Simon Sharwood

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Pluto in blue and red

NASA boffins on Pluto: We see skies of BLUE and... RED water ice

Pluto's skies are a lovely blue, NASA says, after releasing new data and colour-corrected images from the New Horizons mission's swing-past the former planet. The probe detected what NASA's calling a “high altitude haze” of particles that come about as a result of “sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015
Singapore Post test drone

Singapore Post tests drone delivery services

Video Singapore's postal service has trialled delivery-by-drone. In an arrangement that will come as no surprise to observers of the tightly-governed city state, the effort was a joint venture between Singapore Post and the nation's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The pair used the Pixhawk Steadidrone drone to send a letter …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015
HP Star Wars Laptop

HP creates laptop for SITH LORDS

HP will soon release a special Star Wars edition laptop it says will allow you to “Unleash your inner Sith”. And no, it's not making that claim solely based on the presence of Windows 10. The machine boasts styling based on the Lucasverse and is pre-loaded with oodles of Star Wars content including “rare wallpapers, screen …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015
Firefox logo

Mozilla to boot all plugins from Firefox … except Flash

The Mozilla Foundation has revealed that some future versions of its flagship Firefox browser will ship without support for plugins of any sort. The organisation yesterday announced that “new platforms such as 64-bit Firefox for Windows will launch without plugin support.” Adobe Flash is the exception to the rule, because it …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015

PC shipments slump in Q3, thanks to free Windows 10

The world's personal computer factories could only shove just over 70 million machines out the door during 2015's third quarter, according to box-watchers IDC and Gartner. IDC says sales were down 10.8 per cent year on year, a worse outcome than the 9.2 per cent dip the firm previously predicted. Windows 10 is partly to blame …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015
Turnbull's twitter feed by

Australian Prime Minister runs private email server

Australia's newly minted prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has admitted to running a private email server. Turnbull took over from incumbent Tony Abbott last month after a party room vote, becoming Australia's fifth prime minister in the span of five years. Previously communications minister, a role in which he credits himself …
Simon Sharwood, 09 Oct 2015
Funnel of cash. Credit: via SXC –

Dell seeking $40 BEEELLION to buy EMC NEXT WEEK say reports

Dell is figuring out how to borrow the US$40 billion it would need to acquire EMC, according to reports quoting the usual folks familiar with the deal. CNBC says Dell is prepared to offer $27 a share to buy EMC. It'll need to because EMC shares closed today at $27.18, up $1.22. Bloomberg's take on the deal also uses the $40 …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Oct 2015
Ethernet by CC2.0 attribution

HP and pals release open source switch OS

HP, Intel, VMware, Broadcom and pals have released a new, open-source, network operating system (NOS). OpenSwitch offers the now-familiar, thanks to the likes of Big Switch and Cumulus Networks, chance to buy a white box switch and run your own operating system on it. In a colossal non-surprise, the NOS is Linux-based. HP will …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Oct 2015
Windows 10 floppy disk

Windows 10 mobile upgrade coming in December

Microsoft has slipped out news that an upgrade to Windows 10 on mobile devices will land in December. Redmond took to Facebook to break the news, responding to a question from a member by saying “Broad availability of Windows 10 on other devices, including mobile phones, will begin rolling out in December.” The upgrade will …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Oct 2015
Web browsers 2015

To save mobile web, we must destroy JavaScript, HTML and CSS

Alphabet's ads, search and cloud subsidiary Google has announced an open source project it hopes will speed web page load times on mobile devices: Accelerated Mobile Pages. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is driven by Google, with help from major publishers and the BBC. Early adopters include Twitter, Pinterest, …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Oct 2015
storage arrays superimposed on cloudy sky

Microsoft starts backup of on-prem workloads and desktops to Azure

Microsoft has announced it will now offer backups of on-premises SQL Server, Hyper-V virtual machines, SharePoint Server, Microsoft Exchange and windows clients to Azure. To use Azure as your backup target you'll need the Azure Backup agent or Microsoft Recovery Services Agent on your servers or PCs. That code will take care …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Oct 2015
Toilet roll printed with fake US $100 bills

EMC and Dell considering 'a combination' – report

Update EMC and Dell are considering “a combination”, says The Wall Street Journal. Details of just what's on the table are sketchy. The Journal's referring to the usual folks familiar with the matter. Would some sort of tie-up make sense? Or more sense than the scuppered EMC/HP merger? Dell's storage range isn't as broad or deep as …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015
VW Scirocco logo

Volkswagen Australia says 77,000 local diesels need software fix

Volkswagen Australia has revealed that 77,000 vehicles in Australia carry the emissions-fudging software that has plunged the company into crisis. The company's antipodean tentacle today announced that 55,000 Golf and Polo models sold in Australia carried EA 189 diesel engine, while 5,000 Skoda passenger cars also have the …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015

Sanbolic smoke ball was no mere puff: Citrix preps new Melio release

Citrix says it's ready to let customers loose on its software-defined storage play. Citrix's ambitions in the field emerged last January, when it slurped storage virtualiser Sanbolic. Since then the company's said precious little about Sanbolic, all the while looking a little shambolic as it endured missed quarters, management …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015
Julian Assange and Harrods golf ball

Assange™ offered 'plans for escape by flying fox to Harrods'

Couch-surfer extraordinaire Julian Assange has granted an interview to Australian breakfast radio program “Kyle and Jackie O” in which he characterises his stint in the Ecuadorian embassy as a “siege” and reveals he has banned smartphones at the Ecuadorian embassy as he assumes they are all surveilled. The interview, which …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015
EMC NetWorker 9

EMC NetWorker 9 emerges from obscurity

Australian backup blogger Preston de Guise has been able to take version nine of EMC's NetWorker backup software for a spin. NetWorker is EMC's enterprise backup product. Version 8.2 emerged mid-year, but EMC's not made a great deal of noise about just when a successor might emerge. The product now seems to be available, if …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015

CSC in US$300m Australian services slurp

CSC is going shopping in Australia, dangling a cheque for AU$428m (US$305m, £200m) to the shareholders of services company UXC. UXC is a group of enterprise services companies that has grown by acquisition. Component companies offer services such as application integration, delivery and operation of enterprise infrastructure …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015

Sysadmins can forget PC management skills, says Microsoft

Microsoft has announced it will retire the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) certification dedicated to “Desktop Infrastructure”. Microsoft pitches MCSE certifications as essential for sysadmins hoping to prove their competence to employers*, but now says the time for skills in dedicated “traditional desktop …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Oct 2015
Rotary phone

Netflix launch brings Australia's biggest ever download deluge

The arrival of Netflix in Australia has brought with it the largest-ever spike in downloads recorded in Australia. New Australian Bureau of Statistics Internet Activity shows that in the six months to June 2015, Australian users of fixed line broadband collectively downloaded 1,349,975 terabytes of data. The ABS measures …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015

GCHQ's SMURF ARMY can hack smartphones, says Snowden. Again.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has given an interview to BBC investigative programme Panorama in which he's added further detail on an array of tools named after the Smurfs* that allow UK intelligence agencies to hack smartphones. Privacy International has already aired much of what Snowden explained to Panorama, namely that a …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015
A beautiful new Cisco vuln report

Cisco reforms its security disclosure process

Cisco has reformed the way it discloses vulnerabilities in its products. The company's adopted a new and – it says – “enhanced and simplified” view of vulnerabilities in its products, cooked up its own Security Impact Rating (SIR) scores to let you know just how deep you're in it when a vuln appears, adopted the CVE system and …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015
Linus Torvalds flips the bird

Linux kernel dev who asked Linus Torvalds to stop verbal abuse quits over verbal abuse

Sarah Sharp, the maintainer of USB 3.0 drivers in the Linux Kernel who in July 2013 urged Linux overlord Linus Torvalds to stop abusing fellow developers, has quit all Linux-related work. Sharp has revealed she quit her role on the kernel last year and backed out of Linux entirely due to the abusive commentary she asked Linus …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015
Quantum logic gate

Australian boffins say Quantum Pentiums are on the horizon

Australian boffins have overcome one of quantum computing's big problems by building a gate comprised of two qubits in silicon, using techniques very similar to those used to manufacture whatever device you're using to read this story. Building a quantum logic gate in silicon is a big deal because hitherto it's only been …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015
Windows 10 floppy disk

If you wanted Windows 10, it looks like you've already installed it

Windows 10 looks to have won about seven per cent of the world's desktop operating system market. That's The Reg's back-of-the-spreadsheet calculation after running our eye over September’s data from Netmarketshare and StatCounter, the two services we regularly eyeball to see what's going down on the desktop. Here's the tale …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Oct 2015
Cisco TiVo PVR

Cisco Australia bumps prices by 12.83 per cent, for second time this year

Cisco Australia is raising its prices by 12.83 per cent, making this the second such rise for the year after a March price increase of 12 per cent. The Register has seen emails from local resellers advising users to buy Cisco kit sooner rather than later, or pay more as of November 9th. Cisco Australia's confirmed the price …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Oct 2015
Censored Stamp

Scary Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty signed off

The Trans-Pacific partnership, a 12-nation trade treaty negotiated in secret and thought to contain copyright nasties, is all but done. Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the USA and Vietnam have successfully concluded negotiations on the provisions of the secret …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Oct 2015
Monster virtual machine

VMware SMASH! Bad ESXi 6.0 bork-bug getting 'aggressive' fix

VMware has found, and is trying hard to fix, a nasty bug in ESXi 6.0. Issue 2124669, causes “ESXi 6.0 host network connectivity' to be “lost randomly.” Once the connectivity is lost, “ESXi enters into a non-responding state and becomes unmanageable until reboot.” Forget about re-connecting to networks until you reboot, but …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Sep 2015
Free range chicken and farmer photo via Shutterstock

It's alive! Farmer hides neglected, dust-clogged server between walls

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our regular look at the messes readers find themselves confronting when asked to go to help out their clients. This week, reader Matt brings us a tale from the time “I was working in a tiny system-integrator firm that has some big clients.” One of those clients was a substantial farm and food …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Sep 2015
Dunce's cap graffiti by cc 2.0 attribution

Australia's Digital Technologies curriculum finally signed off

Last Friday, Australia signed off on the nation's Digital Technologies curriculum, the first effort to teach computational thinking from infants' school to late High School. But the signoff is hollow because the content of the curriculum is hidden and a further review of technology education has been announced. The rubber …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Sep 2015

'Intrusion' at makes for red faces at Red Hat

Red Hat software has revealed “an intrusion on the sites of both the Ceph community project ( and Inktank (” that resulted in signed code being accessed. The company says and, both hosted “outside of Red Hat infrastructure”, were accessed by someone Red Hat doesn't …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
Diagram showing micro:bit spec

BBC Micro:bit delayed by power supply SNAFU

The BBC has admitted that the Micro:bit, the computer it plans to give to up to one million children, is not going to arrive on time due to quality problems. The Micro:bit was announced in March as a "get kids coding" initiative. Delivery was anticipated to occur in September, so that every 11 or 12 year-old in the UK could be …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
PC cooled by Irn-Bru

Scotsman cools PC with IRN-BRU, dubs it the 'Aye Mac'

An enterprising Scot has built a PC cooled by Irn-Bru*, and called it the “Aye Mac”. John Lawson, who runs an Edinburgh computer repair service called PC Doctor, decided to create the machine as a promotion and/or homage to Scotland's other famous drink. Sadly Irn-Bru's not the actual coolant – a liquid with the same colour …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Australia's biggest IT project failure/blowout may have started today

Remember the date – September 18th 2015 – as on that day Australia's Federal government commenced procurement for the nation's Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT). The project will see Australia replace systems founded on flat-file databases installed in the early 1980s and known to have been limping along …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
Lenticular Cloud

Cloud casts deep shadows over disk backup market

Abacus-wielder IDC has run its eye over the “purpose-built backup appliance” (PBBA) market and proved, if it were necessary to do so again, that by golly things are changing quickly in the storage caper. EMC dominates the market for such PBBAs, taking in US$469.9m in 2015's second quarter to claim 60.1 per cent of the market …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
Coconut face by cc 2.0 attribution

Microsoft has developed its own Linux. Repeat. Microsoft has developed its own Linux

Sitting down? Nothing in your mouth? Microsoft has developed its own Linux distribution. And Azure runs it to do networking. Redmond's revealed that it's built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015

We are the Knights who code Ni!

A Venn diagram describing the overlapping populations of Monty Python admirers and software developers would probably show a very large intersection between the two groups. But that's not the only reason software development and motor boat enthusiast Göran Krampe has announced a new programming language called “Ni”. The …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
VMware nutella

Another week, another vSphere update

VMware's updated vSphere again, this time with a refresh for version 5.5. Virtzilla last week announced the first update to vSphere 6.0 and expects that release will be the catalyst for users of vSphere 5.5 to upgrade. But as CEO Pat Gelsinger told us at VMworld 2015, vSphere's so good that VMware customers aren't in a hurry …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Sep 2015
Bitcoin punch cards

Bitcoin is an official commodity, says US gummint

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has declared that Bitcoin, and indeed all virtual currencies, are officially commodities. The ruling arose after the CFTC ordered two outfits, Coinflip, Inc. d/b/a Derivabit (Coinflip), to stop their Bitcoin-trading activities. The FCTC says the companies offered “commodity …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015

Germany loosens liability laws to promote WiFi hotspots

Germany has signalled it will ease laws that make it hard for local organisations to operate public WiFi hotspots. Current laws in the Bundesrepublik make hotspot operators liable for their users' activities. Fearing they'll be held accountable for copyright infringement or other offences, Germany's cafes, hotels, airport, …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015

Obama's IT reforms saved about one per cent of spending

In 2010 the US federal government decided it needed a data centre consolidation initiative and a “25-point implementation plan to reform federal information technology management ((PDF) to save dough and improve efficiency, but a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit suggests neither outcome has been achieved. The …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015

AWS cuts cloud storage price to UNDER a cent per gig a month

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has lowered prices again, this time dropping the fee for its archival Glacier storage below a cent per gigabyte per month to $0.007 per gig per month. The price cut is only applicable in some of AWS' regions, for now, but at that price, and with Glacier's deliberately slow restore times, who cares …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015

Google ponders purified Pakistani YouTube

Pakistan's Standing Committee on Information Technology and Communications has recommended that the nation end its ban on YouTube. Pakistan was unhappy with YouTube for years, on grounds that it made it possible to view content considered blasphemous. Once the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” made it to Google's …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015
firing range - target in cross hairs

Banks team to paint shared target on Target

Financial institutions pursuing retailer Target have had a significant win after the US District Court said they can run a class action against the company. Target infamously managed to leak 40 million credit card numbers in 2013 and has been paying for its mistake ever since, spending up big on laywers and handing over US$ …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Sep 2015
The glyph for the Georgian Lari

Facebook gains power to Like any word ever written

Facebook as signed up as a full member of the Unicode Consortium, the body that universal character encoding standard for written characters and text. Why should we care? Because Facebook is just the eleventh full member of the organisation and now has voting rights alongside the likes of Google, Apple, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Sep 2015
Beatrobot's Pico-Cassette

Game CARTRIDGES make a comeback ... for smartmobes

A Japanese company named Beatrobo has revealed plans to revive games cartridges, for use in smartphones. Beatrobo already makes a device that plugs in to a phone's audio port and sends a sound to the phone to authenticate you as someone able to access content stored in the cloud. The company's now planning to use the audio …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Sep 2015
The moon Enceladus is comparible in size to the UK

WARM, WOBBLING MOON believed to hide MOIST CRADLE of life

The wobblings of the warm and perhaps welcoming Enceladus, moon of Saturn, are said by top boffins to offer a surefire clue that wetness able to sustain life is to be found within. It seems that top boffins at Cornell uni have finally become willing to go firm on the matter following lengthy observations of the moon's motion, …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Sep 2015

CODING PEEP SHOW offers chance to hire devs as they program

Software development streaming outfit has just done something rather interesting to the profession of software development by turning it into a just-in-time resource. bills itself as an "educational livestreaming platform where people code products live." The site's founded on the …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Sep 2015
German Aerospace Center depiction of Philae on Comet 67/P

ESA tries UPLOADING PATCH to Philae lander to fix radios

The Philae lander may well be alive and mostly well upon Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to patch its radio transmitters to overcome communications problems. That's the gist, as your correspondent sees it, of a lengthy “behind the scenes” post from ESA boffins explaining their …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Sep 2015

Don't bother buying computers for schools, says OECD report

A new report published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that “even countries which have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education” cannot point to improved reading, mathematics or science among students. Teaching basic literacy and numeracy, the …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Sep 2015
Curiosity selfie as it drills for water

Curiosity Rover's OS has backdoor bug

Canadian security researcher Yannick Formaggio has detailed a significant flaw in VxWorks, the real-time operating system (RTOS) made by Intel subsidiary Wind River. Speaking at the 44CON event made famous last week, Formaggio detailed how an integer overflow mess allows remote code execution in the operating system. Formaggio …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Sep 2015