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Iain Thomson

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Presidetn Obama signs the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

It's official: You can now legally carrier-unlock your mobile in the US

President Obama has signed off on the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, meaning that, in the US, people can take their mobile phone and unlock it from the carrier that sold it to them. President Obama signs the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act President Obama signs the Unlocking …
Iain Thomson, 02 Aug 2014
Rosetta

We sent a probe SIX BILLION km to measure temperature of a COMET doing 135,000 km/h

The comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta has got close enough to its target to start getting temperature readings. The results show that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko isn't the snowball some boffins were expecting. Between 13 and 21 July Rosetta moved within 5,000 kilometers of the rapidly spinning comet and used its visible, …
Iain Thomson, 02 Aug 2014
Facebook drowning

Facebook goes down, people dial 911

Facebook's servers fell over today – with users on the US east coast, and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, complaining of outages. Facebook outage map Oh noes! Circles mark areas of connectivity problems ... Click for bigger map. Source: IsItDownRightNow.com According to IsItDownRightNow.com, the downtime appears to …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2014

CIA super-spy so sorry spies spied on Senate's torture scrutiny PCs

CIA Director John Brennan has apologized after his staff snooped on computers used by the US Senate during a probe into spies' use of torture. Brennan was speaking at a closed meeting with senators on Thursday. The computers were on a secure network known as RDINet, which was set up by the CIA to store classified documents for …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2014

Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs

Researchers say they have managed to reprogram the firmware within some flash drives with malicious code – code executed by the gadget's micro-controller to ultimately install malware on a PC or redirect network traffic without a victim knowing. Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell, from German security skunkworks SR Labs, spent months …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014
Teh second version of Curiosity for Mars

Mars rover 2020: Oxygen generation and 6 more amazing experiments

NASA's next Mars rover will convert the Red Planet's atmosphere into oxygen – and collect rocks for return to Earth, see half a kilometre under the surface, and use stereo cameras to send back unprecedented snaps of the bleak world. Mars rover 2020 Curiosity v2.0 getting ready to roll (click to enlarge) At a press …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014

NASA boffin: RIDDLE of odd BULGE FOUND on MOON is SOLVED

An analysis of the shape of the Moon has shown it is not actually a sphere – but is in fact slightly lemon-shaped. This has revealed important clues as to how the Earth's satellite body formed (and no, it still doesn't involve any cheese). A paper published in the July 30 issue of Nature by Ian Garrick-Bethell – an assistant …
Iain Thomson, 31 Jul 2014

AMD dangles 64-bit ARM code developer kit over, well ... developers

AMD has been promising shipments of its 64-bit ARM-based server chips, code-named "Seattle", for the end of the year but now you can get hold of one with the firm's latest developer kit release. From Wednesday those with the cash can hand over $2,999 to AMD and in return get the AMD Opteron A1100-series developer kit …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014
Chromebox for Meetings

Google Hangouts get down to business – and all dressed to the nines

Google's voice conference system Hangouts is being smartened up in the hope of breaking into the business market. Google will put Hangouts on a par with the rest of its stuff online – and promises 99.9 per cent uptime with 24/7 telephone support if something does go wrong. In addition, Hangout users will no longer need a …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014
Facebook Messenger app

Facebook: Want to stay in touch? Then it's Messenger or NOTHING

If you're used to sending messages to Facebook friends, enjoy it while you can – Facebook plans to kill the feature on mobile clients and force users to download its Messenger app instead. "In the next few days, we're continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they'll need to …
Iain Thomson, 30 Jul 2014

Senate introduces USA FREEDOM Act to curb NSA spying excesses

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the USA FREEDOM Act to the US Senate and claims, that, if passed, the legislation will severely curtail the amount of mass surveillance that can be carried out by the NSA and others – provided you're a citizen of the land of the free. "This is a debate about Americans' fundamental …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2014
LG Optimus 2X

Android busted for carrying Fake ID: OS doesn't check who really made that 'Adobe' plugin

Google Android allows malware to masquerade as legit, trusted apps thanks to weaknesses in the way the operating system checks digital certificates of authenticity. The flaw, dubbed Fake ID by its discoverers at Bluebox Security, affects all versions of Android from 2.1 (released in 2010) up to Android 4.4. Although Google …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2014

Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu

A study of the public-facing web servers run by some of the world's largest firms has suggested only three per cent of the machines have been fully protected against the OpenSSL vulnerability known as Heartbleed. The research, carried out by security specialists at Venafi Labs, examined 550,000 servers belonging to 1,639 …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2014

OKCupid: OK, STUPID, YES we set you up with BAD DATES. On purpose

The recent uproar from users who had discovered Facebook was meddling with their minds is overblown, according to Christian Rudder, co-founder of dating site OKCupid. Facebook's academic study into manipulating the moods of its users by fiddling with their news feeds has sparked an FTC complaint and a lot of outrage – …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jul 2014
Mozilla's new CEO Chris Beard

Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over

Mozilla has confirmed that Chris Beard, who was appointed as interim CEO three months ago as a replacement for controversial Brendan Eich, will stay at the helm for the foreseeable future. "Chris has a keen sense of where Mozilla has been – and where we’re headed," said Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman at Mozilla. "He has …
Iain Thomson, 28 Jul 2014

DAYS from end of life as we know it: Boffins tell of solar storm near-miss

Two years ago this week the Sun let off one of its periodic solar flares, and a new analysis of its force shows that human civilization had a very near miss indeed. "If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado this week. On 23 July 2012, two coronal mass ejections ( …
Iain Thomson, 26 Jul 2014

Google to feed machines with evidence of human physical weaknesses – and that's a good thing

Google's X laboratory is working with a team of biologists and geneticists to analyze human frailties using the web giant's computing might. The project, called the Baseline Study, is recruiting 175 volunteers to contribute tissue samples, blood, sweat, tears, and urine for processing. The test results will then be fed into …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
Angry woman on mobile

In the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave ... you can legally carrier unlock your own phone

Here at Vulture West, we're looking out for porcine aviators: the usually divided US House of Representatives unanimously passed a law allowing people who've bought phones to actually unlock the things from their carriers. It comes just a week after the Senate showed a similarly united stance. "With today's House passage of the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
Starship Enterprise

Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket

The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) has told NASA it has a massive funding shortfall for its ambitious Space Launch System (SLS) rocket if the spacecraft has any chance of blasting off on schedule. "The agency’s current funding plan for SLS may be $US400 million short of what the program needs to launch by 2017," the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014

Super Cali optimistic cloud is now a focus – even though the sound of it is something quite

California has become the first state in the US to shift a massive chunk of its government computing system to the cloud – and dubbed it CalCloud. "CalCloud is an important step towards providing faster and more cost effective IT services to California state departments and ultimately to the citizens of California," said Marybel …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
PlayStation Network

Sony tries to make PlayStation Network hack row go away with $15m in cash and games

Sony has offered a $15m settlement to gamers after its PlayStation Network (PSN) was comprehensively pwned, but it refuses to admit that it was at fault. In April 2011 the Japanese giant was forced to shut down PSN after hackers got into its system and pillaged user accounts for information. While credit card information was …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jul 2014
Fail and You

iOS slurpware brouhaha: It's for diagnostics, honest, says Apple

Faced with a growing backlash, Apple has added a page to its support website explaining iOS's previously unexplained data-slurping tools – which were recently highlighted by security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. The utilities – which includes a silent packet sniffer, a file relay system that bypasses Apple's Backup Encryption …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jul 2014

Comcast bosses: THAT pushy sales rep was only obeying orders

Comcast management has said the staffer who was recorded endlessly haranguing a subscriber over the phone was doing what he trained and paid to do. The ISP's customer-retention worker was recorded by Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL and a former tech blogger, repeatedly refusing Block's request to cancel his subscription. The …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jul 2014

Tails-hacking Exodus: Here's video proof of our code-injection attack

Exodus Intelligence has revealed what it claims is video evidence of researchers unmasking an anonymous user of the Tails operating system. The security bods claim they can upload malicious code to a system running Tails, execute the payload remotely, and ultimately discover the victim's public IP address. Tails is a fork of …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jul 2014
Apple signs for auction

18,000 Apple employees could get bite of profits with class-action lawsuit

A lawsuit against Apple by disgruntled employees has just been granted class-action status, potentially creating a payday for staff who say the firm held back their wages and stopped them from taking rest breaks. The lawsuit (PDF), originally filed in 2011 by former Apple retail and corporate staff, claims that managers …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jul 2014

Faced with stiff competition, Facebook just can't satisfy – report

The latest data on social networks from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) shows Facebook is about the least popular social network – but that doesn't seem to stop people using the site. "Even with improvements across the board, e-business—and social media in particular - doesn't do well in terms of user …
Iain Thomson, 23 Jul 2014
Power lines

Are you broke? Good with electronics? Build a better AC/DC box, get back in black with $1m

There's a million dollars in prizes up for grabs from Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for the clever clogs who can build a direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) converter that's the size of a laptop. The Little Box Challenge aims to solve one of the dilemmas in modern-day power …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jul 2014
Goodwill

Goodwill's goodwill rocked as Feds probe bank card hacking scam

American charity Goodwill is being investigated by US federal authorities as the possible ground zero for a major debit and credit card security breach. But the company says it thinks it's in the clear. "Goodwill Industries International was contacted last Friday afternoon by a payment card industry fraud investigative unit and …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jul 2014
Facebook Save

NO TIME to read Facebook? Delegate the task to your FUTURE SELF

Apparently some Facebook users complain that there's never enough time to see all the stuff that gets stuck up on the site. Now Facebook has announced the cure for all that. Facebook Save Because life isn't complicated enough "Every day, people find all sorts of interesting items on Facebook that they don’t have time to …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jul 2014

Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert

Vulnerability analysis outfit Exodus Intelligence has warned that the Tails operating system has a number of critical vulnerabilities that can expose the identity of its users if properly finessed by an attacker. Tails, which received a recommendation from fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, is a Debian Linux–based OS …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jul 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook, 2012

HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert

An analysis of Apple's iOS operating system by a security expert has revealed various tools in the software that could be used for surveillance if one were so inclined. Jonathan Zdziarski concluded that the vast majority of iThing owners are unaware of lax mechanisms protecting their data. Data forensics expert and author …
Iain Thomson, 21 Jul 2014
Apollo 11 astronaut patch

Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON

45 years ago today - that is, July 20th - the human race left its first bootprint on a body other than the Earth we'd been treading for the last few million years, as Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle lunar module's ladder and onto the dusty regolith of the Moon. "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind …
Iain Thomson, 20 Jul 2014
MIT robot fingers

Fear a terrifying killer robot revolution? GET A GRIP: Boffins invent cyborg hand for humans

A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a powered glove equipped with two robotic fingers that is designed to augment the puny flesh and bone accouterments that adorn our human hands. MIT robot fingers Who wants five fingers when you can have seven? Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT The glove has sensors to …
Iain Thomson, 19 Jul 2014
bug on keyboard

Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers

Malware dubbed Mayhem is spreading through Linux and FreeBSD web servers, researchers say. The software nasty uses a grab bag of plugins to cause mischief, and infects systems that are not up to date with security patches. Andrej Kovalev, Konstantin Ostrashkevich and Evgeny Sidorov, who work at Russian internet portal Yandex, …
Iain Thomson, 18 Jul 2014

Meet the 'smallest GPU' for wearable gizmos ... wait, where did it go?

The official launch of Android Wear was less than a month ago, but Imagination Technologies has this week unveiled a tiny graphics processor that it reckons will be just the thing for your snazzy new smartwatch. The single-core PowerVR GX5300 GPU is just 0.55mm2 – apparently the "world's smallest" – and squeezes in full OpenGL …
Iain Thomson, 18 Jul 2014
Credit: IGNACIO LEONARDI http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1118608

NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'

Edward Snowden has given an interview to The Guardian from his Russian hideout and warned that, among other things, those naked selfies people send to their loved ones are common currency among NSA staff. "You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old. They've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary …
Iain Thomson, 17 Jul 2014
Fail and You

NASDAQ IT security spend: $1bn. Finding mystery malware on its servers: Priceless

NASDAQ servers were infected by malware that exploited two mystery zero-day vulnerabilities, according to a magazine cover story published today. Despite spending a ton of money on computer security, the stock exchange was wide open to attack, we're told. Today's report pulls back the curtain back to reveal a little more about …
Iain Thomson, 17 Jul 2014
iPhone 4 unlocked

Want to legally unlock your phone from its network? The US Senate says that's A-OK

In a rare display of equanimity (and common sense), the US Senate has unanimously passed a bill allowing cell phone owners to unlock their handsets, should they choose to do so. "I applaud the Senate for so quickly passing the bipartisan Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, which puts consumers first and …
Iain Thomson, 17 Jul 2014
Tesla's Elon Musk

Elon Musk GIVES UP ON SEX: He'll make do with a 'cheap' Tesla III instead

Elon Musk has announced that his electric car maker Tesla will have a new model available for sale in 2017 at the relatively cheap* price of $35,000. And he added that he has an oh-so classy name for the flash motor. "We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jul 2014
Artist's concept of Curiosity

ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial

NASA's Curiosity rover has stumbled across a massive iron meteorite half buried in the sands of Mars – an object the US space agency has dubbed Lebanon. The Lebanon meteorite found by Curiosity The Lebanon meteorite found by Curiosity The two-metre-wide rock was discovered by the Martian robot on May 25. It was photographed …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jul 2014
scissors cut cable

WiGag war: Tiny low-power chip promises mobes 4.6Gbps Wi-Fi

The quest to kill video and IO cables with super-fast wireless connections is an old one. Now chip companies are gearing up for another push using the 802.11ad standard – aka WiGig – to scrap wires and carry data over the air at multi-gigabit-a-second speeds. Today, one such biz, Nitero, reckons its new hardware will outperform …
Iain Thomson, 16 Jul 2014

'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended the deadline for public comment on its net neutrality proposals – after a flood of traffic borked the agency's website yet again. At the heart of the proposals are rules that could allow huge corporations to pay for prioritized internet traffic. While on the one hand, …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jul 2014

Listen: WORST EVER customer service call – Comcast is 'very embarrassed'

Comcast has apologized to a subscriber who was subjected to a haranguing customer service call when he tried to cancel his account. Ryan Block, a VP of product at AOL and a former tech blogger, was moving home and taking the opportunity to scrap his Comcast service after nine years. The only problem was that the customer service …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jul 2014
Shot of D-Wave's 16 qubit chip

D-Wave to bust 1,000-qubit barrier with new quantum compute device

D-Wave is planning a big expansion into quantum computing hardware and their software, helped in part by $30m in extra funding from venture capitalists. Vern Brownell, CEO of D-Wave, told The Register that his firm will use the bulk of the cash injection to expand out its software side to make it easier for customers to use the …
Iain Thomson, 15 Jul 2014
cable

Hackers' delight: Hotel cyber-cafe, er, business centers, apparently – US Secret Service

The US Secret Service has quietly warned hotels that malware slingers are increasingly targeting PCs in hotel business centers to harvest sensitive information. In a non-public advisory, obtained by investigative journalist Brian Krebs, law enforcement officials have arrested members of a criminal gang that is accused of …
Iain Thomson, 14 Jul 2014
The Falcon 9 at Cape Canaveral

SpaceX FINALLY lobs six sats into orbit (don't mention the landing)

SpaceX has successfully launched six new communications satellites for Orbcomm after months of delays. However, Elon Musk's rocketeers had less success at landing the used Falcon 9 rocket after its delivery. The Orbcomm birds will be used solely in a machine-to-machine communications network run by the company, and will …
Iain Thomson, 14 Jul 2014

Space geeks' resurrected NASA Sun probe ISEE-3 now on collision course with THE MOON

The attempt by a team of crowdfunded space hackers to recover one of NASA's most historic satellites has run into problems: the spacecraft's engines are stubbornly refusing to fire, leaving it on a possible collision course with the Moon. The ISEE-3 reboot Team Space hacking team has the right stuff Last week the team …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jul 2014
sniper t-shirt 24.7.03

Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet

The military boffins at DARPA have just released footage of their first successful shots of a bullet dubbed EXACTO (EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance) that can be steered onto a target when fired from a standard rifle. The video, shot at a government firing range in February and April, shows two .50-cal rounds maneuvering in …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jul 2014
Gold Hat stinking badges

FCC commish: We don't need no steenkin' net neutrality rules

There's no need to issue new network neutrality rules since they wouldn't necessarily have any benefit, and people don’t really care about network performance issues, according to US FCC commissioner Michael O’Reilly. The Republican commissioner made the comments in an op-ed piece for National Review, co-written with …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jul 2014

German government orders local CIA station chief to pack his bags

The German government has ordered the local station chief of the CIA to leave the country immediately – after a second German government official was arrested in an investigation into US surveillance on its erstwhile ally. "The representative of the US intelligence services at the embassy of the United States of America has been …
Iain Thomson, 10 Jul 2014