Tag: London

Angry Birds descend on London

0204b1c0e42878a13d3222610b989234Finnish mobile games and animation company Rovio , which is known for its Angry Birds game, is stepping up its hunt for new hit games by opening a studio in London.

The big idea is to focus on multiplayer games that would not rely on the company’s Angry Birds brand.

Privately-held Rovio has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped, prompting deep job cuts and divestments.

Last year Rovio launched an animated Angry Birds 3D Hollywood film that it said did well at the box office and yielded new licensing deals.

Rovio wants to build a team of about 20 people in London to create “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) games that support shedloads of players simultaneously, with a focus on new characters.

Wilhelm Taht, head of games said that “MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game.”

The original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs, was launched in 2009 and it remains the top paid mobile app of all time.

Rovio exploited the brand early on by licensing its use on a string of consumer products. But the company’s failure to bring out new hit games resulted in falling profit, prompting Rovio to cut more than 300 jobs in 2014 and 2015.

“In the long term, our new characters may generate intellectual property and even a brand,” Taht said.

Rovio has a series of smartphone games based on Angry Birds characters. In 2015 it published a puzzle game called Nibblers and it will soon put out Battle Bay, a real-time multiplayer game.

He added that that Nintendo’s hit smartphone game Pokemon GO, put augmented reality (AR) on the gaming map and his outfit would be looking into AR as a technology and a tool.

Rovio has around 200 employees spread between its four game studios in Finland and Sweden and about 400 in total.

Wales prefers his Waterloo Sunsets

jimmy-walesWikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales prefers his Waterloo Sunsets to Silicon Valley claiming that  London’s cultural assets make it a better place to live.

However he said that the capital needs to have a tech community if it is ever to rival Silicon Valley.

Speaking at the launch of the Tech.London, news site, Wales said he meets people around London and they ask “when do you go back to San Francisco? assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London.”

“There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there.”

Wales said that London was an incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.

While the London’s tech scene is “incredibly important” to the city  it must be fostered if the country is to remain on the world stage as it transitions to a knowledge based economy.

“London has a tech community but it’s a bit disparate,” he said. “Entrepreneurs feel very alone and are unsure what will happen if it doesn’t work out. Having a fantastic, vibrant community, it makes it easier, safer for people to do a startup.”

He said that it is possible to get closer to Silicon Valley culture if you do a startup and it doesn’t work out, you can get a fantastic job at Google or Facebook or somewhere.”


London’s digital tech to grow

The next ten years could be a period of growth for London’s technology industry and create an additional $20 billion of economic activity and 46,000 new jobs by 2024,

Beancounters working for  promotional organisation London & Partners reckoned that over the next decade, London’s digital technology sector could grow by 5.1 percent.

But the bad news is that the growth will not mean Londoners will take the jobs. Instead Growth would be helped by proposed changes to immigration law that will give technology firms the right to bring in migrants on “exceptional talent” visas. It refers to Gross Value Added (GVA) and an average annual growth rate.

The extra 46,000 jobs would be nearly 30 percent more than the 155,600 currently employed.

Meanwhile South Mountain Economics said the broader tech/info sector in the British capital has agreed with the findings and said that London employed 382,000 workers in 2013, an increase of 11 percent since 2009.

Tech and information businesses in London, southeast and east England are growing faster than in California, South Mountain Economics said.

London is the world leader in financial technology employing more workers in the sector than New York City and San Francisco-Silicon Valley. There are an estimated 44,000 financial tech workers within 25 miles of London, it said, compared with 43,000 for New York and only 11,000 for San Francisco-Silicon Valley. 

London firm at centre of mass hack

A London-registered outfit appears to be at the centre of a massive attack that’s redirecting traffic from 300,000 routers.

UK Company 3NT Solutions has been named as being part of an attack which has control of consumer and small office/home office (SOHO) routers throughout Europe and Asia.

Florida-based security firm Team Cymru said claims to have uncovered a “SOHO pharming” campaign that had overwritten DNS settings on 300,000 routers. That allows attackers to redirect traffic to sites and domains controlled by them, “effectively conducting a man-in-the-middle attack”.

Team Cymru spokesman Steve Santorelli told PC Pro  that the attack was very clever. The routers’ DNS settings had been changed to two IP addresses, both of which are for machines that are physically in the Netherlands, but registered with UK company 3NT Solutions, he said.

3NT Solutions was offline at the time of writing and the company could not be reached for comment. Its registered address is a mailbox location in central London.

Security researcher Conrad Longmore wrote in his blog that there was a connection between Serbian web host inferno.name. He said that 3NT/Inferno.name as a “known bad actor” that ran malicious and “spammy” sites – and advised admins to “block all their IPs on sight”.

Santorelli stressed that the router attack was serious. It’s not new as a problem to the InfoSec community but this is one of the biggest he’s seen recently as it’s quite insidious.

He said that it was not the first time this kind of thing has been spotted, but it is certainly the biggest in recent memory.

The attack affects devices from several manufacturers, the firm said said, adding that “consumer unfamiliarity” with configuring routers and weak default settings makes the devices a “very attractive target”.

Santorelli said the problem was not a hardware bug, but weaknesses in ZyXEL’s widely used router firmware, ZynOS. 

Ex London deputy mayor: hackers were to blame for my naked Facebook selfie

Former deputy mayor of London, Richard Barnes, has pinned the blame on “hackers” after a naked selfie was posted to his Facebook page.

In one photo, Barnes’ face is out of shot. But the viewer is presented with a photo of Barnes posing in front of a bedroom mirror, undressing from his white shirt and red braces, with his lower body exposed.

Barnes told the Evening Standard it was hackers to blame, not an iOS 7 blunder, as some pundits brandishing Occam’s razor have suggested.

“Have you ever been hacked?” Barnes asked, adding, “Well, I have been hacked. Someone’s got in there and put the picture up”. 

Although the pictures were quickly deleted from Facebook, screenshots had already spread like wildfire online. Readers can Google them if they must.

Speaking with the Metro, Barnes said: “I’m annoyed and shaking with anger. I’m a 65 year old gay man on his own, it’s not the sort of thing I do. Do you really think I would be that f***ing stupid after 30 years in politics?”

As everyone is aware, politics, scandal and embarrassment are very rarely linked.

Earlier this year, former congressman Anthony Weiner was the subject of scandal when his sexting under the pseudonym ‘Carlos Danger’  was revealed.

Barnes is a Conservative councillor in Hillingdon. He served as Boris Johnson’s deputy from 2008 to 2012.

Security expert Graham Cluley told TechEye: “It would certainly be unusual for a hacker to do this.

“What can people do to keep themselves safe from embarrassing blunders like this?  Keep their trousers on when they’re taking smartphone photographs,” Cluley said.

London Apple cultists dismiss the iPhone 5C

Apple fans in line for the iPhone 5S at the company’s flagship London store have shown little interest in the ‘cheap’ iPhone 5C, according to a survey.

More than half of those asked thought the iPhone 5C model – which still retails for a minimum of £469 – was not good value for money. Of Apple’s two new iPhones, the 5C has left some critics stumped, as it ships with a high price tag in tandem with a lower spec.

Some analysts optimistically believed the 5C threatens to cannibalise 5S sales, but Apple has always been a high-end, high-price company.

Of the majority who were there to buy the 5S, plenty were strangely enthusiastic about Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, despite reports from security experts that handing over unchangeable biometric data to a company may not be the best move for the privacy minded.

Others were excited about the A7 chip with 64 bit architecture, while others still liked that the iPhone will be available in a few different colours.

By 8AM, the queue had built to roughly 3,000 people, largely men. Almost half were students and the average age was 26. 

Asked why they were in line, almost four in ten admitted it was purely because they were die hard Apple fans. Others wanted to experience the cultlike consumerism, a fifth said they missed out on pre-orders, and others still said they were going to buy up some iPhones and sell them on for profit. The iPhone 5s was not available for pre-orders.

Stephen Ebbett, director of gadget insurance company Protect Your Bubble, which carried out the survey, said: “With just £80 between the 16GB versions of the iPhone 5S and 5C, it’s no wonder the 5S is more popular with some of Apple’s biggest fans”.

It has emerged that Apple has, unusually, been holding back pre-order sales from the public. Suppliers have expressed their annoyance at the 5C being easily available, with Apple holding back on shipping the 5S to partners.

Osborne praises East London Tech City investment

Chancellor George Osborne today revealed some details on plans for East London Tech City – including confirmation that Barclays and Vodafone will be investing. He called it a “triple whammy” because they were joined by a Japanese social gaming business, Gree.

The announcements seem to preempt Osborne’s hope of a venture capitalist circle-jerk for technology startups. Barclays is going to provide funding to Central Working – which lets offices to start-ups – with the aim of nurturing 22,000 new businesses over the next five years, reports the FT, but exactly how much the bank has invested was not disclosed.

Vodafone, meanwhile, has promised that it will build a technology lab. The announcements are sort-of new: both companies said that they would invest when the Coalition’s plans for a technology park in the East London were first announced.

Social gaming company Gree, which has a strong lead in the Japanese market, has also committed to opening an office. Gree already has offices operating in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, and San Francisco. An Italian company called Morning Boost has also said that it will open an office and create 50 jobs.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the Silicon Valley Bank have all made announcements about operating in the capital this year.

“You will not find a country anywhere in the world that is more open to technology, more open to investment, and more open to business,” Osborne said.

Of course, there are plenty of technology success stories in the UK already, such as Cambridge-based ARM, which is currently trouncing the competition in energy efficient chip IP, and Rockstar North in Scotland immediately coming to mind as obvious examples. But the East London Tech City initiative seems more concerned with moving cash through angel and investment schemes for moneyed men to invest in start-ups than actual technological innovation.

P.S. Look at the Kernel for a comprehensive rundown on reasons to approach the Tech City Investment Organisation with caution.

Tube wi-fi almost double home broadband speed

With free tube station wi-fi turned on for the Olympics, Londoners may soon be heading underground to get a decent connection.

Earlier this month a handful of London tube stations had wi-fi hotspots turned on, with Euston, Kings Cross, Oxford Circus, and other busy stations providing temporarily free internet through Virgin Broadband.

Research into the download speeds of certain stations shows that commuters and tourists crammed onto platforms will be enjoying faster speeds than they would with their home broadband.

The average download speed for the tube is 12.7Mb, fast enough to watch highlights of Woy’s Boys at Euro 2012 while avoiding pickpockets, or some live Olympics footage while waiting for one of the Capital’s ambling trains to turn up.  

While tourists over for the Games might be impressed, these speeds compare rather favourable to that of the average UK household, limping like an asthmatic 100m sprinter into a last place finish with a meagre 7.6 Mb.

In comparison, Euston station had an average download of 14.59Mb, while Victoria had an average upload speed of 13.53Mb, Broadbandchoices.co.uk pointed out. Whether these speeds stay when legions of Olympics fans turn up is another matter.

Despite some dissent from the natives, it seems that the ability to use the internet at stations – though not on the Tube itself – will be popular.

Of course, while the tourist-pleasing wi-fi may be free throughout the month, those living here will have to shell out for the service once the Olympics come to an end.

NHS Trust faxed patient data to the wrong number for three months

A London Community Healthcare trust has been slapped with a fine of £90,000 after the Information Commissioner’s Office found it in serious breach of the Data Protection Act.

The watchdog, which had its website hacked last week amid accusations that it didn’t protect citizen’s privacy enough,  first became aware of the NHS Trust’s wrong doings back in March 2011.

This was after after patient lists from the Pembridge Palliative Care Unit, intended for St John’s Hospice, were faxed to the wrong recipient.

The patient lists were said to contain sensitive personal data relating to 59 individuals. This including medical diagnoses and information relating to their domestic situations and resuscitation instructions.

The individual informed the Trust in June that they had been receiving the patient lists, which consisted of around 45 faxes over a three month period. However, they claimed that to protect privacy, they had shredded them.

The ICO conducted an investigation that found the trust had failed to have sufficient checks in place to ensure sensitive information sent by fax was delivered to the correct recipient. It also barked at the trust for failing to provide robust data protection guidance, and training to the members of staff that had accidentally sent the faxes.  

Stephen Eckersley, the ICO’s Head of Enforcement, said that the fact that this information was sent to the wrong recipient for three months without anyone noticing made the case “all the more worrying”.   

Ken Livingstone could contract IBM for London 'smart city'

IBM could be set to benefit from a Ken Livingston pledge to turn London into a ‘smart city’.

TechEye understands that Red Ken is supportive of IBM’s Smarter Cities initiative which is aiming to improve urban infrastructure through ICT.

Smarter Cities involve use of machine to machine communications to provide masses of data that can be used to more efficiently monitor and manage urban environments.   

Smart cities involve using microchips to give much greater levels of insight into public life and amenities. Smart metering is one example which is already getting the go ahead in the UK, but putting chips in parking bays could mean generating information to direct traffic flow, for example.

All of this information needs to be collected and analysed, and doing so is already big business. IBM has been pushing its initiatives in cities across the globe, and TechEye believes IBM will be bidding for contracts in London if Livingstone is to be re-elected today.

TechEye spoke to Livingstone’s office, and though it was not possible to provide any details on which firms might be involved, a spokesperson outlined his pledge to use smart technologies to improve the city.

“The most efficient cities of tomorrow will be those that embrace information innovation today,” Ken’s office said. 

“For example, Ken’s plan to use sensors in parking bays will both reduce the time drivers waste looking for somewhere to park and cut congestion. 

“Adapting magnetic induction charging will enable London to leap-frog the competition and move straight to electric buses – cutting pollution and saving money in the health service as well as lives.” 

TechEye was told that Ken “agrees with the business mantra ‘you can only manage what you can measure’.” 

“We will establish an ‘information architecture’ for London, so that Londoners can save money, for example through smart meters in the home,” the spokesperson said, “and decisions ranging from when streetlights need replacing to managing natural capital can all be made with optimum efficiency.” 

“We will enable entrepreneurial IT firms to thrive, making appropriate data available to the market.”