Iain Thomson

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RIP Bill Godbout: Cali wildfire claims the life of master maverick of microcomputers

Obit Bill Godbout, a maverick techie who played a pivotal role in getting computers into the hands of the masses, was killed this week in California's wildfires. He was aged 79. Godbout was a key figure in the personal computing revolution in the 1970s, at least in the US. Around the time Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were dumpster …
Iain Thomson, 18 Nov 2018

If at first or second you don't succeed, you may be Microsoft: Hold off installing re-released Windows Oct Update

The 1809 build of Windows 10 and Windows Server is fast becoming infamous. Microsoft pulled it shortly after release when it started deleting people's files, and stumbling in other ways. Redmond reissued the software on Tuesday, and today it's clear you shouldn't rush into deploying it, if installing it at all, in its present …
Iain Thomson, 16 Nov 2018

Up to three million kids' GPS watches can be tracked by parents... and any miscreant: Flaws spill pick-and-choose catalog for perverts

Parents could be unwittingly putting their children's safety and privacy at risk, thanks to security vulnerabilities in potentially millions of kids' GPS-tracker watches. These cheapo watches are supposed to be worn by the youngsters, and use SIM cards to connect to cellular networks. The idea is they beam to backend servers …
Iain Thomson, 15 Nov 2018

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

A planet three times the size of Earth has been spotted orbiting Barnard's Star, one of the closest suns to our Solar System. Various science-fiction authors – notably Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Moorcock – have written about an alien world around Barnard's Star, which at six light years away is relatively …
Iain Thomson, 15 Nov 2018

Scam or stunt? It's looking like the latter... Xiaomi so sorry for £1 smartphone 'promo'

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi is in damage-control mode after an online promotion coinciding with its big UK launch somewhat backfired. The plan was to offer handsets for just a quid in Blighty, when a countdown on its UK website reached zero, with the impression being that if you clicked soon after the timer ran out, you'd be …

From today, it's OK in the US to thwart DRM to repair your stuff – if you keep the tools a secret

Analysis This week the US Copyright Office ruled it's OK for Americans to break anti-piracy protections in a bunch of home and personal devices, and vehicles, in the course of fixing or tinkering with said equipment. Mechanisms put in place to thwart unauthorized repairs or changes – such as firmware code that disables third-party …
Iain Thomson, 28 Oct 2018

Yes, Americans, you can break anti-piracy DRM if you want to repair some of your kit – US govt

The US Copyright Office has ruled that, in certain circumstances, folks can legally break a manufacturer's anti-piracy mechanisms – aka digital rights management (DRM) – if they want to repair their own gear. The ruling, issued Thursday, states that from this Sunday onwards "the prohibition against circumvention of …
Iain Thomson, 26 Oct 2018

Want to roll like one of the biggest minds in physics? Prof Stephen Hawking's wheelchair is up for auction

The family of the late Professor Stephen Hawking is auctioning off some of his possessions – including an early version of his motorized wheelchair – to raise money for the charitable foundation that bears his name. In all, 22 items from the Hawk will be up for grabs. These include a red leather-clad motorized wheelchair the …
Iain Thomson, 24 Oct 2018

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

Googlers must clean up their language at work as the ads giant is being anal about references to, ahem, carnal knowledge in internal web links and documents. Files and URLs with raunchy words like "fuck" in them are now forbidden from being shared around the workplace, and are already being automatically filtered out to …
Iain Thomson, 22 Oct 2018
Handcuffs photo via Shutterstock

Equifax exec's inside trade shame: Software boss sentenced for mega-hack stock profit

An Equifax executive – who knew the biz had been hacked before it was made public and banked over $75,000 in stock trades using this inside knowledge – has avoided jail. Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu, formerly a software product development manager for Equifax’s Global Consumer Services team, admitted to learning that hackers have …
Iain Thomson, 18 Oct 2018
GOES-16 Earth with Moon

Chinese biz baron wants to shove his artificial moon where the sun doesn't shine – literally

Video A Chinese businessman has announced plans to light Chengdu at night by launching an artificial "moon" to direct the out-of-sight Sun's rays down onto the city's streets. The idea is the brainchild of Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute. He said …
Iain Thomson, 18 Oct 2018
Dude in jail

LuminosityLink spyware mastermind gets 30 months in the clink, forfeits $725k in Bitcoin

A programmer who wrote and sold software that backdoored PCs so they could be remotely controlled has been jailed for 30 months – and forced to give up his stash of 114 Bitcoins. Colton Grubbs, 21, of Stanford, Kentucky, was sentenced this week after admitting to creating LuminosityLink, a software package he claimed was a …
Iain Thomson, 17 Oct 2018

Tech hub blames tech: San Francisco fingers Uber, Lyft rides for its growing traffic headache

As any San Francisco Bay Area resident knows traffic is bad and getting worse, but the city's officials think they have found the culprit: ride-hailing companies. In a report [PDF] issued on Tuesday the San Francisco County Transportation Authority acknowledged that a lot of new people have moved into the area, drawn by tech …
Iain Thomson, 16 Oct 2018

NASA's Chandra probe suddenly becomes an EX-ray space telescope (for now, anyway)

October is shaping up to be a lousy month for NASA. First, the Hubble space telescope went into hibernation. Then a Russian Soyuz rocket failed to get its astronauts and kit up to the orbiting International Space Station. And now the American agency's Chandra X-ray Observatory, tens of thousands of miles from Earth, is kaput – …
Iain Thomson, 12 Oct 2018

With sorry Soyuz stuffed, who's going to run NASA's space station taxi service now?

Comment Thursday's failed Soyuz launch, carrying kit and astronauts to the International Space Station means NASA is fast running out of options for shipping stuff into orbit. Especially since its homespun solutions aren't living up to their earlier promise. The US space agency hasn't been wild about using the Russians as a delivery …
Iain Thomson, 11 Oct 2018

I find your lack of faith disturbing, IBM: Big Blue fires photon torpedo at Pentagon JEDI cloud contract

IBM has officially griped to a top US government watchdog about JEDI – the Pentagon's proposed 10-year $10bn single-vendor IT system for America’s Green Machine. Whichever lucky lone supplier wins the coveted Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract will be responsible for providing all cloud activities for the …
Iain Thomson, 10 Oct 2018
Magic cloud castle

Clouds gather as Cloudera and Hortonworks settle on uneven merger

The big data market became a little less competitive on Wednesday when two of the biggest players, Cloudera and Hortonworks, agreed to merge. “Our businesses are highly complementary and strategic,” said Tom Reilly, chief executive officer at Cloudera. “By bringing together Hortonworks’ investments in end-to-end data …
Iain Thomson, 4 Oct 2018

Salesforce dogged by protests, leaked emails, and guerrilla blimps on first day of Dreamforce

It’s that time of year again: CRM loyalists flood San Francisco for the annual Dreamforce conference hosted by Salesforce – but day one hasn’t exactly gone to plan. For a start, on Tuesday, protestors wheeled a huge wooden cage down the street outside the busy conference center to rally against Salesforce signing a multi- …
Iain Thomson, 26 Sep 2018

Guilty: The Romanian ransomware mastermind who infected Trump inauguration CCTV cams

A Romanian woman has admitted running a ransomware operation from infected Washington DC's CCTV systems just days before President Trump was sworn into office in the US capital. Eveline Cismaru, 28, pled guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, …
Iain Thomson, 21 Sep 2018
police in body armour doing a raid

Developer goes rogue, shoots four colleagues at ERP code maker

Cops have named the programmer who went on a gun rampage at WTS Paradigm – a US maker of enterprise resource planning software – this week. He shot four colleagues, leaving one in a critical condition. At around 10.20am on Wednesday, Anthony Tong, 45, who had worked at the company in Middleton, Wisconsin, for little over a …
Iain Thomson, 20 Sep 2018

No, the Mirai botnet masters aren't going to jail. Why? 'Cos they help Feds nab cyber-crims

The three brains behind the Mirai malware, which infects and pressgangs Internet-of-Things devices into a botnet army, have avoided jail. In December, Paras Jha, 22, Josiah White, 21, and Dalton Norman, 22, pleaded guilty in the US to breaking the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after developing and masterminding the Mirai …
Iain Thomson, 20 Sep 2018
Yusaku Maezawa

Revealed: The billionaire baron who’ll ride Elon’s thrusting erection to the Moon and back

Video SpaceX today named its first paying passenger it will fly around the Moon and back to Earth – and it's Japanese biz baron Yusaku Maezawa. Yeah, him. You know. Him. “SpaceX has signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle — an important step toward enabling access for everyday …
Iain Thomson, 18 Sep 2018

Florence and the Machines: Data centers brace as hurricane smashes into US coast

Hurricane Florence has now landed on US soil, bringing 100 MPH winds, torrential rain, and claiming at least four lives. Many residents have fled, though some can’t – because they are keeping the area’s data centers up and running during the carnage. The Carolinas, on America's east coast, are studded with data centers full of …
Iain Thomson, 14 Sep 2018

Space station springs a leak while astronauts are asleep (but don't panic)

NASA ground controllers received some disturbing readings from the International Space Station on Wednesday - air pressure inside the craft was falling. That’s not a good sign when you're 220 miles up in space. The ISS crew were asleep at the time, but ground control opted not to mention it to them, since the pressure drop …
Iain Thomson, 30 Aug 2018

Miss America 'scholarship program' adds Microsoft Azure developer to lineup

The annual Miss America beauty pageant scholarship program has a tech entry this year, Microsoft developer Allison Farris. Ms Farris, who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in Management Information Systems from the University of Alabama, has spent the last three years as a Redmond developer in the US capital working …
Iain Thomson, 21 Aug 2018

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