR' backscatter tech now juices up Internet of Stuff Wi-Fi gizmos

Researchers who last year demonstrated they could harvest stray RF signals to power RFID tags have scaled-up their technology to power Wi-Fi devices. The University of Washington team is pitching their ultra low-power “backscatter harvesting” technology with the inevitable Internet of Things (IoT) tag, since if it could be …
A self-portrait taken by the curiosity rover

Two years on, Curiosity's still in the same crater

Its wheels are eroding and its (parody) Twitter account is grumpy, but the Mars Curiosity Rover has celebrated two years in space. Yes, it has been two years since we sat on the edges of our seats, watching (if we were able to) or listening (in the case of this scribe, who was in his car at the time, thankful for the broadcast) …
Blood image

African samba queen: Don't cut off pirates' net connections – cut off their FINGERS

Sick of anti-piracy schemes that don't work? Bored with endless debates about whether or not to sever infringing downloaders' connections? How about a real deterrent – like amputation? That, according to reports out of Nigeria, is what one of that country's most prominent performers is suggesting. African samba crooner Stella …

Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley

With Tesla and Panasonic prepping the giant erection called the GigaFactory, Morgan Stanley has penned an investor note predicting that Elon Musk's big battery footprint will become a major disruptor to power utilities. It's hardly disinterested, since the financiers were underwriters for a Tesla fundraising round in the past, …

Six MEEELLION gigabytes-a-year space 'scope wins funding

The multi-billion pixel, multi-colour, all-sky-surveying Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is getting ready to go into its main construction phase, with America's National Science Foundation approving the build budget. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) has announced the NSF funding here. Overall …
management regulation1

Cisco slings small change at CSIRO over WiFi dispute

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has wrapped up a loose end in its long-running patent arguments over WiFi, winning an American judgement against Cisco over royalty payments for CSIRO's technology. The long-standing argument wasn't over patent infringement – both parties agreed …
Matthew Martin's "turkeys" cartoon, 1983

Australia's metadata debate is an utter shambles

As much as anything, Australians should fear the government's metadata retention proposals because it's becoming increasingly clear that our politicians have no idea what they're proposing. Within a single day of the prime minister, Tony Abbott, taking to the microphone with attorney-general George Brandis and foreign minister …
Two teenage girls - one whispering in other's ear

BAD VIBES: High-speed video camera records your voice from trash

Run a camera fast enough and its images can capture sound from the way nearby objects vibrate, according to boffins from MIT, Adobe and Microsoft. The experiments, announced by MIT, worked so well that they claimed to have recovered sound from the leaves of plants, and the vibration of a crisp packet. The latter, as the …
RFID_snail_trio

Tiny steps: HTTP 2.0 WG looks for consensus

The long-awaited HTTP 2.0 protocol has inched a step further towards completion, with the IETF issuing a last call on the two key documents of the spec, with comments to end on 1 September. The two drafts in question are the core HTTP 2.0 document, and the HPACK header compression format. It's been a long road to get to HTTP 2. …
Sony PRS-T2 Reader

Sony reads the future, quits e-reader market says German report

Earlier this year, Sony decided to quit the North American e-book market and get Kobo to supply content for readers in the US and Canada. The company then staged similar retreats in Europe and Australia. Now, the former Japanese powerhouse has decided to quit the device market as well – worldwide. According to German site Lesen. …

65 patches later and Java STILL breaks stuff

Software tool vendors are complaining that recent updates to Java are breaking their environments. The problem seems to be in JVM's bytecode verification, in Java 8, Update 11 and Java 7, Update 65. According to InfoQ, developers running into the bug include JRebel (from ZeroTurnaround), the Groovy programming language, the …

'Big data' predicts stock movements, boffins claim

Researchers from the Warwick University's business school reckon they can predict the next crash, by watching Google searches and Wikipedia. The supposed power of Google as a predictive tool has been popular in academia ever since The Chocolate Factory unveiled Google Flu Trends back in 2008. Its usefulness for real-world …

Cisco patches OSPF bug that sends traffic into black holes

Cisco has shipped a patch for a buggy Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) routing implementation it says offers exploits that include traffic blackholing or interception. As the advisory notes, the vulnerability “could allow an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of the OSPF Autonomous System (AS) domain routing table, …

Danes cram 43 Tbps down ONE fibre using ONE laser

Denmark has hauled in some cable in the ongoing tug-o'-war over who has the fastest fibre, claiming a 43 Tbps record using a single laser. The Ultra High-Speed Optical Communications (UHSOC) group at the Denmark Technical University says its demonstration puts it far ahead of the 32 Tbps record formerly held by the Karlsruhe …

Users should PAY for their piracy says Turnbull

Australia's government is applying its customary confusion to the copyright debate, with the two ministers most associated with the issue giving divergent messages on how best to solve the country's supposedly-chronic piracy. Late last week, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull – one of the two signatories to the leaked-then …

Your fitness tracker is a SNITCH says Symantec

If you're the kind of person whose gadgets auto-tweet your exercise, sex or sleep habits – all vanguard applications of the odiously-named “quantified self” movement – you can be tracked, identified and hacked, according to Symantec. In this post, the security outfit explains that the age-old desire for gadget convenience has, …