Iain Thomson

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smartphone driver

Apple sued by parents of girl killed by driver 'distracted by FaceTime'

A family is suing Apple after their five-year-old daughter was killed by a driver allegedly distracted at the wheel with a FaceTime call on his iPhone. On Christmas Eve, 2014, the Modisette family was driving down Interstate 35W in Texas when a car accident up ahead brought traffic to a standstill. They stopped, but behind …
Iain Thomson, 04 Jan 2017

Internet of Sh*t has an early 2017 winner – a 'smart' Wi-Fi hairbrush

CES 2017 The annual godforsaken hypegasm that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has given an "innovation award" ... to a Wi-Fi-connected microphone-fitted allegedly "smart" hairbrush. A comb through the technical specs of the Kérastase Hair Coach, a snip at around $200, reveals the high-tech hairbrush has sensors that …
Iain Thomson, 04 Jan 2017
passport

Xmas software update knackered US Customs computer systems

If you were trying to enter the US on Monday, queues were much longer than usual. That's because a Christmas software update borked the main computer systems used by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On Monday, the main passenger checking system used by CBP to check for undesirables trying to get into the Land of the …
Iain Thomson, 03 Jan 2017
Failing

Spotty battery life costs Apple's MacBook Pro its gold-star rating

Updated Geeks at Consumer Reports have, for the first time, declined to award a "recommended" status to an Apple laptop – after the latest MacBook Pro proved unreliable during testing. The testers tried out the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks with the Touch Bar, and the 13-inch without Ive's new big idea in laptop design. The results …
Iain Thomson, 23 Dec 2016
Apology

Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

Microsoft's marketing boss Chris Capossela has confessed the infamous your-Windows-10-upgrade-is-ready pop-up that tricked so many people into installing the thing was a step "too far." Speaking on this week's Windows Weekly podcast on Twit.tv, Capossela was asked to list his low points of the year for Redmond (it's 17 minutes …
Iain Thomson, 23 Dec 2016

Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'

Updated A Virgin America flight from San Francisco to Boston was nearly diverted after someone onboard named their phone's Wi-Fi hotspot 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'. A passenger on Flight 358, Mapboix software developer Lucas Wojciechowski, was scanning the plane for in-flight Wi-Fi when he noticed a hotspot active that appeared to be …
Iain Thomson, 23 Dec 2016
Made in China

We've been Trumped! China's Alibaba is a 'notorious' knock-offs souk, says US watchdog

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has put Alibaba's Taobao, the Chinese internet giant's online auction site, on its "notorious markets list" of sites that regularly deal in counterfeit goods. In a bulletin this week [PDF] the USTR noted that Taobao, which is the world's largest online shopping destination by gross …
Iain Thomson, 22 Dec 2016
Scotty

Chinese boffins: We're testing an 'impossible' EM Drive IN SPAAAACE

A month after NASA published a paper suggesting a controversial electromagnetic engine design appears to work, Chinese eggheads claim they've had similar results – and have sent an EM Drive into space for testing. At a press conference this month, Dr Chen Yue, the head of the communication satellite division at the China …
Iain Thomson, 22 Dec 2016
Dr Strangelove bomb

Microsoft scores nearly $1bn non-compete contract with US military

Updated Satya Nadella’s team will be smiling today after the US Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) – the IT wing of the Department of Defense (DoD) – awarded his firm a five-year $927m support contract. The deal will give the US military “access rights to Microsoft’s proprietary (closed-source) code” when it is “required to …
Iain Thomson, 21 Dec 2016
Liam Neeson Taken

Don't pay up to decrypt – cure found for CryptXXX ransomware, again

It's third time unlucky for the scumbags behind CryptXXX ransomware, as their shoddy coding has been cracked yet again. CryptXXX is a particularly nasty form of the species – a ransomware app that not only encrypts over 40 file formats on a host PC and any external storage devices, but also steals any Bitcoins it can find on …
Iain Thomson, 21 Dec 2016
negotiation

Wassenaar weapons pact talks collapse leaving software exploit exports in limbo

Security researchers face continued uncertainty after talks broke down between US negotiators and 40 other countries over the state of exploit exports. The negotiations concern the Wassenaar Arrangement, an arms-control pact in which members agree to limit the export of certain types of weaponry and "dual-use products." …
Iain Thomson, 21 Dec 2016
Seaglider

China gives America its underwater drone back – with a warning

The Chinese government has handed back to America the US Navy underwater drone it stole last week. The Seaglider submersible was scooped out of the ocean by a Chinese military vessel shadowing the USNS Bowditch in the South China Sea. The drone, one of hundreds of autonomous vehicles the US Navy uses to track currents and …
Iain Thomson, 20 Dec 2016
Vomit

No Soylent for Santa after key ingredient supply is choked off

If you were planning to leave out cookies and a generous glass of Soylent for Santa, you should forget all that and hoard your stocks for yourself. A key supplier has announced it is cutting off the super-gruel maker. TerraVia, which provides the algae-based flour and oils used in Soylent, said that it was unhappy with being …
Iain Thomson, 20 Dec 2016

Evolved DNSChanger malware slings evil ads at PCs, hijacks routers

Malware that spreads via evil web ads and menaces broadband routers has been discovered – and it's going to be particularly horrible for small business and home internet users, which it targets. This latest variant of the years-old DNSChanger nasty, just spotted by Californian infosec biz Proofpoint, works like this: some …
Iain Thomson, 20 Dec 2016

Cops, Feds spaff $100m on Stingray cellphone snooping gear – and there's sod all oversight

American crimefighters spend huge amounts of cash on Stingray-like devices that impersonate cellphone towers to snoop on people – and with little or no oversight. That's the findings of an 18-month US congressional study, which revealed the Department of Justice (DoJ) has spent $71m on 310 cellphone-tracking units between 2010 …
Iain Thomson, 20 Dec 2016

Stupid law of the week: South Carolina wants anti-porno chips in PCs that cost $20 to disable

Lawmakers in South Carolina are mulling over banning the sale of computers, tablets and phones unless they have a device that automatically blocks pornography from popping up on-screen. The Human Trafficking Prevention Act amendment, introduced by State Representative Bill Chumley (R‑Spartanburg), calls for manufacturers and …
Iain Thomson, 19 Dec 2016
testing

Hack attack fear scares Canadian exam board away from online tests

Every year Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) tests secondary school students in their literacy skills. This year it rolled out online tests and the results weren't good. In October the online pilot test of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) was deployed and quickly fell over with its …
Iain Thomson, 17 Dec 2016
ExoMars 2020

If at first you don't succeed, send another Mars lander – this time a deep driller

Undeterred by the crash of the Schiaparelli Mars probe during the first ExoMars mission, the European Space Agency has signed off contracts that will hopefully deposit a new and more advanced lander directly on the Martian Surface. In one piece. In a ceremony in Rome, ESA inked a deal with private firm Thales Alenia Space to …
Iain Thomson, 17 Dec 2016
USNS Bowditch

Don't panic, friends, but the Chinese navy just nicked one of America's underwater drones

A diplomatic incident is brewing after US defense officials accused a Chinese warship of filching one of America's robotic submersibles. We're told the Seaglider underwater drone was being picked up by the USNS Bowditch in the South China Sea after it surfaced for collection. As the US naval oceanographic vessel went to …
Iain Thomson, 16 Dec 2016
Supreme Court

US Supreme Court to hear case that may ruin Lone Star patent trolls

The legal case of TC Heartland v Kraft Foods may appear to have very little to do with technology, but it could make life a lot harder for patent trolls – thanks to a US Supreme Court decision on Thursday. The case between the two was brought by Kraft over its Mio Water Enhancer, a mixture of salt and flavorings for those who …
Iain Thomson, 16 Dec 2016
CYGNSS

NASA – get this – just launched 8 satellites from a rocket dropped from a plane at 40,000ft

Video NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) has made it safely into orbit after being air-launched from Orbital ATK's Stargazer aircraft. CYGNSS consists of eight mini-satellites that orbit around the tropical zone of Earth that spawns most of our hurricanes and cyclones. The birds will provide daily updates on …
Iain Thomson, 16 Dec 2016
Galileo

Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo fit to go: Europe's GPS-like network switches on

After a long and much-delayed 17-year gestation, Europe's answer to America's GPS system has been switched on. The Galileo network will offer a free service with an accuracy of one metre, and can pinpoint locations down to a few centimetres for paying customers. The service has 18 satellites in orbit, with 30 projected by 2020 …
Iain Thomson, 15 Dec 2016
Ginni Rometty

IBM boss pledges to hire 25,000 Americans in next four years

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, has pledged to recruit 25,000 Americans to Big Blue over the next four years, but wants Uncle Sam to pay for it. Her vow comes as Rometty and fellow US tech bosses today met president-elect Donald Trump in New York City to talk about jobs and regulations. What great timing. In an op-ed in USA Today …
Iain Thomson, 14 Dec 2016

Microsoft quietly emits patch to undo its earlier patch that broke Windows 10 networking

Microsoft has sneaked out a patch to get Windows 10 PCs back online after an earlier update broke networking for people's computers around the globe. Since the end of last week, systems in the UK, US, Europe and beyond have automatically installed software from Microsoft, via Windows Update, that broke DHCP. That means some …
Iain Thomson, 14 Dec 2016

Disney sued in race row: Axed IT workers claim jobs went to H-1B hires

Thirty former IT staffers at Disney, who were replaced by foreign H-1B recruits, are now suing their ex-employer for alleged racial discrimination. Court papers, filed on Disney's home turf in Orlando, Florida, state that in October 2014, the Mickey Mouse operation told 250 or so technicians that they were being laid off and …
Iain Thomson, 14 Dec 2016