The Register Columnists

Neil McAllister

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Web browsers 2015

Google's Chrome to gag noisy tabs until you click on them

Soon, Google's Chrome browser will only play media when a tab is in the foreground, even if it is set to play automatically. The idea is that you'll no longer need to worry about a tab you've opened suddenly blabbering away while you're in a meeting because it contained media that was set to auto-play a few minutes after you …
Neil McAllister, 31 Aug 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

Ex-HP top aide in the clink for racking up $1m on company credit cards

A former HP employee was sentenced on Monday to 21 months in prison, after having charged unauthorized personal expenses to her company credit cards to the tune of nearly $1m. According to a statement by the US Attorney's Office, Holli Dawn Coulman, 45, joined HP in 2000 and spent 12 years at the company. During the last four …
Neil McAllister, 25 Aug 2015
Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan Supreme Court rules former TSMC exec leaked chip secrets to Samsung

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly won a lawsuit against a former employee over claims that he leaked details of the chip fabber's 28-nanometer process technology to archrival Samsung. As a result of the judgment, Liang Mong-song, a former top R&D man at TSMC, has been barred from working for …
Neil McAllister, 25 Aug 2015

Qualcomm flashes Snapdragon 820's bits again – this time it's DSP

Qualcomm has lifted the veil a little further from its upcoming Snapdragon 820 mobile system-on-chip, sharing details of its new digital signal processor (DSP). The chipmaker has been dribbling out information about the Snapdragon 820 ahead of its launch, having already dropped a few tidbits about its graphics processing unit …
Neil McAllister, 25 Aug 2015
Data Centre

Dude, you're getting a few thousand custom Dells!

Dell has launched a new business line of custom servers to companies with unique needs and those that don't quite want the server volume of "hyperscale" data centers. The Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) unit will specifically target companies in web tech, telecoms, hosting, oil and gas, and research spaces. "Today, there' …
Neil McAllister, 24 Aug 2015

Big trouble in big China: Crashing economy in Middle Kingdom body slams US tech stocks

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed more than 1,000 points in the first few minutes of trading on Monday, as the effects of China's economic woes spilled over onto Wall Street. China's Shanghai Composite index plummeted by 8.7 per cent – its biggest one-day drop since the global financial crisis of 2007 – sending waves into …
Neil McAllister, 24 Aug 2015
sea_hp_sink

HP is getting so good now at negative growth, it should patent it

HP CEO Meg Whitman said on Thursday that she was pleased with the company's performance during the third quarter of its fiscal 2015, despite the fact that nearly every reporting segment was down annually. The PC and printer giant missed analysts' estimates on revenue, with total sales for the quarter of $25.35bn, an 8.1 per …
Neil McAllister, 20 Aug 2015
BlackBerry Venice

Leaked images claim to show BlackBerry's first Android phone

Images have hit the web of what is purportedly BlackBerry's first Android handset. Eye candy. pic.twitter.com/GtJwOfOus8 — Evan Blass (@evleaks) August 19, 2015 The photos and short video clips were posted by blogger Evan Blass, aka Evleaks, who got them from an unnamed source. They allegedly show a device to be released …
Neil McAllister, 20 Aug 2015
Are you being served?

Microsoft kicks off 'Windows as a service' with new Insider build

Less than a month after releasing the General Availability version of Windows 10, Microsoft is back with a brand-new experimental build of the OS for its Windows Insider guinea pigs. Build 10525 started shipping on Wednesday to Windows Insider members who subscribed to the Fast release ring. By comparison, the release version …
Neil McAllister, 20 Aug 2015
Bruce Schneier

Bruce Schneier: 'We're in early years of a cyber arms race'

LinuxCon 2015 Security guru Bruce Schneier says there's a kind of cold war now being waged in cyberspace, only the trouble is we don't always know who we're waging it against. Schneier appeared onscreen via Google Hangouts at the LinuxCon/CloudOpen/ContainerCon conference in Seattle on Tuesday to warn attendees that the modern security …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2015
Windows Server

Windows Server 2016 Preview 3 brings containers at last

The third technical preview of Windows Server 2016 is here, and with it, Microsoft takes another step forward into the much-hyped world of cloud native computing. Most importantly, this build gives us our first look at Windows Server Containers, which were conspicuously absent from the previous build that shipped in May. …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2015
Jim Zemlin and Linus Torvalds at LinuxCon 2015

Linux boss Torvalds: Don't talk to me about containers and other buzzwords

LinuxCon 2015 Linux kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds isn't thinking about where his creation will be ten years from now – in fact, he claims he doesn't even think ahead one year. "I am a very plodding, pedestrian kind of person," Torvalds said during a Q&A session with Linux Foundation boss Jim Zemlin at LinuxCon in Seattle on Wednesday. "I …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2015
Gold Hat stinking badges

Linux Foundation wants open source projects to show you their steenking badges

LinuxCon 2015 The Linux Foundation says it plans to introduce a new, voluntary badge program designed to help IT admins identify open source projects that have made security a priority. The new effort is part of the Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), which aims to fund and support open source projects that are critical to …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2015
Red rocket toy

Intel and CoreOS add hardware virty support to rkt containers

LinuxCon 2015 Intel and CoreOS have teamed up to produce an application container runtime that supports hardware enhanced virtualization. Version 0.8.0 of CoreOS's rkt (pronounced "rocket") container runtime was announced at the LinuxCon/CloudOpen/ContainerCon conference taking place this week in Seattle. Among the main features of the new …
Neil McAllister, 19 Aug 2015
Project Ara - swappable hardware mobile

Er, uh ... sorry! Project Ara will not launch this year after all

Google had bad news on Thursday for fans of Project Ara, its DIY modular smartphone. It seems it won't launch this year, after all. In January, the Chocolate Factory's Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) group said the devices, which let owners mix and match from an assortment of batteries, screens, cameras, and other …
Neil McAllister, 15 Aug 2015

SEC: Ukrainian hackers' investment fraud ring raked in millions in 'unprecedented' hack

Analysis The computer hacking and securities fraud ring that was broken up by US authorities this week was "one of the most intricate and sophisticated trading rings that we have ever seen," the US Securities and Exchange Commission has said. Some 32 people were charged on Monday with offenses related to the scheme, which the SEC …
Neil McAllister, 14 Aug 2015

New Docker crypto locker is a blocker for Docker image mockers

Docker has tackled the problem of secure application container distribution with a new system that supports signing container images using public key cryptography. The new feature, known as Docker Content Trust, is the main attraction of Docker 1.8, the latest version of the tool suite that was announced on Wednesday. "Before …
Neil McAllister, 13 Aug 2015
Def Con 23 Record Badge

Is this the most puzzling DEF CON attendee badge yet on record?

DEF CON 23 Attending the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas is always an unusual experience, but among the most celebrated features of the event are its unusual attendee badges. Reg man Iain Thomson attended this year's event – the 23rd – and we at Vulture Annex in San Francisco got a kick out of scratching our heads at the mystery …
Neil McAllister, 12 Aug 2015
Qualcomm

Snapdragon 820: Qualcomm lifts kimono on its shiny new GPUs

Qualcomm has yet to publicly share hard specs on the Snapdragon 820, its forthcoming flagship mobile system-on-chip (SoC), but on Wednesday it served an amuse-bouche by unveiling the new chip's pixel-bashing components. The Adreno 5xx line is Qualcomm's latest generation of mobile graphics-processing units (GPUs), and they …
Neil McAllister, 12 Aug 2015
iran_flags_648

ZTE says it won't allow exec to appear in US court over arrest fears

Relations between Chinese telecoms vendor ZTE and the US federal government remain as tense as ever, with ZTE claiming it won't allow one of its executives to testify in a New York court over fears he will be detained if he enters the US. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York had ordered Guo …
Neil McAllister, 12 Aug 2015

Mozilla-Microsoft spat latest: Firefox yanks Cortana away from Bing

Mozilla has upped the stakes in its squabble with Microsoft over user choice, having released a new version of Firefox that can sneakily subvert internet searches fed to Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant. Firefox 40, which shipped on Tuesday, comes with "a fresh new look for Windows 10" that includes "bigger, bolder …
Neil McAllister, 11 Aug 2015
Smartphones running Ubuntu

Ubuntu phone on sale to world+dog ... but will it work on your network?

Customers worldwide are now able to buy smartphones running the mobile version of Ubuntu Linux, even though many won't be able to get full value out of them. In a Tuesday blog post, Ubuntu maker Canonical said that BQ, its Spanish hardware partner, has opened a new online store where customers around the world can order the …
Neil McAllister, 11 Aug 2015
Car crash

BlackBerry can't catch a break: Now it's fending off Jeep hacking claims

BlackBerry has denied rumors that its software might have played a role in the infamous "Jeep hack," saying it's "unequivocally" not true. In July, security researchers revealed that certain cars built by Fiat Chrysler were vulnerable to potentially life-threatening remote attacks, thanks to a flaw in the automaker's uConnect …
Neil McAllister, 11 Aug 2015
Windows 10 powering a Raspberry Pi 2 robot

Pi-eyed: Microsoft ships slimmed-down Windows 10 IoT Core for gizmos

Microsoft has shipped the public release of Windows 10 IoT Core, the pared-down version of Windows 10 for embedded devices, including the Intel MinnowBoard Max and the Raspberry Pi 2. Unlike ordinary Windows 10, the IoT Core flavor doesn't offer a traditional desktop as such. It's intended for devices that may or may not have …
Neil McAllister, 10 Aug 2015
Mr. Spock goes full 3D

Google to bung next-gen Vulkan 3D graphics spec into Android

Vid Google on Monday said it will support the Khronos Group's Vulkan 3D graphics API in a future version of Android, although it's not clear when mobile game developers will be able to actually use it. Vulkan, a successor to OpenGL, has been in the works for a while now, but the Khronos Group only announced the name at the Game …
Neil McAllister, 10 Aug 2015

Oracle waves fist, claims even new Android devices infringe its Java copyrights

Oracle's lawsuit against Google over Java copyrights probably won't be back in a courtroom again until next year, but in the meantime, Oracle has asked the court to let it expand the scope of its complaint to include events that have occurred since it was first filed in 2010. What's more, it has once again asked the court to …
Neil McAllister, 07 Aug 2015
antique_cash_register_648

Informatica goes private – with Microsoft and Salesforce each taking a share

Data management outfit Informatica became a private company on Thursday, in a multibillion-dollar leveraged buyout that included investment from Microsoft and Salesforce.com's venture wing. Investors received $48.75 in cash for each share of Informatica, which previously had traded on the Nasdaq exchange. The total value of …
Neil McAllister, 07 Aug 2015
Nvidia GeForce

Pray harder for AMD

Graphics and mobile chip kingpin Nvidia posted unexpectedly solid results for the second quarter of its fiscal 2016 on Thursday and said it projected next quarter's numbers to be strong, as well. Total revenue for the three months ending on July 26 was $1.15bn, which trounced even Wall Street's most optimistic expectations. …
Neil McAllister, 06 Aug 2015

Microsoft lures iOS devs with open-source app tools for Windows 10

Microsoft has made available an early preview version of the Windows Bridge for iOS, the set of developer tools previously known as "Project Islandwood." The tools are just one of several "bridges" that Microsoft announced at its annual Build developer conference in April, designed to lure developers from other platforms to …
Neil McAllister, 06 Aug 2015
Woman packs up contents of desk. Image via shutterstock

Fork off! FFmpeg project leader quits, says he's had enough with these forking AV libraries

The leader of the FFmpeg open source project has resigned amid ongoing turmoil among the project's developers. FFmpeg, a set of cross-platform, open source libraries for playback of video formatted according to standards created by the MPEG organization, was founded in 2000 by French developer Fabrice Bellard, working under …
Neil McAllister, 05 Aug 2015
64KB of memory in eight 64Kb chips on the PCjr logic board

Marvell-LESS! Chip giant slashes $1.5bn judgment in CMU patent fight

Chipmaker Marvell has managed to whittle down the amount of patent infringement damages it must pay to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) after a US court of appeals found that it was only liable for chips that were imported into or sold in the United States. In 2012, Marvell was slapped with a $1.17bn judgment for infringing …
Neil McAllister, 04 Aug 2015

Obsolescence of food is complete: Soylent now comes in bottles

Soylent, the startup dedicated to conquering the universally hated ritual of eating food, now offers a version of its protein-rich nutrient gloop in ready-to-drink bottles. Previous versions of Soylent arrived as powders that you mix with water. That takes time, much like it does to sear a cut of filet mignon lightly on both …
Neil McAllister, 03 Aug 2015
Uber launch party by https://www.flickr.com/photos/5chw4r7z/ CC2.0 sharelalike attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Uber holds out hand, hails another $1bn – mostly from Microsoft

Unlicensed taxi service Uber has plumped up its war chest with another $1bn, with much of the latest funding round reportedly coming from Microsoft. Citing anonymous sources, The New York Times reports that Redmond contributed "a substantial amount" of the $1bn, which brings the car app firm's total valuation close to $51bn. …
Neil McAllister, 31 Jul 2015
Star Trek: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

Google, Oracle's endless Java copyright battle extended to ... 2016

The long-running copyright dispute between Oracle and Google over the latter's use of the Java language APIs in its Android operating system will likely drag on for another year or more, based on the latest developments in the case in a US federal court. Reuters reports that US District Judge William Alsup, who has been …
Neil McAllister, 31 Jul 2015
Microsoft monopoly

Edge out rivals? No! Firefox boss BLASTS Microsoft's Windows 10 browser brouhaha

Mozilla chief Chris Beard has fired off a tetchy open letter to Microsoft supremo Satya Nadella – because Windows 10 shunts Firefox users onto Redmond's new Edge web browser. Internet Explorer users were warned that Edge, Microsoft's Chrome-chasing new browser, would be the default in Windows 10. But as it turns out, users of …
Neil McAllister, 30 Jul 2015
Containers_at_port

Oracle: Docker container tech will be in the Zone on Solaris

Oracle is the latest company to get on the Docker bandwagon, having announced support for the application container technology to come in a future version of Solaris Unix. Docker arose out of the Linux world, and its original implementation takes advantage of a number of Linux kernel features, including LXC, cgroups, and …
Neil McAllister, 30 Jul 2015

US to rethink hacker tool export rules after mass freakout in security land

Proposed changes to the US government's export controls on hacking tools will likely be scaled back following widespread criticism from the infosec community, a government spokesman has said. "A second iteration of this regulation will be promulgated," a spokesman for the US Department of Commerce told Reuters, "and you can …
Neil McAllister, 30 Jul 2015
facebook_shock_648

Facebook is raking in so much filthy lucre, it can't spend it fast enough

Facebook beat estimates on both revenue and earnings for the second quarter of its fiscal 2015, but investors seemed taken aback by the social network's soaring spending. The firm reported revenue of $4.04bn for the three months ending on June 30, which was up 38.9 per cent from the same period a year ago. Its earnings were …
Neil McAllister, 29 Jul 2015

Oh look – Office Mobile apps to go with your shiny Windows 10

Now that Windows 10 has begun shipping to customers who reserved their free upgrades, Microsoft has also announced general availability of the touch-centric Office Mobile apps for the new OS. This isn't the next version of the full Office productivity suite for desktop PCs. That version, dubbed Office 2016, won't ship until …
Neil McAllister, 29 Jul 2015

Citrix CEO retires as activist investor Elliott snatches the wheel

Citrix chief exec Mark Templeton has said he will retire, as activist investor Elliott Management takes a larger role in the company. Templeton joined Citrix in 1995 and has served as its CEO since 2001. But hedge fund Elliott has been among the most vocal in calling for change following what it describes as years of …
Neil McAllister, 29 Jul 2015

Record-breaking $502m in sales, BIG LOSSES – OF COURSE IT'S TWITTER

Twitter has managed to collect over half a billion dollars - and somehow throw it all away and more even though it does nothing but run a microblabber portal. But the markets are impressed anyway. The company brought in $502m for the second quarter of its fiscal 2015, which ended on June 30. The figure represented a 60.9 per …
Neil McAllister, 28 Jul 2015

Slashdot, SourceForge looking for new owners after parent dumps them on the web's doorstep

DHI Group, the company formerly known as Dice Holdings, has announced that it's selling off its Slashdot Media division following two successive quarters of declining revenue. DHI's main business is running job-listing and recruitment sites, including Dice.com. But in 2012 it acquired Slashdot Media – which includes source …
Neil McAllister, 28 Jul 2015
Whack-a-mole

BONK! BONK! Windows 10 whack-a-mole – Microsoft still fixing bugs

Microsoft is still trying to crush the remaining bugs in its latest and supposedly greatest operating system. Build 10240, which was released to the Windows Insider program two weeks ago, is widely considered to be the "release to manufacturing" (RTM) build, even though Redmond itself says the RTM concept doesn't apply in its …
Neil McAllister, 28 Jul 2015
Fujitsu-Oracle Athena server logo

Debian Project holds Sparc port's hand, switches off life support

Following years of waning popularity, the Debian GNU/Linux Project has dropped support for the Sparc architecture, effective immediately. "As Sparc isn't exactly the most alive architecture anymore," Debian maintainer Joerg Jaspert wrote in a mailing list post last week, "not in [Debian 8.x] jessie and unlikely to be in [ …
Neil McAllister, 27 Jul 2015
Steve Ballmer. Pic:  Aanjhan Ranganathan

Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

Analysis Less than two years into Satya Nadella's tenure as CEO of Microsoft, he's already had to report a lossmaking quarter. It's only the second time that's happened in the software giant's three decades as a public company, and the $8.44bn write-off Redmond posted earlier this week is the largest in its history. Don't blame Nadella …
Neil McAllister, 27 Jul 2015
Green light

EU rubber-stamps Nokia's proposed Alcatel-Lucent gobble

The proposed mega-merger between Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent cleared a major hurdle on Friday, with the European Commission having given the deal its blessing. "The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties are not close competitors and since a number of …
Neil McAllister, 25 Jul 2015

Embarrassed Amazon admits to actually MAKING MONEY as cloud biz blooms

Wall Street got a nasty Q2 shock today from Amazon, which announced an unexpected profit driven largely by its cloudy AWS business. Total net sales for the three months ending on June 30 were $23.19bn, a 19.9 per cent year-on-year gain that ran right past financial analysts' estimates. But the real surprise was that the …
Neil McAllister, 23 Jul 2015
Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our Future

Intelsat to FCC: For the love of satellites, STOP ELON MUSK!

Elon Musk wants to use his commercial SpaceX rockets to put satellites into orbit that will bring broadband to the next billion, but one of SpaceX's own customers has thrown a wrench into the works. Musk's plan involves encircling the globe with a few thousand high-capacity, low-latency satellites that the Tesla Motors boss …
Neil McAllister, 23 Jul 2015

Dear diary. Gotta axe 15% of staff, it's like I'm cracking up – Qualcomm

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm says it's putting its business under the microscope with an eye to restructuring after posting lackluster third-quarter results, including revenue that missed estimates. "We are making fundamental changes to position Qualcomm for improved execution, financial and operating performance," Qualcomm CEO …
Neil McAllister, 22 Jul 2015
Containers_at_port

Open Container Project renames, says standard is just weeks away

One month after launching an industry-wide consortium aimed at creating a common runtime and image format for application containers, Docker and the Linux Foundation say the effort is making rapid progress. One big(ish) change is in the name. The group launched in June as the Open Container Project. Henceforth it will be known …
Neil McAllister, 22 Jul 2015