Amazon suspends sales of SimCity

SimCity game screenCities built by players are part of larger online regions

Ongoing problems with the latest version of SimCity led Amazon to briefly stop selling the game.

The web retailer stopped sales late on 7 March as players reported continued problems with the city building title.

The latest version of SimCity was launched on 5 March and, like many current games, demand players stay online as they play.

EA has also taken steps to fix login delays by turning off some features to lighten the load on game servers.

Prior to this latest release, SimCity was a stand-alone game, but EA has added the online element to infuse the title with more realism.

Now player cities exist as part of online regions and share some characteristics of those virtual environments such as pollution, crime and essential resources.

The online requirement is also seen as an attempt to curb piracy of the title as a web connection is required even if a player shuns the chance to connect their cities to others.

However, the requirement for all players of the game to be connected has led some to wait 30 minutes or more to play. The server problems have led to sluggish response times, crashes and other bugs.

Amazon’s sales suspension of the downloadable PC version of the game only lasted a few hours, but it has put a warning note on the product page about the “issues” with the game. These have contributed to the one-star score purchasers have given SimCity on Amazon.

Amazon warningAmazon has posted a warning about the ongoing problems with SimCity

In official discussion forums and on its Twitter feed EA has apologised for the trouble players have had.

In one of its latest messages, an EA spokeswoman said it had added server capacity and rolled out a quick fix to SimCity servers to speed up game play and get more people into the game.

To lighten the load on its back-end servers, EA turned off some features including leader boards and achievements. It has also removed the option to run the game at its fastest setting, known as “cheetah speed”. Instead, all cities will now run at the lower “llama speed”.

In a message posted to the official EA discussion forums, SimCity’s senior producer Kip Katsarelis said the launch week had been “challenging” for the company.

‘Growing pains’

However, he added, there was a positive side to the delays.

“What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn’t want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join,” he wrote.

Games journalist Nathan Grayson, writing on the Rock Paper Shotgun website, praised EA for keeping players informed through Facebook, Twitter and discussion forums about the problems. However, he wondered why games firms were still so unprepared for the launch day deluge of players.

Games makers may laud the always online requirement as the future, he said, but so far no studio had got it right or used that permanent link to do more with a game.

“I haven’t seen a single one of these things stick their initial landings or catapult a pre-existing series to new heights,” he said. “I have quite a bit of trouble declaring these things ‘growing pains’ when I barely see any, you know, growth.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21712910#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Web ‘brain’ for robots goes live

Robot holding appleThe database will help robots work out what to do with objects they have not seen before

Robots confused about what they encounter in the world of humans can now get help online.

European scientists have turned on the first part of a web-based database of information to help them cope.

Called Rapyuta, the online “brain” describes objects robots have met and can also carry out complicated computation on behalf of a robot.

Rapyuta’s creators hope it will make robots cheaper as they will not need all their processing power on-board.

The Rapyuta database is part of the European Robo Earth project that began in 2011 with the hope of standardising the way robots perceive the human world.

Instead of every robot building up its own idiosyncratic catalogue of how to deal with the objects and situations it encounters, Rapyuta would be the place they ask for help when confronted with a novel situation, place or thing.

In addition, the web-based service is able to do complicated computation on behalf of a robot – for example if it needs to work out how to navigate a room, fold an item of clothing or understand human speech.

The system could be particularly useful for drones, self-driving cars or other mobile robots who have to do a lot of number crunching just to get round, said Mohanarajah Gajamohan, technical head of the project at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Cloud control

“On-board computation reduces mobility and increases cost.” said Dr Heico Sandee, Robo Earth program manager at the Dutch University of Technology in Eindhoven in a statement. As wireless data speeds increase more and more robotic thinking could be offloaded to the web, he said.

Without access to such a database, roboticists fear machines will be restricted to working in very tightly controlled environments such as production lines and never live easily alongside humans.

The project, which involves researchers at five separate European research labs, has produced the database as well as software that robots can run to connect to and quiz Rapyuta.

The name Rapyuta is taken from the Japanese film by Hayao Miyazaki Castle in the Sky – in the film it is the place where all the robots live.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21714191#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Million dollar appeal for Ultima sequel

Screengrab from Ultima OnlineUltima Online was one of the first widely successful online fantasy games

One million dollars are being sought on Kickstarter for a sequel to the long-running Ultima series of video games.

The cash is being sought by legendary British developer Richard Garriott who created the original titles which helped define the fantasy gaming genre.

Ultima gave rise to Ultima Online which was one of the first significantly popular massively multiplayer games.

The PC game, called Shroud of the Avatar, is scheduled to be ready to play in October 2014.

Mr Garriott is expected to make a formal announcement about the game and the funding push at the SXSW festival arts and media festival currently under way in Austin, Texas,

In an introductory video on the Kickstarter webpage Mr Garriott, often known by his in-game alias Lord British, said the current crop of fantasy video games had become too formulaic and scripted.

Instead, he said, Shroud of the Avatar would be a much more open experience in which players were free to follow their own path. It would be more about playing a useful role in an online world than just racking up kills and loot to make a character more powerful, he said.

Space trip

It would also take some elements from Ultima Online such as player housing and a detailed crafting system.

Work had already begun on the game, said Mr Garriott, but those backing it via the crowd-funding site would also get a say in how it would be built.

Alec Meer, a writer at games news site Rock Paper Shotgun, expressed surprise that Mr Garriott had to appeal for funds via Kickstarter given that in 2009 he spent millions of dollars to take a trip into space.

“It’s just a shame to see so many already wealthy industry old-hands making hay with all these old-fashioned role-playing games when so many dramatically more inventive and ambitious ideas from smaller studios are failing to reach their targets,” he added.

Shroud of the Avatar is being created by a company called Portalarium that Mr Garriott set up after the failure of an online game called Tabula Rasa that he helped to develop.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21714906#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Samsung loses Apple case in UK

iPhone and Galaxy S3Samsung and Apple have been involved in multiple legal battles against each other

South Korean phone-maker Samsung has lost another patent fight against rival Apple, in the UK High Court.

Samsung had said technology used in Apple products to allow phones to send and receive data over 3G networks infringed three of its patents.

The case comes a week after Galaxy smartphone manufacturer failed to secure an iPhone ban in Japan.

Samsung has pursued a number of claims against Apple in courts worldwide, but has won only a minority of the cases.

It said in a statement it was disappointed by the court’s decision and would consider whether to file an appeal.

“For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products,” a spokeswoman said.

Apple declined to comment.

Legal battles between the two companies began in 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung in the US for alleged intellectual property infringements.

Other court cases have taken place in France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea and Japan.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21704946#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Frozen phones give up data secrets

Screengrab of Frost softwareChilling a phone makes its contents vulnerable to copying

Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents, German security researchers have found.

The team froze phones for an hour as a way to get around the encryption system that protects the data on a phone by scrambling it.

Google introduced the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The attack allowed the researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos.

Cold start

Android’s data scrambling system was good for end users but a “nightmare” for law enforcement and forensics workers, the team at Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) wrote in a blogpost about their work.

To get around this, researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.

The trio discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode. This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost – Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.

The Frost software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.

A chilled phone also helped their hacking project. Data fades from memory much more slowly when chips are cold which allowed them to grab the encryption keys and speed up unscrambling the contents of a phone.

PhD student Tilo Muller told the BBC that the attack generally gave them access to data that had been put in memory as users browsed websites, sent messages or shared pictures.

The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android’s disk encryption system. However, they said, other phones were just as likely to be vulnerable to the attack. The team are planning further tests on other Android handsets.

While the “cold boot” attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops, Mr Muller said the trio were the first to try it on phones.

“We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs,” he said. “but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well.”

The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone’s processor.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21697704#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Frozen phones give up data secrets

Screengrab of Frost softwareChilling a phone makes its contents vulnerable to copying

Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents, German security researchers have found.

The team froze phones for an hour as a way to get around the encryption system that protects the data on a phone by scrambling it.

Google introduced the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The attack allowed the researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos.

Cold start

Android’s data scrambling system was good for end users but a “nightmare” for law enforcement and forensics workers, the team at Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) wrote in a blogpost about their work.

To get around this, researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.

The trio discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode. This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost – Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.

The Frost software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.

A chilled phone also helped their hacking project. Data fades from memory much more slowly when chips are cold which allowed them to grab the encryption keys and speed up unscrambling the contents of a phone.

PhD student Tilo Muller told the BBC that the attack generally gave them access to data that had been put in memory as users browsed websites, sent messages or shared pictures.

The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android’s disk encryption system. However, they said, other phones were just as likely to be vulnerable to the attack. The team are planning further tests on other Android handsets.

While the “cold boot” attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops, Mr Muller said the trio were the first to try it on phones.

“We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs,” he said. “but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well.”

The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone’s processor.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21697704#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Frozen phones give up data secrets

Screengrab of Frost softwareChilling a phone makes its contents vulnerable to copying

Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents, German security researchers have found.

The team froze phones for an hour as a way to get around the encryption system that protects the data on a phone by scrambling it.

Google introduced the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The attack allowed the researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos.

Cold start

Android’s data scrambling system was good for end users but a “nightmare” for law enforcement and forensics workers, the team at Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) wrote in a blogpost about their work.

To get around this, researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.

The trio discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode. This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost – Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.

The Frost software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.

A chilled phone also helped their hacking project. Data fades from memory much more slowly when chips are cold which allowed them to grab the encryption keys and speed up unscrambling the contents of a phone.

PhD student Tilo Muller told the BBC that the attack generally gave them access to data that had been put in memory as users browsed websites, sent messages or shared pictures.

The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android’s disk encryption system. However, they said, other phones were just as likely to be vulnerable to the attack. The team are planning further tests on other Android handsets.

While the “cold boot” attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops, Mr Muller said the trio were the first to try it on phones.

“We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs,” he said. “but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well.”

The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone’s processor.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21697704#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Frozen phones give up data secrets

Screengrab of Frost softwareChilling a phone makes its contents vulnerable to copying

Freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents, German security researchers have found.

The team froze phones for an hour as a way to get around the encryption system that protects the data on a phone by scrambling it.

Google introduced the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The attack allowed the researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos.

Cold start

Android’s data scrambling system was good for end users but a “nightmare” for law enforcement and forensics workers, the team at Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) wrote in a blogpost about their work.

To get around this, researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.

The trio discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode. This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost – Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.

The Frost software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.

A chilled phone also helped their hacking project. Data fades from memory much more slowly when chips are cold which allowed them to grab the encryption keys and speed up unscrambling the contents of a phone.

PhD student Tilo Muller told the BBC that the attack generally gave them access to data that had been put in memory as users browsed websites, sent messages or shared pictures.

The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android’s disk encryption system. However, they said, other phones were just as likely to be vulnerable to the attack. The team are planning further tests on other Android handsets.

While the “cold boot” attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops, Mr Muller said the trio were the first to try it on phones.

“We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs,” he said. “but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well.”

The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone’s processor.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21697704#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Samsung loses Apple case in UK

iPhone and Galaxy S3Samsung and Apple have been involved in multiple legal battles against each other

South Korean phone-maker Samsung has lost another patent fight against rival Apple, in the UK High Court.

Samsung had said technology used in Apple products to allow phones to send and receive data over 3G networks infringed three of its patents.

The case comes a week after Galaxy smartphone manufacturer failed to secure an iPhone ban in Japan.

Samsung has pursued a number of claims against Apple in courts worldwide, but has won only a minority of the cases.

It said in a statement it was disappointed by the court’s decision and would consider whether to file an appeal.

“For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products,” a spokeswoman said.

Apple declined to comment.

Legal battles between the two companies began in 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung in the US for alleged intellectual property infringements.

Other court cases have taken place in France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea and Japan.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21704946#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Samsung loses Apple case in UK

iPhone and Galaxy S3Samsung and Apple have been involved in multiple legal battles against each other

South Korean phone-maker Samsung has lost another patent fight against rival Apple, in the UK High Court.

Samsung had said technology used in Apple products to allow phones to send and receive data over 3G networks infringed three of its patents.

The case comes a week after Galaxy smartphone manufacturer failed to secure an iPhone ban in Japan.

Samsung has pursued a number of claims against Apple in courts worldwide, but has won only a minority of the cases.

It said in a statement it was disappointed by the court’s decision and would consider whether to file an appeal.

“For decades, we have heavily invested in pioneering the development of technological innovations in the mobile industry, which have been constantly reflected in our products,” a spokeswoman said.

Apple declined to comment.

Legal battles between the two companies began in 2011, when Apple first sued Samsung in the US for alleged intellectual property infringements.

Other court cases have taken place in France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea and Japan.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21704946#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa