Tag Archives: Box Office Mojo

As we know it

The universe has changed, it changed some time ago, yet the powers that be, be it in business, administration (read: government) or retail where all for the most are in denial. They deceive themselves through stories. One uses Tableaux to use the data to present the picture, a picture often based on incomplete or overly weighted data. The next one relies on dashboards like SAP to use spreadsheets to bedazzle the people with slice and dice numbers, looking pretty as a pie chart, yet not giving us the goods, because nowadays, these companies hire people who can sell a story, not drill deep on the results. The story is whatever the paying customer is willing to hear. They are all adopting the political need that has been in play for many years: ‘If the data does not match, change the question‘. That is the first part in a sliding scale of representation, and those representing the stories are running out of options (read: point fingers) to turn to.

The first part is seen in ‘At the time of year when queues usually form for popcorn and the money pours in, box office revenues are plunging. Where are the blockbusters?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/26/even-superheroes-may-not-save-hollywood-desperate-summer), here we see: “The true scale of the potential problem facing the industry can be seen in the precipitous drop in movie attendance this summer, down 52% year-on-year to 385 million at the time of writing. It is the lowest level of attendance since the summer of 1992“, in addition we get “Hollywood is stuck in a rut and it needs a safety net – superhero flicks fit that bill right now“. Two statements that might be the bill of the story, but in reality, the people are adhering to mismatched data and not properly investigated results as I see it. You see, the data is evident and it is out there, the games industry is taking 100 billion plus a year now and some of the other elements of gaming are taking a slice of that. In addition, providers like Netflix are now in much better control of their audiences that is mainly because they figured out what was wrong in the first place. You see, the gaming part is the first part of the evidence. People are now spending it on something else and they are no longer relying on the box office as Netflix gives then options. the second part is seen in the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/us-cities-where-cost-of-living-is-rising-the-fastest-2017-6) where we see that on number 10 (New Orleans) the cost of living went up by 18%, on number one we see Nashville with a cost of living raise of nearly 30%, as we have not seen any actual economy increase from the United States, or better stated, the working people of the United States have seen almost no increase in wages and quality of life, those representing certain numbers decided to just ignore issues and evidence. Now, that top 10 list is a little skewed too, yet when we realise that for 3% of Americans their cost of living went up by 18% or more, how worried do we need to be with certain represented numbers? So consider that Los Angeles was part of that top 10, yet New York is not, there we get ‘Cost of living index in New York is 21.37% higher than in Los Angeles‘, which with close to 9 million is 2% of the US population, so now we see that the hardship and quality of life is hitting 5% of the American population and the numbers do still go up, so when we see “drop in movie attendance this summer” how can anyone be surprised? In addition, we should also realise that this gives rise to the fact that apart from people not going to the cinema, many are now spending it on something else and a $20 spend on 90 minutes is not considered when $55 gets them hours, sometimes hundreds of hours of gameplay. We are all getting more and more weary on the bang for our buck and the cinema can no longer deliver that value. No one denies that movies are just better on the big screen, but for many it is a trip only affordable a few times a year so the people are getting really picky on what they see on the big screen. Richard Cooper gives us part of the news, but also ‘forgets‘ to give the full picture. With “It is mid-budget films and their fans that have tended to suffer“, here he only gives us part of the story. As the Hollywood engine of greed and reselling remains on a steady course, we see the need for maximising results and as such the movie makers are closing the gap between cinema and digital release. Why spend on the cinema whilst within 26 weeks the movie will be out on Blu-ray? Basically it is the same price, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an excellent example in this case. People are becoming stingy because they have no other options. All the messages of a fake economy and how good it is might look nice on the news, but for the most, people in the US cannot afford any extras. Many in the USA need to work double jobs just to get by. The US census gives us that in 2015 13.5% of Americans were in poverty, I feel certain that this number has gone up in 2017, some sources give us that this has gone up to 14.5%, so one in seven is in poverty. Do you think that these people will be watching movies on the big screen? So the Hollywood moment of desperation is not to be resolved, not until the quality of life and cost of living for Americans is set to a much better status. Those who can might try to leech of the neighbour’s Netflix, those who cannot need to find affordable entertainment, if they get any at all.

In the second we see that this economy is also bolstering a new level of exploitation. Even as we all ignore certain elements, Uber has changed the game, with ‘Inside the gig economy: the ‘vulnerable human underbelly’ of UK’s labour market‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/aug/24/inside-gig-economy-vulnerable-human-underbelly-of-uk-labour-market) we see a new level where the people are sold a cheap story (read: Uber story) and as they are hiding behind what people should investigate, we see that desperation is exploited in other levels. It is not merely an American issue; it is becoming a global issue. With “Each passenger’s destination, however, will remain a mystery until they have been collected. And regardless of the considerable costs they might incur to fulfill that journey, the driver will have no say in the fare. Uber both sets the fare, then takes a hefty rate of commission from it“, we are shown that there is a dangerous precedent. As we see online needs explodes as people need cheaper solutions, Uber will weigh in on maximising its profit. As I see it: ‘the drivers having no other options to work to near death for scraps’. With “The driver knows that failure to accept these terms will result in an immediate loss of work: they will be blocked for a set period of time from accessing Uber’s online system that provides work” we see new levels of legalising slave labour. The ‘do it or else‘ approach is now strangling the freedom of people to death. We see evidence of my statements with “The companies themselves tend to talk about the freedom, independence, and flexibility with which self-employment is usually associated. But many of the couriers and drivers we have spoken with over the past year have had an alternative model of self-employment, and with it much financial insecurity, enforced upon them“, and the law is not offering any solution, not in the UK and not in the USA, being an entrepreneur tends to have long lasting benefits at times. They all voluntarily went into the contract and they can all walk away and starve. It is not an option for those with families to support and feed. Part of this crux is seen in “we have noted how companies are able to use the guise of self-employment to dump a whole series of obligations and liabilities onto their workforce, while depriving them of protections enjoyed by the rest of working Britain“, to be the entrepreneur comes with hidden dangers, especially when you work for other entrepreneurs. The age of exploitation is upon us and as we know it, we can no longer afford to go to the cinema, a side Mark Sweney seems to have ignored. Yes, he does give us the Netflix element and there was no way to avoid it. He does go in the wrong direction with “For film fans, theatres still have an allure for the launch of big movies, but in the new world, where all media is competing for eyeballs and time in the “leisure economy”, the Netflix threat is rising“, he is not incorrect, yet he is incomplete. He forgets that Netflix is all many can afford (and a fair amount cannot even afford that). So why go to the cinema for the next sequel? Box Office Mojo gives us part of the goods, in 2017 only 2 movies broke the 1 billion mark, Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson (I personally do not think she was a beast in that movie) and the Fate of the Furious, which makes sense as Vin Diesel is stark raving nuts on most given days (in the fast and furious series) and who doesn’t enjoy a chase movie whilst we know that the driver is Looney Tunes. A movie with a good grasp on the desired quality of life time! So if we accept that the bulk of the Americans had to choose two movies these would be it. Yet, that number is not correct. You see Vin Diesel is attracting an audience, but 81% is not domestic, in the case of Miss Watson it is a 60% non-domestic audience. If we focus on the American market the Beauty and the beast was best, but only good for half a billion, if we focus on the domestic market, it is merely the Force Awakens that brings the goods for Americans. It makes sense with the following it has, but it is also deeply sad that decent movies are no longer bringing in the bacon. We cannot merely be blaming Netflix on this, we can surmise that the people can no longer afford the large screens in America, it is the most likely scenario, when we consider that only 3 movies got the domestic top 100 of gross revenue in 2017 and 11 in 2016, we cannot disagree with the view we get offered, but in retrospect, there is enough evidence that the US job market was worse last year. So with still 3 upcoming box office smashes, the big screen performance remains down, to what extent is harder to state, because there is enough indications that there is a lack of quality numbers, which makes my predictions not wrong, merely speculations and I accept that, yet the makers of the article and the presenters of the story of ‘Even superheroes may not be able to save Hollywood’s desperate summer‘ know that they were blaming the DC and Marvel Universe for not saving an economy that does not presently exist. The economy only exists on the Dow Jones index and that one is skewed towards the 1% of Americans that can afford a large apartment in New York and other places. What a shame that reality requires the 99% of Americans they give no consideration to. Yet it could be worse and there is every chance of that happening. As we see Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen warn against regulatory cuts, as we see “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said protectionist policies pose a “serious risk” for growth in the global economy“, we could deduce that Draghi is soon depending on exploitation tactics to grow the economy, not only has his Quantative Easing failed, he will soon depend on legalised slave labour to get the economy the boost no one wants in such a manner. So as Draghi states: “To foster a dynamic global economy we need to resist protectionist urges“, which will not just end the filling of any quality of life if it was up to certain Uber approaches, it is also signaling the end of places like Hollywood, because they only get to exist when people can afford to go to the cinema, an display of ‘ingoranus totalicus‘ shown by these same people as they bolster the story that ignores the needs and plight of those in the lover 60% of the total income bracket in most of the modern western world.

We will see in the next 18 months what remains of the values we considered in the past. Life as we know it will change, that has always been the consideration of an evolving natural life. We merely forgot that those in charge are not in favour of change unless they could directly profit by it. I wonder if the people in Hollywood realise that part of the equation.

 

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Targeting the FBI

Do not worry, the FBI is not under attack from any hostile force, in this particular case it is me who will be on the offensive regarding statements made in 2014. Let me explain why. To get to the start of this event, we need to take a step back, to be a little more precise we need to turn to the moment 645 days ago when we read that Sony got hacked, it got hacked by none other than North Korea. It took me around an hour to stop laughing, the stomach cramps from laughter are still on my mind when I think back to that day. By the way, apart from me having degrees in this field. People a lot more trustworthy in this field, like Kim Zetter for Wired Magazine and Kurt Stammberger from cyber security firm Norse. The list of sceptics as well as prominent names from the actual hacking world, they all had issues with the statements.

We had quotes from FBI Director James Comey on how tightly internet access is controlled there (which is actually true), and (at https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/update-on-sony-investigation) we see “the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions“. I am pretty sure that the FBI did not expect that this would bite them down the track. This all whilst they rejected the alternate hack theory that Cyber Intelligence firm Norse gave (at http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/fbi-rejects-alternate-sony-hack-theory-113893). Weirdly enough, the alternative option was no less than ten times more possible then the claim that some made. Another claim to have a giggle at came from Homeland Security, the quote was “The cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment was not just an attack against a company and its employees. It was also an attack on our freedom of expression and way of life“, which is a political statement that actually does not say much. The person making it at the time was Jeh Johnson.

You see, this is all coming to light now for the weirdest of reasons. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/21/north-korea-only-28-websites-leak-official-data). The subtitle gives us “Apparent error by a regime tech worker gave the world a rare glimpse into the few online sources of information available“, so one of these high profile worldly infamous hackers got a setting wrong and we get “But its own contribution to the world wide web is tiny, according to a leak that revealed the country has just 28 registered domains. The revelation came after one of North Korea’s top-level name servers was incorrectly configured to reveal a list of all the domain names under the domain .kp“, you see, here we see part of the fun that will now escalate.

In this I invite NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers and FBI Director James Comey to read this, take note, because it is a free lesson in IT (to some extent). It is also a note for these two to investigate what talents their agencies actually have and to get rid of those who are kissing your sitting area for political reasons (which is always good policy). When  the accused nation has 28 websites, it is, I agree not an indication of other internet elements, but let me add to this.

The need to prototype and test any kind of malware and the infrastructure that could actually be used against the likes of Sony might be routed via North-Korea, but could never originate there. The fact that your boffins can’t tell the difference is a clear given that the cyber branch of your organisations are not up to scrap. In that case it is now imperative that you both contact Major General Christopher P. Weggeman, who is the Commander, 24th Air Force and Commander, Air Forces Cyber (AFCYBER). He should most likely be at Lackland Air Force Base, and the phone number of the base is (210) 671-1110. I reckon setting up a lunch meeting and learn a thing or two is not entirely unneeded. This is not me being sarcastic, this is me telling you two that the case was mishandled, got botched and now that due to North Korean ‘expertise’, plenty of people will be asking questions. The time requirement to get the data that got taken was not something that happened overnight. For the simple reason that that much data would have lit up an internet backbone and ever log alarm would have been ringing. The statement that the FBI made “it was unlikely that a third party had hijacked these addresses without allowance from the North Korean government” was laughable because of those pictures where we saw the Korean high-command behind a desktop system with a North Korean President sitting behind what is a mere desktop that has the computation equivalent of a Cuisena Egg Beater ($19.95 at Kitchen Warehouse).

Now, in opposition, I sit myself against me. You see, this might just be a rant, especially without clarification. All those North Korean images could just be misdirection. You see, to pull of the Sony caper you need stimulation, like a student would get at places like MIT, Stanford, or UTS. Peers challenging his solutions and blocking success, making that person come up with smarter solutions. Plenty of nations have hardware and challenging people and equipment that could offer it, but North Korea does not have any of that. The entire visibility as you would see from those 28 domains would have required to be of much higher sophistication. You see, for a hacker, there needs to be a level of sophistication that is begotten from challenge and experience. North Korea has none of that. Evidence of that was seen a few years ago when in 2012 in Pyongyang I believe, a press bus took a wrong turn. When some reporters mentioned on how a North Korean (military I believe) had no clue on smartphones. I remember seeing it on the Dutch NOS News program. The level of interaction and ignorance within a military structure could not be maintained as such the military would have had a clue to a better extent. The ignorance shown was not feigned or played, meaning that a technological level was missing, the fact that a domain setting was missed also means that certain monitoring solutions were not in place, alerting those who needed to on the wrongful domain settings, which is essential in regards to the entire hacking side. The fact that Reddit and several others have screenshots to the degree they have is another question mark in all this last but not least to those who prototype hacking solutions, as they need serious bandwidth to test how invisible they are (especially regarding streaming of Terabytes of Sony data), all these issues are surfacing from this mere article that the Guardian might have placed for entertainment value to news, but it shows that December 2014 is a very different story. Not only does it have the ability to exonerate the

We see a final quote from Martyn Williams, who runs the North Korea Tech blog ““It’s important to note this isn’t the domain name system for the internal intranet,” Williams wrote. “That isn’t accessible from the internet in any way.”” which is true to some extent. In that case take a look to the PDF (at https://www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-usa-07/Grossman/Whitepaper/bh-usa-07-grossman-WP.pdf) from WhiteHat security. On page 4 we get “By simply selecting common net-block, scans of an entire Class-C range can be completed in less than 60 seconds“, yes, I agree you do not get that much info from that, but it gives us to some extent usage, you see, if something as simple as a domain setting is wrong, there is a massive chance that more obscure essential settings on intranet level have been missed, giving the ‘visitor’ options to a lot more information than most would expect. Another matter that the press missed (a few times), no matter how Time stated that the world was watching (at http://time.com/3660757/nsa-michael-rogers-sony-hack/), data needs to get from point to point, usually via a router, so the routers before it gets to North Korea, what were those addresses, how much data got ported through?

You see, the overreaction from the FBI, Homeland Security, NSA et al was overly visible. The political statements were so out in the open, so strong, that I always wondered: what else? You see, as I see it, Sony was either not the only one who got hacked, or Sony lost something else. The fact that in January 2015 Sony gave the following statement “Sony Entertainment is unable to confirm that hackers have been eradicated from its computer systems more than a month after the film studio was hit by a debilitating cyber-attack, a report says“, I mentioned it in my article ‘Slander versus Speculation‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/03/slander-versus-speculation/). I thought it was the weirdest of statements. Basically, they had almost 3 weeks to set up a new server, to monitor all data traffic, giving indication that not only a weird way was used to get to the data (I speculated on an option that required it to be an inside job), yet more important, the fact that access had not been identified, meaning it was secured gave way to the issue that the hackers could have had access to more than just what was published. That requires a little bit more explanation. You see, as I personally see it, to know a transgressor we need to look at an oversimplified equation: ‘access = valid people + valid systems + threats‘ if threats cannot be identified, the issue could be that more than one element is missing, so either you know all the access, you know all the people and you know the identity of valid systems. Now at a place like Sony it is not that simple, but the elements remain the same. Only when more than one element cannot be measured do you get the threats to be a true unknown. That is at play then and it is still now. So if servers were compromised, Sony would need a better monitoring system. It’s my personal belief (and highly speculative) that Sony, like many other large companies have been cutting corners so certain checks and balances are not there, which makes a little sense in case of Sony with all those new expansions corners were possibly cut and at that point it had an IT department missing a roadmap, meaning the issue is really more complex (especially for Sony) because systems are not aligned. Perhaps that is the issue Sony had (again this is me speculating on it)?

What is now an issue is that North Korea is showing exactly as incapable as I thought it was and there is a score of Cyber specialists, many of them a lot bigger then I will ever become stating the same. I am not convinced it was that simple to begin with, for one, the amount of questions the press and others should have been asking regarding cloud security is one that I missed reading about and certain governmental parts in the US and other nations have been pushing for this cheaper solution, the issue being that it was not as secure as it needed to be, yet the expert levels were not on par so plenty of data would have been in danger of breaching. The question I had then and have now a lot louder is: “Perhaps Sony showed that cloud server data is even less secure than imagined and the level required to get to it is not as high as important stakeholders would need it to be“. That is now truly a question that matters! Because if there is any truth to that speculation, than the question becomes how secure is your personal data an how unaware are the system controllers of those cloud servers? The question not asked and it might have been resolved over the last 645 days, yet if data was in danger, who has had access and should the people have been allowed to remain unaware, especially if it is not the government who gained access?

Questions all worthy of answers, but in light of ‘statements made’ who can be trusted to get the people properly informed? Over the next days as we see how one element (the 28 sites) give more and more credible views on how North Korea was never the culprit, the question then becomes: who was? I reckon that if the likely candidates (China, Russia, UK and France) are considered there might not be an issue at all, apart from the fact that Sony needs to up their Cyber game, but if organised crime got access, what else have they gotten access to?

It is a speculative question and a valid one, for the mere reason that there is at present no valid indication that the FBI cyber unit had a decent idea, especially in light of the official response towards cyber security firm Norse what was going on.

Could I be wrong?

That remains a valid question. Even when we accept that the number of websites are no indication of Intranet or cybersecurity skills, they are indicative, when a nation has less websites than some third world villages, or their schools have. It is time to ask a few very serious questions, because skills only remain so through training and the infrastructure to test and to train incursions on a WAN of a Fortune 500 company is not an option, even if that person has his or her own Cray system to crunch codes. It didn’t make sense then and with yesterday’s revelation, it makes even less sense.

Finally one more speculation for the giggle within us all. This entire exercise could have been done to prevent ‘the Interview’ to become a complete flop. You know that movie that ran in the US in 581 theatres and made globally $11,305,175 (source: Box Office Mojo), basically about 10% of what Wolf of Wall Street made domestically.

What do you think?

 

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