Simon Sharwood

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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 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
Toilet roll printed with fake US $100 bills

Vendors reporting their cloud revenue with funny money

There's no way to tell just how successful your suppliers are in the cloud, because nobody's counting cloud cash consistently. So says analyst house Gartner in a paper titled “Vendor Cloud Revenue Claims — Should Enterprises Care?” Gartner thinks you need to care, because vendors are finding all sorts of ways to cook up a big …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2016

Fedora plans formal upgrade leapfrog scheme

Red Hat senior quality assurance engineer Adam Williamson has revealed that the Fedora community is trying to deliver what it's calling “N-1” upgrades whereby it becomes possible upgrade from version X of Fedora to version X+2 without having to first install version X+1. Williamson writes that Fedora's release cadence makes …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2016
Two upended shopping trolleys in an alleyway. Photo by Cyron, licensecd under CC 2.0

IBM introduces fleecing-you-as-a-service for retailers

IBM has introduced a new cloud service it calls “dynamic pricing” that says a lot about where online retailing, IBM and its relationship with partners is going. Dynamic pricing is conceptually simple: if you run a web store, IBM will now scour rivals price lists for you and offer recommendations about what you should charge. …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2016

Google API spring cleaning ends after four and a half years

Google has followed through on its 2011 promise to kill of some search APIs. Back in 2011, the text ads giant announced it was spring cleaning by turning off the Google Patent Search API, Google News Search API, Google Blog Search API, Google Video Search API and Google Image Search API. Google reckons it gave you all fair …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Jan 2016
Zombie rising from the grave

Late night server rebuild led to 'nightmares about mutilated corpses'

On-Call It's Friday, your correspondent is back from summer holidays and it is therefore once again time to welcome you to On-Call, our regular reader-written tales of things that went bump when off-site. This week, reader “RP” tells us of the time he was asked to fix a server just as he was about to knock off for the day. And not any …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2016
retro cartoon featuring two men fighting against cloud backdrop

Microsoft calls out Amazon's humble hybrid cloud

Microsoft's cut Azure prices again, while also making it plain that it thinks Amazon Web Services (AWS) is weak in the hybrid cloud. After explaining the price cuts, Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft's director for cloud platform product marketing writes that “Prices aside, customers are using Azure … for its hybrid capabilities …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2016
Kangaroos Copyright Evan Switzer

Murderous necrophiliac kangaroo briefly wins nation's heart

Animal-lovers have run the gamut of emotions after a cute photograph of a Kangaroo was re-interpreted by experts as likely depicting a murderous necrophiliac Kangaroo. The photograph in question, at the top of the story or here for readers on mobile devices, ran in Australian media along with commentary from photographer Evan …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2016
China will see you on the dark side of the moon

China names the date for dark side moon landing

China has let it be known its Chang'e-4 lander will touch down on the dark side of the moon some time in 2018. State-directed organ Xinhua reports that the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense has picked the year after next for its landing. Chang'e-4 will land on the dark side and stay …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2016
Road closed

The Day Netflix Blocked My VPN is the world's new most-hated show

Netflix has announced it will clamp down on users who access it through virtual private networks (VPNs). Or as the company puts it, in a masterpiece of Orwellian PR-talk, “Evolving Proxy Detection as a Global Service”. David Fullagar, Netflix's veep of Content Delivery Architecture, explains that the company can't yet secure …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Jan 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft wants you, yes you, to write bits of Windows 10. For free

Poll Microsoft has followed through on its December 2015 promise to open-source Chakra, the JavaScript engine in its Edge browser. Chakra's now yours for the footling, here on GitHub, under the MIT licence. That document permits anyone “to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2016
management project5

Cisco decides that to save the cloud, it must hunt it with prejudice

Cisco has launched a software-as-a-service-based attack on shadow IT. To understand it, indulge me by learning that one of the first big launches your correspondent covered was that of Computer Associates Unicenter TNG Framework, a slimmed-down version of the enterprise management tool that – if memory serves – included a …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2016

Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

The Register has learned, thanks to a post to a semi-private mailing list, of a server that has just been decommissioned after running without replacement parts since 1997. The post, made by a chap named Ross, says he “Just switched off our longest running server.” Ross says the box was “Built and brought into service in …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2016
Man with head in the cloud

Same time, same server, next Tuesday? AWS can do that now

Amazon Web Services has just done something rather interesting, in the form of making it possible to reserve servers in advance for short bursts of computing. The new “Scheduled Reserved Instances” caper does what it says on the tin: you can decide what kind of server you want to run, how long to run it for and what you're …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2016

Australia considers mass herpes release for population control

Australia is considering the widespread release of the herpes virus as part of a population control push. The population the nation wants to control is the European Carp, an imported fish that thrives in local waterways and lakes because native animals don't compete for the food their bottom-feeding habits secure. Some …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Jan 2016
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

2015's horror PC market dropped nine per cent

PC sales ended 2015 on a low note, according to analyst firms IDC and Gartner. The former firm says 2015's final quarter saw 71,889,000 PCs fly off assembly lines around the world, -10.6 per cent growth compared to the same quarter in 2014. Gartner's numbers are similarly grim: 75.7 million shipped for the quarter, down 8.3 …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Jan 2016
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Philae's phinal phlop: Lonely lander didn't answer wakeup signal

Sunday's attempt to make contact with the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has not succeeded. As we reported yesterday, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) yesterday on Sunday sent a command to Philae, suggesting it spin up its flywheel. That command was hoped to either lead to the lander shifting so its solar …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2016
Kick Me by public domain

Microsoft kicks VMware right in its weakest, cloudiest spot

Microsoft has flicked the switch on an enhanced version of its Azure Site Recovery (ASR) for VMware customers. ASR is pretty simple in concept: the service allows you to replicate virtual machines into Azure, update them and then run the VMs in Azure as a disaster recovery option. You pay US$54 a month per instance stored in …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2016

Citrix buys System Center control freak, sells CloudPlatform

Citrix has offloaded its CloudPlatform products to Accelerite, bought Comtrade's System Center Operations Manager management packs and tweaked some of its software. The sale first: Accelerite is a subsidiary of India's Persistent Systems, a software-developer-for-hire that created Accelerite to sell products instead of …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2016
Enter your password by cc 2.0 attribution generic

Cisco forgot its own passwords for seven weeks

Someone's palm is digging a hole into their face at Cisco, which has just admitted it shipped a bunch of servers with the wrong default password. “A number of C-Series servers have shipped to customers with a non-standard default password which prevents access to the Cisco Integrated Management Controller (CIMC) unless the …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2016 fined for 'reckless indifference to privacy rights' is “exercising our rights to appeal” a finding by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) that it displayed “reckless indifference to the privacy rights of the complainant.” The OAIC decision (PDF) on the matter awarded the complainant AUD$15,000 in general damages and a further AUD$5,000 in …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jan 2016

Windows 10 makes big gains at home, lags at work

Our monthly look at desktop operating system market share has turned up something interesting: Windows 10 looks to be a hit at home but a laggard at work. We're basing that assessment on the US government's helpful analytics service, which among other things records the operating systems hitting government web sites. Uncle Sam …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jan 2016
Penguins, image via Shuttertock

Rejoice, Penguinistas, Linux 4.4 is upon us

Version 4.4 of the Linux kernel has been finalised and released into the wild. Emperor Penguin Linus Torvalds announced the release on Sunday evening, US time. What's new this time around? Support for GPUs seem the headline item, with plenty of new drivers and hooks for AMD kit. Perhaps most notable is the adoption of the …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Jan 2016
German Aerospace Center depiction of Philae on Comet 67/P

Philae's phinal phling: Germans made weekend spin-up attempt

The Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V, better known as the German Aerospace Center (DLR) yesterday made what it says is probably its all-but-final attempt to wake the Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Readers will doubtless recall that Philae accompanied the Rosetta probe on its journey to Comet 67P …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Jan 2016
vmware sign in window of building. Pic via Shutterstock - editorial use only

2015 was VMware's Year of Living Dangerously

Server virtualisation just works, so most IT shops do it. And in the decade since it rose to prominence VMware has ruled the roost. But 2015 was VMware's year of living dangerously. At first glance, things look fine for Virtzilla: vSphere 6.0 emerged to applause and swift adoption. Dollars rolled in through the door. A …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Dec 2015
Disgusted man holds his hand up to obscure his view. Pic via Shutterstock

The Police Chief's photo library mixed business, pleasure and flesh

On-Call Welcome to 2015's final edition of On-Call, our regular feature in which readers share tales of technological tedium, tantrums and terror, often in weird places at unsociable times. To wrap up the year we're going to rifle through the On-Call inbox to share stories that weren't quite long enough for their own story, but should …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015
Facepalm by cc 2.0 attribution generic

Microsoft halts downloads of new PowerShell power-up

The revolution has been postponed: the long-awaited update to PowerShell that yesterday we reported as having launched, has now been pulled by Microsoft. Redmond says its reversal is due to “a bug which resets the PowerShell module environment during installation” that “can have a serious impact on our customers” because it “ …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015
The Mosque at the Taj Mahal, shot from within the Taj Mahal through the marble screens

India may have binned Facebook's freebies on net neutrality grounds

Facebook's “Free Basics” program, which sees its Indian telecoms partner Reliance Communications offer free internet access to a select group of sites, has reportedly earned the ire of India's telecoms regulator. The Times of India reports that India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) has asked Reliance to pause provision …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015
Hotel scene - suitcase propped up against freshly made bed. Image by Shutterstock

Secret shaggers, rejoice! Now you can blame that Hyatt credit card bill on hackers

Hyatt Hotels Corporation says it “recently identified malware on computers that operate the payment processing systems for Hyatt-managed locations.” The hotelier says “As soon as we discovered the activity, we launched an investigation and engaged leading third-party cyber security experts.” The chain's asking customers to …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015

Christmas comes early at US Patent office after massive IT outage

Updated The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has suffered a “major power outage” that has led it to effectively declare and extended, early, Christmas. “A major power outage at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, occurred Wednesday, Dec. 22,” the agency reports, “resulting in damaged equipment that required …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015
Microsoft Halo 2

Robotic exoskeleton market to grow 40 per cent a year until 2025

Rise of the machines The robotic exoskeleton market is set to score 39.6 per cent compound annual growth between now and 2025, emerging as a US$1.8bn industry. So says analyst outfit ABI Research, which reckons $68 million of exoskeletal kit shipped in 2014. “Lower body exoskeletons, employed as rehabilitation tools or quality of life enablers, …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Dec 2015
Furnace by cc 2l0 attribution generic

Software engineer sobers up to deal with 2:00 AM trouble at mill

On-Call It's Christmas Eve Eve, which means we're assuming you don't particularly want to read industry news right now and so we're instead offering an extra instalment of On-Call, our regular reader-contributed tales of nasty jobs at nasty times in nasty places. Today's yarn comes from reader “BT”, who told us that “More years ago …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2015

Converged systems market cracks $10bn a year says IDC

Revenue for converged systems has cracked the US$10 billion dollar barrier over the last 12 months, according to the box-and-cash-counting experts at analyst firm IDC. The firm's new Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker for 2015's third quarter found revenue up 6.2 per cent year over year to $2.5 billion, and 1,261 …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2015
Xen logos

Xen Project blunder blows own embargo with premature bug report

The Xen Project has reported a new bug, XSA-169, that means “A malicious guest could cause repeated logging to the hypervisor console, leading to a Denial of Service attack.” The fix is simple – running only paravirtualised guests – but the bug is a big blunder for another reason. Xen is very widely used by big cloud …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2015
Users with laptop, mobile, tablet have tea in a coffee house. Pic via shutterstock

Java 9 delayed until Thursday March 23rd, 2017, just after tea-time

Oracle has delayed the release of Java 9 by six months. We've been watching the date since we reported on Java 9's new naming scheme a couple of weeks back and named September 22nd, 2016, as the debut date for the new code. Which wasn't entirely right, as reader Sean Coffey pointed out because in this thread Java's overseers …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2015
NEMA 5 plug socket

There's an epidemic of idiots who can't find power switches

On-Call If it's nearly Christmas and there's not much news about, it must be time for some extra inbox-clearing On-Call columns, in which we share tales of the things readers are asked to do at unpleasant times and/or out-of-the-way places. Today, we're again riffing on our November story about the politician who had a techie drive …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015

The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully landed a rocket on Earth, after first using it to launch satellites. The Falcon 9 craft left the US on Monday night, local time, packed with 11 satellites. The rocket launched at 20:28 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. At 20:32 the rocket's first stage engines shut off. Two minutes later, the …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015

UK ISP Sky to make smut an opt-in service from 2016

UK internet service provider (ISP) Sky Broadband will turn on family filters by default for all new subscribers as of 2016. Sky's “Broadband Shield”is currently an opt-in affairs and offers three levels of content filtering – PG, 13 and 18. The first two settings filter out material related to suicide, drug use, file-sharing …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015
microsoft nutella

Microsoft reveals Azure Stack hardware specs

Microsoft has revealed the hardware required to run the preview of Azure Stack, its on-premises and ever-so-hybrid version of the cloud Azure operating environment. Azure Stack was announced in May at Microsoft's Ignite conference, but hasn't said much about it since other than to re-iterate it's all about bringing the elastic …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015

Google's SHA-1 snuff plan is catching up with Microsoft, Mozilla

Google has outlined its approach to deprecating the compromised SHA-1 hash in its Chrome browser. Like the rest of the security world, Google believes the SHA-1 cipher just isn't safe any more. That's a reasonable position, because it's been cracked without enormous effort. Mozilla, Microsoft and Facebook have all therefore …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015
retro cartoon featuring two men fighting against cloud backdrop

Who would win a fight between Cortana and Android?

Microsoft's removed the “Hey Cortana” voice activation feature from its Cortana Android app. Cortana is Microsoft's digital assistant, a cloudy entity to which one can pose spoken questions in order to search the 'net instead of going through the unpleasant business of typing or poking a touch screen. Microsoft, Google and …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Dec 2015

DEAD MAN'S SOCKS and other delightful gifts from clients

On-Call If it's Monday it must be time for … for what exactly? Why for seasonal On-Call, of course, in which we pad out the site during the pre-Christmas news drought and clear the backlog of reader contributions bring you seasonally gluttonous extra helpings of readers' tales from their odd out-of-hours encounters Today we're …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015
Keep Calm and Adopt Platform-as-a-service

UK government names Cloud Foundry Her Majesty's preferred PaaS

The UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) has named Cloud Foundry as its preferred platform-as-a-service. Cloud Foundry saw off Deis and Tsuru, the latter providing the most robust competition on the grounds of simplicity, modularity and responsiveness from the development community. “The maturity of Cloud Foundry, as well as …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015

Skilled workers, not cost, lured Apple to China says Tim Cook

Skilled workers, not lower salaries, were the lure that brought Apple to China, according to Tim Cook. In a soft-ball interview with US news magazine 60 Minutes, Cook said “China put an enormous focus on manufacturing. In what we would call … vocational kind of skills.” That focus paid off: the CEO said “you can take every …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015

Facebook hammers another nail into Flash's coffin

Facebook has hammered another nail in to the coffin of Adobe Flash, by switching from the bug-ridden plug-in to HTML5 for all videos on the site. The Social NetworkTM explained the move by saying “Moving to HTML5 best enables us to continue to innovate quickly and at scale, given Facebook’s large size and complex needs.” …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015