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FitBit

Got a Fitbit? Thought you were achieving your goals? Better read this

UPDATE Scientists have tested a pair of wearable fitness gadgets from Fitbit and found they get heart rates wrong by as much as 25 beats per minute. The study (PDF) was commissioned by law firm Lieff Cabraser, which is running a class action against Fitbit over inaccurate heart rate readings. The study didn't use a colossal sample …
Simon Sharwood, 23 May 2016
How the flying snake looks in simulation

The underbelly of simulation science: replicating the results

Replicating computer-simulated science is harder than you think, as a group of aerospace researchers from George Washington University have found. In fact, without decent versioning, documentation, publication of data and rigorous evidence standards, simulations that attract headlines both in academic and general media should …
HiFire 5B launch

Hypersonic flight test hits Mach 7.5

Australia's venerable Woomera rocket range last week hosted a successful hypersonic test in which the experimental HiFiRE rocket hit Mach 7.5 and an apogee of 278 km. The data-gathering experiment wasn't testing a hypersonic motor – sorry “Sydney to London in two hours” fans – but rather carried instruments to observe the …

Bold stance: Microsoft says terrorism is bad

Microsoft is enacting a new policy to remove terrorist content from its consumer services. The Redmond software giant said that the new terms and conditions for its hosted services will bar any content containing graphic violence or supporting material for any group considered a terrorist organization by the United Nations …
Shaun Nichols, 21 May 2016
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SWIFT moves on security in wake of hacking attacks

The team behind the SWIFT financial transaction network is taking another look at its security after several hacking attempts against its customers. In February, hackers managed to siphon off $81m from Bangladesh's central bank in a raid that – but for a spelling mistake that alerted an analyst – could have taken a lot more. …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2016

Modular phone Ara to finally launch

A modular phone that will let you snap on and pull off different components as you wish will finally launch this fall, Google has announced. The Ara project was originally announced in October 2013 and was part of the acquired Motorola Mobility business. Since then it has become part of Google's Advanced Technology and …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016
Yahoo! branded bus

Sky! Blue!, Oceans! Wet!, Yahoo! Overvalued!

Yahoo!'s planned sell-off of its core business may not end up bringing the cash return investors had hoped for. Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports that Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web is receiving bids of around $2-3bn on its core business, significantly less than the $4-8bn …
Shaun Nichols, 20 May 2016
Professional carbon drone with GPS. Pic via Shutterstock

US government publishes drone best practices

You can't use drones to check whether your employee really is sick, or to take pictures of your neighbors, unless you're a news organization in which case the sky is the limit - or more accurately not the limit. That's according to advice published by the US government over how best to use drones – or unmanned aircraft systems …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016
Oculus Rift

Oculus backtracks on open software promise

VR headset company Oculus has backtracked on a promise not to lock down its software to its hardware. In an update put out this week, the company's digital rights management (DRM) system now checks whether the Oculus Rift headset is attached to the computer when playing a game. If it isn't, the game won't play, effectively …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016

China caught astroturfing social networks

A new study claims to have unmasked a state-sponsored social media campaign in China that's responsible for nearly a half-billion social media comments. The report [PDF] from Harvard University suggests that a group of users acting at the behest of the Chinese government uses the comments to influence discussion of topics that …
Shaun Nichols, 20 May 2016
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Symphony enters messaging app market

Entering an already crowded market, Symphony has announced it will produce an iOS app for its cloud-based messaging service. The Google-backed company's service is used largely by financial institutions due to its high-level security, but is currently only available through a browser. The iPhone app will be released next week …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016

Google still faces legal spat with SEO biz that claimed it was wiped from web

Analysis An attempt by Google to get a competition case against it thrown out on free speech grounds was itself thrown out this week. The case [PDF], e-ventures LLC vs Google, working its way through a Florida District Court, has received little attention so far. It's noteworthy mainly because it's the first time an SEO (search engine …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 May 2016
Laptop user, photo via Shutterstock

Tech support locker scam poses as failed Microsoft Update

Cybercrooks have put together a new scam that falls halfway between ransomware and old school browser lockup ruses. The new class of “tech support lockers” rely on tricking users into installing either a fake PC optimiser or bogus Adobe Flash update. Once loaded the malware mimicks ransomware and locks users out of their …
John Leyden, 20 May 2016
European Union Flag

EMC, Cisco and pals nail colours to the EU Remain mast

American storage seller EMC is the latest tech tanker to tell the good burghers of Britain it wants the country to remain in the EU, and it even did so without mentioning Hitler or ISIS. Outgoing CEO Big Joe Tucci and execs at other big businesses including Cisco, Ford of Europe, Airbus, Mars, IBM UK and Microsoft UK signed a …
Paul Kunert, 20 May 2016
Swiss Cow

Networking not cutting it: Brocade needs wireless to pull revs up

Brocade reported second quarter revenue of $523m, down 4 per cent year-over-year from $547m, and a 9 per cent quarter-over-quarter decline from $574m, as general storage networking sales weakness impacted its results. Segment-wise: SAN product revenue of $297mn was down 5 per cent year-over-year Fibre Channel directors …
Chris Mellor, 20 May 2016

Wayne Rooney razzles in X-Men: Apocalypse plug

It's Friday, and if you need a solid excuse to run screaming from your PC in search of a pint, look no further than this direful Manchester United plug for X-Men: Apocalypse: Anything for the team you say, @WayneRooney? Good luck! #XMenApocalypse https://t.co/ym1XtMansq — Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 20, 2016 Reaction …
Lester Haines, 20 May 2016
Tabby cat cuddles roll of one-hundred dollar bills. Photo by Shutterstock

Three UK: Our MMS prices are up. Get around us with WhatsApp or Skype

From next month Three customers are advised to be more selective when sending pics of their food, cats or drunken escapades - as the mobile operator is more than doubling its pricing. Or, you know, you could just use an OTT app. Yes, like the ones that are eating mobile operators' breakfasts with internet voicecalls over Wi-Fi …
Kat Hall, 20 May 2016
One Nation Under CCTV

Home Office U-turns on surveillance camera review muddle

Presumably after finally reading his report*, the government has thanked the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) for "clarifying" after he explained that he had not asked for the "enforcement powers" it had refused to give him. Earlier this month, The Register reported on the extraordinarily curt letter the government sent …
The audience at Continuous Lifecycle London

Continuous Lifecycle London: What we saw, what we learned

Video If you ever wondered what would happen when some of the leading lights of the software development world came together with a couple of hundred very real world users, you really should have been at Continuous Lifecycle London earlier this month. The event, brought to you by Situation Publishing, the people behind The Register …
Joe Fay, 20 May 2016
Game_of_Thrones_950

Flying filers and Game of Thrones: Jon Snow? No, latency is dead

Cache me if you can Special effects for season 6 of Game of Thrones were created by Spanish video special effects (VFX) house El Ranchito, which explains how it solved its classic scaling problem below. El Ranchito, which was founded in 2010 in Barcelona, has an office in Madrid. It has done work on movies including The Homesman and it also did …
Chris Mellor, 20 May 2016

Hack probing poodle sacrifice cuffed for public crap

An Arizona TV journalist on assignment covering the alleged sacrifice and smoking of a family poodle was arrested earlier this week for allegedly dropping his pants and dumping a load in public. According to the Phoenix New Times, CBS 5's Jonathan Lowe is alleged to have been caught short in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear, …
Lester Haines, 20 May 2016
Flash Gordon

Join El Reg's Chris Mellor at FLASH FORWARD on 14 June

Promo The traditional hard disk array market is declining but the flash storage market is recording huge growth, with All Flash Arrays (AFAs) sales growing over 75 per cent annually and hybrid flash systems seven per cent year-on-year, according to IDC. This shift is affecting buying decisions in all kinds of businesses with the full …
David Gordon, 20 May 2016

A UK digital driving licence: What could possibly go wrong?

Security vendors have welcomed plans to trial digital versions of the UK’s driving licence. The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is working on a digital version of its driving license for smartphones, to serve as an "add-on" to the existing plastic card. DVLA chief Oliver Morley tweeted a snapshot of the prototype …
John Leyden, 20 May 2016
Man with a vaper apparatus - face obscured by smoke/vapour. Photo by Shutterstock

The ‘Vaping Crackdown’ starts today. This is what you need to know

Draconian new regulations on vaping come into effect today – but for many vapers, it won’t feel like a crackdown, at least, not right away, Written into the EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive were new rules restricting the supply, manufacture and promotion of things which aren’t tobacco products at all, but which have …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 May 2016
Laptop user, photo via Shutterstock

Hacked in a public space? Thanks, HTTPS

Have you ever bothered to look at who your browser trusts? The padlock of a HTTPS connection doesn't mean anything if you can't trust the other end of the connection and its upstream signatories. Do you trust CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Centre). What about Turkistan trust or many other “who are they” type …
Stuart Burns, 20 May 2016
PCM IBM chip, photo IBM

Great, IBM has had a PCM breakthrough. Who exactly is going to manufacture?

Analysis IBM has demonstrated a 3-bit Phase-Change Memory chip with IBM Zurich researcher Dr. Haris Pozidis talking about it in a YouTube video and not mentioning 3D XPoint once. The idea is to counter the relatively high cost of PCM chips by giving them 3 bits per cell, TLC or triple-level cells, instead of just one - clever. This …
Chris Mellor, 20 May 2016

India roasts as mercury hits 51°C

Those readers with a tendency to wilt with rising temperatures are advised to steer clear of the Indian state of Rajasthan, where the mercury yesterday hit a blistering 51°C. The city of Phalodi broke India's previous record of 50.6°C, registered in 1956, during a heatwave which has seen the country's north and west suffer …
Lester Haines, 20 May 2016
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Shared services centres supposed to save £128m saved £0... and cost £4m

Moves to shift departments' back office servers and ERP systems into two privately owned shared services centres - which had been touted as set to save the taxpayer £128m - have failed to prove "value for money", according to a report by the National Audit Office. The shared services centres, run separately by IT provider …
Kat Hall, 20 May 2016
Tintin and Captain Haddock. Pic by Thibaut Démare, licensed under cc 2.0

Being an IT trainer is like performing the bullet-catching trick

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I’m on stage with a gun pointing at my heart. There is the sound of nervous shuffling as those sitting in the stalls squirm in their seats. Then silence: the audience quickly falls still and holds it breath. The man armed with the musket is raising the muzzle to take better aim before slowly squeezing the trigger… He pauses. “ …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 May 2016

The Sons of Kahn and the Witch of Wookey

Stob Editor's Note: Verity Stob's Chronicles of Delphi [King James ed.] began in 1996. The most recent translations can be found here: The Sons of Kahn and the assembly language of the internet, here: The Sons of Kahn and the Pascal spring and here: Sons of Kahn: The Apocrypha. Now it came to pass the Sons of Kahn, who did dwell …
Verity Stob, 20 May 2016
Who and tangerine: photo BBC

BBC's Britflix likely dead before the ink has even dried on the news

Analysis Anyone hearing this week that Britain’s BBC is set to launch against Netflix with a service touted as “BritFlix” will almost certainly get the wrong idea and believe it is actually going to happen. The move is being touted merely because the recent government review of the BBC encouraged the ancient British public broadcasters …
Faultline, 20 May 2016

60 per cent of Androids exposed by new attack on mediaserver

Duo Security researcher Kyle Lady says attackers can compromise more than half of enterprise Android phones by chaining two operating system and chip vulnerabilities. The flaws affect scores of phones on the market from the most popular Lollipop version 5 Android system, second-placed KitKat version 4.4, and the barely-used …
Darren Pauli, 20 May 2016
Weapon of the information wars from Shutterstock

'Acts of war in a combat zone are not covered by your laptop warranty'

ON-CALL ON-CALL Welcome again to On-Call, our end-of-week waltz through readers' memories of odd jobs they've been asked to do. This week, reader “Jackson” shared the story of his time working for a very large and old three-letter-company, where he was part of a ““IT service consolidation” project that meant his client's employees …
Simon Sharwood, 20 May 2016
Rows of Gummi Bears in military formation. Author: Institute for Web Science and Technologies, University of Koblenz-Landau. Licensed under CC 3.0

If you know what's good for you, your health data belongs in the cloud

An average-looking chap in a suit in hotel lobby takes out his phone and makes a call. “Hi. You ok?" he asks. “ I got a notification that you’re at 60." Something that might sound vague or bizarre to many - what does "at 60" mean? - had a profound and immediate meaning to me. Many of my relatives are diabetic - it seems to be …
Mark Pesce, 20 May 2016
Horse_racing

VCE boss Chad Sakac bets he'll win the hyperconverged market

VCE's new VxRail hyperconverged appliance sold 146 units in its first 44 days on sale and the EMC server unit's new leader Chad Sakac says that impressive start means he's betting the outfit will become the leading hyperconverged systems vendor by the end of 2016. Nutanix is felt to be the revenue leader in the field, having …
Simon Sharwood, 20 May 2016
Airbus rendering of the new Beluga XL jetliner

Airbus to build plane that's even uglier than the A380

The A380 may be able to haul hundreds of people across oceans and continents in considerable comfort, but aerosexuals* find it hard to love on aesthetic grounds. And now Airbus has signalled it intends to make even uglier planes next year. You'll need to be a very dedicated aviation enthusiast to see the new ugly birds, …
Simon Sharwood, 20 May 2016
Image by Dr Flash http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-182053p1.html

Japan on Olympic hacking mission to test utilities, trains, telcos

Japan will from next year conduct mock hacking exercises with governments including the United States and private sector organisations ahead of the 2020 Olympic games. The effort will be run out of a new penetration testing arm to be created in 2017 charged with identifying vulnerabilities in physical control systems that …
Darren Pauli, 20 May 2016
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Bangladesh government domain turned into toxic phishing hole

Netcraft security man Paul Mutton says the Bangladesh Government has been used in banking phishing attacks targeting customers of Wells Fargo, Google, and AOL. The domains are restricted Government assets which Mutton says could indicate lax security controls. The popped server is located in the UK hosted by Nibs Solutions …
Team Register, 20 May 2016

Cisco retires Nexus 6000 switches

Cisco will retire its Nexus 6000 switches in mid-2017. The company recently popped out a end-of-life notice for the switches, which were launched in 2013 as part of a push to encourage adoption of 40G Ethernet. These days Cisco is keener on 100G Ethernet, promising to sell you faster kit for the same price as 40G kit. With …
Simon Sharwood, 20 May 2016
Backspace key from Shutterstock

Google Chrome deletes Backspace

Google's Chrome browser no longer lets you go back to your previously-used page with the Backspace key. As explained on this code review page “0.04% of page views navigate back via the backspace button and 0.005% of page views are after a form interaction.” “The latter are often cases where the user loses data. Years of user …
Simon Sharwood, 20 May 2016
AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin

Australian Federal Police say government ignorant of NBN raids

Australian Federal Police (AFP) has confirmed it raided the office of Labor senator Stephen Conroy and the home of a staffer of opposition communications minister Jason Claire over leaked documents pertaining to Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN). Sensitive documents have been repeatedly leaked since late last year …
Darren Pauli, 20 May 2016

Mars satellites show remains of massive tsunamis that ravaged Red Planet

Scientists think they have spotted the remains of two huge tsunamis on Mars caused by asteroids striking the planet back when it still had water. In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, the boffins say pictures from the imaging and radar satellites orbiting Mars show the effects of two separate asteroid strikes on …
Iain Thomson, 20 May 2016