Simon Sharwood

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Ralph Wiggum as Hamlet, ready to stab

What's it like to work for a genius and Olympic archer who's mates with Richard Branson?

On-Call Welcome back to On-Call, our Friday glimpse at readers' tales of being asked to fix the ridiculous. This week, reader “Alien8” shared a story about “One of the worst jobs I ever had” doing “IT support at a fulfilment house.” The big problem here was his boss, the IT manager, who Alien8 says just made stuff up all the time. …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016
Grinning man in suit points at a calculator meaningfully. Pic via Shutterstock

Oracle now fully compliant with UK tax laws*

Good news, britons! Oracle says it is now fully compliant with the nation's latest tax regulations, including those that come into force on April 6th. That's the first day of the UK's new financial year, thanks to some sixteenth-century calendar-realignment shenanigans. Whatever the reason for the day, those who rely on …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016
Eurocom Sky X9W mobile workstation

Who wants a quad-core 4.2GHz, 64GB, 5TB SSD RAID 10 … laptop?

When Eurocom releases new laptops – or 'mobile workstations' as it prefers to call them – it can be hard to keep one's jaw from the floor. This time around the company's released the Sky X9W complete with a quad-core, eight-thread, Intel Core i7 6700K capable of operating at 4.2GHz and nestled amidst an Intel Z170 Express ( …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016

Rkt container runtime leaves the launchpad

CoreOS has decided that rkt, its open source container, is fit for production purposes and therefore ready to fly as version 1.0. Rkt is an alternative to Docker's file format and runtime that, as we wrote at its launch, tries to knock off Docker's rough edges with special attention to security while making it possible to run …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016

By 2019 world will spend $2.8 TREELLION on the rubbish we write about

Information technology analyst house IDC says that world spending on information technology will hit US$2.8 trillion in 2019, up from this year's $2.46 trillion. Healthcare outfits will do the heaviest lifting, lifting their spending by a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent. Financial services types, the media sector …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016
tanami_desert_near_willowra_648

Optus, Telstra, TPG and Vodafone spaff AU$543.5m on spectrum

Australia has scored AU$543.5m (US$391m) for part of its 1800 MHz spectrum. The The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced the outcome of auctions it initiated in November 2015, with the following results. Bidder Total price Optus Mobile $196 million Telstra $191 million …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Feb 2016
lightning_cropped

Z-z-ZAP! Salesforce.com reveals Lightning release and price hikes

Salesforce.com has revealed new and more expensive versions of its products. The crown jewel is a new release called “Lightning” that adds integrated VoIP, the better to help sales folk make calls fast and have them logged for managerial approval. There's also more analytics, tied to email if required, to help send more and …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Feb 2016

Barracuda kills CudaDrive and Copy cloud storage services

Barracuda Networks' financial woes look to be biting, as the company has announced it is killing its cloud storage services, CudaDrive and Copy.com, and focussing resources on stuff that really matters. The company has blogged the news, with Rod Mathews - veep and general manager of the company's storage business – saying …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Feb 2016
Parallels remote application server bringing windows server to a Mac

Parallels opens new Windows with app virtualistion upgrade

Early in 2015, junior virtualiser Parallels acquired a remote application delivery company called 2X software. This week, 2X's assets have landed in the 15th and newest version of Parallels' Remote Application Server. Combining the two products means Remote Application Server is now far better at delivering apps and desktops …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Feb 2016
Assange

Assange will 'accept arrest' on Friday if found guilty

Julian Assange's long-distance couch-surfing binge may be about to end, as the white-haired Wikileaker-in-chief has signalled he is willing to be arrested on Friday if he loses a case against the United Kingdom and Sweden. Assange revealed the news with the Tweet below. Assange: I will accept arrest by British police on …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Feb 2016
Galileo 7 and 8 liftoff Copyright ESA https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/

They're alive! Galileo sats 9 and 10 sending valid signals

Two more satellites in Europe's Galileo satellite navigation swarm are up and running, so to speak. The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that the ninth and tenth satellites in the planned 30-bird fleet started sending “valid navigation signals” as of January 29th. Galileo's eleventh and twelfth satellites are also …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Feb 2016
European commission photo via Shutterstock

Europe wants end to anonymous Bitcoin transactions

The European Commission (EC) wants to end anonymous trading in virtual currencies in order to help track terror groups's funding. The EC yesterday published an Action Plan to strengthen the fight against the financing of terrorism (PDF) that says criminals are quick to seek out new ways of moving money that offer lower risk of …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Feb 2016
Motorola 68030

Motorola-powered Mac from 1989 used to write smartphone apps

Our ongoing look at very, very old computers still in production has turned up another ancient artefact in the form of a 1989-vintage Mac that's still being used, for the very modern task of developing smartphone apps. Reader “Pascal” says he does most of his work coding apps for Macs, iOS and Windows on a 2012 Mac Pro. Part …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Feb 2016
Welcome to Amazon Workspaces

A virtual phone inside a virtual cloud desktop is now an actual thing

Amazon Web Services has tweaked its Workspaces cloudy virtual desktops service, adding the ability to voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) software. The company says it's now possible to take audio from whatever client device you use to run Workspaces' client app, then pipe it Skype, Lync or WebEx running on the cloudy virtual …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Feb 2016
ABC logo

ABC storage project adrift in 'brown ocean'

A project to replace storage underpinning edit suites and video storage at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is not going smoothly, with newly-acquired storage systems shelved before user acceptability testing. The Register understands that Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) is the main player in a four-company consortium …
Simon Sharwood, 02 Feb 2016
win10_648

Windows 10 overtakes Windows 8.1's market share

Windows 10 overtakes Windows 8.1's market share It looks like Santa stuffed chimneys with new PCs last year Windows 10 has overtaken Windows 8.1's market share, according to all three of data sources we use to monitor such matters. For a couple of years now we've considered monthly desktop operating system market share from …
Simon Sharwood, 02 Feb 2016
Boeing 737 Max

Boeing's X-Wing 737 makes first flight

Plane-maker Boeing has conducted the first test flight of the 737 MAX, the next version of the world's best-selling passenger airliner. The new plane offers the usual cocktail of new and lighter materials to keep weight and therefore costs down, along with technologies to keep the plane quiet and therefore less likely to annoy …
Simon Sharwood, 02 Feb 2016

Google adds lots of cloudy flash, no sign of saviour

Google's a laggard in infrastructure-as-a-service: Amazon Web Services moved first and set agendas, then along came Microsoft with an unusually strong version 1.0 product that's just kept growing and adding features. IBM bought SoftLayer and is building cloud products at speed. The Alphabet subsidiary’s now third or fourth in …
Simon Sharwood, 02 Feb 2016
Microsoft's Project Natick underwater data centre

Microsoft sinks to new depths with underwater data centre experiment

Microsoft has revealed that it's trialled an underwater data centre. Project Natick saw Redmond sink a capsule about a mile offshore from Seattle, an approach felt to have potential because about half of humanity lives on or near coastlines. Microsoft's thinking is that it's a good idea to put data centres near their users, …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Feb 2016

Slashdot, SourceForge slurped by travel publisher

Slashdot and SourceForge have been offloaded by owner DHI media, which has found them a new home at a company called BizX. The two sites were put on the chopping board in July 2015 when DHI, best known as operator of jobs board Dice, decided it stick to its knitting. Up then, went the sign: “For Sale, one Linux-centric news …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Feb 2016
Toshiba Satellite P series laptop

Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio may be about to merge laptop ops

From Taiwan, an advance on a tantalising rumour: Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio look to be seriously considering a merger of their laptop-making operations. Vaio, the laptop spin-off from Sony, publicly floated the idea in late 2015. At that time it was thought that Toshiba would probably like the idea, as relieving itself of its …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Feb 2016
Internet Meme: text says Integrate all the Things

'VxRail' looks like EMC's next-gen hyper-converged appliance

EMC and VMware are making more noise about a hyper-converged launch this month. The Register's virtualisation desk is willing to go out on a limb and say that among the announcements will be a hardware product called VxRail. Here's our logic. EMC used its annual results call to reveal it has new hyper-converged kit on the way …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Feb 2016
NEMA 5 plug socket

The monitor didn't work but the problem was between the user's ears

On-Call How do you people survive at work? We're asking because in this week's edition of On-Call, our weekly reader-contributed column sharing tales of IT support, reader “Chilli” brings us a very frustrating story. Chilli once worked for an outfit that had 300 remote depots, all of which turned to he and the rest of the IT for phone …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016
Upsala Glacier by https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidw/ cc 2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Oracle kicks Amazon after Glacier download bill shock

Last week, a chap named Mario Karpinnen took to Medium with a tale of how downloading 60GB of data from Amazon Web Services' archive-grade Glacier service cost him a whopping US$158. Karpinnen went into the fine print of Glacier pricing and found that the service takes your peak download rate, multiplies the number of …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016
Funnel of cash. Credit: via SXC – http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Leonardini

31 nations sign data-sharing pact to tax multinationals

31 nations this week signed a data-sharing agreement that will see multinational companies' financial reports shared widely, the better to understand their global financial contortions. The Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) is an instrument of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016
Woman thumbs down, image via Shutterstock

Facebook kills 'Parse' mobile dev platform

POLL Facebook has announced it will shutter Parse, the mobile app development tool it kicked off back in 2013 when it acquired a company of the same name. Parse is billed as a tremendous way to build lovely, engaging, mobile apps. Facebook says it's closing the service because “we need to focus our resources elsewhere.” Which …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016
mailing netflix by https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenwilcox/ cc attribution noderivs https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Indonesia's dominant telco blocks Netflix

Telkom Indonesia, the nation's dominant telco thanks to its nearly 130 million subscribers, has decided to block Netflix. The carrier's grounds for the block are that Netflix doesn't have a licence and is showing offensive material. Indonesia licences digital television broadcasters and there's legislation on its books …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016
Xen project logo

New Xen maintenance release ends active version 4.4 development

Can it really be time to update Xen again? Yes it can, because the Xen Project has announced a new maintenance release, version 4.4.4, that ticks off a list of 70 fixes and improvements, plus another five qemu quirks. Xen's had a rough time of it lately, with several severe bugs demanding attention. A few security-related …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Jan 2016

Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

DeLorean Motors has announced that it hopes to resume construction of the DMC-12 sports car made famous by 1985 flick Back to the Future. In the film and its two sequels, the car houses a time machine that operated when the stainless-steel-mobile hits 88 miles per hour. The DeLorean was chosen for the role because it looked …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2016
Hyper Media Shop by https://www.flickr.com/photos/rka/ CC 2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

EMC Federation to reveal new hyper-hyper converged appliances

EMC, VMware and VCE will soon announce a new range of hyper-converged appliances that EMC II CEO David Goulden says are game-changers. “For the last several months EMC and VMware partnered very closely to develop a new next-generation hyper-converged appliance family that uniquely leverages technology from EMC, VMware and VCE …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2016
Ask Jeeves in gunsights

Oracle to kill off Java browser plugins with JDK 9

Oracle has announced that it will kill off Java browser plugins once JDK 9 debuts. Big Red's post on the matter says it's sniffed the anti-plugin winds and agrees with the idea that plugins are so 90s and have no place in the modern browser, so “developers of applications that rely on the Java browser plugin need to consider …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Jan 2016

VMware axes Fusion and Workstation US devs

VMware has fired the US-based development teams that worked on its Fusion and Workstation desktop hypervisors, the products that gave the company its start. News of the layoffs made it onto Twitter, of course, and has also reached a blog by former VMware team member Christian Hammond. Thelayoff.com also features former and …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2016
VMware nutella

VMware says vSphere in decline, new multi-cloud plan will ensure growth

VMware is setting itself up for life after vSphere, outlining a new multi-cloud strategy and insisting its newer products are all growing nicely. It also said it will scale back its vCloud Air cloud service, and fire about 800 staff as it moves people into areas likely to fuel growth. VMware execs used today's Q4 2015 and FY …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jan 2016
You're fired dialog box

Citrix kills Sydney research lab, vows to focus on 'core products'

Citrix has closed its research lab in Sydney, Australia. News of the closure appeared on Twitter, where missives like those below from lab staffers Jeff Muir and Donovan Hackett were spotted by virtualization whisperer Brian Madden. El Reg asked Citrix why it closed the facility. A Citrix spokesperson said: "We made the …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Jan 2016
Virgin Galactic's

Boeing just about gives up on the 747

Boeing will reduce the number of 747s it makes to just one every two months, citing a collapse in demand for the iconic aircraft. The company previously announced plans to slow production from 1.3 jets a month to just one a month, with the new and lower production rate expected to kick in from March. Now the company says it …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2016
A large hand flicks an icon of a little red man. Image via shutterstock (Lasse Kristensen)

How to help a user who can't find the Start button or the keyboard?

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our regular look at the things readers have been asked to do on duty as paid fixer-uppers. This week, reader “Raoul” writes from Germany, where in the early 1990s he worked as a customer support guy at a commercial bank. Raoul's lot included on-site support as well as picking up help desk calls, one …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2016
Cloud vs Virtualization by https://www.flickr.com/photos/86979666@N00/ cc 2l0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Move vSphere VMs to XenServer? Citrix thinks someone wants it

Would anyone move VMs from VMware to Citrix? XenServer's made it easier with a w technical preview of XenServer, probably for version 7.0. This is the second such release since version 6.5 gave the world so much joy last January. In line with Citrix's plan to make XenServer a terrific environment for its own wares, and mostly …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2016

SciFi and fantasy titan David G. Hartwell passes, aged 74

Influential science fiction author and editor David G. Hartwell has died, aged 74. Hartwell edited thousands of books and was nominated for the Hugo Award 41 times. He spent the last 30-plus years as an editor for Tor Books, whose founder Tom Doherty wrote “no editor was more influential in the shaping of science fiction and …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Jan 2016
The Taj Mahal

India just about accuses Facebook of faking Free Basics fandom

India's argument with Facebook rages on, with the nation's Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRAI) sending The Social NetworkTM a stinging letter in which it accuses the company of astro-turfing* a campaign in support of its Free Basics service. A quick recap: Free Basics is Facebook's curated collection of web sites it deems …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2016
Young Panda in Chengdu Panda Base by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sujuhyte/  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ cc 2.0 Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

While you pretended to work, Cloud operators fixed two Xen bugs

While lots of the world was easing in to a new year of work in the week of January 4th, big cloud concerns running customer-facing Xen rigs were probably patching two new bugs in the hypervisor. The Xen Project's policy is to let big cloud operators and others on a pre-disclosure list know about bugs two weeks before the rest …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2016
recruitment_hired

Citrix names former Microsoft exec Kirill Tatarinov prez and CEO

Citrix has appointed former Microsoft exec Kirill Tatarinov President and chief executive officer. Tatarinov spent over eight years as President, Executive Vice President, Corporate Vice President Microsoft Business Solutions Division, overseeing Microsoft's Dynamics CRM and ERP businesses. His LinkedIn profile also records …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Jan 2016
HBM2 DRAM

RAM, bam, thank you Ma'am! Samsung fires up fastest-ever memory

Samsung says it has started making a new and faster form of DRAM. The Korean colossus says the wheels are turning and pistons pumping at plants churning out High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) DRAM. HBM2 was only signed off as a standard on January 12th, when electronics industry standards group JEDEC (founded as the Joint Electron …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2016

Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Last week we brought you news of a server decommissioned after eighteen years and ten months of continuous operation. Readers have since suggested to us that the machine was a mere infant. “Randy” wrote to tell us he's familiar with a site where over 150 Digital Equipment Corporation Adec400xP Application Servers have been …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2016
Telescope by https://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanwick/  CC2.0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The planets really will be in alignment for the next month

Go buy a lottery ticket, dear readers, because for the next month the planets really will be in alignment. By an accident of celestial mechanics, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will all be visible from Earth for the next month and it will be just-about-possible to draw a straight line intersecting all five. …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2016
Pakistani ISP PCTL welcomes YouTube back to the country

Cat vids return to Pakistan as YouTube turns on censor-matic

Pakistan has allowed YouTube to traverse its digital borders again, after Google agreed to oversight by the nation's telecoms regulators. Pakistan barred YouTube in 2012, after the film Innocence of Muslims hit the service and sparked often-violent reactions to its supposedly blasphemous content. The nation decided it could …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Jan 2016

Amnesty International accuses tech giants of battery bastardry

Amnesty International says children as young as seven are mining for Cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with their efforts helping to create Lithium-ion batteries that may well end up in products offered by top-tier technology companies. The human rights group details its theory in a new piece of research …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2016
White House, by Tom Lohdan, Flickr, CC2.0

Australia and America working on global no-state-hacking pact

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has visited Washington, DC, and called for internet governance to be made independent of governments and a global no-hack pact. “Every aspect of our lives has been transformed by the digital world of the Internet,” Turnbull told the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2016

Trump's new thought bubble: Make Apple manufacture in the USA

US Presidential wannabe Donald Trump has once again waded into matters technological, this time sketching an industry policy that would heavily tax US companies that don't manufacture on US soil. Trump went on to single out Apple, saying that “we're gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Jan 2016
Qantas Boeing 737-838, VH-VZR

USA streamlines visa for visiting Australian tech workers

The United States has made a small-but-important change to the E-3 visa, an instrument that allows skilled Australians to work in the nation. The E-3 is similar to the controversial H1-B visa, as it allows skilled workers to ply their trade stateside and can be renewed every two years, indefinitely. Australians can't score the …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2016
Qualcomm

Qualcomm forms JV with Chinese province to design server chipsets

Qualcomm has struck a US$280 million joint venture with the government of China's Guizhou Province that will see the two organisations design server chips in China. Qualcomm took the wraps off an ARM-powered server CPU last October. On Sunday it advanced its plans by revealing “a strategic cooperation agreement and joint …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2016