Atari Inc. files for bankruptcy

Atari computer from 1982Atari was behind ground-breaking early video games

The US operations of Atari have filed for bankruptcy protection.

The maker of the ground-breaking video game Pong is seeking to separate from its loss making French parent Atari SA.

Atari Inc, together with Atari Interactive Inc, Humongous Inc. and California US Holdings Inc. want to secure independent funding to develop digital and mobile games.

Atari said in December it was looking to raise cash and was talking to investors.

In a statement, the companies said, “with this move the US based Atari operations seek to separate from the structural financial encumbrances of their French parent holding company, Atari SA”.

Atari SA, formerly known as Infogrames SA has been struggling financially for years.

The US operations of Atari have shifted their business from retail games to digital games in recent times and have become a growth engine for Atari SA.

“The Chapter 11 process constitutes the most strategic option for Atari’s US operations as they look to preserve their inherent value and unlock revenue potential unrealized while under the control of Atari SA,” the statement said.

Atari’s Pong was an arcade game credited with helping kick-start the multi-billion pound video games industry but more recent titles include ‘Centipede’, ‘Missile Command’ and Rollercoaster Tycoon’.

Neither Atari SA or Atari Inc. were available for comment.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21124214#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Atari Inc. files for bankruptcy

Atari computer from 1982Atari was behind ground-breaking early video games

The US operations of Atari have filed for bankruptcy protection.

The maker of the ground-breaking video game Pong is seeking to separate from its loss making French parent Atari SA.

Atari Inc, together with Atari Interactive Inc, Humongous Inc. and California US Holdings Inc. want to secure independent funding to develop digital and mobile games.

Atari said in December it was looking to raise cash and was talking to investors.

In a statement, the companies said, “with this move the US based Atari operations seek to separate from the structural financial encumbrances of their French parent holding company, Atari SA”.

Atari SA, formerly known as Infogrames SA has been struggling financially for years.

The US operations of Atari have shifted their business from retail games to digital games in recent times and have become a growth engine for Atari SA.

“The Chapter 11 process constitutes the most strategic option for Atari’s US operations as they look to preserve their inherent value and unlock revenue potential unrealized while under the control of Atari SA,” the statement said.

Atari’s Pong was an arcade game credited with helping kick-start the multi-billion pound video games industry but more recent titles include ‘Centipede’, ‘Missile Command’ and Rollercoaster Tycoon’.

Neither Atari SA or Atari Inc. were available for comment.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21124214#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Architect plans 3D-printed buildings

Landscape HouseThe buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, the architect said.

An architect in Holland has revealed plans to 3D print buildings inspired by the Earth’s landscape.

The buildings are designed to resemble a giant mobius strip – a continuous loop with only one side.

Janjaap Ruijssenaars hopes to create the buildings, which he estimates will cost 4-5 million euros (£3.3- £4.2m), all around the world.

Museums, visitor centres and private individuals had already expressed interest, he said.

Mr Ruijssenaars is working with large-scale 3D printing expert Enrico Dini on the project.

According to his company’s website, Mr Dini’s industrial sized 3D printer uses sand and a special binding agent to create a “marble like material” stronger than cement.

But the 1,000-sq-m buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, Mr Ruijssenaars said.

“3D printing is amazing,” he told the BBC.

“For me as an architect it’s been a nice way to construct this specific design – it has no beginning and no end and with the 3D printer we can make it look like that.

“In traditional construction you have to make a mould of wood and you fill it with concrete and then you take out the wood – it’s a waste of time and energy.

“You can print what you want – it’s a more direct way of constructing.”

The first “landscape house” should be in position by 2014, said Mr Ruijssenaars.

“We would like to construct one per country,” he said.

“A private individual who lives by a national park in Brazil would like one to display the native American art they have found in the park.

“For a museum, the price is around the right mark.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21121061#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Architect plans 3D-printed buildings

Landscape HouseThe buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, the architect said.

An architect in Holland has revealed plans to 3D print buildings inspired by the Earth’s landscape.

The buildings are designed to resemble a giant mobius strip – a continuous loop with only one side.

Janjaap Ruijssenaars hopes to create the buildings, which he estimates will cost 4-5 million euros (£3.3- £4.2m), all around the world.

Museums, visitor centres and private individuals had already expressed interest, he said.

Mr Ruijssenaars is working with large-scale 3D printing expert Enrico Dini on the project.

According to his company’s website, Mr Dini’s industrial sized 3D printer uses sand and a special binding agent to create a “marble like material” stronger than cement.

But the 1,000-sq-m buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, Mr Ruijssenaars said.

“3D printing is amazing,” he told the BBC.

“For me as an architect it’s been a nice way to construct this specific design – it has no beginning and no end and with the 3D printer we can make it look like that.

“In traditional construction you have to make a mould of wood and you fill it with concrete and then you take out the wood – it’s a waste of time and energy.

“You can print what you want – it’s a more direct way of constructing.”

The first “landscape house” should be in position by 2014, said Mr Ruijssenaars.

“We would like to construct one per country,” he said.

“A private individual who lives by a national park in Brazil would like one to display the native American art they have found in the park.

“For a museum, the price is around the right mark.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21121061#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Codebreaking contest has record year

Enigma machineBletchley Park codebreakers during World War II used Enigma machines to crack German messages

A team from City of London School has been named the winner of a national codebreaking competition.

In total 6,268 pupils from 725 British schools took part in the National Cypher Challenge at the end of 2012.

Previous years have seen 200 teams take part but this year 1,600 teams signed up to decode a series of cryptic codes released online.

The event was organised by Southampton University with support from GCHQ and commercial partners.

The competition was only for UK schools but teams from Tokyo, Bangkok, Florida and Honolulu also applied to take part.

It ran over a period of two months, with codes of increasing difficulty being issued periodically on the internet for school teams to crack, explained Prof Graham Niblo, organiser of the contest and head of mathematics at Southampton University.

While 1,600 teams signed up for the challenge only 30 managed to complete every level, he said.

Cypher secrets

“We started with a Caesar cypher, which is the most basic cypher that everybody learns at school. We ended with a Trifid cypher – the most difficult one this year,” he told the BBC.

A Caesar cypher is decoded by substituting the letters in a code with others further down the alphabet. For example, an A becomes a C, a B becomes a D and so on.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Teachers tell me the children find it very gripping and engaging”

End Quote
Prof Graham Niblo
National Cypher Challenge

A Trifid cypher is a complex combination of both an advanced version of the Caesar cypher and anagrams, where words are jumbled.

“It is the longest it has ever taken for the winners to decode any of our cyphers. This year they had to think quite hard about it,” said Prof Niblo.

He added that it was very difficult for contestants to cheat.

“We did catch a couple of people trying to get help online. We tracked them down and warned them off,” he said.

“The last cypher was not a standard cypher, and we modified it so they couldn’t use any standard decryption software.”

The winning team – Samson Danziger, Daniel Hu, Anthony Landau and Charlie Hu – cracked the Trifid code in 44 hours and 20 minutes. They will receive a £1,000 prize from GCHQ.

In second place was Andrew Carlotti from Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Kent and a team from King Edward VII School in Sheffield came third.

The top 50 runners-up will also receive Raspberry Pi computers.

Competition history

The National Cypher Challenge is now in its 11th year.

Foreign Secretary William Hague MP launched the competition at codebreaking museum Bletchley Park in October 2012, as part of three GCHQ initiatives aimed at attracting young people into maths and computer science.

“Teachers tell me the children find it very gripping and engaging,” said Prof Niblo.

“A number of them worked on it at home or went along to maths clubs they wouldn’t usually attend.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21121058#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Codebreaking contest has record year

Enigma machineBletchley Park codebreakers during World War II used Enigma machines to crack German messages

A team from City of London School has been named the winner of a national codebreaking competition.

In total 6,268 pupils from 725 British schools took part in the National Cypher Challenge at the end of 2012.

Previous years have seen 200 teams take part but this year 1,600 teams signed up to decode a series of cryptic codes released online.

The event was organised by Southampton University with support from GCHQ and commercial partners.

The competition was only for UK schools but teams from Tokyo, Bangkok, Florida and Honolulu also applied to take part.

It ran over a period of two months, with codes of increasing difficulty being issued periodically on the internet for school teams to crack, explained Prof Graham Niblo, organiser of the contest and head of mathematics at Southampton University.

While 1,600 teams signed up for the challenge only 30 managed to complete every level, he said.

Cypher secrets

“We started with a Caesar cypher, which is the most basic cypher that everybody learns at school. We ended with a Trifid cypher – the most difficult one this year,” he told the BBC.

A Caesar cypher is decoded by substituting the letters in a code with others further down the alphabet. For example, an A becomes a C, a B becomes a D and so on.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Teachers tell me the children find it very gripping and engaging”

End Quote
Prof Graham Niblo
National Cypher Challenge

A Trifid cypher is a complex combination of both an advanced version of the Caesar cypher and anagrams, where words are jumbled.

“It is the longest it has ever taken for the winners to decode any of our cyphers. This year they had to think quite hard about it,” said Prof Niblo.

He added that it was very difficult for contestants to cheat.

“We did catch a couple of people trying to get help online. We tracked them down and warned them off,” he said.

“The last cypher was not a standard cypher, and we modified it so they couldn’t use any standard decryption software.”

The winning team – Samson Danziger, Daniel Hu, Anthony Landau and Charlie Hu – cracked the Trifid code in 44 hours and 20 minutes. They will receive a £1,000 prize from GCHQ.

In second place was Andrew Carlotti from Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Kent and a team from King Edward VII School in Sheffield came third.

The top 50 runners-up will also receive Raspberry Pi computers.

Competition history

The National Cypher Challenge is now in its 11th year.

Foreign Secretary William Hague MP launched the competition at codebreaking museum Bletchley Park in October 2012, as part of three GCHQ initiatives aimed at attracting young people into maths and computer science.

“Teachers tell me the children find it very gripping and engaging,” said Prof Niblo.

“A number of them worked on it at home or went along to maths clubs they wouldn’t usually attend.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21121058#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Sony sells New York HQ for $1.1bn

Sony's US headquarters building in ManhattanThe Manhattan skyscraper houses Sony’s music and films businesses

Sony is to sell its US headquarters in Manhattan for $1.1bn (£690m).

The skyscraper on Madison Avenue will be bought by the Chetrit Group, a major family-owned New York property group.

The news, as well as further weakening of the yen’s value, lifted shares in the troubled Japanese conglomerate 12% on the Tokyo stock exchange on Friday.

Sony admitted that the motivation for the sale was to raise much-needed cash, expected to equal $770m, after debts on the building have been repaid.

The firm will also record a windfall profit in its accounts, as the building is being sold at a gain of £685m, compared with the price that Sony originally paid for it in 2002.

The firm said that it will continue to lease the building back for another three years following the sale, which is expected to be completed in March.

The skyscraper houses 1,500 Sony employees, including its music and films businesses.

Ignominious decline

The 37-floor building was first constructed in 1984, at a time when Sony was in the ascendant thanks largely to the success of the Walkman.

The company has since fallen back to earth, and last year its share price was trading below the 1,000-yen level for the first time in over two decades.

On Friday, its shares ended the day in Tokyo at 1,149 yen – a fraction of their peak of 16,950 yen at the height of the Japanese stock market bubble in 2000.

Having recorded a loss every year for the last four years, Sony has embarked upon a major restructuring of its business, including the sell-off of its chemicals division, and cutting 10,000 jobs.

The company has failed to compete with foreign competitors – sophisticated US firms such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, and cheaper Asian competitors such as LG.

The company – like other major Japanese manufacturers such as Panasonic and Sharp – has not been helped by the yen, which continued to strengthen before, during and after the 2008 financial crisis, and has only recently begun to lose some of its value.

In November, Sony suffered the ignominy of having its credit rating downgraded to “junk” by Fitch – indicating that the ratings agency has serious doubts about whether Sony will be able to repay its debts.

As well as its US regional headquarters, Sony has also indicated its willingness to sell the building housing its television business in Tokyo.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21073668#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Google to move HQ in £1bn deal

People's silhouettes in front of the Google logoConstruction on the site will start in late 2013

Technology giant Google is to move its UK headquarters following a £1bn property deal.

It has bought a 2.4 acre site at King’s Cross in north London and plans to build a seven and 11 storey complex.

The US company will move staff from its two London offices in Victoria and Holborn to the new location when it is completed in 2016.

Google’s Matt Brittin said the move was “good news for Google, London and the UK”.

It will be located in the King’s Cross Central development, which sits on a former fish, coal and grain goods yard and spans 67 acres.

The redeveloped site will eventually contain homes, offices and shops.

Google has traditionally leased its overseas offices but in the past two years has purchased premises in Paris, Dublin, and now London.

Mr Brittin, vice president for northern and central Europe, said: “This is a big investment by Google. We’re committing further to the UK, where computing and the web were invented.”

Construction on the site will begin towards the end of this year.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21074951#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Dotcom starts new file-sharing site



Kim Dotcom

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Mr Dotcom launched Mega early on Sunday

Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom has set up a new cloud storage and file-sharing site.

Mega, a web-based service that lets people upload and store files of any kind, is a sequel to the Megaupload system that was shut down last January.

Police raids on the offices and home of Kim Dotcom led to the closure of Megaupload.

The Mega site went online on Sunday, followed by a lavish launch party held at Mr Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion.

Mr Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz, has said the new site complies with the law and warned that attempts to take it down would be futile.

“This is not some kind of finger to the US government or to Hollywood,” he said on Saturday.

“Legally, there’s just nothing there that could be used to shut us down. This site is just as legitimate and has the right to exist as Dropbox, Boxnet and other competitors.”

Extradition hearing

Hours after the site was launched, Mr Dotcom tweeted that it had received 250,000 user registrations, although limited server capacity meant Mega was unreachable to many.

In a series of earlier tweets Mr Dotcom said every customer would have 50 gigabytes of free storage – far more than is offered by rival services such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive.

Kim Dotcom at his launch party for MegaKim Dotcom held a lavish launch party for Mega at his mansion in New Zealand

Mega will be encrypted so only those who upload data have access to it.

Data is also being held in the cloud to make it easy for users to get and share files.

The 2012 raids on Megaupload were carried out because, said US law enforcement, many users of Megaupload were engaged in pirating content and illegally sharing it.

They accused Mr Dotcom, and other managers at Megaupload of profiting from piracy.

At the launch party for Mega, Mr Dotcom made light of the incident, re-enacting the raid on his mansion by New Zealand authorities with a helicopter and actors dressed as armed police.

He has rebuffed the accusations of piracy and is fighting a legal battle to stay in New Zealand from where he ran Megaupload.

A hearing on whether he can be extradited to the US has now been delayed until August.

The case has generated controversy in New Zealand over the way the police and intelligence services gathered evidence before the raid and won an apology to Mr Dotcom from the country’s prime minister.

Mr Dotcom has also won support from prominent computer pioneers such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The raid on Megaupload put 25 petabytes of data uploaded to it by its 50 million members into a legal limbo.

In one message, Mr Dotcom said he was working with lawyers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns on digital rights issues, to get access to that seized data and return it to users.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21106584#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Details emerge on Megaupload service

Notice on Megaupload homepageMegaupload was shut down following raids co-ordinated by the FBI

More details have emerged about the web storage service being set up by Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom.

The Mega cyber-locker service will be a sequel to the popular Megaupload system that was shut down in January 2012.

Police raids on the offices of Megaupload and home of founder Kim Dotcom led to the closure of the file-saving and sharing system.

The switch-on date for the new Mega service is 20 January, almost exactly a year after Megaupload was shuttered.

More details about Mega were revealed in a series of tweets Mr Dotcom posted to his Twitter account.

He said every customer would have 50 gigabytes of free storage – far more than is offered by rival services such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive.

Mega is expected to be a web-based service that lets people upload and store files of any kind. Data will be encrypted so only those who upload data have access to it. Data is also being held in the cloud to make it easy for users to get and share files.

The 2012 raids on Megaupload were carried out because, said US law enforcement, many users of Megaupload were engaged in pirating content and illegally sharing it. They accused Mr Dotcom and other managers at Megaupload had profited from the piracy.

Official apology

Mr Dotcom has rebuffed the accusations and is fighting a legal battle to stay in New Zealand from where he ran Megaupload. A hearing on whether he is can be extradited to the US is due to be held in March.

The case has generated controversy in New Zealand over the way the police and intelligence services gathered evidence before the raid and won an apology to Mr Dotcom from the country’s prime minister. Mr Dotcom has also won support from prominent technologists such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

The raid on Megaupload put 25 petabytes of data uploaded to it by its 50 million members into a legal limbo.

In one message, Mr Dotcom said he was working with lawyers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns on digital rights issues, to get access to that seized data and return it to users.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21075785#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa