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Iain Thomson

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How to get $542m from Google: Dress as a SPACEMAN on stage with dayglo dancers

Google and a host of A-list venture capitalists have given more than half a billion dollars to Magic Leap, a mysterious tech startup that aims to "make computing more natural." Magic Leap Magic Leap ... your guess is as good as ours Magic Leap is based down in Florida, and has no products, revenue, or public business plan, as …
Iain Thomson, 21 Oct 2014
Orionid meteor shower

Watch live! NASA video streams Orionid meteor shower – or go outside and look yourself

If you're in a position to see the constellation of Orion tonight then it's time to enjoy the annual Orionid meteor shower – as the Earth slams into the debris left by Halley's Comet's 1986 visit at about 148,000 MPH. orionids Look to the East for nature's fireworks display. Credit Dr. Tony Phillips "The Orionid meteor shower …
Iain Thomson, 21 Oct 2014
Protesters outside FCC headquarters

US Senate's net neutrality warrior to Comcast: Remind us how much you hate web fast lanes

US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has urged Comcast to publicly swear it will not pave fast lanes across the internet for wealthy websites. Leahy, writing in an open letter, also wants the American telco to use its market and lobbying muscle to support net neutrality. Leahy noted that the amount of public comment on the issue has …
Iain Thomson, 21 Oct 2014

China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, watchdog claims

Last week Apple CEO Tim Cook was very happy that the iPhone 6 is at last going on sale in China. But it seems the Chinese government has its own plans for iPhone 6 owners. According to censorship watchdog Greatfire.org, Chinese state hackers began staging a massive man-in-the-middle attack against Apple iCloud.com users to …
Iain Thomson, 20 Oct 2014
Biometric MasterCard

MasterCard adds fingerprint scanner to credit cards for spending sans the PIN

MasterCard and Norwegian biometrics firm Zwipe have announced the first fingerprint-activated credit card that the companies hope will replace signatures and PINs. "Our belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves without having to use passwords or PIN numbers," said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security …
Iain Thomson, 18 Oct 2014
The first X-37B following landing at Vandenberg AFB after the inaugural OTV-1 mission. Credit: USAF

America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft

The US Air Force has confirmed that its X-37B spacecraft designated Orbital Test Vehicle 3 has glided back to Earth and landed at 0924 PT (1724 UTC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. "The landing of OTV-3 marks a hallmark event for the program," said the unnamed X-37B program manager in a statement. "The mission is our longest to …
Iain Thomson, 18 Oct 2014

Apple releases MEGA security patch round for OS X, Server and iTunes

While the world+dog was distracted by all the shiny new iThings Tim Cook was showing off on Thursday, Apple quietly puMPED out patches for 150 CVE-issued bugs in its server and desktop operating systems and the iTunes media player. The newly released OS X Yosemite, version 10.10, includes a fairly hefty patch load, more so than …
Iain Thomson, 17 Oct 2014
Mimas

That's no – actually it is: DEATH STAR MOON 'could be full of life-friendly water'

Mimas has long been thought to be one of the less noteworthy moons of its vast ringed primary, Saturn – apart from its frankly worrying resemblance to the Death Star, that is. But now, a new study indicates that the humdrum space boulder could have, er, hidden depths. Mimas Actually, that is a moon. Not a space station A team …
Iain Thomson, 17 Oct 2014
Two teenage girls - one whispering in other's ear

Careless Whisper? Anonymous messaging app accused of stalking users, blabbing to Feds

The makers of Whisper have denied claims that the anonymous messaging app is secretly tracking the whereabouts of its privacy-conscious users. The startup hit back following reports that detailed location logs are shared with the US government. Whisper is a two-year-old phone app that allows people to publish text overlaid on …
Iain Thomson, 17 Oct 2014

FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones

FBI director James Comey is continuing his charm offensive against phone encryption – by urging tech giants to do more to help the agency monitor people. In a speech to the Brookings Institute, Comey said the decision by Apple and Google to turn on file encryption by default in iOS and Android was seriously hampering the efforts …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2014
Lockheed Martin's compact fusion reactor

Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough boast

Lockheed Martin has caused quite a stir with its announcement that it will ship fusion reactors the size of a truck within the next decade. Lockheed Martin's compact fusion reactor "Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2014
67P_Churyumov_Gerasimenko_August_8th

On Nov 12, a human-made space lab will try to HARPOON a COMET and land on it

The European Space Agency (ESA) has officially set the date for its Rosetta probe's Philae lander to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The craft will harpoon and set down on the high-speed cosmic rock on November 12. Rosetta comet landing spot ESA hoping for a safe touchdown The Rosetta space probe is orbiting …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2014
Nexus Family

Aboard the GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP, there's a Mobe and a Slab and a TELLYBOX

Google has released its latest iteration of the Android OS, plus a triple deployment for the new software in three new devices – a trendy big phone, a slablet and a telly box. Nexus Family New Nexus family to go with the new OS Android 5.0, codenamed Lollipop, got an extensive preview during June's Google I/O conference, and …
Iain Thomson, 15 Oct 2014
WAves

Benioff promises Wave of Lightning to mobilise Salesforce

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's keynote at the annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco is usually a theatrical affair, but his company may have outdone itself this time. The three-hour session featured sets by the ageing Beach Boys, a Hawaiian dance spectacular and blessing ceremony, and a drone delivery by Coca Cola. But …
Iain Thomson, 15 Oct 2014
Skype iPad

Qik as mud: Skype adds self-destructing video messages years too late

Apps to record and share short video messages are ten a penny – and now Microsoft has thrown its hat into the ring with Qik, an app that came along with its Skype purchase. "A small team of Skype designers and developers recently took up the challenge to build a new app to run alongside Skype and provide an ongoing form of video …
Iain Thomson, 14 Oct 2014

South Korea faces $1bn bill after hackers raid national ID database

The South Korean government is considering a complete overhaul of its national identity number computer system – after hackers comprehensively ransacked it and now hold the ID codes for as much as 80 per cent of the population. Each South Korean citizen is issued with a lifetime unique ID number. This number is used in all …
Iain Thomson, 14 Oct 2014
Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen cuts the waffle, says bank cards creamed in 395 eateries

Dairy Queen has admitted to being hacked, six weeks after reports first surfaced that the US fast-food chain's tills were compromised. "We discovered evidence that the systems of some DQ locations and one Orange Julius location were infected with the widely-reported Backoff malware that is targeting retailers across the country …
Iain Thomson, 10 Oct 2014

Prez Obama backs net neutrality – but can't do anything about it. Thanks, Obama

In a visit to California, US President Obama has reiterated support for full net neutrality, but said it wasn't something he could do anything about. "I know one of the things that people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more …
Iain Thomson, 10 Oct 2014
Killer whale

OMG, we're gonna be invaded by NEXUS 6 replicants – no, wait. It's just a rumored phablet

Google is reportedly planning to get into the phablet market with a 5.9-inch handset code named Shamu: the device is expected to emerge later this month, and the Android operating system will be updated to support it. Two sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the new handset will be manufactured by …
Iain Thomson, 10 Oct 2014
Siding Spring Mars flyby

NASA: Mars satellites menaced by speeding SPACE ALIEN

On October 19, comet Siding Spring will make a very close flyby of Mars. And that's why NASA will hide its satellites in the area behind the Red Planet – to protect the agency's valuable hardware from passing comet debris. Siding Spring duck and cover Everybody hide! The comet, first spotted on January 3 last year by Robert …
Iain Thomson, 10 Oct 2014
xfinity wifi

Remember that tale of a fired accountant who blamed Comcast? It's kinda true, says telco

Comcast has publicly apologized to Conal O'Rourke, the accountant who claims he was fired for moaning about the ISP's lousy service. "What happened with Mr O'Rourke's service is completely unacceptable," said Charlie Herrin, Comcast's recently appointed VP of customer experience, in a company blog post. "Despite our attempts to …
Iain Thomson, 09 Oct 2014
Thirty Meter Telescope

Protesters stop ground breaking on world's largest telescope

Peaceful protesters successfully halted the groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the world's largest telescope for a few hours before being removed by police. Thirty Meter Telescope The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the largest Earth-based telescope ever built with, as the name implies, a 30-meter reflective …
Iain Thomson, 09 Oct 2014

NSA spying will shatter the internet, Silicon Valley bosses warn

Top Silicon Valley execs have warned that the NSA's continued surveillance of innocent people will rupture the internet – which is bad news for business. Oh, and bad news for hundreds of thousands of workers, and America's moral authority, too. The suits were speaking at a roundtable organized by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in …
Iain Thomson, 09 Oct 2014
xfinity wifi

Strange tale of an angry bean counter, Comcast and a shock 'firing'

A Comcast customer who complained about being overcharged and crap service alleges someone at the ISP got him fired as a result. The punter, described by The Consumerist as an "experienced accountant at one of the nation’s most prestigious firms," signed up with America's largest ISP in 2013 at an introductory rate, but said …
Iain Thomson, 08 Oct 2014

Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your 'privacy is important'

Adobe confirmed its Digital Editions software insecurely phones home your ebook reading history to Adobe – to thwart piracy. And the company insisted the secret snooping is covered in its terms and conditions. Version 4 of the application makes a note of every page read, and when, in the digital tomes it accesses, and then …
Iain Thomson, 08 Oct 2014

Adobe spies on readers: 'EVERY page you turn, EVERY book you own' leaked back to base

Adobe's Digital Editions 4 ebook reader software collects detailed information about the reading habits of its users – and sends it back to the company in a format that's easy for others to slurp. An investigation by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog showed that ADE 4 was collecting telemetry on which pages of ebooks …
Iain Thomson, 07 Oct 2014

Trio share 2014 Nobel Prize for cracking internal GPS of the brain

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to three neurologists for their work in helping to understand how the brain can remember where we are – and finding out which nerve cells are responsible. Half of the prize was awarded to American-born John O'Keefe, who is a naturalized Brit and has spent his career …
Iain Thomson, 07 Oct 2014
Brute force

Holey? COWL! Boffins build boxes to hold sketchy JavaScript libs

Researchers have developed what they say is a new web privacy system for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox: we're told it blocks dodgy JavaScript code from funneling sensitive information to crooks. The Confinement with Origin Web Labels (COWL) system tries to protect websites that rely on JavaScript libraries written by third …
Iain Thomson, 07 Oct 2014
Marissa Mayer working from home?

Yahoo servers? SHELLSHOCKED? by Bash?

Yahoo! said "a handful" of its servers fell to hackers who may have been trying to exploit the Shellshock vulnerability in Bash. The miscreants took control of the web servers to build a botnet out of them, it is claimed. "As soon as we became aware of the issue, we began patching our systems and have been closely monitoring …
Iain Thomson, 06 Oct 2014

Why US Feds and g-men kick up a stink about a growing smartphone encryption trend

Over the last few weeks law enforcement officials on both sides of the Atlantic have been kicking up a fuss over Apple and Google deciding to include effective encryption on their smartphones. On Thursday, the Europol assistant director and head of European Cybercrime Centre issued a warning about the technology, and here in the …
Iain Thomson, 04 Oct 2014

Sprint starting mass layoffs to 'improve operational efficiencies' in mobile network

Workers at third-ranked US mobile network Sprint will have a nervous month as large numbers of them are going to be getting the call to "Come into the HR office please, and bring your key card." On Friday, the company made a regulatory filing in which it said it would be setting aside $160m to cover the cost of the layoffs, …
Iain Thomson, 04 Oct 2014
Princeton team finding the Majorana fermion

Particle that behaves like matter AND antimatter found: Majorana fermion

Scientists at Princeton are reporting the observation of Majorana fermion, a particle first predicted over 70 years ago that behaves like matter and antimatter at the same time. Majorana fermion Finding the Majorana fermion only took 77 years and a shedload of high-tech hardware The existence of such a particle was first …
Iain Thomson, 03 Oct 2014

EFF: Cops' spyware for parents is insecure – and a fat waste of money

Spyware distributed by US police to parents so they can check their precious little snowflakes aren't getting up to no good online is worse than useless, according to a new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Windows and OS X software, dubbed ComputerCOP, has been purchased by 245 or so police departments in …
Iain Thomson, 03 Oct 2014
Tesla's Elon Musk

I'll show you the D next week – billionaire space baron Elon Musk

Elon Musk has been having some fun on Twitter: he posted a cryptic teaser about something new that will emerge from Tesla on October 9 at the firm's design studio in Hawthorne, California. About time to unveil the D and something else pic.twitter.com/qp23yi59i6 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2014 So now the interwebs are …
Iain Thomson, 02 Oct 2014
Ayn Rand

Atlas snubbed! Ad blocker says it can kill Facebook's stalker tech

Facebook's new Atlas people-tracking system isn't popular, at least according to some of our readers, and now Adblock says it has found a way to block it. "While Adblock Plus applauds innovation that improves the advertising experience for the user, we firmly believe that the user should have the choice whether or not they want …
Iain Thomson, 02 Oct 2014

So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code

On Tuesday, with no fanfare, IBM closed the last chapter in the life of one of the most iconic early computer programs, Lotus 1-2-3, when it withdrew support for the final build of the software. IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x, and Organizer have now officially all passed their end of life support date …
Iain Thomson, 02 Oct 2014

Facebook apologizes for binning accounts of drag queens

Facebook has backed down and apologized to a section of the social networking community for shutting down their accounts on the grounds that they weren't using their proper names. "I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members …
Iain Thomson, 01 Oct 2014
Magneto

X-Men boffins demo nanomagnets to replace transistors

A team of scientists in Germany and the US have developed a new kind of logic gate that could crack the size problems haunting the processor industry. The problem is that the conventional CMOS method of producing chips requires ever-smaller transistors, but once you get to working in measurements of single-figure nanometers, the …
Iain Thomson, 01 Oct 2014
Windows 10 Start Button

Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

Microsoft has shown off Windows 10, and described it as a blend of Windows 7 and 8. Redmond thinks the new operating system is so revolutionary, it skipped over version 9 and went straight to double digits. "We will carry forward all that is good in Windows," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the operating systems …
Iain Thomson, 30 Sep 2014
ello

Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

The history of social networks is littered with failures. Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, all have fallen by the wayside. Now Ello wants to add Facebook to that list: the invitation-only network has been growing by leaps and bounds of late. Google Play redesign Invitation-only at present and Ello warns there's a line ahead ( …
Iain Thomson, 27 Sep 2014
putin topless

Putin tells Google, Twitter, Facebook: Have a vodka and censorship on the rocks

The Russian authorities have told Google, Facebook, and Twitter that they face prosecution if they do not comply with the country's crackdown on free speech. Under a new Russian law, the three US firms must register as "organizers of information distribution," and store all data on Russian users in data centers on Russian soil. …
Iain Thomson, 26 Sep 2014
Golf HECKLER! screenshot

Alien gimp gag or cosmic golf ball? NASA tackles question everyone's asking

Mars watchers have spotted another weird object on the surface of the Red Planet: images uploaded from the Curiosity rover feature a small, nearly perfect sphere that was photographed by the machine's MastCam. Mars ball Mars has a tiny ball (click to enlarge) The photo, which was snapped on September 11 and posted on NASA …
Iain Thomson, 26 Sep 2014
Marc Andreessen

Bubble 2.0? Moneybags VC Andreessen warns profit-free startups: 'You will be VAPORIZED'

When it comes to the internet age, Marc Andreessen was in there right from the start. Now, when he talks, people listen. So when the geek-turned-venture-capitalist today warned there'll soon be a bloodbath unless startups start making bank, we imagine there were a few spilled soy lattes in the Valley. Andreessen took to Twitter …
Iain Thomson, 26 Sep 2014
FBI badge and gun

FBI boss: Apple's iPhone, iPad encryption puts people 'ABOVE THE LAW'

FBI Director James Comey has complained that Apple and Google's use of stronger encryption in smartphones and tablets makes it impossible for cops and g-men to collar criminals. "There will come a day – well it comes every day in this business – when it will matter a great, great deal to the lives of people of all kinds that we …
Iain Thomson, 25 Sep 2014
Sun open sources Java

Sun of a beach! Java biz founder loses battle to keep his shore private

Vinod Khosla, cofounder of Sun Microsystems and billionaire venture capitalist, has lost his battle for his own private beach after surfers successfully sued him for access. In 2008 Khosla spent $37.5m on a 53-acre property on the San Mateo coast overlooking Martin's Beach, a 200-acre stretch of sand that is much beloved by the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Sep 2014
The Moon

Man's future in space ... Barack Obama: Mars. Narendra Modi: Mars. Vladimir Putin: Er, Moon

As India's boffins manage to put a probe in orbit of Mars on a shoestring budget, Russia has reiterated that it will boldly go ... as far as the Moon. The head of President Putin's space agency has confirmed it will build a new rocket to reach Earth's natural satellite – first occupied by the US in 1969 – and set up permanent …
Iain Thomson, 25 Sep 2014
Uncle Sam recruiting poster

Feds: Cheeky scammers are impersonating us in criminal capers

The FBI-backed Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued an advisory warning that email scammers are impersonating it to extort money from gullible punters. The cyber-cop squad said several victims had been in contact after they received emails spoofed to look as though they are coming from IC3 itself. The emails state …
Iain Thomson, 25 Sep 2014
Sorry we're closed

Adobe axes R&D lab in China, insiders blame mandarins and pirates

Adobe is closing the doors of its research and development facility in China – and some within the biz are reportedly blaming the recalcitrant attitude of the Chinese government for the move. "The overall climate in China against Western enterprises has been quite negative and that's one of the major reasons," the anonymous …
Iain Thomson, 25 Sep 2014
Uncov chronicles the failure of Web 2.0

Titan falls! Blizzard cancels World of Warcraft successor

Games developer Blizzard has confirmed it is cancelling its massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Titan because after spending seven years and an estimated $50m or more developing the title, it just wasn't working out. "We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs. So we set out …
Iain Thomson, 24 Sep 2014
Alain Crozier microsoft

Le whoops! Microsoft France boss blows lid off 'Windows 9' event

When Microsoft sent out invitations to a secret press event for September 30 in San Francisco, rumors spread that it would mark the next major release of Windows. Now the president of Microsoft France has blown apart Microsoft's attempt at Applesque PR – by letting slip that "Windows 9" is indeed coming. "Last year we had …
Iain Thomson, 23 Sep 2014