Statement from the Board of Directors of Retro Computers Ltd
During our company's General Meeting held on June 18th, 2018, Paul Andrews, the company's former Managing Director, admitted receiving and/or intercepting confidential information belonging to Retro Computers Ltd and/or various of its directors. That meeting was recorded and a transcript will be available following the resumption of the meeting next Tuesday. For legal reasons we are not saying any more about Mr Andrews' admission(s) during that meeting at the present time.
During the past 48 hours, Retro Computers Ltd and its directors have been made aware of multiple hacks of both personal and business email accounts, and the public dissemination of private information. In some cases that information is fake; in some cases, it has been distorted and/or edited, and in some cases it is genuine. We believe the purpose of this is to cause further harm and damage to the company, to its directors, partners and ultimately to the ZX Vega+ project.
The police are investigating this crime and a number of other related criminal matters. It should be noted that the current board are NOT under investigation. This information is being "leaked" to a web-site known to us, and the same hosting company are also hosting the disingenuous "Clivehelpus" web site which, by its own admission, is unlawfully posting stolen confidential information and retaining the IP addresses of Vega+ backers, including their confidential data. In some cases people have been added to the website without their permission.
It seems clear to us clear that the people hosting these sites are not afraid to break the law. We therefore urge you to change your passwords on your email, indiegogo account and any accounts using your registered email address.
We will also be referring this matter to the Information Commissioner.
While Martin and Levy would love me to release the full unedited audio recording with what really came out during the meeting I won't till afterwards... as we wouldn't want RCL to derail said meeting would we..
To be clear I did not 'admit hacking' I did try and wind Martin up, as for around 2.5 hours she screeched at me like a banshee, and when I was winding her up by quoting what the SRA had told me both by phone and email, (about Martins attempt to frame me with photoshopped documents), she somehow took that as 'hacking' and started clapping like a seal while chanting 'he has admitted hacking' which of course I hadn't ... it was all rather pathetic to be honest, as you will all hear in due course.
I think it's fair to say when the SRL representative asked his questions though, she was not acting in such an excited manner.
Again let's not let RCL derail the meeting and let's all wait till then.
— Paul Andrews
The image of the Vega+ appears to have regressed from the single colour buttons of the V2 (allegedly from June 20th) to the multi-coloured buttons of the V1 (allegedly taken on June 29th).
This week we will be starting to ship the first batch of units to backers who have opted to vary their order and receive a "Blankety Blank" unit.
These early units will include a handful of games so you can see how fantastic the Vega+ is in gameplay mode and the latest OS. If you have opted for one of these units, we will be in touch this week to confirm your details are still correct.
Once we have shipped these units and we have received initial feedback, we will then release information regarding fulfilment of the remaining units.
We were at the factory last week, and the Vega+ is looking great. The software updates will be really straightforward to install.
We also plan to release regular updates and games packs as and when we can. We aim to do this until we bring the games list up to the 1000 games we originally planned to include.
Below you will find some brief notes I have made after listening quickly to the recorded audio from today – I will not bother going into the ‘he said, she said’ stuff (mostly aimed at me obviously) it’s of no consequence in terms of what happened. Also at this point I will be clear I will not currently reveal certain details from the meeting which could later be used as further reasons why meetings are delayed, and or delivery to backers does not occur. Below this line are the notes, a few personal comments/opinions are added in which are easy to tell apart from the facts as per the recording. I will try to be as accurate as possibly while paraphrasing to keep it short, and hopefully make sense.
Brief notes from the resumed RCL shareholders meeting held on the 3rd July 2018
Audio was recorded by various parties, Levy confirmed video was not approved.
Levy straight away read a prepared statement.
Levy said two significant ‘things’ had happened since the adjournment on the 18th of June 2018 meeting –
(At the prior meeting SRL had requested information from RCL to allow it to make a decision on which way to vote in the shareholders meeting vote/resolutions. RCL had agreed it would provide SRL with said information prior to the 3rd July meeting, (this came after Levy initially refused point blank to give any information requested by SRL ,to SRL, but Martin intervened at the meeting saying they would if a suitably agreed NDA was signed by SRL). Today Levy stated that the RCL ‘board’ and SRL had been in communication, but RCL and SRL could not agree on a NDA, therefore RCL would not give SRL the requested information. I think it’s fair to say that SRL believed its NDA requests where reasonable but RCL would not accept this point.
The second point Levy said was significant was this week Is that ‘RCL is shipping the first XXX units to backers’ (I will not currently reveal this figure), and in the read out statement proof was offered to SRL by way of photographs said to be on Martins computer of the units at the factory etc. (Note - no attempt was made to actually show said photos.)
Levy then went on to say that he demand that votes be by way of a poll, as is his right as both chairman and a 25% shareholder. He then went onto quote various things such as article 52.5 of the company’s articles, (which states the chairman can do so, as long as he does not make the length longer than 30 days, Levy decided the poll shall take place in 30 days of course). Levy then goes on to say RCL will provide SRL with proof of these initial shipments before the poll vote on the 2nd August 2018.
He then goes onto say because he has made that decision there is no need to discuss the proxy vote of Chris Smith, which he then stated was ‘received after the required deadline’. (To be clear the proxy vote from Chris asking me to represent him, was sent both by email and signed for post in plenty of time, but for some ‘reason’ was not signed for at the registered offices till (as Levy now quotes) was after the deadline and a second attempt at delivery was made. Again it should be noted we would not have accepted this excuse, as Levy had been written to extensity by email asking him to confirm the proxy was received and accepted, at first a small error was pointed out by him (Levy that is over Chris proxy form) (which was technically not a legal reason to refuse it I have been told since) but a second corrected one was resent in good time. Levy had refused to answer multiple emails to confirm if the second one had been accepted and I personally made it clear that email chain would be bought to a courts attention should the need occur, so one has to presume that was his second line of defence to delay the vote today, even though it was not used as the first one was as above to delay, and stall again.
Levy then goes on to quote various legal documents/precedents from Slaughter and May, as to why he can legally do what he has done, mostly around the ‘law on difficult meetings’ sections, no point quoting chapter and verse to you all.
There was then some backwards and forwards discussion between SRL and Levy and Martin on why certain normal things don’t apply/excluded, again no point labouring them, they had clearly done a lot of reading, and potentially have a lot of experience in these types of matters and circumstances….
At this point I asked the question of Levy how was the meeting on the 2nd of August to take place when he had stated in prior court documents he would not be available. After some fumbling around of words, he eventually said he was making himself available for that meeting on the 2nd and it would defiantly take place, even if he had to return from some unknown location.
There was then some discussion between RCL and SRL along the lines of SRL had no choice but to concede that Levy could legally do what he was doing, but that the SRL rep was not happy this had been sprung at the meeting instead of sometime prior as it was clearly the planned intention.
SRL then went on to say that while they were unhappy with what had been done today, he would still like to ask multiple questions. Martin jumped in (this is about 11 minutes after the meeting started, not forgetting the last meeting was around 2.5 hours of recorded material and over around 3 hours long in total) as she had to go to another meeting. There was then what I think is fair to say ‘exchanges’ between SRL and RCL at which point Levy confirmed they had only booked the meeting room for a 30 minute meeting (presumably the shortest time allowed).
Martin stated several times that her meeting (she had to urgently get to) was with the police to report me for hacking their documents. Once more for clarity I didn’t obviously, more nonsense as ever.
While I won’t stoop to the lows shown today by RCL and reveal the exact exchanges, I think it not unfair listing back to the recording now, that the sarcasm spoken and shown by Martin towards what I have to say was an exasperated, but very professional SRL representative, was in my opinion was beyond unprofessional.
SRL and Martin then had a ‘discussion’ about why the NDA could not be agreed; again it’s fair to say SRL was unhappy. Again I won’t at this point go into detail; I did not join in this discussion at all. But suffice to say questions were asked but the alleged leak documents. Martin refused to answer or avoided specific questions, mostly using the reason that they would not answer in my presence.
Obviously questions about the potential liquidity of the company were asked, refunds to backers, again at this point in time I will not reveal the specifics. Obviously most of this according to RCL was all down to me.
These strong exchanges went on for some time, I all but remained silent. Mostly Levy said they would not answer the SRL questions ‘until after they had shipped’. I think it’s fair to say no questions asked were answered by RCL, and the conversation went round and round and round again between SRL and RCL.
SRL asked did RCL have samples of the Vega Plus to show him? Martin pulled them out from a bag, I feel reasonably comfortable in saying they looked like the ones (i.e. the two shown both slightly different) shown in the photos on the RCL Facebook page today.
They were removed from small bubble wrap bags by Martin, I asked was that the final box, Martin replied ‘no it’s a paper bag’ (it was a bubble wrap bag not a paper bag nor a box or any other form of packaging), I also asked where they the hand painted button ones she replied ‘no Paul it’s not a hand painted button one’, I said ‘Am I allowed to see it?’ she said ‘no you are not’, I ignored her and stood up close enough to see, but out of her arm’s reach just in case.
I asked her why she was covering the buttons up with her hand, at which point she swore at me telling me to ‘F*** off’, I asked the chairman to intervene; he remained silent despite repeated requests from me.
Later in the meeting, to be clear Martin ‘apologised’ for swearing at me, but said it was my own fault after what she had had to put up with for the past few years… yeah right…
I will not currently comment on what I did see of the units other than they did seem to be the ones seen in the photos (you can make of that what you will), or what I also felt was attempted by the use of hand covering of the devices by Martin (at various points of start-up and so on, so that I should not see whatever she was covering up with her hands), as again I will not allow this to be used as a reason for potential non delivery by RCL.
The SRL/RCL conversation then went back once more to the various issues potentially raised by the alleged leaked documents, future plans, and so on, once again this was answered mostly by the answer from RCL of ‘we will tell SRL things after shipping’.
That was more or less it, and the meeting was bought to a close.
So let’s see what happens this week once these deliveries commence.
Updated Statement Today, at the resumed Retro Computers General Meeting, which was adjourned on June 18th, we demonstrated to the Sinclair Research Ltd representative a production unit of the latest version of the Vega+, and we confirmed to him delivery this week of units with a reduced number of games, as has been requested by many of our backers.
Paul Andrews, the company's former Managing Director, has taken information from today's meeting and immediately released it to the press, with the clear and obvious intention of causing damage to the Vega+ project yet again. We find it interesting that Mr Andrews did not feel the need to release notes after the first meeting, where he was lambasted by our Managing Director who unleashed a torrent of revelations about Mr Andrews' actions over the past two years, including the vile and intimidating campaign of abuse he instigated against the company and its directors.
Paul Andrews has already admitted publicly to setting up a fake law firm from his home address in Luton, a matter which is being investigated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
During the June 18th meeting, Paul Andrews admitted receiving and/or intercepting confidential information belonging to Retro Computers Ltd and/or various of its directors. That meeting was recorded and a transcript will be available in due course, following today's resumption of the meeting. For legal reasons we are not at the present time saying any more about Mr Andrews' admission(s) during that meeting.
During the past 72 hours, Retro Computers Ltd and its directors have been made aware of multiple hacks of both personal and business email accounts, and the public dissemination of private information. In some cases that information is fake; in some cases, it has been distorted and/or edited, and in some cases it is genuine. We believe the purpose of this is to cause further harm and damage to the company, to its directors, partners and ultimately to the ZX Vega+ project.
The police are investigating this crime and a number of other related criminal matters. It should be noted that the current board are NOT under investigation. This information is being "leaked" to a web-site known to us, and the same hosting company are also hosting the disingenuous "Clivehelpus" web site which, by its own admission, is unlawfully posting stolen confidential information and retaining the IP addresses of Vega+ backers, including their confidential data. In some cases people have been added to the website without their permission.
We will also be referring this matter to the Information Commissioner.
It seems clear to us that the people hosting these sites are not afraid to break the law.
The ZX Spectrum reboot scandal will drag on for at least another month as Retro Computers Ltd’s embattled directors have again delayed a showdown that could lead to their dismissal.
The Vega+ was originally advertised as being ready for delivery by Christmas 2016, the money being raised earlier that year to put the final design into production.
Tuesday 3 July was supposed to be the day when the company’s shareholders voted on whether to remove all its directors, who are chairman David Levy, MD Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel.
According to notes of the meeting made available by Andrews on a Facebook group for disgruntled RCL customers (Facebook registration and group membership required), Levy found a provision in the company’s articles that allowed him to delay the vote by another 30 days, something he did not deny when we asked him about it yesterday. The meeting had already been adjourned for a month prior to this.
Levy did deny to The Register that RCL’s board had fallen out with the Sinclair Research Ltd (SRL) representative at the meeting, insisting that he had been shown a working Vega+ console. Andrews suggested otherwise in his published notes, claiming: “Mostly Levy said they would not answer the SRL questions ‘until after they had shipped’. I think it’s fair to say no questions asked were answered by RCL, and the conversation went round and round and round again between SRL and RCL.”
RCL has declared it will be shipping some units this week, a claim it has made so many times over the past few years.
As previously detailed, Andrews and Smith want Levy and his team off the board because of the long delay in delivery of the console. Questions have mounted over the state of RCL’s finances, especially what has happened to the allegedly ring-fenced £513,000 of customers’ money.
Indiegogo has kept a very low profile in all this until The Register reported a successful legal action brought against RCL where the judge found that Indiegogo’s terms and conditions were meaningless, ruling that an RCL customer had formed an implied contract of sale with the game console firm. Indiegogo has since insisted it is going to hire a debt collection agency to recover customers’ monies from RCL, though it was happily transferring five-figure sums of customers’ cash to RCL as late as the middle of last year.
Bank statements filed at Luton County Court and seen by El Reg revealed that on the same day as RCL’s accounts claimed it had £433,000 in capital and reserves, in fact it had just £1,200 in the bank. The account was overdrawn at points with cash top-ups being supplied by VAT refunds from HMRC.
In a statement posted to its Facebook pageyesterday, RCL made various claims that Andrews has committed criminal offences and that he is under investigation by various agencies. No evidence was offered to support these claims. It also claimed that Andrews had "immediately released to the press" his meeting notes, when in fact El Reg saw them on Facebook.
Questions remain over what RCL's board have done with the £513,000 of crowdfunded cash and when will they refund the 489 customers who have requested a total of £55,505 be returned to them. In addition, Indiegogo's promised debt collectors have yet to materialise.
Suzanne Martin posts her theory for RCL's supposed hack on their facebook page when responding to the question, "How can you keep getting hacked? Have you never heard of two factor authentication? Or perhaps you're not really getting hacked at all, and it's all just a smokescreen?"
Have you ever heard of someone accessing via WiFi ? Or a Trojan.
We are working our way through contacting backers who have opted for a Vega+ unit with a handful of games - "The Blankety Blank". Some of you have already replied to us personally and don't panic if you haven't had an email yet we are writing to you personally.
If you would still like to opt for a "Blankety Blank" Unit, but you haven't yet chosen this version then there is still time. Please contact us at email@example.com putting BLANKETY BLANK 2 in the subject matter, and we will help you as soon as possible.
— Retro Computers Ltd
Lee Staniforth asks Dermot O'Leary on twitter whether has has ever heard of Retro Computers Ltd or the ZX Vega+:
No, no idea. Huge Spectrum fan, but never had one of these..
A new article is added to the Levy Leaks section called Dr David Levy trading insolvent and includes a full email chain with David Levy giving excuses to Teacher Stern why he cannot pay their outstanding debt more than a year later.
A new article is added to the Levy Leaks section called No Assets. The article says that Michelmores didn't expect to recoup money from Nick Cooper's bankruptcy, and that they wanted a 60/40 split of Vega and Vega+ profits to pay off their outstanding debt.
Due to the disgusting nature of what was done by Dr David Levy and Suzanne Martin, the leak was not going to be mentioned on the news page of this site. However, a public facebook post from Paul Andrews himself stated that although the content made grim reading, the public deserved to know what was going on. For this reason, a news item was added to the site.
I don't normally now post on my own timeline things connected with the scum we have had to deal with for around 2.5 years now, as I try to leave my friends and family out of this madness, but in this instance as it is so personal I feel I have to share it with you all and let you see an insight of what we have had to deal with in this time period. In the backer support group people asked my permission before sharing this, and while it is both grime reading and extremely unpleasant reading, even more so when it is about you or people you love, it also does need to be seen by people to show everyone who these 'third parties' and what they really are to the world. Read it and make your own minds up.
— Paul Andrews
To add insult to injury, Jan Saggiori posts on the democracy group, stating that his words were taken out of context and that "ill people" are not other peoples fault - only god knows:
Some Serial Liars, when people talk about their public FB photos of Las Vegas from January 2016, publish out of context (my) comment, telling things that my comment never expressed/told. If they are ill, that's not my fault, neither other people. Only god knows the reason why. Perhaps if they would be nicer to others on this earth this would have never happened ?
So apparently I have been banned from Indiegogo, but I have never had any email from them telling me this! I only found out because another project I backed has just come out and I saw people posting about it, which reminded me. I managed to contact the campaign owner directly he has my order ready to go but thankfully he hadn't sent it, because the address what totally wrong as I have moved since. What an absolute shower of shite that company is! I am now trying to remember if I backed anything else!
Thank you for your patience. We appreciate your cooperation throughout the review process. Unfortunately, after reviewing your account activity, we have determined that your account is too risky to continue through Indiegogo. At this time, we have frozen from our platform.
Indiegogo strives to maintain a balance between being an equal opportunity platform while simultaneously protecting the security of our users, and the decision to remove your account was not made lightly. We appreciate your understanding and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.
Unfortunately I don't have any real info on what goes on at RCL towers (wherever that is located this week) as the last communication I had with Levy was an email from him stating that he has changed his email address since the hack - I suspect he just sent out a single mail to everyone in his address book. I didn't respond to it, either. Prior to that was back in 2016. As for foggy - he's still saying that he distanced himself due to supporting the backers against the increasingly errant behaviour of RCL. And I believe him in that, having seen the bug tracking report that showed that the vega firmware really was in a very poor state when he left.
July 5th this year.
that was from the old address informing of the new one.
Gareth Corfield tweets regarding complaining about Retro Computers Ltd to the Insolvency Service:
If anyone following the #zxvega saga makes a complaint to the Insolvency Service about Retro Computers Ltd, please feel free to contact me in confidence. DMs open or firstname.lastname@example.org https://t.co/QauzXQ5zvu
Retro Computers Ltd is delighted to announce that shipping of the much delayed Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ games console is starting today.
It has been a well documented long and difficult road for the company..
Well, we have now proved all negative claims to be false. We have been working diligently to overcome our problems, and we have alwaysbelieved that we could complete the project and bring the Vega+ to manufacture.
Last week we shipped a few units to some selected supporters who have had unwavering faith in us, and the response and comments on their Vega+ units has been uniformly joyful. Today we start shipping to the first 400 backers who asked to receive their unit without the 1,000 games pre-loaded, as they prefer to load their own choice of games.
We would like to offer our sincerest apologies and thanks to those who have had faith in our company and its ability to deliver. Your supporting messages over the past two years have helped us to keep going through the darkest of periods.
Jan Saggiori (employee of RCL that was uncovering the identities of "trolls") tweets claiming to have a Vega+ (archived backup available). The 2 photos Jan posts carefully crop out the bottom and right side of the Vega+, covering up any Sinclair logo, rainbow sticker, or the buttons:
A number of backers receive the following email:
Congratulations your ZXvega+ is on the way. You are in the first shipment and should expect to receive your Limited Edition unit no later than Tuesday.
Please confirm receipt of delivery by replying to this email.
The following post is a statement of fact, and for our part we will not comment on it further, but for the sake of backer knowledge and clarity we want you all to know these facts so they can't be twisted or used against myself or Chris in some way down the line as has happened so many times prior.
Prior Fact 1- as shown/told many times before, just after I was given the RCL bank statements an RCL online bank access card appeared in the post to my house. This was NOT ordered or requested by me. It was returned to the local Barclays Bank branch, still attached to the paper it came on, unused, and a letter from the manager signed to confirm this also, etc.
Fact 2 - some time ago PayPal rung my offices on our office number asking for Chris Smith in relation to the RCL PayPal account. Obviously Chris does not work from my offices and so a telephone number/name of the PayPal employee was taken and passed onto Chris. Chris rung them and explained neither him or I had had access to the RCL PayPal account since we left early April 2016. When hearing this the PayPal person because we were not legally involved etc (as obvious) with that account since backer money for the Vega Plus or since that time had come in, then said something along the lines of they could now not talk to confirm why they were ringing as we no longer directors, but eventually they did amend their records taking my phone number and his name off the account. We have not heard from them since.
On Wednesday the 25th of July 2018 (last week) Chris received a phone call from Barclaycard Commercial at 16:34. They wanted to speak to David Levy or Suzanne Martin, but clearly only had his phone number on record (and both our names it transpired during the call). Given that there was never a company credit card at the time we resigned from the company or before that date, we can only presume the current directors had taken one out for the company account after we left.
Chris gave Barclaycard Levy's phone number (assuming it is still valid), and they assured him he would receive no further calls.
Obviously we don't know the reason why Barclaycard rung Chris asking for Levy or Martin. We don't know why once again our details were used with financial related transactions for RCL (not forgetting my name not being removed from indiegogo despite Levy/martin receiving the Vega Plus backer funds not us), not forgetting my telephone number was used to presell Vega Plus consoles 'to be delivered summer 2017' which were not before that website also shut.
So no comments from us past this statement for obvious reasons but just the facts.
Of course this incident has been logged with the police and our lawyers on Thursday, as well as the separate police report in another matter we lodged with the police about the RCL directors earlier in the week.
— Paul Andrews
Another member posts suggesting the information needs to go to Sinclair Research Limited for the upcoming shareholder meeting on August 2nd, and Paul follows up with the following:
SRL are aware of this incident Rich. As you know we have been fighting the good fight since we left, it was not till Indiegogo got involved that SRL was initially willing to back our share holder vote to remove the current RCL directors. As described before at the first meeting the SRL rep there suggested to adjourn the meeting to allow RCL two weeks to supply them with the details there were entitled to as corporate directors still at that point in time, but RCL could refuse to supply myself, chris and SRL as shareholders. That being details of production and finances.
In that two week gap period the RCL directors removed SRL as corporate directors thus removing their legal right to access to this info, and would not agree with SRL on a suitable NDA document to show or tell them anything. Hence they didn't at meeting 2.
They then pulled the whole 'chairman has the right to call a poll vote' pushing it another 30 days into the future that being this Thursday the 2nd.
It is worth stating the reasons the rcl directors gave at both meetings as to why they would not show/tell anything was because I was there and would stop them in their mission, and so on. They also then stated they would not supply it to the SRL company officer (as opposed to the SRL rep who was physically at the meeting) as he was now seen by rcl as the enemy of rcl as well as me, as he had initially 'talked behind the backs of rcl with me' they stated, and therefore could now not be trusted with rcl information etc.
As above in the two weeks between meeting 1 and 2, rcl failed to show or tell SRL anything and then didn't at meeting 2 just calling the 30 day poll meeting. You can make your own minds up as to why the events of the past few days have happened.
But the basic answer to your question Rich was, fifty percent of the shareholders have always tried to get this all sorted, then a further twenty five percent joined with us, giving us potentially the seventy five percent needed.
At this point we do not know how the final vote will go of course. Hope that helps.
Jan Saggiori is caught altering the Wikipedia pages for the Vega+, spreading misinformation and lies about the project in his pigeon English style. Administrators undo several of his edits with comments such as "User is affiliated with company; there is no independent and undisputed verification that this statement is true."
A retro games console crowdfunding campaign is to lose the right to feature the brands of the original computers it is based on.
The revelation coincides with the delivery of some units of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ to backers, albeit without most of the games originally promised to be pre-installed.
Rights-owner Sky told the BBC there had been repeated missed deadlines. It is pulling use of the "ZX Spectrum" and "Sinclair" trademarks as a result. The decision was taken in May. Sky has told campaign manager Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) that a licence to use the names will therefore expire on 7 August.
"We would love to see the Vega+ consoles in the hands of fans. However, as RCL have repeatedly failed to deliver and breached the terms of their licence, we have made the decision to end our working relationship," a spokesman for the broadcaster explained. To give as many gaming fans as possible the chance to get their Vega+ console, RCL [had] three additional months from termination to deliver the products."
RCL declined to comment on the allegations but said deliveries had begun last week. "We have managed to start shipping at last," RCL's chairman David Levy told the BBC. "But this time we did not say exactly when this would happen, so those who have thrown various spanners in the works in the past, in order to hamper our efforts, were not able this time to prevent us from shipping."
Sky owns the intellectual property involved as a consequence of its purchase of Amstrad, which had earlier acquired Sinclair's marketing and merchandising rights. In addition to the brand names, it also owns the rights to a number of Spectrum games that it now intends to withhold.
Sky does not, however, have a connection to the emulation software, so RCL could theoretically continue to produce the handheld console under a different name.
The disclosure comes ahead of a crunch shareholders meeting scheduled for Thursday. Two former directors of RCL - with a combined 50% stake - are seeking to displace the current management. But to succeed they would need the support of Sinclair Research - the original ZX Spectrum inventor Sir Clive Sinclair's company - which owns 25% of RCL.
Backers were originally told deliveries would be made in September of the same year and 1,000 licensed games would be included. After several missed delivery targets, the company sent out the first units at the end of last week.
It has said it is in the process of shipping consoles to 400 of the more than 4,000 backers, who had agreed to receive units with only a small number of games. Nineteen titles appear to have been included.
To date, a handful of people have confirmed receipt of the devices, via social media posts, several of whom have complained about the quality of the console.
"The buttons are absolutely awful," wrote David Whitchurch-Bennett. "You have to press so hard and they intermittently stop working unless you apply so much pressure."
Craig Wootton complained his console had arrived with "no protection, no bubble wrap, polystyrene et cetera. The screen cover itself is scratched," he added in a video posted to YouTube. "That's pretty poor, if I'm honest." He also said that a lack of instructions had left him at a loss as to how to add other games.
RCL director Suzanne Martin has posted on Facebook that the machines had been deliberately "shipped in ethical packaging without any additional plastic" and that information about how to use the consoles would be made available online.
One recipient has been more positive. Jan Saggiori has posted several messages on social media saying how much he has enjoyed playing the console. He had earlier been blocked from making edits to a Wikipedia page dedicated to the Vega+ over claims he was affiliated with the project and therefore biased.
But he told the BBC that this was a false allegation and his involvement was limited to running an independent Facebook group dedicated to supporting the project. "I am a backer who upset the trolls [and] have no affiliation to RCL," he said. "I have been personally targeted... and attacked, threatened, blackmailed for supporting the campaign."
Indiegogo - the crowdfunding site that hosts the project - announced in June that it had appointed a debt collection agency in an attempt to recoup backers' funds. The BBC understands the US company is still pursuing collections despite the fact some deliveries have been made.
The World of Spectrum is now distributing tape images of Ultimate Play the Game titles. I didn't realise World of Spectrum had permission from Rare to host and distribute these games. #zxvegapic.twitter.com/zvQWGugZG0
I’d suggest anyone wishing to make use of the files I put up last night get them before 5pm today as I will have to remove them. Mike “I want to help backers” Davis (Isofaro on twitter) has gone on a rant about them because hosting them is “hypocritical and toxic”. Best to remove them before the abuse starts.
For Immediate Release - 2nd August 2018 - From Paul Andrews and Chris Smith
Paul Andrews and Chris Smith as joint 50% shareholders of Retro Computers Ltd, called for a shareholders meeting with the aim of removing the current directors of the company, David Levy (also a 25% shareholder in the company), Suzanne Martin, and Janko Mrsic-Flogel, and the replacement of them with an independent new director.
This shareholder vote was initially called with the backing of a Sinclair Research Ltd officer, as evidenced by a chain of emails. A separate representative for Sinclair Research Ltd attended the first shareholder meeting, and suggested that a two week adjournment be allowed for Retro Computers Ltd directors to produce financial and other information requested by Sinclair Research Ltd, allowing a fair and balanced decision to be made. It transpired Retro Computers Ltd failed to provide Sinclair Research Ltd with any information within that two week period.
At the second shareholders meeting David Levy used his power as chairman to rapidly close the shareholders meeting, and instead call for a vote by poll. He also used his powers to extend the time for that meeting to the maximum 30 days allowed under by law, setting it for 2nd August 2018.
In response to the BBC article of the 1st August 2018 regarding the SKY withdrawal of licenses from Retro Computers Ltd, Paul Andrews reached out to what is believed to be the power of attorney of the Sinclair Research Ltd majority vote to ask their intentions, but no response was received.
Paul Andrews and Chris Smith were informed today prior to the commencement of the meeting that Sinclair Research Ltd would be abstaining from the vote, and they would not be attending the meeting.
Without Sinclair Research Ltd in attendance or a proxy vote, the majority vote of 75% required to pass the two resolutions cannot be reached. This leaves the current directors in place.
However Sinclair Research Ltd, did in the notice to fellow shareholders and the current directors of the company make this comment
“It should be noted for the record that SRL have serious concerns regarding the solvency of the company and the ability to continue to trade and fulfil all of its obligations. The directors should consider the position and seek the appropriate advice as there is a real concern that the company is trading whilst insolvent.”
Both Paul Andrews and Chris Smith share these concerns.
As the outcome has been determined by default, Paul Andrews and Chris Smith did not attend the meeting, but wish backers to know they will continue working in good faith on their behalf.
Yesterday, Leo Kelion from the BBC published an article stating that Sky Limited had withdrawn Retro Computers Limited's licence that granted us the use of the brand names Sinclair and ZXSpectrum. Mr Kelion claimed that "the decision was made" by Sky, in "May of this year". This statement is completely untrue. In fact in May of this year Sky awarded RCL a new contract with a one year extension. This agreement granted RCL a licence to produce 10,000 units of the Vega+; and was only issued after we satisfied them of our intentions to deliver to backers and because we were able to refute " allegations made by Paul Andrews". Mr Andrews' false allegations to Sky represents yet another attemptby him to stop backers receiving their Vega+s by halting production, which he did in fact achieve until we were able to satisfy Sky that we were indeed going to deliver.
We have irrefutable evidence to support this assertion in the form of the new agreement sent to us by Sky.
The BBC statement shows a continued bias in favour of Paul Andrews who has relentlessly tried to stop backers receiving their pledges while simultaneously claiming he is trying to help them.
Last week we started shipping units to backers, and the only reason we managed to deliver any units was that we began shipping in secret.
During our company's General Meeting held on June 18th, 2018, Paul Andrews, the company's former Managing Director, admitted receiving and/or intercepting confidential information belonging to Retro Computers Ltd and/or various of its directors. This included the admission that he had received, obtained and/or intercepted confidential Police and legally privileged correspondence. Two weeks ago we were made aware that Paul Andrews had publicly sanctioned the release of these illegally obtained documents. That General Meeting was recorded with the consent of all those present and a copy of the recording has been made available to the relevant investigatory authorities, including the police and the office of the Information Commissioner.
For legal reasons, we are not saying any more about Mr Andrews' admission(s) during that meeting at the present time.
It is, however, sadly true that Sky cancelled our licence just as we started shipping to backers. In their cancellation email Sky referenced the publication of hacked confidential documents from themselves. Now that Sky have seen that we are indeed shipping to backers we hope and expect that they will issue our company with a fresh licence.
We shall issue further updates as and when we feel it is appropriate.
RCL has disputed some of the details of this report saying that it was "completely untrue" that Sky had decided in May to terminate its licence.
In light of this, Sky has provided a further statement.
"In a statement provided to the BBC, we confirmed our decision - made in February - to terminate the licence as of 8 May 2018. To allow as many fans as possible to receive the console, we provided an additional 90 days grace period, which runs until 7 August 2018. This decision has also been communicated directly to David Levy of RCL.
"Sky did not receive royalties for the use of the brand - any royalties due were payable to charity - and allowed its use in good faith. Due to the consistently substandard build quality of the units tested, and the continued failure of RCL to deliver on its promises, we have unfortunately been forced to withdraw the licence."
The BBC understands there were discussions in June to issue a fresh licence, but RCL failed to satisfy Sky's requirements.
Good afternoon all. Today I had the almost pleasure of comparing and playing on two Vega+ units. Yes indeed, you wait over two years for the Vega+ and then like buses, two turn up at once! Incredible that RCL would actually send me of all people a unit but then again, I guess their security screening of their backers wasn't quite as good as they thought!
My intention was to write an unbiased review of the unit, comparing its good points and its bad points and actually giving RCL a fair run for their money, after all, they did manage to cobble together twenty or thirty units, so credit where credits due.
Sadly, this isn't going to be possible. I don't have the time or energy to accurately reflect how poor the product is, how devastatingly disappointing for backers who have waited for years. I promise you, any game hungry mittens getting hold of a Vega+ will be cut to ribbons in no time on the ridiculously sharp back edge!!
The packaging itself is piss poor. The PR guru stated that it's "ethical" and "green" which is sadly her way of saying "utter shit"!!
I honestly don't know where to begin:
Packaging = Off the scale pathetic!! A black box that's been bought off the shelf in Staples (at a guess) with a bit of black paper inside!! Brown packing tape wrapped around to keep it closed!
Form Factor = Piss Poor as I can literally cut paper with the back edge of the device making it incredibly horrible to hold!
Logo = Held in place by sellotape (I kid you not)
D Pad = Stiff to the point of unplayable
Buttons = Stiff to the point of unplayable
Screen = The display is clear and pretty good!
Boot Time = variable between three and ten seconds
Stability = Crashed three times in the first half an hour of use
Games = Rubbish BUT the caveat to that is, even with a rubbish control system and buttons I still enjoyed playing Egg Head!!
Display = Flickers like mad even when there is hardly anything on screen!
Comparing two side by side, the screens have different luminosity levels (even though the screen settings are identical) and are clearly from two different manufacturers.
It's poor RCL! It's pathetic! Take no joy in shipping this travesty, there is no success in this! You've failed in every way!! It's an insult to the name that you've sellotaped on!!
There's also a strange white powdery residue on the bottom edge. Despite Popular rumours of drug related crimes within certain circles, this is actually paper particles from the piece of A4 I sliced with it!!
Lee Fogarty posts the contents of an email David Levy sent to testers on April 26th 2017:
First I would like to thank all of you most sincerely for giving up your valuable time to test the Vega+. We are enormously grateful to all of you for doing this and especially to Lee for the huge amount he has done to assist us in this process and in many other ways. With your help we will hopefully be able to iron out the various issues which between you have already been reported, and any others which are discovered.
As you probably know, the development work is the responsibility of Janko Mrsic-Flogel and Davide Guidi at Private Planet. Janko and I are good friends and have worked together on various projects for 30 years.
As we move forward with the testing and the curing of the various issues we need to manage this in a structured and calm way. What we have decided is that all reports of bugs and other issues should be sent to me, with cc to Suzanne, not direct to Private Planet and I will add my two pence worth of comments/questions and pass them on to Janko. When Private Planet respond they will likewise do so to myself (cc to Suzanne) and I will similarly pass them on to you guys together with any comments or questions that I wish to add. We very much hope you will agree with this approach whereby I will be in the loop as moderator.
I do not have any Spectrum expertise, but I have been managing development projects in consumer electronics for getting on for 40 years, so hopefully I will be able to assist the process.
— David Levy
According to Lee, Janko Mrsic-Flogel's company Private Planet had quit the previous October and had no intention of finishing the Vega+ project:
That was the last we heard about testing. The document I posted was exported from a project management tool I registered with, and put the entries in. David refused to use it, insisting all bug reports were in a word or excel document to be passed around. Because it’s 1995.
It also transpired after that, PP had downed tools the previous October and had no intention of finishing – hence my involvement sourcing replacement FW which was ignored (can’t risk Andrews getting a unit, so dev units)
Lee Fogarty posts another 2 messages on Indiegogo claiming that Suzanne Martin has been contacting his friends on facebook.
If anyone else receives a phone call from Suzanne Martin from Retro Computers Ltd, I am really sorry – ignore her and hang up. She has gone through my friends list on FB.
— Lee Fogarty
Lee also posts a reply to Gary's question on Indiegogo about which SD cards can be used and that lots of games on the card will slow the unit down significantly:
@Gary- 16gb worked ok on the units I had. I put in 8, 16 & 32gb sd cards. One thing you probably can’t do is have sub folder – so loading 100’s of games slows the unit down. You have to reboot when you put the card in as the unit reads the details on boot. People struggling to get it to charge need to let the battery drain, then plug in – wait until it powers up, then turn brightness right down. It should charge then.
Sir Clive Sinclair's company has accused flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd of trading while insolvent. Meanwhile, the firm has delivered some consoles – and been stripped of the brand rights to its flagship product.
Last week some customers of Retro Computers Ltd reported on social media that they had received samples of the infamous ZX Spectrum Vega+ console, the firm's flagship product.
Initial reviews were not positive, with many commenting on the lack of packaging and absence of items such as an instruction manual or a charging cable, as well as the need for users to manually map keys by themselves before being able to play games.
Although the company claimed it was posting out 400 consoles, one irritated customer spun up a probability distribution based on an analysis of serial numbers seen in social media pictures of the device that estimates a figure that is closer to 50.
The ZX Spectrum Vega+ scandal has become synonymous in the public eye with the pitfalls of crowdfunding. RCL's raising of £513,000 from more than 4,000 members of the public and subsequent failure to deliver the promised product for two years threw into stark relief the fact that crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo are wide open for abuse.
In light of last week's developments, The Register is concerned that the first batch of consoles may be the last of the Vega+ ever to see the light of day.
The BBC reported that RCL has been stripped of its right to use the ZX Spectrum brand by Sky, which owns the trademark, having bought out Amstrad which in turn acquired the brand from Sir Clive Sinclair himself. Sky also owns the rights to a number of games that were supposed to be bundled with the console, which cannot now lawfully be done.
"In a statement provided to the BBC, we confirmed our decision – made in February – to terminate the licence as of 8 May 2018," the company told the Beeb. "To allow as many fans as possible to receive the console, we provided an additional 90 days grace period, which runs until 7 August 2018. This decision has also been communicated directly to David Levy of RCL."
Levy, RCL's chairman, had tried to suggest to the BBC that Sky withdrawing the licence was "completely untrue" – ironically.
The Register has spoken to irate RCL customers who say they have reported the company to the Insolvency Service. The service has the power to investigate alleged irregularities within registered UK businesses, can apply to have companies wound up and can have individuals disqualified from being company directors.
The Insolvency Service's involvement could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, forcibly winding up RCL and holding its management to personal account would satisfy a great number of people. On the other, such moves would also hammer a stake into the corpse of the Vega+.
Last week also saw a crunch shareholder vote to dismiss RCL's current board, consisting of Levy, managing director Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel. They would have been replaced by someone appointed by SRL and the other shareholders: former MD Paul Andrews and former CTO Chris Smith, who designed the firmware for the Vega+ before the directors split in April 2016.
The Register understands that the intention was to examine RCL's management accounts and figure out if production of the Vega+ was possible from whatever resources were left in the firm's control.
At the twice-delayed shareholders' meeting, SRL abstained from voting on the motion to dismiss the directors. With Andrews, Smith and Levy each owning 25 per cent of RCL, and a 75 per cent threshold being needed to sack the directors, the motion failed.
Although SRL failed to take any action, a statement from SRL seen by The Register openly questions whether RCL is trading while insolvent.
It should be noted for the record that SRL have serious concerns regarding the solvency of the company and the ability to continue to trade and fulfil all of its obligations. The directors should consider the position and seek the appropriate advice as there is a real concern that the company is trading whilst insolvent.
Trading while insolvent is defined as a company being unable to pay its debts as they fall due and its assets being of less value than the total of its liabilities (debts). In plain English, if the cash in RCL's bank account plus whatever can be earned from flogging off company property is less than the total of its debts, the firm is insolvent.
The Register has asked RCL to comment on this allegation from SRL. We have also asked an SRL director why, if the company truly believes RCL may be trading while insolvent – which is against the law – it abstained from voting against the people who ostensibly got it into that position.
In summary: a handful of RCL customers have received a device that looks something like the originally advertised Vega+. It appears to have been completely redesigned in a great hurry and pushed out of the door to coincide with the shareholders' meeting, presumably to deter SRL from voting to sack the directors – a strategy that paid off.
However, for the other 4,250 customers awaiting consoles, they may well be left out of pocket. As RCL can no longer lawfully use the Sinclair branding or more than half of the original 1,000 games that were supposed to be bundled with the Vega+, hope of further deliveries has all but disappeared.
What happens next is in the hands of SRL and the Insolvency Service.
Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, which RCL used to raise its initial funding from the public, appears to have changed its systems so money pledged by "backers" (as it calls customers) is recorded as a "pledge" and not an "order".
This appears to be a direct result of the January 2018 court case against RCL where the use of the word "order" was what convinced the judge to sweep aside Indiegogo's terms and conditions and rule that a contract of sale had been created.
This one was actually mine , but after 3 days of not touching it , I picked it up to put some games on it . Only to find its died........ Thought best to take it off in the end ! I wonder how many of these will be brought on eBay then sent back as they aren't working .
On 17th November 2016, I was emailed some court documents from Paul Andrews/Chris Smith lawyers. They stated I was due in court in London at 10am next day, and any defence had to be filed months before. It was a 5 part case, and there were 5 defendants. RCL, David, Suzanne, Janko & myself.
It was clear to the courts that Andrews/Smith evidence was faked, which included implying I had driven to Luton, hired a van and parked it on Andrews drive. At the same time he was also posting the same photos on twitter accusing others. Another piece of evidence was a screenshot from WoS around 2003 with a joke reference to Renegade - with the year left on the screenshot - that was supposed to be me threatening Andrews.
So, ultimately, on 18th November 2016, I was removed as defendant and all accusations of harassment and abuse dropped. I was to be removed from further documents. In addition, because of the timescales, Michelmores law firm had requested that all defendants sign a form stating they were happy to be represented, and David Levy agreed all costs would be met by RCL.
A few weeks after that, more legal documents were sent to my gf's address despite me no longer being listed as a defendant. These were returned as I don't live with her. The excuse was that they couldn't find my address (despite posting a picture on twitter, and me being on the electoral roll). Ignoring the fact I shouldn't have been sent them anyway.
Because I was removed, an application for my costs was made by RCL. This was awarded in February 2017. In a sealed court document, it clearly states I am not a defendant, and the costs were awarded with only the other 4 named defendants.
There is one paragraph in that document that stands out:-
(1) Such costs as ordered shall be subject to a detailed assessment, if not agreed, and are without prejudice to the obligation of the Claimants to pay the costs of the Fifth Defendant as a result of the discontinuance of the claim against him.
However - to reiterate, these costs were awarded *after* I was removed as defendant, and I'm not named in this document.
All of this is of course old news.
On Friday last week, I received a load more documents stating there is a hearing on 17th August for the costs to be disallowed, and hoho - they want me to pay £2k for their costs in filing!
So, in short, I was taken to court with fake evidence, it was thrown out, I was removed from all further court documents and actions, costs were awarded TO RCL, and now Smith/Andrews want me to pay for them to be removed.
With public interest at an all-time high in what the company has actually produced during the ongoing scandal, El Reg acquired one from an RCL customer for review purposes.
No instructions were supplied with the console. In time-honoured retro gaming fashion, The Register’s crack review team resorted to button-mashing to figure out what did what.
Supplied with 18 games, our review console (lent to us by an RCL customer who wishes to remain anonymous) was finished in black plastic with a very bright screen, on which we will say more later.
The plastic screen cover looks cheapish in our opinion, with the Spectrum rainbow branding being a small triangle of coloured paper that looks for all the world like it was run off on a home inkjet printer.
There are two buttons set almost flush into the case above the D-pad and the coloured buttons. The left-hand one of these is the power button and also brings up the main menu while the device is running, with the D-pad being used to navigate around it. There are also three buttons below the main right-hand set. These appeared to have been painted to give them splodges of colour.
The right-hand side buttons are moulded in coloured plastic with the lettering painted or printed on. Games are loaded and played through use of the D-pad buttons and the red F button, which doubles as the enter key for most things.
Every game bundled with the device appears to have been written by one Jonathan Cauldwell. Given that Sky and a host of other rights-holders to ZX Spectrum games have withdrawn permission for RCL to use their games, it could be these are the only games that RCL could legally use.
The D-pad buttons are atrocious. El Reg suspects they were set too deep into the case so not enough protrudes above it to make gameplay comfortable. We found it necessary to use a prodding device to access the two buttons, which appear to operate on release rather than depression.
Using the D-pad is uncomfortable, with the low-set buttons being extraordinarily stiff to press; it really takes a toll on the left thumb. Resistance from the buttons is enough to make you stop playing it after quarter of an hour.
We didn’t want to risk leaving our review unit on charge for extended periods of time, bearing in mind some customers’ reports of bricking, so we don’t have an estimate of battery life. Our review unit was able to display the battery voltage but could not measure the life remaining or the charge on it.
The unit appears to power off at random intervals if you leave it alone for long enough, which may or may not be a power saving function; ours powered on again afterwards with no apparent problems. While charging, the screen maintains maximum brightness. We could not tell if it charged while the unit was powered off.
The first thing we noticed was that some of the games have not had their keys mapped to the Vega+’s controls. While the main menu has an option to “remap game keys”, this is not the state a finished product should be delivered in. That it was delivered in this state at all suggests that it was rushed out of the door to buy RCL’s management some breathing space in their ongoing corporate woes rather than with any regard for consumer experience.
The top right button (with a splodge of red paint on it) brings up the Game Info menu. There is a field labelled “hint” where the game designer can insert tips, tricks or explanations of gameplay. On our review console only a couple of games had this filled in.
Using the red F button, we found more than once that it tends to input through several menu levels with a single button push, so trying to open the game list resulted in instantly re-opening the last selected game several times. That aside, the menu worked OK. With better buttons this could have been a much better experience.
Some of the games we tried seemed to work well. "Byte Me", while fully functional, was particularly hard to play because of the lack of tactile feedback from depressed buttons. Opening "Egghead 5" produced an edge-of-hearing high pitched buzz which prompted us to close it again immediately. Some other games, such as "Izzy Wizzy Versus The Mutants", were unplayable out of the box unless the keys were remapped.
The key mapping option in the menu would only bring up a virtual on-screen keyboard, appearing to only allow the mapping of keys to a keyboard that doesn’t exist on the Vega+. You'd need to have an external keyboard that functions through a Micro USB port, something Vulture Central is sadly lacking, even assuming the console can handle external inputs through the charging port.
The Vega+ is uncomfortable to hold because of its rough edges. As is inevitable with injection moulding, the two clamshell halves of the case are not flush, leaving a sharp-to-the-palms edge that digs in. Some more bezelling work or a dust channel would have helped. One thing is plain; this is not a Rick Dickinson design. Rather, it’s what happens when you look at a picture of a Rick Dickinson case design and trace round it with crayons.
On the bright(ness) side, the unit is very light – while we did not weigh it, it comes in lighter than most modern smartphones – and is only slightly larger than a smartphone in a case, so the Vega+ will fit into your pocket for on-the-go retro gaming.
We also discovered that the screen on this unit has an unpleasant high frequency flicker if used at anything other than maximum brightness and contrast. In addition, the console occasionally freezes – a pleasant relief from the flicker.
The micro SD card slot in the back of the Vega+ is unsprung. This means getting a card out of the unit needs a tool such as a pin. The headphone jack didn’t work on our review unit, either when plugged in during gameplay or when plugging them in with the unit off and then powering it on.
Much was made, at the outset of the Vega+ project, of it running custom firmware – something RCL, the console’s makers, had to abandon after a dispute over payment with Chris Smith, author of the original firmware intended for the Vega+. Since then rumour and speculation has abounded as to what it is running.
The Register can confirm that the Vega+ is in fact running the Free Unix Spectrum Emulator (FUSE), version 1.3.0, as released on 3 October 2016. By saving a game to a micro SD card and then opening the .s03 file generated by the Vega+ in a text editor on a PC, we found plain text that confirmed the presence of FUSE.
FUSE author Philip Kendall also examined the savegame file and he confirmed our findings. RCL itself had said it was using software that "incorporates" FUSE, in a post from late July on its Facebook page.
FUSE is licensed under the GNU General Public Licence version 2, which tells those distributing software under that licence: "You must make sure that [customers], too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights."
The Vega+ is, in our view, not worth the £105 that RCL customers each paid for it. The buttons are borderline unusable, the case is uncomfortable to hold and the screen is either far too bright at a usable setting or flickers.
Most pertinently, it does not include 1,000 games and it is not the console that RCL’s customers originally paid for in the first £513,000 crowdfunding exercise through Indiegogo.
Rating out of 10? We'd give it a solid 4. It powers up, which is a positive point. But out of the box some of the games aren't playable, the case is poorly designed and joined, and the entire feel is plasticky and inconsequential. The screen is far too bright and unusable when dimmed. And, despite everything, it's just a GPL'd emulator in lightly customised hardware.
Why Sir Clive Sinclair’s corporate shareholder in RCL, Sinclair Research Ltd, has not intervened is a source of ongoing confusion. Robert Freestone, an SRL director, failed to respond to The Register’s previous enquiries about SRL’s decision not to dismiss the RCL management last week.
The RCL facebook page has disappeared for the second time in recent weeks.
I didn’t ask for the software, I asked which open source drivers were used. In addition, the entire firmware and emulator are open source and you are legally obliged to provide full source code to the public, which you haven’t. So, in conclusion, EVERYONE has a legal right to all code on the Vega+, and it is in fact yourselves breaking the law.
Should you continue to refuse to do so, I will be contacting the relevant authorities.
To note:- I didn't ask SMS for any software, and Fuse was never mentioned to them - all I asked was if they knew which source for drivers that had used, or if they knew which supplier might have sold the parts, and the reply I got was "even if I was inclined to help, I don't know". All he would say was it's an NXP chip, which I already knew.
TBH - it's a none starter anyway. They have used generic software for custom parts, which is why large parts of the firmware doesn't work. Without a bill of sales for the parts there's no real way of fixing the firmware, and only Dave Woodfield has that info.
I DID NOT ask SMS for any software. I asked if they knew who provided the components as the current firmware isn't using the correct drivers. We know it's Private Planet that should be supplying this info, but they won't - it was Private Planet that sent the binaries.
The buttons are fixable with a hack
It's possible to replace the crappy connectors inside the unit with decent ones that are $2 online. People are still testing but fixes will appear online at some point.
Rebuilding is relatively easy - and for another $11 adding touch screen. The firmware is proving a bit more tricky. Not impossible though with some more digging. I suspect I know who supplied the parts so some trial and error with individual components might be the way to go.
As some may know, I was asked by RCL to prove that the original Vega ran with Fuse. I did a couple of documents for this, however this is the last one I produced, formatted to PDF today for ease of use, This may be of interest to the techie people out there - and to rip apart my findings! Interestingly, at the end I point out my thoughts, and RCL demanded that I change my opinion! I had to decline that offer :) They also wanted me to remove mention of speaking to anyone from the Fuse team as that wouldn't work well for them in court!
— Lee Fogarty
The author of FUSE Philip Kendall tears Lee Fogarty's findings apart just 4 minutes later:
I ripped this apart 18 months ago. Those strings are in there because they are embedded SZX snapshots which were saved with Fuse. I've posted the video a year ago showing significantly different behaviour between Fuse and the Vega.
As I requested earlier this week, please stop. You're not helping anybody or the reputation of WoS - if you have the slightest care for that, keep all this crap off this page and on your personal one.
So, the result of me not producing what RCL wanted from the Fuse document, they refused to pay for the firmware investigation to continue. Provided here is as far as I got and by no means a complete document - it's also left out the technical bits (hows & whys), as well as screenshots.
Gareth Corfield attends the court hearing to decide the costings between Paul Andrews vs David Levy, Suzanne Martin and Janko Mrsic-Flogel. Gareth publishes an article on TheRegister called ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed: But just for a month - and what a month September will be for its directors. Highlights from the article:
The directors of the company at the heart of the ZX Spectrum reboot scandal have been ordered to pay yet more legal costs as they keep trying to kick their financial woes into the long grass.
At a hearing in London’s Royal Courts of Justice earlier today, David Levy, Suzanne Martin, Janko Mrsic-Flogel and Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) succeeded in having an oral hearing to assess earlier legal costs delayed until mid-September – but were ordered to pay £900 to cover the costs of today’s legal wranglings.
The hearing shed light on RCL’s steadily mounting legal costs following the ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld game console scandal.
Claiming legal costs against RCL and its directors are former directors (and current shareholders) Paul Andrews and Chris Smith. The two sides are arguing over who should pay the lawyers’ bills from a High Court case heard last year brought by Andrews and Smith to stop RCL stripping them of their shares. RCL has repeatedly sought to delay anything that might be a step towards a final costs judgment, with today seeing a repeat of the same behaviour. Approximately £35,000 is now at stake.
Hearings in the Senior Court Costs Office, itself a court, are not like other court hearings. They take place when two (or more) sides in a High Court case can’t agree on legal costs. Both sides’ lawyers prepare detailed breakdowns of how money was spent during a previous court case (for example, preparing documents, replying to letters, etc) and a costs judge then rules what must be paid and who must pay it.
Costs proceedings are supposed to be finished within three months of the main case. RCL's case has taken more than a year, achieving legal time extension after time extension.
As he tried to convince the judge to set the next hearing date as far into the future as he could, RCL chairman David Levy, wearing a pale jacket and an open-necked shirt, complained to the judge: “We have to get hold of various documents... this is one of the problems, [Andrews and Smith] sent us some documents during this whole horrible dispute but we haven’t got everything.”
Chief Master Marsh, presiding at today’s hearing and the most senior judge of the Senior Court Costs Office, told RCL’s directors: “I appreciate life wasn’t straightforward for you. Nonetheless, we are over a year from when we should have done this. The claimants are entitled to require you to get on with it so really it’s just a question of you getting on with it.”
Undeterred, Levy continued: “May I ask the question, if our solicitors are unable or unwilling for any reason to provide the documents, are we entitled to seek those documents from the other side and are they?”
Chief Master Marsh, smiling patiently but firmly, interrupted Levy: “They’re not obliged to provide them. The obligation is on you to obtain the documents from your solicitors. If you have difficulties you can apply back to the court for an extension of time. That’s not going to be looked on with great sympathy.”
Some days before the hearing, RCL’s solicitors, Michelmores LLP, told the court they were no longer acting for the scandal-hit company. All its directors were present in person to defend themselves.
Janko Mrsic-Flogel, RCL’s CTO, piped up towards the end of the hearing to ask the master why the directors were individually liable for costs from the High Court case. Chief Master Marsh replied: “Those proceedings have effectively finished. We’re now dealing with costs, everybody entitled with costs needs to be a party, or be obliged to pay costs. You all need to be parties for the purposes of paying costs in proceedings.”
When Mrsic-Flogel asked if there was “a way to get the personal names removed” the judge said “I very much doubt it.”
The master also asked Levy in passing whether RCL was still in existence, to which its chairman replied: “Yes.”
Chief Master Marsh ordered at the end of the hearing that unless RCL, Levy, Martin and Mrsic-Flogel filed requests for provisional costs assessments by 4pm on 14 September, “the costs to which they would otherwise be entitled... shall be disallowed.” The costs bill before this hearing was just over £34,000, with today's costs order of £900 being added to that.
Lee Fogarty, a former RCL contractor who has since entered his own legal dispute with it over allegedly unpaid money, was dropped from today's costs order at Andrews and Smith’s barrister’s request. It was said that he only became aware that he was named in the proceedings very recently and that he first contacted the Senior Court Costs Office about it on 8 August.
Two RCL customers have recently secured county court judgments against the firm, with one confirming to The Register that he has secured a warrant to enforce it, the full value being £277 including costs.
You think? And what is the reason why the sent out that 400 machines... Just to get some quiet? It won't work because are still about 4000 others who didn't get anything. I still believe all will get their console.
It looks as though almost all of the RCL Vega+ shipment has been delivered. Prediction suggests the most likely figure is 215 units. Playing statistically safe, we can be 95% confident that deliveries are less than 223 units.
I've been using three ways to predict the total delivered from the subset of serials that have been reported. The assumption is that they used serials, starting at one, and incrementing. The only data-driven challenge to that assumption, is that serials 61-80 remain missing from the reported data.
A bit crude. Take the average and double it: Gives 215 units.
German Tank Problem method: Gives 215 units.
Using Monte Carlo method: Gives 213 units at 50/50 confidence.
The following statement has been sent to Levy by email, copying in the various SRL representatives. It will be followed up by formal paperwork on Monday to call for a new second shareholders vote to remove Levy as the sole remaining director of RCL, and replace him with an independent one to assess the state of the company. I also made it clear the following statement of why we are taking this action will be posted to you, the backers.
In light of yet another frivolous visit to court yesterday, David Levy has saddled RCL with yet more debt. Friday's appearance had nothing to do with RCL or its future success it was in a vain attempt to remove himself, Martin and Mrsic-Flogel as co debtors in the previous high court action.
Let's remind ourselves that this previous action was as a direct result of David Levy’s (as the judge confirmed in the high court) unlawful attempt to steal the shares held by myself in RCL, and potentially those of Chris after that. Even though there was no basis in law for this action, in his hubris, Levy continued with his activities, certain of victory. Instead he was soundly beaten with judgment in our favour for costs in that matter. This will cost RCL potentially anything between £35,000 and £49,000 depending on the final amount awarded (with potentially further costs on top on that without wishing to pre-empt the decision of the courts), this also being on the presumption the company has the money currently with which to pay these court award debts, if not the debt will be shared by the remaining director David Levy, and the now two ex-directors, Martin and Mrsic-Flogel, as all four parties are jointly and inseverably responsible in this matter.
In light of Mr Levy's failure to produce more than a handful of VEGA+ units, his loss of the Sinclair trademark, his inability to fulfil the remaining backer orders, his suspected false accounting to HMRC, the flow of County Court actions against RCL (with two backer CCJs already showing on credit records, and more ongoing which RCL is no longer even contesting we understand), the resignations of Martin and Mrsic-Flogel yesterday, and of course his squandering of almost £1m in company funds as evidenced in the company bank statements, we will once more call a shareholders meeting for a vote on the removal of David Levy as the sole remaining director of RCL, and the replacement of him with an independent director who can assess the past 2.5 years of trading, and the current state of the company, and take the appropriate action upon these findings.
It has come to our attention also that a potential group action against RCL has been actioned by a growing number of backers, this is also without the publically confirmed legal action by Indiegogo to recover backer money (who have once more confirmed I am not down as the campaign owner), and the ongoing and growing press coverage in this matter.
We will continue to do this until Mr Levy is removed from office, and can no longer damage our company. As shareholders we are liable to prevent our company from trading insolvently, and currently this is the situation it is believed, and there is no likelihood of trading out of the current position it would seem, and the only way to establish this, is by the appointment of an independent director who can make this assessment.
Formal physical documentation will be sent to the company registered office on Monday, to accompany this statement.
After pressure to release the source code as required by the licence, RCL post the following on Indiegogo:
The FUSE Spectrum Emulator and the GNU Public Licence
The Vega+ contains code from the Free Unix Spectrum Emulator (Fuse), which is released under the GNU General Public License, version 2. This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions; see the license for more details:
The source code for @FuseEmulator on the infamous Vega+ console is now available at https://t.co/Fau3Mu1uHu This thread will have my initial investigations. First impression: I've seen worse attempts at a GPL code release in my time.
While the filings showed both had left RCL in the first week of this month – well before the hearing – a statement from Mrsic-Flogel was sent to The Register the day after the filings were made.
RCL's chief techie said he was "asked to join the Retro Computers Limited board in April 2016 by Dr David Levy, who asked me to help with the development of the Vega Plus software after the company was left without the Vega Plus source code".
As regular readers know, Levy is RCL's chairman and now its sole remaining director. RCL's last product, the ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld gaming console, was crowdfunded through Indiegogo to the tune of £513,000 by more than four and a half thousand members of the public. Following two years of broken promises, RCL eventually delivered what is thought to be around 200 examples – we reviewed one and weren't impressed.
"I have stated to Dr Levy for a very long time that, despite the toxic shareholder situation in Retro Computers (I have no shareholding in Retro Computers Limited), I intend to oversee the completion of the development of the new Vega Plus source code and that I will resign my directorship as soon as the first Vega Plus units are delivered to Indiegogo backers," continued Mrsic-Flogel's statement.
We have asked RCL to comment on this and will update this article if Levy responds.
RCL also published the source code for the FUSE open source ZX Spectrum emulation software port used in the Vega Plus, something required by the General Public Licence under which its author, Philip Kendall, released it to world+dog.
El Reg has also been attempting to hold Indiegogo to its belated promise that it will send in debt collectors to recover customers' cash from RCL.
We asked for an update on that process, as well as other questions about why Indiegogo appeared to be transferring thousands of pounds to RCL in the early part of 2017, long after public voices were raised asking where the cash had gone and why the Vega Plus hadn't materialised.
Former RCL directors Paul Andrews and Chris Smith have filed a fresh demand for a shareholders' meeting in a bid to expunge Levy from the firm. The two hope to convince the fourth equal shareholder, Sinclair Research Ltd, to support them this time round and replace Levy with someone more inclined to open the company's books for external inspection.
El Reg understands that while SRL bears his name, Sir Clive Sinclair has little to do with its activities these days. Sources tell us that Levy and Sinclair have known each other for many years – and that Levy is also acquainted with Elaine Millar, Sinclair's current partner who is also a director of SRL.
Lee Fogarty tweets his thoughts regarding Stuart Thomas:
It's unlikely Stuart has been hacking. The first person they contacted I've known 20yrs. They wanted him say they had their wifi hacked and he refused to do so without investigating - they couldn't afford him #zxvega
Lee Fogarty claims that he told the police that Suzanne Martin is the source of the leaked documents:
I'm more than happy for Stuart to have full access to my IT equipment if he really wants to investigate. As an aside, I told CID I believe Suzanne has been leaking the docs as she has always had Davids passwords, #zxvega
This is a good faith effort to comply with the GPL. It's not perfect as the libspectrum source should be available as well. but it's better than a lot of efforts. The inclusion of the build instructions explaining how to build it is one of the most often overlooked GPL requirements and RCL did include those.
That said, it's technically not a great port. The changes are monkey-patched into the generated files rather than being included properly.
It's worth noting here exactly what the tidied up port does and doesn't do:
It doesn't fix any issues in the final binary, it just makes it all easier to work with so if anybody does find any issues and wants to fix them it will be easier to do so.
More crucially than that, it doesn't give a way to load the binary onto the Vega+. That's not something I can help with without a device, and quite probably not even then (whether I would be inclined to help is a different question and one I don't know the answer to at the moment).
Any changes to Fuse are never going to fix the well-reported issues with the Vega+ buttons. That's a hardware problem.
It's going to be pretty tricky to fix the performance issues as well. Fuse is pretty well optimized already, and it's not going to be easy at all to find the kind of performance gains needed - unless you're prepared to sacrifice accuracy, which is probably a valid decision.
As we head towards the weekend and then a new week - which will include the cutoff date (Monday) for the remaining director of RCL to confirm when the next shareholder vote will be - the second one which I have called for, which is a vote to remove David Levy as a director and replace him with a new director who can assess the current and past state of the company, since we departed in April 2016.
Also next Wednesday in the courts in London, as most of you know already, will be the next hearing in the matter of the costs owed to us (from the case we won in Feb 2017 with regards to the ‘as ruled by the high court judge’ unlawful attempt by RCL and its directors, to remove my shares in the company and by default give them a potential 75% majority, this case in which costs were awarded in our favour but still not as yet settled by the four defendants to myself and Chris Smith), those costs awarded in our favour being jointly against RCL, David Levy, Suzanne Martin, JMF. We will let you know what we can in this matter. It is no secret now as per the past case that David Levy is now representing himself and RCL, as well as JMF, and Suzanne Martin representing herself in this matter. For clarity for those not up to speed this hearing is not to decide if we won, we did, it is for the court to decide the final amount owed to us, and the defendants to once more try to reduce the amount they owe us, it is not about winning, that was decided in Feb 2017.
As ever, within reason and the bounds of what we can, in our attempt to tell all backers the truth and inform you all as best we can, I can also confirm I sent the following email to David Levy yesterday. At time of writing he has not replied to this email. It was sent to him and the other shareholders/representatives of shareholders in RCL.
I would like to remind you, that you must respond with an appropriate date and venue for this shareholder meeting within the 21 day period.
When responding you could also confirm to the shareholders your intentions with the various court issued CCJs we are aware are now issued against the company.
You could also confirm when the remaining 99.5% of the backer paid for Vega Plus consoles will be delivered to them, and confirm the funds are still in place within the company for this to happen.
You could also confirm on the state of the £433k claimed assets of the company in the last submitted accounts.
Please confirm by return that the company is NOT trading insolvent.
Just to keep everyone updated as best we can as promised -
This week on Wednesday in the London high courts (costings chambers) it will be the costings oral hearing (in the matter we have already won in terms of judgement of course) of myself and Chris vs RCL/DL/LM/JMF all jointly.
On the 25th of September in the small claims court in Luton its Chris vs RCL in a claim for owed money.
Levy responded 21 days (today) after the call for a shareholders by myself to call it the maximum 28 days after the 21 days the law allows to have that next meeting by shareholders to remove Levy as a director on the 8th October.
Indiegogo backer david posts a message stating that David Levy is now showing as the campaign owner. The remaining information is all incorrect, as the website is not the latest iteration, the facebook page is not available, and the twitter account has been disabled!
Contacted IGG, had reply form ‘Leo’: Perks are offers made and managed solely by campaigners. Indiegogo does not guarantee that campaigns will succeed or that perks will be delivered. However, campaigners are expected to be communicative and responsive to their backers. We will send a message to the campaign owner to remind them of their responsibilities to keep you and contributors updated on the status of their project.
In addition, I encourage you to try again and get in touch with them directly using the campaign owner's contact info below:
Campaign Owner's Name: David Levy Campaign Owner's Email: email@example.com Website: https://retrocomputerslimited.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/retrocomputersltd/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/sinclairzxvega
Thank you for your understanding.
Latest Funky Spectrum RCL Videos
More terrible press for the much maligned console and to make matters worse, Sky have now insisted that the company no longer use the Sinclair name and its related trademarks. (02/08/2018)
A tiny amount of the promised 400 have been spotted in the wild and there's not a single positive review. (01/08/2018)