Simon Sharwood

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USA doubles visa fees for migrant IT workers

The United States is set to pass a bill named the “9/11 Health and Compensation Act” and Indian IT companies are mad as hell about it. The bill delivers funding to compensate those whose lives were impacted by the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. To keep those dollars flowing, the Bill has changed the amount …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2015

T'was the night before Christmas, and an industrial control system needed an upgrade

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our Friday column in which readers tell their tales of being asked to get stuff done under awkward circumstances. This week, reader “WG” shared a tale from 2010, when a client asked for some very major changes to be made to an industrial system that had been left largely untouched for 25 years. WG …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2015
Bitcoin is the future of money CC 2.0 by Jonathan Waller

Linux Foundation assembles gang to build a better Blockchain

The Linux Foundation has decided the time is right to apply its special brand of collaboration to the Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Foundation is talking up the blockchain as a supply-chain enhancer and electronic-transaction-speeder-upper, thanks to its provision …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2015
Macbook 2015. Pic: Apple

Apple anoints the new new Steve Jobs

Apple has re-instated the position of chief operating officer (COO), a post last held by current CEO Tim Cook. Jeff Williams has scored the COO's gig, after spending the last few years on top of “Apple’s entire supply chain, service and support, and the social responsibility initiatives”. Apple's bio also says Williams “... …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2015

Windows 10 won't come to old WinPhones until some time in early 2016

Microsoft has decided to delay delivery of Windows 10 for phones running Windows 8 or 8.1. Redmond's previously said that WinPhone 10 will appear in December, but is now issuing a statement to the effect that “The Windows 10 Mobile upgrade will begin rolling out early next year to select existing Windows 8 and 8.1 phones." …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Dec 2015

'Unauthorized code' that decrypts VPNs found in Juniper's ScreenOS

Juniper Networks has admitted that “unauthorized code” has been found in ScreenOS, the operating system for its NetScreen firewalls. The code “could allow a knowledgeable attacker to gain administrative access to NetScreen devices and to decrypt VPN connections.” And on The Register's reading of the situation, the …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
Amiga Emulator in Google Native Client

Google chap bakes Amiga emulator into Chrome

A Google chap named Christian Stefansen has created an Amiga 500 emulator that runs inside the Alphabet subsidiary's Chrome browser. “The emulator code is based on the Open Source Universal Amiga Emulator which is about 400k lines of C code,” Stefansen says. He didn't cook up the code out of altruism: Google offers “Native …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
Cloud Foundry logo

Cloud Foundry interop scheme leaves PaaS players certifiable

The Cloud Foundry Foundation has created what amounts to a good cloudkeeping seal of approval. The new Cloud Foundry Certification is “designed to establish reliable portability across PaaS products in a multi-vendor, multi-cloud environment.” Or in other words, if a platform-as-a-service provider can wave around the …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015

Bungled storage upgrade led to Google cloud brownout

Google's 'fessed up to another bungle that browned-out its cloud. The incident in question meant Google App Engine applications “ received errors when issuing authenticated calls to Google APIs over a period of 17 hours and 3 minutes.” The cause, Google says was that its “... engineers have recently carried out a migration of …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
EE Power Bar

EE recalls all 'Power Bar' USB batteries due to 'fire safety risk'

British carrier EE has issued a recall for all “Power Bars”, the company's name for external USB batteries. The company had already recalled 500,000 of the devices, after being warned by The Register they posed a safety risk. The Register subsequently reported that the devices appear not to comply with European safety …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
Back to 28 Grub bug

Press Backspace 28 times to own unlucky Grub-by Linux boxes

A pair of researchers from the University of Valencia's Cybersecurity research group have found that if you press backspace 28 times, it's possible to bypass authentication during boot-up on some Linux machines. The problem's not a kernel nor an operating system problem, but rather one in the very popular bootloader Grub2, …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015

Hollywood given two months to get real about the price of piracy

Australia's Federal Court has told Big Content to stop pfaffing around and make reasonable demands of those accused of illegally downloading The Dallas Buyers Club (DBC). The case has seen Voltage Pictures, the film's owners, take on a clutch of Australian internet service providers (ISPs) whose subscribers it alleges …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Digital Transformation Office hits deadline for prototype

EXCLUSIVE PIC Australia's Digital Transformation Office (DTO) says it has hit its self-imposed nine-week deadline for the creation of a prototype new website. The DTO set the deadline on October 14th and, in an as-yet-unpublished blog post supplied exclusively to Vulture South (for about 90 minutes before publication), said that it …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
Han Solo

Carbonite acquires Seagate's EVault backup cloud for US$14m

Cloud backup outfit Carbonite has acquired Seagate's EVault cloud backup service. Carbonite offers personal backup, plus backup and disaster-recovery-as-a-service for small businesses. The latter market can choose to acquire a Carbonite appliance to create a hybrid backup rig. Bare-metal backup of servers is another option. …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Dec 2015
<i>Star Wars</i> clapboard on the first day of shooting

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers a new hope for the franchise

Spoilers The core problem with Star Wars Episodes I through III was that everybody knew how the trilogy ended and that bad things awaited the characters you were supposed to care about. The result was three films that were all back-filler to explain the genesis of a killer. Numerous satellite problems – Jar-Jar, dialog no actor could …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015
Slack, Atlassian HipChat and a Rainbow Unicorn

Slack to play nice with others, like Atlassian's hip(chat) kids

“Team messaging” company Slack has decided it's time to play nice with others by encouraging developers to pipe their applications into the company's chat app. Slack's investors have found US$80 million to fund “fund both 'Slack-first' apps as well as B2B and enterprise tools that make Slack integrations a core part of their …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015
A bigger Boson? CMS/CERN

Bigger than Higgs? Boffins see hints of bulbous new Boson

The Higgs Boson will remain a big deal for plugging gaps in the unified theory, but may not be the biggest Boson in the universe. That's the tantalising prospect raised by analysis of experiments conducted in June 2015 at the recently-upgraded Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The experiments were conducted by the ATLAS Project, …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015
The Citrix X1 Mouse

Citrix reveals containerised version of NetScaler ADCs

Citrix has decided the time is right to containerise its NetScaler application delivery controllers. NetScaler is Citrix's effort at going beyond WAN optimisation and load balancing with products that try to deliver the performance applications need to deliver a fine users experience wherever – and on whatever networks - users …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015
mailing netflix by cc attribution noderivs

Lower video resolution can deliver better quality, says Netflix

Netflix has revealed a new plan for ensuring its videos arrive in your device looking their best, which can sometimes mean streaming them in lower resolution. The streamer calls its new scheme “Per-Title Encode Optimization”. As the name implies, the company is now analysing the content it offers and delivering it in different …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015

In-flight 3G arrives, promises aerial internet at mobile roaming prices

Panasonic company AeroMobile Communications Limited claims to have launched the first in-flight 3G service. The service will run on Panasonic's Ku-band aeronautical satellite network and will place a 3G network inside planes. 3G is of course rather slower than recent versions of 802.11, but both are constrained by the …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Dec 2015
You're fired dialog box

Help! What does 'personal conduct unrelated to operations or financials' mean?

POLL Help us out here readers: what on earth does “matters regarding personal conduct unrelated to the operations or financials of the Company” mean? We ask because that's the terminology F5 Networks has used to announce the departure of CEO, president and director Manuel Rivelo, effective immediately. Rivelo's successor is John …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Dec 2015
Man with head in the cloud

Walking away from VirtuStream is the right thing for VMware to do

News that VMware has bailed from VirtuStream, the hybrid cloud joint venture it struck with EMC, should come as a relief to VMware users and those contemplating its cloudy offerings. VMware knows it won't ever reach the scale of Amazon Web Services, Azure or Google's cloud. It instead positioned itself as hybrid cloud provider …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Dec 2015

Micron slurps the 66% of Inotera it doesn't already own, for US$3.2bn

Memory-maker Micron has decided that owning a third of Taiwanese supplier Inotera isn't enough, so will scoop the lot in order to preserve its margins. The former company's announced it will find US$3.2 billion bucks to acquire the company, paying $0.92 a share. Inotera cranks out about 120 thousand wafers of 30nm DRAM each …
Simon Sharwood, 15 Dec 2015
GCHQ road sign

GCHQ creates Github repo, offers graph database code

British signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has created a repository on Githgub and released open-sourced one of its tools: a graph database called “Gaffer”. Available here on Github, Gaffer is billed as “ a framework that makes it easy to store large-scale graphs in which the nodes and …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Dec 2015
The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field of active dark dunes along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Rover digs into humanity's first alien sand dune

The Curiosity Rover has clocked up another first for humanity by examining an alien sand dune. The nuclear-powered space tank is currently at a spot named "Bagnold Dunes," which can be found on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp inside the Gale Crater that's been Curiosity's home since it arrived on August 6th, 2012. NASA …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Dec 2015
Raspberry Pi Official Case

VDI comes to the Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is now a threat to thin clients. Citrix has been fooling around with the Pi as a desktop virtualisation (VDI) target for a while, even releasing a prototype Citrix Receiver for the little computers. That effort was in early 2014. Citrix has since decided it was inefficient to put a lot of effort into creating …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Dec 2015

India to add seven new elite IT training institutes

India has named the three cities in which it will build new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) and revealed it will name another four cities in January 2016 to bring the total count of such institutions to 25. India is blunt about the purpose of the IITs, saying they “are expected to bring out high quality IT …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Dec 2015
Surface Book

Microsoft beats Apple's tablet sales, apologises for Surface 4 flaws

Microsoft has apologised for the “less-than-perfect experience” reported by many buyers of its new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book computers, but has nonetheless beaten Apple in the tablet sales stakes. The Surface Book has suffered from flickering screens. Both machines have generated complaints of poor battery life, …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Dec 2015
Photo by Charles Chan

Alibaba buys South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's top newspaper

Chinese e-commerce giant and cloud computing aspirant Alibaba has acquired Hong Kong newspaper, The South China Morning Post. Terms of the deal haven't been revealed, but what is known is that Alibaba now controls the Post, plus a host of fashion magazines the group also owns. The deal's billed as combining Alibab's online …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Dec 2015

Samba man 'Tridge' accidentally helps to sink request for Oz voteware source code

Dr Andrew Tridgell, creator of the Samba file server and the rsync algorithm, appears to have inadvertently helped to sink a freedom of information (FOI) request for access to the source code of software used to count votes in Australian elections. Tridgell was called as a witness by Hobart lawyer Michael Cordover, who sought …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Dec 2015

Assange inquisition closer after Sweden, Ecuador sign pact

Ecuador and Sweden have struck an agreement on how the two nations will co-operate on criminal matters that will likely advance the investigation into sexual assault charges levelled against Wikileaker-in-chief Julian Assange. Ecuador's Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana revealed the agreement last week. …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Dec 2015
Pair of pliers cutting wire

Electrician cuts wrong wire and downs 25,000 square foot data centre

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our regular Friday tale in which we ease you into the weekend with readers' tales of the ridiculous things they've been asked to do on evenings, weekends and the other odd times techie folk are asked to go out and fix things up. This week's contribution comes from reader “JF”, who tells us that “About …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015
Linux holding up Windows

Microsoft offers Linux certification. Do not adjust your set. This is not an error

Microsoft's decided it needs to offer a Linux certification. The new Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure teaches you how to do Linux on Azure by making you do an Azure course and a Linux course. Redmond's bit is the five-day Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions course and …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015

Typo in case-sensitive variable name cooked Google's cloud

Google has admitted that incorrectly typing the name of a case-sensitive variable cooked its cloud. Users of the Alphabet subsidiary's Google Container Engine customers “could not create external load balancers for their services for a duration of 21 hours and 38 min” on December 8th and 9th. The mess started when Google …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015
Damage to Qatar Airways QR778's hull behind the rear cargo door

Tablet computer zoom error saw plane fly 13 hours with 46cm hole

A Qatar Airways Boeing 777 travelling from Miami to Doha struck airport lights during takeoff and suffered a 46 cm tear in the fuselage, thanks in part to a pilot zooming in too far on a tablet computer. Flight QR778 left Miami on September 15th but as it took off, hit airport landing lights. On arrival the plane was found to …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015
Michael Dell, photo: Dell

Dell creates new Extreme team for all data centre kit, at any scale

Dell's created a new Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) umbrella unit for all its data centre efforts. The company says its almost eight-year-old Data Center Solutions (DCS) unit has had its day. So has the Dell Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) announced just four months ago in August to address what the Texan company calls …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015

VMware finds back door for US military mega-deal, but Nutanix, Citrix protest again

VMware's foes have again protested its attempts to strike a new deal with much of the US military. VMware spent much of 2014 chasing the US$1.6bn, five-year deal, which was to cover the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency. That deal was controversial because it was done under “A Justification For …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Dec 2015
Malcolm Turnbull - Caricature  Malcolm Bligh Turnbull , aka Malcolm Turnbull, is the 29th Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Liberal Party.   This caricature of Malcolm Turnbull was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo by Veni Markovski available via Wikimedia. The body was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo fromITU Pictures's Flickr photostream. by cc 2.0 attribution sharealike generic

Confirmed: Turnbull's Innovation Agenda recycles old education programs

When Vulture South read the Australian government's new National Innovation and Science Agenda, especially ”Embracing The Digital Age section on school education's contribution to innovation, we were struck by how some of its tactics seemed familiar. The nation's Department of Education has now confirmed to us that some parts …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Dec 2015
GCHQ is following you on Twitter, Faceboo, email...

GCHQ Christmas Card asks YOU the questions

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain's signals intelligence organisation, has revealed its Christmas card. The boring bits of the card, which will come from director GCHQ Robert Hannigan, is a painting called “Adoration of the Shepherds” from the brush of one of Rembrandt's students. The interesting bits …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Dec 2015
NetHack 3.6

ASCII @dventure game NetHack gets first upgrade in ten years

NetHack is one of the gaming industry's foundational texts. The animated adventure debuted in 1987, continuing an ASCII ancestry traceable to 1980's Rogue and earning it a place on the Museum Of Modern Art's list of games worthy of historical preservation. The game is simple: after choosing a race, gender and character class …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Dec 2015
Lenovo's HX series of hyperconverged appliances

Lenovo reveals its Nutanix hyper-spawn

Lenovo's relationship with Nutanix has been consumated, with the Chinese kit-maker revealing its hyperconverged boxen running the latter's software. There are three models in the “HX Series” of hyperconverged appliances. The HX3500 is a “compute-heavy” appliance aimed at desktop virtualisation and smaller virtual machine …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Dec 2015
Red's Java house by CC 2.0 attribution

Like a version? JDK 9 will point out its own flaws the very first time

Version 9 of the Java JDK will adopt a new numbering scheme that tells you which patches you can ignore and which will demand your attention, stat. Oracle describes the new scheme as a “MAJOR.MINOR.SECURITY” regime. Java 9 will therefore be Java 9. If the next update addresses a security issue, it'll be Java 9.0.1. If the …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Dec 2015

Donald Trump wants Bill Gates to 'close the Internet', Jeff Bezos to pay tax

United States Presidential candidate Donald J Trump has called on Bill Gates to shut down parts of the Internet, to prevent radicals spreading their ideas. That seems to be the thrust of remarks made by Trump at a campaign rally on Monday in the United States. As the video below shows, Trump told a rally that “We are losing a …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Dec 2015

IBM bats away Australian sueball over billion-dollar-blowout

The long-running saga of IBM's botched payroll system in the Australian State of Queensland seems to have come to an end, with Big Blue escaping an attempt at further litigation. IBM won the project in 2007 and initially quoted a few million dollars for the creation of a new payroll system for the State's Health Department. By …
Simon Sharwood, 08 Dec 2015
Microsoft Lumia 640 Windows Phone

Windows Phone won't ever succeed, says IDC

Windows Phone won't ever amount to much, suggests analyst house IDC. The company's latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone tracker says Microsoft's mobile OS will grab 2.2 per cent market share in 2015 and by 2019 will have added a non-colossal 0.1 per cent more to claim 2.3 per cent of the mobile market. “Despite all the …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Dec 2015
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Turnbull's 'ideas boom' plan recycles existing ideas

Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced his STEM-and-Startups innovation plan, but some of it looks to be recycled rather than fresh and new innovation. As leaked to friendly media, the plan offers tax breaks for startups, kinder treatment for those who go broke in pursuit of a business idea, visas to …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Dec 2015

Obama calls out encryption in terror strategy speech

United States President Barack Obama has given just his third Address to the Nation from behind his desk at the Oval Office, to deliver a speech in which he all-but-called-on the technology industry to allow access to encrypted communications. The main purpose of the speech was to offer a response to last week's killings in …
Simon Sharwood, 07 Dec 2015
Firefox logo

Mozilla bins 'Tiles' ads plan in Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation's decided not to pursue advertising sales in its Firefox browser after all. Mozilla floated the idea of ads in Firefox back in early 2014, when it imagined “sponsored Tiles” would appear when you open a new tab in the browser. By May of the same year, the organisation admitted that idea had gone down …
Simon Sharwood, 06 Dec 2015

Sysadmin's £100,000 revenge after sudden sacking

On-Call Here we are again on a bright British Friday morning, which means it's time for On-Call, in which readers recollect their ramblings into the real world to fix things up. This week, reader "James" has shared a story “from my days as a Sysadmin, at the dawn of the broadband area, when I worked for a very well known company …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2015
Virgin Galactic's

Beardy Branson bangs birds on Boeing

Sir Richard “Beardy” Branson's space company Virgin Galactic has decided to use a 747- 400 formerly used to ferry passengers as a satellite launch platform. Virgin Galactic's developed a rocket called LauncherOne, the design for which envisages that a conventional aircraft will hoist the rocket a fair distance into the …
Simon Sharwood, 04 Dec 2015