Tag Archives: Business Intelligence

Overpricing or Segregation?

What is enough in a PC? That is the question many have asked in the past. Some state that for gaming you need the max hardware possible; for those using a word processor, a spreadsheet, email and browse the internet, the minimum often suffices.

I have been in the middle of that equation for a long time; I was for well over a decade in the high end of it, as gaming was my life. Yet, the realisation became more and more that high end gaming is a game for those with high paying jobs was a reality we all had to face. Now we see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X Video Card at $1950, whilst we can do 4K gaming and that one card is a 4K 65″ TV with either the Xbox X or the PS4 pro. Now consider that this is merely the graphics card and that the high end PC requires an additional $2K that is where the PC with 4K gaming requires 4 thousand dollars. It is a little stretch, because you can get there with a little less, but then also the less requires the hardware to be replaced quicker. So I moved to console gaming and I never regretted it. We all agree that I have lost out, but I can live with that. I can truly enjoy gaming without the price. So in this situation, can someone explain to me how the new iMac Pro will cost you in its maximum setting $20,743? Is there any justification to need such an overpowered device? I reckon that those into professional video editing might need it, but when we consider those 43 people in Australia (on that high level) who else does it benefit?

In comparison, a maximised Mac Pro costs you $11,617, so it is almost 50% cheaper. Now the comparison is not fair because the iMac Pro has an optional 4TB SSD drive, and that is not a cheap item, but the issue is that the overpowering of hardware might seem cool and nice, but let’s be fair, when we compare this through MS Word, we see the issue. The bulk of all people will never use more than 20% of that text editor, which is a reality we face yet at $200 we do not care, take the price a hundred fold, with $20,000 in the balance it adds up and even as MS Word has one version the computers do have options, and a lesser option is available, in this, that new iMac Pro is in minimum configuration $7K and at twice the price of a 4K gaming machine, with no real option for gaming, is that not a system that is over the top?

Now, some might think it is, some will state it is not and it is really in the eyes of the beholder. Yet in this day and age, when we have been thrusted into a stage where mobiles and most computer environments are set to a 2-4 year stage at best, how should we see the iMac pro? In addition, where the base model of the pro is 100% more expensive than the upgraded iMac 27″, is there a level of disjointed presentation?

Well, some do not think in that way and they are right to see it as such. One source (ZDNet) gives us: “The iMac Pro is aimed at professionals working with video (a lot of video), those into VR, 3D modeling, simulations, animation, audio engineers and such“, a view I wholeheartedly agree with, yet that view and that image has not been given when we see the marketing, the Apple site and even the apple stores. Now, first off, the apple stores have not been misleading, most have kept to some strict version of ‘party line’ and that is not a wrong stance. Also the view that ZDNet gives us at the end is spot on. With “It’s Mac for the 1 percent of Mac users, not the 99 percent. For the 99 percent, yes, the iMac Pro is overpriced and just throwing away money, but for the 1 percent who need the sort of power that a system like that can generate, it’s very reasonably priced” and that is where we see the issue, Mac is now segregating the markets trying to get the elite back into the Mac fold. Their timing is impeccable. Microsoft made a mess of things and with the gaming industry in the chaotic view of hardware the PC industry has become a mess. It moved towards the gamers who now represent $100 billion plus already we see that others went on the games routine whilst to some extent ignoring the high end graphical industry. It is something that I have heard a few times and to be honest, I ignored it. I grew there whilst being completely aware of all the hardware, which was 15-25 years ago. The graphical hardware market grew close to 1000%, so when I needed to dig into the PC hardware for another reason, I was amazed just how much there was and how affordable some stuff was, but in the highest gaming tier, the one tier where the gamer and high end video editing need overlaps, we see a lag, because selling to 99 gamers and one video editor means that most will not give a toss about the one video editor. Most will know what they need, but that market is not well managed. Issues like video drivers and Photoshop CC 2017 against Windows 10 are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of issues that seems to plague these users. Important is that this is not just some Adobe issue; it seems that the issues are still in a stage of flux. With “Microsoft warned that the April 2017 security update package has a known issue that could affect users’ computers and which the company is seeking to fix” a few months ago, we are starting to see more and more that Windows forgot that its core was not merely the gamer, it was an elite user group that it had slowly snagged away from Apple and now Apple is striking back in the best way possible, by giving them that niche again, by pushing these people with money away, they might soon see that the cutting edge Azure targets for high end graphic applications become a pool of enjoyment for the core Microsoft Office users. A market that they are targeting just as Apple gets its ducks in a row and snatches that population away from them.

That is indeed a clever move, because that was the market that made Apple great in the first place. So as we read on how Azure is aiming for the ArcGIS Pro population, we see that Apple has them outgunned and outclassed and not by a small amount either. Here the iMac Pro could be the difference between real time prototyping and anticipated results awaiting aggregation. That would instantly make the difference between a shoddy $5K-$8K gaming system used for data and the iMac Pro at $20K that can crunch data like a famished piranha, you can wait and watch those results become reality before you finish your first coffee.

In addition, as soon as Apple makes the second step we will see them getting a decent chunk out of the Business Intelligence, forecasting and even the Enterprise sized dash boarding market, because with 18 cores, you can do it all at the same time. This is not the first, not the second and not even the third case where Microsoft dropped the ball. They went wide, and forgot about the core business needs (or so you would think). Yet, the question remains how many can or are willing to pay the $20K question, even as we know that there are options in the $8K and $13K setting in that same device, because there is room for change between 8 and 18 cores. It seems that for a lot the system is overpriced, we can all agree on that, but for those who are in the segregated markets, it is not about a new player, it is more that the windows driven PC market, they just lost a massively sized niche, it is the price we pay for catering to the largest denominator, the question then becomes: ‘Can Microsoft and will it hit back?

Time will tell, what is the case is that the waiting is over and 2018 could potentially see a massive shift of high end users towards Apple, a change we have not seen for the longest of times, I wish them well, because in the end many average users will benefit from such a shift as well, because in confusion there is profit and Microsoft is optionally becoming one of the larger confused places in 2018.

So why should I care?

Apple started something that will soon be copied by A-brands like ASUS. It will remain a PC, but they now see that the high end users they do have, they want to keep it. This makes it almost exactly 20 years after I learned this lesson the hard way. There was a Dutch sales shop who had a special deal, the deal was the Apple Performa, maxed (as far as that was possible) for almost $2750, I was happy as hell. My apple (My first 100% owned by my own self) and I had a great time. I never regretted buying it, but there was a snatch, 3 months later that same shop had the Power-Mac on special, the difference was well over 300%, the difference $1000 (a lot in those days), but still 300% more power and new software that would no longer support the Performa system and older models, a system outdated before the warranty ran out. We are about to see a similar shift. We know multi-core systems, they have been around for a while, yet the shift is larger, so as we see new technologies, new solutions pushed on us whilst the actual current solutions as still broken to some extent, we will be pushed into a choice, will we follow the core or fall behind? Even as we see the marketing babble now on how it is upper tier, merely for the 1% and we feel to be in agreement (for now) we see a first wave of segregation. As the followers will emphasise on the high end computers, we will see a new wave of segregation.

And? So what? I do not want to pay too much!

This is the valid response for many players, for many users, they do not have the needs IT people have, many merely see the need they have now and that is not wrong, not in this life as the economy is not coming back the way it needs to be. Yet two elements are taking over, the first is Microsoft, we can’t get around them for the most and as e-commerce and corporate industry is moving, shows to be both their option and their flaw. As we see more push where 90% of the Fortune 500 is now stated to be on the Microsoft cloud, we see the need for multi-core systems more and more. Even as some might remember the quote form early 2017 “Find out why it’s the most complete #cloud solution“, the rest is only now catching on that the Azure cloud is dangerous in several ways. Chip Childers, the fearless leader of the Cloud Foundry Foundation gives us “We are shifting to a “cloud-first” world more and more. Even with private data centres, the use of cloud technologies is changing how we think about infrastructure, application platforms and software development“, yet the danger is also there yet not mentioned. This danger is slowly pushed onto us through the change that the US gave yesterday. As Net Neutrality is being abolished, there is a real danger that certain blocks could grow on a global scale. So as we see trillions in market value shift, how long until other players will set up barriers and set minimum business needs and cater to them above all others?

Core Cloud Solutions become a danger, because it forces the contemplation that it is no longer about bandwidth and strength of your internet connection, the high end of business is moving back to the Mainframe standards that existed strongly before the 90’s started. It will be about CPU Time Used. So at that point it is not about the amount of data, but the reception of CPU channels, as such the user with a multi core system will have a massive advantage, and the rest is segregated back towards second level, decreased options. It does not change consumer use of places like Netflix, but when you require the power of your value to be in Azure, the multicore systems are the key to enable you and disable connection huggers and non-revenue connected users, consumers at a price for limited access.

This is the future we push for; it is not created by or instigated by Apple. It merely sees what will be needed in 4 years when 5G is the foundation of our lives. I saw part of this as I designed part of a solution that will solve the NHS issues in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but I was slow to see that the lesson I was handed the hard way in 1997 is also around the corner. As Netflix and others (Google in part) is regressing towards the mean in some of their services and options that they will offer the global audience at large. The outliers (Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and SAP) will soon be facilitators to the Expression Dataset of the next model of usage that comes. There will be a shift and it will go on until 2022, as 5G will enable some players like NTT Data and Tata Communications to get an elevated seat, perhaps even a seat at that very table.

They will decide over the coming years that there is a shift and as people decide the level of access that they are getting they will soon learn that they are not merely deciding for themselves, because the earlier their children get full access, the more options they will get beyond their tertiary education. Soon we will learn that access is almost everything, but we will not learn that lesson the way we thought we would. Even I have no idea how this will play out, but such a shift beyond the iteration IT world we see now is exciting beyond belief. I hope I will end up being part of that world, I have been part of the IT/BI Industry since 1980 and I am about to see a new universe of skills unfold before my very eyes. I wonder how far I am able to get into that part, because these players will all need facilitation of services and most of them have been commission driven for too long, meaning that they are already falling behind.

What a world we are about to need to live in!



Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media, Politics, Science

The Right Tone

Today we do not look at Ahmad Khan Rahami, we look at the engine behind it. First of all, let’s get ugly for a second. If you are an American, if you think that Edward Snowden was a ‘righteous dude’, than you are just as guilty as Ahmad Khan Rahami injuring 29 people. Let’s explain that to those who did not get through life through logic. You see, the US (read: NSA) needed to find ways to find extremists. This is because 9/11 taught them the hard way that certain support mechanisms were already in place for these people in the United States. The US government needed a much better warning system. PRISM might have been one of these systems. You see, that part is seen in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/ahmad-khan-rahami-father-fbi-terrorism-bombing), the quote that is important here is “Some investigators believe the bombs resemble designs released on to the internet by al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate through its Inspire publication“, PRISM would be the expert tool to scan for anyone opening or accessing those files. Those who get certain messages and attachments from the uploading locations. To state it differently “the NSA can use these PRISM requests to target communications that were encrypted when they travelled across the internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier“, so when a package is send through the internet and delivered, it gets ‘dropped’, meaning the file is no longer required. The important part is that it is not deleted, it is, if we use the old terms ‘erased’, this is not the same! When it is deleted it is removed, when it is erased, that space is set as ‘available’ and until something else gets placed there it is still there. An example you will understand is: ‘temporary internet files’. When you use your browser things get saved on your computer, smartphone, you name it. Until this is cleaned out, the system has that history and it can be recalled with the right tool at any given moment. PRISM allows to find the paths and the access, so this now relates to the bomber, because if correct, PRISM could see if he had actually gotten the information from Inspire magazine. If so, a possible lone wolf would have been found. Now, the system is more complex than that, so there are other path, but with PRISM in the open, criminals (especially terrorists) have gotten smarter and because PRISM is less effective, other means need to be found to find these people, which is a problem all by itself! This is why Edward Snowden is a traitor plain and simple! And every casualty is blood on his hands and on the hands of his supporters!

The right tone is about more than this, it is also about Ahmad Khan Rahami. You see, he would be a likely recruit for Islamic State and Al-Qaida, but the issue is that his profile is not clean, it is not the target recruit. You see, apart from his dad dobbing him in in 2014, he stands out too much. Lone wolves are like cutthroats. Until the deed is done, they tend to remain invisible (often remain invisible after the deed too). There is still a chance he allowed himself to be used as a tool, but the man could be in effect a slightly radicalised mental health case. You see, this person resembles the Australian Martin Place extremist more than the actual terrorists like we saw in Paris. I reckon that this is why he was not charged at present. For now he is charges with attempted murder (3 hours ago), yet not all answers have been found. You see, the quote “they had linked Rahami to Saturday’s bombing in Chelsea, another unexploded device found nearby, both constructed in pressure cookers packed with metallic fragmentation material. They also said he was believed to be linked to a pipe bomb that blew up in Seaside Park, New Jersey, on Saturday and explosive devices found in the town of Elizabeth on Sunday“, the proper people need to ascertain whether he is just the set-up, or a loser with two left hands. The FBI cannot work from the premise that they got lucky with a possible radicalised person with a 60% fail rate. If he is the start of actual lone wolves, PRISM should have been at the centre of finding these people that is if Snowden had not betrayed his nation. Now there is the real danger of additional casualties. I have always and still belief that a lot of Snowden did not add up, in many ways, most people with actual SE-LINUX knowledge would know that the amount of data did not make sense, unless the NSA totally screwed up its own security (on multiple levels), and that is just the server and monitoring architecture, yet I digress (again).

The big picture is not just the US, it is a global problem as France found out the hard way and new methods are needed to find people like that. The right tone is about keeping the innocent safe and optional victims protected from harm. The truth here is that eggs will be broken, because an omelette like this needs a multitude of ingredients and not to mention a fair amount of eggs. The right tone is however a lot harder than many would guess. You see, even if Man Haron Monis (Martin Place Sydney) and Ahmad Khan Rahami both could be regarded as mental health cases (Man more than Ahmad), the issue of lone wolf support does not go away. Ahmad got to Inspire magazine in some way. Can that be tracked by the FBI cyber division? It might be a little easier after the fact, so it becomes about backtracking, but wouldn’t it have been great to do this proactively? It will be a while until this is resolved to the satisfaction of law enforcement and then still the question becomes, was he alone? Did he have support? You see a lone wolf, a radicalised person does not grow from within. Such a person requires coaching and ‘guidance’. Answers need to be found and a multitude of people will need to play the right tune, to the right rhythm. The right tone is not just a mere consideration, in matters like these it is like a red wire through it all. It is about interconnectivity and it is always messy. There is no clear package of events, with cash receipts and fingerprints. It is not even a legal question regarding what was more likely than not. The right tone is also in growing concern an issue of resources. It isn’t just prioritisation, it is the danger that mental health cases drain the resources required to go after the actual direct threats. With the pressures of Russia and the US growing, the stalemate of a new cold war front works in favour of Islamic state and the lone wolves who are linked to someone, but not usually know who. The workload on this surpasses the power of a google centre and those peanut places tend to be really expensive, so resource requirements cannot be meet, so it becomes for us about a commonwealth partnership of availability which now brings local culture in play. The intelligence community needs a new kind of technological solution that is set on a different premise. Not just who is possibly guilty, but the ability of aggregation of data flags, where not to waste resources. For example, I have seen a copy of Inspire in the past, I have seen radicalised video (for the articles). I don’t mind being looked at, yet I hope they do not waste their time on me. I am not alone. There are thousands who through no intentional act become a person of investigative interest. You see, that is where pro-activity always had to be, who is possibly a threat to the lives of others? The technical ability to scrap possible threats at the earliest opportunity. Consider something like Missing Value Analyses. It is a technique to consider patterns. SPSS (now IBM Statistics) wrote this in its manual “The Missing Value Analysis option extends this power by giving you tools for discovering patterns of missing data that occur frequently in survey and other types of data and for dealing with data that contain missing values. Often in survey data, patterns become evident that will affect analysis. For example, you might find that people living in certain areas are reluctant to give their annual incomes, thus creating missing values in your data. If you leave these values out, are your statistical conclusions valid?” (Source: M.A. Hill, ‘SPSS Missing Value Analysis 7.5’, 1997). This is more to the point then you think. consider that premise, that we replace ‘people living in certain areas are reluctant to give their annual incomes’ with ‘people reading certain magazines are reluctant to admit they read it’. It sounds innocent enough when it is Playboy or penthouse (denied to have been read by roughly 87.4% of the male teenage population), but what happens when it is a magazine like Inspire, or Stormfront? It is not just about the radicalised, long term it must be about the facilitators and the guides to that. Because the flock is in the long term not the problem, the herder is and data and intelligence will get us to that person. The method of getting us there is however a lot less clear and due to a few people not comprehending what they were doing with their short sightedness, the image only became more complex. You see, the complexity is not just the ‘missing data’, it is that this is data that is set in a path, this entire equation becomes a lot more unclear (not complex) when the data is the result of omission and evasion. How the data became missing is a core attribute here. Statisticians like Hackman and Allison might have looked at it for the method of Business Intelligence, yet consider the following: “What if our data is missing but not at random? We must specify a model for the probability of missing data, which can be pretty challenging as it requires a good understanding of the data generating process. The Sample Selection Bias Model, by James Heckman, is a widely used method that you can apply in SAS using PROC QLIM (Heckman et al., 1998)“, this is not a regression where we look at missing income. We need to find the people who are tiptoeing on the net in ways to not get logged, or to get logged as someone else. That is the tough cookie that requires solutions that are currently incomplete or no longer working. And yes, all these issues would require to be addressed for lone wolves and mental cases alike. A massive task that is growing at a speculated 500 work years each day, so as you can imagine, a guaranteed billion dollar future for whomever gets to solve it, I reckon massive wealth would be there for the person who could design the solution that shrinks the resource requirements by a mere 20%, so the market is still lucrative to say the least.

The right tone is an issue that can be achieved when the right people are handed the right tools for the job.

1 Comment

Filed under IT, Media, Military, Politics, Science

Where we disagree

There is another article in the Guardian; it was published almost 12 hours ago (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/14/deficit-problem-crisis-productivity-george-osborne). It is a good story, it gives a decent view, but I feel that I cannot agree. It must be said that this is all in the eyes of the beholder. The article is good and sound and many will adhere to this idea. Yet, I do not completely agree. Yes, all the facts are right, the view is not incorrect, but it feels incomplete. The first quote “The most important issue is the poor performance of the nation’s productivity, which, far from being improved, has almost certainly been exacerbated by the constant emphasis on the putative need for austerity”, now this is a decent view to have, it is an optional view, yet in my view the following com up:

  1. Productivity relies on orders; the UK is competing with its baby brother India where daily labour rates are decently below the hourly rate of a UK worker. That in itself is not enough, the EEC overall is pretty broke, no less than one in 10 has no job, it is driven up by Spain and Greece, yet after a long term most Europeans are very careful about where money is spend on. So which manufacturing industry is getting the few coins that do get spend?
  2. There is no reputed need to austerity; there is an overspending in excess of 1 trillion that needs to be addressed. We can bark high and low on the reasoning for it, but that water passed the bridge a long time ago, now the debt needs to be taken care of. The US, Japan and UK have a combined debt of 30 trillion of national debt, the UK is a little over 3% of all this, let’s make sure that when the two behemoths stumble into nothingness, the UK does not end up being the biggest debt of all (again just my view), yet I feel certain that the banks will be in charge of a nation with such debts.

Yes, productivity will take care of all it, but I believe that the debt needs more then productivity. It needs innovation and IP. They will drive true productivity. People forget about the innovators. Alan Turing is still regarded as the man behind the concept of Artificial intelligence. What was a fab in the 40’s became the driving power for the planet from the 90’s onward; let’s not forget the foundations for the computer. We seem to herald IBM and others, yet Professor Sir F.C. Williams was at the foundation of the driving force that became the behemoth for almost half a century and this wave is still going strong.

The new currency will be IP; innovation will drive the places of work, the places of sales and the filling of coffers (the empty bags currently in a corner of George Osborne’s office).

People keep on ignoring the need for innovation; I tried it twice in a previous job. The response remained almost the same ‘it works as it is, so leave it‘, that is the drive stopper that ends a future, although the early 1900’s did not have the need for IP, consider the history of the paperclip and Gem Manufacturing Ltd, a British company. They had the better design, but never registered the patent, which is why Johan Vaaler is often seen as the inventor. I am not debating the validity, yet he registered his patent. In those days the rights were approached a lot more liberal then now. Nowadays our lives are all about IP, patents and who it is registered to. Haven’t we learned anything in 115 years? No matter that we now enjoy an article that is not patented, in nice contrast to people who enjoy a life because the man behind finding a cure (read vaccine) for polio did intentionally decide not to patent it (Dr Jonas Salk, who deserves a sainthood for that act), our future for certain, our survival to some exaggerated extent is depending on IP. Need drives production, but who owns the article that is needed? That part I see ignored again and again.

William Keegan does not look at the IP side, because he focuses on the steps following it, yet those in this real rat race seems to silence the need to look at it as they talk about productivity and manufacturing, but the innovator behind it, the one designing the IP, that person is worth gold. Consider Microsoft paying 2 billion for a piece of IP called Minecraft. A simple game, looking the way Minecraft does, is worth the revenue the high end looking GTA-5 made. It is all about IP in gaming; it should be the same in nearly any industry, not just the one that got kicked off by Alan Turing and Professor Sir F.C. Williams. IP drives every computer industry, it became the centre piece in the jewel that is now called ‘Business Intelligence‘ and ‘Predictive Analytics‘, but we broke the system after that.

Why was the system broken?

It is a broken system that is now illuminated in its flaws by people like Sir Kenneth Robinson and Brian Blessed. We ignored for too long that IP and innovation requires creativity. As Universities have been pushing logic and business, they forgot that the future tends to be created in the arts. Creativity is the driving force for any future, whatever is produced after this required a need for IP. It is a chicken and the egg issue, will the thought create the idea or is the idea the drive for creation? As I see it, this drive needs an artistic side, a side I was never any good in, but the best futures will need an artistic hand. It is shown into the massive amounts of IP the gaming industry manages. People might wonder why I keep on coming back to the gaming industry.

The answer is simple Games have driven a trillion dollar industry (totalled). Commodore Business Machines (C-64, Amiga) Atari (2600,800, ST), Creative Labs (soundcard), The consoles that followed by Nintendo, Sony, SEGA and Microsoft and the list goes on and on, all from creativity. Even the military sees the essential need of creativity. Consider the text “Space-based Missile Defense: Advancing Creativity“, it is at the heart of everything, so many forgot about that, those in charge forgot about that part. It is why my vote for Cambridge chancellor would not have been for Lord Sainsbury of Turville, but for Brian Blessed. Lord Sainsbury is not a wrong person, or a bad choice. As I see it, all our futures require a much stronger drive towards the arts and creativity. In my crazy creative view photography was invented in 1642 by a Dutchman named Rembrandt van Rijn; his visionary view came 200 years before the chemicals were invented, if you want evidence? It is in the Rijksmuseum and they call it ‘the Nightwatch’.


Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Science