Simon Sharwood

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Windows XP beats 8.1 in December market share stats

Windows 7 remains the planet's dominant desktop operating system, but Windows XP again claimed second place during December 2014 according to data from Statcounter.com and Netmarketshare. We've tracked the two firms' data for a year now and both have produced some odd dips and surges, reflecting their imperfect methods of …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Jan 2015
Doomsday clock

Hang on a second – Time Lords have added one to 2015

Time Lords at the Earth Orientation Center of the International Earth Rotation Service have decided we need an extra second in 2015, thanks to slowing in the Earth's rotation. Notice of the extra second says it will be slotted in on June 30th, when the clock will tick over from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before ticking over again to …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Jan 2015
Azure management portal preview

Microsoft tests waters for cloudy System Center heir

Microsoft has floated the idea of a cloud-based control freak as an heir to or adjunct for System Center. Redmond regularly pops out polls on Technet readers and yesterday promoted this one as offering the chance to articulate “... the challenges you face with your Management tools and where you would like to see us invest going …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Jan 2015
Source: Simply Smile Photography by Georgia Stephenson

AWS adds multi-account support to control freak console

It's a small thing but a useful one, and maybe a sign of increased maturity: Amazon Web Services (AWS) has added multi-account support to its management console. There's nothing brain-bending about the new feature, which allows admins to link different accounts so they can log in once and then work on multiple accounts by …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Jan 2015
Scrooge McDuck

Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' gamers are being 'antisocial', moan players

A set of disgruntled owners of Elite: Dangerous have formed a Customer Action Group in order to pressure Frontier Developments over bugs, broken promises and a decision to allow players to retain unfairly acquired in-game gold. Elite: Dangerous' woes started last year when it cancelled a promised offline mode, angering some …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Jan 2015
imation usb flash wristbands

FTC chair worries about IoT privacy in CES speech

CES 2015 US Federal Trade Commission chair Edith Ramirez has used CES 2015 to explore the downside of the Internet of Things (IoT). “The IoT could improve global health, modernize city infrastructures, and spur global economic growth,” Ramirez said in a speech (PDF) at the gadget-fest, before adding “Connected devices that provide …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Jan 2015
Robot wearing mortar board and brandishing certificates

Microsoft lets devs with form skip MCSD exam

Microsoft's made it official: if you can code an app for Windows, you can skip some certification exams. Redmond gave this idea a try last year with a program called Review to Cert that made having an app certified for the Windows Store one way to score part of a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certification. …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Jan 2015

Brandis and PwC silent on Xmas Eve metadata quiz

Neither the Attorney-General’s department nor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will comment on why a questionnaire sent to carriers and internet service providers on Christmas Eve asked about the cost of storing metadata for either 12 or 36 months, rather than the 24 months suggested in draft legislation. As Vulture South reported …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Jan 2015
Chromecast

Google casts about for wireless audio

Google casts about for wireless audio Google in your speakers – what could possibly go wrong with that? Google’s Chromecast legitimised the market for small HDMI nubbins that stream content from mobile devices into tellies. Now the company’s making the same technology a platform for audio equipment makers to embed in speakers. …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Jan 2015

TPG unplugs NBN rival fibre to the basement service

Junior telco TPG has decided it will not proceed with a fibre to the basement (FTTB) product. TPG last year decided it would go after the FTTB market, which largely comprises large apartment buildings in which fibre to the premises is impractical. Building FTTB rigs and acting as a retailer was eminently possible under …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Jan 2015
Elite

Elite:Dangerous goes TITSUP

Eight-bit classic space trading game revival Elite:Dangerous, has hit further strife after its servers experienced total inability to support usual performance over the holiday period. Elite:Dangerous has proven controversial since its makers decided not to offer an offline mode, as was promised in the Kickstarter campaign used …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Jan 2015

‘Get off of my Cloud’ Verizon tells users ahead of 48-hour maintenance outage

Verizon Cloud will be down for maintenance for up to 48 hours next weekend and virtual machines hosted there will be inoperable, all to enable the introduction of unnamed improvements. At the time of writing, Verizon's Cloud Client Care page does not mention the outage, but users have emitted Tweets (such as the one below) in …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Jan 2015
NVidia aims to gives games power to handhelds

Nvidia flops out TERAFLOP X1 for self-aware cars

CES 2015 Nvidia revealed its new Tegra X1 system-on-chip processor, and hardware to power autonomous cars, at “day zero” CES press conference. The new silicon features the Maxwell graphics engine, juiced up with eight CPU cores and 256 GPU cores, all available while consuming ten watts. Formerly known as “Project Erista”, the Tegra X1 is …
Simon Sharwood, 05 Jan 2015
heart.australia

Three expat Brits explain their move to Australia

The eXpat Files In our New Year's edition of The eXpat Files we're going to do something a little different: namely, chat to three folks who've all made the same move from Blighty to Australia, to give you an idea of just how good your correspondent has it down here at Vulture South... and how good you could have it if you brave Australia's …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Jan 2015

No, I won't SNORKEL in your server room at STUPID-O'CLOCK

ON-CALL In the spirit of our popular eXpat Files column, we've decided to chronicle some of the weird things that have happened to readers who work on-call. This week's story came from Reg reader, Paul, whose story goes like this: I used to work in telecoms in London and we had quite a few major foreign embassies and overseas banks to …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Dec 2014
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Christmas Eve email asked Oz telcos for metadata retention costs by Jan 9th

Australian telecommunications companies and internet service providers were given until January 9th, 2015 to offer an estimate of what it will cost them to comply with data retention laws, and appear to have been told of that deadline on Christmas Eve. The Register has sighted an email sent from a senior executive of the …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Dec 2014
Nokia Black Lumia Windows Phone Update

Windows Phone bumping along the bottom

Microsoft has revealed a new batch of data about Windows Phone's fortunes, and it seems Redmond's mobile efforts are doing best at the low end of the market. The good news is that Windows Phone 8.1 is now accounting for 65 per cent of Windows Phone app downloads, with Windows Phone 7 at under five per cent. The most popular …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014
Festo's "mechanical roo"

Privacy-loving BOXING KANGAROO BIFFS DRONE out of the sky

Footage has emerged of a kangaroo boxing a drone out of the sky. Newzulu posted the footage below, in which said marsupial takes a shot at a camera-bearing autonomous craft. To Vulture South's trained eye*, this looks like an Eastern Grey, a mid-sized 'roo that's not noted for being particularly aggressive. Indeed, Kangaroos …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014
Hairy Dalek's Lego ZX81

2014: The condensed conference keynotes

Reg hacks travel the world and then ignore the local sights in order to attend giant, dark auditoria and listen to "industry champions" deliver "thought leadership". After a trans-continental telepathy session, here's our collective distillation of this year's C-level wisdom, as delivered from our industry's biggest stages. - Ed …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014
Devuan's new logo

Devuan rebels hope to deliver Debian fork in 2015

Devuan, the Debian spin-off that will not include systemd has posted its first progress report. The missive says things are going well, as the project now has a GitLab repository and has built the first devuan-baseconf package. The team behind Devuan has also started “following and supporting any cutting-edge research on …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014

Rackspace restored after DDOS takes out DNS

Rackspace says it has recovered from a nasty distributed denial of service attack that it says may have seen “a portion of legitimate traffic to our DNS infrastructure … inadvertently blocked.” The trouble started just before lunchtime on Monday, US central time, and persisted until 11 hours later. Over on the company's Google …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2014
Uber apologises for Sydney siege surge pricing SNAFU

Uber apologises for Sydney siege surge pricing SNAFU

Uber has apologised to Sydneysiders for maintaining surge pricing during the siege of a cafe in the city's central business district last week. In an email sent to your correspondent*, and presumably to all Uber members in Sydney, the controversial firm says The email opens with “The events of last week in Sydney were upsetting …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
Non-sleeper

Who wants SLEEP DEPRIVATION for Christmas?

If you've popped an iPad under the tree, thanks for your generosity: you've given the gift of poor sleep, disrupted circadian rhythms and an increased chance of cancer later in life. So says a quartet of boffins* from Harvard's Medical School and Cologne's Institute of Aerospace Medicine, after they watched twelve normal healthy …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
Telstra logo

Telstra goes for Chinese takeaway with Pacnet buy

As foreshadowed last week, Australia's dominant telco, Telstra, will acquire Pacnet. Pacnet is perhaps easiest to understand as a mini-Equinix that also owns its own submarine cables, so offers carriage services and interconnection between bit barns. Those assets have led it to create a sofwtare-defined (wide-ish-area) …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
Elite

Frustration with Elite:Dangerous boils over into 'Refund Quest'

Frustration with Frontier Developments' less-than-pleasing response to fans miffed that Elite:Dangerous doesn't feature a single-player mode has sparked a new game titled “Refund Quest”. The game's a choose-your-own-adventure affair that leads you into a dungeon of despair on “A journey to get a refund from a random developer …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014

Microsoft patch mashes Office forms and macros

Microsoft's December patching palaver keeps getting worse, with news that one of this month's brood is breaking Excel macros. Redmond's already had to back-pedal on the December 2014 update for Windows Root Certificate Program in Windows and also this month pulled a faulty Exchange update. Now comes news that MS14-082, one of …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
Australia.gov.au beta

Australia's IT industries were repeatedly humiliated in 2014

Last week's hearing of Australia's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, which convened in part to discuss Australia's planned communications metadata retention laws, produced high farce. Despite having been lampooned for previously being unable to offer a definition of metadata, Attorney General George Brandis …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2014
Elite

Space Commanders lock missiles on Elite's Frontier Devs

Elite: Dangerous, the re-boot of the hit eighties space combat and trading game Elite, launched last week, but the biggest buzz in the wake of its arrival is from disgruntled fans who want a refund. Players want their cash back because, as we reported last month, developer Frontier Development made a late decision not to offer …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2014
Cher pointing, Cher point, Sharepoint

Microsoft shutters Office 365's free web site service

Microsoft is terminating its SharePoint Online Public Website service, effective January 2015. SharePoint Online Public Website lets Office 365 users create a website and customise it with in-browser tools. In an advisory posted on Friday, Microsoft explains that “As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2014
The Pirate Bay's new IsoHunt logo

IsoHunt releases roll-your-own Pirate Bay

Torrent site ISOhunt has created a roll-your-own, open source, version of infamous file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. IsoHunt's motive for the release seems to be a belief that big targets like The Pirate Bay will inevitably be picked off by law enforcement agencies. Lots of sites, however, present a tougher target. Open-sourcing …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2014
hands waving dollar bills in the air

One third of servers, storage and switches are sold to clouds

Analyst firm IDC reckons that cloud operations – private and public - now account for “almost a third” of the world's spending on servers, storage and ethernet switches. The overall cloud market, the firm says, is about US$6.5bn a quarter, with public clouds accounting for about half of that. IDC's definition for public clouds …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2014
Welcome to Batam sign

The electronics island where COPS shoot ARMY and workers are rioting

Where your kit gets made On November 20th, I visited the Indonesian island of Batam. And about an hour after I left, a protest by local workers over the minimum wage just about turned into a riot. The day before, I've since learned, local Police and Army units fought each other in a six-hour battle sparked by allegations Army members freelanced as fuel …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2014
VMware VSAN

VMware says anyone - not just EMC - can play with its best bits

Ever since VMware launched the virtual storage appliance back in 2011, observers have wondered if the company’s storage efforts hurt its parent EMC’s business. Such pondering became more intense when VMware launched VSAN earlier this year, as the software-defined storage product is a direct competitor for some EMC arrays, in …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2014
Vinyl grooves

Pick a superior Christmas No. 1 from El Reg's computer crooning compilation

Poll With December 25th bearing down upon us, we're mere days away from anointing a festive chart-topper as Christmas Number One. A hot tip for this year's top tune? It'll be sentimental and/or disposable pop junk. Reg readers deserve better, so we've cobbled together a list of ten songs that reflect the fare we serve up around here …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2014

No Santa, no Irish boozers and no regrets: life in Qatar

THE EXPAT FILES In this week's eXpat File, we meet Irishman Russell Clark, who's settled in Qatar. Russell's loving life there, even if the only Irish pub has closed down and the traffic is terrifying. Tell us more, Russell, especially the bit about there not being an Irish bar ... The Register: What kind of work do you do and with which …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2014
Github octodex

Git thee behind me, Git crit security bug!

GitHub has acknowledged there's a flaw in its client software and recommended that users upgrade as soon as possible. News of the flaw was announced at GMANE and GitHub has confirmed the existence of the flaw and issued a recommendation for “all users of GitHub and GitHub Enterprise to update their Git clients as soon as …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014

Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

IBM has had a win in its long court battle with SCO over just who owns Unix and, by extension, whether Linux is an unauthorised clone. Some quick and simplified history: SCO – short for The Santa Cruz Operation – was a software company that offered a version of Unix for x86 chippery. When Linux came along in the late 90s and …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014
India's GSLV Mk-III rocket clears the tower

India's heavy launch rocket passes flight test

India yesterday conducted a successful test of its new GSLV Mk-III X/CARE launch vehicle. The new rocket is a three-stage affair designed to haul 4,000kg payloads to geosynchronous orbit. The first stage offers uses two S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonnes of solid propellant apiece. Those boosters straddle the second …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014
Photo of a vintage analog modem with an acoustic coupler

NBN Co reveals product roadmap and Telstra planning deal

NBN Co has updated its product roadmap and Telstra has revealed it will help the company to plan future deployments. The highlights of the new roadmap (PDF) are: A guesstimate that trials of a broadband service delivered over hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) cable (Pay TV cables) will start in Q4 of 2015; A second guesstimate that a …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014
Guru at work

Woz moves to Oz

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has become a permanent resident of Australia. “Woz” has lived in Australia on and off for a few years now and recently picked up a gig as an adjunct professor at Sydney's University of Technology. According to The Australian Financial Review he's now taken the plunge and moved down under to become …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014
Photo of boxes of Microsoft Office for Mac

Microsoft drops early Chrissie pressie on Mac Office fanbois

Microsoft's not been kind to Office for Mac over the years: since the last major update in 2010 fanbois haven't had much to get excited about. Redmond recently revealed revisions are on the way, with a late-2015 target delivery date. But the company's now snuck out a small set of enhancements to Outlook for Mac. The updates …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Dec 2014

TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

Microsoft has published a full, frank, and ugly account of just what went wrong when Azure Storage entered Total Inability To Support Usual Performance – TITSUP - mode in November. The nub of the problem was that Azure's update procedures and code had “... a gap in the deployment tooling that relied on human decisions and …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2014

Softlayer hops into Equinix's Cloud Exchange

IBM's cloudy concern SoftLayer has decided it'll be better off if it joins Equinix's Cloud Exchange. Cloud Exchange is a service that provides nicely groomed links between users of cloud computing providers and their chosen clouds. The service is valuable because as organisations put more important workloads and data into public …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2014
The IT Crowd with highlighted Reg sticker

Singapore startup does an Uber on tech support

Next time your friend's Aunty Gladys asks if that software the nice man from India installed on her PC is legitimate, you might just get paid for helping her out. That's the aim of Singaporean startup Fynd, which bills itself as a way to “use your technical expertise to earn extra income.” The site's schtick is to match folks …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2014
BMW's remote parking tech

At last! Something else for smartwatches to do as BMW promises park-by-wristjob demo

Auto-maker BMW has announced a park-by-wristjob demo at January 2015's CES electronics extravaganza. The company's been footling about with sensor-laden vehicles for some time and says it now has a research model i3 packing four “advanced laser scanners” that can “reliably identify impediments such as columns, for example in a …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2014

Pacnet becomes 'potential' prey for Australia's Telstra

Australia's dominant telecommunications company, Telstra, has told the nation's stock exchange “that it is in discussions with the owners of Pacnet around a potential transaction to acquire the company.” The announcement of the exploration is so brief it reads a lot like it's a tick-the-boxes reveal under the continuous …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2014
Tesla Model S family e-car

Telstra scores deal to drive data to Teslas

Australian buyers of the Tesla model S will become customers of the nation's dominant telco, Telstra, after the two companies announced a deal. The Tesla S famously includes a 17-inch touch screen into which all sorts of data pours to power services like mapping and real-time traffic updates. Telstra's mobile networks will be …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2014
gandalf

Google bakes W3C malware-buster into Gmail

If an online service offers even the slightest gap through which miscreants can launch an attack, they will do so. It's therefore not surprising that Google feels some extensions to its Gmail service may not be entirely friendly to users. The Chocolate Factory's, response, announced Tuesday, is to adopt the W3C's Content …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2014
cable

Gigabit-over-TV-cable spec DOCSIS 3.1 passes interop test

DOCSIS 3.1, a standard designed to deliver downloads at up to 10Gbps on existing hybrid fibre-coax cable television networks, has passed an interoperability test. The Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard is overseen by Cable Labs, a not-for-profit outfit that conducts research for the cable companies …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2014

Penguin porn? NO! Linux folk in #LCA2015 standoff

Each January Linux luminaries from around the world descend on Australia and New Zealand to attend Linux.conf.au, an antipodean penguinista gathering of sufficient gravitas that Linus Torvalds himself often makes the trip. The event is referred to as “LCA”, and for the 2015 edition has used #LCA2015 as its hashtag. But …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2014