Tag Archives: Alex Hern

Physical vs Virtual (part2)

In part 2 we look at the virtual aspect in all this and for that we need to take a look at the other part of the equation, and see where the interaction ended up, because that is also a matter that truly counts.


It started way before now, but the now gives us ‘Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/19/facebook-moves-15bn-users-out-of-reach-of-new-european-privacy-law). You see the law is one thing, yet in all this, when we see “Facebook has moved more than 1.5 billion users out of reach of European privacy law, despite a promise from Mark Zuckerberg to apply the “spirit” of the legislation globally“, was anything illegal done? When we see: “when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg demurred. “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” he said“, did he lie?

Those are the immediate questions. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU in this gives us “replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy“, so the people created their account long before these privacy issues were there. They never cared for the longest time, as long as the US government didn’t get any data and when we respond to pornographic images and videos on social media, oh no, that was not us, that was merely Gavin Barwell (see part 1), in a time when his mind should have been all other kinds of matters. Ah well, we all have an itch now and then. Yes, it is that itch, because we are all on social media for some reason, to share, to look, to listen and to judge. Some of them actually communicate, and that has also been proven so communication on social media is not a fab. So when we see the EU site on the GDPR: “the biggest change to the regulatory landscape of data privacy comes with the extended jurisdiction of the GDPR, as it applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location. Previously, territorial applicability of the directive was ambiguous and referred to data process ‘in context of an establishment’. This topic has arisen in a number of high profile court cases. GPDR makes its applicability very clear – it will apply to the processing of personal data by controllers and processors in the EU, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU or not“, the first thing we see is that social media has no business having offices or processing data in the EU, that basically is the signal for Facebook to vacate using the ASAP protocol and they did just that. And Mark Zuckerberg did it all in the spirit of it all, it is just not what was expected and the Senate hearing just gave themselves (allegedly) access to de data to nearly all the European users. the second part gives us “The GDPR will also apply to the processing of personal data of data subjects in the EU by a controller or processor not established in the EU, where the activities relate to: offering goods or services to EU citizens (irrespective of whether payment is required) and the monitoring of behaviour that takes place within the EU. Non-Eu businesses processing the data of EU citizens will also have to appoint a representative in the EU“, so with ‘monitoring of behaviour that takes place within the EU‘, is a much larger issue and Alex Hern makes no mention of this anywhere in the article (that is not an accusation), merely that Facebook has moved the data and that the people in the EU have less rights under US law. Was that not always the case? Was that not the initial setting when Facebook started? So when we read “This is a major and unprecedented change in the data privacy landscape. The change will amount to the reduction of privacy guarantees and the rights of users, with a number of ramifications, notably for consent requirements“, which we get from Privacy researcher Lukasz Olejnik, we actually do not get anything new, because the GDPR would not have been enforced until next month, so there! (OK, not an entirely justified outcry, but I am feeling batty)

In all this the missed issue of monitoring is actually a lot larger for some and those boasting on what they bought on the dark net (some people remain simple on every level) will have a few repercussions, yet in all this when it regards Cambridge Analytica, we see all kinds of media exploitations, rumours, alleged actions, yet no arrests, no one in the dock and still the entire mess is merely focussed on Facebook. We have seen news on a massive amount of apps collecting data, smart toys, and with the upcoming 5G, the RFID and mobile tag as well as device tags will be an exponentially growing data market with the entire Fortune 500 chomping at the bits to get their fingers on that data, yet at present the legislation has been faulty at best and nominally missing completely. All that because the people give it all away willingly, that is what the next fridge with a £250 discount will warrant, as did the 2016 Sony Smart TV as just about all following models. that is not a joke, you agreed to this when you bought the TV,

it is in the end users license agreement and they are not alone, it is a massive list of corporation that are doing this and the media was, yet they were largely silent about it and the Sony issue in 2012, where the media is what I would personally label as: ‘whoring for advertisement options‘ instead of informing 30 million consumers on the change and its impact, is what still has my nostrils flaring 6 years later and I am an actual Sony fan.

So as we see how we are singularly focussed on where our personal data is and not what we allowed it to be used for, especially as it came with the free use of Facebook, we all need to accept that nothing is for free and the corporation requires its return of investment, well in the case of Facebook merely 60 billion. Where did you think that value came from? Watching advertisement? In that Facebook and google are largely alike. So in these issues in the physical and virtual side, we are short on memory, too large on emotions and unclear on how to make the houses of Lords and Commons more accountable for the matters at hand. Even as they cannot prevent you from staying with Facebook, we all have been failed by legislation that was too slow and MP’s that are showing to be lacking the necessary skills to do something successfully. It would be so lovely if Sir Martin Moore-Bick would be kind enough to show both matters, because it would have a much larger impact. Even as we see, (what I would personally call) the failed false promises of Jeremy Corbyn regarding housing, with: “One million new “genuinely affordable homes” over a decade, mostly for social rent. That’s not quite 1m new council houses – a chunk of these would be delivered by housing associations – but it gets very close” is also a Porky Pie of the largest order. You merely have to look at google Maps to see that there is no place for even 30% of that in London, so will they mostly be in Wales, Penzance, Brighton and Scarborough? In addition, none of the sides of the houses
(Lords or Commons) have successfully done anything to make a change, regarding leasehold which will drive the entire social housing matter further and 1,000,000 houses will not nearly be enough. So, back to the Virtual part, because that is still central in this. In that part I have to thank the realtor Harcourts for bringing the juice.

You see, with: “NPP1 – Collection of Information; Agencies are prohibited from collecting personal information unless it is necessary for one or more of its functions. Personal data should only be collected in a lawful, fair, and not unreasonably obtrusive way. The agency must disclose certain information at the point of collection“, yet in all this the terms: ‘unless it is necessary for one or more of its functions‘ gives a much wider scope, does it not? In addition, with ‘only be collected in a lawful, fair, and not unreasonably obtrusive way‘. So when they (the real estate in general) offer a £199 rebate for registering you as the leasehold owner, how many people do you think that will consider it necessary and not unreasonable? It merely needs to satisfy one function and the deed is covered with the mantle of opportunity. In addition we see “Personal and sometimes sensitive information may be collected and stored on standard real estate industry forms, such as tenancy applications, listing forms, etc. These need to be secured and available for inspection by customers“, so when did you look at what some call the RP Database? In Australia there is a firm CoreLogic and it has a product called RP Data Professional. In all this we see: “RP Data Professional is the leading property data solution used by property professionals in Australia. Prepare reports for prospects and clients, generate value estimates, verify information and conduct valuable research and highly targeted marketing. Packages starting from $150 / month“. It is widely used by debt collecting agencies as well as realtors. You would be surprised to see all that data and what every address offers. Do you think that they are the only ones? Data is gold, it is the printer that allows you to print your own money and for the most it is massively unchecked. Now, I know that RP Data is merely a facilitator in all this, all perfectly valid, and nothing illegal. Yet when we consider ABC in 2016 with “The Reserve Bank has taken the highly unusual step of switching its preferred home value data, arguing that CoreLogic’s figures overstated price growth in April and May due to a methodology change“, so as you see the data goes a lot further and for the most the people, the tenants and Real Estate seekers are totally unaware of such parts and in all this do you think that the UK does not have its own options. In all this, with the explosive cladding issues, did you not think that the clad dealers were not tailoring to ‘property value increase at minimum costs’? This goes a lot wider in several lanes and the sudden much larger issue of cladding is almost not looked at (I did say almost).

So when we see “CoreLogic’s head of research Tim Lawless acknowledged that the changes to the index may have temporarily bumped up the figures for a couple of months. However, he said other data indicate that those two months were still relatively strong for Sydney and Melbourne housing sales” we forget to look at the aligned indications and what else is setting the pass in all this. Even as the last parts were the Australian side of this, CoreLogic is also active in the UK. In this no one seems to have talked to CoreLogic to see if the cladding industry has been given (through subscription) access to the UK RP Database. Is that not interesting too? You see, when we accept the January setting of “Just three tower blocks out of almost 300 with the same “dangerous” and “flammable” cladding as Grenfell Tower have had panels taken down and replaced“, how come the number of buildings is so high? Are all cladding providers so very bad, or was there a very intelligent salesperson selling cladding to the right people, when the timing was just right? I am fairly certain that this part of the conversations has not been showing up anywhere.

The virtual side to the Grenfell disaster was not seen, perhaps that part was immaterial at that time, yet when we see 297 tower blocks in a serious setting of harm, with the initial setting of finding the proper candidates, have we considered that corporate social media (like LinkedIn) could be used to get the goods (in alleged Cambridge Analytica style) to create fear in other ways? A lack of value versus a larger valuation set against a minimal investment. You show me a person who turns that down and I will introduce you to a person who is very aware of the concept of dishonesty.

You see, we have seen for the better part of 5 years the notion of taking fear from the workplace, usually in the style of ‘Corporate Leaders Must Remove Fear Factor from the Workplace‘, which we get from the Huffington Post (at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-prefontaine/corporate-leaders-must-re_1_b_1437445.html) as early as 2012, so when we see “As reported in the Harvard Business Review, employees faced with incivility are likely to narrow their focus to avoid risks, and lose opportunities to learn in the process. Obviously this impacts their level of personal success and the success of the organization“, yet in equal measure, those actors never considered to take the fear factor out of the boardrooms, which are forever ruled by the bottom line and in that respect there is very little difference between a corporate boardroom, or places like the Kensington and Chelsea TMO, which has one bottom line, which is the value of housing and the rise of values of upcoming new housing. So now, the entire Metro section we saw in part one with ‘Cladding added to Grenfell Tower to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats‘ it makes a whole lot more sense does it not? It is my personal view and opinion, yet in all that data was at the very Core and Logic of it all (pun intended). So when you think the Facebook data is an issue, guess again. The issue is a lot bigger, wider and more exploitable at the expense of yourself of course) than you would have thought.

All within the considerate view of those not looking at any of this, and you think I went deep here? I merely touched the surface and I will be very surprised if the public inquiry touches on any of those matters, not because they do not want to, but because the legal scope is unlikely to be there, as it would have been in the emotional seeking justice side. I guess that it is one of the questions that certain councils do not want to answer, so making sure that the question is not asked will be a first priority for all of them, because if it does get to the table, those who want to stiff Leaseholders with a £40,000 bill might optionally end up being not so successful and there is every indication that a fair chunk of those 297 tower blocks are currently facing a similar dilemma.

That is just my thought on the matter, and in all this, when you start realising the issues at hand and the time that this has taken, in addition that I saw some in minutes a few more in hours and one or two through my decades of data experience, are you not surprised that the elected officials remained in the dark? I know I am one of the better ones on the planet, but I know close to a dozen equal or better than me, many living in London. Do you actually think that some were in the dark or are they allegedly keeping themselves ignorant? In that case, if more happens, how many lives was the price of that ignorance? Can we afford to find out?

I’ll leave you with those questions, have a great Friday and do try to enjoy the weekend!



Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics

Where is Mr Burden?

So there is this article in the Guardian, where the title is the call to action (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/17/connecting-everyone-to-internet-global-economy-poverty), the headline gives us “Connecting everyone to internet ‘would add $6.7tn to global economy’”, this is a statement that might hold water, you see those people might need hardware (a router at the very least), there are optional needs for hardware and getting the data streamed for all these surfers required many coins too, so I would state that there is a truth in that.

What becomes an issue is “Report estimates getting whole world online would lift 500m people out of poverty over next five years“, this woke me up, because raising people out of poverty is a good thing. Yet in all this, how are these people getting paid? So that is where the alarm bells start ringing. The quote “The report, titled Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion, was prepared for Facebook by PwC’s strategy consultants Strategy&“, which is an issue, especially when PwC is part of that equation, something from Tesco anyone?

More than nine-tenths of the world’s population live in places where the infrastructure exists to get them online, but the majority of them cannot afford to do so” is the quote that follows and as such, I can agree with that, although there are plenty of places like all over India where connectivity is an issue, beside the affordability issue. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Siberia that list is renowned and not that short. So what gives?

Here the article suddenly becomes a little murky. You see, Facebook is favouring its approach “the Internet.org project, which aims to partner with carriers in developing nations to give low-cost internet access“, which has some critique. The additional quote “Jonathan Tate, technology consulting leader at PwC, argues that Facebook’s approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version the internet than the full web, he says it’s a crucial stepping stone to full access. “The important thing here is to get things moving,” he added“, I think that this might sound real, but it does not sound true. The following quote “Facebook’s motivation for paying for Internet.org is partially explained by PwC’s estimates of where the benefits of new access accrue. While most of the economic benefits of new internet access come to those freshly online, the consultancy estimates that content providers such as Facebook stand to gain a $200bn opportunity over the next five years” has the issues within the text especially between the words. You see, I personally believe that this is not about connecting, it is about connectivity, more important, the fact on how these groups could soon be identified. Those who have and those who have not. This is where the issue forms.

Those not online will not lost their poverty status other that administrative. I feel that this is about classification, this is about finding out where the non-connected live. Once the non-connected are properly categorised, it will be much easier to dismiss certain groups. We are already seeing it in our daily lives all over the place. You are either a benefit or you are a burden. That was a reality and a valid form of identification years ago, but as the internet is mapped, we see the everlasting need for growing data. Data can be sold, that is why there is such a need to get everyone connected. That data is worth a lot to places like Facebook. The initial claim still remains ‘raising 500 million people out of poverty‘ How, is my question and the important fact that Alex Hern might rely on is not explained at all.

As I see it, the possible addition of $6.7T is all about data selling and marketing, so far, not too much visibility on poverty and how to stop that, or better stated, how this implementation will get the really poor their impact. So how about that poverty?

It’s all over the world, so how will a solution be found for those not being able to connect to a Sweet Home internet spot. It seems to me that many players are all about data selling to make their numbers, which is a dangerous approach, especially for those getting exploited, because after 6 months, they might suddenly no longer be interesting to have online, what happens then? That is the part that requires special attention, especially as I believe that internet providers have largely gone into the mode ‘Are you a Benefit or a Burden?‘ We better pace to not be a burden, because this world is less and less appealing, mainly because governments couldn’t keep their budgets in check and others ended up paying for the initial claims made by those no longer here.

That makes 100% internet coverage an additional issue in regards of this case, as it is an illusionary number, 100% coverage can in these kind of cases never be maintained, even if it is technologically possible, in the end there are other costs involved, also on the user end, which gets me to the users!

You see, for most the equation is slightly too simple. You are either a user, or you are getting used. This applies especially to big business, giving weight to the Benefit/Burden part. Consumers are for the most a benefit, yet in all this, what kind of consumers? Consumers of banks and financial institutions? Consumer of marketable goods? There are so many options here, but for a large part, the one group that (still) falls outside of the scope is the poverty group.

You see Alex, in your column, in the paragraph on how expensive the internet is for some, the quote “For 66% of the world, a 500MB data plan costs more than 5% of their monthly income, the level the report’s authors describe as “unaffordable”“, yet for many, the 5% is usually connected to other things too and in many places 5% of a minimum income gets you plenty of gigabytes. I checked in the Netherlands (not cheap but affordable), Sweden (5 GB affordable for about $15), Germany, UK (unlimited for a mere $8), Australia (where I can get near 1TB on a minimum wage), the benefits of a few languages gets you a lot of information. Basically the previous statement is blown out of the water, or perhaps, these countries are within the 34%?

This article reeks as I see it, you see, when you are in poverty other things matter, the internet will not get those people out of poverty, plain and simple. I would really like to dig into that report. I wonder how it holds up to my scrutiny. The simplest of reasons is that if it was a solution, the US would have done it to get there massive poverty line down, Europe would have seriously done something some time ago. No, I regard this as some PwC approach to more exploitation. The fact that this gets the limelight and the connected acts by PwC regarded Tesco are kept silent by the press at large is still a massive issue and the Guardian is equally guilty in that regard.

The basic statement “Improvement of existing technology, or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will suffice to bring about much of this cost reduction” is added fuel to the fire. You see, that is a truth, but who has the cash to invest in that? You see, that still requires a device for people to connect to that infrastructure. The final statement takes the cake “But new technology will still be needed to achieve total connectivity. The reports’ authors estimate that the last 500 million people to get online won’t be able to rely on piecemeal improvements“, we can argue the validity here, but are those the same people who will be lifted out of poverty?

You see, this article shakes on all sides, I wonder whether this was about 500 million out of poverty (which I doubt would ever happen), or was this a simple deluded piece regarding connectivity? Well, to give Alex Hern a fair shake, we need to take a look at that report. Look, here it is: http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/global/home/press/displays/global-internet-inclusion.

So, it is not initially about connectivity is it?

So let’s take a look at some of these parts

In the first:

Bringing the whole world online would create huge benefits for developing countries and for businesses over the coming five years, including:

  • Social and economic improvement for over 4 billion people
  • An additional global economic output of US$6.7 trillion
  • A $400 billion growth opportunity for telecom operators
  • A $200 billion opportunity for content providers


  1. An additional global economic output of US$6.7 trillion (based on what is that)
    2. A $400 billion growth opportunity for telecom operators
    0. A $200 billion opportunity for content providers

Why this numbering? Yes, the claim of that multi trillion dollar output sounds nice, but how is that acquired? PwC has had its issues with forecasting, yet in all this how could this be true. Well, it can be, you see most of us (including me) would think that this was about developing the option to exploit those in developing countries. I state here and now that this is unlikely to add to such an amount. The second part is the 400 billion for telecom operators. Yes, that part might be true, yet in all that, who pays for this? You see a telecom operator is very willing to invest 400 billion, providing they get 600 billion out of all of this. So who pays for that part? Even more important is the issue that was initially reported. How does that push people OUT of poverty? And now we get to point zero, the content providers, remember what I wrote? Here we see the classification, it becomes about the issue of dividing the population into Benefits and Burdens. So why is that important?

Look at the next part:

Replacing current 2G networks with 3G or 4GLTE could bring a 60-70% reduction in the cost per MB to serve developing markets, making it profitable for operators to provide internet services, and opening up the internet to over 2bn people. Who pays for that hardware? What are the costs of those transmitters and upgrade those local providers? In all that, the people involved, the consumers become benefit for those who can afford it, a burden if they cannot. There is another view (at http://qz.com/684388/broadband-service-tends-to-stop-at-the-poverty-line-in-the-us/), there are a few sides that sound good and believable. The one part that is in common with the view PwC shows us is “provide affordable communications to low-income households“, yet here we see two other parts:

  1. High-bandwidth applications overwhelm mobile data plans and slow connections. This limits or even cuts off many families from e-commerce, banking, health care, and services.
  2. Broadband for rural residents, it’s a real lifeline. In fact, that’s the name of the federal program designed to provide affordable communications to low-income households.

The second part might seem correct and positive, but behind this is another form of reasoning. You see, Telecom providers require income, for that they provide bandwidth. What is a clear need for most parties is the collection of data, classification as well as profit. The data must grow! (That is my personal view) The government will need in addition a more complete shift towards the digital field, not just in America, this is a near global need. Only when the shift to digital is complete the last pesky barricade will fall away. A real first move to a total digital world. In all this there is still no real evidence that poverty will fall away. Here is the first part where PwC and Alex Hern have different settings. PwC stated in the paper “above absolute poverty levels“, One definition is ‘the minimal requirements necessary to afford minimal standards of food, clothing, health care and shelter‘, another version gives us ‘absolute poverty is used as a synonym for extreme poverty, meaning the lack of enough resources to have stable basic life necessities‘, this makes the entire exercise another matter entirely.

Providing content through a series of local high speed networks, would make it affordable for a further 300m people. What kind of content? Subscribable content? At what cost? And how does access to digital content reduce its cost? How does this provision make someone less pover? Well we can speculate that making a person dependant on digital access and then making it available to all, that person is less pover. So basically, we give a few person one extra service, a basic necessity. Now, they no longer have 1 out of 6 basic needs, now they suddenly have 2 out of 7 basic needs. So their index went from 16% (absolute poverty) to 28.5% (poor), a mere implementation of ‘How to lie with statistics’. For the people they are still in deep poverty in real life, but according to the statistics not that much.

Offline distribution of content, including through national and regional data exchanges would improve access and affordability for a further 170m people”. Here the issue is ‘data exchanges’, the exchange of data happens in our daily life, but is this that same level, or is this a conglomerate push to have access to personal data? This is speculation, but let’s face it, nothing is free, that is a given. So what levels of data exchange is linked to all this?

Governments offering content focused on education, social services or business opportunities could create an incentive for a further 200m to go online”. This is clean cut, this is what governments would love, but in all this (especially in the USA), we see a rural absence of connectivity, a lack of services provided for, which means local government presence, which costs money. In this day of cut backs (near global) getting connected means that help goes through wiki pages, through online forms and through automated parsing of forms. This has massive drawbacks on many levels, but that is not what this article is about.

Brand or subscriber subsidized access, for example learning centers, could bring another 500 million online globally”. This reads in more than one way, it could be seen a subscribed subsidised brand access, which could go in many ways, not all of them in a positive way. Yet, let’s not focus on such sides or on ‘wording’ to that extent at least for now.

Another quote can be seen in two ways, as I saw it Alex took it one way. The quote “This leaves 4.1 billion people disconnected from a modern economy that would benefit by over US$6 trillion with their participation“, can also be seen as ‘the modern economy would benefit by connecting the 4.1 billion disconnected people. It could enable a maximum of 6 trillion in amassable revenue for those connected‘ Again, partially speculative, but does that not read a lot more reliable than the ‘social’ approach the Guardian took?

Let’s not forget, PwC is all about the numbers and the profit (sometimes overstated), the full report (at http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/connecting-the-world) gives me the last part: “The third is to create more national and international data infrastructure, such as Internet exchange points (IxPs) and data centers“, here we have it, data centres, the one part Alex Hern did not illuminate, as the tech writer he should be all over that, not just because of its need, but because many developing countries lack proper skills, knowledge and lack infrastructure to get it correctly up and running and keep it online. Apart from the massive need for security in such centres, that data could become too widely available too fast, or proper companies will have to step in, at what cost?

So we might accept the title “Connecting everyone to internet ‘would add $6.7tn to global economy’“, yet who will benefit? The developing countries? Me thinks not, it’s a mere continuing imbalance of Benefit and Burden.


Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics, Science

The choice of a new religion

The Guardian had an interesting article yesterday by none other than Alex Hern. He and I look towards the gaming world in very different ways, it does not make him wrong and it does not make my view right. We have at times different views on things. That is the wonderful world of gaming, it is one of the few fields where the approach to any solution tends to be almost artistic, many views, none the same can still warrant true correctness or success. In ‘Apple wants the Apple TV to be a games console. But can it be trusted?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/12/apple-tv-games-console-can-it-be-trusted), which is a very true piece. The subtitle states ‘Apple would like to see its new set-top box become the next Nintendo Wii. But it’s questionable whether the company really understands gaming‘, which is as true as it gets. I have been ‘connected’ to Apple systems in one way or another since 1990. One thing from the very start is that the Apple systems were always ahead in many ways, even in artistic ways, yet true gaming was never supported to the extent it should have been. One of my very first freelance jobs was to take a look at ‘Balance of Power’ (by Mindscape), I ended up checking it on the Mac as well as the Amiga. Another one was Shadowgate by the same makers. Even though these games were always worshipped, but on the Mac they seemed to be on the side, accepted as in existence, but never truly part of the ‘Apple’ environment accepted. It is hard to get it into words. You would have had to be there to understand it.

The quote “The problem is that games are treated as just another type of app by the company – albeit a very profitable type. The games store, for instance, is organised in exactly the same way as the rest of the app store, with prominence given to a few select apps and then three charts of top-selling paid games, most-downloaded free games, and “top grossing games”“, helps here. It is like a bunch of economists see games in the spreadsheet as deep green and those economists really like deep green (as in profit). Yet games is a lot more than numbers (something Ubisoft has an issue with too). To see Apple people look at games and advice their users on is like going to your accountant for sex guidance. That person gets off on spreadsheets and a balance books, for many people not the orgasmic solutions to embrace. Yet there is also a side where I have to disagree on.

Part one is “Similarly, in the newly-released guidelines for Apple TV apps, the company reveals that “the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB”, with no persistent local storage. In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, part two is “The top-tier consoles right now ship their games on Blu-ray discs, which store at least 25GB and can rise to 128GB per disc (twice the total storage of the highest-capacity Apple TV“. Now, Alex speaks the truth and he is 100% correct. My issue is that quote 2 implies (he never really states it anything in that way) that size makes the game, that is wrong. Still there is a truth here. 200Mb is nowhere near enough for any decent game. If we look at previous games, like Metroid Prime on the GameCube, that game exceeds the 200Mb. Many games from the PC could get close to the 200Mb, but will in all likelihood exceed that part.

In addition, the statement “In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, which now implies that we are all dependent on quality connection. A property that is even debatable in parts of Western Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. For Apple it must be good to know that at least Scandinavia and its 18 million people will see the bulk of Apple TV gaming. The second issue is “Unlike PC games, consoles have always been fairly locked down by the platform manufacturers. In a way, it’s “no sex, no drugs, only rock and roll” attitude is merely replicating the same approach that Nintendo has emphasised for years in its efforts to keep its games consoles family friendly“. Now I am all for family friendly games, yet some people want more than Mario Kart. Some want to play the master Sergeant (HALO). Some want to be in the wasteland (Fallout) or they want to sneak their ways around a city (Thief). Many of these games would never be allowed, with a massive portion of the gamers being 21+, they end up being nothing more than a nuisance to Nintendo and without a massive arsenal of IP that will not happen any day soon.

It is the final quote that is concern as well as the source of howl of deriving laughter “But its success as a games console would be handing yet more control of the medium to a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming. And that should concern anyone who likes to play“, wasting this level of resources on a system with no expertise on quality gaming will put a dent in the Apple coffers, in addition, once rejected by gamers, those at the helm will be forced to take a harsh look at their choices and their considerations. It seems that so far in new gaming only Elite Dangerous made it. If the iMac 5K would have one additional hardware update. If they had something in equal or exceeding the Radeon R9 295X2, the system would become something to behold, not just with Elite Dangerous, but in addition with games like No Man’s Sky (if it ever gets here). The iMac would be an option, the Apple TV is clearly not that option, beyond Minecraft there is not a lot that plays on the Apple TV. So do I disagree with Alex?

Actually no! When we consider his quote “Despite my concerns, there is the chance that the Apple TV could be good for gaming“, it connects to my thoughts that good gaming is not about the size (well not completely). Consider that some of the games that were a massive success on the Commodore 64, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST can still be the games in the new generation systems like the Apple TV. The games by Sid Meier, games like seven cities of gold, some of the legends like Lemmings, Dune 2 (Command and Conquer), pretty much most of the games Peter Molyneux made (including Dungeon keeper), there are loads of other games. The opposite is also true, now we can get a pirates game Sid Meier could never offer when he did because technology stopped him. In equal measure quality gaming has dwindled as there are no limitations, so that game designers are no longer trying to squeeze the maximum out of a console. Tomb Raider is an example here. When we consider that Apple TV could get a market, whilst the hard core end games on consoles and PC remains, I state ‘Yes’, that is a definite option. Yet Alex does illustrate a side of Apple that the foundation of Apple should be ‘concerned’ with. “If you want to criticise a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store”, in all fairness there should be space for that approach, but it will hinder your business. You see, the guidelines at 15.1 state “Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected“, which is nice but that pretty much sums up almost every game ever made, including New Zealand Story, where the little Kiwi loses health when he touches a spike. 15.3 makes any WW2 game a non-starter, unless Apple insists that Nazi Germany was never a real government where my response becomes: ‘good luck with that one!’

So, even though we can accept that guidelines are needed to keep certain groups (read children) free to wander on the app store selecting games. I get that, but as I stated before, it limits the Apple TV to the realm of Nintendo who already has a massive grip on its user base through several means, why would Apple TV wander in that field? It almost reads like Apple wants to add to the foundation of a failed system. The idea that was a write off in 2007, regarding a big fat fail in 2010, suddenly got the title ‘How Apple’s biggest failure could be one of its greatest accomplishments‘ in 2014 (at http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/saving-apple-tv-think-different/) we see: “Apple has a chance here to beat its competitors to the punch, first and foremost, by making sure that you can play every significant type of video file type that Apple TV doesn’t offer now. This will broaden the range of apps the device can support, and ensure they never have an issue like they did with Hulu again. They would also be wise to create a browser for the device, and to let users access its hard drive“, which is true, yet the article reads like a marketing approach to ‘new’ options for Apple TV and now a year later we see the games ploy. Is it truly about that, or is there a fear within Apple that they are being passed by, passed by those who had a clear goal and by growing in any direction they get to hold onto non-write-off a little longer.

I will let you decide on the parts that are a given, but are they truly a given? I must warn my own view that it is tainted and also clouded. There is a view that comes from true gaming and as such Apple TV does not add up to much, yet what is small can grow and as I stated, let true innovation grow through limitations. It gave us true pearls on three generations of consoles, innovations that seem to be missing in NextGen. Yes, there is still innovation, but not to the extent there was in the past. The idea that Apple starts it up again is partially pleasing. Pleasing because that is the one part that have been downplayed by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to the larger extent, if you doubt that, then look at how many independent productions made it to consoles in the past. The fact that this year is a lot more about independents is not a given, it is a fab and no guarantee exists that independents will make it through in 2016 and 2017.

That is the part where Apple could grow, you see I personally believe that the next 12 years will be all about the small innovators. As larger players have become vultures, eating the small ones and carrion eaters as they devour their brands in the insane vision that growth comes from interactive innovation, large jumps are ignored. You only need to see the success of Markus the Notch and Minecraft to see that I am right. Will Sean Murray be the next one to show this? David Braben is on the right track to do so too and they are not alone. Even though Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is not likely to be the success others are becoming, the truth is that this game is innovative. Even though in respect to my Tomb Raider view that 10 hours of game play is not acceptable, it would be equally unacceptable to see a 6 hour story as a good thing (source: YouTube). Yet, it is a story and the challenge as such is too small. You only need to look back at the game Portal (by Rob Swigart) to see something a lot larger, even though not in an open world environment, the result as well as the story was truly unique. That does not make the game a failure or inferior, yet the truth remains that the challenge needs an upgrade. Too small, yet remains a true innovation compared what is out there. In all this my own perception is an issue for discussion too. Where is it a given that a 10 hour game is insufficient? I base it on past play and play that some games give, as such 10 hours of gaming just doesn’t hack it neither does 6 hours. Yet all this started with a new religion, one of gaming. not the worship of a controller, or the divination of a system, but the choice of what we believe is to be an open direction, a choice of innovation, because without innovation gaming seizes to survive and we get iteration of a given, in the artsy world gaming exists in, that part can never be allowed to remain in iteration. This is one of the core reasons why the iteration of Assassins Creed, the iteration of Lara Croft the raider of Tombs and Call of Duty will simmer down, will cease to be the cash cows they once were.

The future is all about true innovation in gaming, in that Apple TV could have a space if it opens the doors to independent developers. When we consider the iPad, it has had a nice collection of games and some are truly innovative, in all that IOS has a place and the Apple TV could bring it to the big screen (and I do mean on your TV). In the final part, I agree with Alex for the most, except for the part “a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming“. I am not certain it does. It seems to have an approach not unlike Nintendo. Do we look down on them? The question does remain when we see gaming as a religion. It could be the one religion that should be without a bible, which is fair enough, but what about the 10 commandments? Should we not consider some guidelines? Personally I state no, but then again, I started in a world where gaming was born, where it evolved. In all this gaming can evolve within any limited system (consider the 16KB VIC-20), as such any system can bring the joy of gaming, we only need to consider where we take gaming. Nintendo took a direction, there is nothing stopping from Apple taking it in the same direction. In my mind, it should be now and forever about innovation, because that is what draws us to a new game. Consider how Elemental Kingdoms took the concept of CCG and gave it a digital evolution, that is just one of many options, I hope many that are yet unemployed and it awaits the next visionary to create that path.

Who? That is up to the developer that dares to dream and make it reality.


Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Media, Science