Category Archives: Science

Lawyers on a weakly basis

It is the Lawyers Weekly that gets the attention at present. The article (at https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/22159-lawyers-don-t-need-to-become-accomplices-to-white-collar-crime) gives us the nice title with ‘Lawyers ‘don’t need to become accomplices’ to white-collar crime‘, yet is that statement anywhere near the truth or the applicable situation that many face in today’s industry? Monty Raphael QC talks the talk and does so very nicely as the experienced QC he is, yet there were a few points in all this that are an issue to me and it should be an issue to a much larger community. For me it starts with the quote ““Cyber space has not created any new crimes, as such, really, of any significance,” Mr Raphael said.” This is of course a correct statement, because until the laws are adjusted, plenty of issues are not covered as crimes. We merely need to look at the defence cloak that ‘facilitation’ gives to see that plenty is not covered. The case D Tamiz v Google Inc is merely one example and as technology renews and evolves, more and newer issues will rise, not merely in cases of defamation breaking on the defence of mere facilitation.

Yet for this matter, what is more a visible situation is the case of Tesco a how PwC seems to not be under the scrutiny it should be, it should have been so from day 1. So when we read: “Mr Raphael insisted that lawyers have an ethical obligation to ensure they do not support or enable white-collar crime” we are introduced to a statement that is for the most seemingly empty. I state it in this way, because the options of scaling the legal walls while not breaking any of the laws that were bended to the will of the needy is an increasingly more challenging task. If the legal walls were better than PwC would clearly be in the dock 2 years ago, or would they? In addition, they are not alone, merely slightly (read: loads) more visible as the profit before tax for Tesco ended up being minus 6.3 billion in 2015.

Monty makes a good case, yet the underlying issue is not the lawyer, it for the most never was. It is the law itself. This is why I object to the title, it is nice but is it true? PwC shows that even as we oppose their actions, the fact that they are not in the dock is because when we see Reuters (at https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-tesco-fraud/former-tesco-executives-pressured-staff-to-cook-books-court-told-idUKKCN1C41TK) we see “Tesco’s auditors PwC were “misled and lied to,” Wass added“. Is this true? Let’s consider the evidence, can it be shown and proven that they were lied to?

It might never be proven because the people in the dock have had years to get their story right (read: synchronised). What I stated at the very beginning of the events of Tesco remains true and it remains the issue. The fact is that PwC made that year £13 million from this one customer. Much of it in a project and auditors for the rest and they did not spot the fact that the books were ‘cooked’, will remain an issue with me for some time to come. It is the Tesco case that also underlies the issue here. It is about the weak lawyer, not because he is weak, but the lack of proper laws protecting all victims of white collar entrepreneurs is stopping them from aiding potential victims. In addition as the law is struggling to merely remain four passes behind it all, it becomes less and less useful, not to mention a lot less effective. As the next generation of economic tools are being rolled out (block chain being a first), we will see new iteration of issues for the law, for both the CPS and DPP as it cannot progress forward in light of the legal parties not comprehending the technology in front of them, so showing wrongdoing will become an increasingly hard task for lawyer to work with. The biggest issue is that as it is all virtual, the issue of non-repudiation goes out of the window. Not only will it become close to impossible to work with the premise of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘, there is the fact that ‘proof on a balance of probabilities‘ is becoming equally a stretch. The fact of non-repudiation is only one of several factors. So as we have seen that successful criminals tend to hide on the edge of technology, the chance to stop them is becoming increasingly less likely.

This now gets us to the statement “In the wake of the Panama Papers revelation from law firm Mossack Fonseca, Mr Raphael cautioned that clients’ criminal activities can come back to haunt their law firms“, the fact that both former prime ministers involved in the Panama paper scandals, Bjarni Benediktsson and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, have been re-elected to the Icelandic parliament (Source: IceNews), so it seems that the Panama papers are a little less of a haunt. In addition there will be a long debate of what constitutes the difference between Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion, because only one of those two is illegal. In addition certain questions on how 2.6TB was leaked and no alarms went off is also an issue, because the time required to get a hold of such a large amount of documents would take a monumental amount of time and with every option to shorten the path, alarms should have been ringing. When we consider the basic IT issues, we get partial answers but not the answers that clearly address the issues, as they did not. The time it had required to do all this should have placed it on the IT radar and that never happened. So as we see on how patches and security risks are now being pushed for as a reason, we need to wonder if Mossack Fonseca could have been the wealthy party it claimed to have been. When we consider the expression ‘a fool and his money are soon parted‘ the lowest level of IT transgressions that have been seemingly overlooked gives rise to a total lack of Common Cyber Sense, staff that should have been regarded as incompetent and an infrastructure that was lacking to a much larger degree. You see, even before we get to the topic of  ‘illegally obtained data‘ which was used for investigations that have convicted people of crimes, the larger issue that could be in play  on the foundation of that data alone, a few prison sentences could be regarded as invalid, or might get overturned soon enough. There were cases where the story gives clear indications of what was done and here we see the consideration of what is admissible evidence. In this, the one step back is the IT part. The hardware would have regarded as little as $100K to upgrade to better security standards and hiring a better level of University Student in his or her final year might have given a much safer IT environment, perhaps even at half the current cost.

All issues worthy of debate, yet none of it hitting the lawyers; it more hits the infrastructure of it all. Yet these two issues that might now be seen as real hindrances for lawyers, in a place of laws that are now seemingly too weak, the law, not the lawyer. So as we recollect the Toronto Star in January 2017 where we see “Canada is a good place to create tax planning structures to minimize taxes like interest, dividends, capital gains, retirement income and rental income,” when we see the added “the Canadian government has made it easier than ever for criminals and tax cheats to move money in and out by signing tax agreements with 115 countries” we see growing evidence that the law is getting hindered by eager politicians making their mark for large corporations through the signing of tax agreements, and what they think would be long term benefits for their economy, whilst in actuality the opposite becomes the case. So every clever Tom, Dick and Mossack Fonseca can set up valid and legal shapes of international corporations all paying slightly less than a farthing for all their taxations. Legal paths, enabled by politicians and as the laws are not adjusted we can all idly stand by how nothing illegal is going on. So as we admire the weakly lawyers, we get to realise that the law and the politicians adjusting it weakened their impact.

In all this at no point would the Lawyer have been an accomplice. The data lies with IT, the setting of these off shore accounts were largely valid and legally sound and in that, there could always be a bad apple, yet that does not make the Lawyer an accomplice. That brings us to the final part which we see with “Money laundering has been in the spotlight recently, with the Commonwealth Bank facing punishment for failing to report suspicious deposits in its ATMs“. It needs to be seen against “Mr Raphael insisted that lawyers have an ethical obligation to ensure they do not support or enable white-collar crime” in this the banks are already faltering. We seek the dark light events of PwC and Mossack Fonseca, yet the basics are already getting ignored. I believe that the article is missing a part, I feel certain that it has at least been on the mind of my jurisprudential peer. You see, the legal councils will need to evolve. Not only will they need to do what they are already doing, the path where they (or more likely their interns) start to teach IT and other divisions a legal introduction on what is white collar crimes. The fact on how ‘suspicious deposits‘ could be a white collar crime is becoming more and more visible. I see that the education of IP legality in IT is now growing and growing. The intertwining can no longer be avoided. Now, we can agree that an IT person does not need a law degree, but the essential need to comprehend certain parts, in the growing mountains of data is more and more a given.

In all this there is one clear part that I oppose with Mr Raphael, it is the statement ‘There’s nothing cultural about greed‘, you see, as I personally see it that is no longer true, the corporate culture that is globally embraced made it so!

 

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Retaining stupidity

This is the very first thought I had when I saw “Artificial intelligence commission needed to predict impact says CBI“. Within half a second my mind went into time travel mode. Back to the late 70’s where all the unions were up in arms on computers. The computers would end labour, all those jobs lost. This is not a new subject as the magazine Elsevier showed un in 2015 with “Angst voor nieuwe technologie is zo oud als de industriële revolutie zelf. Diverse commentatoren refereerden de afgelopen tijd aan de luddieten, genoemd naar een Engelse wever die eind achttiende eeuw machines zou hebben gesaboteerd omdat die banen vernietigden“. “Fear for new technology is as old as the industrial revolution itself. Several commentaries referred to the luddites, named after an English weaver who allegedly sabotaged machines at the end of the 18th century because it destroyed jobs“. There is a partial truth here, you see, it is not about the loss of jobs. It is the mere fact that some of these Business group will soon truly show to be obsolete. In this they rely on a firm whose largest achievement is (as I personally see it) to remain silent on overstated profits whilst not having to go to court, or to jail for that matter (read: PriceWaterhouse Coopers). So by engaging this party they have already lost their case as I personally see it. So when we see “Accountancy firm PwC warned in March that more than 10 million workers may be at risk of being replaced by automation“, with the offset we needed in the past (read: Tesco) the damage might merely be a few hundred people. So I do not deny that some jobs will go, yet like the automation sequence that computers brought from the 80’s onwards. That same industry would give jobs and infrastructure to thousands, livening up an industry we could not consider at that time. The same happened in the 18th century when the looms and weavers grew, the blossoming of a textile industry on a global setting. So when you see “The business lobby group said almost half of firms were planning to devote resources to AI, while one in five had already invested in the technology in the past year“, you are looking at what I would call a flim flam statement. You see, perhaps the more accurate statements might be: “The business lobby group stated that 50% of the firms are moving away from the facilitation that the business groups provides for“, so these firms are pushing in another direction, why give credence to their flawed way of thinking? You see, this is the consequence of the greed driven executives who rely on status quo, they ran out of time and they need extra time to get their upgraded pensions in play. Why should we allow for them to continue at all?

I am willing to give the TUC a small consideration because of their heritage. Yet, when we see in the Financial Times (September 11th) “Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said the government was hurtling towards a “kamikaze Brexit” and should keep open the option of remaining in the single market” (at https://www.ft.com/content/c5f7afb8-9641-11e7-b83c-9588e51488a0), yet there is overwhelming presented evidence from all sides both positive and negative mind you that the single market only benefits the large corporations, the small companies are merely disadvantaged by the single market as such we must wonder where the loyalty lies of the TUC, by that notion if the TUC is there for large corporations, or to serve them first, we see another piece of evidence that shows the TUC to be redundant, and as they merely vie for the large corporations as their main priority, the fear of those companies would become the fear of the TUC and as such, they are becoming equally obsolete. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is a national trade union centre should show clear cause with all the data, not merely the aggregated data results of a data scientist at PwC. So when I see “the CBI is urging Theresa May to launch the commission from early 2018. It said companies and trade unions should be involved and the commission should help to set out ways to increase productivity and economic growth as well looking into the impact of AI.” Who is going to pay for all that? I submit that the Trade Unions pay their own way and ask their members for the needed funds. What are the chances of that? The poisoners part is seen in ‘set out ways to increase productivity and economic growth‘. You see, AI will do that to some extent on several paths, yet it is not up to the government to figure that out or to set debilitating fences there. It is up to the business sector to figure out where that profit is. That is why they are in business! You see, as I see it, the drive to remain in some level of Status Quo was nice until it ended, these companies have driven away the people who wanted to innovate and now they are in start-ups, or in companies that embraced innovation, the older larger players are now without skills to a larger extent, without drive through misdirected use of funds and lacking ambition, so they are going to get hit in all three ways when the driver comes. 5G will be a first and when it does happen AI (it is still years away from being anything truly practical), these two paths will drive new methods of automation and data gathering. But the larger players wanted to milk their 4G base as much as possible, setting up side channels with smaller players like Orange, DODO, TPG, Tesco and giffgaff. Now that they are learning that 5G will be a larger wave then some academics presented (likely at the expense of some placement), now we see the panic wave that follows. Now we see the need for commissions to slow things down so that the milkers can catch up. In my view there are clear reasons that such paths should be allowed to exist.

That is my supported view, it has been supported by other articles and I have written about these events for close to two years now. Now that the party is over, we see players trying to change the game so that they can continue just a little longer. We allowed for these matters in 2004 and 2008, it is time for the governments to give a clear signal that change will come and stopping it should not be allowed, not until they alter the tax laws, the laws on accountability and the powers of prosecution to have a better grasp at these players, a change that must happen before we allow any level of catering to their needs.

By the way, when we consider ‘PwC placed under investigation following BT accountancy scandal‘ (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/pwc-investigation-bt-accountancy-scandal-italian-operations-pricewaterhousecoopers-a7813726.html), as well as the Fortune.com issue (at http://fortune.com/2017/02/28/pricewaterhousecoopers-pwc-scandals-oscars/), where we see the five larger issues at PwC, which includes the previous mentioned Tesco, but now has an added Tyco, Taylor Bean & Whitaker, Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi and MF Global. So as I have been on the prosecuting tank, ready to roll it over the board of directors of PwC regarding Tesco, having any faith in whatever they want to report on now, unless it comes with all the data for the public at large to scrutinise, they should not get close to any commission and even less be part of the reporting. Now we can irresponsibly use 5 bad apples to identify someone who ships containers of fruit and that would be a valid response and defence. Yet overall the players asking for the commission seem to have their own needs first in all this. There would have been a consideration if there was any given that Google or the Alphabet group to be part in all this, yet that mention is missing and therefor the setting is void. Now, there are more players in the AI field, but it seems that the Google headway is the strongest, the largest and at present the fastest. And with a sense of humour I will add that you merely have to ‘Bing‘ the search ‘AI Commission‘ to see that Microsoft is in no danger of getting anywhere near an AI this upcoming decade. Perhaps the mention of ‘Australian Securities and Investments Commission – Official Site‘ on position 2 and ‘Fair Work Commission | Australia’s national workplace …‘ in position 5 to realise that their AI could be sunk in 13 keystrokes. The power of assumption will kill anything, including ones sense of humour and that same persons appetite.

Yet is there more?

Yes, there most certainly is. You see with “Investment in technology could help bolster Britain’s sputtering record on labour productivity, which is among the worst in the G7 and is failing to improve in line with expectations since the financial crisis” we see part of the fear being spread. The ‘milkers’ as I prefer to call some of them are realising that having space and capital for growth was essential to remain in the game. Some of the milkers are ending up being too visible and plenty of consumers are moving to a place where they can get a better deal. That was seen in Australia in June as ABC news gave the bad news that Telstra had to shed 1400 jobs. We see all kinds of excuses, yet the reality was that for well over 5 years they were too expensive, not by a margin, but by being up to 300% more expensive than a decent alternative. I have had personal experience whilst in a Telstra Shop because I was not an optional business account he had no time for me. Do you think that a company like that can remain in existence? Over the last 3 years, the shares dropped from $6.61 to $3.52, that is pain that a company feels and they remains ignorant and blind to the consequences. That view is enhanced even further by the statements given in the Sydney Morning Herald. With “Our approach [to 5G] is to get in earlier and try to have it modified so it’s more suitable to Australia when it arrives, rather than us have to try to modify it when it gets here,” Mr Wright told BusinessDay.“, so basically there is every chance that Australian 5G will be undercut by some level of standard that is not as given in the 5G handbook. As I personally see it is Telstra’s approach to setting a standard that is no standard at all. A ‘get in first so that we can tell others what the standard is‘, or better stated, what the standard is that you are not adhering to; 3.5G for your mobile anyone?

This Australian view translates to the UK as well. With “Despite the potential for technology to increase productivity, firms are cautious about investing owing to uncertainty over Brexit. Growth in business investment was flat in the three months to June, the latest official figures show“, so these business types are not willing to invest, they merely want the one market side to go on and in light of the delays needed, they want a commission, so that they can force government investment and delays. So they can get the best out of both worlds. The (as I personally see it) exploitative model is continued in every venue we see come and as I see it, it will be much better for us if those business models and business players go, they should go now before they become the detrimental force on UK industries. 5G will be a new beacon of industry and progress, it will open up additional venues for many telecom players and as such we are all better to get on board now and think of that one idea we had that could work for us all. It equally holds the solutions the NHS desperately needs and the fact that 3 larger players still haven’t seen that light is a larger worry than anything else. It merely shows them to be obsolete, dinosaurs in a modern age. As one person told me, the reason the T-Rex is such an angry creature is because its arms are too short to take a selfie. That does make sense, especially when you consider what some of these players think when they think 5G, they merely look at speed, whilst 5G opens up so much more than merely a quick download of a movie, in all this AI could be breaking the moulds and give us something that even I cannot envision, which is actually a really good thing. You see, the new waves will come from people that are different from me; they are the dreamers like the game designers in the early 80’s. They will show vision and give us something we never considered before. That is true progress and the people who bring us weighted predictions and tell us of fear of 20% of all jobs lost need to do what they were meant to do, die and become extinct just like the dinosaurs before them and soon thereafter I will become extinct too. That is the nature of future evolution. Just like my grandfather who could not comprehend the electronic calculator. I am clever enough to comprehend quantum computing, yet I hope I cannot comprehend what comes after, because if I can remain on board at that point we have all become technologically stagnant and we merely move backwards, that too is a personal view I have.

 

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It starts with a wrong label

Yes, merely ‘the wrong label’ is the beginning of what we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/16/nhs-data-loss-scandal-deepens-with-162000-more-files-missing) when we see the press look at ‘loss‘ and data files. You see, when we see a million documents that have been removed, that whilst the media (in this case the Guardian) uses expressions like ‘went missing‘ and ‘gone astray‘ we need to worry about the media as a whole. You see this is nothing less than an optional cover up of intentional negligence, multiple acts of manslaughter and perhaps even mass murder. That is quite a leap is it not? You see, when 137 documents are removed and wiped from a system it is a clear cover-up. Just lose those and 925.000 other documents and you get a systematic failure and no one looks too deeply, because now we have an optional situation where MP’s can vie for a few billion to ‘fix it‘. Yet the levels of what went wrong and more important the fact that I myself had a solution available (which would require another year to implement) is exactly the solution that would be preventing this. By the way, this is not about me trying to sell ‘some’ solution. This is merely the application of common sense. We can all agree that a document can get lost, it should not, but it happens. After the loss, if the system is set up correctly, the loss could be recovered. That is when a system is properly set up.

Yet, the opposite is what we see now. Now, we get a mess that is even larger and no one has any clue on how to proceed.

This last statement requires clarification, because merely stating an issue, does not make it one. It is initially seen in the quote “Officials said that in the course of their inquiries, they had identified a further 150,000 medical documents that had been mistakenly sent to the outsourcing firm Capita by GPs; and a further 12,000 missing papers that had had not been processed by SBS“. So it involves several GP’s, which means that the infrastructure has either a systemic failure, or has been mishandled by those in charge. The document went out of the hands of the GP’s, and those who had no copies basically threw away the health of their patients. So what happened when it went to the outsourcing firm? They should still have the papers, or they have forward them to someone else. You see, 12,000 papers (with envelopes) is a large bundle of paper and that does not just go missing, someone received it, processed it and what happened afterwards? How was it processed? The systemic failure is larger when we consider “However, despite staff raising concerns, the firm – which is 49.99% owned by the Department of Health – did not alert the department or NHS England until March last year, 26 months later. SBS was then “obstructive and unhelpful” to NHS England in the inquiry it then instigated, the NAO found“. The 26 month period implies in my view that arrests and prosecution of staff becomes clear. Was that done? What were the actions of the Department of Health, the NHS or the DPP for that matter? 26 months of inaction, it is perhaps the first clear part in this that gives rise to my suspicions. The additional “SBS has paid £4.34m for the loss” gives rise to the fact that the negligence goes a lot higher up the ladder than we are shown. In a place where anything more than £10,000 requires autographs from people who usually cannot be found to sign for anything for months at a time, someone dished out £4 million plus to make it go away.

There is the foundation of mismanaged events that are also the stepping stones of endangering the lives of people. The alleged issue, or is that evident issue that there is more going on can be seen in the quote “People should be reassured that despite reviewing over 97% of the records that SBS failed to process not a single case of patient harm has been identified”, so how does the NHS spokesperson know this? 97% whilst hundreds of thousands of documents including treatments and health plans are missing, how are they so sure? It gives rise to my suspicions of something else. What else? I do not know and it is mere ‘conspiracy theorist’ waves to make any alleged setting here, but the setting in the end that we read about is not about prosecution, it is about an upcoming wave of spending that the UK government cannot afford at present, giving rise to even more issues to come. With “Jeremy Hunt must urgently come before parliament to explain what steps are being taken to ensure this does not happen again“, You see, the ‘happen again‘ part implies that it is clear how it happened in the first place and that is the part where the DPP should have visibly stepped in, and as far as we can tell this did not happen. In addition, with ‘what steps are being taken‘, there is an implied setting that there was a thorough investigation and that might have been part of those steps, yet that did not happen (as far as we can tell) and the fact that the mess was covered up for 26 months gives rise to my suspicions that this was not merely about records. We only need to loop sat the Pharmaceutical scandals in 2013 and 2017, the link to Aspen holdings and the fact that someone saw the option, through a loophole to drive prices by 4,000%. Perhaps that now gives more suspicion to so many documents being ‘misplaced‘. I am not implying that Aspen Holdings is involved in this (or implying that they were), I am merely stating that there have been larger bungles costing millions upon millions that might not survive the scrutiny that the light of day brings. With the Times and the Independent howling one side, the report of ‘lost’ documents is even more unsettling, because that now implies that the usage of certain medication is now only in the hands of the NHS, and they seem to be very uneasy of seeing certain numbers appear. Those numbers will still appear, but now possible on a whole stack of other medication, so that the impact of 3-5 medication suppliers remains unseen. So am I correct? Do not take my word for it and do not merely believe me, I am not asking you to do that, I am asking you to see the failure of these lost documents is a lot bigger than ‘merely’ one outsourcing firm, to lose this amount of paperwork require orchestration on a higher level, that is one part that should be pretty apparent. Yet that last part is still speculative in nature because with the loss of one side, reporting and data dash-boarding on the other side is not a given and may not be impacted, that is the part I will admit to, there are unknown sides in that part, yet the question and the speculative consideration remains in place.

Now, this is not a new revelation, In February and June we saw this news hit the papers and magazines. In all this the DPP remains unseen. When we consider the impact that the events are having and the possible dangers to people’s health, to see nothing at all in relation to Alison Saunders is pretty weird to say the least. It looks fine when she makes a speech regarding the expectations of the NHS on fairness. So as we see “Alison Saunders said the Crown Prosecution Service will seek stiffer penalties for abuse on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms“, we think she is doing her job and she is, yet she has yet to give us anything on the entire lost paper trail, the documents, the actions by the NHL and the outside resource. Is that not even stranger?

You see this all started in February with ‘More than 500,000 pieces of patient data between GPs and hospitals went undelivered between 2011 and 2016‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/26/nhs-accused-of-covering-up-huge-data-loss-that-put-thousands-at-risk). With “The mislaid documents, which range from screening results to blood tests to diagnoses, failed to reach their intended recipients because the company meant to ensure their delivery mistakenly stored them in a warehouse” we get a new part. You see, stored does not mean lost, and this gets weirder with “NHS England secretly assembled a 50-strong team of administrators, based in Leeds, to clear up the mess created by NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), who mislaid the documents“. So at this point 8 months ago, the DPP had a clear responsibility. You see when we look at the CPS we see (on their own website ‘the three specialist casework divisions are: the Specialist Fraud Division (which also incorporates Welfare Rural & Health), the Special Crime & Counter Terrorism Division and the International Justice and Organised Crime Division. They deal with challenging cases that require specialist experience, including the prosecution of cases investigated by the Department of Health and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency‘ (I skipped the other departments), so we see here that there was a clear setting last February alone, the longer the inaction, the worse the damage becomes, that has been proven again and again.

In June we see ‘Health secretary forced to respond to urgent Commons question after withering NAO report on loss of 700,000 health documents‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/27/jeremy-hunt-nhs-shared-business-services-data-loss-scandal). With “answer questions from MPs after a damning National Audit Office report found that the scandal may have harmed the health of at least 1,788 patients and had so far cost £6.6m“, we see one side, I expect the damage to be distinctively larger. You see the DPP (as well as the whole of the CPS) seemingly ignored “The private company, co-owned by the Department of Health and the French firm Sopra Steria, was working as a kind of internal postal service within the NHS in England until March last year“, so was this an experiment gone wrong? Was this a PLM error (product lifecycle management) on a massive scale and this does not stop with Sopra Steria, there was an increasing risk that CIMPA S.A.S was linked to all this. The operative word is ‘was’ as the DPP and her CPS seemingly sat on their own hands for at least 8 months, maybe even more. You see, my suspicions are taking me to the fact that the Department of Health knew more on a higher level. That suspicion is shown with “the NAO report pointed out that the DH had chosen not to take up two of the three seats in the boardroom it was entitled to as 49.99% owner of SBS“, so please tell me when was the last time that ANYONE in the department of Health was willing to pass up any boardroom seat. Even if the pay sucks (which it never does) it opens up networking avenues for people they never had before, to the ‘let’s not take this seat‘ would be completely out of the question, dozens at the DH would be chomping at the bits to get a leg up in visibility, so that is how I personally see this mess. When certain members steer clear, there is a larger issue and the DPP was fast asleep (or at least so it seems).

And now the plot thickens!

With: “The government’s response has been complacent and evasive. It’s still not clear how much public money has been wasted in this affair or how this private company is going to be held to account. It’s totally unreasonable for Jeremy Hunt to wash his hands of this when more and more details of his department’s failures keep emerging“, that whilst it had been known that up till 8 months ago £6.6 million was spend and it is not mentioned now is only the top of the issue. With the absence of Sopra Steria and CIMPA it seems that certain sides are pushed away from the centre of the room. It is equally seen when we see “Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a Conservative committee member, said: “You tell us the bombshell that whilst on a trawl of local trusts you find another 12,000 and then you found another 150,000 missing items“, here I cannot tell whether the issue was raised or not (it was not in the Guardian article), yet there is no way that Geoffrey was unaware, a graduate of Eton and Freeman of the City of London. There is no doubt in my mind that he was aware of the links, the question is why questioning in this direction was not pursued and/or reported on. So when you might have been thinking that I was all about some ‘conspiracy theory‘ in the beginning. Do you still think so? The entire PLM issue is one that is not bathing in millions, but in billions as infrastructure crack more and more on the paper trails and reports they require PLM solutions are the only one stopping systems from collapsing overnight. In this regard even India is on par with the needs and CIMPA is taking every step to be the only player of significance there. So now some of the events make a lot more sense, do they not? You see CIMPA was on the right track, until AI becomes the path that solves certain issues, it will be about automation and data processing. For a lack of term ‘from paper to digital data without people’ is what is required as people are the drain on speed and the postal sorting machines had proven that side decades ago. In the end what exactly happened is uncertain and might never be known, especially as the DPP is seemingly still asleep in all this. Did the solution fall over, did the data collapse? We might never know, yet in all this the one part I left for the very end. With the mention of ‘private company, co-owned by the Department of Health and the French firm Sopra Steria‘ there is one side not mentioned. You see private companies have revenues and profits, these profits go to private individuals. None of the articles shed any light on those people involved did they? The DPP, the CPS, Vince Cable, and the Guardian made no mention of that at all and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown didn’t ask these questions either did he?

5 parties all with interests are avoiding looking into a direction to the extent that it needs to get. The fact that it happens under our noses is particularly interesting. I wonder what we will learn in a few weeks, especially as this 26 month ‘slicer’ is as quoted by Simon Stevens, the NHS’s chief executive to be dealt with in the next 5 months with: “This should be wrapped up by the end of March. End of March is a feasible goal.

By that time what else will they not have looked at?

 

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The tail of a prophet

I spoke on all kinds of matters, and I also gave some upcoming predictions. So, on June 17th of 2017 I predicted: “So by the end of 2018 the console offset ‘Sony:Nintendo:Microsoft’ could end up being ‘13:9:2’. This would show Microsoft on how they truly bet on the wrong marketing horses. So I admit, it is a speculative prediction, yet the sales numbers are not that far off and my expected Nintendo growth is not unrealistic“. It was (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/17/after-the-e3/) where I decided to introduce the audience to some of the massive bungles that upper management at Microsoft is involved in. Now, if they replied (read: if, if is good), it would be along the way of ‘it is not our core business‘, or ‘we have all out vestment set to the Azure solution‘. Yet in that view options like Hadoop are already mentioned on the way out, getting replaced by a new flavour of Big Data. Microsoft has Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), but there the adaption is not on the curve they need it to be, so as we see other places become contenders, we realise that Microsoft is too big to just fall over, but as they wanted to be in the generic ‘let’s be there for everyone‘, I see (a personal believe) that those focusing on one part of a business that they are excelling and they are taking away customers left right and centre. Now, this is not a tidal wave, it is a slow process. Yet, in all, the quote I gave now has a serious side. Only last night did I get the news that the Nintendo Switch has hit the 5 million sales mark Compare this to PlayStation 4 Total Sales: 63.4 million and Xbox One Total Sales: 26.5 million (not entirely accurate as clear numbers are hard to find), both released in November 2013. So in 6 months Nintendo closed the gap by a lot. Nintendo is currently committed to get production up towards 2 million consoles a month and this is showing as some analysts (not the group I have the most faith in) have predicted that by March 2018 Nintendo will be expected to be seen in over 13 million homes. So in one year the Nintendo Switch will close the gap with the Microsoft Xbox. My predictions are still on speed to become a reality, yet the given by December 2018 might not be the case. If Nintendo releases the games they have planned on time, the curve will increase and whilst the Microsoft business analysts will bedazzle the people with Scorpio, 4K gaming and other things, the consumers are starting to realise that the people at Microsoft are less clued in on the gamers needs, a thing I clearly stated for close to 2 years (or was that 3 years) and now my predictions are slowly moving into the sunlight for all to see. At present my 13:9:2 is likely to be 12:5:3 no more than, yet Nintendo remains in 3rd place, which was the larger part that mattered. Still this is based on two players with 6 years and Nintendo with less than 2 years by the end of 2018, so even as consoles would have been sold, the Microsoft growth will stagnate as a larger population from their camp will switch to Nintendo and the family friendly games that Ubisoft produces are not helping the plight of Microsoft in any way.

You see, there are two groups and as Microsoft does not care about one of them, it is that group that will drive the dagger home so to speak. It is my personal believe that Microsoft is ignoring the people who bought one and they are realise that to some degree they ended with a lemon. Now these people are not going to jump to Sony, but with the Nintendo wave and the good pricing of that console they will consider the Switch for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there is a 95% chance that Nintendo will have a great Christmas on a near global level. You see, the group Microsoft neglected is now showing a dusty Xbox One, these people are not going to Scorpio and depending on their gaming prowess, not only will they advocate non-Microsoft solutions and buy a Switch, they will in theory prevent 2-3 other players getting an Xbox as well. So not only will Microsoft be fighting an uphill battle from the day they launch, their new system will be buried by the sales achievements that Nintendo is bringing to the ‘Just Dance’ floor, which will be a growing and is likely to be a Nintendo dominant dance floor. A nice little positive event (read: impressive achievement) for Ubisoft as well. A game that has hit the 25 million mark is showing to be as successful as the Xbox One console at present ever was. The fact that some Microsoft executives are not contemplating suicide is a small miracle to say the least. Perhaps they should have actually listened to the gaming community and not revere the spreadsheet they adhere to.

We see at present more and more news in both camps. One showing that Microsoft is more and more successful for the Scorpio, some show that Microsoft remains stagnant and are now setting $50 price drops and one source gives us “Only 13% Of Hardcore Gamers Plan On Buying An Xbox Scorpio“, which is a number I feel uncomfortable with as I expect that number to be at least twice as high. Yet between the expected buyer and the actual buyer there will be a gap and the results of Nintendo show that gap to likely be widening on a nearly daily basis. In other news, a few months ago we saw (at https://mspoweruser.com/project-scorpio-fails-impress-american-gamers-according-nielsen/) the title “Project Scorpio fails to impress American gamers according to Nielsen“. This fact is a lot more interesting were it not for one given part. When we consider the quote “Phil Spencer has to prove to gamers that they need to upgrade. The only way to do this is to show mind-blowing graphical upgrades and flood the internet and television with advertisements of the device” we need to wonder about the job Nielsen has in this. You see, ‘mind-blowing graphical upgrades‘ might seem nice, but in the end it is about good gaming and that has not been delivered by many games, not to the degree it needed to be. In the second, the part ‘flood the internet and television‘ might be to appease their other customers, but it does nothing for the gamers, only the badly informed consumers and that market has shifted a lot. It has shifted because people bought the WiiU and some of them are now hurting by the Xbox One, not in the smallest part because of unwanted and non-consensual uploads by the Xbox One into the Azure cloud. We are becoming more and more data savvy and the Microsoft helpdesk telling me (read: they really did) that this lies solely with the internet provider is a party line so stupid, it makes me want to vomit. So from the side of Microsoft, we see their hardware, their policies and their shortcomings, they sold out the gamer three times in a row with one console. that and the ignored part by Nielsen on how much of a blasting success the Switch was gives us more and more light that properly informing an audience is a loaded canon to say the least.

Now, I am willing to say that my data is not completely up to scrap. When we consider that several sources who give clear Sony sales records need to guess and get other data sources to compile the Microsoft numbers. The fact that Microsoft has been remiss (or pushing dates of publishing numbers) is one tactic to keep the diminishing group of Scorpio pre orders in the dark. The first set will be immediately sold out, that was never in question, but the three subsequent pushes are the ones that are in play. The war for Christmas is on and even as I have illusions regarding Nintendo winning that, there will be loads of Ps4pro’s and Scorpios on the list of plenty of kids. The A$650 might seem nice, but in the end, as people realise that storage remains an issue, having the A$675 2TB edition would have been the smarter move. Oh wait, that one does not exist because Microsoft did not consider the gamer in any of this, just their Teraflop speech laced with 4K resolution. That evidence is shown by Microsoft when we see “While Forza Motorsport 7 hasn’t been released yet and it won’t be out until October 3rd, the official Microsoft Windows store has listed the download size for the game and it is a gigantic 100 GB” (source: gearnuke.com), a factor I mentioned before, so as the 1TB drive loses around 300Mb for the operating system and store parts and so on, the gamer soon realises that there will only be space for 7 games in 4K. So how long was Microsoft going to hide that disaster? When you have to reinstall 3 games within 6 months and get the patches, how long until you get to be in an aggravated state of irritation? A clear issue that the Xbox One had and even as Microsoft had the ability to diffuse the situation, they decided to not do anything, which is another battle they lost to Sony and one that might drive more gamers towards the additional Nintendo pile of those who want to enjoy a game. This now also fuels the previous blog on digital rights (one that Euro gamer made me start after their video), because in that setting a physical copy on disc becomes more and more important to every gamer. Yet this is not all, it is the largest factor in gaming that is now starting to push the envelope to the degree that Microsoft will not be happy about. With the announcement of ‘a Nintendo Switch version for Fear Effect Sedna‘ just today will be coming to Switch pushes the bar as Microsoft is losing their exclusive range of games faster and faster. This is a known bar that both Sony and Microsoft pushed as much as possible, now that some iconic titles are also coming to Switch; the results will have an impact on all consoles (it will impact Sony to a much lesser extent). Even as I personally believe that some titles will not make a person not buy a game, but could push a gamer to get the Nintendo Switch on the side. This action results in more and more hazard points for the continuation of Microsoft consoles as a growing group of people are now cancelling pre-orders. Now, that is not an entirely accurate statement. Let me give you the ‘down low‘ on it. Last month has given more and more forums the issue where people came with the same issue “my Xbox One X pre-order was cancelled for no explainable reason by Target“. There seems to be a separate play going on. Some players never cancelled their pre-order, it seems that some players who wanted to make quick solid revenue are now confronted that their infrastructure cannot deal with the sudden ‘need’ of thousands of players and their systems seem to be unable to keep score to coin a phrase. So here Microsoft is wrongfully set in a bad light as other systems cannot deal with the infrastructure of some consumer chains and Target does not seem to be the only one. I believe that there are people having second thoughts, which will always happen. I believe that the ‘converted’ curve of Microsoft is a lot lower when we consider actual ‘converted’ gamers. So there are those numbers to consider as well. The backup in all this is that as cancellations happen, sales numbers might regionally shift and this is happening in the height of Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there will be a larger lash back to consider in January, but that will be a story for another day.

So as my tail is considering the tale of a console that was designed not fore gamers, but for players. Microsoft needs to sit down and make some clear considerations on where they went wrong and how they moved from second place to a possible degradation to initially position three, all because three factors that could have been directly avoided were ignored for (as I personally see it) other business needs.

A harsh situation that again, as I personally see it, is all the doing of Microsoft self and they only have themselves to blame, a market shift in merely 2 years. I wonder who they’ll blame when the numbers become crystal clear at the end of the next financial year. Perhaps it will give us a new console in 2018, the Microsoft EOFYbox, free with every Microsoft Surface Pro IV.

 

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To emphasize ‘flawed’

There are all kinds of issues playing. Murdoch who admits that they benefitted from hacked emails (so what else is new), the call for the leadership of the Tories or even more annoying the battering ram of North Korean rants and counter rants and the nauseating gossip train of the Las Vegas shooter. All of that is worth a few dozen words, yet in my mind, in light of yesterday’s view of IP and gaming IP, I think it is clear that a few more words need to be spend on the category, but now on a different field.

IP is at the heart of the matter, but now we will look at another side. For those who have had a view of games and gaming, many will remember the awesome trilogy called Mass Effect. Those who went through the growth of the Xbox 360 brand will have been aware of the Mass effect trilogy, there is no way escaping it. The first one gave us something new and exciting. When we consider the Elder Scrolls and the Fallout games, we were clearly introduced to a competitor in this field and Mass Effect delivered something new, 2007 became an almost magical year. Then something new happened, in 2010 we saw the sequel, a sequel that is still regarded as one of the best RPG games that the Xbox 360 ever received. I will skip the final part in all this. So in this history, you might understand that the expectations were so high (perhaps too high) for Mass Effect Andromeda. The people at Bioware had 5 years to get it right and they failed. The game was flawed on several levels and even as we need to accept that it is not a bad game, the utter quality of Mass Effect 2 was not equalled, not by a long shot. I am not alone, many reviewers saw the game as one that does not equal the initial trilogy and even now, the interest of a remastered original trilogy is desired a lot more than Andromeda is. I finally played the game, I was unwilling to pay the full amount after being shown the most basic of glitches and issues, but when offered as a new (not pre-owned) game for $25, I gave it a go. So as I have finished the game in a week, I concur, the game is flawed on several levels. I am not going into the animation and graphic glitches, too many did this. The game from the beginning shows a flawed approach to several sides. Now, it is shown in the initial level, a level which I usually ignore as it tends to be an intro level as to train the gamer how to play the game. So after the intro movie (which is actually quite brilliant) we get to go to the first place. Here we see the impact of flaws. So after 650 years in travel we get to a planet and whatever they have we can use to reload our own weapons. We see a new opposing player and that is fine, yet the battle strategy, the weapons, the resources show us a flaw from the very core onwards. Ammunition is the clearest part, but it goes beyond that. The Nexus, the entire evolution that we play through, we can go two ways here. Either the game should have been a lot bigger with a lot more to do to grow us into the nexus and locations, or live with the assumption jumps that were made, jumps that were wrong on a few levels (as I personally see it). Now, we need to accept that things like this happen in action games and shooters, because the focus of such a game is different. Yet in RPG you can’t get away with it. The plot does not thicken, but the elements get to be a lot more questionable. The Salarian ark and the Turian ark are just on the surface of that. When we get confronted with those elements in the story we see the flaws grow. Patched stories for the sake of whatever they thought it was going to be. So when we see (from Wiki) “Mass Effect: Andromeda required a team of over 200 developers and, according to Aaryn Flynn, was given a total budget of C$100 million, which included marketing and research costs.” we get the first realisation on the bungled level of a game. My initial personal design (concept) of the sequel to Skyrim took less than an hour to construct in my mind and an additional 4-5 hours to type. So I got to be in a much better place from the get go. Now, do not take my word for it, because you never should. So instead I am going to introduce you to a group of 20 people, not having anywhere near such a budget. The team is Unknown Worlds Entertainment and their take on RPG with Subnautica is one of the best, one of the most refreshing (all that water helps) and amazing trips I have had in my lifetime of gaming. I hope that this game makes it to the PS4 and if it is still available on Xbox live in early release do it because it will be the best $30 you are likely to spend this year. The comparison is important because even in its non-final stage Mass Effect does not get close to what Subnautica has already delivered. OK, granted that if shooting is your need in Mass Effect, Subnautica might not be for you, but overall Subnautica kicks Mass Effects ass on several fronts. Three programmers outshine the dozens that Mass Effect had and that is just embarrassing. If you want to learn more take a look at IGP (the Indie Game Promoter) who (at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheIndieGamePromoter) has all kinds of videos. So take a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgyCiWXPZzE&index=76&list=PLVxH6E2fftrfbnmjYAXXiCJJwleb-HZvB for a first view of the game which gives a view almost two years before the final release. You want to skip to 1:45 and skip to the start of the game. The game is very much the truest view of RPG as they can get. So the intro is not as flash as Andromeda is, but that is the only time Mass Effect wins. Now, as stated, this is not a shooter, so be aware of that. The part that should amaze you is that this game is more about survival and the basic survivalist edge is often ignored by many RPG’s.

So as I am giving you a parallel on the skips of Mass Effect and also ‘story lining‘ of Mass Effect, we need to dig a little further. Now in their defence at times we cannot prevent that in the case of Mass Effect, but consider that after a trip for over 600 years, we get to aid certain players (Salarians) ‘just’ in the nick of time. This is an issue on a few levels.

Also even as we accept that many bought it soon and the game had sales close to three quarter of a billion, which is a financial success, it comes at the realisation that the game scores 72% which at the budget given is a massive flaw, yet here I will admit that the shooting side of the game is as some stated it: “The core shooting mechanics feel stronger here than anywhere else in the series“, which was made by Scott Butterworth of Gamespot and he is right, this part they did do very well and it is likely the one reason why the game remained the financial success it has turned out to be.

Yet the QA was far below par, the delivery was wrong and in the end I personally profited by getting a decent game for $25, a mere 6 months after release. So consider how this game could have gotten closer to the $1 billion mark by getting things right? An additional twice the investment by thinking things through and properly testing it from the start, and not even requiring to think too intelligent; the basic story line debated on the flaws that they needed to avoid from after the intro level onwards. Consider that the ‘Salarian Ark’ event became a basic shooting mission, whilst it optionally represented dozens of hours of additional gameplay on several levels. So apart from the timing as a ‘just in the nick of times‘ mission that is underused and oversold, we see that the other Arks become mere wasted moments in the game. In a place that has so many shortages, leaving behind an ark that has thousands of tonnes of resources seems weird, even if it does not have any lives left. It is not as the Nexus had an abundance of resources, did it? So there we see more, just after a setting that had a revolt, shortages and deviant issues, we see every time the Tempest comes and go’s (too often because of other flaws) we see that the docking level shows an environment that equals the embassy level of the citadel itself, all missed options and opportunities. There we see the option of an additional 10% score if it was done and properly tested. So now we get from 72% to 82%. Then there is the premise that this is a game with only 5 worlds to fix?

There could have been a few more, and more important, changing the way the vaults were accessed on at least one world might have made the game a little less obvious (to some extent). So here we have another 5% in the making, making the game approaching a 90% game, which is a given need when you waste 5 years and a hundred million. Subnautica, when you like that part of RPG gaming is giving you at 25% of the full price of the Mass Effect game. A game that was already awesome when I decided to get it and whilst playing the early release, the game added at least 4 more expansions to the main game and they are now part of the main game. In one part Mass Effect wins. The graphics, there is no denying that the graphics of Mass Effect were really good, but we might see that an additional 80 staff members (and 90 million more) should guarantee that part. All this and as we know that RPG’s are set over time, so we can accept that growing the impact over time as we play might have given a few more options and a few more changes to the way that the game was played, giving the gamer a better game (and optionally a much larger game).

So as I have enlightened you on some of the flawed parts, there is now the link to the previous article to set. The longevity of a game as well as the IP is the sellable part of any developed game and in that part Subnautica is all about original IP and they got the IP to grow value, loads of value. Even as we see that Mass Effect is to some extent more of the same, they did grow their IP range, but only to a fraction of Subnautica. This now gets us to the setting that is the link. In the digital age the value of the service purchased is the money we invest in the product we thought we bought. You see, as gaming progresses, we see a dependency and as such we no longer buy the property, but we lease it in some ways and rent it in other ways. The gaming industry has no choice but to set the multiplayer sides into a renting foundation (buying with an open point or termination), whilst the single playing part (the missions) will be leased for the term of the console. Now consider the satisfaction you get from leasing a game that is rated at 72%. Are you willing to go on paying the amounts we see? At this point I have now shown you the essential need to properly test a game before release. You see, it is shown in the quote that several sources gave. With: “Following Mass Effect: Andromeda’s poor critical reception and lacklustre sales, BioWare put the Mass Effect series “on ice”“. So even as we saw some sources state a sales numbers surpassing $500 million whilst there was $100 million invested, so either the numbers given were wrong, or we see the impact of greed as others walk away from a $400 million milk cow. In that part, what were the true costs and why would any company walk away from a possible $100-$250 million in season pass revenue. This part and the issues had shown from several sources that the detrimental financial health of IP and IP value is shown to be at least to a larger part to be due to the flawed quality of proper testing. Ubisoft has been though it (Assassins Creed Unity) and as we see Bioware and Electronic Arts walking away from half a billion dollars, we need to consider beyond games and the value of a gamer, we need to see that the impact of IP is not set in stone and the quality of the product (or service) is at the foundation of what we think we purchase and what we expect to receive. In this there is the clear evidence of the flawed product that is Mass Effect Andromeda and the weird part is that I saw the flaw in the first hour of the game. This now sets the premise of the wrong players (read: business parties) that were in charge within Bioware and Electronic Arts. It is my personal believe that their marketing division has either too large a vote and they looked at the wrong sides of the game. This in a setting of a 100 million invested, how weird is that?

So now we get the treasure that the Cullens, Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys give us on their web site. With “Whether buying or selling a business one of the most overlooked aspects of the transaction is the intellectual property of the business. Proper identification, scrutiny and valuation of intellectual property will have benefits for both the purchaser and vendor“. It is the issue that is really the bread and butter of growing game developers. In this the word business can mean either that or it can be set to ‘product’ or ‘service’ and the realisation of this quote which is not new, shows just how flawed (or sloppy) Mass Effect Andromeda turned out to be. Now, we look at the bad sides here, but the game has loads of good sides too. Yet it missed the boat by at least 20% (72%, instead of 92%) and I lighted up 15% in the easiest of ways. The last part we see when we dig into the world of the game testers. Now I can relate here, because I reviewed and tested games for the better part of a decade. My knowledge and skills showed me the parts I illuminated and I truly believe that there are better testers than me, so that implies that none of them work for either Electronic Arts or Bioware which is statistically near impossible, so that means that the large investment was made on a flawed infrastructure, or at least that is as I personally see it. You see, the old joke (from when I was young) has been that it takes 90% of the time to fix the last 10% of a project. At some point highly educated graduates were hired in places where the foundation of art is the core of the business and they introduced the setting of ‘linearity’ of art based projects. So that a project is done at 10% a month and the last two months of the year were for testing, which is not how it works and not how it will ever work. Now, I simplified the idea for illustration, so it is not an exact given, but the clarity of flaws that Mass Effect Andromeda shows on day one of release gives the validity of my view and shows just how breached the concept of design linearity is (perhaps you remember the Ubisoft statement of ‘every year a new Assassins Creed game’). As such, I believe that the game lost out on massive revenues.

Now consider the two headlines:

Bringing Mass Effect to a new galaxy isn’t quite the shot in the arm the series needed” or “Blown away in another universe 640 years later“. The first is IGN and the second one is one I came up with, if they had done a proper job. So would you buy the game if you read ‘isn’t quite the shot‘? Gamespot had “After the first few hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I was discouraged“, whilst Forbes gave us “I don’t think anyone will claim it outclasses the original trilogy, outside of maybe the very first game“, so a new game merely on par with a game released a decade ago. This is the setting of a flawed product and the fact that this was not seen in the beta stage of the game is questionable. So in an age of digital rights that are moving more and more from the permanent availability into a stage of temporary usage, where we no longer get to own the product, yet merely lease (read: rent) a product also requires others to realise that the game of gaming is shifting, and these players can only continue if they ‘up the quality’ of the product or service they make available. This shows in one way just how amazing a game like Skyrim is proving to be, the fact that the game still embraces gamers 6 years later whilst Electronic Arts loses the bulk of value of a product within 26 weeks. That is the evidence that shows that flaws are becoming a much larger issue for all in these fields and it shows that the players like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and others as well, need to take a harsh look at what they offer and not merely listen to their own marketeers as the value of what they bring forth is now shifting whilst a product is in development, which is the third nail in the coffin for Electronic Arts as it took 5 years to get to a very much less than perfect place they ended up. I believe that the flawed setting can be improved upon, yet the people at Bioware better realise that the stakes are raised and they are raised by a lot, in that we need to ask whether they can match the needs of a shifted market.

I cannot answer for them, and like Nintendo Electronic Arts and Bioware are not out of the game. You see, even as Nintendo bungled the WiiU, they hit back with the Nintendo Switch, which is becoming a game changer in gaming. I believe that both Electronic Arts and Bioware can do the same, the question is whether they will, time (read: the next release) will tell. Should that fail, they could always move forward by charging their fans an additional $10 for a steel box of a game. Oh wait, they are already doing that with FIFA18, ahhh how the world turns!

 

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In case of your death

I was surprised to see a Eurogamer article on the steam account of dead people (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLFUbU5ceI). The article is interesting and puzzling all at the same time. You see a view that is interesting, mainly because Eurogamer is merely voicing issues that the audience bring to their attention. Now, let’s be fair, the maker Chris Bratt also mentions the bulk of other users of this approach.

It is puzzling because I reckoned that people should have known better. You can leave your physical products behind, but digital products will not transfer. That part has been a clear issue for decades (yes, not years, but decades) it comes with clarity that certain services, especially digital services are services, not goods with a clear setting of ownership. Digital ownership tends to remain with the maker of the product and you the gamer, or user are merely ‘leasing’ that product for the length of your life and in plenty of cases not even that long (read: annual fee).

That is a clear situation in the sight of the worrying owner (the maker) of the product. So in case of software products like Adobe, Microsoft and other players, the digital arena is granting access to, to the person that paid for these services. So when that person dies, the service will be gone, because the service is no longer required for the person who bought it. In my view it is simple and clear, because this is how it has always been. Now that people are actually thinking for the first time on what happens ‘afterwards’, only now are they considering the consequences of their initial forward thinking part to embrace Steam (as a first example). So, even as their might have seemed to be an advantage, having the physical copy will always be better. So now we see that people are catching on. Yet in light of a growing nagging population, do they have a case? You see they purchased a service, not a product, the difference is not what they do, but it is the stage of physicality, the lack of a media carrier. Even then it is not a given that you have any options. The history of software products has had the setting for the longest of time that the purchased products were not transferable. Ashton Tate with dBase 3 and 3 plus (1979) is one of the earlier examples in Software, the bulk of all Microsoft products, although Windows was usually not linked to a person, but a computer. So the phenomenon is not new or unique. So why is it now getting more and more limelight? Well, people are now starting to catch on that their thousands of dollars of games are linked to their identity, to their account and when that is gone, what has been bought is gone too. We can argue on it and also argue on how valid any discussion is on the products that do come with a physical element. What is a given is that as time progresses, the option to own for life a product will fail too. You see, there is a valid case that a product bought is set to the original buyer and no further. The greedy players like Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Ubisoft have been playing with that setting for the longest time. And let’s face it; they do have a point (to some degree). They promised to service your gaming needs, not those of your children and grandchildren. Now, when this is a single player game, a case could be made to transfer the disc to whomever it ends up with, yet there is also a clear case that the services and support are set to the original buyer and without it the game cannot continue. It might be regarded as an open and shut case, but is that truly the case?

We have seen it be done for decades, but was that a legally acceptable reason? I am merely leaving the point of view open to debate. Should a game be allowed to be transferred? Is it fair on the makers of the software products for this to happen? Nowadays we are waiting for the maximised utilisation, the greed driven makers on the minimum option and to some extent the truth tends to be in the middle. This is not because it is fair, but because it is expected. We grew into the expectation of ownership from books and gramophones. Only when the time of digital installation began, only at that point did we see the change towards the expectations that the makers had on ownership and with the age of parchment and gramophones behind us, the consideration of set service terms were not truly on the scale it needed to be. Yet now, with the cloud, with digital ownerships and with downloadable content we are seeing the shift where we are no longer the owner, but the authorised user of the digital product. Now we have the shift that the industry wanted and perhaps in the view of some was entitled to.

In all this we need to realise that the power of creation is not merely remastering of older versions it is the need of revenue for the makers to continue their development and is it fair or unfair to allow for this path? It is at times depending on the point of view that the person has, and n that setting the software industry and the user are unlikely to see thins eye to eye. Some like Sony have the option to link one account to all the devices, so three people could be playing at the same time (each on a different system), some give options for multiple users for a few dollars more and some will try to fetch cash from every user. It is as I personally see it linked to where our expectations are and through history they have been set in favour of the user, now with the cloud and with digital versions that ‘advantage’ is lost to the users and it is largely depending on the others on how they allow us to set this in motion.

Eurogamer is all set towards the need of a champion with references towards Bruce Willis, but is that fair? The best setting is one that Microsoft tried (best for them that is). They wanted to disable the option of pre-owned players and that got buried real fast. Now, I am on the gamer’s side when it comes to a physical product. But in case of Mass Effect, can we truly expect that multiplayer accounts are transferred? Is it fair to continue digital server service ‘ad infinitum’? I personally do not believe that to be fair. Yet in that same push, I think that a physical copy should not be linked to one person, to one owner, but in that as the future comes pushing us, the wrong stance to have. I believe that the intertwining of services, physical and non-physical will stop or enhance the push for limited authorised access.

It is merely my view and perhaps a wrong one, but I am willing to consider that we as users must accept this shift. In this it will become more and more important to have a full physical game. We see the setting of patents in the requirement of manufacturing and physicality, yet now with the cloud and distributed usage (including cloud gaming) we see that every unit is part of the whole, so as such person X with license Y will become part of the whole implying that person X2 with license Y is another entity altogether, I will go one step further that as each player becomes a mere key of the machine, we see that physicality is set in hardware and software and as such, the combination becomes its own dimension, meaning that transfer of ownership becomes a thing of the past. Yet this also spells dangers in other ways, because as non-repudiation becomes a larger issue, any element (like email address) becomes an absolute setting, so that we are in danger of stopping ourselves to move forward with a second email address, a thing we saw with Ubisoft in the past. So once we lose our e-mail address through hackers we could in theory lose whatever we purchased through that medium. Now, most have their own registration system, yet what happens when that depository is lost, damages or altered? That is the part that is not fixed and is unlikely to be properly addressed for some time. It is even more conceivable that our children will in their lifetime see the need and growth of identity implants. Perhaps even more than one and it is at that point that the digital age of ownership takes another leap, perhaps a much larger leap than we have seen in the last 25 years. It opens up whole new ranges of opportunities and dangers. The question will sooner become, which one tips the scales of balance and how will it affect all?

So in case of your death you might be confronted with the implants of your parents, the implants of peers and siblings. In this the law is actually not ready and it is not as simple as what will happen with your games. Because as the setting is fixed it will be about bank accounts, available funds and set funding of growth and wealth. In all this we will see shifts and we will ponder where the rights of services will be set. In this it will go beyond commercial versus NGO, it will be about the shift that identity enables us to hold and that will shift the movements that we are able to do. It will be a new level of hindrance and perhaps even a step towards global discrimination, because when you realise that the age of implants is already here, consider the impairment that some people will have by allowing these changes to the body and to the external extremities.

For those in IP it is a great time to get involved with block chains and non-repudiation, because the game of games, gaming and software will be changed to much larger degrees than people realise and the initial changes as some realise them to be at present are only the tip of the iceberg.

Enjoy the weekend.

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Songs in the key of Technology

Yesterday saw an article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/03/pixel-2-google-apple-iphone-htc-pixel-2-xl), with ‘what does Google need to do if it wants to beat Apple’s iPhone?‘ which is one way of looking away from what is actually happening. You see, with the opening part on how Google ‘could become big player in smartphone-making with acquisition of part of HTC and forthcoming Pixel 2 launch’ is merely the front for something a lot bigger. You see, for a year Huawei had an optional advantage towards Google whilst the one advantageous player (read: Apple) wasted their time on iteration and presentation, perhaps only partially on innovation and marketing the hell out of an event that will happen in December (read: the iMac pro). Now the gap is closing and with the HTC part Google has stepped into the space where it can compete with Huawei on an upcoming £30-45 billion market. A new market that is about to happen. Whilst everyone is playing with themselves on how some of these people are ‘rulers of the universe‘, or so they think, Google now is moving on the inside track to take that market and at least three niche markets, which will give them a long term advantage. You see, Apple might be number one, the largest and the richest, but the danger of the number one is that you need to make sure you comprehend what numbers 2, 3 and optionally the player in position 4 is doing and Apple seems to have lost track of that part. Now they are in a place where they lose one edge and as such they might remain number one, but the players in position 2 and optionally the one in the third position will be closing the advantage gap that Apple had and had been making them complacent in their actions. Now, we will wait, living on conjecture and gossip as we will get to live with 15 months of movement below the surface of the waters. For those on the sidelines, it will be like watching a submarine race, a real spectator sport (read: not really). Now we get to the accusation in regards to what Samuel Gibbs is writing about. With: “it can pull off the one thing other Android smartphone manufacturers have struggled with: differentiation” it is staging that Google is not differentiated, which might be true to some respect, but in another regard he fails to see what truly matters to the millions of users. It is actually very simple: “To give the people, the users what they desire”, so basically something pretty amazing at an affordable price. We see his claim of ‘homogenous sea of sameness‘ (it does sound cool though) whilst these same styled writers seemed to price Apple for consistency for the longest of times. What he fails to see is that this homogenous ocean creates users, users that know what they are getting and they know the value of Android (well many seem to do that). So after the age of VHS, MSDOS and MP3, where it was to get as many people as possible to adapt a standard, it suddenly becomes about ‘being different‘? No, that is not the way it is played! You see, the market Tata lost, the market Apple ignored and that same market that Huawei is waking up to, is the one that is now almost within the grasp of Google and it can potentially grow the value of Google not overnight mind you) up towards a growth of 40%-70%, that is almost unheard of and we have not seen such spectacular growth since Windows 95 was introduced. That is the key of technology that we are about to face and ballads will be composed to those creators when it hits us all.

In this I equally oppose Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. With “The Achilles heel of Android at the moment is that software updates take forever. Unlike Apple where it controls everything, you’ve got to go through the device manufacturer, and be approved by the network operator, which means it takes ages to get services and experiences out there.” He knows that he is (as I personally see it) misinforming you. All the Android hardware makers have used Android and then tweaked it for their optimisation. So when the new versions came, we all had to wait, because these makers preferred to sell new phones, not update old ones. In addition the workforce needed to truly test new android versions and test and update all the elements were not in place either. As I see it, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei and other Android facilitators should all be regarded the same and as I see it, people like Ben Wood know that, they literally can’t ‘not know’ it. So as we see the hidden Apple tweet in their story, they are missing on the fact that Android, or perhaps we would soon call it Cyborg (or Android plus) will potentially crush Apple as it goes past the stratosphere. In this, how do I know it? Well, to be honest I cannot say that for certain, yet the lull in the patent registration department is a little less loud. So it might still come, but with the time lap we see under those conditions, I would speculate that Apple is already slow, too slow to that punch, which gives the larger players (Google and Huawei) now an edge they have not had before.

So as I see the end of the article with “In doing so the Pixel could also be Google’s stake in the ground. A demonstration of what the best of Google can really do that is as much a statement as a product”, it seem like a filtered version of what we might be seeing after the Pixel 2 comes. The grounds are already starting to shift, the question becomes who will attend the changed surface and which of these players are ready to show what the other players were too slow or even worse nowhere near to address. There will not be any ‘defection’ or people dropping there IOS device, yet the growth that comes is almost a certainty, which will vocally set another motion. That changed motion would be: “Every IOS user has an Android device, but not every Android user has an IOS device”. The moment that happens, and it is a realistic shift, it is at that point that the people in the higher echelons start realising that believing ones marketing and moving the borders of true innovation are not the same thing. Going for a market with a Pro device priced at 40% more whilst not giving the people that much more power is not innovation, it is iteration, an expensive lesson that Apple might end up learning the hard way. I wonder if I end up being proven wrong. We are less than 18 months away from that moment.

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