What is right is sometimes wrong

This is a weird day; it is weird for all the reasons that set the stage where things are weird. It is not ground breaking, it is not even great, but it is an essential event. To explain that we need to go back to Dutch history, to be more precise we need to go back to 1994. The politician Hans Janmaat was a member of the CP (Centre Party), it was ultra-right, very nationalistic in nature. He had slogans like “Holland is not a country of immigration” and “full=full“. In the not so great economic settings, which were harsher for many as the Netherlands is not just seemingly short on available space. To give a comparison, The Netherlands is the almost the same size of the US state of Maryland, Yet MD has 6 million people, the Netherlands 17 million, so space is hard to come by, so people started to listen to this person. In UK terms it makes the Netherlands three times the size of Yorkshire, whilst having 350% of its population, so it is decently comparable.

Even as his views were only tame in the first 3 hours, his extremists’ views were soon loud and harsh. So a lot of politicians and media starting to ignore him, which I always thought was a mistake. If you want to take power away, you need to make that person fall on his sword called ego. The media and politicians thought it would go away, which did not happen. What did happen that people were too frustrated with the elected politicians and in the 1994 elections, he ended up with the power of three seats, not one seat, three! He now had (for a short term) power and a vote in all the events, now all parties united against his actions and views, so they had to unite in resources stopping him. In all this Hans Janmaat often used economic arguments in his tirades against immigrants, just like Adolf Hitler did and some usurpers before (and after) him. Yet, the setting was a dangerous one and it was deflated by politicians setting a sphere of ignoring him around him, silencing the issue away and it did go away after a while. Yet did they actually deflate the situation? Now we see a similar setting to some degree with the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who merely has a more tempered view in all this, yet for the most still very ultra-right oriented, he has not gone away, he is now the political leader of a party that has 20 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives, 9 out of the 75 Senate seats, 66 of the 570 state provincials and 4 of the 26 European Parliament seats. Remember how this setting started with 3 seats?

In addition, the Professor Emeritus Meindert Fennema gave the argument in 2006 that Hans Janmaat was in the end convicted for making statements that has become common place in 2006, a gap of a mere 12 years. the political climate had changed in the Netherlands, partially due to the assassinations of politician Pim Fortuyn and Dutch film director and producer Theo van Gogh, the 9/11 attacks did not help any either. Geert Wilders followed in his footsteps (to some degree) and is the current leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV). When we want to expose extremism, even Christian extremism, it can only be done by pointing it out in the media, we acknowledge that there are plenty of people who are sheep. They remain sheep because they merely follow, they cannot tell the difference on quality of who to follow and that is dangerous too. Some presenters (in politics and media) go into academic overdrive to the degree that can put any insomniac asleep roughly 92% faster than a double dose of Restoril (Temazepam). In many cases we need to educate the people, not sound more intelligent then them; this is the setting I have and now we get to the article ‘Sky News removed from Melbourne railway stations after extremist interview‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/09/sky-news-removed-from-melbourne-railway-stations-after-extremist-interview). Important is that I do not disagree, but at times the right thing is wrong. You see, when we see Jacinta Allan, Victoria’s transport minister give us: “I’ve directed @MetroTrains to remove @skynewsaustralia from all CBD station screens. Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community. #springst“, I think she has a good and valid point. Yet, if we do not educate the people on what is wrong and why it is wrong, such a person can get elected in the end. After that it will be one complete political term of fixing the floor whilst the tap is running and the mess merely gets bigger. So when I see: “The move comes after the network interviewed Cottrell on Sunday night and the broadcaster was accused of “normalising racism and bigotry” by the former Labor MP Craig Emerson“, people will state that it makes sense that we see ‘quit his role at Sky News following the broadcast‘, yet the damage is done. A partial opportunity was grabbed by Laura Jayes when we see: “As if to prove my original character assessment…. Blair Cottrell posts (and later deletes) some weird suggestion about raping me on air. He’s not just a fascist. He’s down right dangerous” and she is not merely correct, she is absolutely right! A person like this is dangerous, the economic climate is here, just like it was in the Netherlands and there is plenty of hardship. People like Cottrell will state things like ‘it could be better, but no one will listen to me‘. Soon he has one person listening, then a second, then 4, eight, 16, 32 and that is merely in the first day, on the second day, the 32 will incite 64 to listen and it goes up quickly after that. If you decide to disagree, please feel free to watch the movie (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-04/billy-bush-says-infamous-access-hollywood-trump-tape-is-real/9224358), where a famous person decided to state ‘You can do anything, grab them by the Pussy‘, for your reference. That person is now addressed as ‘the 45th and current President of the United States‘, so smothering the silence and actual take action to show the danger of such a person is a more essential act then you think.

The same mistake that we saw in the Netherlands and several countries in the past should not happen, the only way to get these people out of the picture is to let them rant live on TV and make sure the people realise how dangerous it is to listen to people like that. So in this Jacinta Allan is wrong and Laura Jayes is right. Only by clearly exposing these people and making sure that such a person is ‘down right dangerous‘, preferably with evidence and stating why this person is dangerous that is how you deflate a situation. Most politicians are more about hearing their own voice and not about removing others by letting them speak and there is to some degree validity in that. Yet, when we see that not invalid view fail again and again, other ways need to be found. You see when you start skimming the news, reading the headlines. we see ‘Sky News sponsor backlash mounts‘, ‘Sky News removed from Melbourne railway stations‘ and ‘Victorian government bans Sky News from train stations‘, now it is all about Sky News and people might ignore the rest. Yet the headlines could have read ‘Blair Cottrell states that woman are happier with rape‘, ‘Extremist views removed from Melbourne stations‘, or ‘Blair Cottrell gets advertisers to drop contracts‘. Now the focus becomes Blair Cottrell and people will want to know why, more important, they will clearly see why Cottrell is ‘downright dangerous‘. With a person like Blair Cottrell it is not about bringing nuance to the screen; it is a tactic that works in his favour, by giving people the blunt direct version many more will shy away, those who optionally still admire him will do so silently, so growth of listeners is no longer a worry either. The sheep mentality also implies that something less acceptable will be pointed out and set into the limelight that people like Cottrell really tend to dislike, especially when they have political aspirations.

You see, there is a second danger and that is the one we do not see, but they are in the US. CNN reported less than 10 hours ago (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/08/politics/donald-trump-primaries/index.html), that it is not merely getting into power that counts, the setting we see with “In the last 14 contested Republican primaries where President Donald Trump has endorsed a candidate, his pick has won — or is leading — all 14 times“. With: “John James in Michigan’s Republican Senate primary, who had been considered an underdog prior to the Trump endorsement, won the right to face Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow“. President Trump was not merely a president; he became a kingmaker 14 times over. So it is no longer merely him we need to worry about, it is that there are now 14 small time Trumps on the rise. So when you think that silencing Blair Cottrell helps, consider what happens when he gets in because he got endorsed by Pauline Hanson, current senator of Queensland and it ended up working because the people did not realise just how dangerous he was?

The US as well as European politics have shown that several times over. It was a miracle that someone pulled current President Emmanuel Macron out of a hat, it was a close call between that option and the alternative that President Marine Le Pen would have offered. Several sources gave rise of the situation with “the strategy of fear mainly reinforces Le Pen’s popularity“, I am against fear mongering and there was almost no option, because everyone considered that it would never happened. Not only did it almost happen, In Italy Matteo Salvini, the initial underdog is now Deputy Prime Minister of Italy. I think it is clear that we need to accept that doing the Ostrich (a head in sand pun) will not cut it. In case you think it is going to sizzle out, consider the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/05/italy-coalition-cracks-five-star-salvini-racism), where we see: “Roberto Fico, M5S MP and president of the chamber of deputies, spoke out against a controversial pact with Libya that sees migrants forcibly returned to war-riven north Africa“, speaking out against a setting where refugees are send back to a war front setting. Salvini just got elected; Italy has 5 more years of this setting. With this I hope we all agree that giving the limelight of danger on just how dangerous Blair Cottrell is, is preferable than him gaining strength and followers in silence, because AFTER an election there is very little we can do for that term, a clear view with five examples where we only see one case with a narrow escape, not a good track record to work with.

I have always believed (and rightfully so) that given the setting where you give a short-sighted person enough rope, they will end up hanging themselves again and again. It is like the overeager DIY person and the ability to paint himself into a corner that tends to be the most satisfying setting of all. In such cases I am more than happy to sponsor the bucket of paint and the brush, seeing a person sit in a corner. On a personal level, if that person ends up being Jason Sudeikis, I will make sure that his wife Olivia Wilde is not in the corner with him, seems like fun challenging her to several games of Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch (one Nintendo Switch each mind you) and after each round both of us shouting out: ‘You OK there Jason?‘ should make an amazing afternoon of gaming, possibly the best one ever!

I have been known to be creatively sneaky under the most diplomatic of settings.



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Upping the game

Today started with a nice revelation, Microsoft has taken the sales offensive. Even as we were treated to ”Bethesda’s online action role-playing game “Fallout 76” won’t be available on Valve’s Steam platform during beta or when it launches on November“, the story changes when we look at the PC games in the Microsoft store we see: “Pre-order to get access to the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A.“, so it seems that Microsoft is setting the bar really high, in addition for that part the game is equally available on launch day for those who have the Microsoft Game Pass. The Game Pass is $11 a month solution (in Australia); you get no option to buy the pass for a year (as far as I could tell), which is a drag, and you better have the download options (not to mention the storage) before you commit to it, but there is no denying that it is a deal that is way too good to be true. Microsoft even offers a 14 day free trial, which implies that the games are only available to play as long as you are a member (this is speculation!), not unlike the PS Plus setting. The pass has XB1 and Xb360 backward compatible games and it is a HUGE list. It includes a list of the upcoming top games to be released this year makes the Game Pass an essential choice. The Pass at roughly $130 for a year) will include well over $600 of AAA+ top games, yet to be released in 2018. So apart from the download hassle the pass represents hundreds of dollars of saving in this year alone. I personally believe that they messed up some of the visibility and marketing, but that was their choice. The smaller issue is the backward thinking cap of the US, for people outside of the US (Australia for example) games (when bought outright) are roughly 28% more expensive (and that is after I corrected for the exchange rate). There are also ‘shadows’ here. I do not believe it to be, but there are. For example one source gave me “These eleven Xbox Game Pass games are “leaving soon”“, I cannot tell whether they will also be removed if you have added them to your library (so check this when you decide), the second shadow needs to be mentioned as the quote was: “Personally, paying for the Xbox Game Pass program and Xbox Live Gold is quite a monthly cost“, which is ABSOLUTELY BOGUS! The Xbox Live is a service subscription to play multiplayer, so if the Game Pass title has that, then yes, you will need Xbox Live as you always would have needed it. For the simple player part it is not needed, just as the setting is today. In addition ‘quite a monthly cost‘, is silly to say the least, even on a budget, the setting is that you have Xbox live $80 and Game Pass $130, gives us full and complete access to $12,000 worth of games for $210 a year, anyone debating whether that is expensive needs to get their heads examined. Now, there is no way that you will like all games that would be silly. Yet the setting now allows for you to try games at $0 that you would never have bought in the first place, a setting where you can grow the games dimension that you are in. I believe that to be a really great setting. The part not mentioned is of course the downloading time and subscription fees of the internet, even as those prices have been going down, or better stated giving you more download at the same price, it is a cost you need to consider, yet at the setting where you get access to $12,000 in games, which represents more than I have ever bought in a lifetime across the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One together is an astounding part you must remember. If only Microsoft had thought that hard drive issue through in 2012, things would be even better for them. I still see that as the one Achilles heel in all this, yet with the rumoured new Console (Project Scarlett) announced for 2020, we do know that Game Pass is a long term setting of gaming for Microsoft and whatever sets the console will be optimised for the billions that Game Pass will bring in. In all this we might ramble too early on the storage issue, but it is an issue Microsoft knowingly and willingly ignored and in all this ‘the most powerful console in the world‘ is impacted through it. In addition, I have had the longest issue with Microsoft marketing (for various reasons, so as Microsoft states in Windows Central: “Xbox Scarlett hardware will ‘set the benchmark’“, I tend to get nervous, you see, they have no idea (well some idea) on how gaming evolves, yet in the end, we will not know what will be available by 2022, so at that point any console will be merely on par, 14 months after it is bought. I moved to console gaming as the update for a PC in 2002 went overboard. Processor and graphic card showed that you would need $2500-$3000 to be up to date for high end gaming and that got you roughly 24 months at best. So gaming with the additional $200 a month, as well as updating drivers, patching and whatever else needed made me move more and more towards consoles and the Xbox 360 delivered perfectly for almost 8 years (at $700), so the cost of living was set to the games bought not to the additional cost of upgrading the hardware to play games. An awesome setting, Yes there was the one off for the hard drive (from 20 to 120 gigabyte, at $119 at that time), but it was well spend. In the end I bought 2 Xbox 360’s, the second one was essential as I got another red rings of death 75 hours before the release of Fallout New Vegas, so I went: “Eff That!” and got the one with the 250 GB drive and it still works, so apart from a high blood pressure event once, the Xbox 360 was a golden choice for any gamer. I also had the PS3, which had the option to upgrade the drive as the PS4 had, so in all this the entire hard drive issue was out there for 12 years, ignoring that part (as well as always online bullying) angers me, because there was never any need, for none of it.

Why does it matter?

It is a level of orchestration, pushing people into a direction before they are ready (and perhaps they never will be). In this Cambridge Analytica is a larger hurdle then anyone imagined and the gamers are sketchy under the most stable conditions. Hackers, phishers, cheaters and trolls are always around the corner and it is best seen when you investigate ‘League of Legends’, I never played the game, but the amount of messages giving way that the victims of bullying and trolls are worse off than the perpetrators is why there should be an online ‘off’ switch. It is essential because the resources needed are allegedly not used correctly (debatable if that would have been possible), and the systems do not have the settings to protect players. The option to just play offline for a while is perhaps the only pressure valve that works (not on all games though), so when we look at MailGuard and we get it in regards to Office 365 (just one day old): “The cunning thing about this phishing scam is that once the victim has entered their username and password, the fake login page redirects them to a genuine Microsoft website, so they think that nothing is amiss. Meanwhile, the criminals have collected their login credentials and are able to steal their online identity for all kinds of nefarious purposes, like fraud, invoice falsification and malware spamming“, Microsoft needs to realise that they have a larger issue and they cannot fix it (basically no one can). Well it is possible, some of the kids involved have been identified, and by shooting them in the back of the head and leaving a message with the parents to start taking notice of what their kids are doing you get change, although some might find it a bit extreme (an issue that is probably a setting for the eyes of the beholder).

Why the extreme example?

The issue is not merely being online, the issue is that too much is online and even if we wanted to apply Common Cyber Sense all the time, there will be a hiatus and when it comes, it will be at the wrong moment in the wrong place. At present the actual success rate on finding and convicting cyber criminals is less than 2%, it is even less when we realise that not everything gets reported. It is in that atmosphere that game streaming is about to be set to a much larger extent. A setting that is based on mere authentication and not on non-repudiation (uncertain how achievable that is at present). You show me a company that guarantees you 100% safety and I will introduce you to someone who is lying to you. As the gaming industry is a $100 billion plus market, the issue was forever that gaming was low impact (for the most), people had more often than not a physical copy, there were more and more parts that one had to overcome, so for cyber criminals it was not an interesting market. Yet with the upcoming changes to the gaming environment it changes, all is online, all is set on central servers and that is when BlackMailWare and RansomWare will become a much more lucrative business for those targeting gamers. Even when you think it does not happen, what happens when your online account gets scrambled, your passwords changed from the outside and for a mere 0.01 bitcoin you can get it back. Systems like that are already used, some will consider that paying $88 is preferable to waiting and losing scores, statistics and access to files with the logs of hundreds of hours of playing a game. When you see the time some invested on games like Diablo 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4 and now upcoming Fallout 76 you get the optional setting where ransom might be successful. And the setting of ‘always online’ makes the threat to console gamers a lot more realistic. You merely have to google the issues on League of Legends and World of Warcraft to see the impact and it is much larger than some think it is. You think it is simple and an adult thing to live with, yet when Microsoft has to explain that danger 250,000 times to the non-technological mother and father of a 16 year old playing and suddenly losing all access, perhaps being permabanned in the process as well, at that point the game changes quickly.

Having a decent non-repudiation solution in place might limit the damage to a larger extent, but that system does not exist for gamers, mere authentication and even when upgrading the issue is not the 100 that do, it is the 15,000,000 who haven’t. this is part of the setting that Microsoft faces and it is facing it on a daily basis with Microsoft 365, where the users are (for the most) adults, so when we get to the console it becomes a different setting. This is why the console evolution is a little more treacherous. When the gamer has the option to remain offline (when needed) he/she has options, when forced online they fall away. Sony got hacked a few times (at least twice), with millions of accounts and the details in the open, the damage was larger than some expected and I reckon that most avoided damage was because the overwhelming amount of gamers had physical copies of the game. So offline gaming was never impacted, merely the multiplayers losing a few days of access.

Now, with Game Pass that would not be an issue and the optional overall damage of $210 (two subscriptions) are easily tended to, in the worst case scenario you pay for it twice and a few weeks later it is either refunded, or you are all paid up for +1 year.

Now, let’s change the setting that the Business insider gave us one month ago. With ‘A desperate hacker tried selling US military files for $150 — only to find no one wanted them‘ (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/hacker-us-military-drone-files-for-sale-2018-7), this seems hilarious, until you consider the following facts, the first one is “The hacker, who is believed to reside in a poverty-stricken country in South America, said his internet connection was slow and that because his bandwidth was limited, he did not download all the files prior to finding a willing buyer“, so it is in a low yield place, the second one is “The hacker also tapped into live footage of surveillance cameras at the US-Mexico border and NASA bases, and an MQ-1 Predator flying over the Gulf of Mexico“, we still have a sense of humour, live camera watching! Yay! Now we add “the vulnerable computers were taken offline, which inadvertently cut off the hacker’s access to the files“, OK, it happens, sometimes a computer has a missed security patch. Now we add ‘a maintenance manual for the MQ-9A Reaper drone, a list of airmen assigned to a Reaper drone unit, manuals on how to suppress improvised explosive devices‘, is seems harmless, right? Yet when you consider that this was a professional setting where the person had access to “documents belonging to a US Air Force service member stationed at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, and documents belonging to another service member believed to be in the US Army“, we see the setting where Military security was circumvented, from a close to powerless place into Military hardware. so when we are confronted with “enough knowledge to realise the potential of a very simple vulnerability and use it consistently“, we see the first part, the second part was given with “The Netgear router vulnerability, which dates back to 2016, allowed hackers to access private files remotely if a user’s password is outdated. Despite several firmware updates and countless news articles on the subject, thousands of routers remain vulnerable“, this is a setting involving adults (one would hope), they cannot get their heads right and you are submitting teenagers and gamers (in a non-professional setting) to those exploitations. Microsoft can market all it can, and to some extent they can fix some parts, but the ‘always online‘ will still be out there and that is where the damage gets to the people.

The prosecution fail rate makes it cool and interesting to go after gamers and the many hours of having to download games will at some point present an opening for hackers, that market is growing and it will hit gamers, there is close to 0% avoiding that.

The question becomes, how ready will Microsoft be? How much resources will be impacted on their customer care and customer service when it hits? The Xbox 360 gave them the red rings of death issue (which went it happened to me was fixed awesomely, it merely took 3-4 weeks), which is acceptable as a new console was shipped to me. The setting when it is in cyberspace, the game changes as a million accounts could be affected. Some hackers will be creative and resort to a low corruption setting (like the dBase virus), some will merely download and wipe, the fact is that even if it is resolved, it will take time to resolve and that is where gamers lose patience really really fast. My setting to buy another console to fix it is one example (I had the funds when it happened), yet what happens when you are in the middle of a Diablo 3 season, which is time restrained and someone ransoms your access? In current setting the damage is partially avoidable; the new Scarlett setting leaves the partial part up for debate. In addition, as the number of people resorting to that path increases, the interest to mess with that part becomes a lot more interesting to Cyber criminals.

In this we need to look at the other side too, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) gives us “cybercrime is costing the Australian economy up to $1 billion annually in direct costs alone“, when we look global, we see Experian with the quote: “Ransomware attacks, data breaches, theft of intellectual property, sales of counterfeit goods and other illicit activities are generating at least $1.5 trillion in annual revenue“, so globally, when gamers are added to that list of victims, how high will that priority be? Do you think that they get prime time consideration, or will the party line become ‘the best and easiest thing to do is to just start again‘, I was told that by Microsoft when my Xbox one profile got somehow damaged in the first year. Now try the setting with access, invested cash and time and tenfold the amount of open targets. From my personal point of view, when there is an Office 365 impacting against the Xbox Red accounts wiped, how many resources will Microsoft have? I am certain that the business customers get first dibs on whatever they need. Now this last part does not count against Microsoft, it is merely the lesser of two high cost evils, it is reality.

Even as Microsoft is showing that it is upping the game on gaming and consoles, it is also upping to optional damage and hardship to gamers. I say optional, because in the first, we have no idea what that red box will be doing, we have no idea what the settings are for near future gaming (in 16 months) and we do not know how certain changes will actually impact the gaming sphere, but Sony has shown us that the dangers are real.

In the end, we see that Microsoft is upping the game when it comes to gaming, there is no denying it, yet how the future will pan out and whether Microsoft has truly upped the game for gamers is still to be determined. That is not a negative thing, because any expectation for the future is merely speculation, yet the dangers to their gamers will increase by a lot and that part remains the question mark in all this. Some could have been prevented by a lot, but Microsoft is clearly steering into a settings where adherence to ‘always online‘ is the setting they demand, one way or the other. Even if the prison has golden bars, it remains a prison and that part needs to be clear. The fact that gamers do not get the choice in the matter is what matters, not only from the cyber threat side. Congestion is a growing concern on a global scale. Even as Bill Morrow, Chief Executive of NBN Co. was idiotic enough to initially blame gamers for the congestion, the truth is that against 4K Netflix and YouTube, gamers are not even a blip on that radar, yet congestion is a present and growing issue, so there is a problem there too. The system is already under pressure and globally 200 million gamers when a large slice of that pie is set to the streaming and virtual copies of games only come into play, congestion will rear its ugly head and those gamers become more than a mere blip. Consider that Bethesda shipped 12 million units to retailers within the first 24 hours of Fallout 4, and consider that a large chunk of these people will immediately download the game on launch day of Fallout 76. so optionally up to 12 million people all downloading a game that is also stated to be 4K, so we are looking to around 100 GB download, that is merely one game title, it will be in a time when there is plenty to download and even now, as we accept that most are physical copies, the truth is that gaming in that way will add to the congestion in a really big way. Most providers are not ready and it will impact the gamers, Netflix users and Stan (the list goes on for a long time) are merely part of all this traffic. I named Bethesda and they are merely one of many players in all this. Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Electronic Arts; all people pushing (or getting pushed) towards the virtual release only side of things down the track.

Why does this matter now?

One of the big events QuakeCon 2018 starts tomorrow and that will also be the place where more specific information will be given by the actual makers on more than one title by the way. It will be important on how games are moving forward. It is not merely Fallout 76 (one of the biggest titles anticipated) that is in the upper limits of gaming on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation; it would potentially give the direction of where they are going with the Elder Scrolls VI. Merely two Bethesda games that literally has millions of followers, so there is an essential need to take notice of Bethesda for several reasons. This reverts back to Microsoft, because Bethesda games have a huge following on all platforms. It also means that in that setting (set against the rumour that Fallout 76 is online multiplayer only, yet you can play the game alone) any congestion will topple game joy completely. We know that there is enough experience with Elder Scrolls Online, so it is not the setting that Bethesda is going in blind in any of this, but at the same time the gaming dimension is changing at the same time, so that change is impacting in more than one way; that is the push that Microsoft is going for, which is all fine, yet at that that point we will be faced with more outside interference factors and congestion is a real factor, one that players will be confronted with to a much larger degree in the near future.

If Microsoft gets that all right, then it will be picking up momentum in a scary way and at that point the question will be, can Sony match this? I personally love that part, if we see a setting where Sony and Microsoft push each other to new heights is great because in all this, the gamer ALWAYS wins! And over time this push is a realistic one, yet in some places we will optionally see a time where the providers cannot match what the consumers need and that is a new setting for many gamers. In the past we merely accepted what was available, in the new setting you get to play based on what you pay for and that is something we have not been confronted with. Anyone thinking that this will not happen; think again! It might be the selling point for people to switch providers, but there will be a clear setting of borders, borders that set what you can do and that is where we see the overall cost go up, yet to what extent is a clear unknown for now.


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The man in the middle

There are a few issues going on, a few that should be looked at, yet because they are so in motion, looking at them now remains to be way too much speculation. What is interesting to look at is ‘How the GRU spy agency targets the west, from cyberspace to Salisbury‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/06/the-gru-the-russian-intelligence-agency-behind-the-headlines) and it makes me wonder more about Andrew Roth than anything else. The GRU, or as they are called Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniye is known as the military version of what was the KGB and is now the FSB. The big cheese there is Igor Korobov. Now for something new, did you know that he is allergic to nuts? Well, it is true; he just cannot stand crazy people, and before he became Big Boss of Russia’s military spook central he was an officer of the Russian Air force. You might not realise it but it is an important fact, it gives shape to the man. The same as we see how higher officers of the Australian Navy and British Air force are shaped, so are the Russians in their setting and ego. Now, I cannot vouch for anything regarding Montenegro, I never looked into that (and not planning to at present). So when I see “A British security source told the Guardian on Monday that the nerve agent attack on the former double agent Sergei Skripal was also ordered by the intelligence agency“, I merely see the media being played. The issue for me is simple; most issues on the Skripal event given to us via the media were largely wind and speculation. The actual poison was NEVER found, there was no evidence on where it came from or how it got there. There was ample evidence that the Russians invented that stuff and there was also evidence that the formulas were out in the open. This does not mean that the Russians were innocent, but the clarity of the event and the utter lack of anything remotely pointing towards evidence is important. We hears several sources, all making those claims that it needed to be state driven were debunked from the word go, so whatever Vil Mirzayanov stated was up for scrutiny, especially as there were too many references to his book (plug your papers when you can is perfectly valid). I discussed this in March in the article ‘The Red Flags‘, where I stated: ‘the clear evidence could be largely dismissed in most courts with merely the use of the documents of the SAB, the OPCW and the testimony of Vil Mirzayanov who seemed to be interested in upping the sold copies of his 2008 publication‘, so not what I thought was right, but what the documents of the OPCW clearly put forward making the setting on the state driven assumption questionable. I also mentioned (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/27/the-red-flags/) the setting “the US and the UK have not given any clear evidence, whilst several sources have clearly shown that Novichoks were out there. If any of the sources, that I mentioned on Novichoks (like Leonard Rink), are shown to be true than there is a larger issue in play. The issue is that some governments are in denial over the evidence and facts and that is a bad thing“, again, I was not stating that Russia was innocent, merely that the overwhelming evidence that the availability went beyond state driven access was ignored by all parties. I also mentioned (which was speculation) that there are easier ways to create panic as well as getting rid of certain members of the Skripal family, most involve the application of leaded devices, which are readily available in the UK. The entire setting was flawed and dirty. That is the part that got to me first. Most people work from their background. An Air force man, no matter whether it comes dressed with a lion (UK), or a hammer and sickle (USSR) they want clean results, a clean setting, it tends to be in their nature. So the entire Commando (Spatsnez) paragraph is nice, however they merely jump at the needs of their commander (who is one of them fly boys). In addition, the hit went wrong and those people really cannot accept failure. Try walking up to the SAS and telling them to do an operation that needs to fail, they’ll tell you to fuck off (or merely do that bird gesture), the fact that was given, that it was all about an unstable volatile chemical mix, makes the setting even worse. Then Andrew goes out on a limb with “Open source researchers have claimed that a GRU officer supervised the transport of anti-aircraft weapons to eastern Ukraine when the Malaysian jetliner flight MH17 was shot down there, killing 298 people“, which is really an act of stupidity (as I personally see it, that is). There are a few clear pieces of consideration (I shy away from the word evidence at this point). News (dot com dot AU) gave us long before this ‘Never-before-seen footage reveals Russian-backed rebels arriving at the wreckage of MH17‘ (at https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/neverbeforeseen-footage-reveals-russianbacked-rebels-arriving-at-the-wreckage-of-mh17/news-story/c5f6bc5e9629a22d17fe2680bfbd61a5), now I will admit, not the most reliable source of intel under most given days, but the wider accepted part: “THEY arrive at the smoking wreckage, thinking they’ve shot down an enemy jet. But the truth quickly becomes clear“. Two small points here; the first is that people on that level (Spatznez, SAS, Navy Seals, Commando’s) do not miss and they do not allow themselves to be filmed. These people shoot 10,000 rounds in targets so that when they have that one clip with 30 bullets, whatever they aim for will not be missed. It is the difference between the amateur and the professional and those teams are not amateurs. In addition, I have had a few issues with the MH17 situation from the get go, although in this case I will accept that many media were setting on speculations and rumours and creating emotions, whilst the actual investigative papers, as well as the classified attachments are not available to me or the media (for all the right reasons).

Then we see one addition, an interesting one. The quote: “Peter Zwack, a retired US army brigadier general, wrote about a series of meetings before the Sochi Olympics with the head of the GRU, Igor Sergun, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in January 2016. “I found him soft-spoken, unassuming, complex, erudite and nuanced,” he said of their meetings, which largely focused on counter-terrorism efforts” is interesting (because it works in my favour), also in the given setting that they were commanders and equals in all this. The ‘unassuming, complex, erudite and nuanced‘ is what we expect from every top officer in any given army, and that setting that we expect as well as tend to see is not in line with the entire Skripal case. An article filled with anecdotes and one reference to the extradition of two Russians, the article raises a lot more questions and offers little to no answers.

Yet in all this, the views given here is the view that some officers have of their nightmare opponent, not an actual one. I doubt if there is anyone willing in the main armies (Russia, US, UK and Nato partners) to actually push for a setting of using a chemical attack on a target whilst knowingly endanger the population around that target. I have always seen that in the maximum field, the SAS, Commando’s, Navy Seals and Spatznez are precision tools. You do not use expensively trained people like that in an open setting or use them as a blunt instrument when there are alternatives around you. I admit that is merely my vision on it, yet consider that even in an army there is cost accountability. This applies to overt and covert operations and whilst there are less options in covert operations, setting the stage as we saw in Salisbury could have been done in a dozen different ways, all of them successful. It does not rule out the Russians as the optional culprit, yet the evidence as it was visible to all to check, gives enough rise to the question: ‘who else?‘, the fact that all parties walked away from that question makes the entire setting one of many question marks.

In the end, when we get back to “The British government is poised to submit an extradition request to Moscow for two Russians suspected of carrying out the Salisbury attack that left one person dead and three injured, including Skripal and his daughter“, whilst there was never any indication or any setting that the method of distribution was found (stated to be an unknown several times), whilst there was no CCTV or other options available to identify anyone in both attacks, we see: ‘two Russians suspected‘, questions should be asked. I am willing to state that the intelligence played this close to the chest and that there was indeed evidence never disclosed, we get that, yet the media setting going so far back basically stated the opposite. In addition, the attack was done on 4th March 2018, so now 5 months later there is evidence? How circumstantial is that evidence? I would love to be there when the lawyer presenting the extradition requests gives the goods on the evidence and where it came from. So not only is this a useless waste of time and energy, it seems to be one that is doomed to fail long before the papers were even served. This does not mean that they should not be served, I am merely going from the setting that not only will it be a setting that represents the existence of ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘, I am certain that it likely fails ‘in the balance of probability where it is more likely than not‘, two settings that are planets apart. So failing both would be an interesting sight to behold.

All that information on the GRU, the Spatznez with all the lines to optional settings and possible attacks, yet in all this, where is the link to the two people requested to have a free life time vacation in the UK? Even as the Guardian stated in another article ‘Extradition request for Russian suspects has zero chance of success‘, which is very likely true. The entire Skripal mess seems to be a chain of failures and bungles on several levels. Now, in all fairness there was never much of a chance to get anything remotely useable in the first place, the setting was so far away from CCTV that the town of Salisbury offers plenty of actual privacy on several levels. Oh, and before I forget it. I mentioned it in ‘Does it taste like Chicken?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/05/does-it-taste-like-chicken/), is it not interesting that the KalVista Laboratories and Porton Biopharma, both advanced labs close to both Novichoks events, both labs that seem to have the required setting to make Novichoks. Yet the fact that neither got any of the limelight, not even by an inquisitive journo loaded with assumption and a ‘the people have a right to know‘ almanac (old and new testimony). They were all remained focused on Russia being the one and only culprit.

Again, the Russians are not saints (they suck at Cricket though); none of this reeks of a covert state action, it has the vapour of organised crime and in that setting if any of those people having access to either of these two places, there should have been a loud alarm on every street corner between those places and London.

It is merely my view, feel free to disagree. I feel like the entire setting was not one of parliament, or police, or justice. There is a man in the middle deciding on what is out there, there is a game strategist, an orchestrator in the field. I cannot state there is evidence, but there are several indicators in play, some are adhered to some are altered, that is how it all reads. I am not talking about the intelligence services, because that is merely a setting where we see embargoes and restrictions, it shows like an outside source telling others what to disregard. The Mirror for example used (whether valid or not) “ONLINE EMBARGO – The Times. Sergei and Yulia Skripal. No online before 12pm. Attempted murder of a Russian former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal”, the mere fact that larger pieces of evidence from the OPCW were initially completely ignored by most press outlets.

I know I am good, but I am not that good and several media covers have decent quality experts available, none of them had the OPCW on their brain in this? The docs I linked to, that defused several angles were all ignored? That is, what I personally believe to be a stage setting. And there is a lot more that I initially mentioned before anyone else. So in all this, the article from Andrew Roth leaves us with plenty of questions, the most important one is why such useless actions are taken in the first place and more importantly (as I personally see it), why the stares on one less likely candidate?

When the media is told where to look and telling us where to look, in light of all the visible evidence, is that not an even more worrying side in all this?


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Merely a starting point

There is an interesting article at the Guardian, which we were treated to mere 6 hours ago. The article ‘Virgin awarded almost £2bn of NHS contracts in the past five years‘ seems to be rubbing people the wrong way. We see (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/05/virgin-awarded-almost-2bn-of-nhs-contracts-in-the-past-five-years), the setting where in “one year alone, the company’s health arm, Virgin Care, won deals potentially worth £1bn to provide services around England, making it the biggest winner among private companies bidding for NHS work over the period“. In the end, the NHS either privatises to a much larger extent, or the service stops. It is basically that simple and it is only the beginning. Even when we give the right amount of empathy to Sara Gorton, the head of health at the trade union Unison, as she states: “The company has been so keen to get a foothold in healthcare, it’s even been prepared to go to court to win contracts, moves that have cost the NHS dearly. While the NHS remains dangerously short of funds, taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be wasted on these dangerous experiments in privatisation“, is that really the case? The fact that Virgin got the contract was mainly because it could be done cheaper. I warned for certain settings as early as 2014, that certain steps cannot continue that way, changes are essential. In addition, as late as January 2017, I mentioned (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/01/15/the-views-we-question/), in the article ‘The views we question‘, issues like: “the document, released in December, aims to address the need to bridge the local NHS funding gap of £267 million which will exist by 2020 if services stay the same in the region” gives rise to even more worry. Not only is the NHS a quarter of a billion short in roughly 1080 days in Coventry and Warwickshire, to survive they have to move? How will that aid the people in Coventry and Warwickshire? Will they end up with any health care at all, or will the local Romani Gypsies with oils and herbals need to be relied on? You think that I am exaggerating? If so, please feel free to inform me on how those two places Coventry and Warwickshire, with 340,000 and 550,000 people end up coming up short by £267,000,000 in three years? Well if advice comes at £343,000 on private consultants, that shortage might be reached rather quickly, but that is not the story is it? The story is how funding has failed and how much more it will fail over the next three years. So, as such, is my view as I personally see it of an essential judicial public inquiry that far-fetched?“, it refers to an article in the Coventry Telegraph, so with the question on how we can save money, which was billed at £343,000 , starting with common sense might have been a first solution. In addition (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/17/behind-the-smiling-numbers/), in ‘Behind the scenes‘, we get a few truths that really hurt and that was February 2016. The Guardian then gave us: ‘Income tax must rise 3p to stop NHS ‘staggering from year to year’‘, so, how much more taxation was captured for the NHS? Remember that was 2 years ago. In addition, I had issues (to some extent) on the path that Lord Kerslake took with his papers. And all these papers and consultancies (none of them free), the proper setting for mental health care was not properly set in the dimensions of cost and forecast, now add to that the setting of taxation delays and we see that the NHS is collapsing on itself, a collapse that is increasing in speed and that is merely the last two years. So in all this, someone at Virgin woke up and called Uncle Richard and asked if he was interested in making a few billion more. The setting was always falling in this direction, and most of it was not due to the tenacity of Richard Branson, but due to the political inaction and to an even larger extent the political follies seen (NHS-IT being the main one). Consider that it took me 8 hours to figure out a technological solution that could change the entire infrastructure of data, merely because I was willing to look at the larger picture and rearrange a few settings, the solution was printed in the History of Scotland, it was THAT simple. Yet none of those IT experts had a clue, or they did but the political engine would not consider adherence to change making it a bigger folly.

Now we see: “Precise details of all the contracts are difficult to establish because neither the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England keep a centralised record. Virgin’s when it announced plans for six branded clinics offering a range of services. However, it was only in 2010 when it bought a stake in an existing provider, Assura, that it began to show greater ambition in the market“, which shows both the data folly as well of a massive lack of transparency on the health care part (optionally parts of the NHS as well), that shortcoming is the first setting into cost cutting and it is also a direct link to where services could be bettered. The second part was seen in January 2017 with ‘Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons health select committee, criticised the government for blaming GPs for the crisis” as well as “She said in a tweet: “Pretty dismal stuff for govt to scapegoat GPs for very serious NHS pressures. Failure to understand the complexity or own responsibility.‘, the central setting was ‘Failure to understand the complexity‘, a part that was shown to a larger extent going back to 2016, even in 2015 and 2014, there were clear signs of non-comprehension in all this and the IT folly, which the Labour government was able to grow to £11.2 billion merely added to the pressures, whilst in addition to all that is also minimised options left for the NHS. all that squandering came at a price and it seems to me that both Sara Gorton and Paul Evans seem to steer in their lanes, but are equally ignoring the setting that the opportunity for Virgin grew due to a lack of flexibility in the organisations (slightly speculative) and the political branch merely added fuel to the squandering fires. Then finally the Lord Kerslake paper, which I opposed to some extent with the equations that they had in regards to the 20 OECD countries. Here I mentioned ‘Perhaps his Lordship could give a slightly more detailed explanation for the remark “Health spending needs to rise at least in line with GDP. Arguably, we may need to go faster if we want to match European funding“. Considering that the Netherlands and Belgium are next to one another and their budgets per person are apart by a mere 49.404%‘, I believe that it is not merely the stretch of the ‘holier than thou‘ GDP, I believe that there are additional elements making the comparison for the UK not merely dangerous, I believe them partially to be unusable (well a bit more than just partially). In all these settings there has been delay on delay and in the end Virgin had to step in. The funny part is that this also opens up data and reporting centres where Virgin has a much larger trove to work with. It would end up that a new VirginAnalytics could be what Dunnhummby was for Tesco, although with a data growth close to 500% of what Tesco allowed for, there is a decent setting where Virgin creates new levels of data cohesion giving the NHS an actual first time where there is a better level of reporting transparency as well as a better quality of Dashboard presentations, which will grow Virgin even more and also allows Virgin to skim the cream of the NHS sections that will be more profitable in the mid-term range of investments, opportunities grown from political complacency as well as political indecision.

So whilst people are going emotional with slogans like: ‘Not His to Seize‘, they all forget that the NHS and its political branch did this to themselves, Uncle Richard merely picked up the pieces and made it all work. This is getting even more traction when we consider the Lancashire Post where we saw almost a month ago “Opposition politicians have demanded an urgent inquiry into the way the authority awarded a £105m child health contract to Virgin Care, only for the decision to be blocked in the High Court. County Hall is continuing to consider its options after the ruling two weeks ago, one of which could be to re-run a part of the procurement process which the judge ruled fell short of the standards required

The article (at https://www.lep.co.uk/news/inquiry-call-over-lancashire-county-council-105m-virgin-care-health-contract-1-9241205) gives rise to questions not only on the awarding of contracts, but on the entire setting on investigating the amount and not to mention the fact that the contract was awarded whilst there were two NHS trusts on it, it shows that it not merely transparency. With ““We are in a real mess and the Government needs to intervene,” said Labour leader Coun Azhar Ali“, it implies that the NHS (as well as the local government) is to some degree riddled with incompetence. I cannot come to any other conclusion. The setting we see with “Coun Fillis added: “The Conservatives in Lancashire have been stopped once again from privatising public services, in this case our children’s health services“, is on Labour, not the Conservatives. The governing party decided to push for public health privatisation, and opposing it might be valid, but that legal invoice is still due, so crying over it with ‘tide of mounting legal costs, which the people of Lancashire will have to pay for‘, especially when you consider that “in view of the ridiculous comments from LCC’s Labour group, it should be borne in mind that the decision to seek tender for the provision of health services for Lancashire’s children and young people was actually taken by cabinet in February 2017, and both Couns Ali and Fillis were members of that cabinet“, so basically it was a decision that has suddenly hijacked by a minority and they are crying for the setting of cost? Go cry me a river, please!

It is in that setting, where politicians (especially labour) was lax with spending, squandered billions upon billions and they thought the Virgin train would pass them by. Now as this is not the case, not only do we see larger changes, there is the valid concern that mere niches are saved and a much larger setting still goes into the drink. If there is one setting that might change it is by taxing every person an additional £1 per payslip to save the NHS. It seems like a little, but with currently 32.2 million people working, that could add up to £65 million per fortnight. It might not be a lot, but it is a start and with that start you can begin to create momentum for the NHS that is by the way separate from all other funding due to the NHS. The question will people accept it? I reckon that when the NHS actually starts getting healthier, they will live with the loss of £1 each person, each payslip. It might have been pennies, initially, but that was 2 years ago, now we either act or lose a lot more and this is with VirginCare in place. Without it, and with the lack of restructuring the losses will be close to monumental, the simple impact of inaction, we can argue that the Conservative government is taking the easy way out, but is there any alternative? You merely need to look at what we can call a hijack by both Couns Ali and Fillis to realise that there are two in a setting that is much larger and those loses and those legal ramifications as well as the actions that followed is more than a sign of the times, it is a sign of high cost and zero impact desperation, that whilst actual working actions to get the NHS in a better place was ignored to one side and mismanaged on the other side by Labour in the 1997–2007 frame.

At present for Virgin, VirginCare is merely a starting point that can go a much larger route within the next 4 years, in the end, without an NHS, what will people do? I wonder how many remain in denial of that setting, yet it has been a more and more realistic setting. The simple setting is that almost two trillion in debt means that annually at present £68 billion is required for interest alone. Even as Net borrowing is down to almost 28% of what is was in 2010, the setting is that there is a massive debt and it is impacting everything (and the NHS not in the smallest setting). Only be diminishing that part can the UK move forward, which is a lot better than the EU is seeing at present, their debt will make them slaves to the banks for decades. You see, linked to all this is not merely what the government has, but the fact that “The 28 member states of the European Union (EU) have a total debt burden of €12.5 trillion, which could be even bigger, according to the latest figures from the EU statistics office, Eurostat“, in light of the UK being one of the big four, it implies that the rest of the EU will have to deal with the €10.7 trillion debt. How quick do you think they will be able to deal with that? That is why Brexit mattered, in light of the NHS being cut to a bare minimum, it is more and more a setting that Europe could more likely than not end up with not having any healthcare at all, so where would you prefer to be? In light of all that, Virgin might end up with a large gain, but at least there will be some healthcare, a part that too many are ignoring. Would it have been better to keep it all in the NHS? No doubt, but if you want to eat at the Ritz, you better have a fat wallet and the governments from 1997 onwards have all been part of blunders that ended the UK at minus 2 trillion, did you think that was going to go away because the news did not make mention of it? Consider Forbes who gave us not only that French and Italian health care is really good under normal conditions, in Italy (regarding the article), “I have never heard of a child waiting for surgery on his arm.  He would have been placed on the operating room list and he would have been fixed as soon as feasible. There are plenty of more serious surgeries, like cancer cases or even cardiac care, that are put on hold for months in these types of healthcare systems“, the article (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjamindavies/2018/08/05/a-broken-arm-in-italy-waiting-for-surgery/#20de8a1f29b6) shows the setting in Italy, in addition, in France we have a similar setting and all over Europe there are similar pressures.

Getting back to the corporation in question, is VirginCare a force for good, or the opposite? I believe that it can be a force for good, but we need to realise that the people can only be treated when we consider that flexibility is required. The lack of resources that is already in play is one part, the political games that we see, whilst relying on the emotion of others is the second part and when the people realise that they have been had by the likes of ‘both Couns Ali and Fillis‘, and many others like them, when it comes out on the waste of resources that they enabled for, will these angry people picket at the front doors of these politicians, or is that not sexy enough?

So when we see the Virgin setting with: “We welcomed inspectors back on 4 July and they were very positive at the further progress we’d made since January in implementing our improvement plan, and gave us positive feedback about the improvements to the practice. We are awaiting the publication of an updated report in the coming months which will reflect this most recent visit“, we see that there is positive change, that there is progress. It will take time, because those expecting this change to be overnight, they are truly looney tunes. If you wanted immediate change, you should have gone after certain politicians as early as 2013, so don’t cry now, not when the choice is now limited between a crewcut and decapitation. The NHS setting is close to that extreme, and has been for some time.


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Rocking the bullshit

There has been a massive issue with Huawei, the accusations by the US is the largest one, one of its sheep (aka Australia) has been on the same post on how Huawei is such a large danger to the safety and security of a nation. It gets ‘worse’ when we see ‘The DNC tells Democrats not to buy Huawei or ZTE devices ever’, (at https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/3/17649920/dnc-democrats-huawei-zte-devices-ban-china-hacking-threat). Here we see the quote “people shouldn’t be using devices from either Chinese company for work or personal use. The words echo what federal officials have already said about Huawei and ZTE posing possible security threats to the US. In February, CIA, NSA, and FBI chiefs testified in front of a Senate committee that the two companies were beholden to the Chinese government and the devices could become tools for undetected espionage“, my issue has always been: ‘show me the evidence!’ Basically EVERY phone can be used as a spying device, that is one clear thing we got out of the Cambridge Analytica part, in addition, the Fitness tracking app Strava was a great way to find CIA black ops bases, so even as Strava merely mapped ‘a regular jogging route’, using Google or Apple maps, you would be able to map out the base, the supply routes and so on, the Apple Fitbit would be there for the Russian government knowing where these specialists were and when the were there. So in all that, and all the security transgressions seen here, not of the were Huawei or ZTE, yet, how much noise have you heard from the CIA, NSA, or FBI on Apple? Even now, they are that one Trillion dollar company, are they too big to mention?

I wonder why?

Yet, Huawei is not out of the hot water yet, they are actually in deeper hot waters now but this time it is allegedly by their own actions. Reuters is giving u mere hours ago: ‘Huawei in British spotlight over use of U.S. firm’s software’, the news (at https://www.reuters.com/article/huawei-security-britain-usa/huawei-in-british-spotlight-over-use-of-us-firms-software-idUSL5N1US343) gives us: “One of those is due to Huawei’s use of the VxWorks operating system, which is made by California-based Wind River Systems, said three people with knowledge of the matter, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing details which were not made public in the report“, which now leads me to the setting that the American accusations are set on the premise of American Software used? How dopey is that?

Then we get: “the version of VxWorks being used by Huawei will stop receiving security patches and updates from Wind River in 2020, even though some of the products it is embedded in will still be in service“. In all this, the fact that it is still serviced for another 2 years, how are we now in the stage of: “potentially leaving British telecoms networks vulnerable to attack“? Is that not equally a questioning setting? Do we not have enough issues out there with Microsoft which has been nearly forever a security concerns, at this point, 2 years early we get the security warning on Huawei, yet not on Microsoft or Apple for that matter, in all this Google is equally a place of patches, and in all this, Huawei is the one getting unbalanced and unfairly burned at the stake like a Catholic at an Elisabeth I barbecue gathering.

Yet the good stuff is “All three sources said there was no indication that the VxWorks mismatch was deliberate. There is also no suggestion that the software itself represents a security risk“, this now leads us to two parts. The first is if it is true that ‘no suggestion that the software itself represents a security risk‘, does this mean that Huawei never had a security risk and if that is incorrect, why not present that evidence so that every Huawei Owner can test for this transgressions ending whatever future Huawei had in the first place.

In the second part, if there is no proven security flaw in the Huawei on hardware, is the security flaw a software one, or better stated an American software one, and if so, why are these people only going after Huawei and not after a dozen American firms?

The one part that we see in Channel News Asia is “Consultant Edward Amoroso, a former chief security officer at AT&T, said Huawei’s experience in Britain showed the challenges of securing international supply chains. Although no one should dismiss Huawei as a supplier solely because of its geographical location, reliance on software that is going out of support is a legitimate concern, Amoroso said“, the news (at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/huawei-in-british-spotlight-over-use-of-us-firm-s-software-10590268) gives the part that does matter, in this Edward Amoroso is right, software at the end of its reign is often the true safety concern, not merely because of the time frame, but in extent the time required to properly update the software on all the devices, which is not always a smooth path and tends to open up additional security gaps. In that part of the equation Huawei does have a legitimate problem to address. The second part to all that is “In addition to the issue with VxWorks, this year’s report also cited technical issues which limited security researchers’ ability to check internal product code“, I believe it to be a minor part and the proper investigators could seek or test for the issues, not merely that, the limitations also remove whatever options there are for zero day breaches, which has a much larger legal frame to address. So even as we agree that the US setting of accusation without evidence (proper presented evidence is merely the stuff that makes the grass grow in Texas). We also get that the US is giving us: “In the United States, the Pentagon is working on a “do not buy” list to block vendors who use software code originating from Russia and China“, there is an actual thing called national security and as such, it is their right to implement that part, I do believe that in the end it might be somewhat counterproductive, but it is still within their rights to be in such a setting nor no other reasons.

In the end there are a few issues in the field and some are out there, but with a lack of technical details, some cannot be proven, yet the fact of what some have done in the past might give the setting of ‘is it more likely than not that some do not really have 5G‘ is a true setting, yet I prefer to have the actual evidence, that some are trying to keep buried, and the media is part of that chase, which is odd to say the least. Huawei is bouncing back and forth and their hold to grow fast via the UK will be there, but from my point of view, they will need to fix the VxWorks part a lot faster than they think they need. From my estimation a new software solution should be well beyond the Beta stage in Q1 2019 if they want to have any chance of keeping their lucrative growth contracts in place. In equal measure we need to look at Canada and Australia, as they are currently set to be nothing more than US tools in all this. In all respects no actual and factual evidence was thrown out in the open. If that was done Huawei would have lost pretty much every non-Chinese contract, the fact that the BS is spread even larger with absence of evidence gives more reliability that there is no real security danger and it is more a tool for some to get the slice of 5G pie, probably at the expense of a monthly data dump, nicely mailed via UPS to: N 11600 W, Saratoga Springs, UT 84045, USA. That alone should give us the goods on who to trust and who to be cautious of. In all this, no evidence has been presented to the public (and their right to know) on how Huawei is a threat to our security. The fact that I believe that this is all bogus in one thing, the issues seems to be blown up as everyone takes a queue from John Bolton, that whilst the setting “Five Eyes is an alliance between Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom that facilitates collaboration in intelligence activities” gives us that there are three in the dark, the UK might be around with the knowledge and the rest merely takes a queue form the US, which has seemingly been whispering like they did in the WMD in Iraq phase, you do remember that in the end, they were never found and it was merely bad intel. So in that setting whilst Corporate America, Canada and Australia are all in fear of their gap against leading Huawei, in that setting we are supposed to have faith on the American gospel on what constitutes a danger from Huawei? And now that we are made aware that the software solution used is an American one?

Yup, we have all kinds of problems and some are valid issues of concern as Edward Amoroso phrases it. Yet between a setting of concern and an actual concern is a mile long gap and whilst we acknowledge that Huawei has some fixing to do, until actual evidence is shown that there is a security breach, the only thing that the US can do is to offer a $229 instant price match for the Apple, or an $100 instant price match for the Google Pixel 2, or a $400 instant price match for the Samsung 9, why would anyone in this day and age pay more for the same, actually, with the enhanced batteries of Huawei you will still miss out, but that might be the smallest cross to bear. All this because some players just didn’t get the pricing right, too many fingers on the margin pie, that alone seems to unbalance the entire equation, because all these players will miss out when Huawei is given free reign there. In this the equation is no longer about security, it will be merely about greed and those enabling for it. Is that not equally important an element to consider?

I’ll be honest, I am still happy with my Huawei P7, it was really affordable against anyone offering anything and after 3 years working 24:7, where would you think I would look first? The one who had proven himself, or the one overpricing its brand (OK, with the Pixel at a mere $100 more, that is still an awesome deal).

When we decide on pricing it is one, when unreliable players in the game force us away from the affordable option it becomes a different stage and so far, the US has proven to lose reliability again and again when it comes to their version of security. To emphasize on that, check on all the printing regarding the Landmines in Yemen placed by the Houthi and the amount of articles that we see in the NY Times, the LA Times and the Washington Post. Now consider the impact of mines and why Americans seem to be eager not to inform you. By the way, that setting was almost certain a setting that Iran enabled, if you questions that (which is fair) then answer the simple question, where did the Houthi forces get 1,000,000 mines from?

We are kept in the dark on the wrong topics and it is time to set the limelight on those people keeping us knowingly in the dark.


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Tabula Rasa

Yes, the Latin name for Clean Slate. It is an expression that we got from the Romans, who used wax tablet to scribe information, they used a metal pen, or a Stylus to write on the wax. In addition, when the slate was done, it was placed near a 50 degrees Celsius hotspot (like in the kitchen, and the wax would melt, so it could be used again, that is where the clean slate comes from. This is not the only part, there is enough evidence that the Syrians were doing this too about 2500 years ago, so Apple did not start it and even now (and 1 trillion dollar value later), they still use over excessive electronics to allow you to work with a clean slate at the touch of a button, no hotspot required.

So, in this trailed and tested environment, why would others try to budge in?

That of course was a question that answers itself in greed. I got my iPad (the very first one) 7 years ago; I still have it, even as it is not starting to buckle, so the end of a 24:7 life cycle has been reached. It helped me past 3 past graduate degrees (including a Master degree), so it earned its ‘moment of recycling‘. Yet, I will be a little sad; it was a faithful companion since day 1.

I paid about $1200, for the first edition, 64 GB cellular and Wi-Fi. that same setting with a much faster processor, higher resolution and increased speed, as well as camera and video options that I did not have in my edition will set me back $799, but with 100% more storage, or $1399, with 400% more storage and additional 4K filming. On my budget it will be the normal iPad, but the full version with 800% storage Pro and the rest at $1699 is still appealing. Still, the $799 is a great option, so sticking with that (and my budget makes it an optional setting. The fact that something so much larger and more powerful is merely 65% of the version I bought gives additional satisfaction.

So in all that, why on earth is Microsoft being half baked? First they screw up their gaming dimension, sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring consumers and proclaiming that they know what they are doing, whilst at this very same debacle, we see first Cnet giving us: ‘The Microsoft Surface Go is a good computer, but a very bad tablet‘, we also get “Windows 10’s tablet interface still stinks, and there aren’t a lot of popular apps that were built for Windows 10 in tablet mode. The iPad still has the best library of tablet apps“, it is something we all should have known, when it comes to apps and the Apple solution has millions of apps as an advantage, a decent amount of them free and very useful. In addition a much larger proportion is all less than $5 each, often it is the pro version of the free app, so you can fit before you commit (like any decent relationship). Then we get “Microsoft’s bookstore lacks a lot of titles, including some on The New York Times’ best-seller list. The Times, The Washington Post and other popular publications are also missing. While I could check any website, scrolling was sometimes too jittery and annoying, especially while holding the tablet with one hand in bed at night“, which implies that there is no beating iBook, a very essential tool, not merely for reading.

In addition there is: “The Surface Go’s bezels are so wide they’re almost comical. While it doesn’t hinder performance, it makes the tablet look dated from the get-go“, giving the implied setting that Microsoft again did not prepare for a serious war, merely a setting where they want to ‘tip their toes into the water‘, I would have thought that the Surface Pro setting should have properly prepared them in all this. And the killer in all this is “Finally, battery life is pretty bad. Microsoft advertises nine or more hours of use, but I never got close to that. I usually saw about four or five hours of use with Chrome and Spotify open“, which was countered with “I could save battery life by using Microsoft’s Edge browser — Windows 10 said Chrome was draining the battery a lot — but I prefer Chrome“, a setting that will be shared by many users, so in all this, the mere battery drain will get people to prefer the iPad, or an alternative over the Surface Go and that is merely on launch week. If there is one giggle around the corner, then it is the setting that this device will make more and more people consider the options that the $400 Chromebooks have. This is exactly what we get to see at eh end of the CNBC review. With: “You should only buy the Surface Go if you need a Windows 10 computer but think the Surface Pro is too big and expensive. I imagine most people don’t fit that profile though. If you need a tablet, go with the iPad. If you need a cheap computer, a Chromebook or cheaper Windows 10 laptop would suit you a lot better“, we see that Microsoft again comes with a device that has all the right marketing, yet in the end, the users will soon learn that a flawed approach is not a near hit, it is merely a miss. So, let’s thank Microsoft for their efforts in giving notice to the new blockbuster ‘Rise of the Chromebook‘, already available in several e-Stores near you and you can find those places with Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, or was that Microsoft Edge?

In the end, the setting becomes the iPad $799, or the Surface Go $838, in all seen there is, as far as I can tell no redeeming feature scoring for Microsoft. Even the ‘if you need a Windows 10 computer‘ does not hold enough water to spend more only to get an indecent amount less. The battery life alone makes it a nonstarter. In the end, the die-hard Microsoft fans will accept it, from all the sources I watched, it does seem to do what it needs to do, it might not do what you prefer it to do (jab at the battery life). Another source gave us that the sound is not great, I am willing to accept that this is slightly more in the ears of the beholder, yet I never heard that complaint from any of the iPads, which is another issue for prospective buyers to consider, which is funny when you consider that some of the Chromebooks (not all mind you), come with: “listening to BBC Radio live via the surprisingly good Bang & Olufsen (B&O) in-built speakers“, I tend to not go high-gear on most PC and tablet things, so I might not have given the B&O serious consideration depending on the price, yet at the $100 difference, not having B&O sound seems just crazy. In that setting, going towards something like the HP Notebook x2 10-p033tu becomes just as exciting, with optionally a much better choice as it comes with the keyboard at that point. Even the not so popular Samsung tablet becomes a decent alternative at this point (and I have never been a fan of Samsung), with options at $329, with a battery that offers 13 hours of video playback it implies to be swimming circles around the Surface Go, all issues that should not have been coming up as a serious alternative for the Surface Go, not from a tablet well over 2 years old.

This is what you can find within the hour, so in all this, the Surface Go is not only less competitive, it is merely latching on whatever it can for visibility, that is no way for a product to distinguish itself, a system that is nothing more than the runt of the litter. So, as a tablet, it is not merely in no way a decent alternative to the iPad, there are a few other choices that would make an equal if not a better alternative at this point. All this, whilst only a week ago, the website Mashable gave us: ‘Save up to 30% on Chromebooks from Samsung, Acer, ASUS, and Google‘, now I get that this is temporary, yet at this point (using Google Ads for example), Microsoft could have bid on that specific page and get students across to consider the Surface go at the ‘match price of the week‘, an opportunity Microsoft did not go for (seemingly), so whilst we are drowning in Windows Central reviews on almost every digital channel, we see Microsoft in the wrong places, or perhaps better stated, not in the right places. Missing on loads of opportunities, especially when you realise that most universities with the Spring (AUS) / or Autumn (Europe) semesters are only 5 weeks away, so whomever needs stuff, now is the time that they are getting it.

These are the days where starting with a clean slate (new data device) is important, especially in your new education, in all this the settings that I am noticing give me the distinct feeling that Microsoft has not been very serious in cornering a market, and from my point of view that is the second time where they are forgoing a serious market share on anything. I just cannot work out why someone allows for that not once, but twice in a row, it is (again, merely from my point of view) not the setting of opportunities missed, they are the setting of market shares lost and once lost, regaining them is not really an option, unless they do something so essentially ground breaking that everyone takes notice, a scenario that has not knocked on the doors of Microsoft since Windows XP.


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Sleeping with the enemy

We have heard the expression; most will remember the movie with Julia Roberts and Patrick Bergin. The expression is slightly harsh and a little over the top for the setting that I find myself presently in with PwC. You see, some people are playing a dangerous game. So when I see ‘UK firm PwC criticised over bid for major Saudi Arabia contract‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/31/uk-firm-pwc-criticised-over-bid-for-major-saudi-arabia-contract), I find myself on the side of PwC supporting them. The article is an issue on a few levels. I touched on a few two days ago with: ‘Oman’s neighbour‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/30/omans-neighbour/), so this setting is actually most informative when we consider the issues seen here. I objected to the setting that Amnesty International gave a consequence, yet the original setting that started it was missing, in all this, the fact that the Houthi forces are firing missiles into Saudi Arabia, as is Hezbollah and Iran is the puppet master behind all this, so when I see “Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s economic affairs programme director, urged PwC to explain what due diligence it had undertaken before pitching for the work“, I wonder if Peter Frankental has done its due diligence into the situation where a terrorist organisation (with evidence from several sources) is operation on Yemeni soil with full backing of Yemeni officials, who are also extremely aware that they are facilitating for Iran. That part is missing from the charade that Amnesty International states is ‘the humanitarian nightmare‘. We agree that too many Yemeni are in the middle of this, no one denies that, yet the actions by Iran via Hezbollah and the Houthi’s are an issue and in this they merely ignore the founding factors.

In addition, the UK, with a desperate need to improve the economy has options and opportunities in Saudi Arabia, creating a dialogue, helping Saudi Arabia move forward. We admit that it will not be fast, it might raise obstacles, which is a fact of life. So when Peter Frankental sets ‘due diligence‘, I am of the mind that he clearly did not proceed with that duly noted diligence to a rather large extent.

So when I see “The United Nations guiding principles on business and human rights make it clear that a company may be viewed as complicit if they are seen to benefit from abuses committed by another party“, in that view, Frank please explain to me how you will prosecute Northrop Grumman, Palantir, Blackberry, Dell, Pelican and Apple? I would really like to know that at present. I am going to grasp back at an expression that we get from Robocop, it was spoken by Kurtwood Smith: ‘Good business is where you find it!‘ and Saudi Arabia has business settings for up to £825 billion, so PwC is getting vetted for a chunk of business that could optionally keep thousands employed, grow optional new businesses and industries. In addition, when exactly did Peter Frankental set the stage for a similar attack on Virgin? Are they not setting up the first Hyperloop there? So where is Frankie boy in all that? Now, it is not my intent to slam out at Frank, he seems to have his heart in the right place. Especially when we look at a paper by the House of Lords called: ‘Any of our business? Human Rights and the UK private sector‘, it seems that he has forever focussed on this, the paper (Attached) is from 2009, where we see on page 15 “In particular, we contend that the UK state could and should play a greater role in the governance of corporations so as to contribute to the protection of human rights from corporate abuse, whether the abuse occurs in the UK or abroad“, that is fair enough, yet he is setting now the acts of an attacked government into a corporate right, in that same setting all exports to the US should in that light be equally questioned and regarded as illegal, you basically can’t have it both ways Frank!

So when we grasp at: “In particular, we do support the idea of some kind of international instrument for corporate accountability within the UN system, but we agree with Professor Ruggie that such an instrument would not exist to monitor the activities of tens of thousands of transnational corporations, that would be unfeasible, but it would exist to reinforce the will of states to hold companies to account within their jurisdiction” and set the dimensionality of a flaccid UN when it comes to the events in Syria, there is such overwhelming evidence of inaction (through Veto or not), which gives us that in the faced setting PwC should not even be a blip on his radar. Not when we compare it to “the US contractors are mostly focused on supporting the 2,000 US troops in Syria by delivering hot meals, gasoline and other supplies. More than 30% of them support logistics and maintenance, according to the quarterly Pentagon report, and another 27% help with support and construction of US military outposts in the region” (source: Al-Monitor, April 2018). So how much visibility did Frank give here? In all this, he does not get to hide behind the ‘It is not linked to the UK‘ you just cannot become a ‘local’ party towards a global event when you decide it is. It just does not work that way.

In this, we also see: “PwC already has a presence in Saudi Arabia, but it is the company’s UK operation that is behind the defence project“, which is true, because I applied and they were not taking any non-UK citizens. Darn!

In addition, with: “PwC has launched a “call for resources” – asking specialists and consultants in London whether they would be interested in moving to Riyadh to start the work – because, it has said, it is “currently finalising the deal”“, we see that PwC has the setting to move people to Saudi Arabia, more employment and in addition a sector growth that could lead to 10 figure long term deals, but fear not! Peter Frankental will be there to try and undo the economic boom that will benefit the UK (was that overly simplified?)

So with the upcoming opportunity and the subsequent quote “focus on how to reshape recruitment, resourcing, performance management and strategic workforce planning, and how to manage and communicate change“, it actually goes further than that, even as a lot more performance management is likely to be shown, it will also be about what is the hierarchy and what is not. In light of work safety and preparedness (yes, even in the military), the setting of ‘Own the challenge‘ is a lot harder to scribe into the soul of the person. To set ‘solving’ the issue as the forefront of ‘that what is my actual responsibility‘ tend to be a challenge even within the most flexible workers, so I predict that there is a shift that will soon be shown in places like Saudi Arabia as well. I will admit that having never worked there, that this setting is more speculative than anything else.

So when I see Frankie give us: “As any accountancy firm involved in work for the Saudi ministry of defence must know, the Royal Saudi air force has an appalling record in Yemen, with the Saudi-led military coalition having indiscriminately bombed Yemeni homes, hospitals, funeral halls, schools and factories. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed and injured“, the equal question on how many missiles that Iran enabled the Houthi and Hezbollah forces allowed to be shot into Saudi Arabia, and there is the drone strike issues in the UAE to consider as well. In addition, it is called ‘Saudi Ministry of defence‘, not the Hezbollah missile strike team. It might be nit-picking on my side, but then, I was always willing to go for broke.

Then there is the setting of “the UK “should be focusing on trying to stop this terrible conflict, not assisting the Saudi government.”“, yes it is an interesting setting by Anna Macdonald (younger sister of Ronald). When we go to the site (at https://controlarms.org/meet-the-team/), we see Anna Macdonald, Raluca Muresan, Zoya Craig and half a dozen volunteers. Yet, lets also congratulate on the bang up (or is that blow up) job they did in Syria, as well as a few other places. So when I see: “a global coalition working for international arms control“, which is a good goal to have, the flow of missiles and arms from Iran into a few places was not really stopped was it? Iran has exported small arms and ammunition to Sudan and Syria, anti-tank missiles to Syria, Sudan and Somalia; rocket exports to Syria, Sudan, Libya as well as shipments to Hezbollah and Iraqi insurgents. So in that list, and the goal Anna Macdonald envisions is a noble one, no one denies that, in all that, with at least two dozen of export mentions excluded, I think that PwC should not be on her list either. Especially, as the Saudi Arabian civil population is still under threat of missiles from a terrorist organisation. No one denies that the Yemeni people caught in the middle are in a really unbearable place, but all these actions means that no actual actions are taken against Iran. So as we were given ‘the European Commission has moved to add Iran to the investment mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB)‘ a mere 18 hours ago, it seems to me that in all this Anna Macdonald and Peter Frankental should be setting their focus in a different direction, or perhaps that will merely not give them the limelight that they so desperately need (for all the right reasons mind you).

In all this, the defence from Saudi Arabia in the person of the foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir was reduced to a mere: “Judeir blamed the Houthi rebels for blocking aid and contributing to the humanitarian crisis“, is that not interesting too? The actual blockers of humanitarian aid was set into a mere footnote, a mere 14 words, so in all this, where is Peter Frankental at this point?


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