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Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds movie still

At night, scary wildlife comes out to play in the chemical factory

On-call Welcome to On-Call, our semi-regular-ish weekend feature in which readers share experiences that happened late at night, in odd places. This week, the tale of reader "IT Gnome" who tells us "I work on call for a chemical factory, and it wouldn't look out of place at night in a zombie film." "It's perhaps the bleakest scariest …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Feb 2015
storage arrays superimposed on cloudy sky

There's more than one way to back up your data

In the world of data protection you don't get fired for losing money, you get fired for losing data. Companies tend to make many copies of data, some of which hang around, zombie-like, for years. Data protection is without question critically important and we need to understand how it has evolved if we are to decide which …
Trevor Pott, 25 Feb 2015
Laser heating of magnetic storage

Storage modernisation reality check

Keeping up with evolving storage demands is tough. This came through strongly in a recent Reg research study. Those taking part told us that pressure on the storage infrastructure wasn’t just down to increasing data volumes. New application requirements, the impact of virtualisation, and escalating business expectations for …
Dale Vile, 25 Feb 2015

SSL-busting adware: US cyber-plod open fire on Comodo's PrivDog

Updated The US Department of Homeland Security's cyber-cops have slapped down PrivDog, an SSL tampering tool backed by, er, SSL certificate flogger Comodo. Comodo, a global SSL authority, boasts a third of the HTTPS cert market, and is already in hot water for shipping PrivDog. What is PrivDog? Let's allow the US Computer Emergency …
John Leyden, 24 Feb 2015
Yahoo Lockport Data Center Servers

Give in to data centre automation and change your life

As an IT professional, unless you’ve been living under a rock you are probably familiar with automation, even if only in passing. Automation process has been in use in the business world for many years, but somewhat paradoxically IT is usually the least automated department in any organisation. Whole data centre automation and …
Aaron Milne, 24 Feb 2015
Marconi and transmission equipment

Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Geek's Guide to Britain This is the story of a 22-year-old technology genius, who, stung by the lack of interest in his work in his homeland, moved to a new country to develop his ideas. In a single year, this individual extended the performance of a key technology of his time by a factor of more than 20. It sounds like an outlandish tale even by …
SA Mathieson, 23 Feb 2015
money notes lifted up

Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

In the last few years IP-based voice communication has increasingly come to the attention of business managers. Internet-based voice communication has been around for years in a number of forms, some hideously cranky and others very effective. My personal watershed in the credibility of long-distance IP voice comms was …
Dave Cartwright, 23 Feb 2015
Trackr Bravo

Be your own Big Brother: Covert home spy gadgetry

Feature Ah, lurve. The sweet strains of Barry White, the bouquets of flowers, the boxes of chocolates. That was Valentine's day. Now it's a week later, and perhaps the nagging paranoia is starting to set in. Why haven't they called? Is your phone still working? Go on, pick it up again and check. On the Street Where You Live On the …
Nigel Whitfield, 21 Feb 2015
Long exposure shot showing patterns made my moving lightsabers

Wi-Fi beam-steering tech could KILL OFF fixed home networks

Analysis Veteran US antenna team Ethertronics has brought out what it describes as an active antenna system that can offer beam steering for Wi-Fi. The system sits in either the client end of Wi-Fi to stimulate the return path or in an Access Point and will work with any Wi-Fi chip architecture and boost performance by between 15 per …
Faultline, 20 Feb 2015

El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic

Our post-pub nosh neckfiller recipes have proved immensely popular over the last few months, as we've strived to bring our beloved readers the very best antidotes to a rigorous night on the sauce. However, amid the smacking of lips and the rattling of pots and pans, we have noticed a trend for commentards to decry some recipes …
Lester Haines, 20 Feb 2015
Stella Artois: Queens Tennis Championship. Artwork by stevecaplin.com for The Guardian

(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Feature Nothing proves the popularity of a star product more than its name being used as a verb. Rival companies hate it, but carpets get Hoovered, wrapping paper gets Sellotaped. And what do you do to a photo? A poorly Photoshopped picture can arouse horror or derision, while a half-decent one can become an internet phenomenon. Think …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Feb 2015
storage arrays superimposed on cloudy sky

Is cloud the answer to all your storage problems?

The ‘information explosion’ has become a cliché of the IT industry. Pretty much every storage vendor presentation, press release and sales brochure will tell you that data volumes are increasing exponentially, before pitching whatever product or service is being punted. As discussed in a previous article, however, the focus …
Dale Vile, 18 Feb 2015

EU ministers hold Big Meeting on Big Data. But how will they get you to hand it over?

Analysis Europe’s Industry and Internal Market Ministers have been told to have a good long think about Big Data before showing up to their next meeting in Brussels on 2 March. The “theme” of the next Competitiveness council meeting is “Unlocking Europe's digital potential: faster and wider innovation through open, networked and data- …
Jennifer Baker, 18 Feb 2015
GEC PABX 3 switchboard and operator

Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

When I was growing up it was something of a novelty to have a phone in the house. And when I started working in IT in 1989 my company was still encouraging staff to wait to make calls until after 1pm, when peak time ended. There was something unusual about the new phone system we deployed that year: the Philips Sopho-S was a …
Dave Cartwright, 17 Feb 2015
Beats headphones

Hey Apple - what's the $178bn for? Are you down with OTT?

Analysis After posting a record-breaking quarterly net profit of $18bn, on the back of sales of 74.5 million iPhones, Apple is sitting on $178bn in assets – despite a share buyback programme that has spent $103bn on its own stock, with $57bn of that occurring in the past 12 months. This is a staggering amount of cash, and it is only …
Faultline, 16 Feb 2015

Air gaps: Happy gas for infosec or a noble but inert idea?

Feature Last year Michael Sikorski of FireEye was sent a very unusual piece of malware. The custom code had jumped an air gap at a defence client and infected what should have been a highly-secure computer. Sikorski's colleagues from an unnamed company plucked the malware and sent it off to FireEye's FLARE team for analysis. "This …
Darren Pauli, 11 Feb 2015
Hitachi Ultrastar A7K2000

Hitachi's storage revenues: Not brilliant, but high-end gear helped – analyst

Analysis Hitachi pulled in more storage revenues in the last 2014 quarter than in its previous and year ago quarters, at least in local currency, but its mid-range was weak – implying its high-end Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) arrays did the business, says an analyst. Hitachi owns HDS, which sells Hitachi storage in every territory …
Chris Mellor, 9 Feb 2015
Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy book cover

Don't count on antivirus software alone to keep your data safe

TJX hacking mastermind Albert Gonzalez scoffed at antivirus tools. He and his cohorts wrote malware specifically designed to evade their detection. One can imagine him laughing as his team of hackers broke into corporate networks using SQL injection attacks and gained administrative access. Then he probably guffawed, Bond …
shutterstock_184661174

TalkTalk may begin making 'Three style' low-cost mobile moves

As Telefonica looks to sell its O2 UK outfit to Hutchison Three, it is also supporting two mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deals which are adding to the quadplay mayhem of the UK market. BSkyB and TalkTalk both have their virtual mobile services hosted by O2, and both will be harnessing these, while also investing in Wi- …
Bomba alarm clock

At the third beep, the Atomic Clock will be 60 ... imprecisely

Feature The atomic clock celebrates its 60th birthday this year. John Watkinson looks at the story of this enabling technology that lies behind GPS and DAB and discusses its roots in quantum mechanics and relativity. Readers are warned that they might need to lie down for a while after reading this article. The story probably begins …

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie

Our pushing of the culinary envelope takes us into intergalactic space this week, as we present for your post-pub consideration the magnificent Red Dwarf chilli chutney egg sarnie, likened to "a cross between food and bowel surgery". That's how Arnold Rimmer described Dave Lister's unholy creation in episode Thanks for the …
Lester Haines, 7 Feb 2015
Fear Of Landing Tiger Moth review

Tiger Moth: Old school flying without all those pesky flaps, brakes and instruments

Vulture in the Air Stepping up from our usual car reviews, we’ve got an aeroplane this weekend. The guest pilot is Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, who runs the Fear of Landing website. What’s it like flying a Tiger Moth? Absolutely AMAZING! I don’t think I can do the experience justice, but I have to try. You can imagine my excitement when Into the Blue …

Half a billion wearables... and guess whose kit has to support all that data, asks Cisco

Analysis Video will continue to be the primary engine of mobile data growth over the next five years, but will be reinforced by an explosion in M2M (machine-to-machine) applications and particularly wearables as a subset of that, given they are more data-intensive. As a result, total mobile data traffic will reach 292 exabytes (292 x 10^ …
Faultline, 6 Feb 2015
A fresh horse dump

Legalese and coding? Yup, it's the open-source FOSDEM shindig

FOSDEM doesn't get the ra-ra headlines or (thankfully) the "booth babes" but the conference does get networking and top technologists (and Belgian beer). I saw a couple of my tech heroes and big cheeses here a few minutes apart just before writing this, for example, and got some top advice for a specific tech issue a breath …
Fruit and vegetables on display on the shelves of a supermarket

Big Data, empty bellies: How supermarkets tweak prices just for the sake of YOUR LOVE

As the Christmas trading figures emerged from the big-name supermarkets last month, the outcome of their price war was laid bare. Consumers benefited from falling food prices while limited-range discounters Aldi and Lidl enjoyed their fastest growth ever. However, this war has not been without its casualties. Morrisons …
Pistol cartridges and a pistol

Dixons Carphone clings to EE, Three in Phones 4U bullet dodge

Analysis Electrical retail Goliath Dixons Carphone has announced deals with mobile networks EE and Three to head off the scenario that killed Phones4u. Phones4U folded when it failed to negotiate contracts to sell mobile network airtime. Dixons Carphone has now announced a multi-year contract with EE and a new range of custom tariffs …
Simon Rockman, 2 Feb 2015
hands waving dollar bills in the air

How Pivotal cracked the one-billion-dollar code

Analysis For well over a decade companies have been trying to trade in open-source popularity for mountains of cash, and for well over a decade the vast majority of them have failed. Downloads, it would appear, aren’t readily convertible into dollars. This has left Red Hat the only billion-dollar open source vendor, a distinction no one …
Matt Asay, 2 Feb 2015
creative commons - must credit clarence: *www.sxc.hu/profile/clarence

Rule-breakers thrive in strait-laced Singapore

The eXpat Files Douglas Baigrie is an ethical hacker, a role he says it's hard to recruit for in Singapore because the local culture encourages following rules – not thinking around them as he's required to do. The 36-year-old Scot therefore found himself in demand in the Lion City, and after seven years there has even learned to cope with the …

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Sizzling sag aloo

We're disappointed to report that despite our attempts last week to raise the tone of our post-pub neckfiller nosh recipes by the classy use of a soupçon of français, we have not yet attracted a sponsor willing to back our efforts to push the culinary envelope. No matter, because the latest offering for your wobbly dining …
Lester Haines, 1 Feb 2015
Android icon desktop toys

BITE that APPLE if you want to escape the Android garden, Microsoft

Analysis Microsoft has made Office on Android available on tablets at the exact moment its fortunes with Apple and Samsung are in flux. If Redmond's going to win, it needs to bet on Apple. Redmond removed the preview label from Office for Android apps on Thursday, making Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote available from Google’s Play …
Gavin Clarke, 29 Jan 2015
Close-up of a YouTube logo as viewed on a computer screen in close up...

'YOUTUBE is EVIL': Somebody had a tape running, Google...

Analysis It's not often a $450bn multinational is humbled by a single classical musician with a tape recorder. Yet that seems to be what happened this weekend. Google spends billions on marketing, paying lobbyists and buying influence. It funds over 150 organisations and overtook Goldman Sachs last year as the biggest corporate political …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2015

Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Feature Despite regular headlines about self-powered gadgets and a deluge of stories claiming that any day now we should expect our smart phones to start gathering power from the environment around us, the promise of harvested energy always seems just out of reach. Or is it? We may not be charging our gadgets in our Wellington boots any …
Bill Ray, 29 Jan 2015

I ain't afraid of no GHOST – securo-bods

The latest high-profile security vulnerability affecting Linux systems is serious but nowhere near as bad as the infamous Heartbleed flaw, according to security experts. Hackers might be able to use the so-called GHOST flaw to plant malware or seize control of some Linux-based systems. Security researchers at cloud security …
John Leyden, 28 Jan 2015

Five years of Sun software under Oracle: Were the critics right?

Oracle-Sun anniversary Back in 2010, critics worried that Sun Microsystems' software portfolio would wither on the vine once Oracle got its hands on it. Five years on and the worst fears have proven baseless, yet former Sun diehards have had plenty to be disappointed about since Larry Ellison & Co gobbled the former server heavyweight. Although Sun …
Neil McAllister, 28 Jan 2015

Win Sun, lose Sun: How Larry's bet on old-world systems hurt Oracle

Oracle-Sun anniversary Feeling calm and relaxed? Join the Reg on a journey to an alternate reality where Oracle’s cloud business is the envy of all of its competitors. It holds two trillion objects and is growing faster now than at any time in its history. What began as something for developers is becoming an enterprise IT staple – a platform for …
Gavin Clarke, 28 Jan 2015
Shaun of the dead zombies cricket bat movie still. Copyright Universal Pictures

Switch it off and on again: How peers failed to sneak Snoopers' Charter into terror bill

Analysis Bungling peers failed to thrust Theresa May's widely discredited Snoopers' Charter into the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill on Monday – but they did an excellent job of highlighting their ignorance about technology. A bewildered Lord King of Bridgwater trotted out the usual alarmist guff that Britain faced a grave and …
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Jan 2015

There's life after Oracle, but very little left in Oracle's reseller channel

Oracle-Sun anniversary A headstone in Santa Clara carries the names of the fallen in Sun Microsystems’ once illustrious reseller channel – it is five years this week since grim reaper Oracle bought the server giant. It’s not that these companies hit the wall, more that some realised quickly that an agreement with Larry’s lot wasn’t going to work out …
Paul Kunert, 27 Jan 2015
A Wren reenactor at Bletchley

Brits need chutzpah to copy Israeli cyberspies' tech creche – ex-spooks

Feature Israel's intelligence agency, Unit 8200, has been a production line for hi-tech startups since the 1980s, a success British politicians are now seeking to emulate. Yet replicating that success in Blighty may be difficult because of cultural and environmental differences that may prove difficult to overcome. Cabinet Office …
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2015
Wick Lane, Trunk Sewers, London

Dark Fibre: Reg man plunges into London's sewers to see how pipe is laid

Deep Dive We’ve all seen it and we’ve all cursed it. Whether you’re stuck in traffic or grimacing over the noise, digging up the roads to enhance or extend our communications pipelines is disruptive and causes frustrating transport delays. In oh so many ways, infrastructure in the UK is going down the toilet and for the likes of dark …
Bob Dormon, 26 Jan 2015
Google UK office logos

Should Google play carriers at their own game? There's never been a better time

Analysis In the week that Microsoft made its last, best bid for mobile relevance, Google was active all over the mobile ecosystem. It had recently announced an investment in satellite venture SpaceX, and was said to be stalking mobile payments outfit SoftCard, and even planning to launch direct mobile services via its own mobile virtual …
Wireless Watch, 26 Jan 2015
1950s style illustration - Smiling woman talks into rotary phone

Landlines: The tech that just won't die

Feature For a huge number of Brits, mobiles have become our primary way of communicating, even when we're at home. When a call comes in, we know it's ours. We can reply with a text, or use apps like WhatsApp to communicate with friends abroad. Increasingly, we don't rely on our landline phones and, thanks to lax policing of the …
Nigel Whitfield, 25 Jan 2015

Thailand: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

The eXpat Files Last time we chatted to an expat in Thailand, our secretive subject stayed schtum about his identity because he was working illegally. This time around, Eddie Croasdell had all his paperwork in order, but after spending a decade in the country has decided the political climate was getting a bit hot so recently came home to …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Jan 2015