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Apple's zippy silicon leaves Android rivals choking on dust

Steve Jobs once said that "innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have" – it's all about how you spend it. Despite spending a far lower proportion of its income on R&D* than Google, Apple's approach is paying off in one area in particular. The huge investment in proprietary, homegrown silicon is giving it …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Apr 2017
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You just sent an on-prem app to the cloud and your data centre has empty racks. What now?

On-premises data centres are expensive to build and operate, which is one reason public cloud is so attractive … albeit not so attractive that organisations will immediately evacuate on-premises data centres. Indeed, it's accepted that workloads will migrate over years and that hybrid clouds will become very common. But it's …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Apr 2017
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Ambient light sensors can steal data, says security researcher

Security researcher Lukasz Olejnik says it is possible to slurp sensitive data with the ambient light sensors installed in many smartphones and laptops. The sensors are there so that devices can automatically change the brightness of screens, a handy trick that save scrambles to change settings. But Olejnik says such sensors …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Apr 2017
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Ex-West Ham winger charged twice over cybershenanigans

Detectives from Operation Falcon, the Metropolitan Police's cybercrime unit, have charged a footballer with two fraud-related offences. 22-year-old Blair Turgott began his career as a youth player at West Ham, and most recently played for Leyton Orient where he was celebrated for scoring what fans believed was the team's best …
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Zuckerberg: Escape from the real world into my goofy make-believe science-fiction fantasy

F8 2017 Amid the fallout over the killing of an elderly man broadcast via Facebook on Sunday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared, "Our next focus is building community." Facebook's approach to this civic construction project involves superimposing graphic effects on real-world images through augmented reality (AR) tools. Speaking at the F8 …
Thomas Claburn, 18 Apr 2017
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Profit with just one infection! Crook sells ransomware for $175

Cybercrooks have begun retailing a new easy-to-use ransomware strain that promises profit with only one successful infection. Karmen is being sold on Dark Web forums from Russian-speaking cyber-criminal DevBitox for $175. The new ransomware-as-a-service variant offers a graphical dashboard, allowing purchasers to keep a …
John Leyden, 18 Apr 2017
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Switch on your smartphone camera and look how fertile I am

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have cheerful sperm. This will come as a great relief to Register readers, I'm sure, but no doubt you're wondering: how do I know? Ah well, I have an app for that. Medical researchers at Harvard have developed an inexpensive smartphone attachment that measures male fertility. You can appreciate how facile it must be to …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Apr 2017
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US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

Video For the first time, the US has used its largest non-nuclear explosive, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (also known as the Mother Of All Bombs) in Afghanistan. The MOAB is a 10.5-ton bomb containing 18,700 pounds (8,482 kilograms) of high explosive. It was used against a cave and tunnel complex in use by the …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2017
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Troll it your way: Burger King ad tries to hijack Google Home gadgets

Updated Artery-attacking mega-chain Burger King has thrown up a new online advertisement designed to hijack nearby Google Home gizmos. The ad features a bloke in the usual Burger King employee garb holding the chain's signature gut-buster sandwich. Saying the fifteen-second spot will not allow enough time to fully explain the virtues …
Shaun Nichols, 12 Apr 2017
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Nerd Klaxon: Barbican to host Science Fiction exhibition this summer

Interview The Barbican Centre will host a sprawling festival-style Science Fiction exhibition this summer, featuring an immersive range of exhibits from across the breadth of the genre. Curated by Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, who spoke to The Register about the exhibition, the purpose was to explore Science Fiction “as an …
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UK boffins steal smartmobe PINs with motion sensors

Updated with Apple fix The World Wide Web Consortium might want to take another look at its habit of exposing too much stuff to application interfaces: a UK researcher has demonstrated a JavaScript app can spy on smartphone sensors to guess the codes users employ to unlock the devices. The attack, published in the International Journal of …
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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Everyone is looking at me as I break into a sweat. "Come on, come on," I mutter to my smartphone but already the harrumphing has begun. Why do English people harrumph when they're impatient? They could shout "Hurry up, fool!" or offer to help. But no, they always prefer to make a guttural hissing sound through their noses, …
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The beast is back: Reborn ekranoplan heads for the Arctic

Russia has posted pictures of a new ground effect vehicle, or ekranoplan. The new design is more modest than the "Caspian Sea Monster" that so alarmed Western intelligence during the Cold War, and can only be seen taxiing. Ground effect vehicles were pioneered by Russian engineers, and take advantage of the increased lift …
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Pong, anyone? How about Pong on a vintage oscilloscope?

Warning: there's no real IT angle in a chap hacking a venerable Tektronix Type 422 oscilloscope to play Pong. It's just fun. The Frankensteinian machine is the brainchild of Glen Kleinschmidt over at the electronic hobbyist site EEVBlog. There's no “take the easy way” about Kleinschmidt's work: sure, it might be easy to …
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Goodbye, cruel world! NASA's Cassini preps for kamikaze Saturn dive

Video NASA's Cassini spacecraft will enter the final stages of its mission by nosediving between Saturn’s rings on April 26, before it rams into the planet's atmosphere and vaporizes. The spaceship was launched 20 years ago and has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. Now, running low on fuel, it's preparing for the descent …
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Researchers sink scalpel into Lazarus crew. Yup. Autopsy shows distinct hacker tradecraft

The hacking group blamed for the infamous $81m cyber-heist against the Central Bank of Bangladesh last year has been targeting a far wider range of organisations than previously thought. The so-called Lazarus cyber-espionage and sabotage crew has also been busy attacking casinos, software developers for investment companies …
John Leyden, 4 Apr 2017
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Andreesen Horowitz tips $10m into American AI drone upstart

Technology investment firm Andreesen Horowitz has poured $10.5m into an artificial intelligence drone upstart, buying itself a place on the board of directors into the bargain. Shield AI is an American startup making drones which “find people and threats inside buildings without a remote pilot,” according to a company …
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Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Car horns symphonise accompanied by a chorus of yelling cyclists as I shimmy on foot through oncoming traffic. Strictly, I come dancing on to the tarmac, cavorting between the lanes, prancing out of the way of motorbikes and generally tripping the traffic light fantastic. Moments earlier, I had been cutting capers along the …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Mar 2017
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Uber wasn't to blame for robo-ride crash – or was it? Witness said car tried to 'beat the lights'

Analysis A police report appears to support the claim that Uber was not to blame for a recent crash of its self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona. But the incident raises serious questions about what rules the startup's engineers are putting into the car's software. The report – made available Wednesday for anyone who is able to …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Mar 2017
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Community vid reveals demos of vSphere-on-AWS cloud concoction

VMware's revealed some demos of its planned hybrid cloud service running inside Amazon Web Services. VMware announced its planned partnership with AWS last October, promising a cloudy, elastic version of vSphere. And in the video below, posted to the vBrown Bag community video channel, it looks to have delivered. VMware …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Mar 2017
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Cheap, flimsy, breakable and replaceable – yup, Ikea, you'll be right at home in the IoT world

Analysis Ikea has just announced the entry of smart home technology into the mainstream with a new range of lights that can be activated by motion or smartphone app. The Trådfri lineup is quite extensive – four lightbulbs, three light panels, five cabinet lights, and four sensors/gateways – and is so far only available in the company's …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Mar 2017
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Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “For heaven’s sake, stop waggling it in my face! Kuh-rist, keep still! Right – you’ve asked for it!” Alerted by the commotion, colleagues struggle to hold me back as I try to give my computer the damn good kicking it deserves. That’s unfair: the computer itself didn’t deserve such rough treatment. More importantly, it is not …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Mar 2017
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Yet another job menaced by AI! Uh, wait, it says here... Dance Dance Revolution designers

Dance Dance Revolution – one of the few computer games that causes players to break into a sweat – is getting a boost from artificial intelligence. The game is frequently spotted in arcades. Players stand on a metallic square pad that has up, down, left and right arrow buttons, and you basically follow on-screen prompts to …
Katyanna Quach, 24 Mar 2017
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Boffins reveal how to pour a perfect glass of wine with no drips. First step, take a diamond...

Video A biophysicist has found a way to save precious wine drops from leaking down the side of the bottle after it’s poured into a glass. There are ways to prevent spillage with nifty devices inserted into the bottle neck. But Daniel Perlman, a senior research scientist and inventor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, America, …
Katyanna Quach, 24 Mar 2017
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If you were cuffed during Trump's inauguration, cops are trying to crack your smartphone

Vid The inauguration of President Donald Trump in the US capital was marked by protests, with cops collaring more than 200 people on the day. Now court documents reveal the US government's efforts to crack the arrestees' locked phones and slurp their contents. The filings [PDF] – submitted to the Washington DC Superior Court – …
Iain Thomson, 23 Mar 2017
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Uber bans 'brilliant jerks', will train staff on Why Diversity Matters

Throughout its recent sexism and scofflaw scandals, Uber hasn't denied that its culture has some invidious aspects. And now the company has promised to get rid of them. Uber on Tuesday let it be known it staged an all-hands meeting in which board member Arianna Huffington declared “Going forward there can be no room at Uber …
Simon Sharwood, 22 Mar 2017
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Microsoft's 'Application Verifier' bug-finder is easily pwnable

Updated “Don't create undocumented features” should be tattooed in the corner of every developer's eye: there's one in the Microsoft Application Verifier Provider that provides attack vectors on everything Windows since XP. Cybellum, which discovered the feature, has focussed on attacking anti-virus first, but says its DoubleAgent …
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$1m Popslate e-ink screen venture tanks, Indiegogo backers flame out

A popular Indiegogo venture to build a secondary e-ink display for the iPhone has shut down after raising over $1m – and donors will not get their money back. Yashar Behzadi and Greg Moon, the founders of Popslate, the eponymous company behind the popSLATE 2 secondary smart screen, explained that the company will be dissolved …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Mar 2017
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This AI stuff is all talk! Bots invent their own language to natter away behind humans' backs

Artificial intelligence agents can invent their own language and talk among themselves to work out the best way to get a job done, a study has shown. Conversations come natural to humans, but they are a massive challenge for computers. Recent successes in this area include better human-language translation, and simple question …
Katyanna Quach, 21 Mar 2017
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FBI, NSA top brass: We've seen jack squat to back up Trump's claims of Obama wiretaps

Vid Monday mornings are never pleasant, are they? Take FBI director James Comey and head of the NSA Admiral Mike Rogers, for example, who kicked off their week by being grilled by the US House Select Intelligence Committee. The meeting was scheduled to give Congress an update on claims of Russian meddling in the presidential …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2017
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Like a BaaS: IBM offers Blockchain as a Service

IBM's fortunes are set to change, we're sure of it. After 20 straight quarters of sales decline, the business has launched Blockchain-as-a-Service. IBM Blockchain is a public cloud service for the building of "tailor-made blockchain solutions" on the IBM Cloud. According to Big Blue, customers could even trade paper using its …
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Dr Hannah Fry: We need to be wary of algorithms behind closed doors

Interview Sure, algorithms are insanely useful, but we need to watch we don't become complacent and unable to question them, University College London's Dr Hannah Fry warned in an interview with The Register. Dr Fry is a lecturer in the mathematics of cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, where her research " …
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US military's latest toy set: Record-breaking laser death star, er, truck

Vid Lockheed Martin says it is ready to deliver its most powerful laser weapon yet to the US military. This Death-Star-on-wheels can shoot down drones, missiles, and similar stuff, we're told. The American weapons conglomerate self-funded the building of a 30kW test system and then scaled the design up. The 60kW version is mounted …
Iain Thomson, 17 Mar 2017
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Face down in a Shoreditch gutter: Attack of the kickstarting hipster

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have taken it all off. Would you like to join me? Loosen those straps and let it all slip onto the floor. You might feel naked and not a little bit exposed but no one is watching, I assure you. No really, now that you have removed your wearable tech, this will be the first time for ages that your every move is not being …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Mar 2017
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60 slow-mo A-bomb test videos explode onto YouTube

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has released a recently-declassified collection of films depicting atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted between 1945 and 1962. The United States conducted extensive atmospheric testing during those years, and the Laboratory says they were all captured on film by multiple …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Mar 2017
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Ubiquiti network gear can be 'hijacked by an evil URL' – thanks to its 20-year-old PHP build

Updated Security researchers have gone public with details of an exploitable flaw in Ubiquiti's wireless networking gear – after the manufacturer allegedly failed to release firmware patches. Austrian-based bods at SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab found the programming cockup in November and contacted Ubiquiti – based in San Jose, …
Iain Thomson, 16 Mar 2017
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FreeNAS sheds storage skin, tries on sexier hyperconverged garb

FreeNAS, the FreeBSD-derived software that turns a server into a network-attached storage box, has upgraded, changed its name and now asserts it's a hyperconverged platform. The new name is FreeNAS Corral, replacing the expected FreeNAS 10, because “Only a new name could do justice to the sheer amount of change and new …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Mar 2017
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Van Allen surprise: fewer nasty particles than NASA expected

Video After a three-year search, NASA's Van Allen Probes have worked out there's far fewer high-energy electrons in the Van Allen Belts than previously thought. That's good news, because electrons moving at relativistic speeds are a danger to navigation, as NASA explains in a paper that's just landed in the Journal of Geophysical …
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Microsoft urges PhD-grade devs to play Minecraft for money

Microsoft wants PhD researchers to pitch their bots into a Minecraft landscape, but it's not some simple “robot wars” remake: to win, your AI will have to learn to co-operate with humans. And you don't get to choose who you co-operate with: in Project Malmo, the other players your code works with will be randomly assigned. …
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SpaceX yoinks $96m GPS launch deal from under ULA's nose

The US Air Force has awarded a $96m contract to SpaceX to launch one of its next-generation GPS satellites, in a competitive contract that left the United Launch Alliance in the dust. The launch, which must take place by April 30, 2019, will see the GPS III satellite launched from SpaceX's spaceport. As it's a low-Earth orbit …
Iain Thomson, 15 Mar 2017
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Boffins Rickroll smartphone by tickling its accelerometer

Smartphone vendors might be learning to mistrust software, but what about the hardware? University of Michigan boffins have put this question to the world by sending unauthorised data to a Samsung turns-out-to-be-not-so-smartphone by buzzing its accelerometer. The problem highlighted in this paper is that systems “blindly …
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Borked browser baked into Nintendo Switch

A couple of console enthusiasts have run up a proof-of-concept showing a Nintendo's new games machine, the "Switch", being p0wned thanks to an old Webkit vulnerability. When CVE-2016-4657 emerged last year, it was used to jailbreak iOS before version 9.3.5. The Switch has a built-in browser that carries the vuln, and as …

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