Software

Amazon Lumberyard is dead, long live the permissively licensed Open 3D Engine

Company donates the whole shooting match to the newly formed foundation, joins as founding member


Amazon is abandoning its Lumberyard 3D engine project before it even leaves beta, but in a way that means it could live on for years to come: it's donating it to the newly formed Open 3D Foundation for release and continued development under a permissive open-source licence.

Amazon launched Lumberyard in beta five years ago as a free-to-use 3D engine and development platform building on Crytek's CryEngine. The catch: signing up to build your game or software in Lumberyard came with an agreement that you would only use Amazon's cloud services, and nobody else's – bringing in a nice batch of recurring revenue for the company.

At least, that was the theory. Lumberyard saw stiff competition from Epic's Unreal Engine and the ever-popular Unity engine, among others, and within a year even Amazon was building projects on something else. The company even found itself competing with CryEngine, Crytek having spent the time since Lumberyard's launch making its own engine pay-what-you-want.

Now, despite a high-profile but questionable win in having troubled crowdfunding money-vacuum Star Citizen to switch to Lumberyard, Amazon's looking to concentrate on other things. Lumberyard, then, is no more – but lives on as the Open 3D Engine (O3DE), donated to the newly formed Open 3D Foundation under the stewardship of the Linux Foundation.

"We're proud to offer the 3D development community an unencumbered, AAA-capable, real-time 3D engine with one of the broadest arrays of integrated 3D authoring tools in the industry including a new photorealistic renderer, built for both modern gaming hardware and distributed cloud rendering," said Bill Vass, vice-president of engineering at Amazon Web Services, of the donation.

"We believe that creating a first-class, community-driven, open-source option will revolutionise real-time 3D development, as Linux did for operating systems and Apache did for the web."

"The new Open 3D Foundation finally gives gaming and engine developers an opportunity to influence the direction of a major AAA-class 3D engine that is sustained for the long term by a worldwide open source community," added Chris Aniszczyk, chief technology officer at the Linux Foundation. "Furthermore, other industries such as automotive and healthcare can take advantage of embedding the engine and supporting the advancement of the engine to benefit all."

The Open 3D Engine is being made available under the user's choice between the permissive Apache 2.0 and MIT licences, meaning it's free to use, distribute, and modify with no royalties required – and no longer includes the restrictions tying Lumberyard to Amazon's cloud platform.

The Open 3D Foundation, meanwhile, exists to guide development of the O3DE project through a governing board and technical steering committee plus special interest groups (SIGs) concentrating on topics including the build and development pipeline, simulation engine, network and cloud, security, and testing.

Founding members, all of which the organisation claimed have contributed unspecified "funding and resources," include Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Huawei and its Futurewei affiliate, Intel, the International Game Developers Association, Niantic, Open Robotics, Red Hat, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Wargaming, among others. Not found in that list are AMD or Nvidia, who together represent the majority share of the discrete graphics card and games console processor markets.

"Any open-sourced piece of software that is AAA grade I think should be celebrated," engineering manager Shane Fagan commented. "Especially if it has the backing, financially and/or technically, from the companies who partnered with it."

The Open 3D Engine already has an official website, and a developer preview is available on GitHub. ®

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NFTs not annoying enough? Now they come with wallet-emptying malware

Plus rifle-toting robot dogs, but makers insist they're really dumb

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.

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Bank manager tricked into handing $35m to scammers using fake 'deep voice' tech

Plus: Microsoft Translator machine learning software now supports over 100 languages

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 officials from the UAE have asked the DoJ to hand over details of two US bank accounts, where over $400,000 from the stolen money were deposited.

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Amazon textbook rental service scammed for $1.5m

Michigan man arrested for borrowing costly textbooks and selling them

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

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Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'

Academics advised to consider excluding certain terminology for the sake of inclusivity

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 reflects the University of Edinburgh's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and to meet specific obligations spelled out in Scottish regulations like the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equalities Duty.

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Toyota needs more than its Cheer Squad to deal with chip shortages, as five more home factories forced into idleness

Car makers facing increasingly tough times until supply catches up

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 models including 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".

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Missouri governor demands prosecution of reporter for 'decoding HTML source code' and reporting a data breach

Salus populi suprema lex esto ... or perhaps not

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 security number as a valid search string.

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Everyone who wants a smartphone for Chrimbo will get one, but in the real world things are somewhat different

Global handset market slips in Q3 on sliding chipset availability, says Canalys

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."

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Windows terminates here. Please remember to finish setting it up on arrival

Washington Metro admin has taken an early lunch

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).

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Boeing 737 Max chief technical pilot charged with deceiving US aviation regulators over MCAS

He hasn't got $2.5bn to hand to the DoJ, unlike his bosses

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.

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Keep expectations low and you won't be disappointed: OVH manages 6 per cent increase on its IPO debut

French cloud provider puts outage and fire behind it to focus on beating the big players

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.

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Space boffins: Exoplanet survived hydrogen-death of its host star

Hope extended to gas giants across the universe... well, it is Friday

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.

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