Category Archives: IT

That pathetic sign

The guardian gives us the news with ‘Grieving Florida community pleads for end to gun carnage after mass shooting‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/15/florida-shooting-suspect-charged-questions-nikolas-cruz), actually the news is not new. They have been on top of it since it happened just like any decent news agency would. It was the image this morning, the image of a man holding a sign ‘NRA please stop killing our kids‘ that set me off. A sign so pathetic that I had to speak out! You see, the National Rifle Association does not kill children, people kill children! It is a simple and basic concept. If anything, I would optionally be a member of the NRA if I was in America. You see, I love rifles. The army trained me (and trained me well), I have been a member of the shooters association for a decade and if it had been a possibility, I would have been a hunter too.

Why was I not?

You see, I grew up in the Netherlands. I got some of the highest scores when I was an active shooter and the club I was a member of, were equally driven to excellence. On several events we could have forgone showing up and still end up with the annual cup. Now, I was by no means the best shooter, but our scores put all others merely in the shadow of our scores. We were all finely coached and aware of the fire arms law (which is a lot more constricting than the US, UK or Australian laws will ever be). A rifle is a tool, merely a tool and that is how it is to be used, whether we use a fire arm for target shooting, hunting or other needs, and as for the hunting part. I never really hunted like others; you see the Netherlands is not really a hunting country. It is the size of New Jersey with over 17 million people, so even if I went to the most remote part of the Netherlands and shoot a bullet in a random direction, there is still a chance that I would accidently hit a person. So those who are into hunting will go to France, Sweden or Germany. In this, I myself have a code, if you hunt, only hunt what you will eat! If that is not your goal then you become no more than a basic wannabe killer, and who needs those to be around? So if there would be hunting for me, I would do it in Sweden, because I do love my Bambi burgers, venison is the good life for me! So this is about me, which in light of all this is important.

So back to that pathetic sign!

I understand that parents and direct friends will be angry, they are driven by emotion. I get that, the man with the sign is merely seen by me as a man pointing a finger in the wrong direction, optionally intentionally doing so.

When you see some of the articles, you can see that this is a person with anger issues, with other issues and if he did not have a rifle, he would have acted out with pipe bombs or something similar. The ABC gives us: “Chad Williams, 18, a senior student at the school, said Mr Cruz would set off the fire alarm, day after day, and got expelled in the grade 8. More recently, Mr Williams saw Mr Cruz carrying several publications about guns when they ran into each other at the high school“. My issue here is that I had at times the Guns and Ammo a few times when I was a lot younger, does that make me a danger issue? OK, I don’t remember ever setting of the fire alarm, yet that shows us a person with perhaps some kind of an attention disorder, we can equally opt that he was some kind of pranker with a lack of imagination, or merely a person trying to skip classes regularly. None of this breathes school massacre initiator. So as we see the part from Senator Bill Nelson as briefed by the FBI: “He said the shooter wore a gas mask as he stalked into the school carrying a rifle, ammunition cartridges and smoke grenades, then pulled a fire alarm, prompting students and staff to pour from their classrooms into hallways“, now from the previous part to the part now (that is not being questioned by me), is still a part in the middle and that is the part that counts. Nobody and I state again nobody suddenly starts doing that, something set him off and it was not an in the moment thing. He was prepared, had smoke grenades, additional cartridges, additional ammunition and a gas mask. So he had made preparations, so there are two parts missing, and we can accept that they might be missing for now. So let’s keep on checking the sources.

CNN gives us a little more, especially the part from attorney Jim Lewis. He gives us: “The family took Cruz in last year after his adoptive mother died. Cruz was depressed, Lewis said. The family’s son knew Cruz, so they opened their home, got him into a GED class and helped him get a job at a Dollar Tree“, this is a reference to the family too him in after he lost his adaptive mother died. So he was receiving signals that people around him cared. It also leaves me with additional question on how he got the weapons and where from. It was not merely the depression, we also get: “Cruz had shown him guns, and other students say they worried he was violent“, where were these shown to them? It seems to me that this is a clear red flag, now the kids who it was shown too is not to blame, but that signal should have been passed on to others. The article (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/14/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting-suspect) ends with: ““They care about this kid. They took him into the home,” the attorney said, “but, as the mother told me, if they had any inkling … that this kid was capable of something like this, they never would’ve brought him into their home.”“, a response that makes sense and as we realise that he was not the only kid in that family, there is even more cause for concern, because there are several clear indications that he was hiding it all from everyone, which gives (from my non-medical insights) cause for concern as he seemed to have deeper levels of paranoia.

Insider news (at http://www.thisisinsider.com/florida-shooter-nikolas-cruz-bought-ar-15-legally-2018-2), gives us a little more. When we read “Cruz bought the semi-automatic rifle about a year ago, and law enforcement agents said it was done legally“, yet the timeline is now an issue. The events happened around the time his adoptive mother died, even as we accept that every person is innocent until proven guilty, the data should have raised additional flags, the question is whether the police have these kinds of data or authority to get them. If we accept the red flags as were admitted to be the case earlier. CNN had given us “Cruz had a gun. The family knew that, but they had established rules. He had to keep it in a lockbox in his room. Cruz had the key to the lockbox“, which is fair enough. However, in the beginning it gives: “Before he allegedly committed one of the worst mass shootings in US history at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Wednesday, police officials say Cruz wrote social media posts so threatening he was twice reported to the FBI” the two show the picture, no matter how innocent, the second quote should have had someone look into the data, showing he had a rifle and it was purchased around the time his mother died. This data should have been readily available. The death of his mum as public record, the purchase of the rifle as they should be recorded together with the background check and the red flag could have given the FBI the signal to give that data to local police forces to investigate. It is actually that simple!

The fact that these end up being non actions is for others to look into, yet the one thing that was stupid is to merely blame the NRA. It would be like me slamming a basketball into someone’s face until they die and blaming the NBA for showing games on TV, as I see it pointless, ludicrous and utterly stupid.

Yet we are still left with the notion on the trigger. Even as he (allegedly) went on social media to become a “professional school shooter“, the act of seeking attention in violence and chaos was set off somehow, a rage, mistreated, some suggest jilted love, whilst the last one would make me sad, and some might get angry. I am not sure what set him off, but from that moment there would be the FBI notion that he started his preparations and the outburst in the school might be him seeking attention, the fact that he allowed himself to be captured alive could be indicative of that (but I is no shrink, so I is not knowing for certain).

It is actually Fox News (at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/02/15/nikolas-cruz-school-shooter-comment-reported-to-fbi-months-ago-vlogger-says.html), that gives us some parts that were reflected in the previous articles, yet they fly with the parts focused on it. The title ‘Nikolas Cruz ‘school shooter’ comment reported to FBI months ago, vlogger says‘, gives weight to the view I had regarding the available data, yet they also give us: “After conducting database reviews, however, the FBI said it could not identify the user who made the comment a part that is new. If that is truly the case than it means that Nikolas Cruz had done above basic things to remain ‘less traceable‘, with “Ben Bennight said he reported a comment made by user Nikolas Cruz that stated “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”” and the fact that it was on YouTube and given to the FBI, the fact that this profile was made with his actual name does not make it easier, but it gives rise that a few more facts should have been available to the FBI as well as to Google, so there is a system flaw here. So, Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman did the right thing, reported it and the FBI was there the next day. In this my question becomes, why give that quote to a bail bondsman? It seems to be a cry for attention, but was it asked or shouted in the right direction?

The Fox News article shows that the FBI reacted and acted as far as they could, the question becomes why parts were missed. I am not claiming it was intentionally so, I am questioning how Nikolas Cruz, who seems to have been seeking attention, was not higher on the list to be found. If I had skip traced the Google account, how far would I have gotten? Was there a Google+ account? What else had he watched; and who else was connected to him? Could the FBI have asked Google the data on what interactions the ‘Nikolas Cruz‘ account could have made? So, when we get to ‘the right to privacy‘, we need to look back at the man holding the ridiculous sign blaming the NRA. He wanted his right to privacy and he got it, along with all the other Americans and that also got 17 people killed. Is it not interesting that this part is not shown anywhere on the media? It seems so much fun to point and blame, to go after the NRA, in this case making a case for ‘white supremacist referencing‘, but there too there was cooperation. Even as I am not approving of white supremacists, as they all tend to be racists in the first degree, yet I want to know more and a local news station gives us more on the Republic of Florida group (at https://www.local10.com/news/parkland-school-shooting/what-is-the-republic-of-florida-militia), they a start with the 10 codes that they need to obey. The part that got to me was seen in the second code. With ‘The group’s site states that members can consider people of other races allies, but they must not “sexually mix with them or pretend that we have no differences.”‘, I see something I had not expected, they seem to not be focussing on hate, but on finding themselves better than others, which is a foundation of white supremacy, but most non-Americans have only seen what some call white-power in league of hatred towards others. It ends with “ROF has members in north and south Florida and “borrows paramilitary concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement.”“, so there is no interview, no captions or talks to other members. It seems to me that the foundation of the ROF is to grow as a political party. This would require more members, yet their setup is not openly hatred based, so over time we will see the name ROF pop up more often. The article also links to Florida Governor Rick Scott stating that ‘everything is on the table’, you see he cannot alienate the NRA, but something has to happen, and there is too much emotion on it all. In my view he needs to look at the data captures, the data available and the missing data in all this, more important as signs were given that the FBI knew long in advancement, there will be questions on how this was not stopped in time. Even as the Republican is getting ready to go up against Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, we need to be cautious of any politician at this stage, with upcoming midterms we need to be aware that events will be misrepresented to a much larger degree and any issue will be deflected under the guise of ‘miscommunication‘, yet that is just my personal view in all this.

And in all this there is still the given that there was nothing wrong with the people of Florida in all this, the fact that two teachers, Football coach Aaron Feis and Geography teacher Scott Beigel as they decided to act as human shields trying to protect the students. I find that important as there is more and more evidence that the school, the adoptive parents all show a level of care that is more outspoken than we usually see. So in my eyes the people surrounding Nikolas Cruz never failed Nikolas Cruz, Nikolas Cruz failed them all, no matter how his mindset was or how he got there. there is an abundance of shown care that gives voice to the fact that to some extent the system alone is left with a degree of blame, not the NRA, not the ROF, not the school or their teachers, in the end Nikolas Cruz could have been able to prevent it all by telling someone ‘I have a problem!‘, he alone as an ‘adult’ decided not to do that.

 

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Racing to last place

Even though it is less than 24 hours since my last story that involved the CPS, it is equally less than 6 hours since the Guardian gave us ‘Police outsource digital forensic work to unaccredited labs‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/12/police-outsource-digital-forensic-work-to-unaccredited-labs). It is here that Hannah Devlin informs us of the issues that might plague the courts over the next 2 years. She decides to start strong with the subtitle ‘Market for data analysis called a ‘race to the bottom’, with trials failing because of evidence issues‘ and that is not all. Her article gets stronger paragraph by paragraph. I raised some of these issues yesterday, but that was in general before I even touched on the outsourcing issues. She removes all brakes with the quote: “Gillian Tully, the government’s forensic science regulator, said there is “no excuse” for police forces to continue to use unaccredited providers. “It’s clearly of concern when contracts are being placed with providers that are not compliant,” she said“. Hannah is right, there is a lot wrong at this particular moment in time. And with “The Met outsources digital forensics provision to a defence technology company, called Mass, which subcontracts casework to other private companies, some of which are unaccredited. City of London Police uses six external providers, three of which are not accredited” we see two additional issues. The first is that when a contractor decides to subcontract, they will only do that whilst there is still a profit, so the costing of this endeavour will, once highlighted make matters worse for the CPS. As it is crying on resources, we see outsourcing of outsourced materials. The second issue is that the chain of evidence is now all over the place, which could endanger the privacy of the accused, the victim and possible give additional cause for concern that the course of justice could be in theory end up being perverted in more than one way. This must be the ultimate wet dream for Rupert Murdoch, all that optional information without having to hack mobile phones. The call for an immediate public inquiry in this matter seems almost unavoidable. I think that even without a ‘digital forensic degree‘ the fact that I saw a failing within 5 minutes of reading certain matters in R v Allan is only juicing the frenzy for hard draconian actions in all this. Hannah is completely correct when she states: “In the past decade, digital forensics has evolved from a niche capability to a central element in the investigation of almost every serious crime. The electronic footprint left by suspects can help rapidly establish alibis, identify accomplices and expose spurious claims“, setting is fuelled further that it was not only on disclosure, the joint review gave me clear thought on the lack of actual investigation into the basic connections. That part took me LESS than 300 seconds; or alternatively less than 5 minutes for those less interested in precision. So when we see the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42417553) which gives us: “A computer disk containing 40,000 messages revealed the alleged victim had pestered him for ‘casual sex’“, we need to realise that checking text messages is done by using the most simple of computer find actions through <CTRL>-F and enter the place of transmission (phone number or identity) would have given the investigation the clue that something was amiss and that is something any IT technician or entry level helpdesk support representative could have done in under a minute, so when Hannah Devlin is implying that something is wrong she is not kidding, she is basically being slightly too diplomatic (a flaw I am fortunately not gifted with). This situation is almost like 30 people walking in on a man sledgehammering another person to death in full view of an audience of 30, and one of them states: “You might require legal representation“. Yup! That would be regarded as the quote of the year!

The article also shows an issue with the view of criminal barrister Andrew Keogh, who gives us: ““You’d be led to believe that there’s some magic in this accreditation and that if you’re not accredited you’re not good,” said Andrew Keogh, a criminal barrister based in Wigan and a visiting fellow at the University of Northumbria. “That’s not true at all.”“, actually, my learnered friend would be wrong in more than one way. You see that unaccredited office is simply ‘not good enough‘, because being ‘good enough’ is ascertained by the accreditation. Feel free to check with the Rt Hon the Baroness Tessa Blackstone on accreditation by the Bar Standards Board and ask whether there is any validity of hiring any legal counsel to represent you in a criminal matter who is not accredited by the Bar Standards Board.

So his view of ‘if you’re not accredited you’re not good’ might sound true, but it is not about being ‘good’, it is about being ‘good enough‘. The commercial sector has all kinds of accreditation, some are as one might think, a ‘load of bollocks‘, and some are essential for keeping afloat. It might merely be my personal view, but being accredited before being allowed anywhere near a life changing situation seems really important to me. Would you trust the first passer-by to use a non-automated defibrillator on you? I reckon that the situation that puts you in prison for life (or merely 8-15 years) requires to be handled by a person who has been checked for having the right qualifications and knowledge of how to deal with evidence. Call me old-fashioned that way, that just how I roll.

So basically I am in line with Norman Lamb who gives us: “The whole fragility of the market and what happens to samples that are suddenly in insolvency, we can’t mess around with this, it goes to the heart of people’s rights as citizens“, so the chair of the science and technology select committee (the person sitting on it) states that there is a flaw in the current tendering and it is leaving the sector vulnerable. I think that it in equal measure endangers the people accused and also the optional victims in all this. So when we consider that there is now evidence that Liam Allan (now 22) has been on bail for almost 2 years will have suing nature with the Metropolitan Police. Can we blame him? In addition, as we might feel for the woman connected to this, the stigma will haunt both. The messages shows him to be allegedly innocent (I am stating alleged, because I never saw the actual messages) and on the other hand we have a case on non-repudiation, because is there evidence that she actually send those messages? That part I can understand as I have had a few messages (from an unmentioned non linked source) where I was offered to ‘fuck her‘ whilst I know she had never had any interest in me in that way (or any other way for that matter). It took less than 5 seconds to realise that someone used her mobile trying to be ‘funny’. The entire forensic screw up gives, again, a wrong light to parties and it could have been prevented, a 2 year mess that could have been largely diffused in less than 2 hours. It now gives both the stigma that could have been avoided as well, and as we read that this work is done by unaccredited companies and people makes it an infuriating one because there are hundreds of people who are hoping to get justice through their day in court and they will be waiting for an additional longer time to get there.

And that is not all, the CPS mad it even worse with the statement: “it was decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction“, which in some measure implies that he was the man ‘who got away with it‘ and that is optionally a separate level of failure. That too came from the BBC in December 2017. So, even as we were given the ‘casual sex requests’ part on one side that does not prove that the woman in question was giving consent when they met. Because digital forensics failed, the stigma will remain and in addition they are empowering events where victims grow less and less certain that they will receive justice or get the protection that these victims are entitled to. That is a failing beyond merely the forensic side and that makes the entire mess even a lot larger than merely the academic view of accreditation.

Yet beyond Andrew Keogh, there is another view. With “Others dispute whether the accreditation system, widely used to assess DNA and toxicology labs, is readily applicable to digital work” we need to realise that this is a bigger basket of worms. One field of science is not the other one and the digital science part has been and will remain in motion for years to come, which also gives more considerations to the digital forensics field. Even as we can agree that there are basic needs, the fact that mobile technologies alone are in transit and in an in-usage evolution spiral, which means that the technology is evolving whilst the technology is used, so there are more issues even below the surface. You have to merely look at the Android and IOS updates a user goes through on a weekly basis to see that there are constant changes. The dangers are that these changes have two sides, the parts we see and the parts we do not see. The second one includes data streams and as these streams optionally change (or have additional digital parameters), there are moments when data is wrong, or better stated wrongly set. To view this I will give you two quotes. The first was: “Google is adding a real-time location sharing function to Google Maps that can be very useful. It can also be restrictive and annoying or, in a worst-case scenario, potentially abusive and controlling“, the second one is: “When we bought our house in 2011, Google maps placed it 1.5 miles south of the actual location“. So important that these are two different quotes, not related to one another. But the essence is that the mobile could have optionally given information that a mail was send from ‘another’ location given the perpetrator a ‘false’ alibi. That error could be the vital part in a defence setting a perpetrator wrongfully free. So in that one instance we see that accreditation is essential and in the second part that there is a supporting side that the DNA and toxicology accreditation might not be (completely) correct for digital accreditation. Without knowing more it is hard to completely agree with the given dispute, but it is clear that here is a possible agreement on that side.

So you would rightfully be left with the question, how anyone in this entire chain of organisations decided to make the call to just outsource it all and how those not passing any quality testing would have been allowed near the evidence in the first place. The implied issues as we see the articles from the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent give a rise to concerns all over the field, not in the least with the victims related to this. You see in light of the transgressor and the victims, the person being the victim in the end is not a given and raises the issue even further. If I can add a reasonable doubt to these cases, how far could I get, without the accreditation to add reasonable doubt to any murder case that relies on digital evidence? In the R v Allan case, I merely needed two minutes and knowledge on how to use an ASCII editor, what happens when a murder case gives me the digital data and optional setting of time and location? The ‘opportunity’ to add reasonable doubt because a lot of this data has no non-repudiation will add to the mountain of reasonable doubt that would add to a long list of acquittals, that is before any barrister can raise the lack of accreditation of the people processing the digital evidence in the first case. And these are all matters that happen before someone wants a proper list of decisions regarding the rules of outsourcing whilst looking at the documentations from the Metropolitan Police, the CPS and the DPP. It is pure speculation on my side, but I reckon that the list of issues would grow even beyond the scope I can see at present. You see, part of this is seen in the BBC article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-derbyshire-42453405). Here we read: “Judges heard police asked the woman to retrieve Facebook messages that they had exchanged. Three pages of messages had been printed and the woman, who cannot be identified, told jurors she had deleted some to free up storage space“. I have an issue with that part, because of the setting. In the first how many messages were deleted? What space was freed? I find the entire matter very debatable, especially as something that I noticed almost immediately, that part took the CPS and parties 4.5 year to figure out? OK, it happened 4.5 year earlier which is not the same thing, but the issue stands. How many cases have been bungled like that and what happens when the courts start to overturn murder cases because there is an issue with the digital evidence? Even if the digital evidence was not key; the chance of additional cause and effects could potentially be seen when there are retrials and they could give issues to a lot more damage. Consider the partial quote “jurors at the trial had been given an “edited and misleading” picture“, in a murder case that will have far reaching consequences.

I feel certain that the end of these events have not been reached and I reckon it will take the CPS several months to realise the full impact of all of this, which would be another worry altogether, because all this could potentially lead to a case load that is a lot higher than ever before and the claimed damages that the government faces could add up to a lot more than most could ever imagine. The latter part is speculation, but in light of claims already underway, I am unlikely to be incorrect on that matter.

It is not without concern that I wonder what other matters Hannah Devlin can raise in subsequent articles on this matter, because I am certain that in the near future we will see more, not less of these ‘evidence failure’ events.

 

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Crown Proclamation Stuttering

In the US we see a new plan to fix infrastructure, which sounds nice, but the US does not have that $1.5T, they are relying on state and local government to raise the money. This sounds nice, but when we realise that the city of Detroit, San Bernardino, Stockton and a few more have filed for bankruptcy, we need to wonder what part of the US would get fixed, because the parts that require fixing might not get it done, the bulk of the American local governments have no budget left to get anything fixed. There is also the news in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/feb/11/sweden-tried-to-drop-assange-extradition-in-2013-cps-emails-show), that ‘Sweden tried to drop Assange extradition in 2013, CPS emails show‘. This is odd, because the quote “The newly-released emails show that the Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case four years before they formally abandoned proceedings in 2017 and that the CPS dissuaded them from doing so” gives even more rise on certain matters. We are then treated to two interesting quotes. The first “The CPS lawyer wrote back to Ny in December 2013, insisting: “I do not consider costs are a relevant factor in this matter.” This was at a time when the Metropolitan police had revealed that its security operation to prevent Assange escaping from the embassy had already cost £3.8m“, as well as “The CPS lawyer also told Ny that year: “It is simply amazing how much work this case is generating. It sometimes seems like an industry. Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition”“. They are interesting because if we look at the costs of trials there is an extensive need that the CPS lawyer handling that case, might have retired, but letting his pension pay for these costs is not too excessive. You see, when you set £3.8m aside for the security operation on an alleged rapist, whilst you can’t get the CPS talking in a straight line, questions need to be asked, and they need to be asked from the people at the highest levels of the CPS. You see, when you look at that specific case against the CPS (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cps-review-rape-sexual-assault-cases-trials-collapse-alison-saunders-a8180881.html), where we see “All current rape and serious sexual assault cases are to be urgently reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after the collapse of a string of trials due to evidence disclosure failings“, so when we see the collapse of this amount of cases, whilst the CPS blew 4 million on one specific person in regards to a case not pertinent to the UK, there are a number of questions that rise and the media have been all over this for the longest time. So as I see “Police officers dealing with disclosure of evidence could be required to obtain ‘licence to practise’ under plan to address failings“, I realise that the CPS failing is actually a lot larger then we currently see and in all this, and as I see it, in this case, Alison Saunders has ‘inherited’ a mess that is just the tip of the iceberg. The fact that she has held the office since 2013 gives rise to an internal mess that lacks all transparency for the members within the CPS, because if that is not the case and the failings were known in advance than the CPS requires a witch hunt broom to clean it up, right and proper.

You see, this is getting larger and larger. With: “A Metropolitan Police officer involved in two collapsed rape cases has been removed from active investigations amid probes into failures to disclose key evidence” some fail to see that that it is not merely about evidence that was not shown to the defence, there is a concern that the evidence was wrongly collected or not completely collected. This now places the woman in all this in a larger focussed danger because if the police failed to get ALL the evidence, there is the risk that no conviction will ever be achieved. This is partially seen with: “Police had downloaded the contents of complainants’ phones but failed to pass on the information they contained to the prosecution or defence, claiming thousands of messages were irrelevant“, this also implies that the alleged criminals might rely on photo vaults that cannot be hacked and a wrong code could wipe it all. And as for the ‘irrelevant‘ part, how much time was used and how were messages categorised as ‘irrelevant’? The fact that these failings go back at least 7 years show that there is a lack of technical skills, which also means that evidence was never examined properly. If our actions are on our smartphone, the lack to comprehend the usage of that device to the larger extent means that the investigation was incomplete.

That part is shown with the quote “Lawyers say they are frequently told police do not have the time, training or resources to examine thousands of messages and photos on each smartphone – technology which did not exist when forces were given the responsibility of checking for evidence” which was given in a linked article also from the Independent. As we can show that the smartphone has been centre of the personal universe of millions for over 5 years, we can in equal measure state that the correct investigation of evidence that would have been in play has failed for 5+ years. That is far beyond serious, that now implies a systemic failure of the CPS, which is unfortunate for Alison Saunders as this has been on her plot of land for pretty much since she got the top position. Even as we can agree that “the authority said officers failing to comply with requirements were “often ignorant” of their disclosure responsibilities” clearly implies a failing since before she had the position; it equally shows that the CPS has a much larger systemic failure that also involves the Police force. In all this the implied links to the USA in regards to Julian Assange and the clear fact that a government that cannot overhaul its own roads has no business playing politics with the options of the CPS and using members from inside the CPS shows a third failing as well. That part is also shown in the earlier quote “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition“, because that is the money quote. You see, that is exactly what it had to be, merely another extradition! The fact that it was not implies that this was some US based nepotism, which coming from the CPS should actually be regarded as utterly revolting, because the CPS has no business playing politics with issues that were not UK based (beyond the optional extradition). In addition, law experts in the UK and other countries have already given a clear view in the days following the entire WikiLeaks part. Form the clear view of Assange being Australian, he had basically not committed the crimes as the US played them to be; you see he is not a US citizen. Now I am no friend of Assange, I utterly oppose what he did, but in the end, the hypocrisy that the US showed by trying to hang an Australian, whilst they refuse to hang the people who were behind the 2008 crash and let them walk away with their billions of bonuses is just slightly too sanctimonious for my blood.

The fact that the CPS was willing to waste millions on nepotism and playing politics with the powers of the CPS is merely the icing of the systemic failing cake (yes it is minty flavoured). It will be essential to make larger changes and making them immediately is a lot more essential. Even as the changes are being made and we see that they are 5 years late. My only concern is that acting fast is equally dangerous. With technology it is not merely on the evidence collected, but on how it is stored. The larger danger is that digital stored evidence remains to be optionally under attack until presented in court and with court dates being pushed forward by up to a year that danger will only intensify with every iteration of technology the courts gets to be confronted with.

And in the end?

Considering the mess we see with ‘not to be shown to the defence‘ whilst that was the turning point in the movie ‘In the name of the father‘ a movie from 1993, based on the Guilford Four, the bombing in 1974 implies that the CPS 33 year later still haven’t learned anything (or more accurately, way too little). I would think that those events would have signaled a strong chance of how the matters were handled. It is clear that this is not the case and more dangerously that other players (the US) can use it to play politics, that part is even more damning as I personally see it.

Is that it?

Well, no, there is a defensive side in all this too. When we see: “Defence lawyers say they are routinely having to “fight to get” evidence police should have already reviewed, then putting in hours of unpaid work to examine it themselves at a late stage of criminal proceedings” implies strongly the lack of resources and technology. There will be a larger need to get smart about certain matters and that can be achieved to some degree, but in the end it will be about ample resources, that part has not been in question. The large bonus based pound amount will be about how to bring this about. That is the part that the R v Allan case brings forward. The Joint review (joint-review-disclosure-Allan) gives us two gems the first is seen in Item 27 of the chronology: “The officer in the case (OIC) decided to submit C’s phone for examination by the MPS digital forensic laboratory in order to recover deleted messages. The phone contained over 57,000 lines of message data. He conducted a search of the phone download in an effort to identify relevant material. He did not record the method he used to conduct this search“. This now shows exactly the technological failure and well as the failure of the resources. In this particular case the resources seems to be free of blame, yet the technology and the options used are not. The question is how the data became available. the second part is see in point 9 of the findings as we see “Prosecution Counsel and the prosecutor relied on the OIC mistakenly stating that the only messages retrieved were some limited Snapchat messages and that the other data in the phone download was personal data not impacting on the case. The prosecutor should have probed and challenged the OIC and should not have relied upon Prosecuting Counsel making the enquiries. Disclosure should have been considered earlier by the prosecution team“, here I would think that the clear mention of ‘57,000 lines of message data‘ might ring a bell in the brain of the prosecutor to look at the methodology and approach to that evidence. In addition, the mention of ‘limited Snapchat messages‘ also implies that here might be a larger social media interaction between certain parties. Was this ever looked at? The fact that only item 31 of the chronology part makes any mention of social media, gives rise to the joint report being incomplete. You see, people who are on Snapchat tend to be on Facebook as well, so was there no interaction between these parties at all? If that is the case we see the statement that we see in item 26 of the chronology “In January 2016, C alleged that she had been sexually assaulted and raped by D on a number of occasions. As part of the police investigation, C’s phone was handed to the police. In police interview, D said that their sexual relationship was consensual and that the allegations were untrue“, that statement would seem more accurate if there had been little of no Social Media interactions and become lessened with any positive social media interaction that the two parties had. The idea of 57,000 messages and no Facebook gives this my personal assessed reliability of almost 0%. So in this part even the joint review falls short. We can understand that the CPS/Police failed there, yet the fact that social media is merely one paragraph in the review also shows that the review might still be incomplete at present, which is an assumption from my side, so I attached the review of R v Allan so you can make up your mind in all this.

 

 

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A sickly gamer?

The Guardian had an interesting article on Monday. It took me a while to get there, because I am intricately familiar with the subject and the issues. The name of the game is gaming, and in the article titled “‘Dangerous gaming’: is the WHO right to class excessive video game play as a health disorder?” has the interesting question.

So as we read (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/feb/05/video-gaming-health-disorder-world-health-organisation-addiction), which holds: “included “gaming disorder” in its draft for the next edition of its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is due for final release this year“, we need to wonder. In the first what constitutes a disease, when is something actually a disorder and more important, is it the first step in getting this label added to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5, with an update which is supposed to come out at the end of the year. Even in the academic field there is doubt, which Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University voiced with: “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet and we feel we know a lot“. This is merely one voice. This part is important, as we see the following that matters: “the WHO was initially exploring excessive use of the internet, computers, smartphones and similar electronic devices, but determined that the biggest concern was gaming“, in addition we see: “The authors write: “These features clearly have their parallels with substance disorders and recognised behavioural addictions, such as gambling disorder“. They decided to make a dangerous step. As I personally see it, they are comparing apples with oranges, dumping the load into a basket named fruit and walk away. That view is not just supported, by others; Nena Weinstein gives us (paraphrased): “we found very small correlations, if at all, of symptomology with broader life wellbeing. So we actually didn’t find, for example, that symptoms correlated with health directly. It might be that something that we think of as addiction is actually just engagement and enthusiasm“.

That is the part that matters, gaming is about engagement and enthusiasm, now we can agree that some people go overboard. I for one have spent 5000 hours (not all at in one sitting mind you) in the Fallout universe and close to 3000 hours in the Elder Scrolls universe, I just love my RPG’s. The fact that this comprised a total of 5 games makes this the best value for money ever. I have played plenty of other games, and they were fun too. The fact is that the world is changing in several ways, a fact that the researchers are also ignoring. I also like the opposing view given by Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University. With: “The bottom line is problematic gaming. Whether you call it ‘gaming disorder’, whether you call it ‘gaming addiction’, there is a small minority of people out there where gaming has completely taken over their lives“, he has a point there. I have more than once gone so deep and enthusiastic into Minecraft, so when I suddenly realised that I was really hungry and getting tired, I looked up to notice that it was 03:50 in the morning and I remember the sun being up when I started to play. This happens, and it rarely happens, but still it happens. The fact is that the body reminded me and I did not ignore it. I was less positive about his remark: “in extreme cases some people have played themselves to death, though such incidents are extremely rare“, this is a case I remember, some league of Legend player, high on energy drinks playing 23 hours in one stretch. When it happens once, or perhaps less than half a dozen times on a population of 8 billion, it is not a case, it is an extreme outlier. We could in the worst case state that the proprietor had a duty to set a maximum usage of lets state 12 hours per 24 hours. Was that point ever raised?

Weinstein goes on in the debate on why few get addicted. Well, because there are many types of players and there are in equal measure many types of games. We can argue that in my case one style could lead to addiction, but I have a life with other elements too and even as I might spend a large chunk of my weekend on my console, I have lived for the longest time requiring no more than 5 hours of sleep per day, these days are now alas over (hence less gaming), but choosing the fun of a game over wasting money on alcohol in a bar, wasting it on fake smiles in a casino seems that I have taken a healthier life style. The entirely other side is that I even had more time in the kitchen, making my life even better by making myself a nice steak with a salad, a pasta salad or even a nice Bambi-burger or sourdough. I would not go hungry. My only little squandering would be to ignore my Nespresso and go to the Coffee place up the hill (roughly 723.4 metres) and get myself a yummy cappuccino, extra-large of course, sometimes even splash out and have a big breakfast there on Sunday. A walk in the fresh air, sunshine optional and preferred, good food, caffeine for the veins and after that groceries on the way back and the rectangular entertainment from console or Blu-ray, a life of relaxed bliss!

The package could be seen as addictive, gaming is merely one element in all of that. So as people then go with the mention of ‘all that gaming‘, tell me to just watch some TV. So how does that work? Constant badgering from advertising whilst you get hammered by two screwed up reality settings from places like ‘My Kitchen Rules’, or even worse some ‘married at first sight’, so it’s not that the divorce ratings weren’t high enough, we now get some reality TV show where ‘experts’ know what we need, want or desire? How fucked up is the TV nowadays? It is the second part where I oppose her view. With; “at least some elements of modern video games are closer to gambling. The newly popular and increasingly controversial implementation of “loot boxes”, where players pay real money for unpredictable rewards, is increasingly drawing the attention of regulators“, she only has a partial point. As far as I can tell, this was introduced in gaming by the Mass Effect series (I apologise if I am incorrect). You see, that is an option, but the game gives clear warning that you can earn these boxes by playing. Yet some people cannot go that distance. So like Ubisoft who allowed you to unlock all elements of Assassins Creed multiplayer for less than $10, people had no interest to unlock the abilities, they want it all from the start, a level 1 steroid character. So yes, you can buy chests for real money, but the ones I saw have always allowed you to get those chests by playing the game, it merely takes a little longer to get them. The second element that she is not lingering on is what is in such a loot chest. The loot chest is very much like a CCG (Customisable Card Game), each package will cost you around $5 and the 10 cards will give you 1 rage (or legendary), 2-3 uncommon and the rest are common items. So basically after the first 10 packages you only buy them to get the remaining uncommon, rare or even the legendary cards. Loot boxes work in the same way. That origin actually comes from a CCG game called Magic and was introduced by mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced to consumers in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. So, now as it is in video games 25 years later, now they want to regulate it? Oh please, go cry me a river, will you?

Yet Weinstein raises a gem of a point with: “concern about comorbidity (when a person has more than one condition): “We need to know that it is about the gaming itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”“, she poses an excellent issue. You see if we accept that gaming is escapism, knowing what it is escapism from, that becomes the golden question and that is not easily explained.

Prof Mark Griffiths brings another side to the table. With: “I can’t think of a single [case of] addiction where there aren’t any other comorbidities. The addiction is usually symptomatic of other underlying problems. If you’re depressed and therefore you drink heavily, then you treat that with antidepressants“, you see, in that view, if these people escape into gaming, they still might not have a gaming addiction, they merely escape to it and we see the dangers of a wrongful diagnoses. So in the time where the depression is not seen and as these people ‘are cured‘ by gaming less the depression could take over leading to additional harm and even fatality. The problem (as I personally see it) is where is the trigger, the threshold where ‘addiction’ is set at. It is a grey area that cannot be correctly quantified as there are other elements in play. As I see it, it too often relies on what others think is ‘too much’ and that is equally dangerous. The parent who grew up playing outside and as such, junior should be outside, not playing on his console. Do they realise he was playing with school friends in an online 4v4 battle? They are talking to one another on the headsets, so they are still communicating were they not? Our comprehension of several elements is shifting, as a gamer I see the shift, but the people around me do not (want to) comprehend that. It is icky, it is geeky, they do not care.

That part is equally ignored and that is a worry too.

You see social media made the bucket of issues larger, but the level of comprehension beyond using the tool has not increased. That is the danger, usage without knowing what it implies, means or ratifies. Consider the articles like: ‘5 Ways to Generate More Exposure for Your Content Through Social Media‘, to improve your personal PR, or ‘How to Scale Your Social Media Exposure‘, that whilst the people trying to grow followers and to be ‘cool’ have no concept of ‘engagement’ and the use of common sense for that matter whilst exposing themselves to all kinds of risks. Those people will happily sit in any ‘gathering place‘ and remain in negative judgement of a gamer. I remember a nice issue in 1996 in the UK. I was in a bar taking a rest from the ECTS (7 morning presentations on newly released games will do that), so as I was sipping coffee and nodding to someone I knew in the business. He was talking to some girl who was way too good looking for her own good. So when he mentioned he was into gaming, she walked away as he was nerdy. So as she walked away, she had no idea that this was the guy who just made 1.5 million pounds ending with 4 times that much at least over the 3-5 years that followed. You see, even as more and more people are no longer stigmatising ‘gaming’ and ‘gamers’, the issue is that most do it because it is now a $120 billion market and money is money, no matter how you slice it. The actual issue of ‘addiction’ cannot be set for various reasons because it relies on other elements on how you still function when you are not gaming. How you see the world when you are merely shopping for groceries, enjoying a movie, setting in a corner chumping down on ice-cream or engage in conversation with friends. Those are elements that matter and if you can still relate to non-gaming issues with enthusiasm (like how ambulances in Kabul are an excellent way to move C4 from one place to another), we might wonder about the scepticism in all of it, but for the most that person is still OK and unlikely to be a true game addict.

Wasn’t that what mattered?

You see, it is actually the end of the article that had the truffle that mattered; no pig was going to get that one! With “The significance of the WHO’s decision will depend on your point of view. Griffiths admits it’s “a vindication for three decades of research”. Trade bodies such as Ukie naturally resist suggestions that anything their industry produces could be harmful“, this part could actually become the invalidator to his work. Prof Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University seems to forget a few parts. In all this, I have been connected to games and gaming from before that. Gaming had several triggers over the last 30 years. First there is the arcade machines versus the home consoles (and home computers), there is an issue with any emerging technology and the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 are just over 20 years, before that it was all about home computers and the lasting time of a game was no more than one day of game time with only Loderunner to be a larger exception. Even in PC’s larger computers with larger games would be able to get finished in no more than 50-70 hours, and again there is an exception now, it was Diablo. Longer lasting games did not really get to the surface until multiplayer came out and it was not until the Unreal engine took off that people hid for a lot longer behind their computers (overly generalised). Now we can argue that those collecting games were indeed addicted, but were they? What data was there on them? I reckon that it was not until the sixth generation of consoles came out that we have the foundation for some level of actual addiction. Yet when we got back, we forgot the arcade machines. How much money did you pour into those machines? Was it to complete Donkey Kong? Was it to be in the top mention of Space invaders or Pac-Man? Does that make you addicted to gaming, or merely a person trying to pass time or dealing with OCD? I am not sure if I can give the right answer, but between generations 4 and 8 (1989-2012) the market has been in technological turmoil and that is disregarding the massive technological leaps PC’s had made over those years. I feel uncertain that with so many changes in a market that has not stopped running, how can anyone be correctly seen as addicted? For example, who would not spend their entire weekend finding the secrets that Tombraider brought in the first instalment? Who did not run to the shop (and claimed a sickie) the day that Tombraider 2 was released? Who did not drop their jaw the day Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots started on their PS3? That game can still hold up to the most that the PS4 brings to the table today. One view was: “The game has been considered one of the best games of the seventh generation of console gaming and among the greatest of all time“, a view I very much agree with. When perfection, art, challenge and achievement come to the table, the view we have changes, because exceptional quality keeps us at the screen. Just look at all those 4K nature movies Bing Lee sets on the TV’s they really want to sell, that’s not addiction, that is admiration/amazement. So in that all, I think that there is a case that Prof Mark Griffiths might not make the mark on this ‘addiction’ addition, there are just too many variables. And even if we recognise that an unhealthy devotion to games might be worth investigating, it would be to find the underlying cause to it all as Dr Netta Weinstein justifies. In that she is completely correct, so as we realise that Jo Twist, the UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) states the correct part with “We are very concerned about the inconclusive nature of the research and the evidence that WHO is using to base this potential classification on“, she could have (as not seen here) stated the matter a little better than what we got to read.

That is merely $0.04 on the matter (due to the FTSE Crash my $0.02 devaluated whilst writing this).

 

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Mining the Ocean

We might look at how Dow dropped 1175 points; we might in equal measure react to the act that Yemeni Houthi’s have decided to perform another attempt to send missiles into the Saudi civilian populations, all factual events of the last day alone. Yet that is not the initial issue that I am looking at. These are short term events and the media loves them because they get to report on the event, the proclaimed solution and the actual solutions. All follow up stories and the media loves them for the coin they tend to bring to their personal pockets. So it was nice to get a look at Saturday’s article by Jonathan Watts who gave us a look at an upcoming disaster (at https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/03/day-zero-cape-town-turns-off-taps), not in Saudi Arabia, but in Cape Town no less. Yet it must be said that what is good for the one, could potentially hit the other as well.

So when you initially read the caption, you might think that the quote “In 10 weeks engineers will turn off water for a million homes as this South African city reacts to a one-in-384-year drought” is no big deal. Let’s face it, an event that hits once every 7 to 8 generations is not really a big deal is it. Yet that is not really the part that matters. You see, when you see the pictures, not on merely the empty swimming pool, but the image on the Theewaterskloof dam and how we see on what was and what now is. When we realise that ‘Day Zero, the apocalyptically named point when water in the six-dam reservoir system falls to 13.5% of capacity‘, is upon them just as autumn is ending, is in my view a much larger issue. When we see the people in queues with as many jerry cans as they can carry, that same point of befuddlement is reached when you consider why alarms have not been ringing a lot earlier, or were they ignored? They were not! The official Cape Town page (at http://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/residential-utility-services/residential-water-and-sanitation-services/Residential-water-restrictions-explained) gives us a lot. So as we see “A daily limit of 50 litres or less per person whether at home, work, school or elsewhere” we need to realise that 433 thousand people will still potentially drill down on 21.6 million litres of water every day. I am not putting any doubt on the 10 weeks until day zero, I merely wonder what else could be done to bring that number down and not to forget, that the WWF reported merely 4 days ago that only 39% of the Cape Town residents are adhering to these restrictions. The question becomes, when these restrictions began. For how long was there some plan of no-water, because the article gives us: “Greg Pillay: “We had to go back to the drawing board. We were prepared for disruption of supply, but not a no-water scenario. In my 40 years in emergency services, this is the biggest crisis.”“, it is fair that there was no plan and the fact that this happens once every 384 years makes the non-plan acceptable part, but the fact is that the empty dam pics should have been an alert stage when it had gone down to 50%, the restrictions to the degree as now might have been less severe pushing the reserves forward to a longer time. Now we see that the oddest thing will happen in 10 weeks, the taps will be turned off, no water from the taps. As seen the current 10%, who own up to 95% of all assets can likely afford, that each person buys a 20 ft. container filled with mineral water and ship it to their home, yet the other 90% will not have such an option setting a very dangerous situation, a very flammable and oddly fluid one to say the least.

the one good part is that Cape Town will start getting more rain by the time Day Zero approaches, so with April getting on average 300% more rain than the quarter before, and the steady incline in the months thereafter implies that the worst might be over, the dangers are that mother nature is a bitch on the best of days, so if they end up with a soft and warm winter the Cape Town goose ends up being most literally dry-cooked. There is just one other element. It is the one that they got to live with in Australia, these water catchments have no real purpose if the rain falls in the wrong place, so there is still that risk to look forward to.

So, why mention Saudi Arabia?

Well, Saudi Arabia has a similar drought pressures, yet they have additional issues as well. In Saudi Arabia, according to some sources groundwater extraction far exceed the level of natural recharge. The Al-Asha aquifer in the Eastern Province experienced a drop of 150 meters over the past 25 years. the National Geographic reported in 2015 that by 2012 80% of the aquifers had been depleted. That is one large setting whilst on taps the vein to find out in the first just how reliable those numbers are, but in the second degree as to how the impact on larger cities will become when the news brings them the story that ‘the fore mentioned source of water has been drained‘, because at that point the breakdown will be a lot larger when you consider 433 thousand in Cape Town versus 5.1 million in Riyadh. When that happens in one place, who long until Jeddah, Mecca and Medina follow? The problem is that there is no way to tell because there is no transparent oversight (an issue in many countries), there is no way to reliably forecast the issue and in all this the long terms impact of places that want to upgrade and maximise their economic potential sounds nice, but when the water level hits zero, everything stops, and right quick.

This might be the one long term danger that some are not looking hard enough at. so with: “Under the slogan “Bounties of our land,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih inaugurated the 12th International Geological Conference on Sunday and an accompanying exhibition at a local hotel in Jeddah“, is nice to propagate the Vision 2030, but it is still 12 years away and at present, the water mining issues as well as the water disruptions that are currently still happening (as stated by more than one source) would impact it all. The growth of infrastructures, the middle eastern heat that is about to hit Saudi Arabia for the next 6 months, whilst the rain will again decide to remain absent until December (speculated forecast), that alone would require a much higher priority to resolve water issues in Saudi Arabia, or at least give it additional priority. The fact that there are 27 plants in Saudi Arabia, creating millions of litres of water every day implies that perhaps it is time to see if this process can be improved upon and more important 9 more plants will be added to the need of Saudi Arabia. Now we can agree that Saudi Arabia has made massive strides here and the fact that they have upped it to 5 million cubic metres a day should not be underestimated. I am merely speculating that if someone finds a way to improve this process by 1%-5%, the impact for the water quality of life for Saudi’s would go straight through the roof, the impact is that large at present. In addition, the fact that for now the 36 plants would suffice in the short term, the long term is still not a given, that is because the need cannot be predicted. Here too it is about the data captured and to learn where the losses to the water cycles are found and how they can be prevented. More important, if mining is an initial issue now, how much of an issue will it be in 10 years, because depleted places could have other implications too, implication mind you! There is a lot that is not known, but it seems to me that both Saudi Arabia and South Africa will have issue to deal with over the coming year. Not just the water as needed for consumption, whatever else relies on water will also impact structural changes and even more drastic show an optional impact on infrastructure. Part of this was also seen last month (at http://meconstructionnews.com/27099/emerson-opens-new-tech-lab-in-saudi-arabia), where Emerson is set to a “new $25 million new technology and innovation centre at Dhahran Techno Valley, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia enables the company to host Saudi students, entrepreneurs, researchers and industry stakeholders to collaborate with its technical experts to develop process automation technologies and design products and solutions that, “meet the country’s goals.”“. Yet how much priority is given to design new ways to give rise to measuring and monitoring production, distribution and delivery of water solutions towards data collection, designed to contribute to longer term forecasting of water needs. You see, most of these systems tend to be short term, or when they are longer term they lose reliability because of a number of factors, so what happens when we can map and monitor the factors themselves? It is one of the powers that 5G could bring to an automation system, automated drone technologies that monitor and feed. This reminds me of a 2006 paper called ‘Modular learning models in forecasting natural phenomena‘ by Solomontine and Siek. Now in the paper we see in the abstract: “Comparison of the algorithms based on modular local modelling to the more traditional ‘global’ learning models on a number of benchmark tests and river flow forecasting problems shows their higher accuracy and transparency of the resulting models“, now what if the plant is the source of the river and the pipes are the river themselves. What if losses and therefor risks of these pipe systems could be mapped and correctly categorised? Only last year the Saudi Gazette reported (at http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/500157/SAUDI-ARABIA/Water-supply-disrupted-in-five-Jeddah-districts), “Residents of five districts in southeast Jeddah have complained about disruption of water supply to their homes after the National Water Company (NWC) changed its supply schedule. The residents of Al-Musaed, Quwaiza, Al-Nakheel, Al-Raghama and Al-Obaid districts in southeast Jeddah were mainly affected by the supply disruption“, now there can be all kinds of valid reasons why this happens, yet the official response was: “it was beyond their control as the quantity of water they receive from Shuaiba plants was less than what they received before“, the question is not whether, why or the issues of delivery, it is whether quantity of water changes can be measured and set into data models that give better forecasting, this is seen as that nations will soon face provision from 36 plants and any plan to rely on full production and let things run will have longer term problems. Knowing where water is going and what losses are measured will also give rise to initial better information and longer term better water measurement. In my view it is the same with almost every port in the world. It is not how much you ship and how many vessels you service, it is the one place where idle time is not monitored, that is the place where the cost of it all spins out of control really fast.

As I see it, both South Africa and optionally Saudi Arabia have a flaw in the long term view of water, from the articles South Africa is already past the initial point of worry from what I have read and I am speculating that Saudi Arabia has an optional issue growing as it is working towards Vision 2030, because when those tech firms start rolling in in 2031, Riyadh with all its growth could potentially grow by at least 10% in the short term, the question becomes whether Riyadh would be ready to service a jump that is twice the size of Cape Town? I have no way of knowing and it is not yet the point where it is out there, but Vision 2030 is only 12 years away and desalinisation plants do not grow overnight, which would be awesome if someone could design one that did so.

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Disney’s Yemeni Cricket

Roughly 2 years, 10 months, 15 days and 3.4 hours ago, the Houthi’s decided to take over Yemen from the elected government. It is at this point that the then elected government seeks assistance from Saudi Arabia and whatever other allies it can get, this coalition has been at it since it all started. We see all the condemnation on how civilian bombings are happening, yet the part on all this that “Civilians say the Houthis are dispersing weapons in residential areas leaving people fearing for their lives” is not given the light it needs to be getting. You see, that is exactly the same tactic that Hezbollah has been using, yet the media gives little to no light to that element.

Now the game is taking another turn. This is initially seen though the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/yemens-war-is-so-out-of-control-that-allies-are-turning-on-one-another/2018/02/03/50d26426-05fe-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html) with: ‘Yemen’s war is so out of control, allies are turning on one another’, it is not an incorrect view. Certain alliances tend to not remain focussed unless heir is a true common goal and as for the most the Houthi’s have only had any technology to merely fire on Saudi Arabia, there is a loss of focus for the other allies in that coalition.

In addition, with: “But fighting in the southern Yemeni city of Aden over the past week revealed the extent to which Yemen’s war also is driven by other historical grievances that could pose serious obstacles to negotiating an end to the conflict, according to Yemeni and Western analysts”, which is an absolute given and one that many tend to overlook. The complication is seen with: “The uprising by UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatists against forces loyal to the Saudi-based and internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi could further complicate efforts to dislodge the Houthis from Sanaa”, you see, as the issues in Yemen grow ever more murky for the people in Yemen, the entire issue becomes a less stable and more dangerous place. With the Yemeni having no way to strike against the UAE, Saudi Arabia gets the brunt of all the anger whilst the UAE gets to focus on what is the most tactical way to move forward and can ignore what is the best path for all players around. In this Saudi Arabia could end up having to deal with the entire matter alone. This leaves them, unless the UAE changes its approach with the tactical question, should the Yemeni situation be resolved, or is it safer for the Yemeni people to annex Yemen into Saudi Arabia into a partially self-governing region? It is a dangerous question, not only because of the implication, but when the humanitarian dangers (Cholera, Polio, Measles and famine) are not just on the horizon, but now on the front door of Yemeni citizens, the iron hand required to save whatever citizens are left alive, it is one of the few historical times when annexing is starting to make sense, moreover, it might be one of the few option that soon enough remain.

Not only does it take care of the separatists, it shows a new side which will in equal measure strikes fear in Saudi’s other adversary Iran. When Iran sees the support and the consequence of its so called actions. Especially if in addition Saudi Arabia opens the doors to all UN humanitarian actions to give care and medical support to the Yemeni people, Iran will not merely have to fear Saudi Arabia, it will be hosted with the prospect of giving aid to escalation in UN humanitarian zones, one fact that would require Turkey to cut its ties with Iran or face massive sanctions from all NATO allies as well as all 28 European community nations, those who would side with Turkey would soon find themselves isolated and in a dangerous economic downturn, one that none of the 28 nations can currently afford!

There is an optional second issue that would evolve from that. As any positive humanitarian action within Yemen shows the good side of Saudi Arabia, the long term condemnations will need to write about other matters and even finally show light on the optional benefits of seeing Saudi Arabia as a place of growth and investment. Even as the Google Alphabet group is already looking at growing its presence, Saudi Arabia is set to grow in other ways too and as both the consumer goods and pharmaceutical groups are seeking growth, the need for manufactured goods for 32 million Saudi Arabians, as well as the options to facilitate to 35 million Iraqi’s and 4 million Kuwaiti’s from the relative safety of Saudi Arabia is an even better prospect for those catering to consumers. That is one way of obtaining growth and even as the falling out with the UAE is an issue for Saud Arabia, there is an optional path where Saudi Arabia could come out on top.

It is not a new concept. The solution had been voiced on a few times last year, yet in many cases there was the outlook of larger opposition from the UAE and Oman, now that the falling out with the UAE is an actual fact, the Saudi government could go into talks with Oman to facilitate some solution that make Yemeni Araba a mere temporary solution as a humanitarian implementation is found to protect the civilian population from further harm. By giving Oman a much larger voice in all this could prove beneficial to both Oman and Saudi Arabia, but only for the non-long-term future.

In all this it will not become a long term solution and all parties will be painfully aware of it all, whilst it does give rise to dealing with the insurrections in Yemen and at the same time show Iran that it stands a lot more alone in its inciting tactics than it previously bargained for. In equal measure it gives Turkey the clear message that it either changes its current course of finds itself in a falling out with both the US and the EEC, a situation that could stop whatever economy they thought they had for the next decade. Turkey could end up buying humble pie at $15 (or €10) per slice. In addition, t won’t just be “French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Turkish counterpart that there is currently no chance of Turkey becoming a member of the European Union”, it will be messages from at least 15 of European elected rulers and there is a chance that the number opposing Turkey as a full European member will grow to 25, with that in mind Turkey will also be out of any marketing race in the middle east making them no longer an interesting party to Russia, other than for the need of consumer exploitation for whatever they have for sale.

Now many parts of this is speculation, even as it is based on visible facts, the idea that Yemen becomes the corner stone of several linked issues is a lot wilder than Walt Disney could have ever imagined in any movie he ever made, including that movie of a boy with a growing nose and a conscience called Yemeni Cricket.

In this growth is already an optional given for Saudi Arabia as Google (with a plus one) is already in advanced talks to set up a tech hub in Saudi Arabia. His also partially confirms my initial view (a few months ago) that Saudi Arabia is ready to set the nation into a mobile 5G growth, making it soon a more technical advanced nation than the US will be in 12 months. Outside the states of NY, DC, Pennsylvania and California there is a growing concern that at least 10 states are nowhere near ready to become 5G players, giving rise not to mere net neutrality issues, but a larger technological downturn of the US as a larger nation, a view that has not been seen since America in the great depression (1929-1939). Do you think that this is wrong or me bluffing in some way? Consider how the budget is currently set and see which states can come up with 5-25 billion in the next 18 months to give rise to 5G, then also look what has to be cut to make such a level of investment a reality and then ask yourself how the US had not planned for this technological need. So when you see the next article on how 5G is overhyped and not essential, consider your next internet session and see what you could have done at 800% of the current speed, hat is beside all the other options hat 5G allows for. Should the US make it a national need, than the national debt will be clearly pushed past the 20 trillion mark! So the only way for the USA to be seen as technologically on par with Saudi Arabia is to dive into much deeper debt.

There are of course other considerations for Saudi Arabia to take a certain path, yet it must be one of the rare occasions where annexing might be one of the few humanitarian options left. A cease fire will not get the result and of course the question is equally important, whether Saudi Arabia sees annexing as an option at all, because that part is not a given at all.

There is of course the second part. If the UAE is able to get control of the separatists and get them on target in the direction the coalition wanted it to be and if the Yemeni separatists see what is their best solution than the entire matter diffuses and as such there is no further issue, yet that is still not a given, but as this situation merely escalated over the last week, there is still time to find a non-annexing solution, which is what suits all parties of that coalition best (personal assumption).

Still, with the other news that Al Jazeera gave a mere 20 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/defence-minister-saudi-uae-intended-invade-qatar-180203091422735.html), makes the option of opposing issues between the UAE and Saudi Arabia less likely to simmer down. Yet in equal light the interview that Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah had with the Washington Post, where he is quoted with: “about Doha’s relations with Saudi’s rival, Iran, Attiyah noted that Qatar maintains “friendly relations with everyone”” gives rise that the ‘friend’ of my enemy, is not my enemy, which also means that softening relationships and new ties could change the dynamics of the Middle East as I personally see it. So as Saudi Arabia is trying to get along with everyone except Iran, it could push Iran into more isolation. Even as Qatar is trying to remain friends with all, it also means that Qatar is less likely unwilling to be some kind of facilitator for Iran, a path Iran really had not hoped for and that means that the onus of Turkey’s ‘friendship’ with Iran is now clearly with Turkey, which will push them in even deeper waters, as I personally see it.

So as we end this part of the speculation and forecasting, we will need to see on how talks pan out in the next 2 weeks, the only dangerous part is that the Yemeni civilian population is running out of time faster and faster and inaction equals in their case a diminishing amount of living civilians, a side pretty much all parties are against.

 

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That sinking console feeling

I stated it in the past, I was even going to be cautious on the numbers, yet the banging buck that the Nintendo Switch is bringing, is now completely bringing down the house. Last November, numbers were given out by certain sources (not Microsoft) that the total Xbox One sales had surpassed the 31 million mark. It had taken well over 3 years to get to that number, yet Nintendo has now clearly surpassed the 14 million mark in less than a year and the sales numbers are still rising, rising a lot faster than even Nintendo expected, the forecast now is that in two months the 17 million mark will be reached, meaning that in a little over 1 year the 50% mark against Microsoft is reached. Even a Microsoft marketing is still hiding behind ‘the most powerful console‘, other publications, especially in the UK are now getting on the bandwagon I proclaimed six months before the very first Xbox One was released and the technical flaw is only getting worse, especially with the space that 4K games need. This is not a David versus Goliath, this is now becoming a fight between one that is trying to be the coolest (and apparently the most powerful one) against one that is about having the most fun. So when you consider the price your ego is trying to cost you, what would you do?

Now, there is no way they get close to the Sony numbers any day soon, but the long term view for the Switch is that this console could potentially equal the total sales over time. This is becoming more and more realistic as the list of PS4 players who want a Switch on the side, that group is actually growing rapidly, and it as massively surpassed the group of people who had a PS2 and any kind of Nintendo on the side. So even as there is no threat for the PS4/PS4pro, there is now a clear indication on where Sony would need to grow its software arsenal, mainly because from the past as it was, Nintendo is re-establishing itself as the family fun system that the GameCube and Wii used to be, in this Nintendo is getting more attention from parents at present, a dilemma that Sony would want to fix fast and with quality fun based games.

There is an additional jump, with some of the more power pounding games like the original Dark Souls, Skyrim and their unique label with a new Pokémon RPG, there will be less and less reasons not to get the Switch, or optionally a Nintendo Switch on the side. I saw the winner it would be when the Switch was presented in the world premiere, but even I am amazed at the rush to sales it became. I knew that Microsoft would take a rating loss, but that the Switch console is now optionally closing in on the current total sales of PS4 over time is something that I did not see coming, of course the fun part will also be on how Microsoft moves into third place on the console market around 2019, at that point I wonder what excuse they will use. Perhaps they will blame the Azure Cloud resources, let’s face it, the Xbox One is uploading Gigabytes of console data to it, whilst Microsoft support stated that this issue is with our internet provider. So as we can see that it will take Nintendo a while to get there, the vibe is that they will actually pull that off. If they add and re-master Metroid Prime 1, 2 and 3, this closing gap is almost a certainty, because over time none of the consoles ever got a game franchise like that produced. As Nintendo is now starting to embrace remastered games and is also looking into the PS2 range, whilst the makers are potentially upgrading those games, other developers will see options and larger fortunes by remastering some of those golden oldies (Dark Souls is already announced). I will go one step further, if Nintendo gets their fingers on some of the Dreamcast titles, for example Soulcalibur and Fur Fighters (which has always been a personal favourite, but not the PS2 edition, that one was mucho yuck), they could increase their market share and increase it faster. So there are over 600 games on the Dreamcast and over 1800 PS2 games. So, if only some of the 95%+ games are remastered, the Switch owners could end up with a decent amount of games from the ‘totally addictive‘ and ‘blowing my game mind on fun‘ category and that is before the older PC game makers consider what an opportunity the Switch is for them as well. Not to mention all the IOS and Android developers, who would be able to add a large chunk of players. They could also gain speed by offering the cross platform choice like Minecraft did. So Owners of one platform could buy the new platform version for a mere $4. I updated from PS3 to Xbox One and Xb360 to PS4, for $8 instead of $24, that is a real saving!

With the Switch, Nintendo did not just break the mould in gaming, it could potentially replace it with a titanic sized golden statue named ‘opportunity‘, because the events as given now don’t just show just how Microsoft missed the calling, it in equal measure could potentially show that Sony needs to up its game high to not fall victim to closing gap of gaming fun aimed populous, a fight that we have not seen before. The first PlayStation became well established before Nintendo could grow to a better placement, now that people are realising that it is about the quality of the game. Even as I found it hilarious that the Switch supports up to 2TB, whilst the ‘most’ powerful console with 4K gaming cannot get past 1TB. How you like your Xbox One X console now? We clearly see that Nintendo is laying down the gauntlet for both Sony and Microsoft, we can see that in numbers Microsoft is pretty much done for, but the fact that that little Mario will in the future get closer to what Sony has (closer not catch up) is something the markers could not have foreseen.

So where is the evidence?

Well, most of it has been reported by the Guardian, IGN and a few other gaming sites, some of the numbers are from Statistica and VZCharts. It is my personal view that gaming is about fun (challenging fun at times), it is not about 4K gaming, although we all agree that the identical game on 4K and Switch will look better on the 4K system, there is no denying it. Yet that is where Microsoft marketing is hiding, and whilst we can all agree that Assassins Creed Origin in 4K is an amazing feat, which it is without any reservations, the issue that the Xbox One will support in 1TB around a dozen games in total before it runs out of space, there are already articles out where gamers ran out after 14 games. Considering that Forza, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5 are around 100Gb, whilst several other AAA games are somewhere between 70 and 85 GB, I am surprised they got to 14. The utter stupidity of saving on a drive twice the size for a mere $15 is shown in the most gruesome way. If only Microsoft had done what Sony does and let the gamers upgrade the drive themselves, this issue would be close to non-existing, but now it is and it is happening whilst Nintendo is moving in, and it is moving in with the optional storage that is twice their size, it gives the gamer and the consumer confidence in that brand, something Microsoft should have realised a long time ago. I foresaw this and wrote about it (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/24/spin-dryers-by-microsoft/) almost 5 years ago, that was long before there was a 4K option, the issue was already clear at that point. That point alone gives clear evidence that Microsoft does not really care about its gamers, merely about their revenue and their Azure cloud, that alone should anger people and that is why Nintendo is catching up so much faster than anticipated (this is a personal assumption). You see, you might have the most powerful console in the world, but when its management team ignores its user base, that contraption will end up on the side of the road like an Ford Edsel, catching dust, rust and leaving the gamer without trust.

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