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Atari threatens to hit fourth VCS shipping deadline, provides pictures of boxes as proof of product delivery

Meanwhile the console’s chief architect is still chasing payment


Atari may finally hit one of its deadlines – its fourth – over its retro VCS games console, three years after the project was launched.

Having blown past deadlines on December 2017, July 2019, and March 2020, Atari this week posted a series of pictures of boxes on its Indiegogo fundraising page, Twitter profile, and Medium blog, that it said show “much of the Indiegogo production run is already well on its way,” traveling by ship from China to Chicago.

“Presented here for the first time, are assembly line photos of the actual Atari VCS 800 Collector’s Edition units, and other scenes from the factory earlier this month, including pallets of Atari VCS units prepped and ready to ship to the US for distribution,” the biz said in its update.

It is unusual for a company to post pictures of its product being boxed as proof it exists, though in Atari’s case the move was necessary given persistent delays in the console, combined with long periods in which the company has failed to communicate with customers.

Concerns that it would in fact never ship were compounded back in October last year when its chief architect, Rob Wyatt, quit the project claiming he hadn’t been paid for six months. Wyatt is still chasing the $261,720 he says he is owed, and sued Atari in April.

After Atari CEO Fred Chesnais claimed that “he lacked access to Atari’s offices and was consumed by other pressing matters” to explain why the company had not responded to the lawsuit, the company then put off a scheduling hearing with a judge four times before finally meeting for the first time on September 17. Wyatt is confident he will eventually win his case.

Doubt

Atari’s pictures of pallet boxes have left some observers skeptical. Back in June, Atari posted a picture of what it claimed was “the very first pallet of 96 Atari VCS 800 Onyx production consoles [that] has just been delivered to our US team.”

Despite promising that the gear, and 404 other units of that specific version of the console that had been pre-paid for, would soon be delivered to customers, there is no evidence as we enter October that anyone has received their hardware, as far as we can tell.

Not just its VCS console that's MIA, Atari is a no-show in court, too: Reborn biz ignores hardware architect's lawsuit over unpaid wages

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This time, Atari claims that it has produced and shipped “much” of the 6,000 orders for the “Collector’s Edition” of the console, with one factory picture showing a sticker on a console that indicated it was number 1,688 of a “limited edition” of 6,000.

There is further reason to doubt the company’s claims. For instance, Atari apologized in 2019 for showing what it claimed was footage of a game running on the machine after the title's developer said it had never created a version for the VCS.

In May this year, it claimed “one of our most-ambitious team members" had created "a number of videos with his Atari VCS that fully illustrate its capabilities,” and shared said videos, which appeared to show him playing games on the console. But of those six YouTube videos, showcased on Atari's own blog, four of them have since been removed. One of them showed the game Call of Duty: War Zone being played on an Atari VCS.

Curiously, the same video appeared elsewhere on YouTube with a telling description: it noted the footage showed “the Atari VCS playing CoD Warzone with upgraded components to make it work.” Oh no.

Another issue

That caveat about “upgraded components to make it work” is critical to understanding that even if Atari does come good on its promise to produce and ship consoles that were paid for several years ago, it may still have a legion of angry fans to contend with.

Many within the gaming community think that the Atari VCS, especially with its $400 price tag, is woefully under-powered, and that it will not be able to run many current games. One influential YouTuber with more than one million followers, YongYea, has called the Atari VCS project a “disaster" and a "crap fest,” and reckoned the Atari console's GPU floating-point math performance – said to be 0.46 teraflops – is just a quarter of that of 2013's PlayStation 4 GPU.

In comparison, the PlayStation 5, which will launch in November for $499 – the same time as most VCS owners may finally get hold of their machines – can manage 10.28 teraflops of GPU number crunching, and the next Xbox, which will also launch this year, has 12 teraflops. This assumes the same floating-point precision is used in each of these measurements, though we think you get the overall point.

Without sufficient graphics performance, state-of-the-art games are simply unplayable. The VCS is powered by an AMD Ryzen Embedded R1606G dual-core system-on-chip, for what it's worth.

In short, even if Atari does finally come good on its promises and delivers its VCS console to customers, they are likely to find it is only capable of playing old games despite the company marketing it as a modern “PC/console hybrid.” The Atari VCS is available to buy online for $399 with “guaranteed delivery before December 24.” ®

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Google Russia goes broke after bank account snatched

We're shutting down as we can no longer pay staff, bills, web giant says

Google Russia is shutting down and filing for bankruptcy after Vladimir Putin's government confiscated the Chocolate Factory's bank account in the nation.

"The Russian authorities' seizure of Google Russia's bank account has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations," a Google spokesperson confirmed to The Register in a statement on Wednesday.

"Google Russia has published a notice of its intention to file for bankruptcy." 

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Patch your VMware gear now – or yank it out, Uncle Sam tells federal agencies

Critical authentication bypass revealed, older flaws under active attack

Uncle Sam's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued two warnings in a single day to VMware users, as it believes the virtualization giant's products can be exploited by miscreants to gain control of systems.

The agency rates this threat as sufficiently serious to demand US government agencies pull the plug on their VMware products if patches can’t be applied.

Of the two warnings, one highlights a critical authentication bypass vulnerability – CVE-2022-22972, rated 9.8 out of 10 on the CVSS scale – that VMware revealed on Wednesday.

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IT staffing, recruitment biz settles claims it discriminated against Americans

Foreign workers favored over US residents because that's what clients wanted, allegedly

Amtex Systems Incorporated, an IT staffing and recruiting firm based in New York City, has agreed to settle claims it discriminated against American workers because company clients wanted workers with temporary visas.

The US Department of Justice on Wednesday announced the agreement, which followed from a US citizen filing a discrimination complaint with the DoJ's Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).

"IT staffing agencies cannot unlawfully exclude applicants or impose additional burdens because of someone’s citizenship or immigration status," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to enforcing the law to ensure that job applicants, including US workers, are protected from unlawful discrimination."

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Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?

A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

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Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask

Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

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Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware

Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

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Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law

Everyone's entitled to a viewpoint but what's your viewpoint on what exactly is and isn't a viewpoint?

A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to block Texas' social media law HB 20 after the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted a preliminary injunction that had kept it from taking effect.

The Lone Star State law, which forbids large social media platforms from moderating content that's "lawful-but-awful," as advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology puts it, was approved last September by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It was immediately challenged in court and the judge hearing the case imposed a preliminary injunction, preventing the legislation from being enforced, on the basis that the trade groups opposing it – NetChoice and CCIA – were likely to prevail.

But that injunction was lifted on appeal. That case continues to be litigated, but thanks to the Fifth Circuit, HB 20 can be enforced even as its constitutionality remains in dispute, hence the coalition's application [PDF] this month to the Supreme Court.

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How these crooks backdoor online shops and siphon victims' credit card info

FBI and co blow lid off latest PHP tampering scam

The FBI and its friends have warned businesses of crooks scraping people's credit-card details from tampered payment pages on compromised websites.

It's an age-old problem: someone breaks into your online store and alters the code so that as your customers enter their info, copies of their data is siphoned to fraudsters to exploit. The Feds this week have detailed one such effort that reared its head lately.

As early as September 2020, we're told, miscreants compromised at least one American company's vulnerable website from three IP addresses: 80[.]249.207.19, 80[.]82.64.211 and 80[.]249.206.197. The intruders modified the web script TempOrders.php in an attempt to inject malicious code into the checkout.php page.

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The new generation of CentOS replacements – plus the daddy of them all: RHEL 8.6

Rocky and Alma are here for those CentOS Linux users who are still smarting

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.6, Alma Linux 8.6 and Rocky Linux 8.6 are all out now, for various platforms.

RHEL version 8.6 – codenamed "Ootpa" – arrived on May 11, and is the latest update to 2019's RHEL 8. RHEL point releases are relatively neat affairs compared to, say, Ubuntu's short-term support releases.

8.6 is a step up from last November's RHEL 8.5. It's still based on Fedora 28 and still uses the same kernel version. In this version, you get kernel 4.18-372, which has another six months' worth of bugfixes, security updates and so on.

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Judge details Lynch's $700k signoff via iPhone text in full Autonomy judgement

Still no damages number, likely to be way less than $5 billion

When an accounts assistant asked Autonomy founder Mike Lynch to approve a $700,000 purchase order in December 2010, the British exec "wrote 'ok' from his iPhone."

"He asked no questions at all," wrote the High Court judge who found Lynch liable for fraud in the case brought against him by HPE.

The detail was included in Mr Justice Hildyard's substantial (1,600+ pages) judgement yesterday, which expanded on his earlier civil fraud claim ruling.

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Microsoft revises software licensing, cloud policies amid EU regulator scrutiny

OVHcloud and Nextcloud lawsuits hit the spot as Windows giant admits to potential competition issues

Microsoft is offering a series of concessions over its software licensing policies to European cloud providers in a bid to address their accusations of anti-competitive tactics and cool any interest from local regulators.

OVHcloud, along with several other cloud services purveyors, including Nextcloud filed class-action lawsuits with the European Commission is calling for a level playing.

One bone of contention for some is licensing – for example, the higher fees to pay while running Windows in non-Microsoft Azure clouds.

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