Tag Archives: Cray

Chook chook thinking

Why? Because train of thought reads too boring, thats why! So this all happened, or better stated started happening a few hours ago. Someone stated that IBM Z Mainframes are in 96% of all mainframe places. Now, I have no problem with this, I moved out of mainframes 30 years ago, and I still respect what these things can do (they are just too big for my desk). Yet in this, my first question was, what do the other 4% use? A simple question. I got all kinds of answers, yet none of them answered my question ‘What do the other 4% use, in this it does not matter if it is known, but it is essential to look at.

Why?
Well, in this IBM has a luxury problem, they basically own 96% of that market, but the 4% can become 8% then 16%, at that point the message from IBM becomes 4 out of 5 use our mainframe. When the 96% is 120,000 mainframes it is one thing, when it is based on 960 mainframes it is a whole different story. The numbers matter, that has always been the case (even if Microsoft is in denial now they are shedding market share). 

Reasons
There can be a simple reason. For one epidemiology, if it is about real time numbers, the market is slim, massively slim, compared to that market a size zero model is a mere chunky blobernaut. Cray is one of the few players in that setting and it makes sense that a Cray is there where an IBM is optionally not. Still, I would want to know.

You see, in strategic thinking we have two elements we ALWAYS need to keep one eye on. One is threat the other is weakness. In this example real-time data management is a weakness. Now we need to understand that this market is set to billions and those who desperately need it, that number is not an issue, yet for IBM investing that much for 4% is tactically not sound, not until that marketshare is a lot larger. That makes perfect sense and let’s face it no one owns 100% of a market, if that ever happens we will have a lot more problems than we could possibly understand. 

Why do I care?
Well, for the most I do not, but at present I am not to involved with any SWOT analyses, and the ones I did lately was done for wannabe managers who seemingly only understand bulletpoint memo’s. The idea of any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analyses that is related to business competition, project planning and capability planning is more important than most people realise. We see it in intelligence, business intelligence and market intelligence. And now we see two new real markets emerging where it is important too. Gaming and SAAS/GAAS. Even as GAAS is still some time away, the need to actively SWOT in all three is there and I believe the players are not too finicky about that and they need to be. As the cloud is oversold and the dangers are underestimated their board of directors need to hold up a mirror where they can tell themselves that it doesn’t matter, and when we understand how completely those people are lying to themselves, at that point you might get the idea that there is a problem. The SWOT has more sides, it tests your capability, your software (Strengths and opportunities) but that needs to be levelled by weaknesses and strength. 

800 years ago
To understand this we need to go back to the good old days (Ghengis Khan). It was he who stated “It is not enough for me to win, my opponents must all fail”. Yes, I admit it is a massively loose translation but it applies to the now. When we stumble over sales people and their unnatural large ego’s, we tend to listen because they make the loudest claims, yet are they valid? Consider Solarwinds and what they enabled criminals to do, when you consider the news last week when we were given ‘SolarWinds hackers stole US sanctions policy data, Microsoft confirms’, it was a weakness and a threat, so when we how long the hack was active and that we now see that policy data is online and open for anyone to look into, what other sides are not yet known? It is not enough for SAAS vendors to look at SWOT, their customers need to do the same thing. So when I considered the 4% is was not because I need to know everything (which at times is still nice as a high executive CIA decision maker has a girlfriend that has size 6 lingerie, his wife is size 11), so who needed to do the SWOT, someone at the CIA or me? One could say both as I am his threat and he is my opportunity. 

The stage of what is what could be remains forever in motion. 

So where from here?
That remains open. For players like Amazon, the enabling of GAAS becomes more and more important, especially when you see the blunders that players like Ubisoft makes, they need to be aware of where their customers are, especially when Netflix becomes active in gaming too. They will have an advantage, but Amazon can counter it, yet there are sides that remain unknown for now and they should not be (not on that level) and there is the rub. Too many rely on external solutions when that solution needs to be in-house. And we can disperse with all the marketing BS that some give like “We are a better company now”, when you drop the ball to that degree there was a massive space for improvement and you merely are on par for not being where you should have been a year ago. An old IBM Statistics wisdom was “You’ll know when you measure”. This sounds corny but it is true, you cannot anticipate and adjust when there is no data and in all this any SWOT analyses would have been usable data. So where was the 4%? I do not know and the poster seemingly did not know either. It might be fair enough, yet when that 4% becomes 8%, when should you have known? It is a question with a subjective answer. Yet in gaming it is less so, especially as I am becoming aware (unproven at present) that Microsoft has one nice trick up their sleeve. There is partial evidence out there that Skyrim will be on PS5 in digital formal only. Several shops now have a ‘DO NOT USE’ for any physical PS5 format of Skyrim. Now, there might be an easy answer for this after all these lockdowns, but it is only 4 weeks away now, so you tell me. Is Microsoft playing its ‘bully’ card? Are they trying to push people to Xbox? It is a fair approach, they did pay 8 billion and change for it, but consider that their actions are set to a larger stage. A stage of millions of angry fans. I solved it for them by creating public domain gaming ideas for any Sony exclusive RPG game. I am not Bethesda, I am a mere IP creator, but when software makers are given a free ride towards Sony exclusives and even if one game hits the mark, the Bethesda market share dwindles to a lower number. Now consider what happens when that happens on Amazon Luna too? I might be a mere 1% factor, but if another one joins me I grow 100% whilst Microsoft dwindles more. For Microsoft Amazon is becoming a real threat and a weakness, for Amazon Netflix is optionally a threat and a weakness whilst Google Stadia is optionally the opportunity for Amazon. 

All SWOT settings that could have been seen from afar from the beginning. It is not everyones train of thought, yet in this day and age, I think it needs to be, the markets and our lives are changing in all kinds of ways too quickly and too large, we need to think head and having a clear grasp on how to apply SWOT in our lives might become essential. 

The difference?
That is a much harder line to follow. It comes down to the word ‘Insight’ and it is a dangerous, a very dangerous word. Because depending on the person this can be Insight, speculated insight, expected insight, and adjusted insight and more than once they are all on one pile making the data less reliable. Insight is also subjective, we all see it differently and that does not mean that I am right and everyone else has a wrong station. No, it is all subjective and most CAN be correct, but as the insight is disturbed by speculated, adjusted and expected versions, the numbers alter slightly. And now we see that 4% was not 4%, is was 7% and 5%, 5% because there were other IBM mainframes in play (adjusted) and 4% was the speculated number and 7% was the expected number. Now we have a very different station, the expected moves us from 96% use our product, towards 9 out of 10 are our customers, which is now a mere step towards 4 out of 5 use IBM. So would you like to bring that conversation to any board of directors? 
They’ll serve your balls for dinner (see image). 

Still feel certain that you do not want to know? In reality most SWOT analyses are seemingly pointless and often amazingly boring, yet in this day and age they are an essential part of business and gaming at $130 billion a year is facing that side as well. So when you consider what I gave you also consider the impact that some shops have ‘DO NOT USE’ for Skyrim preorders, 4 weeks before release, lockdown or not, it beckons all kinds of questions. And to be fair, there could be a simple explanation for all of it, but that too is the consequence of trying to create hypes via YouTube without clearly informing the audience. It is a weakness Microsoft has shown a few times (Bethesda was never completely innocent, but equally never this guilty). 

So what has a game in common with a business setting? It is simple, they both need to manage expectations and that too is a side of SWOT, even as marketing often merely focusses on opportunity, there is a weakness and a threat. The lack of clarity and misinformation are both a weakness (angry customers) and a threat (churning customers) and in the world of gaming the churners are the real danger, they can get the flocking population of angry gamers to come with them and really make numbers spiral downward. In this day and age SWOT is an additional essential way to go, in nearly all walks of life. We simply can not avoid being that naive anymore, not with spiralling energy prices and more and more articles that can at present no longer be found in any supermarket, all whilst plenty of people are in a holding pattern for their incomes. 

It is a train of thought and it is up to you to decide if you want to do it or not, because that was always your right, the right to ignore, but it must be said that it will be at your own peril. 

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Another Brick in the growing Wall

The wall of profit is going nicely in France, even as I would like to take another gander on how the western media is all about ignoring the Houthi attacks with drones on Saudi Arabia, it seems that we will get more on that soon enough. As I see it, we have a situation where at present 5 attacks have been ignored by the western media, like they are all about calling Saudi Arabia the big nasty, even though there is no factual evidence, merely biased opinion on several fronts. Today is not about that. Today is about France (the land of Wine, Cheese and Citroen). This place is pushing a few boundaries and even as we think that things are still open to discussion, it seems that the mighty bosses of banks (one particularly) have made their choice, I mentioned it a little over a week ago, yet all were easily persuaded to ignore it. Now that we are given: ‘French parliament passes “Huawei Law” to govern 5G security‘ (at http://telecoms.com/498728/french-parliament-passes-Huawei-law-to-govern-5g-security/), we see an optionally much larger change. This might be the first step in changing the landscape on a much larger scale and as far as I can tell it is just the beginning. There is an important notice to all this and it opposes the UK point of view to almost 180 degrees. In the UK, Alex Younger (big boss of MI-6), aka El Capitano de observadores furtivos is off the mind that important infrastructure should never be in foreign hands. This is a policy issue and I do not oppose this choice. It is the short minded and stupid American view of being shouting anti-Huawei accusations without proof that I object to. Now we see on the other side (France) where Mathieu Duchatel gives us “the French government is creating a regulatory environment that helps reduce its vulnerability to foreign intelligence collection“, which is another policy approach. I tend to like this more than the one Alex Younger gives, but both are valid points. Yet the one Duchatel gives us leaves the players with more options.

To see this, we need to go back to 1993, when Sybase and Microsoft dissolve the partnership they had and Microsoft receives a copy of the SQL Server code base, this was the best approach and after this we see that Microsoft sets their own designers to make evolve their SQL servers, a choice that ends up making them a direct competitor of the code Larry Ellison pushed for (the solution we know as Oracle), and whilst he went sailing across the oceans, MS SQL Server got the be lean and mean. Even as we see flaws, we see that Microsoft created a much larger market than we thought possible. It is that path Europe and America needed for 5G. So as the Yanks decided to screw themselves 6 ways from Sunday, Europe has a much better approach and now we see the path where France has opened up a dialogue to enable that solution down the track. It is a solution that would assist Huawei as well, as we see a solution that uses the Huawei 5G path as a benchmark, France et al could deploy a non-Chinese 5G solution that is set to the Chinese standards and that would suit China (read: Huawei) in a few ways. It all goes from bad to worse for America. What everyone seems to forget is that Azure in China is Shanghai Blue Cloud Technology Co., Ltd., a wholly (or is that holy) owned subsidiary of Beijing 21Vianet Broadband Data Center Co., Ltd. and it now implies that the accelerated evolution of 5G via Huawei has the stage where the best upgrades to implementation and facilitation to 5G will come from 21Vianet and not from Microsoft. Just as Sybase gave the keys to Microsoft in the 90’s, we now see the opposite where the business advantage will be with the Blue Cloud bosses, together with Huawei they now have a much larger advantage than anyone realises. Even as there is a shift in china through the players like BitTitan, I believe that Huawei is still preparing for a much larger innovation giving 21Vianet when that kicks off an overnight advantage that Microsoft cannot equal, not for a much longer time, leaving Microsoft losing momentum to a much larger.

If you want proof, then I have to admit that I cannot give it, the market seems to facilitate to a larger shift and it is not some hidden gem that no one else found. I believe that the Sybase example is what we face today, as Mathieu Duchatel is setting the new policy, we see policy that is accepted over most of the EU, so as Germany, Spain and Italy accept this push, most of the EU nations will follow, they are willing to drop America like a bad habit ion all this. The US overplayed its hand and now they will face the consequences of choice. In this the UK must soon make up its own mind. The path Alex Younger opted for was not wrong, but it is a larger choice that could impede economic growth to a much longer degree for a much longer time, two elements the UK does not really have at present.

The SCMP article (at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3020354/while-weighing-5g-security-risks-france-predicts-it-can-manage) we see another solution for France and somehow I believe Credit Agricole had been preparing for this step a little longer than most others. France needs to be on top of this as 2024 Paris is coming near soon enough, implying that a multi-billion euro scheme for 5G will be announced before years end to get anywhere near ready and it seems that the Credit Agricole dividend is about to push upwards to a much larger degree. And when we get to the end of the article where we see: “5G infrastructure poses more complex problems. The distinction between core and edge is no longer as relevant, as many software operations will operate in the cloud“, we get to be introduced to the benefit and advantage that Beijing 21Vianet Broadband Data Center Co. now gets to have; Microsoft forgot that most cannot get to China (for simple linguistic considerations) that limitation does not exist in the other direction. And now as the cogs connect we see how the market takes a shift. Remember when I made the joke (and connection) to the cloud; it is merely someone else’s computer. Everyone so needy to muddy the water claiming it is so much more complex. OK, to the smallest degree it is.

To see my point of view consider the NASA Mainframe that was there for the moon landing (and perhaps a little more), now consider my old Mobile, this 2011 mobile needs 5% of available processing power to do what that entire NASA room did. The mobile that followed 4 years later was 400% more powerful with 1600% more storage and the one that followed was close to 300% more powerful than the previous one with an additional 1600% more storage, the market shifted THAT fast.

So when we see a data center now, and consider that a dozen racks with terabyte storage can be replaced by ONE drive, yes there is an Exabyte drive now, one drive with well over 1,000,000 terabytes. We are nowhere near replacing the entire data center, yet in 10 years, that center could be replaced by one large tower in that time, it might look a little different (I always loved the Cray systems, it comes with a place to sit and heating, but that so called ‘cloud’ will be in one clear specific location (just as it is now) and that is the issue;

it is the location of someone else’s computer that is the issue, soon it will no longer be in America, China is now in a position to offer the same, optionally cheaper and when the America BS starts with ‘It needs some vague quality seal of approval‘ (a SAS marketing trick we saw 20 years ago).

It will be at that point that the entire mess becomes ugly real fast and we are already pushing in that direction. The problem is not China, or America. It will be the policy considerations on where data is allowed to be; a lot of cloud issues on data locations are still open to discussion. The problem is not the hardware, it will be the place with the most logical policy in place, that will be the main player for the next stage and it seems that France has been keeping busy on becoming that European location. I reckon that China does not care, as long as they get the business and that is when we see the American failure on getting the business. They planned on greed when pragmatism was the only solution to push the market forward. Now as most nations start waking up on the loss of pragmatism, we see the consideration, to be a player or a tool and some are realising that they banked on the wrong horse and the American horse is about to become a ‘horse no show!

Whether it was merely some bank, some policy, or a larger linked consideration, this time the French have played a good long term game and they have every chance to reap the benefits of that game. We have yet to see how it all plays out and Paris 2024 will be the big test, but as the issue stands, the French are pushing forward, it is there that I found some references to Credit Agricole, DGSE, and a very large billion dollar option. Even as 21Vianet and its subsidiaries are not mentions, neither is Azure in any way, it all falls to the one mention of ‘Microsoft Corporation‘. This might all be true, but I still seek confirmation, on a stage this large 21Vianet could not have been unmentioned, the same for the entire Azure part. the line “the proliferation of real-time data from sources such as mobile devices, web, social media, sensors, log files, and transactional applications, Big Data has found a host of vertical market applications, ranging from fraud detection to scientific R&D“, makes its absence of certain players either short sighted or the elements of that article were unreliable. I believe it to be a little of both.

I wonder how the game unfolds; I reckon we will know a lot more by the end of the year.

 

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Exposing lies?

We are confronted with lies all the time, the CIA (who is truly gifted in the act) uses it to spread all kinds of discourse, but that is their operandus mondi, so we are not surprised. Yet now we are confronted that these tactics have been embraced by both the FBI and the Pentagon. And it is not my source; it is an American source that gives us this part.

To get to the heart of the matter, we will have to borrow a TARDIS and do some time-travel (a valid Dr Who reference). During this trip we will not be looking at apples and oranges, but we will be investigating fruit, and this has all the bearings on the case.

Trip one

Let’s travel back to November 24th, 2014. It is a sunny day at Sony Square New York, 21 degrees, nice and relaxing weather. It had all the marks of it being a lovely day, were it not that someone decided to hack Sony and they did it, not only did they do it, they left all the markers blaming North Korea. The FBI send their cyber experts and behold, they too agreed that it was North Korea. Even as we were extremely aware that they had no way of doing it, the FBI stood firm on their findings.

Trip two

We are pushing the envelope and stopping at 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. We are given “North Korea’s offensive cyber capabilities” and we see Randall Schriver, a top Pentagon official and all the ‘so called’ expressionistic ideas on how North Korea is the big nasty, the large danger and the big hacker. In addition to this the Financial times gives us (at https://www.ft.com/content/cbb28ab8-8ce9-11e9-a24d-b42f641eca37) “Pyongyang controls an army of thousands of hackers who bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to experts’ estimates“, which was given to us in June 2019.

Into the Heart of Darkness

It was only hours ago that we were given the first light of truth by the Washington Post. To give you that we need to change the topic to fruit and not apples or oranges. You might realise that to get ahead, you need to be ahead. Unless you build a system yourself, you need access to a system of equal quality to hack into a place. Unless you have the passcodes (current password = Inc0rrect%) and inner workings, you cannot hack past the Pentagon Cray, it is close to impossible to do with even the most updated equipment and North Korea is well over a decade behind. It is defended by firewalls and other encrypted matters. Sony is not that advanced, yet still has a lovely set of firewalls and other means to limit access. Yet North Korea, with technology that was considered advanced in 1990, was nothing of the sort a decade before they hacked Sony. In addition, certain access methods or planting of other abilities would have required 4G mastery, a mastery that they do not have. The digital footprint does not match up and it is there that the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/leaked-documents-reveal-huaweis-secret-operations-to-build-north-koreas-wireless-network/2019/07/22/583430fe-8d12-11e9-adf3-f70f78c156e8_story.html) is giving us the goods.

So as we are given: “Before 2008, North Korea struggled to find multinational companies willing to build a 3G network in such a risky business environment. That ended with the creation of the wireless provider Koryolink, which emerged from a discreet visit in 2006 by Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, to Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China” this is the first piece of evidence, 6 years before the hack North Korea did not have access to 3G, it was not there, as such the knowhow of hacking would have been severely limited. In addition to this we need to consider “Alexandre Mansourov, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, who in 2011 wrote about North Korea’s digital transformation. “They decided to work with Huawei from that time on.”” gives us that in 3 years that stage was not surpassed, or even achieved. The paper by Mansourov also gives: “less than 3 percent of the population currently use modern telecommunication services, it has adequately trained human capital, a rather developed industrial and technological base, and sufficient financial resources to pursue the digital revolution to the benefit of the majority“, which now implies that the fall back is actually a lot larger. If they truly had a ‘rather developed industrial and technological base‘, then they would be the oranges that need not rely on Huawei, yet they are technologically speaking merely apples, they are both fruit, but on a different shelf, a lower shelf and that is where we see the technology fail (especially in North Korea). In his paper we also see: “Because the cell phones connect to Chinese cell phone towers it is difficult for the North Korean government to eavesdrop on the calls, but it does mean use is restricted to the border area“, this implies that the limitations in North Korea are actually larger and as such knowledge is more limited. that last part came from ““How Chinese Cell Phones Help Information Flow,” Martyn Williams, 1 April 2010” which was 4 years before the hack, there is no way for any nation to evolve their technology level in that amount of time without having billions, as well as all the technology available for installation and implementation. Which was never the case, North Korea is hardly on the 3G path keeping them a decade behind everyone else.

Fruit, Apples and Oranges

So even if I am looking at fruit, looking at mobile technology versus hackers is like setting apples against oranges, yet the larger truth remains, a hacker cannot surpass certain levels of access if they lack access to the current generation of technology and that is where we see the flaw in all this. To have antiquated equipment access the Sony mainframe calls for all kind of issues as the access requires speed, and if you rely on old technology there is a limit to what you can get. For example getting a 4TB drive for a PlayStation 3 is bogus as it cannot address the complete drive, so when you look at it from that path, you lack the ability to store all that data and Sony was all about data. More important, if the skill to get behind a 4G system is not there, there was not even 3G, how can you get into the hack? Now we might rely on normal lines, but the flaw is already shown, you need a larger comprehension of technology and telecommunication to proceed and North Korea is stated that it could not get 3G without Huawei; at that point we should recognise that it could not get into Sony. If they actually had done that, then they would have been able to design and build their own 4G (which would still be half a decade too late), but that would be the premise. That absence gives us that the Washington Post, who also gives us: “According to a 2008 contract, Panda would transport Huawei equipment to Dandong, a town in northeastern China known for cross-border trade. From there, it would be taken by rail into Pyongyang“, as well as “In spring 2008, Orascom and Korea Post tasked Huawei with developing an encryption protocol for the network, noting that the government would create its own encryption algorithm, according to the documents” this much larger stage does not absolve Huawei (it is not about that), but the fact that encryption protocols were not in existence implies a delay of at least 2-3 years to get their 3G up and running, the entire matter would have given North Korea less than 2 years to get trained to the levels required to visit the Sony Server and become an actual cyber threat. There is no realistic chance that this would be the case and again, when we consider the press visit to North Korea (somewhere in 2012) where the Dutch press learned that their high ranking escorts had no idea of what a smartphone was, that alone gives a lot more insight in the technological limitations of North Korea and its army.

There is no doubt that North Korea would love to be an actual threat, but when it cannot comprehend 3G to the degree it needs and it has no 4G, how is North Korea an actual threat? I believe that Sony was hacked by someone else, there is also enough valid intelligence to see that those people would love to do business with North Korea, yet the entire matter connected to Huawei implies that North Korea is missing several links on the chain of telecom cleverness, the reigns of the horse of innovation and the armour of progress is all rusty, heavy and useless. In this stage the North Korean cavalry might be the most advanced they had but it still does not match up what other nations have had access to from the late 1800 onwards, when you realise the difference to that degree, do you still believe that North Korea could have been the hackers?

That is seen when we look at ‘The Hill’ in 2017. There we get North Korea and the quote: “Today, when warfare can include the operational use of nuclear weapons, the cumulative consequences of underestimating “friction” could be exponentially more serious. This conclusion is true by definition and thus, thoroughly incontestable” yet when we see in a 4G world that North Korea has not even mastered 3G to the degree it needs, we see a shift of needs, needs that are all about the consultants charging their overexposed ego’s by the hour, whilst we see a lack of evidence on the abilities towards the dangers that we are seemingly exposed to. In that regard the FBI and the pentagon has played into the hands towards consultants like Randall Schriver, yet the actual evidence (implied to be) as we now see in the Washington Post gives us another picture, one that bounces against earlier accusations and speculations. March 27th, 2019 C-Span gives us the premise that China and North Korea are set together as a threat, yet the overbearing accepted evidence shows that the division sets the stage where China is 99% the threat and North Korea a mere 1%, yet together is nice to bump the budget. So far no actual or factual evidence has been shown where North Korea is an actual cyber power. As I personally see it, even the NY Times is in on it.

When we are given: Their track record is mixed, but North Korea’s army of more than 6,000 hackers is undeniably persistent, and undeniably improving, according to American and British security officials who have traced these attacks and others back to the North“, as well as “North Korean hackers tried to steal $1 billion from the New York Federal Reserve last year, only a spelling error stopped them“, and “only sheer luck enabled a 22-year-old British hacker to defuse the biggest North Korean cyber-attack to date“. when we are confronted with ‘spelling error‘ and ‘sheer luck‘ we are sold a bag of goods, the fact that North Korea is at the most about 3G, we see the lack of certain abilities. If these hackers were that good, than their abilities would have been to acquire all the technology that we have full access to and that has seemingly not happened. In any war we acquire the weapons to be an equal footing, or more advanced footing, von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu taught us that. You do not rely on the flintlock when the opposition is walking with a 7.62mm MAG. The accusation (also from the NY Times) “the country is suspected of having thousands of hackers capable of carrying out global cyber-attacks, like the recent ransomware attack in more than 150 countries” gives us that they are a large threat and this is only possible with a large established infrastructure. That is seemingly not the case so as we ponder ‘suspected‘ we see the speculated inflated danger that North Korea is, and until today, until the Washington Post gave us the article, that part was too eagerly accepted.

There is no doubt that there are hackers in North Korea, but as the technology shows, they are fighting with one hand on the back wearing a blindfold. It does not make them less dangerous, but it also implies that the events that have taken place were done by others and as such the cyber operatives trying to stop it are not merely failing, they are at present completely unaware who they are actually up against and that is the sad part of this story. after all the billions they got they are still clueless in the dark, a sad story that only came to light as the Washington Post gave us: ‘Leaked documents reveal Huawei’s secret operations to build North Korea’s wireless network‘, seemingly a 3G network no less. And even there we have no evidence at present. That part is given through: “Since then, any company to provide Panda with telecom items intended for North Korea and containing at least 10 percent U.S.-origin content without a license would be in violation of the export ban”, so not only is there a question on one side, the lack of evidence at present gives rise to a lot more issues and that makes for such a sad situation at present.

 

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Look horny!

Seems an odd title to start with, but whenever I see certain reports by boards of directors as they make it to the press, then I am reminded of an old Dutch cartoon called ‘father and son‘ about the conservative father and the progressive son. It was a political cartoon by a man called Peter van Straaten. In one of these drawings a man is standing with a camera whilst the woman is standing not that dressed next to the fireplace, the by-line is ‘Look Horny’. It was hilarious! So was the published remark from the Apple board of directors “Apple’s (AAPL) Board of Directors has grown frustrated at the company’s lack of visible innovation.”

Be innovative in this light is as weird as being horny on command. We can all be innovative at times, but we are innovative with the means at our disposal. In his case this is about vision. Was Steve Jobs the visionary, or was he the man who could recognise it when it was shown to him? Let’s face it; we all have ideas at time. I remember coming up with something that is now called Facebook. Hold on, wait! I am not claiming I invented Facebook. In the late 90’s Warner brothers had these web spaces that were hosted through a provider called Angelfire. There was the Halliwell home, the Babylon 5 home, the Bat cave. All forms of addresses that linked the subscriber to their favourite series, or movie. It was free and it came with 20Mb space. However, it was completely static. I thought it would be a good idea to have something similar and to let these members talk to one another. Our benefit would be that we could talk to them all, a place for free advertising at the cost of one web server and a few additional costs. My boss stated that this was not our mission (which was true) and that this would never work (Really?). I think I still have the e-mail somewhere. I had no other means to pursue this idea and in the end it would never have been anywhere near Facebook, so it does not matter.

The moral is that if your boss lacks insight, things will never get pushed forward. It seems that Steve Jobs had this insight in abundance. Likely he was one of these true visionaries and the timing was right. Timing is all in that field, come a little too soon and it will not happen, come too late and you are a copycat at best.

Does the board of directors at Apple comprehend this?

Perhaps Tim Cook has part of these abilities, perhaps not. Perhaps there is no real innovation to be gotten. Let’s just face that between the cassette, the mini-disc and the iPad there were many years of waiting. The origin of the cassette recorder was around the 1930’s, which was PRE WW2 and would not be a consumer item until decently after WW2. So it took almost half a century to get to the Mini-Disc and almost a decade to get to the iPod. Will it take that long for the iPod to evolve to something truly new? There is no way to tell, innovation comes in many forms and a real breakthrough is needed to shape innovation.

I reckon the new Mac Pro is sure sign that innovation is not dead, this is however nothing more than displayable innovation with to a smaller extent an engineering level of innovation, yet, this is nothing more than a new step forward, not a leap forward onto a new train. As for ‘new’, let’s not forget that Cray had the round professional computer (read mainframe) first, the Cray CDC8600, which was released in the late 60’s, so is the idea Apple had truly innovative? The Cray version came with a bench around it, so where’s my chair Apple!

There is also a downside to innovation the way Apple does it. That part is becoming more and more visible with the iPad. There is now the iPad2 and iPad3. My iPad1 is great, I bought it to use in University and it does exactly what it needs to do and I was until recently quite happy. Developers make applications for the device and I have bought a decent amount of them. However, recently, more and more applications can no longer be updated. Even more irritating is that some updated applications will no longer work and crash as these developers only seem to consider the new iPad’s for testing and not the old ones. More important, new software often no longer works on the old models, so from that we could come to the thought that the innovation of Apple comes at the price where a device like the iPad, must be replaced after two years, which seems an expensive approach for consumers.

Now let’s take a step back. Innovation should not be a hype word. The dictionary states it as: “the act of innovating – introduction of new things or methods.”

So Apple is not really adding anything truly new to their cascading fleet of devices. There is even the idea that in the end this step like approach is a really bad idea. They seem to forget that the economy is in a slump and most of us cannot afford a steplike replacement of our devices.

I reckon the board of directors should also realise that the ‘innovative’ track of Apple has been an expensive one for its consumers; I lost close to $8000, whilst Apple was all too eager not to step forward on their failings and I am not alone. How is that related? Well, when you lose money, until something TRULY innovative comes, why would you purchase that brand? In my case my expensive laptop had to be replaced after only 14 months and as such I did not buy an apple. I am not alone; several around me had such an uncomfortable experience with the iPhone 4 that they have since moved to a non-Apple android solution.

So perhaps their board of directors need to focus on quality of the innovation, not quantity of innovations. In the end, they have nothing valid to complain about. Apple is in the bulk of the homes in one way or another. Whether it is through desktop (iMac), laptop (Macbook Air/Pro) or handheld (iPad/iPod/iPhone). If you talk to 10 of your friends then it is likely that 5 out of 10 have at least one Apple device and 2 out of these 5 are likely to have more than one device. Plenty of CEO’s would sell their first born into slavery for such returns. So in plain words, what are these board members bitching about? Is it truly about innovation or is it about simple greed?

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Who are the real watchers?

It is 02:00, SpyHardwareI slowly move into the building that is owned through puppet corporations. The true owner is no one less then Vladimir Kumarin, the most powerful man in St. Petersburg. Entering the building is relatively simple. I avoid the guards, one almost saw me. It is tempting to use sentry killing, but the body will be found. There can be no trace. I install the small remote webcam. Hacking into his wireless router is relatively simple. It is military grade, but my link to the Cray Titan in Langley soon has that fixed. The router got hit by 400,000 requests a second. It cries for its mamma in less than 7 seconds, a new record. I am in and ghost accounts are set up less than 15 seconds later. The scripts run without a hitch. a low tech wireless microphone is set up 3 minutes later. That is the one they will have issues finding, but it will be found, so the rest remains invisible. I leave silent as the night, no trace left and less than 2 hours later I look like a drunk American exchange student studying in Sweden, on a train to Helsinki.

Yes, it reads like such a nice story, but none of it is true! Thinking of Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher, I am not even that good a spy writer, so I will leave that skill to Mr Clancy. The closest I get to action is the Xbox360 edition. Suits me just fine!

If we look at today, then all we need is a little box that fits into the palm of our hand. We sit in a coffee shop where the ‘privileged young executives’ tend to show off their expensive mobile, laptop, slightly overcharged suits and they look for that young lady dressed to… ‘Impress’. He then logs in does some basic wizardry stuff and considers himself in the running for a possible afternoon of great sex. That was his plan, will she bite? Nearby is a guy who no one notices. He wears a polo-shirt, likely cargo pants too, has a crossover bag and is typing on his laptop. He looks like many Uni students that get casually ignored. He was waiting for the guy (or anyone like him) to show off. He did just that, and less than 3 seconds after the information is typed in, he has link and login details. He now knows what network he can invade. Perhaps the young executive is lucky and he is of no value. If not, his account is broken down and thousands of dollars on internal communications, price agreements, customer’s details and many more details are now duplicated. It would be worth quite a few coins for the right competitor. As such the quiet student will have all his Uni debts paid off long before he gets his degree. So, what is this about?

You see, the Guardian today is having another go at the intelligence industry. I am referring to http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa. Here they discuss several acts that GCHQ has allegedly involved in. My issue is with this part of the sentence “process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people“. Is that any different from what Social media and market research is doing? Let us not forget it is all about the latter part of that same sentence “as well as targeted suspects“.
If there was a way to just focus on that 0.0003% of that population, then it would be easy. But life is not that easy as we learn ourselves on a very daily basis. The only issue I truly have with that article is “Snowden told the Guardian. ‘They [GCHQ] are worse than the US’”. Really Mr Snowden? Let us go over those facts again. First he betrays his country. He is not some guy who got into the thick of it. He first does not make it past basic training. He then gets a chance to serve in the CIA (whomever gave him that brake is truly regretting that act I reckon). He then walks away and joins the NSA. Is there anyone not having any questions at present? So, he knows what is required and then he walks away and not just to anybody. He runs off to Hong Kong. In my mind, he must have thought that the Chinese cyber division would want to offer him a cushy job. But these boys would see through him in no time. Those savants know every in and out of every bit a Cisco system routes, how it does that, why it does that, and where the threats are. Snowden does not instil that level of ingenuity to me. So again, he did not go to some non-extradition country out of conviction (like Ecuador), no he went straight for the ‘enemy’ and is now allegedly enjoying Borsjt and Blackbread in Russian company.

Let us get back to the issues that really matter. This is not about those who claim to be ‘entirely innocent’. This is not even about your average criminals that much. GCHQ is one part to keep England safe. As described earlier, security is no longer done through a backpack full of tricks. The bulk of today’s danger comes to individuals we know not where, and it arrives to them in the simple form of a message. It could be an e-mail, an SMS or even a chat message left on a gaming site. To find them GCHQ needs to get to them all. Do you think they read these messages? That is not humanly possible, every second internet information is created that would take one person a lifetime just to get through. So it becomes about flagging. We can look at two flags. 1 flag is green and is zero threat. That is well over 95% of all communications. This also includes all the dicey and spicy spam messages we get. In effect, they know where it came from, where it is going to. The people they seek are of a different variety. They are all about not being able to detect, or to detect the origin. That is already less than 0.3% of all these messages. Then we go on and on. 1% out of that 0.3% is now a possible threat. Is it? They do not know yet, but the amount is now so small, they can actually start taking a look at the facts. Even then it could be harmless, yet many millions were crunched into less than 1000. That group might be part of the second flag. Even that number is still too high. As time progresses more is crunched and then those people at GCHQ will really go to town and pass on what might be a threat. So, was there an issue? You might think that it is, but if you are entirely innocent then the chance that they saw your data is actually so small that winning the lottery has a much better chance. Do I worry? Hell no. My usage is even less than that. Many download movies, some download pirated games. None of that interests the Intelligence community. They want to learn one thing. Where is the threat to us coming from?

The bulk of us will not even register on their radar. If we rely on the numbers in the article “By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.” that is 550 people to sift through amounts of data that is so much that 1 minute of generated internet traffic will require them all to work their entire careers to sift through that much. Reading our emails? We are just not that important and we likely never will be.

If you are worried, then worry about real threats. The real non-terrorist threat out there today, are the many normal people, not using Common Cyber Sense as they use free internet to do what they need to do from the comfort of their non-desk. Those are the people endangering YOUR data, because they are out to get some personal gain.

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