Simon Sharwood

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The COSIMA instrument aboard Rosetta

I'll get my coat – there's a dusty one flying off Comet 67P

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is shedding four years worth of accumulated dust as it hurtles towards the Sun, say scientists after studying the output of the Rosetta spacecraft's COmetary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser, aka COSIMA. A gaggle of astroboffins have penned a letter titled “Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko sheds dust …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2015

YouTube flushes Flash for future flicks

YouTube has decided it's had enough of Adobe's perenially-p0wned Flash and will therefore now default to delivering video with the HTML5 <video> tag. A post by the video vault's engineering and development team says the move is now possible, and sensible, because the industry has invented useful things like adaptive bitrates, …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2015
big droplets falling from rain cloud

VMware cracks US$6bn for the year, says SaaS will slow growth

VMware today used its Q4 2014 earnings call to warn its revenue growth will slow because it's doing so well in the cloud. The overall picture is rosy for VMware, which announced a US$1,703 million quarter and $6.03 billion dollar year, up 15 per cent and 16 per cent respectively on the corresponding periods from 2013. Other …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2015
Privacy image

INTERNET of STUFF: Google to replace old Dropcams for $0.00

Dropcam, the home video camera company acquired by Google's Internet of Things limb Nest, is giving away new cameras to owners of its old cameras. Dropcam's eponymous products are WiFi-connected cameras that make it easy to log on and peer at whatever it is they see over a video stream. The idea is that you'll buy a Dropcam and …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2015
management management4

HP reveals which execs have a chair once the splitting music stops

HP has revealed who'll be sitting where once the splitting song stops and the company has broken into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise. As previously flagged, current leader Meg Whitman will stay atop HP Enterprise as chair and CEO, backed by the following team: Cathie Lesjak will be the Chief Financial Officer John Schultz will be …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2015
SKA artists impression

IBM details PowerPC microserver aimed at square kilometre array

IBM has revealed more about a PowerPC microserver it says will help to crunch data gathered by the square kilometre array (SKA), the colossal radio telescope to be built across South Africa and Australia. Once operational, the SKA is expected to generate around an exabyte – a million terabytes - of data each day. Even sorting …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2015
Welcome to Amazon Workspaces

VDI is heading for a minor DAAS-aster

Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) services are getting good enough, fast enough, that organisations need to consider them as an alternative to desktop virtualisation (VDI). So says analyst tribe Gartner in a new emission, Is DaaS Ready for the Enterprise?, in which it answers in the affirmative, certainly for low-end applications, but …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2015
Bluetooth Control to reach the button

Oi, Aussie sports fans! Take that selfie stick and stick it

If you think selfie sticks are a sign of society's descent into a slough of narcissism, get thee to Australia where organisers of sporting events are making it known that telescoping terrors aren't entirely welcome. Officials at cycling event the Tour Down Under on Friday felt it necessary to emit the Tweet below: Be #selfie …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Jan 2015

Thailand: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

The eXpat Files Last time we chatted to an expat in Thailand, our secretive subject stayed schtum about his identity because he was working illegally. This time around, Eddie Croasdell had all his paperwork in order, but after spending a decade in the country has decided the political climate was getting a bit hot so recently came home to …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Jan 2015
Comet 67P closeup

SPACE the FINAL FRONTIER: These are the images of COMET PROBE ROSETTA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released details of the first bushel of studies derived from the Rosetta spacecraft's visit to Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The journal Science has devoted a special issue to seven studies of the comet, but let's do a summary here. For starters, boffins have decided that 67P is fluffy, or …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015
Docker Logo

Shipping News: Docker 1.5rc1 arrives in port … NOW!

Docker 1.5rc1 is upon us and should be ready to slide down the slipway in the first week of February. Announced in a newsgroup – as is proper – the new version is billed by developer Arnaud Porterie as containing “many major features”. Among those additions are IPv6 support for the Docker daemon, memory use limits for …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015
hitahi t7k500 hard disk drive

Four TB good ,three TB bad, says disk drive reliability study

We're not entirely comfortable with cloud backup outfit Backblaze's data on disk drive reliability, but the company has just popped out another year's worth of analysis on which drives hang around longest. With due scepticism, let's have a look. For the uninitiated, Backblaze does cloud storage and backup using home-brew arrays …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Australia to launch Digital Transformation Office, with no budget

Australia will launch a Digital Transformation Office (DTO) within the Department of Communications “so that government services can be delivered digitally from start to finish and better serve the needs of citizens and businesses.” The new agency will aim to “... use technology to make services simpler, clearer and faster for …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015
Spaghetti by Rupert Ganzer CC 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/4jyYJQ

Oh what a tangled cloud we weave

The cloud caper's getting more competitive, with four of the industry's bigger players jostling in new and fun ways. Let's start with the AWS vs. Microsoft action, a tale that begins in October last year when the former released a plugin for the latter's System Centre control freak that allowed it to reach out and manage virtual …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2015

Big software players talking common microservices definitions

Big software outfits are looking to define microservices, the concept of decomposed applications enabled by containerisation. Microservices advocates suggest that monolithic applications that run as a single process are on the way out. Instead, they imagine that different bits of an application will run as discrete processes, …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2015

4Chan man Moot logs off as admin for last time

The founder of web cesspit 4chan has bailed from the site he created. Chris “Moot” Poole says he's “decided it's time for me to move on”. Moot founded the site aged 15 and has been its administrator ever since. With more than eleven years heading the site, and the small matter of 42,176,061,890 page views under his belt, Poole …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2015
Feral camel

How do you solve a problem like Willowra?

One of the things we've had to consider as we plot our return to Willowra, and our mission to improve the performance of the network in the Wirliyajarrayi Learning Centre, is what kind of hardware to use. If you're coming in late to this tale, the learning centre offers the first publicly-acessible, internet-connected PCs in the …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2015

NO WARRANTS NEEDED for metadata access, argues Oz A-G

Australia's attorney-general has suggested that no warrants should be needed to access the nation's planned trove of telecommunications metadata, because the data isn't an invasion of privacy to rank with entering a home. In a submission (PDF) to the inquiry into Australia's Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2015
Gun and dollars

Oracle opens Uncle Larry's cut-price bit barn emporium

Oracle has pledged to be the planet's lowest-cost provider of core data centre equipment. Executive Chair Larry Ellison today announced a refresh of the company's Engineered Systems range – they're now called X5 – and a new strategy to offer the industry's lowest purchase prices. Ellison's rationale for the low-price play is …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015
black and white pic of alan turing

Alan Turing's LOST NOTEBOOK goes under the hammer

Auction house Bonhams says it has a lost Alan Turing notebook for sale. The auctioneer says the notebook “dates from 1942 when he was working at Bletchley Park to break the German Enigma Code.” The 56 hand-written pages reportedly includes “... works on the foundations of mathematical notation and computer science”. The …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015

GDS builds UNICORN HERDER, plays with Puppets

The United Kingdom's Government Digital Service (GDS) has built a Unicorn Herder, plays with puppets and is messing about with pretend (virtual) computers. The herder popped up on GitHub last week: it's a tool to manage daemonized unicorns. That's unicorns as in the HTTP server. GDS likes Unicorn and its related Gunicorn, but …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015
Obama outlines NSA reforms

Obama makes net neutrality pledge in State of the Union

US President Barack Obama has mentioned net neutrality in the State of the Union address, and identified online security as a key future challenge. On net neutrality, the president had this to say: “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015

Network virty comes to VMware's cloud

VMware's made some tweaks to its vCloud Air public cloud. The biggie is the addition of network virtualisation. VMware looks to have baked just about all of its NSX network virtualisation platform into its cloud, so users get very fine-grained control over how data flows among virtual machines. Presumably this spans private …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015
Photo of rapper Hammer and crew performing at Dreamforce 2012

It's a very freaky cloud, the kind you don't take home to mother

Imagine for a moment you're a sysadmin that's embraced VMware for server virtualisation, so you have a fleet of well-used servers and the ability to dial them up and down as required. But you haven't gone all-in with the vCloud Suite, perhaps because of cost concerns or perhaps you don't have the chops to handle it. If that's …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2015
Osama bin Laden

Oracle adds Osama Bin Laden's NEMESIS to board

Oracle has added Leon Panetta, a former US secretary of defence and director of the central intelligence agency (CIA), to its board. Panetta was Bill Clinton' chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, served in the US House of Representatives and was later appointed head of the CIA by Barack Obama. During his time at the agency, …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2015
Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft wants LAMP for wireless mobe charger

Microsoft Research has put forward the idea of charging mobile phones with a beam of light. Explained in a paper titled AutoCharge: Automatically Charge Smartphones Using a Light Beam (PDF), the idea is to use a Kinect motion sensor to spot a phone, then focus a lamp on it to bathe phones in light and charge them wirelessly. …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2015
A hash

#CASHTAGS are a thing: you can now bank on Twitter

India's ICICI bank has launched a bank-by-Twitter service. The catchily-named “icicibankpay” service requires users to register a mobile phone number with the Bank and then follow the @ICICIBank Twitter account, in order to receive a one-time password as a direct message. Once the password's been confirmed, users can fire off …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2015
What Linus Torvalds thinks of NVIDIA

Buggy? Angry? LET IT ALL OUT says Linus Torvalds

Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has articulated views on security at Linux.conf.au, and seems to be closer to Google's way of thinking than Microsoft's. Torvalds, along with Debian luminary Bdale Garbee, Samba man Andrew Tridgell, and kernel coder Rusty Russell spent an hour answering conference attendees' questions last week. …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2015
Bones, Kirk and Spock prepare to transport in Star Trek

Microsoft and mate release Azure transporter beam

As cloud providers add more regions, folks who've committed to one data centre may find they have good reasons to move to another. At that point users are likely to discover that for all the talk of cloud making one more agile than an Olympic, moving infrastructure-as-a-service around inside and between clouds requires …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2015

MARS NEEDS BROADBAND, insists Elon Musk

Another day, another billionaire with a broadband-in-space plan. Last week's unconvincing launch came from Virgin's beardy Branson, who reckons 6,498 satellites are enough to do the job of bringing broadband to the next billion. Now Elon Musk of Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop fame has let Bloomberg Businessweek know that he thinks …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2015
Netcraft web server survey January 2015

Apache retains perch atop global web server market

Microsoft Internet Information Server's (IIS') tilt for the title of the planet's most-prevalent web server has ended, with Apache well and truly back of top of Netcraft's survey. IIS took the web server crown last year, when measrued by active hostnames, largely thanks to Chinese linkfarms running up oodles of servers as part …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2015
Facepalm by Ron Mander

VMware wins cool reception for two-CPU eval software

VMware has kicked off a new program that looks like it will make it easier to build home labs. Mostly. The new EVALExperienence program is pretty simple: cough up the US$200 required to become a member of the VMware user group (VMUG) Advantage program and you'll find yourself able to download and run vCenter Server, vSphere with …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2015
One of New Zealand Post&amp;#39;s commemorative Hobbit coins

Ski MOUNT DOOM or take top coffee to the beach? Your choice

eXpat Files What is it about New Zealand? Despite being in quite the oddest place, not being very big and living with the threat of volcanic nasties, it punches above its weight in so many ways. And as this week's eXpat files volunteer Christopher Mullard explains, it also offers a top place for a developer to move with his family. How top …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2015
Citrix X1 mouse

Citrix goes into the mouse business

Citrix is getting into the mouse business. The company threw a Summit this week where it shoved new versions of XenServer and XenMobile out the door. It also revealed the “X1”, a mouse that works with its Citrix Receiver app. Receiver is the client needed to access applications and/or desktops groomed by XenApp or XenDesktop. …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Jan 2015

Virgin, Qualcomm, back 600-satellite space internet plan

WorldVu, an outfit that last year looked to have Elon Musk and Google backing its vision for a fleet of broadband-beaming low-earth orbit satellites, has scored support from Virgin Group and Qualcomm. Now operating as OneWeb Ltd, but still helmed by former Google man Greg Wyler, the plan now calls for 648 satellites instead of …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Jan 2015

NINETY new DOOM ASTEROIDS found in 2014

In December 2013, NASA re-activated the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) and in the twelve months since the project discovered three new comets and 40 previously-unknown near-earth objects, eight of which have Earth-bonking potential. NEOWISE started life in 2009 as WISE – the Wide-field Infrared Survey …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Jan 2015

Xen accelerates ARM server race with version 4.5

Version 4.5 of the Xen hypervisor is upon us. Those responsible for the new release are chuffed to report they've packed a couple of dozen big new features in this time around, doubling the 4.4 release's count. And there's more to come: some useful stuff couldn't be squeezed into this release. But before we get to those …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Jan 2015
Teddy the Guardian

$500 TEDDY BEAR teaches tots to spit up personal data

Babies can now enjoy the thrill of wearable health monitors, as well as giving away their personal data for free, thanks to the arrival of a $499 teddy bear called “Teddy The Guardian”. You read that right: the teddy's price is just one dollar shy of five hundred. You're paying the big bucks for the bear's “smart paw” that …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2015
This Old Box - S-100 COEX RAM card

VMware finds new post-paranoia RAM-saving tricks

VMware is rejigging the way it shares memory among virtual machines, after turning off Transparent Page Sharing (TPS) because academics identified insecurities in the technology. TPS allows virtual machines to make more efficient use of RAM, so that more VMs can run on a host. But as VMware acknowledged in December 2014, “recent …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2015
Uber apologises for Sydney siege surge pricing SNAFU

Uber BLOCKS COPS to stop stings

UberX is illegal in most Australian States, as legislation insists that those who take you for a paid ride must hold a taxi driver's license and drive you in a licensed taxi. Authorities are therefore trying to find UberX drivers and fine them. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's 730 program now alleges that Uber is …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2015
Free BSD Logo

DigitalOcean adds FreeBSD, explores cloudy Windows

Cloud operator DigitalOcean has added an option to run Free BSD in its cloud and is considering adding Windows servers. The company glories in the position as the world's second-or-third-largest operator of web-facing servers, with Netcraft rating only Amazon Web Services as its numerical superior. The overwhelming majority of …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2015

XenServer takes half a step forward, none towards hybrid cloud

Citrix has released XenServer 6.5 and, as foreshadowed with the July 2014 preview named “Creedence”, has focussed on its own application delivery strengths and the needs of cloud operators rather than the wider enterprise computing market. Citrix isn't spinning it that way: it reckons the new 64-bit kernel, addition of Intel's …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2015
Willowra Road Closed map from the Northern Territory government

Australian desert deluge demonstrates why we're doing it

It rained in central Australia last week. And in Willowra, the remote community we visited to figure out what happens when the Internet comes to town and performed a Windows 7 upgrade, it rained so much that last Saturday the town got three times its mean monthly rainfall. And that was on top of Friday's rain, which doubled the …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2015
Chrome remote desktop running on an iPad

Adults-only Chrome add-on grabs you by the Googlies

Google's Chrome Remote Desktop app does what it says on the can: install it in Google's browser and it becomes possible to drive the host Mac, PC or Chromebook from another similarly-equipped machine. As of today it's also possible to drive a machine from iOS, as Google has been kind enough to release an app for the iPhone or …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Jan 2015

Windows 7 MARKED for DEATH by Microsoft as of NOW

Today, 13 January, is the day on which Microsoft's Windows 7 passes from mainstream support into extended support. The milestone is the first on the road to Microsoft pulling the plug on January 14th, 2020. Windows 7 is a widely-admired version of Windows, as it is more stable than its predecessor Windows Vista and did not try …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Jan 2015
Fight sticker

DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

Microsoft has slammed Google for disclosing a security vulnerability in Windows a mere two days before Redmond planned to fix the bug. Google revealed the flaw on 11 January, 90 days after reporting it to Microsoft; the ad giant said the bug can elevate a user's privileges to administrator-level, thanks to some inelegant action …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2015
Docker Logo

Docker's just a bit dodgy, but ready for rollout says Gartner

Analyst outfit Gartner has assessed Docker's security – and found the containerisation tool is sound but immature. Gartner's report, Security Properties of Containers Managed by Docker, published last week, finds “Linux containers are mature enough to be used as private and public PaaS” but “disappoint when it comes to secure …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2015
Openstack log

Symantec wins spot on OpenStack Foundation board

Symantec's Gold membership of OpenStack only came through last December, but the company has already scored a slot on the effort's board. The OpenStack Board includes representatives of the eight Platinum sponsors, plus eight directors put forward by the 24 Gold sponsors. Another eight individual members complete the roster. …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2015
Azure icon

Size matters, says Microsoft, as it flops out fat cloud VMs

Microsoft has introduced a new virtual machine type to Azure: the G-series instances run on Xeon E5 v3 CPUs and Redmond reckons they “provide the most memory, the highest processing power and the largest amount of local SSD of any Virtual Machine size currently available in the public cloud.” Here's Microsoft's list of the new …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2015
closed_sign shut down under collapsed liquidation

Verizon says 40-hour outage was outage to end all outages

Verizon Cloud's planned maintenance outage, for which the company last week allocated 48 hours but advised should “take far less than 48 hours” ran at least 40 hours, and the company now says the outage was needed for an upgrade that will remove the need for future outages of this type. Verizon's saying the outage allowed it to …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jan 2015