Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves. Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has suffered numerous setbacks and delays. Just in August, a second unmanned test flight was scrapped after 13 of 24 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system jammed. In a briefing this week, Michelle Parker, chief engineer of space and launch at Boeing, shed more light on the errant components. Boeing believes the valves malfunctioned due to weather issues, we were told. Florida, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where the Starliner is being assembled and tested, is known for hot, humid summers. Parker explained that the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick. Engineers managed to free nine out of 13 faulty valves, but four remained stuck. The capsule was returned to the factory and two valves have been removed and handed to NASA for further analysis, with a third on the way. Boeing said will not resume flight tests of its CST-100 Starliner module until the first half of next year. NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, who were expected to fly aboard Boeing's first official crewed flight for its Starliner-1 mission, will now hitch a ride to the ISS as part of Crew-5, a SpaceX mission in the second half of 2022. Boeing's Calamity Capsule might take to space once again ... in the first half of 2022 Nothing says 'We believe in you' like NASA switching two 'nauts off Boeing's Starliner onto SpaceX's Crew Dragon Dozy ISS cosmonauts woken by smoke alarm on eve of 5-hour spacewalk The Register recreates Apollo 15 through the medium of plastic bricks, 50 years on “NASA decided it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner," the US agency previously said, "while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight expe
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MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed. Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications. Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said. Click to enlarge It was a refreshingly frank assessment, sandwiched between the usual cheerleading for 5G. A distinct change of tack could be detected from the normal trumpeting of raw performance to an acknowledgement that power consumption would need to be reduced amid concerns about efficiency. On that note, we'll draw a veil over the fact that the event's host Dubai features an indoor
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Boatnotes II The art of not driving your warship into the coast or the seabed is a curious blend of the ancient and the very modern, as The Reg discovered while observing the Royal Navy's Fleet Navigating Officers' (FNO) course. Held aboard HMS Severn, "sea week" of the FNO course involves taking students fresh from classroom training and putting them on the bridge of a real live ship – and then watching them navigate through progressively harder real-life challenges. "It's about finding where the students' capacity limit is," FNO instructor Lieutenant Commander Mark Raeburn told The Register. Safety comes first: the Navy isn't interested in having navigators who can't keep up with the pressures and volume of information during pilotage close to shore – or near enemy minefields. So the student navigator hopes, anyway. RN Navigation Training Unit Driving (all of the officers we spoke to aboard Severn referred to it as driving and not sailing or steaming) a warship, as we reported during the course itself, is a highly skilled art that depends on precisely planning what you want the ship to do – and then having a clear enough mind to modify that plan on the fly depending on what the outside world is doing. HMS Severn's pelorus, mounted centrally on the bridge Second Officer Will Salloway, 26, a Royal Fleet Auxiliary* student on the FNO course, told The Register: "There's a lot of planning to do in a short timeframe. That can be quite tough, coming out with a safe plan which has everything you need in it while being able to manage the pressures… you spend three hours on bridge managing the runs, on top of that and planning you've gotta eat and sleep." "It's probably 20 times as much planning to execution." Bobbin' on the oggin' The essence of the FNO course is safely taking the ship to and from an anchorage, or navigating through tricky inshore waters, while maintaining appropriate safety margins. For a surface ship this means staying away from a not-quite-imaginary line of critical importance: the Limiting Danger Line, or LDL. The LDL is a depth that must never be passed in case the ship runs aground. It's calculated by adding the ship's keel depth plus the squat for her planned speed** plus a margin on top, and then drawing "do not cross" lines on the chart. Each FNO student plans and carries out six live navigation runs in control of the Severn: three "development" passages with FNO instructors coaching them throughout and giving them feedback, and three exam runs where assessors specially embarked for the course quietly watch the students going through their paces and decide if they pass or fail. The ship herself travelled along Britain's south coast, dipped in and out of Plymouth and then dropped south to the Channel Islands' large tides and tidal stream variations before returning to her home base at Portsmouth. The view down HMS Severn's pelorus-mounted gyrocompass The course concentrates on navigating a ship without GPS. Taking away the external you-are-here service leaves the navigator aboard Severn with three manually sighted gyro-compasses*** and the heart of naval navigation, the Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System (WECDIS, pronounced by all as "weck-diss"). Naval pilotage means planning a precise track from a position out at sea to an anchorage – or from an anchorage back out to sea, following a marked channel or passing through an area with a strong tidal stream and lots of other maritime traffic. The navigator then keeps the ship to within yards of her planned track and turning points along the track. On top of that, the navigator also plans wheel-over points; the spot where the wheel must be turned to a set angle so the ship precisely meets the next planned leg. In this regard, naval pilotage planning is an exacting science. Tidal stream predictions off St Peter Port, Guernsey Contact with the real world's weather and tides introduces an element of "fun" as one instructor whimsically observed. For the student navigator, fixing your position means putting two of your fellow students on the external gyro-compasses to call out bearings, a third on the surface radar and a fourth on the WECDIS console, mounted in Severn behind the central gyro-compass on the ship's pelorus. That team then works the maths and the technology together, all in perfect harmony with the navigator's prepared passage plan. HMS Severn's bridge radar plot. One of the FNO students keeps an eye on nearby ships and the coast, seen as the big yellow line Taking bearings off shore landmarks or nautical navigation marks (lighthouses and prominent buildings by day, flashing lights by night) with a gyro-compass hasn't changed much since compasses were introduced to seafaring: you look down the compass towards the mark, read off the bearing and record it. Severn's concession to modernity is that her gyro-compasses have a modest internal telescope and illumination for night readings. A navigation buoy marking the channel into Plymouth harbour Yet in modern naval navigation, that ancient art of eyeballing the bearings is married to a modern computer system that constantly integrates and updates bearings to produce a live plot of where the ship ought to be. A WECDIS screen aboard HMS Severn. Click to enlarge It's a curious blend of an old art with up-to-date technology that complements both: for eyes used to instantly seeing the answers to life, the universe and everything presented on a computer, the digital displays telling the bridge crew where the ship is located are curiously reassuring. Reading bearings to navigation marks would be equally familiar to sailors from the mid-19th century. During the course safety comes first: the captain and instructors can see a GPS-enabled WECDIS display showing precisely where the ship is, and can intervene if something unsafe is about to happen. We've got windows – glass ones, not the operating system Although the FNO course is usually loaded with eight students, during the week that El Reg joined the Severn we had just four: two from the surface fleet; one from submarines; and one from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). Severn's captain, Commander Philip Harper, mused that each student's professional naval experience brought something different to their navigational technique. For example, submarine navigation normally takes place underwater, so submariner students on the FNO course tend to start off by gazing at the screens on the bridge instead of looking outside. Portland speed/distance/time analogue calculator, used on the FNO course Lieutenant Jack Crallan, a 32-year-old submariner who was a physics teacher before joining the Navy, agreed: "Biggest difference for me is being able to see things! I'm usually looking at my notebook and listening to the numbers and not looking out of the window. But on a submarine the only information you have is bearings." Although the process of pilotage (navigation close to shore) is inherently mathematical, the FNO students insisted you didn't need to be a numerical genius to keep the ship safe ("I got a U in A-level maths," joked one). Royal Fleet Auxiliary navigator's notebook and quick-reference table Lieutenant Matt Cavill, 29, who has a degree in molecular cell biology, said of the above quick-reference tables: "When someone works out a distance off track or a distance to run, that's all done off a single bearing in their notebook most likely. When someone works out a time to regain, or a distance to regain, then they are using mental maths but it's fairly basic – some people can do speed/distance/time [on the fly], it comes relatively easily to me. I do have a note of easy numbers, though!" Fellow student Lt Crallan added: "There are a lot of maths tricks as well. We tend to do something of 12 or 15 or 30 very easily; that's the sine rule. You can do trigonometry in your head if you pick the right numbers." Staying in clear water On the FNO course it's not enough to leave the maths to WECDIS. From watching the navigation runs, it was clear that whoever was navigating was expected to use the electronic plot to help them form their
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Informatica's former UK & Ireland vice president was correctly sacked after letting a salesman take Highways England's executive IT director on a $5,000 golfing jaunt, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled. Not only did Derek Thompson breach Informatica's anti-corruption policies but he also warned underlings to "be discreet" about the jolly – and told HR investigators "Why does anyone do any customer entertainment?" when asked how playing golf benefited the business. Thompson lost his appeal against a judge's earlier ruling [PDF] that his October 2017 sacking was reasonable, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal publishing its judgment [PDF] last week. Highways England's executive IT director Tony Malone was invited to speak at an Informatica conference in 2017. Highways England had signed a $4.8m contract with the US software development firm the previous year. Keen to impress the customer, Informatica salesman Colin Grey suggested he accompany Malone to California's Pebble Beach Golf Club so Malone could tick it off his "bucket list". Thompson cleared the jolly with senior EMEA veep Steve Murphy – but didn't check back in with Murphy when the likely cost of the overnight stay became clear before the conference, reasoning that the "cat was out of the bag" and the company couldn't retract its invite to the Highways England manager. Informatica bids to become Switzerland of data with SaaSy governance and catalogue tool The magic TUPE roundabout: Council, Wipro, Northgate all deny employing Unix admins in outsourcing muddle Senior IBMer hit with £290k demand from Big Blue in separate case as unfair dismissal claim rolls on I was fired for telling ICO of Serco track and trace data breach, claims sacked worker Informatica spent $5,400 on a one-night stay for Malone at the club, including dinner, green fees and a private hotel transfer on top of costing around $2,000, with Employment Judge Vowles noting in his 2020 ruling: "The Pebble Beach Golf Club is a very expensive venue, and widely known to be so, being one of the top golf clubs in the US." Internal auditors at Informatica immediately flagged up the transaction and bos
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Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models. According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents." The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-ma
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IBM has blamed another quarter of tepid performance on its servers. Big Blue's last quarter before it spins out services limb Kyndryl saw it land revenue of $17.6 billion – just 0.3 per cent above revenue for the same quarter in 2020. For the year to date, which now covers three quarters, the corporation has posted anaemic 1.6 per cent growth. Investors were told that the quarterly growth figure is 2.5 per cent if you consider Kyndryl's imminent ejection, or 1.9 per cent after adjusting for divested businesses and currency. Whatever number you choose, CEO Arvind Krishna described gro
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Arm has teased an upcoming graphics processor unit, due to be unveiled next year, and said it is tuned heavily for running artificial intelligence code. This unnamed GPU will provide a 4.7x FP32 performance improvement over its Mali-G76 cousin, said Ian Bratt, fellow and senior director of technology at Arm's machine learning group, during a speech at the chip business's DevSummit conference on Wednesday. This mystery "2022 GPU" won't be announced until next year, it appears, and likely ship much later. To put the performance improvement claim in context, the Mali-G76 was announced in 2018, and the latest in the series, the G710, was announced earlier this year and is expected to ship in silicon in 2022. Arm's Ian Bratt teasing the unnamed 2022 GPU in a DevSummit talk The G710 GPU, which is targeted at premium smartphones and Chromebooks, it said to provide a 35 per cent improvement in the performance of AI applications, such as automatic enhancements to images and videos, over the G78, which was announced in 2020 and is appearing this year in things like the Google Pixel 6. As such, you can see that Arm GPUs tend to ship the year after they are announced to the world, something to bear in mind for the "2022 GPU." We also have to provide the software, the tools, the libraries to enable that ML performance No information was shared on the performance boost the mystery GPU would provide to graphics rendering. Arm declined to provide further details about the upcoming GPU or the CPU cores it would be paired with. Typically top-line Mali GPUs are linked with Arm's most powerful processor core designs, and Arm earlier this year announced such a CPU core, the Cortex-X2. "It's more than just adding instructions and improving hardware IP, we also have to provide the software, the tools, the libraries to enable that ML performance," Bratt said of the jump in processing oomph. Arm is in a bit of a race to come up with compelling system-on-chip cores that can speed up machine-learning tasks and other specialized jobs: its licensees can hire and are hiring the talent needed to create their own accelerators. Arm therefore has to make the pitch that it's easier, more cost effective, or more power efficient, say, to just use its off-the-shelf blueprints. And so these designs have to be up to scratch. No doubt as part of that, Arm has intro
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Amazon Web Services, the outfit famous for pioneering pay-as-you-go cloud computing, has produced a bit of on-prem hardware that it will sell for a once-off fee. The device is called the "AWS Panorama Appliance" and the cloud colossus describes it as a "computer vision (CV) appliance designed to be deployed on your network to analyze images provided by your on-premises cameras". "AWS customers agree the cloud is the most convenient place to train computer vision models thanks to its virtually infinite access to storage and compute resources," states the AWS promo for the new box. But the post also admits that, for some, the cloud ain't the right place to do the job. "There are a number of reasons for that: sometimes the facilities where the images are captured do not have enough bandwidth to send video feeds to the cloud, some use cases require very low latency," AWS's post states. Some users, it adds, "just want to keep their images on premises and not send them for analysis outside of their network". Hence the introduction of the Panorama appliance, which is designed to ingest video from existing cameras and run machine learning models to do the classification, detection, and tracking of whatever your cameras capture. Sometimes the facilities do not have enough bandwidth to send video feeds to the cloud AWS imagines those ML models could well have been created in its cloud with SageMaker, and will charge you for cloud storage of the models if that's the case. The devices can otherwise run without touching the AWS cloud, although there is a charge of $8.33 per month per camera stream. The appliance itself costs $4,000 up front. Charging for hardware is not AWS's usual modus operandi. Its Outposts on-prem clouds are priced on a consumption model. The Snow range of on-prem storage and compute appliances are also rented rather than sold. AWS Lambda was already serverless, now it can be x86-less too AWS US East region endures eight-hour wobble thanks to 'Stuck IO' in Elastic Block Store AWS announces new region in the Land of the Long White Cloud – New Zealand The Panorama appliance's specs page states that it contains Nvidia's Jetson Xavier AGX AI edge box, with 32GB RAM. The spec doesn't mention local storage, but lists a pair of gigabit ethernet ports, the same number of HDMI 2.0 slots, and two USB ports. AWS announced the appliance at its re:invent gabfest in December 2020, when The Register opined that the cloudy concern may be taking a rare step into on-prem hardware, but by doing so would be eating the lunches of server-makers and video hardware specialists alike. Panorama turns out to not have quite the power to drive cloud services consumption as other Amazonian efforts, since the ML models it requires could come from SageMaker or other sources. That fact, and the very pre-cloud pricing scheme, mean the device could therefore be something of a watershed for AWS. ®
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Analysis Dell and VMware have named the day they'll break up: November 1. The conscious uncoupling starts on October 29, when VMware will pay a special dividend of $11.5 billion to all current shareholders. On the same day, Dell shareholders will also receive a dividend, in the form of VMware stock, to compensate them for Dell letting go of the 81 per cent of VMware it owns but which isn't publicly traded. All that paper-shuffling should be finished by November 1. At which point VMware will be an independent company for the first time since EMC acquired it in 2004. In hindsight, that acquisition was a brilliant decision: VMware's revenue has grown from under $1 billion a year in 2004 to the $12 billion it is forecast to haul in this financial year. EMC, and then Dell, were able to surf that growth and ensure friends-with-benefits status as VMware set agendas for every datacentre. As a subsidiary, Virtzilla also pulled off the very rare feat of beating off an assault by Microsoft when the beast of Redmond went after the server virtualization market with its Hyper-V hypervisor. VMware succeeded by navigating the narrow path between offering proprietary technology, and making it beneficial to users and to the wider technology industry. The storage industry in particular owes VMware a lot for making its wares more attractive. As of November, VMware must stand alone – but it won't be friendless. All major clouds and enterprise hardware players have bought into VMware's vision. Indeed, VMware continues to set agendas for the hardware industry. The virty giant has taken the lead in making DPUs/SmartNICs usable in enterprise datacentres. The company's new memory virtualisation plans have also won broad approval. No other enterprise software vendor can float this sort of architectural change and make it stick. Google adds VM support to Anthos, admits not everyone is ready for containerised everything For Dell, being edgy now means single-node HCI without virtual storage, and rugged laptops VMware to kill SD cards and USB drives as vSphere boot options VMware may even, finally, have found a way to excite developers about its "Tanzu" Kubernetes offerings with today's debut of a Community Edition of the bundle. In the past, VMware has targeted its traditional buyers – operations types – by telling them that Tanzu will let them run Kubernetes without having to create new software silos. But VMware knows ops can't tell devs what to do. And it knows that at a point in time when almost every new product requires new software, organisations are willing to let developers work however the coders believe will make them most efficient. The Community Edition is VMware's attempt to do that. It offers free tools that (it hopes) developers will perceive as allowing them to code in ways that get their efforts into production more quickly. If Virtzilla can turn developers into a source of demand for both Tanzu and its infrastructure products, November 1 will be seen as the start of some happy years. Even if that effort meets with minimal success, VMware is still at the heart of many vendors' plans to expand
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China's National Internet Information Office has revisited some of the government's recent internet crackdowns, to put a stop to workarounds such as renting or selling accounts for online games to minors in order to circumvent the three-hours-per-week play time imposed by Beijing. China's lawmakers introduced the play time limits in August, restricting gaming to between the hours of 8pm and 9pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – with an extra hour allowed as a treat on public holidays. Beiing's stance is that it’s a necessary precaution to prevent gaming addiction. It believes that gaming does not reflect Chinese values, is unproductive, and anti-social. The rules quickly sparked a
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Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec. HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above anot
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Theranos blood-testing machines, which US prosecutors claim failed over 51 per cent of the time, provided no indication if things went awry during demonstrations for visitors, a court has heard. Seven weeks into the criminal fraud trial of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, the feds are trying to show that Holmes, along with her former partner and COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani (to be tried next year after denying any wrongdoing), raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors based on misrepresentations about technology that didn't work. In court on Tuesday, Daniel Edlin, a former Theranos project manager who used to operate Theranos' Edison blood-testing machines, testified tha
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The Brave browser will now default to the company's own search engine, claimed to preserve privacy, while a new Web Discovery Project aims to collect search data again with privacy protection. The Br
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The price of a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer is going up $10, and its supply is expected to be capped at seven million devices this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage. Demand for components is outstripping manufacturing capacity at the moment; pre-pandemic, assembly lines were being red-lined as cloud giants and others snapped up parts fresh out of the fabs, and the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak really threw a spanner in the works, so to speak, exacerbating the situation. Everything from cars to smartphones have felt the effects of supply constraints, and Raspberry Pis, too, it appears. Stock is especially tight for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 models, we're told. As the semiconductor crunch shows no signs of letting up, the Raspberry Pi project is going to bump up the price for one particular model. The 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 will now once again set you back $45, an increase of $10 from its previous retail price. It used to be $45, then was brought down to $35 early last year when the 1GB model was discontinued. Now it's back up again. This is the first time the project has hiked its prices, the trading arm of the Raspberry Pi Foundation said. Don’t worry, however, the bump is said to be temporary and the module will eventually return to its original price of $35, company CEO Eben Upton announced on Wednesday. The 4GB Raspberry Pi 4 and 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 versions will remain at $55 and $75, respectively. For those relying on a supply of $35 2GB boards, the project will bring back those 1GB Raspberry Pi 4 modules, priced $35. "This provides a degree of choice: less memory at the same price; or the same memory at a higher price," said Upton. 2GB for $45 or 1GB for $35. A choice, but not one people might expect. “As many of you know," he continued, "global supply chains are in a state of flux as we (hopefully) emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. In our own industry, semiconductors are in high demand, and in short supply: the upsurge of demand for electronic products for home working and entertainment during the pandemic has descended into panic buying, as companies try
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The Moon remained volcanically active much later than previously thought, judging from fragments of rocks dating back two billion years that were collected by China's Chang’e 5 spacecraft. The Middle Kingdom's space agency obtained about 1.72 kilograms (3.8 pounds) of lunar material from its probe that returned to Earth from the Moon in December. These samples gave scientists their first chance to get their hands on fresh Moon material in the 40 years since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 mission brought 170 grams (six ounces) of regolith to our home world in 1976. The 47 shards of basalt rocks retrieved by Chang'e 5 were estimated to be around two billion years old using radiometric dating techniques. The relatively young age means that the Moon was still volcanically active up to 900 million years later than previous estimates, according to a team of researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). "This is the youngest crystallization age ever reported for lunar basaltic rocks by radiometric measurement, extending the range of radio isotopic ages of lunar basalt by 800 to 900 million years," said Chunlai Li, lead researcher for a paper published on Tuesday in Nature and a professor at National Astronomical Observatories at CAS. Hot stuff, back in the day ... A ba
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More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code. The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime. The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days. Pegasus allegedly has been used by governments to spy on activists and journalists, among others. The United Nations recently called for a ban on the sale of "life threatening" surveillance technology and specifically criticized the NSO Group, which claimed it "sells its technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts." The Israel-based company, which is awaiting to see whether the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will immunize it from WhatsApp's snooping lawsuit, subsequently said it would no longer respond to criticism. Basically, if you want to sell Pegasus or similar device-penetration software, and you have a presence in the US, you need a license to sell to China, Russia, or the other covered governments. NSO was said to have a marketing and sales arm in the United States, a point the Israeli biz rejects. Europe clamps down on cybersurveillance exports, pushes human rights focus United Nations calls for moratorium on sale of surveillance tech like NSO Group's Pegasus NSO Group's Pegasus malware was used to spy on Dubai princess's lawyers during child custody dispute So you’ve got a zero-day – do you sell t
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Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021. The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending. The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts. John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, argued the overall slowing of growth in IT spending was down to organisations increasingly building new technologies and software, rather than buying and implementing them from vendors. Gartner's Windows 11 adoption advice: Explore but don't rush Memory prices to dive in late 2022, says Gartner Gartner predicts surge in government IT spending in post-pandemic catch-up Gartner Gartner on the wall, which is the hypest cycle of them all? "However, digital tech initiatives remain a top strategic business priority for companies as they continue to reinvent the future of work, focusing spending on making their infrastructure bulletproof and accommodating increasingly complex hybrid work for employees going into 2022," he said in a pre-canned statement. Growth in spending on tech devices peaked in 2021 at 15.1 per cent during the COVID-driven home working boom. Hitting $820bn, this market is expected to increase by 2.3 per cent in 2021. According to Gartner figures released in August, growth in public-sector IT spending is slightly outstripping that of the overall market. It forecast that governments the world over will splash more than half a trillion dollars on IT next year, a year-on-year growth of 6.5 per cent. With increasing demand, users should expect price rises, according to fellow analyst
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Foreign ownership capped at 50% Other stories you might like Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade. The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to hel
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Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade. The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand. As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today. AI and 5G investment were accelerating demand for memory chips, said Micron president and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra in a pre-canned statement. While Micron did not specify where it would invest, reports from the Nikkan Kogyo newspaper suggest that it will build a new factory at its Japanese production site in Hiroshima at
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Sponsored We know for sure that ransomware attackers and sundry dark forces want to break into critical infrastructure. Ransomware attacks on industrial environments have increased by 500 per cent since 2018. But the evidence also shows that at least a third of the flaws exploited to achieve this are zero days. And while we know the attackers are coming, we don’t always know whether their objectives are data exfiltration, data locking, causing simple disruption, or something far sinister. We also know that traditional approaches to security are increasingly out of sync with the threat. But do we know what the alternative is? One thing we know for sure is that you’ll get a far better grip on the nature of the threat and how cutting-edge technologies including AI can be used to thwart it, by checking out this upcoming Regcast, “Securing Critical Infrastructure from Cyber-attack” on October 28 at 5pm. Our own Tim Phillips, as critical as any pipeline, will be joined by Darktrace’s director for cyber intelligence and analysis, Justin Fier, who will explain just why operational technology is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks. Together, they’ll walk through what the n
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Like so many of us in tech, Arm CEO Simon Segars has his own computing origins story, which he shared during a speech on Tuesday at the Arm DevSummit developer conference. British-born Segars' interest in computing started at age 14, when he'd go to a shop that had a Sinclair ZX81 computer on display, on which he wrote simple programs, learning about concepts like variables and loops. "It was expensive at £70, we weren't about to buy one … and [it was] primitive by today's standards. It had a 3Mhz, 8-bit microprocessor and a whole 1KB of memory," Segars said. He paid tribute to Sir Clive Sinclair, who launched the ZX81 in 1981 and died in September this year. "I want to take a moment to thank him for inspiring me, and a whole load of other Arm people who are roughly my age, with a desire to know more about how computers worked and how to code," Segars said. In the tinkering, Segars found his interest to be more on the hardware side. He tried to build basic circuits following designs in magazines, and that gave rise into building low-power circuitry. "I didn't have a power supply so anything I built needed to run off a battery. There was another shop in my hometown, where I would buy individual transistors, resistors and capacitors, then try to build things that can be powered off a pair of AA cells. Just making some LEDs flash was success," Segars continued. Out of lousy keyboards might things grow ... Simon Segars in his keynote. Source: Arm. Click to enlarge Segars finally got his own computer, funnily enough the BBC Micro made by Sinclair's arch-rival Acorn, which was also the birthplace of Arm. He expanded his programming c
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Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders. The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine. This is currently on the Windows Insider blog. (Note the "LINK COMING SOON") The brief note details how developers should set things up in Windows 11, deal with the inputs and outputs of Microsoft's wares and finally submit apps. The latter step requires the use of the Amazon app-store. "Your device," warned Microsoft ominously, "also must meet specific Windows 11 requirements." The document was rapidly followed by a lengthier blog post detailing the tech's arrival for Windows Insiders. What you need to know about Microsoft Windows 11: It will run Android apps Microsoft rethinks the Windows application platform one more time Brave's homegrown search claims to protect your privacy but there's a long way to go if it's to challenge the big G If your apps or gadgets break down on Sunday, this may be why: Gpsd bug to roll back clocks to 2002 To kick things off, the Amazon Appstore (or an Android or Amazon app from the Microsoft Store) must be installed, which w
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The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)." Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more. The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have c
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The UK's efforts to copy US government and military innovation outfit DARPA are stalling, according to a leading figure in research and development. Appearing before the Science and Technology Committee, Sir John Kingman, former chair of UK Research and Innovation, told MPs this morning that ARIA – the Advanced Research and Invention Agency – was a good example of departmental research spending that could be cut, sidelined or delayed. "A very high-profile example would be ARIA, which has been this big plan for the Boris Johnson government, and yet here we are a few years into the Johnson
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The Chromium team has finally done it – File Transfer Protocol (FTP) support is not just deprecated, but stripped from the codebase in the latest stable build of the Chrome browser, version 95. It has been a while coming. A lack of support for encrypted connections in Chrome's FTP implementation, coupled with a general disinterest from the majority of the browser's users, and more capable third-party alternatives being available has meant that the code has moved from deprecated to gone entirely. Support for fetching document resources over FTP was stripped from Chrome 72, proxy support for
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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has smacked Facebook with a £50m ($68.7m) fine for "deliberately" not giving it the full picture about its ongoing $400m acquisition of gif-slinger Giphy. The move  – fingered by the CMA as a "major breach" – comes just weeks after the antisocial network dismissed the UK's regulator's initial findings as being based on "fundamental errors" and just hours after the US Dept of Justice and its Department of Labor announced separate agreements with the firm in which it will fork over $14.25m to settle allegations of discriminatory hiring practices. Facebook first announced its intention to buy the image platform, which hosts a searchable database of short looping soundless animated GIFs – many of which are sourced from reality TV and
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NHS Digital has scored a classic Mail All own-goal by dispatching not one, not two, not three, but four emails concerning an infosec breakfast briefing, each time copying the entirety of the invite list in on the messages. The first email sent yesterday morning thanked participants for "registering for NHS Digital's Full Digital Breakfast: Let's talk cyber, scheduled for Thursday 21 October 2021, 8:00-9:00am." Apparently Neil Bennett, CISO at NHS Digital, and Phil Huggins, National CISO at NHS X, "along with guest speakers, will have a conversation about the ongoing protection and how an increasingly digitised world means we must be super vigilant and cyber secure, where cyber hygiene is essential in protecting patients." According to sources caught up in the email chain, NHS Digit
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The UK government has awarded management consultancy Atkins a £23m contract to help it get to grips with accidental damage to underground pipes and cables, which is costing £2.4bn a year. The Geospatial Commission, an independent expert committee within the Cabinet Office, has awarded the work to help it build "a secure data exchange platform providing a comprehensive, trusted and secure digital map of where buried assets are located." Documents attached to a competitive tender notice point out that when digging up roads or attempting any other subterranean engineering, workers suffer the considerable difficulty of finding out what other human-made structures might be down there. But there is no uniform process for "asset owners" – the gas, water, telecoms or electricity compan
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The Centre for Computing History (CCH) in Cambridge, England, has apologised for an "embarrassing" breach in its online customer datafile, though thankfully no payment card information was exposed. The museum for computers and video games said it was notified that a unique email address used to book tickets via its website "has subsequently received a phishing email that looked like it came from HSBC." "Our investigation has revealed that our online customer datafile has been compromised and the email addresses contained within are now in the hands of spammers," says the letter to visitors from Jason Fitzpatrick, CEO and trustee at CCH dated 19 October. Credit card details, financial information, and passwords are not handled by the website so were not caught up in the leak, said t
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The European Space Agency (ESA) revealed on Monday that its 19-year-old International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) had a near-death experience last month when failure of a small yet significant part caused it to spin uncontrollably and prevented its solar panels from generating power. According to ESA's blog, one of the scope's three active 'reaction wheels' – flywheels that help to stabilise attitude – turned off without warning. Absent the reaction wheel's energy, INTEGRAL rotated dangerously. The ESA activated Emergency Safe Attitude Mode, but that was ineffective because a July 2020 failure had left the geriatric satellite's thrusters inoperable. ESA boffins were therefore presented with the challenge of sorting things out despite a patchy data connection fr
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When it comes to ransomware, every second hurts Fortinet seeks to make EDR easy for non-specialists Sponsored For the longest time it seemed that modern endpoint detection and response (EDR) was getting on top of the worst malware, only for that certainty to evaporate in a single day in June 2017 thanks to a strange malware event remembered as the NotPetya attack. A lot of virtual ink has flowed on the origins of NotPetya but the most important aspect of its behavi
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A mysterious criminal gang is targeting telcos' Linux and Solaris boxes, because it perceives they aren't being watched by infosec teams that have focussed their efforts on securing Windows. Security vendor CrowdStrike claims it's spotted the group and that it "has been consistently targeting the telecommunications sector at a global scale since at least 2016 … to retrieve highly specific information from mobile communication infrastructure, such as subscriber information and call metadata." The gang appears to understand telco operations well enough to surf the carrier-to-carrier links that enable mobile roaming, across borders and between carriers, to spread its payloads. CrowdStrike principal consultant Jamie Harries and senior security researcher Dan Mayer named the group "LightBasi
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Taiwanese PC maker Acer has not only admitted servers it operates in India and and Taiwan were compromised but that only those systems in India contained customer data. The miscreants who claimed to be behind the network breaches boasted they stole gigabytes of information from the servers, and suggested other Acer operations around the world are also vulnerable to information theft. Acer issued the following statement this week about the affair: An entity that calls itself Desorden Group – Desorden is Spanish for disorder – claimed it conducted both attacks. In posts to the notorious RAIDforums, the crew said it swiped 60GB from Acer India, which included "customer, corporate, accounts, and financial data." The gang also leaked login details that retailers and distributors in India
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India's big four IT services providers – HCL, Infosys, Tata Consulting Services, and Wipro – have all highlighted increasing staff attrition rates in their most recently completed quarters. Wipro had the highest attrition rate at 20.5 per cent – up from 15.5 per cent in Q1. Next highest was Infosys, which reached "voluntary" 12-month attrition of 20.1 per cent. This reflects an ongoing situation, as in April 2021 the company reported that its workers had started to believe the COVID-19 pandemic had ebbed to a point at which they felt comfortable looking for a new gig. HCL reported an all-time high attrition rate of 15.7 per cent – up from 11.8 per cent in Q1. TCS claimed to have the lowest attrition in the industry – 11.9 per cent in the last twelve months – chalking it up to
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Two Intel staffers believe web services can be made more secure by not only carrying out computations in remote trusted execution environments, or TEEs, but by also verifying for clients that this was done so. Software engineer Gordon King and Hans Wang, a research scientist at Intel Labs, proposed the protocol to make that possible. In a paper distributed this month through ArXiv, they describe a HTTP protocol called HTTPS Attestable (HTTPA) to enhance online security with remote attestation – a way for apps to obtain an assurance that data will be handled by trusted software in secure execution environments. Essentially, it's hoped that applications can verify through certificates and cryptography that code running in a server-side TEE is precisely the code expected to be run, unmodif
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Facebook will hand over $14.25m to the US government and American workers to settle allegations of discriminatory hiring practices. The Justice Dept last year sued the internet giant accusing it of unfairly favoring job candidates who had temporary working papers, such as H-1B visas, over US citizens and permanent residents. Between January 2018 and September 2019, foreigners whose pending green cards were being sponsored by Facebook were slotted into 2,600 roles at the social network in the United States with an average annual salary of $156,000, according to the DoJ in its lawsuit. Adverts for these positions were not placed on Facebook’s careers website for all to see, applications were not accepted via the internet and had to be submitted by mail, and US jobseekers were not c
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Google held a virtual event on Tuesday to introduce its latest Android phones, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which are based on a Google-designed Tensor system-on-a-chip (SoC). "We're getting the most out of leading edge hardware and software, and AI," said Rick Osterloh, SVP of devices and services at Google. "The brains of our new Pixel lineup is Google Tensor, a mobile system on a chip that we designed specifically around our ambient computing vision and Google's work in AI." This latest Tensor SoC has dual Arm Cortex-X1 CPU cores running at 2.8GHz to handle application threads that need a lot of oomph, two Cortex-A76 cores at 2.25GHz for more modest workloads, and four 1.8GHz workhorse Cortex-A55 cores for lighter, less-energy-intensive tasks. This octa-core processor has an Arm-desig
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Microsoft's redesigned user interface for Paint in Windows 11 is prettier but perhaps a little less useable than the previous version. Windows 11: new Paint UI is a mixed benefit Confession: we are regular users of Paint, which is among the oldest Windows applications. The first version was in the 1985 Windows 1.0, licensed from ZSoft Corporation's PC Paintbrush, which was monochrome. At the time, paint applications were closely associated with that new-fangled alternative to the keyboard for screen navigation, the mouse. Windows 3.0 in 1990 brought colour support, though the application was still called Paintbrush. Paintbrush in Windows 3.11 (click to enlarge) In Windows 95 it was updated and just called Paint. New features like PNG support arrived in Windows 98, and in Windows Vista (2007) a handy Crop function. Windows 7 in 2009, possibly peak Paint, introduced a then-fashionable ribbon UI and some nice features like 50 levels of undo. Paint in Windows 7: the best? (Click to enlarge) Paint was little changed in Windows 8 (2012), but in Windows 10 Creators Update (2017) Microsoft decided that users longed for an extra dimension in their doodles, introducing Paint 3D as the new Paint. The classic Paint, Microsoft said, was no longer in active development and might be removed in future. However, Paint 3D lacked the features users liked about Paint: its fast startup, simple UI, and provision of most of the features actually needed for quick editing and resizing of images. In addition, there was little interest in 3D. Microsoft, to its credit, listened, and in 2019 said that Paint 3D would no longer be pre-installed. Paint remained, and in Windows 11 it even received a
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Come Sunday, October 24, 2021, those using applications that rely on gpsd for handling time data may find that they're living 1,024 weeks – 19.6 years – in the past. A bug in gpsd that rolls clocks back to March, 2002, is set to strike this coming weekend. The programming blunder was identified on July 24, 2021, and the errant code commit, written two years ago, has since been fixed. Now it's just a matter of making sure that every application and device deploying gpsd has applied the patch. The Network Time Protocol (NTP) provides a way for devices and services to keep accurate time using a hierarchical set of servers rated in terms of precision, with "stratum 0" representing the most accurate time sources. Gpsd is a service daemon that translates data from Global Positioning System (GPS), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmission sources into a common format that's suitable for client applications. It's used to provide clock information to ntpd, the NTP daemon used by operating systems, to sync a device's system clock to time provided by a GPS/GNSS/AIS receiver – GPS satellites rely on multiple atomic clocks so their time data is highly accurate. Gpsd is widely used. It's implemented in applications like Kismet, GpsDrive, gpeGPS, roadmap, roadnav, navit, viking, tangogps, foxtrot, obdgpslogger, geohist, LiveGPS, geoclue, qlandkartegt, gpredict, OpenCPN, gpsd-navigator, gpsd-ais-viewer, and Firefox. It's available in Android, Linux, macOS, and other Unix-like operating systems. The gpsd website says the software shows up in mobile embedded systems like UAVs, robot subma
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The US CISA cybersecurity agency has warned that the Darkside ransomware gang, aka BlackMatter, has been targeting American food and agriculture businesses – and urges security pros to be on the lookout for indicators of compromise. Well known in Western infosec circles for causing the shutdown of the US Colonial Pipeline, Darkside's apparent rebranding as BlackMatter after promising to go away for good in the wake of the pipeline hack hasn't slowed their criminal extortion down at all. "Ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure entities could directly affect consumer access to critical infrastructure services; therefore, CISA, the FBI, and NSA urge all organizations, including critical infrastructure organizations, to implement the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this joint advisory," said the agencies in an alert published on the CISA website. The alert details BlackMatter's TTPs, including the gang's use of previously-hacked admin creds to conquer corporate networks. Based on analysis of a single sample from VirusTotal "as well as from trusted third parties," the CISA said BlackMatter uses the Windows LDAP networking protocol as well as SMB for gaining access to Windows networks' Active Directory (AD), enumerating all hosts on the network from there. "BlackMatter then remotely encrypts the hosts and shared drives as they are found." The agency also noted that Darkside has demanded ransoms that range up to $15m, which contrasts nicely with the £15m it demanded from an insurance company. in Doncaster earlier in the year. They also said they "strongly discourage paying a ransom to criminal actors" because doing so "may embolden adversaries to target additional organisations". UK government advice is more ambivalent at the moment, though it is to be hoped that London follows suit quickly. US gov claims ransomware 'earned' $590m in the first half of 2021 alone – mostly in Bitcoin Ex-camera biz Olympus investigating 'suspicious' network activity again a month after ransomware hit When criminals go corporate: Ransomware-as-a-service, bulk discounts and more REvil ransomware gang's websi
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Review It has been a long 20 months since Lockdown 1.0, and despite the best efforts of Google and Zoom et al to filter out the worst effects of built-in laptop webcams, a replacement might be in order for the long haul ahead. With this in mind, El Reg's intrepid reviews desk looked at a pair of inexpensive Rapoo webcams in search for an alternative to the horror of our Dell XPS nose-cam. Rapoo sent us its higher-end XW2K, a 2K 30fps device and, at the other end of the scale, the 720p XW170. Neither will break the bank, coming in at around £40 and £25 respectively from online retailers, but do include some handy features, such as autofocus and a noise cancelling microphone. Rapoo XW2K Sure, these cameras are unlikely to cause many sleepless nights at Logitech's Brio division, but for the occasional online meeting they are a handy alternative to a laptop camera or replacement for an ageing webcam. Both cameras connect via USB and lack any kind of software in the box. This was both a good and bad thing. Good, in that setting them up under Windows 10, 11, and macOS (the three environments we tried them in) was a breeze. Bad, in that there was no scope for fiddling with the hardware other than what the OS or conferencing software of choice offered. We also experienced a my
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Node.js 17 is out, loaded with OpenSSL 3 and other new features, but it is not intended for use in production – and the promotion for Node.js 16 to an LTS release, expected soon, may be more important to most developers. The release cycle is based on six-monthly major versions, with only the even numbers becoming LTS (long term support) editions. The rule is that a new even-numbered release becomes LTS six months later. All releases get six months of support. This means that Node.js 17 is primarily for testing and experimentation, but also that Node.js 16 (released in April) is about to become LTS. New features in 16 included version 9.0 of the V8 JavaScript engine and prebuilt Apple silicon binaries. "We put together the LTS release process almost five years ago, it works quite well in that we're balancing [the fact] that some people want the latest, others prefer to have things be stable… when we go LTS," Red Hat's Michael Dawson, chair of the Node.js Technical Steering Committee, told The Register. "We've hopefully shaken out any issues. Actually at Red Hat we only issue binaries for the LTS releases, and that's what I recommend people to use in production." Having established that Node.js 17 is not primarily intended for production use, what is new? Inclusion of OpenSSL 3.0 is a big one, Dawson told us. "It give us a path to community FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards)," said Dawson – though the OpenSSL team said last month that FIPS 140-2 validation is still in progress and "the final certificate is not expected to be issued until next year." FIPS 140-2 covers cryptographic modules, and observance of the standard ensures, a level of security approved by the US government for sensitive information, and requires use of FIPS-approved cryptographic algorithms. There will be some impact on developers if existing application uses disallow algorithms or keys that are too small. A command line option enables use of the now legacy OpenSSL provider if needed. Some distributions of Node.js already provide FIPS support but "community FIPS" will mean better integration with third-party modules. There are other
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NetSuite, the ERP software aimed at medium-sized businesses, has launched new product features addressing integration with banking systems and business-facing analytics. The company – bought by Oracle for $9.3bn five years ago – said NetSuite Analytics Warehouse offers features similar to those available with enterprise ERP platforms from Big Red and SAP. In a pre-canned statement, Oracle NetSuite exec veep Evan Goldberg said: "With NetSuite Analytics Warehouse, our customers can now take advantage of a complete, prebuilt analytics solution that accelerates decision making and enables their organisations to quickly respond to changing customer needs and new market opportunities." The data warehouse features prebuilt, secure data pipelines designed to cut out error-prone and time-consuming manual data integration projects; third-party and NetSuite data sources including unstructured data; and more than 25 prebuilt connectors to platforms such as Dropbox, Salesforce and Google Analytics. It is also throwing in prebuilt metrics and KPIs to get business users started with minimum fuss, or so the company says. With SuiteBanking, users will get integrations to help accelerate accounts payable processes with automated invoice scanning and general ledger code assignment, three-way invoice matching, and automated outbound payments. Meanwhile, the accounts receivable package aims to improve the efficiency of billing staff. Bank Reconciliation claims to help customers accurately match transactions with the organisation's bank account. Similar integration features are available for spend management, working capital, and expense management. Tom Seal, IDC senior research director, said the new features were a response to the way the finance function was changing from merely reporting and controlling spending to helping change business direction. Northern Ireland Water ready to take the plunge with HR and finance software, prepares to flush Oracle R12.2 And finally... Oracle bags £25m ERP deal to replace East Sussex County Council's SAP R/3 system Surrey County Council faces £700k additional SAP support fees as £30m Unit4 ERP
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A prolific email phishing threat actor – TA505 – is back from the dead, according to enterprise security software slinger Proofpoint. TA505, which was last active in 2020, restarted its mass emailing campaigns in September – armed with new malware loaders and a RAT. "Many of the campaigns, especially the large volume ones, strongly resemble the historic TA505 activity from 2019 and 2020," said Proofpoint in a statement today. "The commonalities include similar domain naming conventions, email lures, Excel file lures, and the delivery of the FlawedGrace remote access trojan (RAT)."
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JumpCloud, a provider of cloud directory services, has sucked up $66m from investors including Jira developer Atlassian. The US-based software corp regards itself as an alternative to the likes of Microsoft's Active Directory, giving administrators a single pane from which to manage identities and resources over diverse environments consisting of Macs and Linux devices as well as Windows kit. The company had originally announced $159m series F investment in September, and today took in $66m, which in addition to previous rounds takes total funding to more than $400m, valuing JumpCloud at $2.6
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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has unveiled compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices of antivirus software firms. The move follows the watchdog baring its teeth at McAfee and Norton over the issue of automatically renewing contracts. The CMA took exception to auto-renewal contracts for antivirus software that customers in the UK signed up for and found difficult to cancel. Refunds and clearer pricing information (including making sure consumers were aware that year two could well end up considerably costlier than the first) were the order of the day. Today's principles build on that work, and are aimed at helping antivirus companies toe the line where UK consumer law is concerned. They are a bit more detailed than a simple "stop being horrid." The focus remains on auto-renewing contracts, where a customer signs up for a fixed period, then is charged again for subsequent periods. The CMA acknowledges that such arrangements are convenient, but they risk the consumer being locked into an agreement they no longer want or that they get stung with higher fees at renewal time. While the principles are intended to be helpful, lurking in the background is consumer law and the threat of a potential trip to court for vendors stepping out of line. UK's competition regulator announces market study into music streaming biz EU Commission may extend antitrust probe into Nvidia's $54bn merger with Arm Competition watchdog? We've heard of it. But emergency comms firm still on track to Airwave hello to £1.2bn Ancestry.com: Let arbitrator decide on auto-enrolling membership lawsuit BT jittery about Cellnex snapping up UK mobile tower assets First up comes a requirement to make sure customers are informed about auto-renewal, rather than hiding the detail in an End User Licence Agreement (EULA) or burying it in hard-to-read text through which a user must scroll. Price claims must be "accurate" and "not mislead your customers" – so only show discounts against the normal price. It must also be possible to turn off the auto-renew easily, keep auto-renew turned off once it is off and, if on, make sure customers are reminded in good time that an auto-renew will happen. Getting a refund must be easier and customers should be able to change their mind when auto-renewal happens. I
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There is good news for the intersection of Lego and Raspberry Pi fans today, as a new HAT (the delightfully named Hardware Attached on Top) will be unveiled for the diminutive computer to control Technic motors and sensors. Using a Pi to process sensor readings and manage motors has been a thing since the inception of the computer, and users (including ourselves) have long made use of the General Purpose Input / Output (GPIO) pins that have been a feature of the hardware for all manner of projects. However, not all users are entirely happy with breadboards and jumpers. Lego, familiar to many a builder thanks to lines such as its Mindstorms range, recently introduced the Education SPIKE Prime set, aimed at the classroom. The set contains a wide variety of components, including motors and sensors, controllable via a rechargeable hub and tablet application. It is the latter elements that a Build HAT-equipped Pi can replace: simply plug those motor and sensor components into the Pi hardware instead. Effectively, this is a HAT device that connects to Lego devices that use a LPF2 connector. An onboard RP2040 microcontroller takes care of the low-level control of the Technic devices while an external power supply is needed to provide power. At the top level, developers can make use of Python to query sensors and run motors. A Raspberry Pi Build HAT in use ... Click to enlarge It's entertaining stuff, and we can imagine it coming in handy in a classroom setting – sensors include devices to check distance, report colour and force, while motors can both be queried with regard to their position (if supported) and spun as required. The Pi team reckon
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HPE's networking subsidiary Aruba has added data processing units to a switch. Data processing units (DPUs) – aka SmartNICs or "infrastructure processing units" (IPUs) – are small computers integrated into a network adapter. Hyperscale operators adopted the devices to relieve servers of chores ranging from handling I/O to external storage or running network services under software-defined networks. DPUs/IPUs/SmartNICs are also valued for adding isolation to components in a data centre, which helps for security purposes. VMware, Nvidia, and Intel have backed the devices as a new and vital tier of enterprise data centres, and are endeavouring to make them work in mainstream servers any month now with the suggestion that they are a splendid place to spin up network-centric workloads as needed. A common scenario for the devices imagines a server spawning a container that's part of a microservice, at which point a firewall and load balancer run on the DPU to secure the resulting traffic alongside the NIC's other packet-schlepping tasks. The server just runs the container and – because it's not also firewalling or load-balancing – has expensive Intel Xeon or AMD EPYC cores available for more important work. Aruba likes that idea so much it has added DPUs from Pensando – to a switch. As explained to The Register by Aruba veep William Choe, the company feels that switches can use a hand from a DPU both because East-West traffic in the data cent
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Confusion continues to reign in the world of television, including UK national broadcaster Channel 4, weeks after a broadcast centre cockup wrought havoc upon servers. Things went horribly wrong at Red Bee Media's broadcast centre back on 25 September. Yes, that was the weekend before we ran an accidentally appropriate episode of Who, Me? A fire suppression was triggered and severely damaged a lot of critical hardware. The net result was that a number of UK television channels (including the BBC as well as Channel 4) suffered a wobble. While others have recovered, Channel 4 remains unable to provide accessibility services, such as subtitles or audio description. A bit of background: an industry insider (who asked to remain anonymous) explained to The Register that TV companies generally provide several items to playout providers, usually file-based. Video and audio tend to be batched together in one MPEG stream. Audio Description (AD) and subtitles arrive in another. And so on. "In the 'olden' days of 2006, we manually got all of the different components and placed them into the various different output servers," explained our insider. The playout server described in our Who, Me? story would grab the video, audio, AD and subtitles – which explains its sudden shutdown in our story, that caused similar problems. Automation took over in the last decade, meaning that skilled intervention was perhaps not so essential. Up until everything went wrong. Red Bee posted a Twitter thread last week, apologising for the situation, but insisting it was "getting back on track." As soon as we receive the media (the programmes), our teams proceed to create and add pre-recorded subtitles, audio descriptions and signing. This process has been disrupted since the incident in the Broadcast Centre in London on 25 Sep, but we are getting back on track. (2/3) — Red Bee Media (@RedBeeMedia) October 15, 2021 We don't know how far away those tracks are. Presumably quite some distance if, after three weeks, Red Bee Media has yet to haul itself back onto them. If your apps or gadgets break down on Sunday, this may be why: Gpsd bug to roll back clocks to 2002 Heart FM's borkfast show – a fine way to start your day Giant predatory ancient insects pioneered mobile comms 310,000,000 years ago Women techs fume, offer crowdsourced fixes as Michelle Obama's online keynote crashes Our source noted that it was not the first time the fire alarm had gone off, but was the first time that nobody had managed to get to the override in time. The thinking behind the system was apparently "kill the flames and sod the consequences." As for those consequences: "Now we know... it kills servers." As for the hardware, hot-swap spares are likely limited and there is every possibility that parts of the kit could be quite difficult to find nowadays. Red Bee Media got the pictures and audio up and running again quickly, but the ancillary systems (such as the ones dealing with subtitles) are clearly proving problematic. We have asked Red Bee Media to comment but it has yet to respond. A spokesperson told the BBC: "Things are improving
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Finnish open-source-as-a-service provider Aiven has attracted a $60m extension to its Series C funding which now values the firm at $2bn. The latest cash injection suggests remarkable growth in the nominal value of the Scandinavian startup, founded five years ago, which was worth $800m when it got its first $100m-tranche of Series C funding in March. Aiven sells open-source data technologies as a managed service. Unlike some DBaaS systems, which punt proprietary or less permissive licences for their as-a-service offers built on open source technologies, Aiven provides a stack of as-a-service systems in their true open source form. Apache streaming platform Kafka is Aiven's most popular product, but open source relational database PostgreSQL, which released iteration 14 earlier this month, Apache Cassandra, Redis, MySQL, OpenSearch and more are available. Rockset hopes to lessen streaming analytics time-suck by having SQL transform live data Spanner in the works: The goal is not 100% compatibility, Google says of PostgreSQL interface Dobler effect: Spinnaker Support snaps up rival database consultant Amazon Elasticsearch Service is so flexible it wants to be called by a new name The privately owned company says it has seen revenue double year-on-year but didn't provide an absolute figure. Staffing numbers have increased from 40 to 230+ in the last 18 months. Because the majority of employees have been hired during the pandemic’s enforced home working, it has allowed Aiven to take a wider view on recruitment, CEO and co-founder Oskari Saarenmaa told The Register. "We went into COVID as a team of around 40 people, [after that] we just started hiring people remotely, wherever they are. We've now added more than 200 people during the pandemic and have employees in close to 20 different countries today," he said. As well as expanding the business, Askari said Aiven is planning to up the products it sells, including the addition of ClickHouse, a Yandex open-source column-oriented DBMS for online analytical processing, as a managed service. "Perhaps more importantly, we have the launch of Apache Flink (a unified stream-processing and batch-processing framework) service launch, which allows you to implement business logic directly within Aiven, without having to host that elsewhere. Flink allows you to do stream processing directly on the platform rather than having to pull out the data to an external application to do something there and then push it back to the platform," Saarenmaa said. Commenting on the growth in company valuation, he told us it is recognition that the opportunity for growth in the cloud data market is so high. Cloud data warehouse biz Snowflake and data lake and framework vendor Databricks have also seen staggering valuations in the last year. The company's mission, though, is still centred on helping developers using open source technologies "have a better day," Saarenmaa said. "You don't have to set up all the infrastructure first before you can start building something that actually matters to you and your end-users," he said. ®
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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said this morning it would be carrying out a market study into the music streaming industry. The announcement states that following discussion by the board, the regulator would now "consider and develop the final scope of the market study, before formally launching it as soon as possible." In a letter to MPs [PDF], chief exec Andrea Coscelli wrote it was agreed that such work "supported a strategic goal of the CMA to foster effective competition in digital markets, ensuring they operate in a way that promotes innovation and the consumer interest." This "strategic goal" follows a notable shift in the CMA to better regulate tech giants s
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Feature My family and I recently returned to Singapore after an overseas trip that, for the first time in over a year, did not require the ordeal of two weeks of quarantine in a hotel room. Instead,
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Utility provider Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has set aside £28m to replace its current Oracle E-business Suite with a new HR and finance system. According to recently released tender documents, the business is looking for a tech outfit to "supply, implement and support a suite of new core corporate systems for its finance, commercial, inventory, human resources (HR), payroll and learning and development (L&D) needs." The Prior Information Notice, designed for early market engagement before the competition officially starts, said the need for new enterprise software arises because of "the approaching expiration of the licencing and support contracts for its current core corporate systems."
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Alibaba Cloud has revealed a home-grown CPU for servers, based on the Arm architecture, that it has already deployed powering its cloud services. Named "Yitian 710", the processor was built on a 5nm
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Apple on Monday announced 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models armed with its Arm-compatible Apple Silicon chips, extending its platform architecture transition, and Intel exodus, for its high-end notebooks. Cupertino's web-streamed presentation, which also featured new music products and services, was highly anticipated by Apple customers because, as expected, it addressed long-standing complaints about recent MacBook Pro models, namely its failure-prone keyboard, its unasked-for TouchBar, and its finicky USB-C power connector. Though Apple's disastrous Butterfly-design keyboard has already been dealt with, the first aspect of the new MacBook Pro models that product manager Shruti Haldea discussed was the keyboard. "The new MacBook Pro has been reimagined in every way," said Haldea during the streaming video presentation. "Let's start with the keyboard. Users value the full height function row on the standalone Magic Keyboard, And we brought it to the MacBook Pro. The physical keys replaced the TouchBar, bringing back the familiar tactile feel of mechanical keys that Pro users love." Click to enlarge But that reassurance took a back seat to Apple's execs crowing about the company's artisanal silicon. The new MacBook Pro models bring new chips: the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, Apple's followup to the Apple Silicon M1 chip that debuted last year. "Building a pro laptop has meant using a power-hungry CPU and discrete GPU," said Johny Srouji, SVP of hardware technologies at Apple. "But a two-chip architecture requires more power and cooling. It also means the CPU and GPU have separate pools of memory, so they have to copy data back and forth over a slow interface. "Not one has ever applied a system-on-a-chip design to a pro system, until today. And we did this by scaling up M1's groundbreaking architecture to create a far more powerful chip with M1 Pro." The M1 Pro relies on 5nm process technology. It sports 33.7bn transistors, twice as many as the M1. The chip has a 10-core CPU – eight high-performance cores and two high efficiency cores. Apple claims it's up to 70 per cent faster than M1, depending on the workload, delivers up to 1.7x better CPU performance than the latest 8-core PC laptop chip when using comparable amounts of power, and at equal performance levels uses 70 per cent less power than the PC chip. Click to enlarge The M1 Pro has an up-to-16 core GPU that's said to be twice as fast as the M1 and 7x faster than an 8-core PC with integrated graphics. It's available with up to up to 32GB of memory and up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth. The M1 Max is what you get when you take the M1 Pro's 10-core CPU and double its GPU cores to 32. The result is 4x better GPU performance and the original M1, which debuted last year. Built with 57bn transistors, it supports up to 64GB of memory – compare that to the 16GB of video memory commonly available to PC laptops – and offers 400GB/s of memory bandwidth. Apple claims the 14-inch model gets 17 hours of video playback while the 16-inch model gets 21 hours – 10 more than on prior Mac notebooks. The other gubbins The M1 Max also has an enhanced media eng
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Reg Reader Survey The introduction of new systems into an organization is essential. If we stay still, if we continue to rely on legacy systems, if we fail to innovate – well, we (or, in reality, the company) will die. As business guru Sir John Harvey-Jones once put it: “If you are doing things the same way as two years ago, you are almost certainly doing them wrong.” But who should lead innovation in our companies? Who should be introducing new systems? The answer is not obvious. On one hand, the introduction of new systems into the business should be led by the business. In principle,
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Column I used to think technology could change the world. Google's vision is different: it just wants you to sort of play with the world. That's fun, but it's not as powerful as it could be. Despite the fact that it often gives me a stomach-churning sense of motion sickness, I've been spending quite a bit of time lately fully immersed in Google Earth VR. Pop down inside a major city centre – Sydney, San Francisco or London – and the intense data-gathering work performed by Google's global fleet of scanning vehicles shows up in eye-popping detail. Buildings are rendered photorealistically,
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Intel has teased a new tech it calls "Software Defined Silicon" (SDSi) but is saying almost nothing about it – and has told The Register it could amount to nothing. SDSi popped up around three weeks ago in a post to the Linux Kernel mailing list, in which an Intel Linux software engineer named David Box described it as "a post-manufacturing mechanism for activating additional silicon features". "Features are enabled through a license activation process," he wrote. "The SDSi driver provides a per-socket, ioctl interface for applications to perform three main provisioning functions." Those provisioning functions are: Provision an Authentication Key Certificate (AKC) – a key written to internal NVRAM that is used to authenticate a capability-specific activation payload. Provision a Capability Activation Payload (CAP) – a token authenticated using the AKC and applied to the CPU configuration to activate a new feature. Read the SDSi State Certificate – containing the CPU configuration state. Box's post also pointed to a GitHub page that includes the following explanation: Between that GitHub mention and the three functions added to the Linux kernel, it seems plain that Intel could ship Xeons with latent features you could enable by sending it some cash. Intel's offered precious few other details. The GitHub page includes a document detailing how to use SDSi-equipped silicon to enable dormant features, but with no detail on what new features could be activated with this tech. The Register asked Intel to explain its Linux Kernel mailing list post. Chipzilla offered us the following non-committal response: Yeah, right. Intel has gone to all the trouble of cooking up a way to license highly configurable Xeons, but hasn't decided if it will become a product, and tossed the tech into the Linux kernel anyway. If you believe that, The Register has a bridge we'd like to sell you. So let's ponder what Intel could be up to here – starting with why Intel wants to license CPU features. Today, Intel sells a CPU and as often as not doesn't see any more cash from its customers until their next purchase – which could be years into the future. Licensing CPU features would potentially give Intel more revenue, more often, perhaps even letting it create the kind of subscription services that investors adore because they boost revenue – and make its arrival more predictable. Intel is going to need predictable cashflow to fund its plans to spend tens of billions on new factories. Alibaba Cloud unveils home-spun 128-core Arm-powered server CPU Apple arms high-end MacBook Pro notebooks with M1 Pro, M1 Max processors Arm puts virtual hardware in the cloud so you won't have to wait for the actual chips Those factories are infamously complex, and Intel works them hard – partly because it makes many variants of its products. If Intel could make fewer variants, and instead pack all its tech into a smaller number of SKUs that could be re-configured in software, production savings could be substantial. Customers would still pay a premium for high-end kit, which would be switched on by software rather than create
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Analysis Cars are gaining momentum as computers on wheels, though chip manufacturers' auto focus isn't on making components using the latest and greatest fabrication nodes. Instead, companies that include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Globalfoundries are turning back the clock and investing billions in factories that use older manufacturing techniques to make chips for vehicles. The rapid digitization and electrification of cars has created a giant demand for smaller, more power-efficient auto chips, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. He added that cars don't necessarily need the latest manufacturing processes, though, and many are still using analog-based components for various functions. Some chips in cars today are made using the same process nodes used in 2005 to make PC chips, McGregor said, adding that many factors go into the optimization of chip packages, including the desired battery life of the vehicle, the maximum distance between charging and refueling, and the weight of the car. That said, some cars are equipped with advanced chips, fabricated using newer techniques, to handle artificial intelligence, infotainment, and communications. But don't forget, car makers are also keen on advancing microcontrollers on larger process nodes for applications like braking. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. which makes cutting-edge mobile chips for Apple and Qualcomm, expects chips for cars to take on more manufacturing capacity in the future. The company is investing billions in factories, including one due to open in Japan in 2024, to make 22- and 28nm chips. TSMC is investing $100bn in new factories over the next three years to address chip shortages in areas that include cars. Toyota needs more than its Cheer Squad to deal with chip shortages, as five more home factories forced into idleness Seeing as everyone loves cloud subscriptions, get ready for car-as-a-service future Megachips or decoupled approach? AI chip design companies accounting for operating costs If you're Intel, self-driving cars look an awful lot like PCs "TSMC's participation in the global automotive IC market is only about 14 per cent, and we are doing our part to support our automotive customers with what they need. However, we cannot solve the entire industry's supply challenge," TSMC CC Wei said on an earnings call last week. Until last year, the booking window for car makers on automotive chips was 12 weeks, but that has now been extended to at least 12 months, IHS Markit said in a recent study. "OEMs are even reportedly exploring booking capacity at tier-2 foundries such as TSMC or GlobalFoundries over a year in advance, a move that is in stark contrast with previous practices," the research firm said. Intel will commit foundry capacity for automotive customers at the Ireland fab campus, Intel spokesman Jason Gorss told The Register. The company last month said it was investing €5.5bn to expand factory operations in Ireland. "The Ireland facility is capable of supporting a range of advanced process nodes. We are currently talking with automotive customers to determine
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Line, the Japan-based messaging and payments app with millions of users around Southeast Asia, has conceded that its data protection regimes had multiple shortcomings, and therefore put users' personal information at risk. Parent company Z-Holdings yesterday released a report compiled by a Special Advisory Committee on Global Data Governance that it convened in the wake of revelations that some user data had been processed in China and/or stored in South Korea. Line is vastly popular in Japan, where it boasts over 85 million monthly users and is so prevalent the nation's government relies on it as a channel for digital services. The app has also made inroads into South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and other Asian nations, bringing it a total user population of over 700 million – over 150 million of whom are active monthly users. The company's payment service, LINEpay, handled transactions valued at over $8.5 billion a year before Line became a part of Z-Holdings in March 2021. The headline finding of the committee's report is that Line outsourced some of its data handling to China without ever stopping to think that the Middle Kingdom's government might decide to have a look at user data. The report points out this was a big failure that amounted to the company not considering Japan's economic security. The company also admitted it fibbed to users when it promised that all data was stored in Japan – some also went to servers located in South Korea. (The company is part-owned by Seoul-based Naver Corporation.) The report offers the usual social media prescription for sorting out the mess: apologies, pointing out the company tries very hard to do the right thing, and a promise to do better in future. For Line, that means new committees to consider data security, ensuring that communications to users don't include falsehoods, and a recognition that the company needs to understand what different jurisdictions' laws – and changes to those laws – mean for Line users everywhere. Especially if its operations are going to cross national borders. Another item identified as needing more work is governance across Z-Holdings. That matters because the company also owns Yahoo! Japan, and data sharing among brands has been mooted. Sloppy data compliance sees Japanese government cut out its own use of LINE messaging app Over 100 Taiwanese political figures' messages leaked outta LINE app Beijing orders Alibaba, Tencent, more Big Tech to stop blocking links to rivals Line also issued a guidance to users that explains how it responds to law enforcement authorities' requests to access users' data. That document boils down to a pledge to comply with Japanese law, and the disclosure of users' ID, email address, phone number, and even messages if they weren't sent with end-to-end encryption. Line won't automatically hand over such data. The document explains that a privacy team assesses incoming requests from investigators and may reject them if an investigation is deemed too broad, or displays "legal inadequacy". Nor will the company assist authorities for all matters. Instead, the company will only cons
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We can't wait to see the logic gymnastics needed to justify this Canon USA has been accused of forcing customers to buy ink cartridges when they only want to scan and fax documents using the manufacturer's so-called All-In-One multi-function printers. David Leacraft bought a Canon PIXMA MG2522 All-in-One Printer from Walmart in March, and was appalled when his device was incapable of scanning or a faxing documents if it ran low, or out, of ink. Unlike printing, scanning and faxing
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Microsoft has been branded as "the world's best malware hoster for about a decade," thanks to abuse of the Office 365 and Live platform, as well as its slow response to reports by security researcher
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US House representatives say they are ready to call upon the Department of Justice to investigate whether Amazon executives, including ex-CEO Jeff Bezos, lied to Congress about whether the internet giant unfairly uses customer data to create and market its own products. Employees in India were accused of keeping tabs on which products sold by third-party vendors proved to be popular among buyers, and then developing competing Amazon-branded versions. Amazon then rigged its product search results to unfairly promote its own products and crush competition on its Indian website, judging from internal documents. Those files, obtained by Reuters, go against previous statements and testimonials A
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Review Canonical has released Ubuntu 21.10, or "Impish Indri" as this one is known. This is the last major version before next year's long-term support release of Ubuntu 22.04, and serves as a good p
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NASA's Lucy is on its way to the Trojan asteroids, but engineers have already spotted a problem with one of the probe's 7.3-metre solar arrays. The spacecraft was sent on its way from Cape Canaveral's Space Force Station's SLC-41 pad on Saturday atop an Atlas V rocket. The mission is set to last 12 years, over which the probe, dubbed "Lucy" (named for the fossilised skeleton of an early hominin ancestor), will fly past one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids. Lucy is now barrelling along at approximately 108,000kph and is due to swing past Earth in a year's time for a gravity assist. It sent its first signal to Earth just over an hour after launch and 30 minutes after unfurling its solar arrays. Which is where things might not be going quite so well: while both arrays have deployed and are producing power to charge the spacecraft's batteries, one does not appear to have fully latched into place. NASA’s #LucyMission is safe & stable. The two solar arrays have deployed, but one may not be fully latched. The team is analyzing data to determine next steps. This team has overcome many challenges already and I am confident they will prevail here as well https://t.co/8IYs8bJhKM pic.twitter.com/oICOA3ksre — Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) October 17, 2021 Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, approved the mission in 2017. The spacecraft is set to make its first Trojan asteroid encounter in 2027, in the swarm of asteroids ahead of Jupiter. After a third gravity assist from Earth in 2031 (a second will take place in 2024), it will reach the trailing swarm of Trojans in 2033. Space boffins: Exoplanet survived hydrogen-death of its host star Saturday start for NASA's Lucy probe on its 12-year quest to map Jupiter's Trojan asteroids There's a cling-on off the starboard bow... Small moon spotted orbiting asteroid NASA's Lucy will visit in 2027 NASA plans seven-year trip to Jupiter – can we come with you, please? Scientists reckon that the Trojan asteroids are leftover materials from the formation of the giant planets and could offer insights into how the solar system evolved. The asteroids share an
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There can be few things worse than Microsoft Windows elbowing itself into a presenting partnership, as seen in this digital signage for the Heart breakfast show. For those unfamiliar with the station, Heart is a UK national broadcaster with Global as its parent. It currently consists of a dozen or so regional stations with a number of shows broadcast nationally. Including a perky breakfast show featuring former Live and Kicking presenter Jamie Theakston and Britain's Got Talent judge, Amanda Holden. Click to enlarge And, it would appear, Microsoft Windows. A co-star that nobody asked for. In this instance, the radio show hosted by the twosome is being advertised on some signage at Putney Rail Station. Affiliated, it seems, with TalkTalk (notable for rhyming with "BorkBork" and not always seen troubling the top of the customer satisfaction charts), the signage is using Windows to flaunt its wares. Mind your Ps and queues: Bork makes a visit to the A&E Meatballs, Abba, and bork: 3 things Sweden is famous for A most uncivil display in New York's Civil Court Happy birthday, Microsoft Money: Here's a cashpoint calamity for Windows and .NET And Windows has done what Windows does best by displaying an application error, partially obscuring the happy visage of Ms Holden while Mr
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The governments of South Africa and Australia have signed agreements formalizing the construction and operation of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) telescopes by the Observatory's governing body. The intergovernmental radio (and world's biggest) telescope will survey the sky over ten thousand times faster than has ever been done before, in the hopes of understanding the universe's biggest secrets. It will use around 3,000 15-metre dishes, plus hundreds of thousands of low-frequency aperture array telescopes, for a total of over 130,000 antennas. With what is expected to be 130 petabytes of data produced a year, it will also require a powerful HPC engine. The project was conceptualized over 30 years ago and now has over a decade of engineering design work under its belt. In February of this year, the council required to make the one square kilometre tech into a reality was finally established, so it seems about time for things to charge forward for the $1.5bn telescope, even if it's just to sign contracts. The two documents penned last week establish rights and responsibilities of each party regarding sites, assets, and necessary yet to be built infrastructure, as well as each government's obligation to provide radio frequency interference protection for the instruments and other matters. The SKAO will have operations at four separate facilities in each country. They will include a remotely located telescope array, an Engineering Operations Centre, a Science Operations Centre, and a Science Processing Centre for the supercomputer handling the country's incoming data which will then be shifted off to the various member countries' astro-boffins. There will also be a number of SKA regional centres for the scientists to tinker around in. South Africa and Australia were chosen for wide-open spaces, but also because their positions in the southern hemisphere provide the best view of the Milky Way with the least radio interference, an ever-growing concern since the telescope's conception. Meanwhile data on SKA-precursor, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and its 36 parabolic antennas at Murchis
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Arm is putting virtual models of its chip designs in the cloud so developers can write and test applications before the physical hardware gets into their hands. The Arm Virtual Hardware offering is part of new product portfolio called "ARM Total Solutions for IoT." Cringe-worthy marketing jargon aside, Arm wants to give developers a head-start in coding for Internet of Things applications, like cars, robots and refrigerators. Here's how it works. Arm licenses chip designs and intellectual property for chips used in devices ranging from battery-operated devices to cars and servers. Once Arm releases the building blocks for chips to silicon partners, it will also make a virtual representation of the chip stack available to developers in the cloud. Developers can then start writing, testing and debugging applications and test them on simulated hardware. Historically everything happened in sequence, with ARM releasing chip design IP to silicon providers, and there was a three-year wait before development of apps could begin. Now, chip design and software development can happen almost in parallel, Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT and Embedded at Arm, told The Register. "It represents a new way for software developers to innovate and develop for all those diverse devices, but they can do so in the cloud without hardware," Awad said. This is the first time Arm is offering virtual hardware, and it'll initially be for IoT, Awad said. The Virtual Hardware will initially be available for the Corstone-300 subsystem from Arm SoC partners, incorporating the Arm Cortex M55 AI processor and Arm Ethos U55 microNPU. Awad declined to say whether something similar would be available for mobile chip designs, and he highlighted why it needed to first be in IoT. The overwhelming number and diversity of IoT chips makes it costly and challenging to test and deploy software, and virtual hardware provides a better model on which to program. Compare that to mobile phones, which replicates one chip design over a number of devices. Testing software on virtual hardware isn't new, with examples being flight simulation and wind-tunnel testi
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The troubled .NET Foundation was intended to "borrow as much as possible from the GNOME Foundation," according to Miguel de Icaza, co-founder of GNOME and now at Microsoft, who was involved in its original design. De Icaza's remarks were triggered by a post from Reed Copsey, president of earth science research company C Tech and executive director of the F# Foundation. F# is a .NET language, but has its own foundation. The F# Software Foundation (FSSF) began in 2014 (the same year the .NET Foundation was founded) after F# inventor Don Syme "met in a café in Cambridge" with researcher Tomas Petricek and software architect Phil Trelford, and was originally an informal organisation, according to Syme's paper on F# history. It was modelled "along the lines of the Python Software Foundation."
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Brit political has-been and Facebook global affairs veep Nick Clegg fired off a missive over the weekend announcing that the antisocial network would be hiring 10,000 people from across the European Union to help "BUILD THE METAVERSE" (VERSE-VERSE-VERSE-VERSE). What's the metaverse? Well, no one's quite sure – it doesn't exist yet – but Cleggers and pal Javier Olivan, Facebook's central products VP, define it as "a new phase of interconnected virtual experience using technologies like virtual and augmented reality." "And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start," they added. Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality with its acquisition of Oculus for a cool $2bn in 2014, which we suppose is why it's so interested in making the metaverse work. Seven years later,
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Microsoft's brand new operating system, Windows 11, appears to be just as iffy when it comes to printing as its predecessors. The latest problem turned up in the Windows Release Health dashboard last week and warned that a prompt for administration credentials might pop up when the print server and client are in different time zones. It isn't only Windows 11 affected. The issue also affects the firm's other operating systems from Windows 7 onwards, according to the known issues list. "The affected environments described in this issue," the company said, "are not commonly used by devices designed for home use. The printing environments affected by this issue are more commonly found in enterprises and organizations." This is not ideal, of course, as the average enterprise user will not be able to supply admin credentials on demand and the person who can will not be best pleased when roused from sleep (being that they're likely in a "different time zone"), The problem – which according to Windows won't be fixed until "late October" – joins other issues reported in recent days, including the installation of printer drivers failing on print servers acce
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Bork!Bork!Bork! It's a whole new world for bork today as a Washington Metro platform indicator suggests an alternative to the usual train for weary commuters. How about getting a bit more out of Windows? This is a suggestion that everyone wants to see while waiting for a Yellow Line train at Washington Metro's Huntington Station (located, helpfully, on Huntington Avenue in the Huntington Area). Click to enlarge It looks to us as though somebody has started setting up a new instance of Windows and then thrown in the towel, perhaps not realising that the out-of-box experience (OOBE) has become more of an out-of-platform setup (OOPS), causing minor confusion among passengers that are expecting to see when the next Yellow Line train might depart. A whole new world indeed. Where once blue screens or boot loops were the order of the day, now it is forgetful admins shovelling code onto servers that probably don't really need it. Mind your Ps and queues: Bork makes a visit to the A&E Meatballs, Abba, and bork: 3 things Sweden is famous for Happy birthday, Microsoft Money: Here's a cashpoint calamity for Windows and .NET A most uncivil display in New York's Civil Court Huntington is at the southern end of the Yellow Line, acting as a terminus, and was opened in the 1980s. It recently underwent a renovation which is, alas, incomplete as far as Windows is concerned. The cheery exhortation to set up Windows Hello, hook up a mobile phone, and perhaps put on Office 365 seems a bit excessive for something that has one job: telling punters how long they have to wait for a train. Still, there is much to like in Washington. We'd recommend a jaunt to the Smithsonian (on the Blue, Or
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An EasyJet flight to Edinburgh Airport took off with wrongly loaded passengers and baggage because of IT network congestion causing computer systems to interact "in a manner which had neither been designed nor predicted." Last-minute aircraft changes followed by a critical but slow-running IT system meant the Airbus A321-Neo nearly took off with a loadsheet intended for a different type of airliner. The loadsheet says where the aircraft's centre of gravity is – a vital safety calculation. At the heart of the January 2021 cockup were "code errors" in EasyJet's departure control software suite, the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said in a recent report. "The various elements of the IT system architecture do not 'talk' directly to each other but operate through a variety of interfaces," found the AAIB, adding this "makes errors and inaccuracies more likely." An alert EasyJet cabin manager spotted the loadsheet discrepancy when passengers began taking seats in places the loadsheet said they shouldn't be sitting. If passengers (and baggage underneath) sit in different areas from what the loadsheet says, during takeoff the airliner might become unbalanced – leading to control difficulties for the pilots, or worse. The cabin manager flagged up the loadsheet to the captain of the January 2021 flight, scheduled to run between Edinburgh and Bristol. Detailed investigations discovered that EasyJet's departure control software (DCS) had generate
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Facial recognition technology is being employed in more UK schools to allow pupils to pay for their meals, according to reports today. In North Ayrshire Council, a Scottish authority encompassing the Isle of Arran, nine schools are set to begin processing meal payments for school lunches using facial scanning technology. The authority and the company implementing the technology, CRB Cunninghams, claim the system will help reduce queues and is less likely to spread COVID-19 than card payments and fingerprint scanners, according to the Financial Times. Speaking to the publication, David
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The UK government has awarded a contract worth up to £875m for a range of printer hardware and multi-function devices in a move which again raises questions about whether the paperless office was a dream that has faded in the recesses of our collective memory. In a contract award notice, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), which spearheads cross-government procurement under the umbrella of the Cabinet Office, said a gang of hardware vendors had won work that might be sufficient to buy Newcastle United Football Club twice over and have change to spare. CCS worked with education buying agencie
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Opinion Forget the Singularity. That modern myth where AI learns to improve itself in an exponential feedback loop towards evil godhood ain't gonna happen. Spacetime itself sets hard limits on how fast information can be gathered and processed, no matter how clever you are. What we should expect in its place is the robot panopticon, a relatively dumb system with near-divine powers of perception. That's something the same laws of physics that prevent the Godbot practically guarantee. The latest foreshadowing of mankind's fate? The Ethernet cable. By itself, last week's story of a researcher pi
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NSFW Who, Me? Ever written that angry email and accidentally hit send instead of delete? Take a trip back to the 1990s equivalent with a slightly NSFW Who, Me? Our story, from "Matt", flings us back the best part of 30 years to an era when mobile telephones were the preserve of the young, upwardly mobile professionals and fixed lines ruled the roost for more than just your senior relatives. Back then, Matt was working for a UK-based fixed-line telephone operator. He was dealing with a telephone exchange which served a relatively large town. "I ran a reasonably ordinary, read-only command to interrogate a specific setting," he told us. The response made no sense. So he ran it again, in case there was corruption on the line. Same result. Confused, he showed the
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Ongoing crackdown saw apps 1.83 million apps tested, 4,200 told to clean up their act, pop-up ads popped Other stories you might like Whatever sort of disaster we’re talking about, if your backups are fried, you’re not going to recover Here’s how zero trust and immutability can save you Sponsored When you’re putting your enterprise security and data management strategy in place, should you worry more
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Chinese software developers have crowdsourced a spreadsheet that dishes the dirt on working conditions at hundreds of employers. Dubbed "Workers Lives Matter", the protest aims to offer transparency regarding how many work hours are expected. Many organisations expect 72-hour working weeks, an arrangement named "996" for the Monday-Saturday, 09:00-21:00, regime at many Chinese companies. The practice has sometimes been promoted by the rich and famous: Alibaba’s Jack Ma publicly stated that employees should actually want to work long hours and a job you love enough to spend that much time doing is a “blessing.” Chinese courts take a different view. A recent decision found 996-style hours aren't permissible, as Chinese law caps overtime at 36 hours per month and requires compen
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Ransomware extracted at least $590 million for the miscreants who create and distribute it in the first half of 2021 alone – more than the $416 million tracked in all of 2020, according to the US government’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Total ransomware-related financial activity may have reached $5.2 billion. The $590 million figure is contained in a Financial Trend Analysis report [PDF] by the agency, and reflects transactions identified in financial institutions' Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). FinCEN's analysis of visible blockchain activity yielded the $5.2 billion figure. FinCEN analysed 635 SARs, of which 458 described transactions reported between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 and the remainder reported older transactions later found to be suspicious.
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Crew successfully de-orbited on Sunday carrying vital payload: footage for a movie shot in space The International Space Station has again had to compensate for unexpected thrusting by a Russian spacecraft. Readers may remember that Russia's Nauka module unexpectedly fired its thrusters upon arrival at the ISS in July 2021. The space station tilted 45 degrees and required restorative action to resume its intended orbit. Last Friday, something similar occurred. As detailed in a NASA update, at 5:02am on October 15th the Soyuz capsule docked at the ISS
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In brief Whether or not non-fungible tokens are a flash in the pan or forever, malware operators have been keen to weaponise the technology. An investigation was triggered after a number of cryptowallets belonging to customers of the largest NFT exchange OpenSea got mysteriously emptied. Researchers at security shop Check Point found a nasty form of NFT was in circulation, one that came with its own malware package. People were receiving free NFTs from an unknown benefactor, but when they accepted the gift the attackers got access to their wallet information in OpenSea's storage systems. The code generated a pop-up, that if clicked, allowed wallets to be emptied. After disclosing the issue Opensea had a fix sorted within an hour - we wish others took that prompt action - and the pl
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In brief Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have requested the US Department of Justice's help in probing a case involving a bank manager who was swindled into transferring $35m to criminals by someone using a fake AI-generated voice. The employee received a call to move the company-owned funds by someone purporting to be a director from the business. He also previously saw emails that showed the company was planning to use the money for an acquisition, and had hired a lawyer to coordinate the process. When the sham director instructed him to transfer the money, he did so thinking it was a legitimate request. But it was all a scam, according to US court documents reported by Forbes. The criminals used "deep voice technology to simulate the voice of the director," it said. Now officia
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A 36-year-old man from Portage, Michigan, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly renting thousands of textbooks from Amazon and selling them rather than returning them. Andrew Birge, US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, said Geoffrey Mark Hays Talsma has been indicted on charges of mail and wire fraud, transporting stolen property across state lines, aggravated identity theft, and lying to the FBI. Also indicted were three alleged co-conspirators: Gregory Mark Gleesing, 43, and Lovedeep Singh Dhanoa, 25, both from Portage, Michigan, and Paul Steven Larson, 32, from Kalamazoo, Michigan From January 2016 through March 2021, according to the indictment, Talsma rented textbooks from the Amazon Rental program in order to sell them for a profit. The indictment describes what
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Toyota said it would cut car production by up to 150,000 vehicles due to ongoing semiconductor shortages and restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The car maker is idling five factories in home country Japan on some days in November, which affects the production of popular brands that include Corolla and Camry. Toyota started cutting production in August due to chip shortages and said, "we expect the shortage of semiconductors to continue in the long-term." The company in May celebrated its business philosophy, generally known as "The Toyota Way," for helping the company sidestep struggles like chip shortages and earthquakes in the past. But reality soon came crashing down, and Toyota issued notices in August and September about production cuts.
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A working group in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has proposed a series of steps to "decolonize" the Informatics curriculum, which includes trying "to avoid using predominantly Western names such as Alice/Bob (as is common in the computer security literature)." The names Alice and Bob were used to represent two users of a public key cryptography system, described in a 1978 paper by Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, "A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and Public-Key Cryptosystems." And since then, a variety of other mostly Western names like Eve – playing an eavesdropper intercepting communications – have been employed to illustrate computer security scenarios in related academic papers. The School of Informatics' working group
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A Missouri politician has been relentlessly mocked on Twitter after demanding the prosecution of a journalist who found and responsibly reported a vulnerability in a state website. Mike Parson, governor of Missouri, described reporters for local newspaper the St Louis Post Dispatch (SLPD) as "hackers" after they discovered a web app for the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was leaking teachers' private information. Around 100,000 social security numbers were able to be exposed when the web app was loaded in a user's browser. The public-facing app was intended to be used by local schools to check teachers' professional registration status. So users could tell between different teachers of the same name, it would accept the last four digits of a teacher's social secu
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Crippling component shortages caused smartphone shipments to dip in calendar Q3, though it was the also-rans, vendors outside of the top five biggest brands with the lowest economies of scale, that suffered most. Preliminary results from Canalys show the market declined 6 per cent year-on-year. The analyst was not yet ready to make public the absolute shipment figures but a year ago sales into the channel were 348 million, so they look 20.9 million units lighter. "The chipset famine has truly arrived," said Ben Stanton, principal analyst. "On the supply side, chipset manufacturers are increasing prices to disincentivize over-ordering, in an attempt to close the gap between supply and demand. But despite this, shortages will last until well into 2022." Rising costs of global freight
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Something for the Weekend, Sir? Below the note is scrawled an ominous threat: "We know where you live." Instinctively I look up and down the street in case I can spot who might have just stuffed the note halfway into my letterbox. Is anyone hurrying away, suspiciously covering their face? An unmarked van parked opposite with darkened windows? Nope. I re-read the handwritten message. "We know where you live." Well, thank goodness for that! It would be a disastrously embarrassing faux pas in the etiquette of conventional logic for someone to walk up to my door and slip a card into my letterbox without knowing where I live. It’s just as well they wrote it down or who knows what might have been the consequences? Once you create a tear in the fabric of reality, all manner of nasties can crawl through. At the top of the note is printed: "Sorry you were out when we called." At least the courier has a sense of humour. I allow myself an exhalation of relief. Unfortunately, my vocal chords are still tense and my sigh is anything but silent; it is not just audible but unnaturally high-pitched. A dog-walker passes by at that moment and casts a startled glance in my direction. I cough and say "ahem" a couple of times in the hope that he might reinterpret my sigh as a prelude to clearing my throat. The ruse works perfectly: the dog-walker has stopped outside my house and is waiting to hear what I have to say to him, now that I have cleared my throat. I have nothing to say. Yeah, I know. As usual. It is a good sign that couriers know where I live, at last. I’d rather they leave me "Sorry we missed you" notes than toss the package over the gat
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The US Army has delayed a massive rollout of Microsoft's HoloLens virtual reality headsets. The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) project kicked off in 2018 with tests of HoloLens headgear in the hope the VR goggles would "increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy". That deal saw $480M flow to Microsoft and doubled its HoloLens sales. The Army clearly like what it virtually saw, because in March 2021 it moved from prototype to production and "rapid fielding". Microsoft said the deal could be worth as much as $22 billion. On Thursday, the project was paused, without much of an explanation. "The Army decided to shift the IVAS Operational Test and fielding to a date later in FY22," reads an announcement from Project Executive Office Soldier, a part of the US Army dedicated to procurement and equipping soldiers. Through the Looking Glass – holographic display hardware is great, but it's not enough Trust Facebook to find a way to make video conferencing more miserable and tedious Facebook tries to save face by recalling itch-inducing Oculus Quest 2 VR headset foam While the statement does not offer a reason for delays in the project, it includes this sentiment: "This decision allows the Army and Industry team to continue to enhance the IVAS technology platform ensuring Soldiers achieve overmatch in Multi Domain Operations." The document also reveals: "Army conducted an Adversarial Electronic Warfare and Cybersecurity Test in September 2021 and plans to execute testing regularly throughout FY22." Might those words suggest that work to date has not gone as well as hoped? Microsoft's f
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A Boeing 737 Max test pilot has been charged with obstructing US aviation safety regulators, according to the US Department of Justice, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Former 737 Max chief technical pilot Mark Forkner, 49, of Texas, has been charged with "deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Evaluation Group" (AEG) and committing fraud by misleading Boeing's airline customers into believing the 737 Max was a safe aircraft. "Forkner allegedly abused his position of trust by intentionally withholding critical information about MCAS during the FAA evaluation and certification of the 737 MAX and from Boeing's US-based airline customers," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A Polite Jr of the Justice Department's Criminal Division in a statement. The prosecutor claimed that Forkner had supplied the FAA with "materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information" about MCAS, the Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. This, he said, was the root of the lack of documentation and understanding about MCAS which led to two fatal crashes. In November 2016, the DoJ claims Forkner learned about an important change to MCAS and deliberately withheld that from the FAA's AEG, leading to safety approval reports not mentioning the software's presence. Software that pilots didn't know about MCAS is the 737 Max's controversial software-powered system responsible for the crashes of two 737 Maxes, killing 346 people. As chronicled here on The Register, MCAS was a software fix for the Max so the airliner's updated design could be "grandfathered" inside existing regulatory approvals for the elderly 737 design. Boeing designed the 737 Max as a response to Airbus's competing A320neo model. To give its airliner comparable fuel economy with the Franco-German design, new engines were fitted to the 737 airframe. These changed its flying characteristics to the point where the FAA would not approve the Max for flight without requiring an expensive and lengthy certification process – or a software fix. Thus MCAS introduced a software layer to the Max's (manual) flight control system. This included direct co
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It seems computers without an ARM or x86 chip are in serious demand in the RISC-V community. A Raspberry Pi-like small-board computer with an RISC-V chip and GPU went up for preorder on Alibaba two days ago, but is now listed as being no longer available. No longer available. Source: Sipeeed. Click to enlarge The system was announced by Chinese hardware firm Seeed Studios on the Sipeed Twitter page on Oct. 12. A later tweet by the company noted that only 80 boards were available, and would ship in a month. Proposed RISC-V vector instructions crank up computing power on small devices First RISC-V computer chip lands at the European Processor Initiative New release of SweRVolf RISC-V SoC project aims for lower barrier to entry China to push RISC-V to global prominence – but maybe into a corner, too, says analyst The board has a dual-core Alibaba XuanTie C910 64-bit processor and supports Android 10 or Debian 11. The board's calling card is a graphics processor capable of 2D and 3D image acceleration, but more importantly is compatible with a RISC-V chip. The RISC-V community is hard at work building an open-sour
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French cloud and colocation service provider OVH has edged a 6 per cent increase in its nominal market valuation following its initial public offering on the Euronext Paris stock exchange. The Gallic tech challenger, viewed by some as the great cloud hope for Europe, has faced its fair share of challenges this year, having seen fire engulf its Strasbourg operations on 10 March. But the European IPO proved hot in other ways, with shares up to around €19.70, well on track with the launch price range of €18.50-€20. Last week the company trimmed roughly €50m off its IPO target, dropping its expectation for raising capital from €400m to around €350m based on the initial price. Still, its dreams of a successful debut have not gone up in smoke, offering cause for local dignitaries to celebrate. "It's a great day for French and European tech sovereignty," said French technology minister Cédric O in a launch ceremony. "We want to make champions here." The money raised will be used to expand into new services such as HPC for AI and machine learningh, database management solutions and integrated SaaS and IaaS. The company will also try to expand in the Americas and Asiam, hire more leaders in Europe and dabble in M&A. OVH, which employs 2,400 staff and operates 33 data centres that host 400,000 servers, is still majority owned by CEO Octave Klaba and his family. It turned over €632m in 2020 and reported EBITDA of €263m. As for the OVHcloud fire, it took place on March 10 and destroyed the SBG2 hall of the Strasbourg data centre, damaged SBG1 badly, and led to a massive effort to clean salvageable kit so it could be installed in the remaining three data centres at Strasbourg or moved to other OVH facilities. Thankfully, no one was hurt. The vendor has since launched a three-point "hyper resilience" plan to avoid such a catastrophe. As well as offering some data sovereignty, which US vendors are beginning to provide, political advocates hope OVHcloud can stand up to the economic clout of Amazon, Microsoft and Google – the leaders in the cloud market worldwide. Figures released by research firm Canalys sho
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Those of us fatalistically counting down the minutes until the Earth is engulfed by the dying embers of the Sun in approximately 5 billion years might be offered a glimmer of hope by the news that planets – or at least gas giants – can survive the collapse of their host star. Joshua Blackman, a postdoctoral researcher at Australia's University of Tasmania, and his colleagues have found evidence of a Jupiter-like planet orbiting a white dwarf star somewhere outside the Solar System off in the Milky Way. It is the first time scientific evidence of a planet surviving a star's collapse has been presented, although theoretical models predicted it is possible, according to a study published in Nature. The researchers used microlensing to detect the planet, a means of exploiting the effects of the planet's gravitational field on the passing light of a distant background star. The method can also detect remnants of stars such as white dwarfs. Near-infrared data from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii show that the remote gas giant was formed at the same time as its host star and managed to survive when the hydrogen fusion process at the star's core stopped. Forget everything you learned playing Lunar Lander: Chinese boffins reveal secrets of Chang'e 5 probe's touchdown Saturday start for NASA's Lucy probe on its 12-year quest to map Jupiter's Trojan asteroids Boeing's Calamity Capsule might take to space once again ... in the first half of 2022 Nothing says 'We believe in you' like NASA switching two 'nauts off Boeing's Starliner onto SpaceX's Crew Dragon The findings provide evidence that planets can survive the giant phase of their host star's evolution, and supports the projection that over half of white dwarfs are predicted to have similar planetary companions, the researchers said. "This system is evidence that planets around white dwarfs can survive the giant and asymptotic giant phases of their host's evolution, and supports the prediction that more than half of white dwarfs have Jovian planetary (gas giant) companions," the paper says. The dying star in question sits around 2.0 kiloparsecs (6,500 light years) from the Earth
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WEBCAST So, it can be a bit of a shock for Microsoft 365 customers to find out that the platform’s native security and data protection tools can be somewhat … lacking. Oh, and inconsistent, with different apps having different retention periods. With more and more corporate data being created and living within Office 365, that’s got to be big worry for tech pros, whether it comes to data security, data recovery, or thorny issues like compliance and regulation or ediscovery. So, what to do? Well, we think you can take a first step towards securing your 365 estate by checking out our upco
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Google has clarified details of the interface between its popular distributed SQL database-management-cum-storage-service Spanner and the open-source RDBMS PostgreSQL. According to a blog published this week, Spanner's PostgreSQL interface uses "the familiarity and portability of PostgreSQL" to make developers' lives easier. "Teams can be assured that the schemas and queries they build against the Spanner PostgreSQL interface can be easily ported to another PostgreSQL environment, giving them flexibility and peace of mind," said Justin Makeig, product manager for Cloud Spanner. The pos
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The European Union has drawn the ire of privacy activists for proposals to put real names and contact details back into Whois lookups, as part of its Network and Information Systems (NIS) Directive. The EU Commission's draft update to the NIS Directive has been slowly grinding through the bloc's bureaucracy, and this week German Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer declared it "a big step towards abolishing anonymous publications and leaks on the internet." Why? Because the draft directive's explanatory memorandum [PDF] says domain registries will have to "establish policies and procedures for the collection and maintenance of accurate, verified and complete registration data, as well as for the prevention and correction of inaccurate registration data." What won't be happening, however, is the free publication of names and contact details. Currently the draft text of article 23 states: "Member States shall ensure that the TLD registries and the entities providing domain name registration services for the TLD publish, without undue delay after the registration of a domain name, domain registration data which are not personal data." That italicised line seems to have passed by an awful lot of very shouty people. Data, data, everywhere, nor any drop to scrape Doxxing domain registrants is what used to happen until 2018, when the EU's General Data Protection Regulation came into force. Gathering and publishing personal data online without registrants' explicit consent to publication of it was in breach of GDPR and therefore the regs caused the death of the creaky old protocol underpinning Whois. Once a useful system back in the early days of the World Wide Web, Whois showed who owned a given web domain name, listing name, street address, postcode, and sometimes phone numbers too. In more recent years unscrupulous registrars stopped checking the accuracy of the information – and registrants became less keen on handing it over as marketers scraped the data. Systems protecting Whois from abuse were sometimes pretty poor. Now, however, the EU, having spent considerable time and effort defending its position, wants to mandate a GDPR-compliant form of Whois – something the Pirate Party's Breyer described as licence to create "death lists" as well as carrying out "data theft and loss, stalking and identity theft, doxxing," and more. He
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Google's VirusTotal service showing that 95 per cent of ransomware malware identified by its systems targets Windows. VirusTotal, acquired by Google in 2012, operates a malware scanning service that can be used manually or via an API, to analyze suspicious files. The team collected data between January 2020 and August this year to investigate how ransomware is evolving. VirusTotal receives over two million suspicious files per day from 232 countries, it said, placing it in a strong position to analyse the problem. Over the period there are at least 130 different ransomware families, the report said, and change is constant. "It seems that in most cases attackers prepare fresh new samples for their campaigns," the report states. Geographical distribution of ramsomware samples identified There were notable geographic distinctions, with Israel submitting by far the most ransomware samples, follows by South Korea, Vietnam and China. The UK is 10th. This does not necessarily mean that these territories were the most attacked though. VirusTotal security engineer Vicente Diaz, in a video presentation, said that the high figures for Israel "could be related to many companies [there] automating their submission." In other words, territories which are more diligent in submitting samples will show more positives, so a high figure may indicate better defences rather than more attacks, or perhaps both. Getting their claws in The top family of ransomware was one dubbed Grandcrab, accounting for 78.5 per cent of positive samples, largely thanks to a spike in activity between January and July 2020. In July 2021 there was another spike, this time for Babuk. What systems are most atta
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Canalys Forum 2021 Technology price rises are about as welcome Windows 11's needy hardware specs but one part of the industry is quietly happy about the inflationary conditions caused by industry-wide component shortages – the channel. A raft of finished goods are costing more to produce in 2020 and this is being passed onto the end users, including PCs and networking gear. At the Canalys Forum, an annual event for tech suppliers, Steve Brazier, CEO at the market researcher-cum-consultancy, was effervescent about the state of play. "Prices going up is good for us, it's good for the channel, it's good for the vendors, it's good for the semiconductor industry, it's not good for the end user but for the rest of us it is fantastic news," he said in a panel discussion with vendors and distributors. Typically, prices only go one way – a "race to the bottom" as Brazier put it – and it is the distributors who are stuck between a rock and a reseller, operating on low-single digit margins. Managing price puffiness is somewhat of an oddity. Ralf Jordan, EMEA veep of distribution at Dell Technologies, said no vendor was immune to the current predicament – where, according to Gartner, demand for semiconductors is likely to outstrip supply until at least the middle of next year. "We have seen, the entire industry, how vulnerable we all are based on the supply chain… there are shortages you can't overcome, the best planning doesn't really w
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Register debate This week's Register Debate tussled over the motion Assumed consent is the right approach for sharing healthcare patients' data, beyond their direct care. The results are in, and as you can see, we have a clear winner. JavaScript Disabled Please Enable JavaScript to use this feature. It's possible that there are more intimate forms of personal data than our health records. However those generally arise purely as a result of our personal choices. But we all generate medical data, and the sharing of it beyond the needs of our "immediate care" – for example with researchers, governments, and commercial organisations getting access to it – is something that affects us all. So, the proposition that "Assumed consent is the right approach for sharing patients' data, beyond their direct care" was always going to provoke a strong reaction among Reg readers, many of whom would have intimate knowledge of how data can flow to unintended destinations. Let's remind ourselves of how the debate played out. Dr Katherine Hanks, a GP in Australia, was the first to step into the arena in support of the proposition. She reminded us that GPs are well versed in issues of consent and ethics. While, of course, individual "privacy needs to be robustly defended, this does not necessarily mean that health data can't be aggregated and securely anonymised to further medical and social research." And she added: "It's important to remember that assumed consent is still informed consent: patients are told that they are assumed to have consented to the sharing of their data for use in metadata analysis and, should they wish to opt out, how to do so. Assuming consent does not displace personal rights, it simply creates a presumption in favour of a public good." In the end, "When it comes to public health, we need to lean towards favouring collective benefits because ultimately, individuals will reap the benefits." The first commenter out of the traps was Little Mouse who was heavily upvoted for saying: "Unfortunately, I simply don't trust those responsible to treat my data so that it is used for the common good. 'Assumed consent', as I understand things, means giving your consent for your records to be shared around & sold on to pretty much anyone at all who wants." Flocke Kroes suggested a practical alternative: "Do not share the data at all. Keep it on an air gapped system. Run the queries on the system and return a graph of number ill versus age or a low res heat map of disease incidence. In practice the UK government (blue or red) leaps at every opportunity to become even more untrustworthy. This sort of project should be kept on hold at least until they grow up." Which sparked a fiery sub debate about capitalism v communism – if you have something that's valuable, isn't it a moral duty to charge as much as you can for it? Naturally things strayed into organ donor consent. And fuel shortages. As well as previous health mis-steps. All of it relevant, if you care to read the comments. There were a few supporters for the proposition. Chris Evans pointed out: "I'm nearly finished t
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On Call Round off your week with an electrifying tale from the land of chunky-knit sweaters and addictive television mystery drama serials. Welcome to a Scandinavian On Call. Today's story comes from "Kristian" (not his name) and takes us back to the era of punch cards, tape stations, and hard disks the size of washing machines. Our hero was a travelling technician, blatting around the Nordic countries offering repair, support, and general technical hand-holding services for customers with deep enough pockets to afford the big iron of the time. Some used a very advanced CAD/CAM system for textiles, which required relatively high-end HP minicomputers (likely something from the 16-bit 2100 series and its many derivates, which ran from the 1960s through to the 1990s). "I had just installed a new system at a site that manufactured, among other things, bras," he told us. The computer room itself was the very latest in modernity and style. "The flooring," explained Kristian, "was some new-fangled synthetic that was supposed to be conductive so as to guard against static electricity." The cabinets and consoles were custom crafted from metal. All very impressive, and probably expensive, stuff. But all was not well at the site. The boss of the team was convinced that the mysterious beige and grey box had taken a distinct dislike to her. Every time she went to the main console (a terminal perched atop the computer and hard disk), the system would abruptly shut down. The problem also only happened to her. The other users did not get the same treatment from HP's finest. Fatal Attraction: Lovely collection, really, but it does not belong anywhere near magnetic storage media Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness? Check your bits: What to do when Unix decides to make a hash of your bill printouts Electron-to-joule conversion formulae? Cute. Welcome to the school of hard knocks High-end lingerie not to be denied, a support call was placed: "The system was a male chauvinist," the complaint went, "and clearly hated her guts." Our hero professed himself a bit confused. Other than in the fever dreams of movie makers, computers were not sentient and certainly did not take against specific users. This customer was, however, adamant and understandably very upset. So a call-out to the site was made to both unruffle feathers and get to the bottom of the problem. Nothing was obviously wrong. Kristian watched other users come and go from the console. The team leader, however, had no such luck. "As soon as the lady in question scoots over in the office chair and approaches the console terminal, system promptly shuts down!" he told us. A mystery indeed. A solvable mystery, however. "It did take me some trial and error to pin down what was happening," Kristian told us, "but I figured it out." He opted for a simple demonstration. The room lights were turned off and the curtains drawn. He then sat himself down on the boss's chair and wheeled himself over to the metal desk with the console. "Lo and behold," he said, "as soon as the chair was within
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Chinese space boffins have revealed details of how the guidance navigation and control (GNC) system in the Chang'e 5 got the probe onto the surface of the Moon despite its propellant sloshing about inside. The goal of the Chang’e-5 mission was to collect approximately 2kg of stones and soil, inclusive of samples sourced from two metres below the Moon's surface, and take it back to Earth for analysis. Chang'e 5's 15-minute powered descent and soft landing on the near side of the Moon went off smoothly back in December 2020, as did its return with the samples back to Earth. Its return made it the third nation to retrieve Moon rocks, and the first in over 40 years. Russia, China say anyone
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Ubuntu 21.10 comes out today, an interim release with nine months of support, and the first to use GNOME 40 for the desktop. The Ubuntu release cycle delivers a new LTS (Long Term Support) version ev
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Sponsored You wouldn’t want to learn to box just as Tyson Fury steps out of the opposing corner. Likewise, the time to learn how to recover from ransomware is long before your systems come under attack. And we say recover, because it’s inevitable that you be attacked, and almost a certainty that your systems will be breached at some point. The trick is being able to not just detect the threat, but to quickly assess the damage and activate the appropriate recovery plan you need to get your organisation back up and running. You do have a recovery plan, don’t you? Well, whether you’ve neglected your planning to date, or you want to make sure your existing strategy covers all the
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Microsoft has made its Emissions Impact Dashboard - formerly known as Sustainability Calculator and designed to measure the carbon impact of cloud workloads - generally available. If that sounds fami
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