Simon Sharwood

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Swiss alps

Shhhhh! It's a Swiss Sunday shutdown. Kill the lawnmower, punish the kids with CHEESE

The eXpat Files This week's edition of The eXpat Files takes us to Switzerland, where British expat Simon Murphy says you can run out of food – or beer – if you forget that the shops are all closed on Sundays. It's also forbidden to mow one's lawn on the Sabbath. Which sounds quite civilised. Simon also explains how to blend cold beer and …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Dec 2014
Look Ma! No SATA or SAS controller

Oracle bypasses SAS/SATA controllers in flashy new servers

Oracle has revealed two new servers using the NVM Express standard that does away with SAS/SATA controllers in ways the company says makes them perform very, very, well when stocked full of flash. The basics: the two new beasts are called the X5-2 and the X5-2L. Both are two-socket affairs and use Intel's Xeon E5-2600 v3 silicon …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Dec 2014
Sign, Free Beer Here (Tomorrow Only)

VMware warns of vCenter cross-site-scripting bug

It's Friday! By later this afternoon you'll be working at half-pace and contemplating weekend fun. Unless you run VMware's vCenter control freak, because Virtzilla has just revealed a nasty cross-site scripting flaw in the product. “VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) contains a vulnerability that may allow for Cross Site …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Dec 2014

Crack open more champagne, Satya, XP's snowballing to HELL

It's not often a company would celebrate losing 43 per cent of its users in two months, but Microsoft is probably chuffed that is the fate of Windows XP in October and November. So says Netmarketshare, one of two analysts whose monthly operating system market share data we trakc. The other, Statcounter, found that XP fell behind …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Dec 2014

Analyst calls it: we've got a software-defined networking BUBBLE

Forrester analyst Andre Kindness has used two very significant words - “irrational exuberance” - to describe the white box networking market. “Irrational exuberance” was famously used by former US Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan in a 1996 speech bemoaning over-valued assets. The term was often invoked during the subsequent …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Dec 2014
Bluetooth Smart

4.2 is the answer to life, the universe and the Internet of Everything

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has signed off on version 4.2 of the Bluetooth core specification, and Internet of Stuff proponents will enjoy the fine print. The headline item for punters in the enhanced spec is speed, but the detailed spec for protocol seems not to detail increased bitrates. What has been increased …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Dec 2014
VMware software-defined data center

The age of the hybrid cloud desktop hypervisor is upon us

VMware has sent version 11 of its Workstation desktop virtualisation product down the slipway. The new released has a slew of enhancements one would expect from a new release: there's support for newer OSes like Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Suse Enterprise Linux 12 and Ubuntu 14.10. You can now handle higher-resolution …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2014

Euro spacemen clear Ariane 6 for liftoff

The European Space Agency (ESA) has committed to building a new generation of Ariane launch vehicles. The Ariane 6's four-stage design has been on the table for over a year, but ESA member states hadn't signed off on its construction. At this week's ESA Ministerial Council that changed, with the Resolution on Europe's Access to …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2014

Cisco and IBM team on 'VersaStack' integrated infrastructure bundle

Cisco and IBM will later today announce “VersaStack”, an integrated infrastructure reference design that blends Cisco's UCS servers and switches, plus IBM's Storwize 7000 storage arrays. The new rig looks an awful lot like other integrated stacks Cisco's helped to build, such as NetApp's FlexPods. The thinking behind VersaStack …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2014
Smile_scan_03

Who is taking the hyperconverged piss at Simplistic.io?

There's a new storage company making waves: “Simplistic Storage”. Simplistic's motto is “Simplistic - its more than just a name it's everything we are.” The company's lead product is called “Panacea”, which it says “removes the perceived need for expensive disaster recovery solutions to protect your equipment from hazards and …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2014
Stephen Hawking, weightless and happy

Hawking: RISE of the MACHINES could DESTROY HUMANITY

Professor Stephen Hawking has given his new voice box a workout by once again predicting that artificial intelligence will spell humanity's doom. In a chat with the BBC, Hawking said “the primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have have proved very useful, but the I think the development of true artificial …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Dec 2014
Scrooge

Microsoft hikes support charges by NINETY TWO PER CENT

Microsoft has quietly all-but-doubled the cost of ad hoc professional support in the United States. Visit this page, click the “For Business” tab and then select the “Support for Small and Medium Business” option and you'll see that Redmond now charges US$499 for a single professional support incident, or US$1,999 for a five- …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Dec 2014
Dunce

Australia to social media: self-censor or face AU$17,000 FINES

Australia's long-threatened plan to compel social networks to remove bullying material directed at children has emerged, complete with a naughty corner for networks who don't play nice with others. The bill seeks to ensure that all social networks operating in Australia implement “basic online safety requirements” including …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Dec 2014

Apple denied 'App Store' trademark by Australian court

Australia's Federal Court has decided Apple cannot trademark the term “App Store”. Apple's been trying to own the term in Australia since 2008, but in 2013 the nation's Registrar of Trademarks ruled that App Store “ does not distinguish the applicant on its own.” In other words, App Store doesn't apply to Apple alone. The …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Dec 2014

Gangnam Style BREAKS YouTube

YouTube has admitted that Psy's 2012 hit song Gangnam Style broke it. Or at least broke its counter that records how many times a video has been viewed. The breakage occurred because the video's been viewed more than 2,147,483,647 times. As YouTube explains, that's larger than a 32-bit integer, which mean the hit's hit-counter …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Dec 2014
Armoured submarine cable

Globe-spanning SEA-ME-WE 3 sea cable feared cut, broken or ...

SEA-ME-WE 3 is a marvel: the 39,000km submarine cable connects 31 nations, has 39 landing stations and stretches from Germany to Japan. Its two fibre pairs each carry 480 Gbits/s, a decent slice of the world's data traffic. But right now the cable's not at its best because the spur between Jakarta and Singapore looks to have …
Simon Sharwood, 02 Dec 2014

CommBank throws AU$5 MEELLION at UNSW quantum computer lab

Australia's Commonwealth Bank has decided to make a AU$5 million donation to the University of New South Wales' Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. The money is intended to help two projects, namely an effort to “demonstrate entanglement in a scalable silicon based quantum computing architecture and then …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014
Warwick Hospital accident and emergency

SUPER-SUEBALL heading IBM's way in Australia

IBM's Australian is about to be handed statement of claim over the failed health payroll project in the State of Queensland. The project initially had a budget of AU$6 million, but that blew out to $27 million. Things snowballed from there, with the project eventually costing well over a billion dollars and an inquiry finding …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014
The Alphasat laser communications payload

ESA and Airbus test LASER data networks IN SPAAACE

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus Defence and Space say they have successfully sent data between satellites, using lasers, in a proof-of-concept demonstration of what both call the “SpaceDataHighway”. A canned statement from Airbus Defence and Space says two satellites - Sentinel-1A and Alphasat – were connected over a …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014
The Antikythera Mechanism

By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

A new analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism, the intriguing meshed gears device hauled from the Aegean in 1900, suggests it may be of Babylonian origin. The Mechanism is engraved in Greek and is widely thought to have been able to track the cycle of the Moon and of both Solar and Lunar eclipses, among other natural phenomena. …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014
Artist's impression of Philae on Comet 67P

ESA finds FOURTH comet touchdown for Philae lander

The European Space Agency has conducted deeper analysis of just what happened to the Philae lander during its descent to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and now believes the craft bounced off the wandering rock three times, not twice as was previously thought to the be case. The new analysis re-tells the now-familiar story of …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014
Debian 7 desktop

systemd row ends with Debian getting forked

The vivid difference of opinion over Debian's future direction has ended with a new fork of the Linux distribution. The dispute centred on plans to replace the sysvinit init system management toolkit with systemd, a similar but less-Linux-specific set of tools. The “No” camp complainedsystemd is not well-aligned with Unix …
Simon Sharwood, 01 Dec 2014

BORGED! Expat moves from New Zealand to Norway to be acquired by Cisco

eXpat Files This week's expat has two lessons for us. The first concerns life in remote countries beginning with “N” where the mountains and snow are pretty decent. Welcome to Oslo The second thing Kane Archer's tale of moving from New Zealand to Norway and back teaches us is what it's like to be acquired by Cisco. Over to you, Kane. …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Nov 2014
The EDSAC Gallery at the UK National Museum of Computing

UK computing museum starts reboot of 65-year-old EDSAC

The United Kingdom's National Museum of Computing has begun the process of booting up a replica of the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator – aka EDSAC – a computer commissioned in 1949. As The Reg has previously detailed, EDSAC has a distinguished place in computing history because its design influenced that of LEO, a …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
DNA

DNA survives fiery heat of re-entry on test rocket

Sounding rockets are sub-orbital spacecraft used to test rocket technologies and to run other experiments. Launches of such craft are quite common and most escape attention: the TEXUS-49 mission launched from Sweden on March 29th, 2011, and now doesn't even produce a clean hit on Google. But the mission is now of rather …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
A rack of Nvidia VCAs

Citrix clambers aboard GPU-powered app-delivery bandwagon

Desktop virtualisation's year has been marked by a growing number of insistences that the technology is now mature, doesn't require more storage than you first planned for and can handle even graphics-intensive, workstation-grade workloads. Hence announcements like Google and Nvidia suggesting Chromebooks can run anything if …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Sydney Opera House Hackathon logo

NICTA chief quits over future structure flap with board

Australian research house Research house National ICT Australia (NICTA) has announced the unexpected resignation of CEO Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte. A canned statement says “Professor Durrant-Whyte and the Board of NICTA had differences of opinion regarding the strategies and governance structures required to secure the medium …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Riecoin

Cryptocurrency cruncher cranks prime number constellation

Bitcoin mining, our own Simon Rockman wrote last January, “is essentially a brute-force attack on the generating algorithm”. “Bitcoin, and all the other alt-coins, is training a skillset for building password-cracking hardware that is both powerful and portable,” he wrote. It looks like cryptocurrencies are also helping to spot …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Chinese search engine Baidu's DuBike

Chinese search engine Baidu to peddle SmartBike

China's Baidu is often compared to Google: it runs a dominant search engine and is tacking on related services at a brisk pace. Now the company is even following Google into the provision of odd bicycle-related projects. Baidu's DuBike is a lot easier to understand than Google's investment in cycle-powered monorail venture …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Cloud security image

VMware secures trademark for something cloudy and secure

VMware has been awarded a mighty interesting-sounding trademark. “VMware Switch” is described as “Enterprise computing security services, namely, providing secure access, via a global computer network, featuring technology that allows access to enterprise software applications and services.” What might VMware have in mind for …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Nov 2014
Uber logo

Singapore rides to rescue of local cabs by out-Ubering Uber

Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) has found a way to out-Uber Uber, by launching a taxi-finding app of its own. The famously well-regulated island city state already has one of the tightest taxi regimes on the planet, as cabs can only use designated ranks within the central business district. If you're not on a rank, …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014

Google's whois results say it's a lousy smut searcher

Naughty domain owners are still playing nasty tricks on the whois domain lookup service to tease the likes of Google and Microsoft. Microsoft's had trouble with this stuff for years, and a whois search on Microsoft.com still produces results like: MICROSOFT.COM.IS.NICE.WHEN.TOASTED.COMKAL.NET; MICROSOFT.COM.SHOULD.INSTALL- …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Australia to conduct national cyber-security review

Australia will conduct a national “cyber-security review”. Speaking today at the launch of the new Australian Cyber Security Centre in Canberra today, prime minister Tony Abbott put network security on par with physical security, said it is a guarantor of economic security and added “it is so important we keep one step ahead of …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014

AWS CloudFront wobbles at worst possible time

Don't start your Black Friday online shopping spree just yet: Amazon Web Services' CloudFront content delivery network has wobbled over the last few hours and the perennially-loss-making retailer, and customers of its cloud computing services, have reportedly been hard to access. Amazon's status page said “We are currently …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014
Bill Gates

Gates Foundation to insist on Open Access science

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has drawn a line in the sand: as of next year, it will only fund research that is released in full, for free, immediately upon publication. The Foundation's pitching the decision as enabling greater scrutiny of research, and therefore better outcomes. A new Open Access Policy spells out the …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Nov 2014
Turnbull with Switkowski in Blacktown

Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype

Australia's Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday labelled those who oppose use of the public cloud “box-huggers” and suggested such behaviour is bad because it ties organisations to an outmoded and expensive way of doing IT. “There is more resistance to cloud in government that anywhere else,” he said, and blamed …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Nov 2014

Apple seeks patent for user-configurable progress bar

Apple looks to be trying to do something about the flaky nature of software progress bars by making them user-configurable so they report when a machine has missed its estimate of the time needed to complete a task. The fruity 'puter company has applied to patent a ”Smart Progress Indicator” that will improve on current efforts …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Nov 2014
The invitation for the Windows 8 launch in October 2012

IDC: iPad sales CRASH incoming ... Win 8 killing 2-in-1 typoslabs

Market-watcher IDC has bad news for makers of tablets and two-in-one typoslabs like Microsoft's Surface: sales of the former are going to slow markedly and punters are avoiding the latter due to Windows 8. “The worldwide tablet market is expected to see a massive deceleration in 2014 with year-over-year growth slowing to 7.2%, …
Simon Sharwood, 26 Nov 2014

Toshiba Australia recalls combustible laptop power cords

Toshiba Australia has issued a recall notice for the power cord it supplied with laptops sold in Australia between 1st September 2010 and 30th June 2012. The recall notice says the “'LS-15' labelled AC Power cord” was built with “electrical insulation [that] may degrade over time”. If that happens, there's “potential to …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Nov 2014
ITU logo

And the award for the world's most tech-savvy country goes to …

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has issued its annual Measuring the Information Society report and found that Denmark is the world's most technologically-developed nation. South Korea scored the win in the last version of the report, but is now in second. Results for other big Reg-reading nations include: The …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Nov 2014
How TXTing stresses your spine

Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU

Medical boffins have codified two new gadget-derived diseases. The new “Digitillnesses” are known as “text neck” and “telepressure”. The former, as detailed [PDF] by Kenneth Hansraj MD, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, results from the fact that looking down at a smartphone puts your …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Nov 2014
The MSN Santa (unconfirmed)

Google's elves work on Santa to rein(deer) in grinchware

Google's elves have been busy working on a toy for all the girls and boys who run Mac OS and worry about getting a virus. “Santa” is billed as “a binary whitelisting/blacklisting system for Mac OS X”, can be found on GitHub and “keeps track of binaries that are naughty and nice.” Nice binaries get to run. Naughty binaries get a …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Nov 2014

You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes

Security software outfit Avast are trying to figure out why the combination of recent Windows patches and updates to the latter company's software are breaking PCs. Hordes of users have found that their PCs, especially those running Windows 8 and 8.1, grind to a halt after they apply both Microsoft's recent KB3000850 update …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2014
NASA's new Europa photo

NASA revisits Europa with modern image-processing software

NASA has re-issued a famous image of Jovian moon Europa, after subjecting it to “modern image processing techniques” for the first time. The 1.6km-per-pixel, 2300x1700 image is actually a composite of several captured by the Galileo probe during the craft's first and fourteenth orbits through the Jupiter system, in 1995 and 1998 …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2014

Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault

Last July, Dimension Data's Australian cloud went down for over 24 hours. Now the company says its assessment of the incident found those who suffered the most had themselves to blame, to a degree. Speaking today at the launch of the company's new government cloud, cloud general manager David Hanrahan said those impacted by the …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2014
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Turnbull: Box-huggers are holding back cloud

Dimension Data has announced it will soon offer a government-only cloud hosted in Australia's capital city, Canberra. The new facility will be another node of the firm's currently-14-strong network of Managed Cloud Platforms (MCPs), but won't be open to the general public. Instead, it's been tweaked to handle Australian …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Nov 2014
Sandworm vulnerability logo

SandWorm thrived thanks to botched MSFT patch says HP

Microsoft had a chance to crush the SandWorm bug before it crawled out of the dunes, but botched the job, says HP. HP says that the Windows Object Packager, which SandWorm attacks, “had suffered a similar issue in 2012 with security bulletin MS12-005. HP researcher Matt Oh goes on to write that he “found striking similarities“ …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Nov 2014
heart.germany

Get a job in Germany – where most activities are precursors to drinking

The eXpat files In Germany, employers are keen on certifications, the money's good and if you want to, you can spend weekends rolling wheels down country lanes. So says this week's expat superstar, Brit-turned-German-resident William Durkin, who adds that almost everything in Germany eventually leads to a drink. Or five. Over to you, William …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Nov 2014
View of the LHC tunnel sector 3 to 4

Hunt for Higgs Boson and dark matter now starts ON YOUR SOFA

If you're not too busy this weekend, why not sit down on your sofa and try to find a Higgs Boson or dark matter? The idea's feasible because CERN yesterday released data generated by the the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). “one of two large general-purpose particle physics detectors” at the Large Hadron Collider. CERN says the CMS …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Nov 2014
The Internet from the IT Crowd

The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause

Back in February we reported on a crew called Outernet and its plan to float a network of tiny satellites to deliver internet access around the world and in the process “bypass censorship, ensure privacy, and offer a universally-accessible information service at no cost to global citizens.” Outernet's made some progress towards …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Nov 2014