Simon Sharwood

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123-Reg has another PITSTOP

Embattled UK web hosting company 123-Reg has wobbled again. This time the company has experienced a Partial Inability to Support Optimal Performance (PITSTOP) of its email systems and of some servers. The latter problem occurred on May 16th and saw some servers taken offline. “We have been able to resolve the main part of …
Simon Sharwood, 18 May 2016
MIT's Scratch programming learning tool

Google stretches Scratch

Google and MIT Media Lab have collaborated on a “new generation of graphical programming blocks” called “Scratch Blocks”. The tool is based on the popular coding-for-kids tool “Scratch”, that has been downloaded about a squillion times and introduced kids galore to coding. Google says the new effort offers “horizontal grammar …
Simon Sharwood, 18 May 2016
Curser icon over a news paper folded

Discounts boost wearables

Abacus-shuffler IDC has finished moving the beads back and forth and concluded that 19.7 million units in 2016's first quarter, an increase of 67.2% from the 11.8 million units shipped in 1Q15. Which sounds like cause for celebration, until you consider the analyst's assertions that the quarter also featured discounts ( …
Simon Sharwood, 18 May 2016

Storage array firmware bug caused Salesforce data loss

Salesforce.com has revealed that a bug in the firmware of its storage arrays was behind last week's data loss incident. The mess started in the company's Washington data centre on May 9th, when admins noticed “a circuit breaker responsible for controlling power into the data center had failed.” “The team engaged the circuit …
Simon Sharwood, 18 May 2016
Xen project logo

Xen patches theoretical bug

The Xen Project has revealed a new bug but says it knows of no operating system that is vulnerable to it. XSA-176 means “guest user mode code may be able to establish mappings of arbitrary memory inside the guest, allowing it to elevate its privileges inside the guest.” The problem's roots lie in the Page Size (PS) page table …
Simon Sharwood, 18 May 2016
VMware nutella

VMware plugs Java bugs

VMware has plugged Oracle's Java deserialization mess, which Big Red quashed in April. VMware has issued instructions explaining that Disabling JMX port Manually on Single Sign-On will address the problem in vCenter Server on Windows. vSphere Replication can also be affected by the bug “if its vCloud Tunneling Agent is …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016
1984 by https://www.flickr.com/photos/thepen/ cc 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Windows 10 future: Imagine a boot stamping on an upgrade treadmill forever

The advent of Windows-as-a-service means that businesses adopting Windows 10 will need to ensure they can monitor their software portfolio for compatibility with Microsoft's latest updates. So says Annette Jump, a research director at Gartner who today addressed the firm's Infrastructure Operations & Data Centre Summit in …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016
Apple Watch

Apple Watch leaks data

Apple has issued a slew of patches for all of its devices, among them one that quashes a flaw that means "A malicious application may be able to leak sensitive user information" from the Apple Watch. Other Watch flaws allows arbitrary code execution. CVE-2016-1802 also impacts other iOS devices. Apple says "An issue existed …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016
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Dell records $100m loss

Denali Holdings, the company that owns Dell, has published preliminary results for the three months ended April 29, 2016, disclosing a loss of US$100m. An SEC filing reports revenue of $13.2b, down from the $13.5b recorded during a comparable period in 2015. Last year's loss was also larger, at $300m. The preliminary results …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016
Raspberry Pi Zero v. 1.3 with camera connector

Raspberry Pi Zero gains a camera connector

The Raspberry Pi Zero has added a camera connector. Chief Pi guy Eben Upton has explained that the new connector came about as a result of colossal demand for the minuscule computer. The factory baking Pis could not keep up with demand for the Zero and then had to pause production once the Raspberry Pi 3 debuted. Upton says …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016
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Cloudy desktops are as mature as cloudy servers … from 2008!

Desktop-as-a-service in 2016 is about as mature as infrastructure-as-a-service was in 2008, so waiting until it matures is more sensible than diving in now. So says Garter for Technical Professionals' analyst Mark Lockwood, who The Register's virtualisation desk beheld yesterday at the firm's Infrastructure Operations & Data …
Simon Sharwood, 17 May 2016

Sysadmin paid a month's salary for one day of nothing

On-Call Yes, we know that On-Call is supposed to be weekly and appear on Fridays. But we let some writers go on holidays and our mailbag is overflowing after recent stories of Microsoft help desk staff hanging up after 15 minutes and the reader paid to do nothing for three months. So when reader “Will” wrote with a similar story we …
Simon Sharwood, 16 May 2016

ZFS comes to Debian, thanks to licensing workaround

The ZFS file system has come to popular Linux distribution Debian, but in a way the distro's backers think won't kick up another row over compatibility of open source licences. Ubuntu 16.04 added ZFS, despite pre-release grumblings from Richard Stallman to the effect that anything licensed under the GNU GPL v2 can only be …
Simon Sharwood, 16 May 2016

Exercise apps track you after you stop exercising

Three exercise-tracking apps keeps tracking you long after you stop exercising, according to Norwegian Consumer Council, a consumer advocacy group. The council engaged an independent research outfit called SINTEF to examine what apps do when you stop running, and whether those activities comply with the apps' privacy policies …
Simon Sharwood, 16 May 2016
LInux nutella

Linus Torvalds releases Linux 4.6

Linus Torvalds has loosed version 4.6 of the Linux kernel on the waiting world. “It's just as well I didn't cut the rc cycle short, since the last week ended up getting a few more fixes than expected,” wrote the Linux overlord. “Since rc7, there's been small noise all over, with driver fixes being the bulk of it, but there is …
Simon Sharwood, 16 May 2016
Google Cloud logo

Google reveals the Chromium OS it uses to run its own containers

Google's decided the Chromium OS is its preferred operating system for running containers in its own cloud. And why wouldn't it – the company says it uses it for its own services. The Alphabet subsidiary offers a thing called “Container-VM” that it is at pains to point out is not a garden variety operating system you'd ever …
Simon Sharwood, 16 May 2016
Marc Benioff of Salesforce. Pic: Techcrunch

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tells Reg data loss 'minimal'

Salesforce.com's nasty outage and subsequent data loss haven't made a major impact on customers. CEO Marc Benioff has told The Register. In a private Twitter message, Benioff told us “The amount of data lost was minimized because this was a North American instance(na14) and the loss occurred in the middle of the night.” From …
Simon Sharwood, 15 May 2016
his low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took multiple images on Aug. 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity find Mars' icecaps suck up its atmosphere

NASA boffins have crunched 34 million weather observations collected by the Curiosity rover its two full Martian years trundling about the red planet. The basics are pretty simple: Mars is reliably cold, dry and windy, while the thin atmosphere means not much heat is retained so air temperature “usually plummets by more than …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
IT Crowd's Roy: "Have you turned it off and on again?"

Microsoft phone support contractors told to hang up after 15 minutes

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, in its regular Friday slot where we bring you readers' stories of stuff that goes on in the workplace. Yesterday's tale of four fellows paid elephant bucks to do nothing for three months prompted a submission from reader “Ivan” who says his first job in tech support was for “a call centre company that …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
The RRS Sir David Attenborough. Pic: NERC

We're calling it: World hits peak Namey McNameface

Googly McSearchface has released SyntaxNet, “an open-source neural network framework” and an open source tool for parsing the English language called Parsey McParseface. The company hopes that Codey McCoderfaces will put the two tools to work doing Natural Language Understanding (NLU), the art of helping computers to …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
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United Nations orders plan for tackling online terror propaganda

The United Nations Security Council is going to try to do something about the internet's role in promoting hateful ideologies and terrorism. The body spent Wednesday in an “Open Debate on Countering Terrorist Narratives”, during which Microsoft's veep and deputy general counsel Steve Crown said there is no “silver bullet” that …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
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Tumblr IDs rumbled in 2013

Tumblr has admitted that "a third party had obtained access to a set of Tumblr user email addresses with salted and hashed passwords from early 2013." The incident occurred before Yahoo! acquired Tumblr. The micro-blog says "As soon as we became aware of this, our security team thoroughly investigated the matter. Our analysis …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger quashes departure rumours

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger has quashed rumours he will depart the company once the EMC/Dell merger concludes. The rumour was aired in a channel publication earlier this week, citing anonymous sources. Now Gelsinger has quashed the rumours himself. Speaking at the Jefferies Technology Conference this week, an event recorded in …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016
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China signs tax data pact

China, Canada, Iceland, India, Israel and New Zealand have signed up for the OECD's Multilateral “Competent Authority agreement for the automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports”, the tax information-sharing pact held to be an important tool in figuring out where multinationals pay or evade tax. The six new signatories …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016

Salesforce.com crash caused DATA LOSS

Salesforce.com's protracted outage earlier this week caused data loss. An update on the company's status page dated May 12, 2016 20:00 UTC says data “written to the NA14 instance between 9:53 UTC and 13:29 UTC on May 10, 2016 can not be restored.” There's a tiny ray of sunshine in that announcement, because previous updates …
Simon Sharwood, 13 May 2016