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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
Alf Garnett

Happy birthday Alf Garnett, you daft, reactionary old git

Feature It’s 50 years ago this week that writer Johnny Speight leapt to fame with his creation of the bigoted conservative Cockney known as Alf Garnett, the loudmouth star of Speight’s sitcom Till Death Us Do Part. Alf Garnett Always intended to be laughed at, Johnny Speight's confrontational comic creation was controversial from …
Phil Strongman, 26 Jul 2015
Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo Mobile

The Lazarus Effect: Saved by Linux and Cash Converters

Feature I was recently stuck in a quandary, when, having just moved to Portugal, my trusty MacBook Pro departed this mortal coil. No time to mourn those sweet memories with a deadline fast approaching and replacement to be sought. I’d no intention of buying a new machine with a Portuguese keyboard so I went in search of something …
Mark Diston, 25 Jul 2015
The Hindenburg disaster

How to waste two years and lose $415m: Cisco's now-dead Whiptail deal

Exclusive + analysis Cisco has confirmed that the Invicta all-flash array line is no more, telling The Register: "As part of product lifecycle management, we withdraw technology from the marketplace when necessary to focus our efforts on what is critical for the future of our customers' business as well as our own." The networking goliath added: …
Chris Mellor, 24 Jul 2015
Herdwick sheep walk towards the camera

You can do more with backup than just cloning your data

As we all know, the world of backup is changing, and not just in obvious ways such as the move to disk and cloud-based backup, the adoption of deduplication, the need to copy, back up and restore virtual machines, and so on. First, flash memory and the wider availability of snapshots and replication means that other elements …
Bryan Betts, 23 Jul 2015
Ideal for a summer blast

How to keep track of your flexible workers

It has been two years since Yahoo! chief Marissa Meyer hauled her remote working employees back into the office, intent on eliminating flexible working. The concept is becoming more popular, though, whether people like Ms Meyer like it or not. In June 2014, an amendment to the UK’s Children and Families Act came into effect. …
Robin Birtstone, 23 Jul 2015
Walther PPK pistol. Pic: Art Bromage

How British spies really spy: Information that didn't come from Snowden

Feature David Anderson QC’s review of Britain’s anti-terrorism laws, published earlier this month, has mostly been examined for its potential impact on the government’s plans for a new act of Parliament on surveillance, known as the Snooper’s Charter to opponents. He made extensive recommendations as to what should be in the …
SA Mathieson, 23 Jul 2015

Ashley Madison invites red-faced cheats to bolt stable door for free

Adulterous hook-up site Ashley Madison is allowing all members to fully delete their profiles without charge in the aftermath of a serious data breach that threatens the site' future. Previously, if users wanted to delete their records (profile, pictures and messages sent through the system) they were obliged to pay around $20 …
John Leyden, 21 Jul 2015
George Osborne, photo: HM Treasury

Are you a Tory-voting IT contractor? Congrats! Osborne is hiking your taxes

Benefits recipients, “non-doms” (those living in Britain treated as foreigners for tax purposes), banks, and landlords weren't the only losers in George Osborne's recent budget. Although they weren’t explicitly mentioned, the chancellor put many contractors, including those working in IT, on his hit list by changing the …
SA Mathieson, 21 Jul 2015
Android icon desktop toys

Fragmented Android development creating greater security risks

The fragmentation of Android is creating additional security risks, as the rush to release new devices without sufficient testing is inadvertently introducing security flaws, security researchers have warned. The researchers – Xiaoyong Zhou, Yeonjoon Lee, Nan Zhang, Muhammad Naveed and XiaoFeng Wang – uncovered flaws in …
John Leyden, 20 Jul 2015
Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution cover photo by Chris Saunders

Bill Hicks: 25 years on from the cult comedian's big break

Feature It’s 25 years since Bill Hicks took the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival by storm with a blistering, intelligent comic set that was basically his, then new, debut album Dangerous. Within two years the semi-underground stand-up was a regular on British TV in-between successfully touring across the USA and Australia. And …
Phil Strongman, 19 Jul 2015
Lenticular Cloud

You've tested the cloud – now get ready and take a bigger step

The move to cloud computing in enterprises has until recently largely been confined to new greenfield applications, test and development solutions or software-as-a-service solutions from companies such as Salesforce. The one factor that these applications share is that they are not on the whole critical to the business. But …
Marcus Austin, 17 Jul 2015
Sheep, image via Shutterstock

Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

Comment Roll up, roll up for Windows 10, the greatest show on Earth! Forget everything you think you know or might have heard. THIS changes everything. Windows 7 and Windows 8? Pah. THIS is the one you want. Yes, the bandwagon on the Windows 10 hype machine is trundling along, and its online followers are hailing its game-changing …
Gavin Clarke, 16 Jul 2015
Flipside RFID-shielded wallet

Your security is just dandy, Apple Pay, but here comes Android

Analysis Most security experts estimate that the security offered within (and by) Apple Pay is superior to that seen in existing contactless credit or debit card systems. However, the success of the technology in the UK may well depend more on commercial factors than anything else, with one payments expert warning that merchants fees …
John Leyden, 16 Jul 2015
yellow measuring tape - black writing

Make sure your storage can grow with your business

The average SME has a modest infrastructure which has grown organically: a file server of some sort, probably an email server, then a handful of application servers hosting things like finance systems or the database back-ends to business applications. In most cases server A is pushing the limits of its storage capacity while …
Dave Cartwright, 16 Jul 2015

Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

For some time now Firefox, the once mighty web browser, has been bleeding market share and – perhaps more importantly – developer mind share. Between bundling unwanted features such as Pocket, proffering popcorn-worthy CEO dramas atop Mozilla, being led by a seemingly clueless management, and the fact that that Chrome feels …
Thames barrier pier 7, photo: Gavin Clarke

The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act

Geek's Guide to Britain Last time London flooded was 1953. Three hundred lives were lost, 30,000 evacuated and the damage totalled a considerable £5bn in today’s money. Given how London has expanded since then, the record-breaking wet winter of 2014 would have been worse had it not been for the presence of 51,000 tonnes of metal and 210,000 cubic …
Gavin Clarke, 14 Jul 2015
Spam musubi

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Chopstick-collapsing Spam musubi

Those of you of delicate culinary sensibilities would do well to look away now as we present for your wobbly dining pleasure the highly improbable Hawaiian-Japanese canned pork fusion cuisine that is Spam musubi. This Pacific island classic was apparently concocted up by Hawaii's Japanese population after they were introduced …
Lester Haines, 12 Jul 2015

Surviving Hurricane Katrina: A sysadmin's epic DR (as in Didn't Realise) odyssey

On-Call Jim Thompson got in touch with The Register about the mother of all On-Call stories, recalling the time he received a message asking him to come back to New Orleans because a storm called “Hurricane Katrina” was on its way and looked bad. It's nearly 10 years since Katrina raged, so Jim kindly retrieved his jottings on the …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jul 2015
Intel SSD 750

Thinking of adding an SSD for SUPREME speed? Read this

Feature Those guys in white coats at the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) must have been really proud when they unleashed the SATA 6Gb/s specifications on the world. You can imagine them thinking: this will keep us ahead of the game when it comes to hard drive performance. Certainly they were right when it comes to the …
Simon Crisp, 10 Jul 2015

Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Screenshots Linux long ago reached parity with Windows and OS X. That's great for the average user looking to make the switch from either platform to Linux. Indeed distros like Ubuntu, with its Unity desktop, make switching relatively painless. All of the common tools most users want in Windows are also available in Unity, GNOME and other …

Everything you know about OpenStack is wrong

When someone talks about "the future of IT infrastructure delivery" the scope of topic is so broad that there's a really good chance they're working with an Etch-a-Sketch that lacks some of the knobs. IT isn't homogeneous. What works for enterprises doesn't work for the SMB. What works for the SMB doesn't work for service …
Trevor Pott, 9 Jul 2015

Ford's 400,000-car recall could be the tip of an auto security iceberg

Ford’s recall of more than 400,000 cars in North America to fix a software bug may be just the first of many for the motor industry as automobiles become increasingly complex, security researchers warn. As previously reported, a total of 433,000 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape cars are being recalled to dealerships for a software …
John Leyden, 8 Jul 2015
Spaceguard Center in snow, photo: The Spaceguard Center

Planet killer: Ex-army officer's Welsh space-rock mission

Geek's Guide to Britain As I approach the Wales-England border, the rolling Herefordshire countryside sharpens into steep hills and narrow valleys. Powys is a county covering a quarter of Wales, but it is home to just 133,000 people, making it the least densely populated area of Britain south of the North Yorkshire moors. Limited population means few …
SA Mathieson, 6 Jul 2015
titanium rods in's spine cc 2.0 attribution sharealike

'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

On-Call Reg readers are awesome and none more so than JT Smith, who sent us an epic tale of the time he was called out to solve a backup problem. It started with a chap called “Hubswitch”, who was in charge of technology at a remote site that JT oversaw. Hubswitch earned his name because he kept using the word to describe any piece …

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Uitsmijter

We're obliged to readers who answered our recent call for post-pub nosh neckfiller suggestions, and rest assured we now have a extensive menu planned for the coming months, based on your input. One comment which caught our eye came from "dan1980", who pitched the "cheese and tomato sandwich", daringly proposing: "Add ham or left …
Lester Haines, 4 Jul 2015
Vulcan bomber bomb bays, photo Phil Holding

Goodbye Vulcan: Blighty's nuclear bomber retires for the last time

Visit a British air show before September and it's possible you’ll get the opportunity to witness the last Vulcan bomber in flight - and this is definitely the last year you'll get the chance, this time. Alongside the staple leather-clad wing-walking ladies, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, simulated Apache attack- …
Shounting man in suit image via Shutterstock

Want to spoil your favourite storage vendor's day? Buy cloud

Organisations continue to buy storage. In fact, I was talking to a storage salesman not so long ago who was telling me that one of his customers regularly calls asking for a quote for “a couple more petabytes." However, on-premises storage is not the end of the story. Yes, you need to have storage electronically close (with …

The Great Windows Server 2003 migration: Where do we go from here?

We all have to move away from Server 2003 before it turns into a pumpkin in July, but there are so many options out there that choosing the destination for our data and workloads can be a little overwhelming. What your workloads are will play a big part in determining which operating system you can upgrade to. The details of …
Trevor Pott, 30 Jun 2015
server room

How do we train the next generation of data centre wranglers?

There's a world of difference between what the average IT person does today and what they'd have done ten or fifteen years ago. So where's it going? What will we need to teach the next generation of data centre staff? The shifting focus The big difference between yesteryear and now is the growth in managed hosted services. “The …
Dave Cartwright, 30 Jun 2015

Does your company really need all that storage?

I was chatting not long ago to a sales guy from one of the big storage vendors. The market he serves is one of those where some of his customers buy a petabyte at a time – which I am sure he is happy about when it comes to hitting his sales quotas. The thing is, though, most companies have much more modest requirements. These “ …
Dave Cartwright, 30 Jun 2015
Windows 10 on Surface 3

Windows 10 is due in one month: Will it be ready?

Analysis The release of Windows 10 is set for 29 July, just one month from now. It will be a significant moment, marking the first Windows 10 release in a wave that will eventually include Windows Mobile and Xbox, and is critically important to Microsoft following the poor reception for Windows 8. This time, Microsoft is not following …
Tim Anderson, 29 Jun 2015
Kobo Glo HD

Q: What's black and white and read all over? A: E-reader displays

Feature Reading on screen can be something of a chore. As computers have become smaller and more pocketable, so it's become more possible to carry around a device that not only has a reasonable quality display, but weighs little enough to be considered a replacement for a book. Kobo Glo HD Get Carta: Kobo's Glo HD has the latest e- …
Nigel Whitfield, 28 Jun 2015

Bitcoin, schmitcoin. Let's play piggyback on the blockchain

Bitcoin may have generated countless salacious news headlines, but it’s a cameo player in a much bigger act. The blockchain is the real innovation that that makes Bitcoin work, and could well outlast the upstart currency. But it’s in trouble – and Silicon Valley has forked out millions to try and save it. The blockchain is a …
Danny Bradbury, 26 Jun 2015

Win the business services race with run-book automation

Bringing a more service-based culture to your IT department is a great idea, but who will manage it behind the scenes? Service-based IT is the holy grail for IT departments that want to improve their standing in the business. In the bad old days, IT was a black art, practised behind closed doors by Merlin-like figures. No …
Danny Bradbury, 26 Jun 2015
head of 50s-style robot

In search of an easier life: Do IT converged systems fit the bill?

Could converged systems change the way that IT admins spend their time? Figures suggest that mundane tasks such as backups and restores and system patches take between two and ten hours a week for around a third of those responsible for administering systems. Even more time is spent monitoring systems to ensure that they’re …
Robin Birtstone, 25 Jun 2015
Spaghetti with tomato sauce

How to turn application spaghetti into tasty IT services

The promise of IT service management is to deliver services that make sense to their business users. To do that, though, IT departments must be able to untangle their own internal resources. IT services must be accessible in one place so that users can find them easily and administrators can manage them. And the back-end …
Danny Bradbury, 25 Jun 2015
Baby in t-shirt - with logo "I'm recording everything"

10 things you need to avoid SNAFUs in your data centre

Despite my apparently youthful good looks, I've been in the IT industry since 1989. Which means I've been around the block a bit, and have learned rather a lot of lessons – some of them the hard way. To avoid you having to find them out yourself, here are ten to be going on with. 1. Always carry a torch in your laptop bag …
Dave Cartwright, 24 Jun 2015
Circuit board underwear by emiko-o

Whoops, there goes my data! Hold onto your privates in the Dropbox era

Your users are probably using cloud-based services that you’re not even aware of to organise their files and collaborate with each other. What are you going to do about it? “Shadow” IT — cloud services bought from third-party providers without authorisation by the IT department — is becoming a significant problem for many …
Danny Bradbury, 24 Jun 2015
Android icon desktop toys

Blurred lines, as consumer tech swallows delivery of BIG IT

A decade of “consumerisation” of IT has, according to Gartner, succeeded in shifting the balance of power within organisations — across departments and from hierarchies to individuals. For IT companies traditionally dominating the B2C market, the opportunities to target the enterprise space looms large. Already consumer tech …
Rachel Willcox, 24 Jun 2015

A brief introduction to converged infrastructure

Sometimes, it’s better to think inside the box. Bundling different IT components together into a single unit may just solve some of your computing problems, if you plan it right. Welcome to the world of IT convergence. Depending on which vendor or analyst you talk to, it’s known as an integrated system, a unified computing …
Robin Birtstone, 23 Jun 2015
FJ cruiser by Cc 2.0 attribution

Two foreigners, a desert and a jeep full of bank statements

On-Call Welcome again to On-Call, our weekend regular in which we share readers' tales of odd things that happen at odd times in odd places. This week, reader Alex tells us he once worked in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, for a major bank. “There had been a bunch of problems, which meant the customer account statements were …
Darren Pauli, 21 Jun 2015