Simon Sharwood

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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
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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

VMware, Xen issue urgent patches

VMware has let it be known that its vRealize Orchestrator, vRealize Operations, vCenter Operations and vCenter Application Discovery Manager products all need fixing to harden them against “a critical deserialization vulnerability”. The flaw involves “Apache Commons-collections and a specially constructed chain of classes” and …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015
Unlocked padlock

Security industry too busy improving security to do security right

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has decided to delay the deadline for mandatory migration from Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to Transport Layer Security (TLS). Earlier this year, the council decided the time to make the final cutover was June 2016. Now the council says it's just too hard for …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Dec 2015
stripped copper for recycling

Telstra wins copper repair contract on the copper it sold to nbn

You can't make this stuff up: after selling its copper hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) networks to nbn, Telstra has won contracts to maintain those networks and to re-design the latter to carry the DOCSIS 3.1 data transmission standard. nbn is the entity charged with building and operating Australia's national broadband network. …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Dec 2015
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Hillary Clinton says for crypto 'maybe the back door is the wrong door'

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has waded deeper in to the debate on encryption with the observation that “maybe the back door is the wrong door”. Speaking at a debate for Democratic candidates, Clinton was asked if she would legislate “to give law enforcement a key to encrypted technology”. Clinton's …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Dec 2015

The Register's Australian technology headline predictions … for 2017!

December is the time when vendors' Australian outposts try to position their managing directors as sages and oracles, and rain down predictions on El Reg's antipodean outpost. Vulture South trashes them all promptly, secures supplies of amber fluid and starts thinking a year further ahead, to the year after next. After due …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Dec 2015
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Juniper 'fesses up to TWO attacks from 'unauthorised code'

Updated Juniper Networks has offered a more detailed description of the security issues resulting from its find of “unauthorised code” in ScreenOS, the software that powers its firewalls. The company's knowledge base article on the incident says: “The first issue allows unauthorized remote administrative access to the device over SSH …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Dec 2015

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
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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