Tag Archives: DARPA

Irritation or agitation?

So is it a state of feeling annoyed, or a state of nervous excitement? Sometimes the difference is so small we feel uncertain what we are. I got into this state time today, shortly after one another, which beckons the thought what is up? The first one was whilst one Netflix, it is not the fault of Netflix. I was browsing and I decided to watch ‘The Rain’. I got into the series for a whole 20 minutes and then after the annoyance, switched it off. It was not the cast, the cast performed as they should have. The idea of a killer rain is fine, but the father rushes home and gets into a traffic mess, but no worries, they can run towards to underground bunker in time (in the middle of nowhere mind you), then we get the kids, annoying, and for some reason they do not grasp the panic, so they are full of questions (whilst dad it driving way too dangerously), then when in the bunker someone bonks the door and of course the kids want to open the door. I got so annoyed with these two that I thought that killing them would be the best thing for all concerned. Just a simple bullet through the back of the head, switch them off like a light. 

It got me thinking, what if that was the stage for a new reality show ‘Honey, I murdered the kids’? What if that is a stage where we see four families and we test the premise of their acceptance levels? OK, it is a screwed up show, but this has become a screwed up world as well. It was merely a mind boggle. The second time was playing Jedi: Fallen order. I stayed away from this game, in the first I like Star Wars, but I am not huge fan, saw all the movies and so on, but it is not the greatest need, so when I was able to get the game second had for a mere $10, I was game to try it. The game had positive things, negative things, but the graphics are actually amazing, the three levels I played had two interesting ones. I like the creation of short cuts, the graphics are great, the story is great, but when I got to the level with ice slides and a few other slides (and ropes) the fun dwindled own a little too fast. Respawning, again and again, slipping over ice slide edges, it was too much like a Prince of Persia game. Yet it does look really good and $10 is a steal for a game this good looking (even at twice the price). There was more, the second world gives shortcuts, so that you can return and take the easy way, it was well made, or perhaps better stated, the levels were well designed, there are a few sides in the game that I questioned (like parts that can only be premium parts), but I gained a few other items soon enough, so it was merely a little matter. Health and Jedi power does not renew over time. Yet the two negative feelings (TV and game) happened within an hour and it made me wonder, what does it take to drive creativity into a dark hole? 

That is the question underneath the pressure within, you see even as we were treated to ‘DARPA plans 4 year open source 5G program to address US security fears’ 5 months ago, and we get “OPS-5G aims to lead to the development of a portable standards-compliant network stack for 5G mobile that is open source and secure by design. The “long-term objective is a US-friendly ecosystem” featuring a trillion networked devices, a broad agency announcement for the four-year project states”, which is fine, and even as it takes 4 years (so it will be ready after the 5G war has raged), they see that it might not be that useful. I am not stating that it is, I am speculating that it is. I came up with a new IP for 5G+, it works in 5G and whether it starts 5G+ or 6G is not for me to say. I tinkered the idea from something I remembered in the early 70’s and I wondered what happens when we change the approach to mobile telephony. There was a 3, a 5 and a 7 phase solution and it required a new approach to central routing, but if it works the privacy and safety on 5G will include up to 6 times more secure and there would be no way to unscramble it, except at the source. And that is where the two fields intersect, a signal can do many things, but I think they never tried the new approach before, so in that form any old fashioned system will be outdated from the start and the new systems can wield the old systems as well. I wonder if DARPA had thought if that little tinkering approach? There is no connection to the other IP I have, but there is a way how they both prosper from the initial stages of a multiple phased connection, the question becomes “When is a router not a router” and that is the path towards more new idea’s, some a little dark, but not all and still creativity wins, even when it is giving into darker ideas. And in all this, is irritation, or agitation the fuel for creativity in a darker view? Perhaps both are, I cannot tell at present, but as I have come up (so far) with new ideas for a new Far Cry, a new Watchdogs, a new Infamous and a new Elder Scrolls, and 2-3 5G IP’s, I do personally believe that my mind is set to a decent creative mode, and frightfully fast. I wonder what I will think of next.

 

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Iranian puppets

Saudi Arabia has been under attack for a while, yet the latest one has been the hardest hit for now. 26 people were injured in a drone attack on Abha Airport. The fact that it is 107 Km away from the border gives rise that this is not the end. Even as we see: “a late-night cruise missile attack by Houthi rebel fighters”, I wonder if they were really Houthi or members of Hezbollah calling themselves Houthi. In addition, when we see: “the missile directed at the airport had been supplied by Iran, even claiming Iranian experts were present at the missile’s launch” as the Saudi government stated this, I am not 100% convinced. The supply yes, the presence is another matter. There is pretty hard evidence that Iran has been supplying drone technology to Lebanon and they have been training Hezbollah forces. I think this is a first of several operations where we see Hezbollah paying the invoice from Iran by being operationally active as a proxy for Iran. It does not make Iran innocence, it does change the picture. the claim by Washington “Iran is directing the increasingly sophisticated Houthi attacks deep into Saudi territory” is more accurate as I see it. It changes the premise as well as the actions required. From my point of view, we merely need to be able to strike at one team, if anyone is found to be Lebanese, Saudi Arabia can change the premise by using Hezbollah goods and strike Beirut – Rafic Hariri International Airport with alternative hardware. Lebanon stops being the least volatile country in the Middle East and it would stop commerce and a few other options at the same time. I wonder how much support they get from Iran at that point. I believe in the old operational premise to victory

Segregation, isolation, and assassination, the tactical premise in three parts that is nice and all solving; It can be directed at a person, a location, or even an infrastructure, the premise matters. It is time to stop Hezbollah, that part is essential as it does more than merely slow down Houthi rebels, it pushes for Iran to go all in whilst being the visible transgressor, or it forces them to back off completely; that is how I personally see it.

So as we see the Pentagon rally behind diplomatic forces, I cannot help but wonder how it is possible for 15 dicks to be pussies? For the non-insiders, it is comprised of the 7 joint chiefs of staff, the septet of intelligence (Army, Navy, Air force, Marine, FBI, CIA and NSA) and of course the National Security Advisor. It is time to change the premise, it really is. It is also a must to proclaim ourselves to either the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or Iran and I will never proclaim myself towards Iran (a man must keep some principles).

We can be all angry find a solution to erase them. As I see it, my version is more productive in the end. They are targeting close to the border as much as possible, this implies that their hardware has limitations. Even so to merely rely on anti-drone and some version of an Aveillant system is economically not too viable, it will merely make some places (like airports more secure). When we look around we see that there are 6 ways to take care of drones.

  1. Guns, which requires precision and manpower
  2. Nets, same as the first, yet a net covers an area better chance of results and a chance to get the drone decently unharmed, or retrieve enough evidence to consider a counter offensive
  3. Jammer, a two pronged option, as the connection fails most drones go back to their point of origin giving the option of finding out who was behind it.
  4. Hacking, a drone can be used for hacking, but the other way is also an option if the drone lacks certain security measures, optionally getting access to logs and other information
  5. Birds of Prey (Eagle, Falcon), A Dutch solution to use a bird of prey to hunt a drone, an Eagle will be 10 times more deadly than a drone, Eagles are a lot more agile and remaining as fast all the time.
  6. Drones, Fighting drones with drones is not the most viable one, however these drones have paint guns which would hinder rotor function and speed, forcing gravity and drag to be the main issues for the drone.

The issue is not merely how to do it, but the specifics of the drone become a larger issue. An Eagle and most solutions will not work against the MQ-9 Reaper drone (to name but an example), yet Hezbollah and Iran rely on the Qods Mohajer (optionally the Raad 85), which when considering the range is the more likely suspect. What is important to know is that these devices requires a certain skill level, hence there is no way that a Houthi forces could have done this by themselves. It required Hezbollah/Iranian supervision. There the option of jamming and drones with a paint gun would work, if a jammer gets shot onto the drone, it will give them a way to follow, paint can have the same effect whilst at the same time limit its capabilities. If the drone is loaded with explosives and set for a one way trip there is a lot less to do, yet the paint could still impact its ability if there is enough space left, if the paint is loaded with metal it could light it up making it a much better target. All options that have been considered in the last few years in anti-drone activities, the question is how to proceed now.

I believe that inaction will no longer get us anywhere, especially when Hezbollah is involved. That is the one speculative part. There is no way that Houthi rebel forces have the skills; I believe that Iran is too focussed on having some level of deniability, hence the Hezbollah part. It is entirely probable that Iranian forces are involved, yet that would be the pilot and with the range, that pilot would have been really close to the Yemeni border making Abha airport a target, yet unlikely that more inland another target would be available to them.

Knowing that gives more options, but also makes it harder to proceed, the earlier five methods mentioned are direct, there is one other option, but I am not discussing it here at present as it optionally involves DoD classified materials (and involves DARPA’s project on Machine learning applied intelligence to the radio spectrum) and lets not put that part out in the open. It is actually a clever program conceived by Paul Tilghman, a graduate from RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), an excellent school that is slightly below MIT and on par with UTS (my creative stomping grounds).

It is a roadmap that needs to be followed, I am all for bombing Hezbollah sites, unlike the earlier mentioned group of 15, I prefer my level of evidence to be a little higher as such the Tilghman solution is called for, after that, when we get that we can address the viability of Beirut and Tripoli with 2500 lbs hardware donations, depending on the evidence found mind you, we can make adjustments, as some materials would have needed to be shipped to Yemen either directly or via Lebanon and in all honesty, I am of the mind that Iran would not have done this directly. Proxy wars require a higher level of deniability to remain proxy wars; as such we need the hardware as evidence.

And even as we see: “Mohamed Abdel Salam, said the attack was in response to Saudi Arabia’s “continued aggression and blockade on Yemen”. Earlier in the week, he said attacks on Saudi airports were “the best way to break the blockade”” (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/12/yemen-houthi-rebel-missile-attack-injures-26-saudi-airport) we need to realise that this is growing and potentially a lot larger than before. Even as we acknowledge that the forces have withdrawn from the harbour, we have no insight on where they went, there is no indication that they have stopped fighting, merely that they are at the moment inactive, a status that can change at any given moment.

Add to that the threat (or is that the promise) by Tehran who decided to “threaten to resume enriching uranium towards weapons-grade level on 7 July if US sanctions are not lifted or its European allies fail to offer new terms for the nuclear deal“, here my answer is ‘What deal?‘, there is enough indication that enriching never stopped, but was merely scaled down to 95% of previous effort, as such there is no need to offer more incentives that will only be broken. As such my strategy to seek out Houthi (and optionally Hezbollah forces) to take away the proxy options of Iran, they must either commit 100% or back down, at present their fear is having to commit fully to this and change the stage of proxy war to actual war, and as such my strategy makes sense. They have no hope of winning as too many government would be willing to align with Saudi Arabia (that might make them surprised and happy as well), and a united front against Iran is what Iran fears, because Turkey would have no option but to cut ties out of fear what happens when we are done with the other Iranian puppets.

It is perhaps the only side where I disagree with James Jeffrey (US special representative for Syria engagement), I do not believe that it is a “hegemonic quest to dominate the Middle East“, I believe that Iran knows that this is no longer an option, yet bolstering foundations of a growing alliance is the best that they hope for and here Iran merely facilitates in the urge to state to Syria (the government and its current president) in the voice of ‘You owe us, we helped you‘, it is slightly pathetic and merely the voice of a used car salesman at present. As more of the proxy war becomes open and proven Iran is backed into a corner, it makes Iran more dangerous, but it also forces them to act, not through proxy and I am decently certain that Iran has too much to lose as present, especially as Russia denied them the S-400 solution.

Even as Gevorg Mirzayan (an expert in Middle East and a leading analyst at the agency Foreign Policy) is getting headlines with ‘‘Dumping’ Iran Would Be Mistaken, Since Russia Doesn’t Know What The US Will Offer In Return‘, we see that the stage is a valid question, but there we also see the answer. the direct (and somewhat less diplomatic) answer is “Never set a stage where a rabid dog can call the shots“, the more diplomatic answer (by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov) was “Russia has not received any requests from Iran for delivering its S-400 air defense systems” is nice, and it puts Iran in a space where they need to admit to needing this kind of hardware, yet on the other side, Russia realises that Iran is driven to flame the middle East and down the track if its alliance is too strong, takes Saudi Arabia out of consideration for several lucrative Russian ventures and they know it.

All these elements are in play and in place, so segregating and isolating Hezbollah limits the options of Iran, making it an essential step to pursue. Interesting is that these steps were firmly visible as early as last year August, and that group of 15 did little to bolster solutions towards truly isolating Iran, that Miaow division was optionally seeking milk and cream and finding not that much of either.

So the time is now essential moving to critical to take the options away from Iran, we let Lebanon decide whether they want to get caught in a room painted in a corner with no directions remaining, at that point they become a real easy target.

That was not hard was it?

Happy Friday and remember, it will be Monday morning in 60 hours, so make the most of it.

 

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The BS of Software and hardware

 

We all have that moment where we wonder where ethical boundaries are. Where is the boundary of deceptive conduct, where is the boundary of profiteering and who knows what a moral centre is?

From my point of view Microsoft skates on every boundary not really giving a damn, especially giving a damn and regards towards their consumers.

The consumer has been deceived for a long time, Microsoft will never call it that, but Computerworld (at https://www.computerworld.com/article/3342416/new-non-security-win10-patches-fix-numerous-bugs-but-wheres-version-1809.html) gives us: “you’ll only get them if you manually download and install them or if, in Windows Update, you click Check for Updates. That’s a deception I’ve railed against for months, but apparently somebody at Microsoft thinks that being a seeker – clicking Check for Updates – gives the updater permission to install these lurking patches, without notification or consent.

In addition Variety gives us in part more with “New hardware sales dropped 6.1%. That drop, GameStop says, was because of 2017’s strong Xbox One X sales, but was also offset by strong growth in Nintendo Switch sales. New video game sales dropped 8.3%“, with an added “Microsoft has seen the following growth as a result of Xbox Game Pass“, which is in all honesty an awesome deal for any gamer, especially as the price would be great at twice the amount, there is no denying that. Yet every indication I have seen gives me the clear indication that the 8.3% drop might be including the Game Pass offer as that is also new video game sales. You see all those new mighty titles that were added with the launch day premise is part of new software sales making the hardship of Microsoft a lot harder than we thought it was. Tech Central adds to this with ‘Microsoft’s Surface sales edge $2bn despite chip shortage‘, you might think it is good, Yet as a surface is set to $1350, the math gives us less than 1.5 million surface pro systems sold, which on a global scale is really bad news. When I expect my own IP to do at least twice that amount, the entire stage of Microsoft is just faltering on too many levels.

Their approach to gamer exploitation (too much advertisement on the console home page, leaving much less space for game icons to start, the never ending pushed Microsoft advertisement on our consoles without the option to switch it off, the news giving us Nintendo Switch Sales Pass 32 Million in under two years, whilst the estimated lifetime sales of the Xbox One is now around 41 million (in 6+ years), that so called ‘strongest console in the world‘ equaled now by the weakest console, exact numbers are unknown as Microsoft is no longer giving us exact console sales numbers.

We saw only two weeks ago on how all surface laptops and tablets are getting massive discounts, sales are not good. From my point of view, Microsoft played a very dangerous game and comes up short. The short selling of hardware, below essential needs to push for accessories, consoles that are too shallow, with a mere 1 TB whilst the going need for basic use passed the 2 TB point two years ago, no corrections were ever made. When we take a critical look at the Financial Express article (at https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/technology/satya-nadella-bullish-on-microsoft-surface-sales/1472634/), and consider “Revenue in personal computing was $13 billion and Surface is now almost a $2 billion business for Microsoft” most will ignore the hidden parts of too few Surface systems sold, the increased discounts making revenue interesting, yet profits would decrease to almost zero. It is the stage of badly expecting the needs of the consumers. It goes from bad to worse when we see VentureBeat giving us: ‘Microsoft really doesn’t want you to buy Office 2019‘, with the added “Microsoft today launched a marketing campaign pitting Office 2019 and Office 365 against each other. The goal? To prove Office 2019 isn’t worth buying — you and your company should go with Office 365 instead.” It is product versus SaaS, and they want Software as a Service to win (likely for tax reasons which is purely speculative from my side). There is also the need of more and more commitment, subscription versus one off sales. So when we see: “Office 365 includes fully-installed Office applications — the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But those apps keep getting better over time, with new capabilities delivered every month“, it would initially make sense to get the subscription. Yet I do not want to be online all the time, having to connect is just too much of an inconvenience when I travel and all the excuses that Microsoft hands us are not getting accepted by yours truly. As for the bugs, we need to be fair here, MS Office is so huge, a bug free version is pretty much out of the question, the issue is, does it actually impact you? The few bugs that bug me only happen in extreme situations and I have for the most used Office 2012 without any hitches. If there are ugly bugs, I never really stumbled on them, another reality we need to accept, but it is not about acceptance.

You see, all this got started with ‘‘We won’t be war profiteers’: Microsoft workers protest $480m army contract‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/22/microsoft-protest-us-army-augmented-reality-headsets ), you short change consumers, mislead people on a global scale through carefully phrased words and you have an issue with a defence contract? It is even worse when we see “Workers say augmented reality headsets provided to US army risk ‘turning warfare into a simulated video game’“, it is from my point of view that these people have no or almost no comprehension of warfare. The images are those of warfare and terrorism, if we can diminish that impact on US soldiers, why would the Microsoft employees resist? In addition, in the shown concept image, if the mini-map keeps them alive, for Zen’s sake give it to them. When I see the lack of ethics that Microsoft has shown with their concept of what is perfectly acceptable and legal, the response ““We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” reads a petition being circulated inside the company, a copy of which was published on Twitter on Friday afternoon. More than 50 employees had signed the letter as of Friday afternoon, according to an employee“.

The response fails on two levels. In the first the augmented lenses are not a weapon, it is a tool and we can go as far as calling it a tactical tool that could give an edge on military and police. Consider the chance that these glasses prevent any innocent person to get shot as they were unlucky enough to get in the middle of it all. In the second part as we accept ‘how our work is used‘, we need to also accept that these employees knowingly and willingly were involved in exploiting consumers; you cannot get it both ways. And if they accept that then they have to be willing to go out and state: “We knowingly exploited consumers as this is part of our income and optionally our bonus!” If that would be the case and whilst the architectural flaws remain in the Xbox One, the lack of connectivity in the Surface devices, I really believe they should shut up or get out. It is their choice which of the two they select.

 

Now, I will accept that for some civilians the expression: “Under the terms of the army contract, however, the devices will be used to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”” is awkward and harsh. The Pentagon sat on a live grenade a little too eagerly. The tactical setting should have been: “Under the terms of the army contract, however, the devices will be used to create increased awareness of the area, to be able to see hostile actions before they could have normally been aware of them and to decrease the chance of civilian casualties through people caught in that area without any feasible option to avoid harm.” Basically the same setting yet phrased a little different (Microsoft knows all about phrasing, do they not? In addition, the entire quote “The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game’, further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed” is open for debate. When you fire and actual firearm, the noise, the blow back of the weapon, it will not feel like a video game, not in the least. I also have an issue with ‘is designed to help people kill‘, the device does not give you skills to kill, it does give the imagery that could avoid one getting killed in the process and that is still an important factor. Add to this the need to keep civilian casualties at zero whenever possible, the part that this enables if a clear stage that a better equipped soldier gets a better chance in keeping 100% of the civilians out of harm’s way. Interesting that these so called ethically high ground Microsoft employees never gave that much thought. Although, seeing my Xbox One icon bar where 50% is used for advertisement as well as the push for more subscriptions is also an ethical debate, especially when the person who paid for a gaming console has no way of switching that part off. In that frame of mind, the Microsoft employees are actively promoting psychic assault, did they consider that part?

I wonder just how convoluted a person needs to be to walk away from half a billion dollars, a device that could save lives, it is interesting that that was a side that no one gave any attention to (media wise that is).

I am not stating that there is a negative side to this device that would be ludicrous as well. Yet if DARPA had not gone to the length it did to get us in 1970 ‘ARPANET, a pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers‘, we would not have the internet and we would not have e-commerce, did they consider that?

These Holo-Lenses might start in defence, yet they can go so much further. Rescue operations (finding life signs in natural or unnatural disasters), medical solutions that give surgeons direct layered information during an operation. In a large hospital not a big thing, but in small rural places, it will be a life saver. All issues that cannot come because these places do not have the billions needed to fund it, the military does and the visionary on these projects can see what else it can be used for. So when we get a couple of Microsoft sissies cry for a ‘ethics review board‘, they should consider the millions that do not want to face forced advertisement on the device they bought, or a diminished device that requires all kinds of accessories and storage to be regarded as actually functional. Their consumers have rights too, but that is apparently not in their frame of mind.

It seems to me that Microsoft has two filters, one for when things are really good and when for when that is not the case. It does fit the style of the military (making them a good match) where clothing is only available in two sizes, too large and too small. Go figure!

Have a great Friday! (60 hours until Monday morning)

 

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Bread and games

We seem to ignore the past, yet a lot of our lives revolve around the bread and games of the matter at hand. Yesterday, the LA Times (at https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-star-wars-episode-9-wrap-photo-20190215-story.html) gave us the first image of Star Wars IX, part nine, the final part of the entire saga. Principle filming and photography finished yesterday, the cast is done. They are all in a state of upper excitement, perhaps some anxiety too. JJ Abrams is all over the place (in joy) and why should he not be? A trip that started in 1977 propelling Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford to heights never imagines before, that trip that started so long ago has been completed. For good measure we saw the added Rogue One and Solo added to the fold. And there is much to celebrate, a whole score of actors added the fold down the line and even if some were not immediately recognised in America, it is people like Peter Cushing, who was the Hammer House of Horror prodigal son, as well as one of the Dr Who players who added to the shine of the Star Wars making an epic story truly epic. Now we need to wait until Christmas to see the finalised version on the big screen, dozens of special effects experts will be wielding their mouses and pens to make magic reality and make the impression of special effects fade away and show us something that DARPA might have actually created, we can no longer tell the difference, the effects have been that stunning for a little while now.

Yet it is not just Star Wars, even if that is the most visible one. We are weeks away from Captain Marvel, soon to be followed by the conclusion of infinity wars (Endgame) and that s just for starters. When Jon Favreau started the Jungle Book in 2016, he might not have had a clue on what he started, but he did start something. In that same trend we will see in 2019 Lion King, Dumbo and Aladdin. Disney just woke up from slumber and is watching billions come their way. We should have reservations on Aladdin, not because of Will Smith, merely because of the shoes he has to fill, the role Robin Williams played was more than legendary, they broke the mould when he was done and it is one hell of a shadow to live up to, I do not envy Will Smith for doing so, yet I applaud his approach to the challenge.

The movies of 2019 will be comic book driven, Joker, New Mutants, X-men, Hellboy, they will all make an appearance, as will Frozen 2, It part 2 and many more. Many of us are planning our calendar one film at a time, trying to see as many as we can, this is how many changed the approach to their lives.

Even as some give us: “the Cost of living in Australia is 3.40% higher than in United States“, than we get “Rent in Australia is 10.04% lower than in United States“, which is massively bogus (as I personally see it). I found more than a dozen 160 square meter apartments in inner city places (not in LA, SF or NY mind you) that are close to 50% cheaper than in Sydney or London. And yes, when you add those (as well as Malibu, the Hamptons and a few other places, the rental prices tumble in the other direction), in addition, the rent in Australia merely seemed lower, the numbers are a little to skewed for my liking, the truth is simple. The cost of living is up all over the place, even now, yesterday I noticed that beef was up 10% that is the way the impact goes when food is thoroughly looked at. We might see the price of beer and think that it is not that expensive, but when the price is based on the need to buy 24 instead of a singular bottle, the scale shifts and not for merely one article, too many articles have speculatively been ‘loaded’ that way. It is not merely in Australia, the UK, many places in Europe, they all have an increased cost of living whilst the incomes have been frozen, in some cases for more than two years. When we see a source give us Levis 501 Or Similar at $98,24 (AU) whilst shops at the same time have prices that vary from $119 to $249, you know that there is a selective weighting in place, or merely some aggregated average that included ‘myworstonlineshopdotwhereever‘, one item already changed the cost between 21% and 154% (if we included the most expensive solution). That is where we are at least 21% more out of pocket for one item. There are a lot of prices that are on the mark and some might even have a seasonal nice discount. So when we are confronted in that stage of live, the bread and games we face matter, they matter a great deal. A list that includes a cinema ticket for less than $20, which is often enough wrong by at least $5, so how does your cost of living add up? How do the small items like popcorn and lemonade add to the pressure of your budget?

This month seems to be all about news on how places have a cost of living that is lower than their national average. Initially it sounds great for those living there, until you realise the other news (not really given to the reader) where we see: “Columbia area named 25th most dangerous in America“, yes there is a drawback to everything. So in one of the places where I was looking, I got treated to: 3 crimes in this area. What? Are you flipping kidding me? Three crimes over the last 4 weeks and one was the disturbance involving an unwanted person. How is that for pristine living? It is not actually that rosy for the entire city there were reported 135 thefts, 106 assaults and 138 arrests, which when you consider it includes Fraud, Forgery, threat complaints, and loads of drug incidents (which mostly includes having a joint) we see a place that Sandra Dee would happily call home.

These are all elements that impact out cost of living, the paths we take to get safely from work to home, the places where we buy stuff, where we get medication and groceries. It is all too some degree connected and the bread and games we have to escape it all is very much part of our lives. For a while we had true escapism via Netflix, and even as that part is not as shiny as it was, the financial geeks still see Netflix as the escape mechanism for most of the players. In that we need to recognise that Netflix over the last year has risen 45.63% since February 14, 2018 and is up trending, we need to see that St. Valentine is definitely in play in all this. You might not find live there, but many watchers are losing their hearts on the feeling of momentary bliss. This feeling relates to the big screen as well. As we seek more ways to escape the stagnating lives we lead, we see that the cinema and the home screen are the two reliable paths to follow (apart from gaming that is).

The question is how will this go on? As the movies come, we see consistent continuation, yet there is another problem. You see even as we see that 300,000 jobs were added, the direct impact is not seen, not in the workflow and not in the US reduction of debt. Others have stated this before me, and it is an important part. The workforce in the US is changing, yet I am not convinced that this is limited to the US, it is a global change. We see more and more that there is a high tier and a low tier of workers, yet the middle tier of workers seem to have been gone. The low tier is all there is in many places and that is where the problem resides. The low tier is definitely growing and more jobs, but they are often minimum wage jobs, there is no room for quality of life, merely contending with the cost of living and whilst most parents both work to make ends meet, we see a family break in place and the only glue left are the bread and games. The view that Reuters gives with ‘the economy was running out of workers‘ is not wrong yet it is not accurate either. Most companies are focussing on cheap labour where possible and that part is now running low. I personally believe that this shifting trend will push itself into the commonwealth and Europe as well. The middle group is either reduced to the lower group or merely pushed into retirement (for as long as that exists). I predict that there will be a rude awakening when we see that the low groups have little tax to pay, but the government have been overspending for too long being in the wrongful believe that the middle tier comes back (any day now they think), the moment that they realise that this will not happen, we will see a collective 68 thousand billion dollar debt that has no place to go, because adjustments that had to be made 4 years ago were never made. They had to be made before that but I reckon the point of no return was passed 4 years ago and now we see the essential need for bread and games. The governments do not want to people to wake up and see that there are no options left, the corporations want the bread and games so that people will not realise that they ended up with a really shitty deal in the end and the rest is looking forward to finding any kind of a solution where they end up in the high tier and they are willing to sell their soul to get there, the lower tier is just a road to nowhere and nothing.

This is exactly why politics is shifting in the US, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her social agenda, we get to see the direct impact of the size of the lower tier, everyone wants her impact and the true stage where people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never has a chance in politics is now gone, greed driven America pushed the middle tier, the buffer of reason away, now we see the high tier (a few thousand) versus the low tier of millions and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has the platform she needed. So as we see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez versus Bill Gates who actually made a really good case (not a console case mind you) and his correct vision gets to be blasted away by the millions who have had no quality of life for the longest of times. Now that the middle tier dissipates they have no future to look forward to either and now we see that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a growing platform. And it is in that light where we see that Dutch Historian Rutger Bregman in Davos (at https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/wealth/dutch-historian-who-called-out-billionaires-at-davos-goes-viral-becomes-social-media-star/news-story/45d75de96d5161ed3bf9205d79a0c063) makes not one but three points. He mentions at 0:53 ‘What must Industry do to prevent a broad social backlash?‘, and now we see happen exactly that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the upcoming broad social backlash that none of the industrials wanted, and they did this to themselves.

If she comes with Eisenhower methods (read: solutions), she will be the bane of industrials and the darling of the working class for 2 presidential elections and generations to come. The danger of bread and games, when the games become less rewarding and the bread turns stale, people start considering the bad place they were in. That setting was shown and basically proven by the Roman poet Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis well over 1900 years ago. Interesting that the industry forgot their history lessons, it might not lead to profit, but they could have avoided monumental losses, a harsh lesson that they might get to learn in the two years ahead.

Change is valuable; it lets the oppressed be tyrants!

 

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What possessed them?

The LA Times brought us the article ‘The Navy’s newest destroyer, the Michael Monsoor, is as much an experiment as a ship-killer‘ (at https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-michael-monsoor-zumwalt-20190126-story.html) a few days ago. My personal view is that it is the ugliest vessel I have so far ever seen. Now, for a functioning being pretty, pleasing or even appealing is not a requirement. It needs to be the killer that scares every other killer and even there it falls a little flat.

The initial consideration for laughter is seen when we consider the line “In the end, what was once intended to be a class of 32 destroyers will now be only three — making for a per-ship cost of about $4.4 billion, according to a December 2016 estimate by the Government Accountability Office, the most recent cost estimate available. Including development costs, that number balloons to $8.2 billion, the GAO said“, so basically the US gets three dinghies for a mere twenty four billion dollars (aka $24,000,000,000), or twenty four thousand million

Three mechanical driven rowboats that amounts to one third of the entire US national budget on education, how perverse is that? Well, it is their tight to choose of course. Yet when we learn that “Despite the higher price, the two advanced gun systems have no ammunition, cancelled because of cost“, a smart bullet system that costs $1,000,000 per round. With the added “The gun’s shells were to be rocket-propelled, guided by GPS and loaded by simply pressing a button“, we are treated to a system that congress will not fuel with ammunition. That is the foundation of a failed and sunk project whilst the vessel is for now still afloat. It was even more fun to learn that optionally the system I designed to sink the Iranian fleet could also be used here, giving us an optional $135,000 solution to drown a $8,300,000,000 mishap, how is that not return on investment? On my side that is!

Do not get me wrong, the US is our ally and I have no such inclinations, my focus was sinking the Iranian ego trippers, I merely found it interesting to know that for a stealth boat, any stealth boat has a similar weakness and mine was set to kick the Iranian dinghies a little, so I take no pleasure that my solution is likely to work there too and it shows the failing of a design and project to be much larger than anyone considered, giving us all a lot more to ponder, because some elements should have been clearly seen on the drawing table and it seemingly was overlooked to such a large extent.

The second part in the mishap is seen when we consider that the design was awarded in 2008, laid down in 2011, launched in 2013, christened in 2014 and repurposed in December 2017 with ‘New Requirements for DDG-1000 Focus on Surface Strike

When USNI News gives us (at https://news.usni.org/2017/12/04/navy-refocus-ddg-1000-surface-strike) “The Navy is revamping the Zumwalt-class destroyer’s requirements and will morph it into a focused surface strike platform, the director of surface warfare (OPNAV N96) told USNI News today” Are you kidding me? After 8 billion and change, a path that spans 10 years (with all the fiasco’s on the internet), we see the calling of ”revamping’ instead of loudly calling the entire Zumwalt class a failure? Did the $1,000,000 per shot not give a clear indication that something extremely weird was afoot? Was there no quality calculation showing us that some implementations were not realistic and that a system like this having a flaw that might be swallowed by a $135,000 could spell a lot of trouble in any direction?

I feel particularly concerned with Rear Adm. Ron Boxall when we see: “I was very pleased with where we came out because some of the decisions were much more about the concept of what we’re getting instead of the actual platform we’re getting“. To him I would go (off course in an informal way) with: “Robby, pal, when the betrothed concept is too far from the begotten actual, we need to consider, ‘product fraud’ (you did not get what you ordered), we can go with ‘failure’ (they did not deliver what was promised) and we certainly need to go with ‘fiasco’ (congress will not allow you to purchase the bullets that the dinghy fires)“, so overall there are three levels of non-success to consider on a whole range of issues that these three puppies have and lets not call them ‘ship-killers’ ever, OK?

And when we see “at the same time look at some of the challenges we’ve had. It’s no surprise, we have some very expensive bills still outstanding with the LRLAP (Long-Range Land-Attack Projectile)” so is that a way to state that invoices were unpaid, or that paid invoices have not met practical delivery? The question is out in the open, because we can go in a few directions. It becomes a larger issue when we see the NY Times Magazine (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/06/magazine/navy-gunfire-ammunition.html). Here we see: “All three of the failed projectile programs had similar design features and shared a fundamental conceptual problem. “When you try to make a rocket-boosted projectile that can steer itself to a target, you basically have built a guided missile,” said Tony DiGiulian, a retired engineer who has studied all these weapons“, with the added “So why not just build missiles in the first place?” he said. “That’s what you’ll end up with anyway” at the very end, yet leave it to an engineer to apply common sense to an optional working solution. What stopped you guys? Too much outstanding issues with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman? I could have told you that part and I am certain that the navy has scores of common sense people around, still the eight billion was spend and congress will not foot $600 million for a full armory of shells, is anyone surprised?

So not only are we confronted with “the Navy then spent $700 million to have BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin develop the Long Range Land Attack Projectile for the Zumwalt deck gun. It also came to nothing” with an added “rivaling the cost of the Tomahawk cruise missile, which has a 1,000-mile range“. And now we are treated to: “they are evaluating a new shell, called the “hypervelocity projectile,” that is lighter and narrower and could potentially be fired from the upgraded five-inch guns at targets 40 miles away. The program is experimental and in its early stages, and it is unlikely to produce a viable weapon soon“. So not only is the US Navy in a phase where they have nothing, they have been in an 11 year phase of denial and unsupported science fiction ideas that went nowhere with an optional total bill of $256 billion, averted to a mere twenty four billion by scrapping 29 (ugly) vessels.

The fun part is that there was an option to consider, weirdly enough it was not DARPA or the US Navy who came up with the idea; it was film director Jon Favreau who had the brainwave in 2009. Yes, it was a drone used in the movie Iron Man 2. Yet the idea is far less weird and less science fiction then you might think. The air force has its drones, yet the navy could have deployed its own drones, vessel drones are not a myth and even as they are not stealth, they are small enough to get in quick, fire and get out, with a Zumwalt cruiser as a home base. So when we see: “We just doubled the range of our artillery at Yuma Proving Ground,” Gen. John Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command, told reporters at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium“, we see that the Army has one part of the equation and that droning that solution might have saved the US treasury a few billions. The drones will not endanger manpower, the drones do not required oxygen and can approach submerged and all that at a fraction of the cost, was that so hard to figure out?

Now we get that the brief was never about drones, yet when you try to find a 2010 solution for a 1988 version of smart bullets (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfGnUzGRIuY) we need to consider that someone spending billion to not get there was a terrible idea from the moment the first invoice was paid.

Did I oversimplify the issue?

Let’s also realise that the road to triumph is paved with failures, that makes sense, as not every solution is the breakthrough we aim for, more precisely the failures tend to contribute to future success, yet in this case there seems to have been a lack of common sense on a whole spectrum of issues (or so it seems). And it is there where we see the issue in the larger field, especially with all the failures that seem to define the Zumwalt class, especially as the bulk will be shoved under the carpet through ‘revamping’.

In addition, when we revisit General Murray and consider the quote: “A 70-kilometer target range is, by any estimation, a substantial leap forward for artillery; when GPS guided precision 155mm artillery rounds, such as Excalibur, burst into land combat about ten years ago – its strike range was reported at roughly 30 kilometers. A self-propelled Howitzer able to hit 70-kilometers puts the weapon on par with some of the Army’s advanced land-based rockets – such as its precision-enabled Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System which also reaches 70-kilometers“, what would stop us from adding a drone part in there? Not in the launch, but in the shell itself. Consider the simplicity, when there is one shot, there is a lot less cyber security needed, that whilst the vision for the drone operator is merely the need to adjust the trajectory and there are accurate low expense solutions there. The initial cyber part is not too expensive and merely requires a 240-300 second fail-safe on hacking, there are plenty of solutions there. When we consider that an artillery round could be adjusted, the enemy needs to know the frequency, the codes and the option to interfere, the drone operator might not have to do anything and merely need to lock out changes at some point. An optional 12% increase on a 89% certain hit, making every shot a hit, a better result could not be asked for, so when you consider my ad-hoc idea (open to loads of scrutiny at present), we are still left with the ‘what on earth possessed them in the first place‘, we get it, the defense gravy train is very lucrative, but to revamp the brief on a 24 billion fiasco that was 10 years in the running is taking the mickey out of the entire train ride (staff, fellow travelers and equipment).

War never changes, the technology does but at some point we are confronted with the simplicity of common sense and adjusting the view towards another direction would not have been considered and preferably before the ship was launched might not have been the worst idea. If an optional solution to force a reactor meltdown is seen in a snow globe, what other ideas have not been looked at? Even when we look at it from a complete non-military way, what other options have we never investigated?

It is the same for 5G, when we consider that not the telecom operator but the consumer is at the heart of it all, we see a whole new range of solutions that brings new technologies, and new innovation and they can lead to new services and new foundations of income and profit of course.

 

 

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Creativity overboard

Yesterday was about the heralding of creativity, yet there is a setting where creativity goes overboad and the Washington Post gives us ‘Scarlett Johansson on fake AI-generated sex videos: ‘Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image’‘ (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/12/31/scarlett-johansson-fake-ai-generated-sex-videos-nothing-can-stop-someone-cutting-pasting-my-image).

It is a lot worse than you think and even some might trivialise it by merely hanging onto the idea of women, mostly celebrities being inserted into porn, the problem is actually huge, not merely because of that application. The issue is that whatever I can creatively dream up, I can make a reality if I have enough images. The problem is that most of this software is free (for now), and the problem is growing on two fields.

In the first field we see not merely exploitation of any woman into porn, nudities or weird situations. The technology is close to perfect enough that it is harder and harder to distinguish the fake from the real, the deep fake is overwhelmingly convincing that the Washington Post comment “what your eyes can see and your ears can hear can no longer be taken for granted in the digital field“, that problem is a lot bigger than you think. Even as this example (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU9YAHigNx8) is easy enough to spot, the overall quality is very much on the high side. Here money gives authenticity, the better the computer, the smoother the result and the shorter the timespan to make that result. The average laptop will not get you far, yet a high end gaming PC gets you an optional 1080 HD deepfake version that is increasingly hard to distinguish from the real deal.

In the second field we see a failing, a failing to investigate and legalise the optional prosecution of deepfake video. Not merely the porn side of it, in its heart the opportunity to crate identity fraud and give rise to interfering with political, social and private lives will go further and will be the foundation of a lot more hardship. 5G will merely send these high end videos faster and wider on a global domain. How long until we get the videos of random politician (Emmanuel Macron) and random Celebrity (Anna Kendrick), whilst places like the Daily Mirror will give the innuendo “European Politician accused of hot Hollywood encounter” with a deep fake? The issue is not that a place like the Daily Mirror would or would not use that image intentionally maliciously, the issue will soon be that their trained professionals can no longer tell the difference between real and deepfake and there is more than one indicator that that moment could optionally be reached this year.

The third part is that not only is this technological field charging ahead, the legal field that should protect the people can no longer keep up, in addition the freedom of expression that allows for ‘creative alteration’ is actually assisting in what should be regarded as criminal activities. In addition there is a larger failing in the law, McMillan (at https://mcmillan.ca/What-Can-The-Law-Do-About-Deepfake). The working allows for a failing that no one is able to deal with. We see this in: “The tort of appropriation of personality arises where a person attempts to gain an economic advantage by using some aspect of another person’s name, likeness, or personality without that person’s consent. To be successful, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant appropriated his or her persona for economic gain. This is also enshrined in legislation such as the BC Privacy Act, which states that it is a tort to use a likeness, still or moving, including a likeness deliberately disguised to resemble a person “for the purpose of advertising or promoting the sale of, or other trading in, property or services.”” You see, the failing is not seen in what must be established, it is found in what is negated. We think of lone wolves as terrorists, yet there is another one, the political lone wolf. A person not recognised by anyone, but does the bidding to promote the political field (or alternative field like product field) of others.

When that person goes after the next political contender we see no ‘gain an economic advantage‘, we alternatively see no ‘trading in, property or services‘, yet the damage will have been achieved. Even when we look in the US regarding: “Malice in law is the intent, without justification excuse or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another. Malice means the wrongful intention and includes all types of intent that law deems to be wrongful“, to enter in court on the premise of malice and intent versus ‘creativity and freedom of expression‘ becomes a first amendment court case where the political player loses no matter what and if the transgressor is young enough the damages will never ever cover the impact. In this day and age of viral video and social media, one or two of these videos could end any political career within a day and that is merely the top of the iceberg. Larger players can lay waste to all kinds of opposition with a much greater ease by giving rise to confusion and relying on the gullible population to spread the damage.

McMillan gives one part that could give the smallest of coverage in British Columbia. As we are introduced to: “The BCHRT has the authority to provide a compensation order for any lost wages or expenses incurred as a result of the contravention, and to provide a compensation award for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.”“, how could any unemployed individual compensate for damages inflicted? The problem would not be the act, the issue would be to a much larger degree the setting of ‘injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect‘ when it is a public figure, especially when we consider the last 10 years where: ‘less than 20% of the orders made are over $10,000‘, in a setting where so far $75,000 has been the highest award. So tell me, who would not fork over $75,000 in some way to win a high end election? Even as the Canadian system is seemingly a little better than most out there, what they have is nowhere near ready to deal with the larger impact the deepfakes optionally have and that is merely outside of the porn application field. The experts that gathered in the SIGGRAPH 2018 annual conference on computer graphics in Vancouver from August 12th to 16th 2018 already agree that this is going to be an issue in the 2020 US elections, the question is will the law be ready and there is no clear indications that it is.

Even as we see that DARPA has been taking an active interest in finding forensic solutions, the department by Dr. Matt Turek, I also see the flawed impact as we see the optional miss that a high resolution result projected deepfake, then captured by a low res camera will create a version that is either negated completely of will be flagged amongst hundreds of thousands of others and still ends up having a 60/40 chance of passing through. Those numbers are not encouraging and this forensic field is for now in its early infancy giving the deepfake players close of half a decade of free reign on every social media with 5G merely impacting a much larger population, much faster. The overwhelming part is that computing power and high resolution recording equipment is becoming more and more affordable so the pool of non-malicious offender is growing close to exponentially for now. Let’s face it which horny teenager has not dreamt of replacing his prom date with the image of Amber Heard, Bailey Noble or Laura Vandervoort as his desired prom date?

It is for the most the absence of intent and malice that is driving the technology. America has 42 million teenagers, close to 22 million are male, most dreaming of the dream date they can never have, so when there is a software company keying in on close to 50% of those offering a $49.95 solution making their dream come true, that is a market surpassing $1 billion, do you think that this is not happening right now? It is a massive driving force, apart from the sex sells part; it is within us to be a pranker/prankster, to replace ourselves with an edited Batman/Batgirl making ourselves the superhero, others want to be seen with their idols (Frances McDermott/Zack Effron or Bailey Noble/Heidi Klum) depending on our age and spreading that imagined tale on Facebook. At heart it is deceiving (read: pranking) their friends intentionally yet completely absent of malice and for every 50 people that do it for the innocent reason, there will be 1-2 malicious people, yet the overwhelming drive for that software is there and the more that want it, the cheaper the solution and for now that this trial software is often free and it is becoming highly perfect in the result, after which it will soon be sold at an affordable price. The problem is that anything innocent can be perverted and the deepfake technology that made yours truly look like Batman (actually Batman was real, Bruce Wayne looks a lot more like me and a lot less like Ben Affleck) can do the same for any exploiter to look the political target look like an arrested person on the street, two of these viral events can totally impact the next elections. Even as the politician itself is the likely target, making the members of his team (like the spokesperson, the strategist and the writer) targets would be a lot more effective, we will dismiss the political person often out of hand, the people they work with less so, it will create doubt and stop their political engine overnight giving the election away to the other person and with the deepfake field evolving at the speed it does, every political party will need a high end reputation management firm in their corner watching out for these attacks and in addition spend too many resources dealing with these attacks, making the small players no longer a consideration and making the larger players spend a whole chunk of money in different areas impacting their visibility. The lack of law, or more correctly stated the lack of impact that the law currently has, will drag elections and public profiles along in very different directions soon enough.

That part is seen (at https://www.ubermetrics-technologies.com/blog/reputation-management-what-to-do-about-deepfakes/) where we see how Jordan Peele is doing the speech for former President Obama and more important, the fact that this looks authentic enough to fool most republicans into an emotional frenzy, game over and the next democratic president starts in 2020, that is the game now and it is frighteningly indistinguishable from the real deal. Even as we see here the stage of ethics, the issue is not merely consent (it only partially is), we see: “the person whose face is superimposed on deepfakes did not give their consent“, in the batman example, my image is the one superimposed and I am giving permission, it is the other part that is owned by DC Comics, or is that Zack Snyder, or perhaps Ben Affleck. Do you think that their engine is ready for millions of trivial cases, often limited to a ‘cease and desist’ order? Their workforce would not be able to deal with 1% of that workload and in the initial race that viral propulsion was optionally used to their advantage. The issue is more loaded than we think and when the court case comes and I would state in my defence: ‘I was merely expressing myself, fantasising on being the next Batman. I made no commercial gain, merely social visibility for my desired optional career in acting‘, do you think that I will get anything more than an optional slap on the wrist as I was pursuing my dream? With the right lawyer it could optionally be thrown out of court as there would be no visible harm or hardship to Ben Affleck, the case ends soon thereafter.

Even as law firms give us the stage of: “must typically prove that the defendant—the person who uploaded the deepfake, for example—published something that gives a false or misleading impression of the plaintiff in such a way to damage the plaintiff’s reputation or cause them great offense, in such a way that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person“, now consider Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), there we learn that the first and fourteenth amendment is prohibiting public figures from recovering damages for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), if the emotional distress was caused by a caricature, parody, or satire of the public figure that a reasonable person would not have interpreted as factual. In that setting the deepfake field is wide open to be used against political figured to a much larger extent, that case was never ready for deepfake and by setting the stage to ‘a caricature, parody, or satire of the public figure‘ we see that the reasonable person becomes malleable to the greater extent making the deepfake field a much more effective political swaying tool than we imagined. I reckon that under this setting Larry Flynt will be laughing on the public stage that his case opened up for till the day he dies.

 

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When inability drives fear

It is a dangerous place to be in. We all have been there and in most cases it is as innocent as it could ever be. You see, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Gamers tend to identify it most easily. In my particular case it was a game called Magic Carpet. It was a Bullfrog game and I was testing it on the PC. It played magnificently there, and soon thereafter I also tested it on the very first PlayStation. There, because of the controller it was good, but not great. Still, it was fun to play and I tended (in those early years) to really get into a game, so when the situation blew into my face, I got a little frustrated. The next two times were worse and the last time (on that day) I went slightly angry (with myself) and I kicked the door. The issue was not the door, it was my steel tipped boot and I went straight through the door, so, I was not merely ticked off, I had a hole in the door (which would require funds to repair) and the boss in Magic Carpet was still alive. We all have had these moments. Our car, our bike, the TV, things go wobbly on you and we sometimes react wrongly to this situation and in light of that get to reflect on our own ego’s a little.

These are the images going through me when I was confronted to new information when looking at the unrealistic response by America (and Australia) to Huawei. In the case of Australia it seemed the mere application of greed and fear as politicians cater to the greed of a large telecom company, which was not seemingly the case with America. Yet that tip was raised for me less than 24 hours ago. The article (at https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/15/botched-cia-communications-system-helped-blow-cover-chinese-agents-intelligence/), shows how the CIA got their own systems handed to them through ego and what I would regard as stupidity. The initial headline ‘The number of informants executed in the debacle is higher than initially thought‘ is rather unsettling. It gets to be worse with “The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it. “The attitude was that we’ve got this, we’re untouchable,” said one of the officials who, like the others, declined to be named discussing sensitive information. The former official described the attitude of those in the agency who worked on China at the time as “invincible.” Other factors played a role as well, including China’s alleged recruitment of former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee around the same time.” This is the most dangerous of settings. The wrongful setting comes straight from Sun Tsu where we learn that all war is based on deception. China is not some place that is tinkering at the side of the road, the Art of War COMES FROM CHINA! It gets to be worse when you consider that that book was written long before Americans had adopted proper reading and writing skills, close to 1200 years before that, so that was their first error.

When we see: “But the penetration of the communication system seems to account for the speed and accuracy with which Chinese authorities moved against the CIA’s China-based assets. “You could tell the Chinese weren’t guessing. The Ministry of State Security [which handles both foreign intelligence and domestic security] were always pulling in the right people,” one of the officials said. “When things started going bad, they went bad fast.”“. The entire matter seems to be exponentially wrong. The big issue is not on how it was cracked, or even if it was cracked. My issue had been (for a much longer time now) that for too long, the deciding voices, all listening to some CTO, often with multiple sides lacking wisdom that the setting was not merely that there was ‘a security risk’, there was for the longer time a much larger security flaw. For much too long a time, we got the ‘slides of wisdom’ on how data in transit tends to be safe and data at rest tended to be in danger. Even when I started my CCNA, the amount of knowledge given in the Cisco books gave the rise to the consideration that data in transit is not merely as vulnerable, it was that a lot more could be done unnoticed (not merely by the Chinese mind you). It was some time before the Sony hack that I expected a setting where the routers themselves might be used against the owner, it went further when we consider Wired in 2013 (at https://www.wired.com/2013/09/nsa-router-hacking/). The headline is not merely ‘NSA laughs at pc’s, prefers hacking routers and switches‘. It is the setting where we see: ““No one updates their routers,” he says. “If you think people are bad about patching Windows and Linux (which they are) then they are … horrible about updating their networking gear because it is too critical, and usually they don’t have redundancy to be able to do it properly.” He also notes that routers don’t have security software that can help detect a breach“. This is where I was in 2011, when I started to comprehend the working of a router and router tables, I figured out that it is not the router they can see that is the problem; it is the one they cannot see. That idea came from a presentation by Thomas Akin, CISSP, Director, Southeast Cybercrime Institute who had a presentation for the Blackhat briefings. The 2002 presentation gave me the idea. You see apart from the lack of security, the +1 hop hack allows form something truly unique. Consider [.MIL Server], that server connects to <secure router 1> and things are set into motion. Now, we cannot direct all the traffic, yet materials from that location to let’s say ‘preferred consultant one‘ will go via certain paths, yet the first router after <secure router 1> tends to be merely one or two routers (depending on traffic) to that preferred consultant. It is easy to find a router that could optionally be a link to these routers and duplicate all packages that go to that specific next step. Not only is the task easily done, the path is not hindered, the router is not intervened with and a simple reset takes away whatever evidence existed in the first place. In addition, the additional part is that the compact flash in those routers is ‘The maximum storage capacity for the CF in Slot0 and Slot1 is 4GB‘, yet the only part here is that you only needed 32 MB, which is what most of us used then, but cards that small are no longer made, so most IT people just plug in what they have. You have well over 3GB of package storage, so all packages to that one location could be stored and redirected on the ‘off’ hours as not to leave any monitored spike. Until the CFlash card is ejected from the router and investigated no one will have a clue. That was 7 years ago and the systems are even more capable now, a 3GB glitch will not register on most systems, especially when those IT people do not block Spotify and/or YouTube. By the time they figured it out, the setting is already wiped, and this path can be adjusted on a daily bases so that most IT networkers never had a clue in the first place.

You think that I am alone in this, that I am this clever? No, I am not! There are plenty of IT Networkers running circles around me and that is now set into the stage of ‘we’re untouchable‘. The CIA was never that, they never needed to be touched, the opponent merely needed a clear line of sight to the router that is one skip from the secure router that they needed to get to. We see more in the Foreign Policy article with the quotes “Information about sources is so highly compartmentalized that Lee would not have known their identities. That fact and others reinforced the theory that China had managed to eavesdrop on the communications between agents and their CIA handlers” and “an encrypted digital program, allows for remote communication between an intelligence officer and a source, but it is also separated from the main communications system used with vetted sources, reducing the risk if an asset goes bad“. Now we merely add “But the CIA’s interim system contained a technical error: It connected back architecturally to the CIA’s main covert communications platform. When the compromise was suspected, the FBI and NSA both ran “penetration tests” to determine the security of the interim system. They found that cyber experts with access to the interim system could also access the broader covert communications system the agency was using to interact with its vetted sources, according to the former officials“. I believe it goes further than that. If we see the entire layer process and consider that in the end, certain systems merely replicate a process. Cisco (at https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/docs/lan-switching/8021q/17056-741-4.html) gives us: “A device can determine which VLAN the traffic belongs to by its VLAN identifier. The VLAN identifier is a tag that is encapsulated with the data. ISL and 802.1Q are two types of encapsulation that are used to carry data from multiple VLANs over trunk links”, as well as “The DA field of the ISL packet is a 40-bit destination address. This address is a multicast address and is set at “0x01-00-0C-00-00” or “0x03-00-0c-00-00”. The first 40 bits of the DA field signal the receiver that the packet is in ISL format“, so as the destination was known, the people needing this could search very specifically. When we consider ‘It connected back architecturally to the CIA’s main covert communications platform‘, the connection back would enable those seeking to find the needed value of the DA field. That does not merely impede the CIA, it stands to reason that to some degree the NSA would be just as vulnerable.

The main course

In my case, I tend to go for the Bambi burger, ideally I watch Bambi whilst having that lovely slice of venison. You see when we get to “As part of China’s Great Firewall, internet traffic there is watched closely, and unusual patterns are flagged. Even in 2010, online anonymity of any kind was proving increasingly difficult. Once Chinese intelligence obtained access to the interim communications system,­ penetrating the main system would have been relatively straightforward, according to the former intelligence officials. The window between the two systems may have only been open for a few months before the gap was closed, but the Chinese broke in during this period of vulnerability“, I believe the setting is worse than that. These players still require their consultants. It does not matter whether you call them construction workers, members of Blackwater, Xe Services, or Academi. It is those places as well as Booz Allan Hamilton and other providers that still require to be informed, and that is where the interception could start. The setting is not ‘the Chinese broke in during this period of vulnerability‘, it is the long term flags that they were able to test at this point and that is the fear we see with their setting of Huawei and partners. Not that Huawei is the danger, but the fact that Chinese intelligence is just as able to get into nearly all systems, it merely can get into Chinese systems faster (for now). This is where it gets a little more complicated, because it is not about the now, it is about tomorrow and the tomorrows that are coming. The only ones who have a chance of getting things done are players like the Constellis Group and Palantir when they unite abilities. It is going to be about data and about the ability to forecast how traffic goes. Thomas Akin was teaching this wisdom 16 years ago. We see this when we are made to realise

  • Live system data is the most valuable.
  • Immediate shutdown destroys all of this data.
  • Investigators must recover live data for analysis.

And the loss is merely a reset away, in most cases if there is an automatic reset; the only data available is the last transgression at best. With the coming of 5G live real-time capturing data streams is what is more likely to set the stage of finding out what happened, in this the entire setting of ‘China’s Great Firewall‘, we are already looking at outdated Chinese technology and I do believe that those behind the article, as well as some DARPA people are aware of that. America and Europe are behind in ways that we cannot even perceive, because the players that need to move forward are doing so iteratively, that whilst the time of reengineering is now merely 10% of what the development time was. We see this with “Call this the IBM problem, which faced an existential threat as soon as Asian groups started churning out cheap PCs in the 1990s. But here IBM also provides a few tips to the future, with its pivot to software and solutions. By the time of IBM’s iconic “solutions for a small planet” ad campaign in 1996, the company was trumpeting voice recognition and ecommerce — producing the sort of digital enterprise backbone that ended up helping develop the internet economy” (source: Australian Financial Review). In the first instance the Asian market required 10-15 years to catch up, the second time around it took 2-3 years and now with Google and Apple working globally, it takes months. IBM (others too) took iterative steps to maximise the economic footprint, instead of truly leaping forward whenever possible, they lost the advantage and are now trailing the markets. Huawei is one clear example where the American market was surpassed. Samsung showed its supremacy by having 5G home routers ahead of everyone else and the advantage in Asia is only growing. It is seen with “Alternatively, authorities might have identified the system through a pattern analysis of suspicious online activities. China was so determined to crack the system that it had set up a special task force composed of members of the Ministry of State Security and the Chinese military’s signals directorate (roughly equivalent to the NSA), one former official said“. I do not read this part in the same way. I believe that with ‘set up a special task force composed of members of the Ministry of State Security‘, was not about cracking. I personally believe that the Cisco books were so illuminating that they decided to change the setting in their own game. I believe that the Chinese now have a more advanced system. They have done what players like Cisco should have done before 2014 and they did not. I believe that when we see a partnership between Constellis and Palantir, their findings will bear that out with in addition an optional link that shows part of the accusation that China let Russia in on certain findings (and the Russian evolution of certain networking devices). This and the next part is largely speculative, but it is supported to some extent. We see this in: “Once one person was identified as a CIA asset, Chinese intelligence could then track the agent’s meetings with handlers and unravel the entire network. (Some CIA assets whose identities became known to the Ministry of State Security were not active users of the communications system, the sources said.)“. I believe that he part given in ‘not active users of the communications system‘ gives us the third part. I believe that the system was not merely invaded. There is every chance that certain systems when activated also leave tags behind and that is where the intrusion would have paid off. You see, in the Cisco setting (as an example), the data frame has an optional 60 bytes of extension headers, yet is that always empty? More important, when were these data packages truly thoroughly checked? In this speculative setting I take you to the movie Die Hard 2. In that movie we see on how someone decided to get clever and uses the outer marker beacon to warn the planes that were in danger. The beacon can be used in other ways than merely give a beep. I believe that Cisco data packages have other optional parts than can be ‘reused’ to do something different, like the optional headers. They are to most merely empty pre-set ‘spaces’, but they could have more. That is the setting that America faces and the fact that they could get overwhelmed by Chinese intelligence because they did not rely on iterative parts. Huawei had been leaping forward, for example now offering a 128GB Android 8.1 phone (the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset), for 50% less than its competitors. A system that is just as advanced as anything Apple and Samsung offer; at merely half the price whilst Chinese Intelligence has been digging into that device for months, unlike the NSA that needs to queue up with all the other users to get to look at the Pixel 3 and the iPhone 8 on launch day. That is the setting we seem to be seeing and America is indeed and rightfully worried, not because Huawei has backdoors (which I never really believed) but because the players here had been held backwards through iterative technology. Apple is actually staged by Forbes that way with the quote ‘a minor point update for the iOS 11.1 iteration‘, even Forbes speaks about iterative changes. That is the setting that they are up against and they have been surpassed for years and with Huawei leading the 5G stage on a global setting the US authorities are merely getting more and more afraid that not only are they no longer the leading players, they are now sidelined by not being able to keep up with what will be presented ‘tomorrow’.

That part can be supported through the CIA with analyses reports (at https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol49no3/html_files/Collection_Analysis_Iraq_5.htm), in here we see that Richard Kerr, Thomas Wolfe, Rebecca Donegan, and Aris Pappas give us (in a different context): “The analysis on this issue by the Intelligence Community clearly was wide of the mark. That analysis relied heavily on old information acquired largely before late 1998 and was strongly influenced by untested, long-held assumptions. Moreover, the analytic judgments rested almost solely on technical analysis, which has a natural tendency to put bits and pieces together as evidence of coherent programs and to equate programs to capabilities. As a result the analysis, although understandable and explainable, arrived at conclusions that were seriously flawed, misleading, and even wrong“. It is important to realise that this was on the WMD setting, so in a different context and on a different setting. Yet the information systems were all designed to upholster that flaw to an ‘evolved’ placement, the systems in their entirety are nowhere near ready, now even for the previous setting. The movement from a lot of staff to more fruitful consultant settings is now paying off in a negative way for the CIA (and the NSA too). This is where it gets interesting. You see, the previous setting that I gave should partially have been dealt with through the flashlight program that DARPA has. Raytheon BBN is working on that with Professor Richard Guidorizzi from George Mason University Fairfax. I think that the system is not entirely ready here, not if the packages can be duplicated via the router and as long as the original is not touched, that system will not get the alert lights ringing.

To get you on board on how far all the NATO partners are behind, let me give you two settings. The first is a DARPA Project called ‘Probabilistic Programming for Advancing Machine Learning (PPAML)‘, the man in charge is Dr. Suresh Jagannathan, yet the bigger brain might be MIT graduate Dr. Jennifer Roberts. The given setting is “Probabilistic programming is a new programming paradigm for managing uncertain information. Using probabilistic programming languages, PPAML seeks to greatly increase the number of people who can successfully build machine learning applications and make machine learning experts radically more effective“, whilst we also see the goods in the DARPA article by Dr Roberts with “If successful, PPAML could help revolutionize machine learning capabilities in fields from Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to predictive analytics and cybersecurity“, this is certainly leaping forward, but it is still based on a system. I believe that the Chinese decided to turn the funnel upside down. To illustrate this I need to get you to an app called Inke. The article (at https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2018/02/09/hidden-world-chinese-livestreaming-app-inke/), gives us ‘The hidden world of Chinese livestreaming app Inke‘, this is not a few people; this is a craze that has already infected millions upon millions. So with “he was actually doing a livestream, an extremely popular hobby for young people in China. China is way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to embracing livestreams.” you are missing out and missing out by a lot. These streams are real-time and often geo-tagged. I believe that the Chinese have changed the setting, they are optionally collecting Terabytes of daily data and they are converting that to actionable intelligence. Facial recognitions in phones, geo-tagged and all uploaded and streamed, all converted on the spot, like the SETI screensaver, millions of affordable mobiles (this is where the Huawei nova 3i 128GB Handset and all other new handsets come in), parsing all that data into uploaded files and Chinese intelligence gets global information close to real time, whilst their learning machines are about efficiencies of collected data, it is not about the better application by making them more effective, it is about the massive amounts of data offered to get the systems to upgrade the efficiency of parsing data, because parsing data is where the bottleneck will be in 5G and they already have a larger advantage.

In the meantime, on any given day thousands of Inke users are filming life around them in malls and famous places looking awesome doing it. Yet, if you look at the CCTV settings, how many users would have passed 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, or at London SE1 9EL, UK walking towards London Bridge? How many people were merely assuming that they were tourists face timing with mom and dad? Are you getting that picture now? and also realise that Inke is merely one of more than 300 live streaming companies, all capturing that data all those tags that a smartphone allows it to capture and at the top of all this, Facebook and YouTube are eagerly pushing people to gain following by doing just that. So how long until the user realises that uploading the same stream to 2-3 providers gets them to gain a lot more following and optionally cash? Yes, the intelligence community is that far behind at present. So when we are worrying on “The system was not designed to withstand the scrutiny of a place like China, where the CIA faced a highly sophisticated intelligence service and a completely different online environment“, we need to consider that China is already ahead of the game and the CIA systems might be merely an option to scrutinise their own data, because that remains the Chinese bottleneck, the data will require verification and that is the one field where their opposition could gain the advantage if they set their minds to a different algorithm, one on reliability, not on likelihood. It is a setting where all the players involved have a second tier of consideration. They embrace a ‘not now, but soon‘ thought, when ‘I needed this yesterday‘ is the proper setting as I personally see it, because data without proper vetting is merely used space on any given storage device.

That final part can be considered when we look at the linked article that NBC had from last January. There we see: “When agents searched Lee’s hotel rooms in 2012, they found notebooks with the names of covert CIA sources, according to court documents. But not all of the agent arrests and deaths could be linked to information possessed by Lee, who left the CIA in 2007“, an issue I mentioned in an earlier blog. We get there when we consider his actions and ‘found notebooks with the names of covert CIA sources‘, do you think that anyone, especially in this setting would be that stupid? It’s like keeping the condom as a trophy after having intercourse, its useless and stupid. I believe that either it is not the ‘covcom’ system, or not merely the ‘covcom’ system. I believe that (if it is all correct) that Chinese intelligence got in further and deeper into acquiring the data required and the notebook is the proverbial red herring in all this, especially as Jerry Chun Shing Lee left the CIA in 2007. You do not hold on to that level of information 11 years after you might have had some level of valid reasons to have it in the first place. That is the part many overlooked, or looked away from.

In the end, I do believe that it is not merely the inability that drove the anti-Huawei waves, it is the fact that those decision makers have no idea where to navigate towards next is what drives their fears almost exponentially.

 

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On the ropes again

It isn’t often that I see a corporation setting themselves up for a fall, to do so twice in a short time span is almost staggering, but would you know it, Microsoft pulled it off!

Now, we need to consider the setting in the right light. They want to capture part of the Apple market and that is a valid jump, yet they are doing it whilst the Apple is sitting there with hundreds of thousands of apps, a setting that almost smoothly sets you up for your music, your photos, your face time and your data. I still have the very first 64GB iPad. It has been running 24:7 for close to 7 years. Only now, only this year did I get the first issue with my 1st generation iPad. This is the situation that Microsoft is facing up and guess what! They still fumble the ball. So the equivalent of the 128GB iPad (the new one) is $100 more expensive than the Apple edition. In addition, the Surface Go does not offer Cell next to the WiFi, which Apple does, making it more ‘on-the-go’ than the Microsoft version is.

The fact that they still screw around with 64 Gb in this day and age, whilst most consider 128 GB now a minimum for anything larger than a mobile phone was the first fumble. It goes beyond that and the editorial of NewWin gives the best voice in all this, they tell you ‘Microsoft’s Surface Go is not the tablet that can replace your tablet‘, no way is there an option for me to phrase it better. They do one better with “But the Surface Go doesn’t make sense as a tablet, because Microsoft hasn’t invested in building a decent Windows 10 tablet experience, and this goes beyond apps“, that in a setting where we need to look deeper at what Apple offers, the numbers that were released in LifeWire gives us that as per March 2018 2,100,000 apps have been released, as per March 2016 – 1,000,000 iPad apps have been released. This discrepancy is mainly as the separation between iPad and iPhone apps went away, the iPhone became larger and as such we can run most apps on both, in addition, as apps designer focused on iPhone apps, as they would work on both is pretty much the other reason. You can read more on these numbers (at https://www.lifewire.com/how-many-apps-in-app-store-2000252). That is the setting Microsoft was up against and whilst they mess around with a 64 GB and larger, the mere setting to just accept that 128 GB is the minimum norm would have been a clever step, the mere consumer difference is $70, that whilst Microsoft will always have a much better price, that is the given and the consumer feels cheated! It is even clearer when we look at the PC World views (at https://www.pcworld.com/article/3288206/tablet-pc/microsofts-399-10-inch-surface-go-rethinks-the-windows-tablet-for-consumers.html). As we focus on “Microsoft designed the Surface Go for people in motion: the sales exec who makes a quick edit or two to a presentation while at her daughter’s soccer practice, for example. A Wi-Fi-only model will ship first, followed an LTE model later in 2018“, yet when we consider ‘the sales exec who makes a quick edit or two to a presentation‘, whilst ‘at her daughter’s soccer practice‘, considering that she is in a place with flaky Wi-Fi and optionally out there with no Wi-Fi makes the absence of a cellular option even more confusing. Not unlike the Xbox One fiasco, it seems that Microsoft does not comprehend their customers, plain and simple. Instead of learning from Google and just hand everyone a 128 GB model even with merely 6GB would have made all the difference but the people setting the stage do not comprehend that rationing the gravy or ketchup merely gives the visitor most likely merely a dry meal, and today the people realise the power of storage, they see it every day, to just take storage doubt off the board they could create trust, Microsoft decided not to do this.

NeoWin gives even more (at https://www.neowin.net/news/microsofts-surface-go-is-not-the-tablet-that-can-replace-your-tablet) and with “Users have complained about missing features like multi-selection of tiles for improved app organisation, folder naming, requested a more touch capable File Explorer and more” they are showing us that they are before the moment that Apple surpassed at least two generations earlier in their devices. This is a level of non-vision that you expect from sophomore students, not in a Fortune 500 company, and I reckon it will all be to push them into the Azure cloud, because that is what brand X requires. I am actually puzzled how Microsoft is not losing market share in a much faster rate. Apple and Google are surpassing IBM and Microsoft at a better and faster stage than ever before, from what I can tell it is done by looking at the population that fits the board of directors, not in the setting that actually represents the population. A view set on corporate policies, not on what the people need, desire and prefers.

It escalates when we consider “while the Microsoft Store app ecosystem is a dead horse that’s been beaten over and over, it has gotten worse since the Surface 3. Microsoft is no longer pushing the Universal Windows App ecosystem as hard as it did in previous years and developers have subsequently jumped ship“, this now implies that the Surface Go is a system that goes nowhere fast and will reduce its own market and options faster still, so when we see that it is $100 more than the Apple iPad with cell and Wi-Fi, why would we consider a device that was surpassed by Apple by 2014, 4 years ago and the Microsoft version has not even been released yet. The only selling part might be Microsoft Office, but yet there we see that Google with Docs and Sheets is an equal in pretty much every way, so there we are with hardware that I dreamed off in 2003, Apple delivered 7 years later and Microsoft is only now getting to that point, and when you realise that you need a keyboard and pen to make the Surface Go decently usable, which is another $200, what direction would you take? Apple or nowhere? So what is Microsoft doing exactly?

Even when we consider other fields, the Microsoft Go will falter on no less than 5 given field settings against the Raytheon Tablet that is already pushing technological boundaries, some that would frighten Apple to a certain extent, others are not worthy of consideration when we consider the market Apple is in. In that my sense of humour takes over when we consider two developers, the first Steven Weeks, the Hydra Swarm program manager who gives us (in regards to the Raytheon solution) “Drop it in the water, you can do that.” and then there is Jeff Mazurek, the iConnect program manager who gives us “What the army is focused on is a single, central battery that will connect to the other batteries and trickle-charge them” , yes you can giggle all you like, Microsoft is THAT far behind, a military developer like Raytheon surpassed them not overnight, but in the timeframe where they (Microsoft that is) were all falling over one another on the ‘greatness’ of Azure cloud and all the logic defying marketing on the Surface pro (and how it was actually really overpriced) in that time Raytheon got a tablet past primary development that is surpassing whatever Microsoft is offering the consumer now. In all this, Raytheon has the basic setting of a field version of a table that would be interesting for pretty much anyone in the Middle East, Latin America, Canada and Rural India and China. By the way these populations surpass the 2 billion mark, 25% of the population on the planet. A group that Microsoft has always ignored and that is fair enough, because the bulk cannot afford a tablet, but to offer one that is already lagging in too many fields is just slightly too weird for my liking and I actually love weird at times.

In the end PC World gives us “The Surface Go enters a tablet space whose most popular players include the Android-based 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S3 for a lofty $599 and the far more affordable Amazon Fire HD 10 for a mere $150, as well as, of course, the dominant Apple iPad, which starts at $329. It appears that Microsoft is shooting for somewhere in the middle“, I cannot completely agree. Not on the assessment of PC World, but on the path of Microsoft, if they were serious in any way, than they would have given us one model, the 128GB storage/6GB RAM model, allowing the people to get traction, allowing others to see what apps can grow the business whilst giving the people a device that has enough for all their office needs and entertainment value (music and video), that would have been a serious step, Microsoft faltered there (yet again). And whilst offering that for a mere $450 to the education community getting the growth of the next generation through loyalty growth they had a starting path. It seems to me that someone decided against that and they are merely a niche taste that had no distinctive taste and has the aroma that would have been accepted by the consumer 5 years ago. In today’s market it merely looks like an ‘1850 salt print’ in a 1.6 million colour digital marketing world. Some will love the nostalgia, yet a mere 5 minutes later they will be required to meet the updated deadline(s), and when Wi-Fi is flawed, those users will not have any real option.

In the end, is this the Surface Go or the Surface Go Away?

 

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Chaos, benefit or danger?

As an aspiring agent of chaos, I have always been in favour of chaos. There are two quotes from the movie The Dark knight (2008) that are important here. They seem meaningless, but they are not. Consider the events surrounding Brexit. The IMF, Wall Street, the ECB all desperate to scheme through fear mongering, and they are even at it today, all so eager to keep their status quo in place. So, the first quote is: “Y’know they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are“, that is only partially true. The evidence is all around us on how Wall Street is still largely in control. I am not giving you some conspiracy theory on how they did one or the other. The news as we read it in nearly every decent newspaper gives you that evidence and they call it ‘policy’. It is fun to make a second movie reference, especially as it also included Christian Bale. The movie the Big Short (2015) shows clearly the facts of the subprime mortgage issues that unfolded and became a reality. It was based on the book by Michael Lewis called The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. I was sceptic at first, not because of the actors involved. Yet the notion that it involved Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling made me a little wary. In the end, I saw a movie that showed a Steve Carell who shows us how brilliant he actually is, more than merely a really good comedian. Even as he had already worked together with his prospective son in law (a Crazy, Stupid, Love pun), as the narrator in part of the movie Ryan Gosling gives it that extra, that part that will make you remember the movie long after you have seen it. The movie ends up being not merely an entertainer, the movie becomes an educator almost to the degree that the book was. Together with Margin Call and Inside Job you get a real grasp of the economic wasteland that 2008 created.

This part is truly important, because when you consider those facts and the mere realisation that the US, EU and many other places still have no proper protective laws in place is just scary.

Part of this is seen in the McKinsey report on June 5th 2018 where we see: “That the effects of Pillar 2 add-ons and capital buffers should result in two widely different assessments, of €56 billion and €2.2 billion, is notable, highlighting the room for national discretion during implementation. In Sweden and Norway, for example, supervisors are reflecting higher risk weights for mortgage loans in Pillar 2 capital requirements. Some analysts are therefore expecting that these add-ons will be removed, given that they are already captured by an internal model floor for mortgages under Pillar 1“, the part ‘expecting that these add-ons will be removed‘ is the danger here. You see, Bloomberg reported in January 2018 (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-25/banks-prepare-for-battle-as-europe-readies-rules-to-cut-risk), “banks are uncertain about how Pillar 2 capital requirements — demands set over and above legal minimums — will be imposed“, the statement is odd as they were already there in Basel 2, so why is there now ‘miscommunication’? (Perhaps ‘ignorance through intentional non-comprehension‘ might be a better term).

When we look at those two pillars we see:

First Pillar: Minimum Capital Requirement
The first pillar Minimum Capital Requirement is mainly for total risk including the credit risk, market risk as well as Operational Risk.

Second Pillar: Supervisory Review Process
The second pillar i.e. Supervisory Review Process is basically intended to ensure that the banks have adequate capital to support all the risks associated in their businesses.

You see, we have seen the game of CDO’s, derivatives in many forms, sometimes being ‘diplomatically’ called Bespoke Tranche Opportunities nowadays, the Big Short mentions it at the very end. Consider that this was a 2015 movie, and Bloomberg gives us last August: “Pacific Investment Management Co., Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Columbia Threadneedle and others are snatching up bonds tied to subprime mortgages and other home loans made before the housing crisis, while selling speculative-grade company debt. They say junk yields are too low for the risk investors are taking, and securities backed by mortgages — which have already gained as much as 6.9 percent this year according to Bank of America Corp. data — offer higher potential returns given the risk“, it implies that some could get rich by taking risk on junk. So when that collapses, considering Basel 3 pillar one and two, what are the chances that pillar one, the operational side does not include such events as it is not ‘operational‘ but based on non-operational settings? Where is the risk then? In addition, when we see that now, the banks are expected to ‘expecting that these add-ons will be removed‘ from consideration, how dangerous is the balance at that point? Did we not learn enough in the years 2008-2011? Why are we allowing these gambles leaving us with nothing twice over? Why are there no clear laws banning credit swaps and BTO’s? It might sound nice and soundbyte nice when the pope makes such a claim, yet it is still legally an option, so why was this not halted? The fact that the book and movie mention this gives rise to the fact that Wall Street knew for many years, yet they let it slide. So what happens when the people DEMAND from their president that the banks will no longer bailout banks involved in that? What happens when Wall Street faces the rage of the people and there is no continuance or replay of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008? What happens when the people have had enough and in honour of the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) decide on the American Wall Street Clambake of (20xx) where 150 million Americans decide to lynch the 63,779 bankers on Wall Street in public, would that change a few noses to be more morally inclined (of those still alive that is)?

Agustin Carstens gives us a more diplomatic view in the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/720efbe2-75fa-11e8-a8c4-408cfba4327c) where we see “the future is not pre-ordained. The right policies can help. While the path ahead is a narrow one, it can be taken. We should seize the day to rebalance the policy mix and sustain the current expansion. That means regaining room for policy manoeuvre and reviving the flagging efforts to implement structural policies. Let’s use macroprudential tools to strengthen resilience where financial vulnerabilities are building up. Let’s ensure that public finances are on a sound footing“, yet he phrases it better, but as I stated in the beginning, I am an aspiring agent of chaos after all. This gets me to the second quote in the Dark Knight. It is applicable in two settings, the one we saw and the one we are about to see. The quote: “You know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I told the press that, like, a gang-banger would get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics. Because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everybody loses their minds!

This gets me to the situation where Israel made a choice to speak, but from where I am sitting, it seems like the wrong voice to raise and it is the setting of a dangerous strategy that could backfire in ways that we cannot perceive as yet.

You see, on Wednesday afternoon Netanyahu tweeted out a video praising the Iranian soccer team for its performance in the World Cup against Portugal with “The Iranian team just did the impossible. To the Iranian people I say: You showed courage on the playing field, and today you showed the same courage in the streets of Iran.

For soccer fans it was a remarkable day, most of them did not give Iran any chance of winning, not against Morocco, who has a team that can stand up to the likes of Spain, a nation devoted to soccer, so for Iran to win, that was a really big thing. Now consider the words ‘today you showed the same courage in the streets of Iran‘. This is a reference to the Iranian currency plunging to the depths of the Mariana trench, having a massive impact on the Iranian people. ABC gave us (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-26/thousands-protest-in-iran-over-failing-economy/9909184) ‘Thousands protest in Iran over failing economy, forcing closure of Tehran’s Grand Bazaar‘, now we can acknowledge the event, yet from the lips of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, or in this one particular case ‘PM Be not a Yahoo‘ it seems to give notification that revolution needs to be on their mind. The problems is even as they currently have a lame duck in place (President Hassan Rouhani), who is merely accepted as the temporary voice of the Clerical and Military power in Iran. Such a revolution would merely empower the military and give rise to the Clerical side to end up supporting the military

Yet the setting in the frame whilst the nuclear negotiations are still going on, Iran is under pressure. The danger we are now exposed to is that the Iranian clerics and military will not place another ‘liberal’ minded person for another 4 years, so the danger of having some short minded version of former president Ahmadinejad on steroids as the next president of Iran is not out of the question. No one can tell whether the clerics and military have prepared the next one, but to get one in their years early tends to push chaos to a level of devastation and this is not the time to make this happen. So basically we see the feeding towards ‘then everybody loses their minds!‘ Could I be wrong?

Off course I can, yet the data and events seeping towards a more extreme new president was always coming, the acceleration in Saudi Arabia and the Iranian acts in Yemen clearly point that way. We see in some sources phrases like “Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a news conference that the ongoing offensive on Hodeidah has put the country on the brink of famine“, from my point of view, the Iranians achieved that last year with the aid of a tool like Hezbollah and pointing the Houthi rebels to cause maximum damage to the people of Yemen. So when we see: “The international organizations and the UN should make an effort to end the aggression against the oppressed Yemeni people“, the UN knows perfectly well that delivered missiles firing from Houthi positions into civilian targets in Saudi Arabia made that a non-option right of the bat. Yet, we must not forget that Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi played his part very well, the main players are not new to this game and merely waiving their options away is not something the UN is willing to do, in that regard we all need time to get anything proper in place and Israel just changed that instance to some degree. Chaos in Tehran can unfold in ways that cannot be predicted because several players behind the scenes cannot be identified. Yes, the top two (Ali Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani) are known, yet their inner circle is not completely known and now we are in an upcoming impasse where we could be forced to wait until their moves are done, that whilst Iran is nowhere near on the ropes, so they have what might be seen as the field advantage for a little while and that is where chaos can go unbridled and cause actual long term damage.

There is enough evidence of that in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, none coming with short term solutions to get some actual productive. the Egyptian $500 million education reform bill is only two months old and took some time to get it all in the right shape. This is long term thinking, a true working strategy where the next generation will be more educated giving additional options for long term dialogues and giving a nation options to grow economically. Now consider that any prospective improvement is now optionally off the table for Iran until 2027. This gives a long term danger to sparks evolving in a very different form of chaos, one that no one can predict how it will unfold in the end. That is the game at present. Now consider such an event happening whilst Europe and the US go through another 2008 event, something that several predict and most seem to agree that it is pretty much unavoidable.

Almost like some used to say that the Great War (1914-1918) was the war to end all wars and we were treated to a very different reality in 1938. In that year we got the very first issue of Superman and Time magazine elected Adolf Hitler as ‘Man of the Year‘, do you remember how that ended, apparently all remaining 9 million Israeli’s definitely do!

Chaos can be good, it allows for true change. In this the quote: “It’s like knocking over an ant-hill. Every new generation gets stronger, the ant-hill gets redesigned, made better” is appropriate, yet the danger is that those ants have access to an arsenal of ‘solutions’ that can make a real dent ensuring long term chaos, that is why the Israeli push is not the beneficial push that the PM thought it could be, so tweeting that video was slightly too rash (for more than one reason). In that the earlier setting where we let the banks completely collapse might be the better options (if we had to choose between the two). In the second part, the Iranian debacle is also set on how China will react. Some are speculating that Iran wants to offer an oil solution if China is the saviour that they hope it will be. I cannot tell, I never looked at any data or papers giving real light to one path towards the other path. For china it might be an option, especially after the vitriolic actions against Huawei and ZTE, yet in the end that market is for now not large enough to cause truest concern, not whilst they have plenty of options to grow 5G in Europe with a population twice the size of the US and an overwhelming desire of the local populations in western Europe and Scandinavia to adopt it, there is enough for China to focus on, they might love to help out Iran, just to spite the US and to get under-priced oil, yet that is a separate play from what is on offer.

Scandinavia is also interesting as it allows Huawei to reach the bulk of Swedes through their three cities (Stockholm, Goteborg and Malmo). As Malmo is merely a bridge crossing away from Denmark’s capital Copenhagen a growth path for Huawei could show others soon thereafter what the rest is missing out on and with Swedish Telia on board, the setting for both Denmark and Norway becomes a reality. Even as the US is all up in arms, Reuters gave us merely 4 months ago on Huawei being “the company in prime position to lead the global race for next-generation 5G networks despite U.S. allegations it poses a security threat“. So even as we see newscasts like ‘Sprint, T-Mobile merger will generate 5G powerhouse, cut costs for users‘, that setting is definitely not a given. You see the chaos is not in getting the 5G, the chaos comes from 5G as governments and large telecom companies are nowhere near dealing with the setting that cyber threats can become. this is not merely phishing, scamming or abducting accounts, this is the realistic danger that for the first two years 5G facilitators become start points of all kinds of chaos though the facilitation of non-calibrated systems, architecture lacking equilibrium. the difference between ‘a holistic approach towards DDoS attacks and 5G networks, rather than relying on outdated defence tactics‘ (source: Wireless Week). Non-repudiation would have been a quality first step in that, in a time when too many are relying on authentication, we seem to forget that it remains relatively easy to get a ‘false positive’. Please do not take my word for that, merely visit 675 N Randolph St, Arlington, VA USA (address of DARPA) and ask Dr. Steven H. Walker if you can take a look at a massive archive of false positives that their previous research gave in all kinds of fields, it is an impressive read to get your fingers on and you’ll die of old age before you even get through 30% of the materials, even if you start as a teenager.

That was the ball game from the start. A mere setting of order versus chaos; a simple setting where order could have prevailed, if not for the economic setting of greed and speed over quality. In that 5G does not open up the super highway of data, it merely opened `15 highways next to the one we cannot even properly control now and we end getting 16 highways flooding us with false positives, chaos on a new level and not chaos of the good kind. It will be the wet dream of organised crime for close to a decade to come and the larger players remain is presented denial.

For that you merely have to search Google and use the search term “Telstra non-repudiation“, you get ‘Mobile Authenticator’, which states to be ‘Enhanced non-repudiation’. These two are not the same! Now, important that this is not anti-Telstra, the bulk of all systems on a global level have these issues. My issue in this particular case is “reduce the costs associated with robust user authentication for large populations of staff or customers accessing your online service” Non-repudiation is never cheaper (for now) and in the end the flaws are not obvious, yet they are there and it takes one sloppy moment to give access. Computer world gave us last year the article by Evan Schuman involved here is Steven Sprague is the CEO of Rivetz, this project that comes the from National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (yes, it’s a mouth full) is giving us: ““Software code is easily altered, and memory can be copied,” he said. “The [whole] software process can be observed. You simply cannot hide a secret in the operating system. It’s time to finally do it correctly, with hardened keys within the device.”“. It is one step stronger, yet this is still not non-repudiation, where the setting is that you and only you could have done the deed. Some go for the ‘Dual biometrics may just be the authentication answer we need‘, yet that is still ways away and in the end on the mobile path not really a good solution. One player called Sensory is making positive headway, yet they are not there yet and time ran out close to two years ago to get something really good on the roadmap. So even as we see that authentication solutions are there, in the immediate setting where mobiles can now move billions, the game is now and has always been non-repudiation. At present we move over a billion dollars a day via mobiles and ecommerce, when we consider that this push is going to fivefold in the next decade, do you really think that authentication is going to get the job done securely and on time before the big bank download begins?

Is there a connection?

Consider Bank Melli Iran: $45.5 billion, Bank Mellat: $39.7 billion and Bank Saderat Iran: $39.3 billion. Merely three banks with a few billions. Now consider the following settings. In the first we get “While the standards of the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) are widely followed around the world, they are not enforced in Iran“, a mere setting of rules. Now we consider the resetting of Basel 3 pillars one and two, with the support from several financial sources giving us “The Central Bank of Iran has played a significant and effective role in implementing Basel II and III standards in the banking system“. Now we take those elements and add 5G, whilst non-repudiation is non-existent and some devious entrepreneurs help themselves to the $125 billion of cream. This fat cat, can we call them ‘organised cats’, could potentially use the 5G debacle to remain anonymous and sail away on their new yacht (by the way, if you guys pull that off, please remember my AU$20,000,000 consultancy fee through Riyadh, so I can use the legally available tax avoidance rules).

Do you still think I am joking?

We have heard all kinds of noise concerning security, so in addition to that, one source (Internet of business dot com) gives us “5G will enable IoT applications such as autonomous vehicles, healthcare solutions, and robotics. But the technology also poses a much larger security risk than the 2G, 3G, and 4G networks that came before it. Why is this?
Significantly, 5G represents an overhaul in the way that networks are run and managed. In contrast to the hardware-based networks of the past, the technology takes advantage of virtualisation and cloud systems, leaving it more vulnerable to breaches if not properly secured.
” There we see the connection, proclamation of proper security are at the foundation of it, whilst the systems are all about Authentication and not about clear non-repudiation, in an age where mobile hi-jacking is a reality of life, the authentications in place are often too easily avoided. In the time a person walks to the bathroom a highly jacked phone can now set up the vibe of 25 million transactions, all completed in 52 seconds, most likely at that point, the person going to the toilet barely sat down for the event to release, that’s what it took to set the Iranian coffers to ’empty’. Now, many will not react that it happens to Iran, yet the newly elected extremist will not let that slide; and what happens when it is not Iran, but another nation? What happens when we realise too late that our own banks are not up to scrap?

Only this month did we see: “Security breaches continue to be an ever-present threat for financial institutions. Defending against attacks and authenticating customers without creating undue friction is something financial institutions have not yet completely solved. Consumers seem to be willing to use more secure methods to access their accounts, but not necessarily give up on ease and speed of transacting“, and in addition ““Attacks haven’t died down,” said Will Lasala, director of security solutions at OneSpan, a cybersecurity firm. “The amount of loss is through the roof. Stopping losses and the need to analyze what’s happening in those transactions is important.”“. That was this month, whilst the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) treated all willing to learn to “Internet connections establish a pathway for hackers and thieves to access and steal sensitive personal information, including the banking records that many customers store on their home computers. Phishing, pharming, spyware, malware, worms, nimdas, viruses, buffer overflows, and spam—all relatively recent entries to our vocabulary—have raised electronic/Internet banking risk levels to new highs, and financial institutions have had to increase security measures to address those risks“, that was in 2005, thirteen years ago. Welcome to the age of ‘if it costs too much, sit on the solution for now‘, you see, not much headway was made (clearly nowhere near enough) and in that result we are now on the edge of 5G where the speed and issues are driven upwards at least tenfold, so that is where non-repudiation was a solution, if only someone had gotten us there. It was a risk covered in my University IT classes in 2010, so it is not like there was no awareness, merely a path that was seen by too many decision makers as too unprofitable to consider.

Now we see chaos in its proper light. Chaos could have set the stage properly, if they only allowed the banks to collapse in 2008, yet that did not happen and some players are up to their ‘old’ tricks in a new jacket whilst the people are more likely than not having to pay for it all again.

 

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Go with a smile

OK, I will be honest, this morning, I saw news pass by and it made me giggle. It was the title, I swear, the title was enough, because below the surface it is actually a serious matter, yet the writer/editor of Arab News gives us “‘Spy cell’ in Saudi Arabia sought foreign financing“. In my mind, I saw the image of two freshman at Berkeley University in California, walk into a wealth managing corporation like Rothschild’s and tell the CEO, that they found a way to overthrow the government and if they could please get some funding (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1306306/saudi-arabia).

I know, you are giggling now too, but that is what they title left me with, yet it is actually a lot more serious. You see, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. Like all monarchies there are set rules and regulations on what to do and more important what not to do. Anyone with a primary school education knows this, no rocket science involved.

Yet, below the title, under the image we see a caption that is very much a serious matter. With: “Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the State Security arrested seven people for suspicious communication with foreign entities and actions against the state“, you see there are two elements in this the first is ‘suspicious communications‘, which is optionally an element, yet ‘actions against the state‘ is actually quite clear. The question is how it all fits together, and make no mistake, there is a clear setting that it applies to a hell of a lot more people than merely those in the KSA, so you better wake up fast.

The elements of worry are seen in the first paragraph. Here we see “sought to “incite strife by communicating with foreign entities hostile to the Kingdom and to establish a false legal organization, according to information received by Asharq Al-Awsat from informed sources“, it could impact a lot more people than you think. In light of the escalations of Vision 2030 as well as the setting in Neom, we are bound to get a few cowboys trying to strike it rich (I am definitely one of them), in a setting of a total amount of close to $800 billion, or $800,000,000,000, I too will happily try to pick up a few coins, I will as the non-greedy person that I am happily settle for 0.001% or $8,000,000. I have a weapon system, an idea to make an Iranian nuclear reactor do the runaway on its own operators (by using the principle of a snow globe), which is my way of telling Steven Walker from DARPA that his behavioural sciences degree is not that useful in a nuclear physicist setting (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), no negativity on Steven Walker though, he is slightly smarter than most smart cookies, and in addition to the earlier two ‘solutions’, I also considered a solution that I thought up to solve the UK NHS issue, which actually has a lot more applications under 5G.

I am not digressing, you see, these idea’s all need funding, now there are a few players with ideas that are all good and proper and in the 11th hour one of the backers walks away (reason is irrelevant), so now this (young) upstart needs to fix things fast to get its fingers in the Saudi Arabian treasury till of Vision 2030/Neom. In this he reaches out and he finds an interesting backer and meets with an entrepreneur in Qatar, now we have close to the same setting as we just read. Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not really on good terms. Now add a few emails that skates around the funding and we have a setting that might be seen by Saudi Arabia as a worry, when we consider that Qatar has its own ‘Smart Digital plan‘ for 2030 we get a setting that some people might consider selling their idea twice. It is not far-fetched and it is definitely on the minds of close to a dozen growth driven people in Silicon Valley. Now we have a very different ballgame and that is not even considering those people who have been working as 3rd party developers for places like Palantir; anyone of those developers when they approach both Saudi Arabia and Qatar might be seen as just such a transgressor.

We forget that each nation has its own set of rules and even as some think that they are ‘shielded’ as they are American or perhaps Commonwealth citizen, they better wake up fast and realise that in national interests, it is the nation where you are where you need to adhere to settings. This works in both directions. We see this with “Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, member of Shoura Committee Council on Foreign Affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the Kingdom is capable of overcoming many security challenges due to the vigilance of its security apparatus“, I do not for one moment disagree with Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, for the most merely due to a lack of data, yet what he optionally forgets is that this system is going to get tested more and more over the next 5 years from all the parties who are trying to get an option to what we should consider is the largest technological jackpot in the last 25 years. We have not seen the option to such opportunities since the beginning of Windows 95, so there will be a massive flock of cowboys trying to land a deal with numbers optionally up to 9 zeroes behind a number, so you better believe that thousands of ‘innovators’ will come with their idea of a lifetime, which could potentially swamp the security apparatus.

In case of the article, it is about seven people who have been active to facilitate by acts that are considered “hostile to Saudi Arabia, to receive financial support in exchange for continuing to incite trouble”, which seems to be a decently clear setting. Yet it will not always be that clear when we see “It said authorities detected coordinated activities by a group of people, who carried out organized work to violate the religious and national principles of the Kingdom“, in the setting as quoted, there are a number of issues, religious principles being the first one that carries weight, because most cowboys seem to forget that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, as such it acts on religious settings. That is also the case in America where they have the pledge of allegiance, which gives us “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God“, this is important, because many nations have something similar. So when someone noticed that McDonalds in Saudi Arabia advertised “We renew our allegiance and obedience for his royal highness, the servant of the two holy mosques, King Salman the son of Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and we support Amir Mohammed bin Salman, his son, to become Minister of Defence and Prime Minister and to be nominated as successor.  God give him wisdom and equip him to rule his kingdom. With peace and prosperity, McDonald’s“, in this the response by someone who appears to be a Canadian, we see “Ads in Saudi Arabia placed by @McDonalds pledging allegiance to the new crown prince….am I the only one that finds this totally bizarre?“, I think that he did nothing wrong, even as he thinks it is weird, but when you are so far removed from a true monarchy setting, you forget small things. I too when I was in my military time had to make the pledge of allegiance, which in my case was to pledge allegiance to the monarch, obedience to the law and subject to martial law  with: “Ik zweer trouw aan de Koningin, gehoorzaamheid aan de wetten en onderwerping aan de krijgstucht. Zo waarlijk helpe mij God Almachtig“. Even as martial law no longer applies to me, I still feel that my oath obliges me to come to the aid and protection of the Dutch royal family until my dying day. It is something we accept, it matters to us, to any monarchist. So it is the same in Saudi Arabia and you better believe that (roughly) 99.99992% of these citizens will comply and enforce that oath on all those (citizens) who think they need not do that.

I feel that global businesses forget about such settings and they are optionally shooting themselves in the foot by not educating their staff members when having to go to such places. It matters because we all make mistakes and there are transgressions which are usually forgiven (unless you make an error under paragraph 322(5) under UK immigration law, then you are truly screwed), yet when you make mistake after mistake, even unintentional, merely because you come from a very different environment, you could end up burning the brand you represent permanently in that nation, which might be a nice little challenge for Apple, Google and IBM to survive. Although IBM is more business strict, but the Apple and Google mindset might find it increasingly hard to adjust and that is where losses are made, really large losses I might add.

So even if you are laughing now on the ridiculous setting I am offering, you better realise that the law in not a funny matter in Saudi Arabia. It is set to be written as “Saudi Arabia is a state built on the foundations of justice and it enshrines the principal of equality for all before the law”, you better realise that within many nations there is a consideration on what defines ‘foundations of justice‘. According to some sources Saudi law in theory allows that the ruling of a death sentence is a real setting, now we can understand that we know not to commit murder, yet in that same setting Espionage and Treason also gets your head separated from your body just like in: ‘off with their heads!‘ (Quoting the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland), now in the technological setting that is happening at present in the beginning of the article, the involvement of Qatar (fictive example), treason and espionage are actual options now coming to the surface? Now we all know that being well prepared stops such things from happening, yet who knew that Adultery and Waging war on God are equally punishable? So when you think that you have a nice option for Saturday night in your hotel room, did you realise that if you live by ‘it doesn’t count in you are in another country‘, your future might end up a little more grim than when you got out of bed that morning? And that is even before we get to Waging war on God, which is an issue on several levels. You see unless you have a clerical mind, the dangers of waging war on God is an open field, you can be transgressing this unknowingly if you are a Christian and that is something one must be prepared for so that it can be avoided.

If I understood it correctly the ḥirabah is seen as ‘enemy of God‘. The reference is seen in verse 33 of Surah al-Ma’ida of the Qur’an. It sets punishment for “those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to spread disorder in the land“, yet ‘disorder in the land‘ is a much wider concept nowadays then when what it was in those ancient days. We see that wisdom when we look back to those days as ‘banditry in open country: a uniquely destabilizing threat to civil order in a pre-modern society’. You might think of it as folly, yet in those days when towns relied on commerce and traders, banditry could have far-fetching consequences for the entire town, perhaps even the region. You only have to look at the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘ a Ridley Scott masterpiece to see what a massive destabilising factor the Christian knights and people tended to be in those days. They were basically whoring and pillaging whenever possible (basically every waking hour), and no one considers the impact that left the Muslim Arabic nations?

This all matters because when you are trying to tap into the wealth that Arabia as a whole is offering, you better know what you are in for, you better be prepared and you also better leave some of your values (or lack thereof) at home. The setting of this stage seems all too appealing, yet many nations have a clear legal directive and as I have been hearing some of the conversations around me, it seems to me that some have not considered the impact they are setting their perception, what they think is happening and what is perceived. So when I heard someone say “go there, smile a lot and make a fortune. It works in japan“. Now, I am not certain whether that would work in Japan to that degree, I am decently certain that they will lose a lot more than they bargained for when they are totally unprepared going to Saudi Arabia thinking that they strike gold with a mere presentation and a smile. Because the wrong presentation can easily be perceived and what you thought was a nice idea in the end brought chaos in the land, good luck setting up your defence at that point.

I believe that good business is always available in every nation; the wisdom is to comprehend the rules of that game in that nation and abide by them, not as best as you can, but completely. In the age of compromise I think the current generation is oblivious to that danger, they have been so used to go by ‘let’s compromise’, not everyone is willing to do that. In this considering John Braithwaite’s excellent work ‘Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry‘, it is not about the pharmaceutical part, the issue is the setting of corporations. By the time that you have gotten to chapter 4 (fraud in the safety testing of drugs) or chapter 5 (criminal negligence in unsafe manufacturing of drugs), by that setting you will have seen close to a dozen issues that could perceive you as the party responsible for creating ‘disorder in the land‘. This is merely a academic setting, I am not an Saudi Attorney, I have no experience in practicing Muslim Law, but these were the questions that formed in my mind and In all this I see a clear element missing in all the presentations that passed my eyes, seeing them scrutinised in a setting of Islamic Law seems to be important, because the law in Saudi Arabia is not set in the Crimes Act, the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act or the Mental Capacity Act. It is set through the Quran and that is a very important distinction.

For the most, when people are going for the jackpot, they tend to be as prepared as possible, yet in all this, more than just a few have forgotten that it is not merely a presentation, they better be aware of the legal lay of the land, as well as the social and personal norms that are required in Saudi Arabia (as with every nation you want to do business), we seem to look at the EU where almost anything is valid and not illegal, as such they forget that there are places where that approach will not work.

Did I get all this from a mere reference to a Spy Cell in the Arab News? Well, not exactly! I had been looking at parts of this for a little while, merely because some settings require investigation on any level, and the more I had to dig into certain messages the more I was confronted with people quoting the Quran, which came to a focal point when I was confronted with ‘French Proposal to Change the Quran’, which was from early may this year in the Atlantic. Apart from the blasphemy that it represents, which passages from the Bible regarding slavery or women as servants of their husbands have been removed in the last 50 years?

Opposition of such views was given by Tareq Oubrou, the prominent French imam who oversees the Grand Mosque of Bordeaux. Here we see “the notion that anti-Semitism is built into Islam is “theologically false,” he added. As monotheistic “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians enjoy a special status in Islamic law. Historically, they were considered protected dhimmi communities, which meant they were allowed to practice their own religions, although they were subject to a tax and various indignities that symbolized their subordination to Muslims”, by the way, this was an act that Christians did to the Saracens in Italy (also seen in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’), so let’s not throw mud when we know that we have done the same thing.

In the end, wherever you go, feel free to go with a smile and be prepared for what you face, knowing the legal and religious lay of the land is a rather important step that most seem to ignore, it might not matter in all places, but not preparing in places where issues like that do matter is merely the greater folly.

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