Tag Archives: Forbes

Drop the Mike, Ashley!

Welcome to the issues on a man that I do not know. This is not the most straight-forward of starts, yet the man who has been valued more than once and that verdict is several thousand stacks of £1,000,000. The man who owns Newcastle United, which means he gets the swanky seat in the stadium. Now, we can understand that this man founded Sports Direct. When you get enthusiastic about sports, you can bet that it will be part of your life. There is no denying it and as it became a good success, I would state ‘good for him’. Yet, the focus on him started in an entirely different way. It started with him getting in on the videogame action by getting a near 26% stake in the franchise ‘Game‘. That brand did not go well here in Australia, yet I always found it to be a decent store and the people working there knew their games and consoles. I have seen them in the UK as well and a similar feeling remained on that experience. Here it did not go well as they were up against EB Games (who grew aggressively at that time) and JB Hifi that was an established chain of quality stores, so they had a murder competition, they did not make it (for the most). Yet all this is now in play when I read “Mike Ashley swoops on video games retailer after profit warning forced by shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles“, this is a weird issue. We get ‘profit warning‘ in regards to a situation of shortage. Basically the story becomes, we are short on revenue/profit because we can’t get any more consoles, they are sold out, and everyone wants one! Which at present is pretty much the truth of the desire of people and their need for the Nintendo Switch, it is actually THAT amazing.

The result was “Game shares rose by more than 15% to 28p on the news, and later traded at 26.5p (up 9.3%), giving it a market value of £47m“, apart from the 28p not sounding like that impressive, it is the end result of +9.3% that is staggering. You see, I have issues with the entire part where ‘profit warnings‘ are labelled in the way they were. You see, the entire mess (as reported) gives no clue on the actual situation (well, the one as I personally see it), I do not care how people quantify one way or the other; it is the addressing of profit warnings.

I offer in evidence the following pieces

Part 1, Sony (at http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2017/01/03/uk-2016-sales-chart-2016-game-sales-down-13-infinite-warfare-the-2-best-selling-game-of-the-year/) gives us ‘UK Sales Chart: 2016 Game Sales Down 13%, Infinite Warfare the #2 Best-Selling Game of the Year‘. In this we see: “The major titles of 2016 also disappointed when compared to 2015’s, with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (the second biggest title of 2016) lagging 31.5% behind Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. In other comparisons, Watch Dogs 2 fell just short of the 500,000 copies Assassin’s Creed Syndicate sold in 2015, Steep performed worse than Rainbow Six Siege, Gears of War 4 couldn’t reach the heights of Halo 5, and Final Fantasy XV was outsold by Just Cause 3.” For those who do not talk games, let me boil it down to the first item is that overall less games were bought. In my personal view, the overall quality of games was not great. Even as Watchdogs 2 was a good step up from the previous game, yet many gamers felt too burned by the first game. I believe that the second game was good, it has online and offline options and people were not forced to go online here. Regarding the other title, I am not a fan of Call of Duty, I know many are. the fact that a game like that became ‘the’ game is not entirely on the fact on how good their Infinite Warfare was, it is more that the other games were way below the line. The fact that the last four larger releases this year alone could be bought for 50% down, including the special editions with figurines is also a changing trend. People are less willing to just shell out the cash for games, reviews are more competitive and even though there are really good reviewers, there are a lot more really bad reviewers and they tend to get plenty of exposure. Yet in the end, the games were for a larger extent not up to snuff. The reviewers ‘deserve’ extra attention as some are more and more about the larger players, whilst some of the true gems have been largely ignored by plenty of people. Nioh is perhaps one of the most visible ones. Like Infinite warfare it is a specific game. I actually like this game, but I loathe the challenge it contains at times (they are really hard games). Some saw that is was some Dark Souls games and plenty of people ran for the hills as this is a game for actual gamers, not for wannabe’s. In my view there are several similarities, yet the only thing that the game Nioh truly has in common with Dark Souls III was its graphical excellence.

So here we see two elements that would push any revenue down.

Part 2, Pushsquare. At http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2017/01/ps4_physical_game_sales_increase_as_uk_industry_suffers_blow, we see more confirmation: “Overall sales down 13.4 per cent“, the mere subtitle and the direct impact that matters, less sales overall, this is not entirely correct, but I will get to that in a moment. The next quote is, as I personally see it wrong, but still essential. With “Bethesda’s Dishonored 2, for example, couldn’t come close to matching the success of Fallout 4, while Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV somehow failed to outsell Just Cause 3.” My issue is that no matter how you slice it, Dishonored 2 is a little bit of a niche game, more intent for those who love stealth gaming (me being one), it is graphically superb, the game is a little steampunk in a very good way, but for the most, it is highly original and exquisite in quality. It is not fair to compare it to a game that has millions of followers and has been revered since its original release (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC) on 11/11/11, the date that some will carry with them for all time. An established success that was bought on the console be new players as well as nearly everyone who had the previous version. The game is good for months of gameplay, so a game that sells itself due to 5 years of raving reports. The second is equally unfair. I myself was never a FF fan, but I have always admired the originality and scope of the stories and the near perfection each game brought. Even I am surprised that Just Cause 3 outsold it, perhaps merely because of the over the top explosions and things you can do with the game? I cannot tell what the exact reason is, yet the second part implies that the gamers are diversifying in different directions, changing the gaming requirement. It is almost like there is a new generation taking over the baton of gaming and it has different tastes.

Yet he best is left for last, in part 3 we see Retail Week

The mention (at https://www.retail-week.com/sectors/entertainment/game-issues-profit-warning-as-uk-sales-falter/7022184.article), where we see “The specialist retailer, which posted a slump in its interim profits in March, said anticipated supply in the UK of the latest Nintendo console had failed to meet expectations, negatively impacting overall sales“, is a first issue. In this the mention ‘anticipated supply‘ beckons the question, so did you order enough or not? As the experts, you should have seen the impact it would make. The E3 and other events clearly showed that Nintendo was blowing both others out of the water. In addition we see “alongside ongoing poor sales of Xbox and PlayStation devices“, now we can argue about Xbox for several reasons, so let’s take this out of the equation, the PlayStation part gives the issue. Overall sales of the PS4 and PS4pro are still up by a decent amount, so it now becomes a shifting focus, but I will get to that soon.

For now I will end with the quote “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management“, yet will not address it yet. Let’s take a look at three more elements.

The first is from the Business Insider which gives us “Sony sold 10 million PlayStation 4 consoles between early May 2016 and December 6, 2016. That puts sales in the neighbourhood of over 1 million sold every month, which keeps it locked in as the fastest-selling PlayStation console of all-time

The second is again from PlayStation Lifestyle with “Taking a deeper look at software last year in the UK, Games Industry points out that nearly 80% of all boxed games sold last year were either on PS4 or Xbox One (up from 66% in 2015)

The last is G24/7 where we see (at https://www.vg247.com/2016/11/14/ps4-console-sales-have-tripled-in-the-uk-following-the-launch-of-the-ps4-pro/) “Sony’s PS4 Pro launched at the end of last week and has had quite the impact on PS4 console sales. According to MCVUK, PS4 sales for the week ending Saturday, November 12, were up 204%. 65% of the total PS4 sales last week were for the PS4 Pro, while the final sales figure for all PS4 consoles was 44% higher than those for the Xbox One.

Now we put the whole together!

We know that sales were massive end of year 2016, especially with a new console and Christmas coming up, all that makes sense. We can also clearly see that overall, the consoles represent the bulk of all game sales. This partially makes sense because that is what we see as flagships in pretty much any gaming store, PC owners have a lot more options to buy in other places and at times a lot cheaper and there is Steam to consider, so that part remains an unknown and as such a much lesser impact to these stores (apart from the selling of steam credit). The fact that the PS4 is surpassing the previous consoles, is debatable (PS2 sold over three times the amount in its life time), yet the overall market trend is that games should be on par and were up by a fair bit last year. So when we go back to the initial start with “Video game retailers have been particularly badly affected by the broader shift away from the high street in recent years, with developers moving to increase their own profit margins selling games as direct downloads“, which we get from the Financial Times (at https://www.ft.com/content/172c3ba1-e880-35e8-9273-957e325cd7f4?mhq5j=e3).

In this there is debate, yet he part no one touches on is how the expectations were set, what they were weighed on and on the given image that sales were down, which had been an upcoming known for close to 2 quarters of a year. The part that the Financial Times gives us is that direct downloads are playing more of a role nowadays. It actually impacts the industry in 2 ways. Apart from buying directly, the additional issue is that consoles have a premium service; most gamers take that because of online gaming and the fact that both systems offer at least 2 free games a month. Microsoft was initially really bad with that (lousy games or games everyone had), they are still not great, yet this month it includes Lego pirates of the Caribbean, which is actually a nice and decent game (and not a large download in console terms). Sony beats Microsoft here hands down with titles like Until Dawn and Life is Strange. In all this both offer decent free games, with a bonus for Sony people as their account will also enable them to get free games for their Vita handheld, all that for around £50 per year, the premium service sells itself to both consoles without any difficulty. All elements that shows the impact of a bad year of games, not consoles, the overall quality of games gives rise to people deciding to just download an average game instead. The interesting part that even as Ubisoft lagged in a few ways, the one game what was awesome in many ways, ‘For Honor’ actually did not do that well, which is a mixed signal that multiplayer games are wanted, yet without a strong one player side, it tends to not make the cut in a top 10, which would be unfairly devastating on the makers I think. All elements that the analysts in this case should have known and realised and as such, when we see ‘would not meet expectations‘, my question becomes: “the expectations of whom and on what foundations?” Now we get to the part I skipped.

With “The group continues to actively implement its UK action plan, encompassing improved supplier arrangements, enhancements to the customer experience, further operational progress including cost reduction programmes and disciplined cash management” I wonder what we are being served.

  • Did they call short because they did not keep an eye on running costs, what arrangements would be needed with suppliers? Were they not up to scrap?
  • Even more customer experience? Were the current settings and anticipations of the competitor not up to scrap?
  • Disciplined cash management? Is cash not managed correctly?

The feedback we got from Game, directly below the image of a sort of smiley ‘Game CEO Martyn Gibbs on the merits of in-store gaming arenas‘ is one that leaves us with the thoughts that Game is going down because they are not on the ball of the game, and the game is passing them by? So in all this Mike Ashley merely flying in to pick up a bargain? In this he better realise fast that Game has an issue and more than one potential issue in play, he also needs to realise that the Games market is a shifty one and in the years before the publishers see clear to push a bigger load to online sales in the next 5 years (depending on where you live), we better consider that top games is a market in motion and it is likely to see a shift that Microsoft and Adobe made some time ago on PC’s, it is not a change that gamers are currently happy with, but it is one that the next generations of consoles will likely face, the game shop is seen as the middle man and they are trying to cut it out to maximise it for their own need to please whatever stakeholders they report on. It is early days now, but in 5 years it won’t be.

In the aftermath we actually need to look where I normally do not go. It is the Telegraph, in this case the business section, where (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/30/game-warns-profits-will-substantially-expectations/) we see the generic parts like “following its third profit warning“, we know that Christmas was weak (to some extent), yet in equality when you consider the previous information, the issue is not entirely just ‘weak Christmas‘, it is merely a much stronger competition to some extent and the fact that the cost of living in metropolitan UK seems to be ignored by analysts and those who speculate on how it would (read: should) be. The issue that is stronger is “The shares nosedived to just 21p on the back of the profit warning, valuing the business at £35.6m only two years after it was floated at 200p a share by US hedge fund Elliott Advisors” as well as “Elliott cashed in £101m at the time of Game’s stock market listing by selling a stake and made a further £59m by dumping a further 10pc of its stake just three months afterwards, despite agreeing to a lock-up period of six months” which now also implies that Game got played and not in such a nice way. Yet the bulk of all the sources do not give any clarity of the part that Elliott Advisors was playing, even the Financial Times steered clear of that part. In this, I am now also questioning the setting as given to Game and its senior management. Even as CNBC is giving the notion that Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management is just the best invention since Frozen Yoghurt (if we are to believe places like Forbes, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal), I wonder what price we can see the UK pay for getting played to the extent it is getting by the US Hedge market, in that regard should we allow for any US company coming in under false pretences and flood the market so that they can drain the profit quickly and walk away? It seems to me that they tried that in the Netherlands with Akzo Nobel, which had the great benefit of Elliott Management failing (for now), but it shows the extent that as a shareholder Elliott Management will go to get their profit, it seems to me that Game was not nearly as lucky and the fact that the different levels of publications left that side seemingly in the dark corners of ‘them not printing that part‘ is also upsetting (to me even more upsetting is the part that the Telegraph actually did get that info out). The fact that Game has been seemingly under exploitative attack does not diminish the issues as given by some of the publishers by the quotes, Game got caught out, which under the current size and the possible level of possible losses is a dangerous place to be in.

In all this, I am aware of things, but not as much as a person like Mike Ashley would be, so is this his triumph with Game, should we see this as a mere quick victory to see if he can get more out of this than Paul Singer’s place did, or is it an actual rescue and grow attempt? I am not implying one or the other, but as you see the presented evidence, there are a few issues with Game and I believe as such they were set up as the weak runt in the market, whether this will happen twice in a row is something I have no way of telling and I am not implying anything wrong, immoral or illegal. The entire mess is not completely shown by some players and that is what seems to be the actual issue. I remain in an attempt to be protective of the places that feed my need for gaming and there is a positive in having a diverse and competitive market. It guarantees to some degree I get the best games at the sharpest price, which is what every gamer wants, there is no exceptions to that rule.

 

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How much for just the planet?

It is the title of a novel and as per today, considering this approach is not that bad an idea. You see, some brain boffin at Google found out that we are all in trouble. The article in Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/02/24/google-just-discovered-a-massive-web-leak-and-you-might-want-to-change-all-your-passwords), gives now voice to one of the issues I have been trying to raise a few times and some of those so called ‘IT Experts‘ all stated on how this would never be an option. So let’s take you through the motions.

One of the earlier blogs on this was on June 5th 2015, so almost 2 years ago. Here we see: “This is how it begins, this is about certain events that just occurred, but I will specify this momentarily, you see, it goes back to an issue that Sony remembers rather well they got hacked. It was a long and hard task to get into that place Login=BigBossKazuoHirai; Password=WhereDreamsComeTrue; Soon thereafter no more firewall, no more routers, just the bliss of cloud servers and data, so much data! The people behind it were clever, and soon it was gone and the blame fell to the one nation that does not even have the bandwidth to get 10% past anything” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/05/in-reference-to-the-router/), in regard to the fact that this is 2 years old, and several other issues were reported by me last year, the entire issue we see in “not dissimilar to the infamous Heartbleed bug of 2015 (though possibly more severe in terms of the potential for data leakage). It’s similar to Heartbleed in that CloudFlare, which hosts and serves content for a at least 2 million websites, was returning random chunks of memory from vulnerable servers when requests came in“, in addition, when we realise that the quote “Famous Google bug hunter Tavis Ormandy uncovered the issue, describing it in a brief post, noting that he informed CloudFlare of the problem on February 17. In his own proof-of-concept attack he was able to have the server return encryption keys, passwords and even HTTPS requests of other users from major CloudFlare-hosted sites” gives rise to several issues, not just account issues, but the bleeding of data, so how does this impact national security, because in several nations the defence agencies and defence contractors have their goods somewhere on a cloud.

Here we now have a twofold problem, not only do we get this from Forbes and 1-2 other sides, the press at large has steered clear of this. This now gives rise to the corrupt press that we see mentioned by President Trump. We see for example that au.finance.yahoo.com mentions it (why the finance and not the tech section is another cause for concern), yet the fact that the Australian three (Channel 7, 9 and 10) remains silent (according to Google Search) is additional cause for concern.

Yet all is not good on several levels (at http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39077611), we see “Chief operating officer John Graham-Cumming said it was likely that in the last week, around 120,000 web pages per day may have contained some unencrypted private data, along with other junk text, along the bottom“, now considering that the BBC article got to most of us on February 24th. Forbes gives us another time line. The quote “The greatest period of impact was from February 13 and February 18 with around 1 in every 3,300,000 HTTP requests through CloudFlare potentially resulting in memory leakage (that’s about 0.00003 per cent of requests)“. It admitted that the earliest date memory could have leaked was September 22nd 2016. CloudFlare also said one of its own private keys leaked, one for internal machine-to-machine encryption” implies that the damage could have started as early as September 2016, which gives us a security gap surpassing 5 months. That is a very different kettle of fish that Cloudflare is trying to present to the BBC. I will agree that ‘as early as’ does not imply that it happened this early, but ‘memory leakage’ should never ever happen, so there is a massive issue with the safety and security of hundreds of sites and we are not talking about small places either, we are talking about companies that have values now surpassing some of the Fortune 500. In that case 0.00003 per cent of requests, knowing that this over 100 million requests per day could imply 300 codes and blocks of confidential data per day. And in all that, it only requires one block to be the wanted block out in the open for others to go at the throat of those losing their data. It represents a clear and present danger to data accounts and websites. And even now, the news outlets remain predominantly silent on an issue that is so important on many levels.

So when I see that the Mirror gives us “‘That’s how dictators get started’: Trump slammed for suppressing press freedom as White House bars some media from briefing“, the NY Times gives us “Trump Is Damaging Press Freedom in the U.S. and Abroad“, yet they remain VERY silent when there is a serious technical issue with the safety of websites online. The information is limited to Forbes, the BBC and USA Today, whilst Forbes is not even a newspaper, so where are all the others? It seems to me that after the 2012 Sony PS4 debacle the Newspaper should have learned, but that seems to be a lesson far far away. Whilst one does not imply the other, that the lack of reporting dos not mean that President Trump is not attacking the Freedom of the Press, yet after all the junk that transpired regarding News of the World, when the Guardian and others started to cry regarding Freedom of the Press, the Mail Online was up to no good even before the ink of the verdict had dried. In that atmosphere, the press is claiming foul? They must be out of their minds.

What is now an issue is that the visibility of this danger needs to be spread fast and those working on the possible compromised systems need to make changes and alter the approach to data and fat, before long term damage is handed to competitors. All these issues as people wanted to push the cloud faster and faster, an issue myself and several others warned against. Now we have the scenario that needed to be avoided. Yet, in equal measure we need to realise that actual damage has to the best of our knowledge not been ascertained, there might not be any danger at present, yet the optional fact that this has been going on for 5 months makes that statement of no damage very unlikely.

The question that will be rising more and more is where the press is at and why they kept quiet on something local businesses on an international level had to be warned about, is that not weird? Does that not pose any serious questions on your side?

 

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Filed under Media, Science

The rights of one person

Where does the rights of a person stand? Where do we draw the line of reason? These two questions came to mind when I saw the partial readable news in The Times with ‘Asbo woman fears eviction for moving bins‘ It could be seen that there is something amiss, but where does the problem lie? You see, when I was looking into Brexit dangers, the quote “A 61-year-old woman who has been warned about antisocial behaviour claims that she is facing eviction after neighbours made 15 complaints about her for “offences” including moving bins and supporting Brexit“, in addition we see:

  • Over the past seven years, Anne Maple has been sent eight antisocial behaviour notices by Lewisham council.
  • Three ordered her to stop interfering with dustbins.
  • She was warned against displaying “inflammatory” notices after putting pro-Brexit and Conservative election posters in her window.

In this my first response would be that Jim Dowd, the MP there wakes up and takes a personal look at this very case. In the first, is there a law against putting a conservative poster in her window? What kind of people are there in Lewisham to take such offense, Labour minded people perhaps? That is off course as long as there is no housing law against it, which would actually be a breach of the freedom of speech! Now, there is no case I can make against the dustbin issue as I have no idea what actually happened and to what degree. Yet the fact that this is about a 61 year old woman, who is actually making these complaints? In addition the fact that more than 3 anti-social notices were given by the council themselves, I think it is time for Jim Dowd to do a little less posturing, especially when sauce bottles are looking very distinctively different! Mr Dowd should actually take the morning to visit Ms Maple and have an actual conversation. That is, unless he is too busy posturing towards his next election. And the threat of eviction because a person was in favour of Brexit? Is that area filled with sore losers perhaps?

It is nice that The Times is stating that there have not been any conviction, yet these acts against Ms Maple could be seen as Psychic Assault. Perhaps the people making the registration, should inform those complaining that in light of the number of instances, that they could face the consequences of Psychic Assault (although the UK doesn’t really have proper protection in place), which is for now a little bit of an issue. Still the situation remains that the Lewisham Council seems to be no more than a convenient portal for harassment. (Read: taking offense to Brexit and Conservative posters pretty much qualifies), in addition, if no offense was given to Labour Posters in windows anywhere in Lewisham, it now becomes a council act of discrimination as I personally see it.

Yet, even as we see this, the Miss Maple case was not the one that this was going to be about, but it is actually closely related to the matter at hand. You see, the papers are full of deportation articles, it is the Barclay brothers spreading fear. Sir David Rowat Barclay and Sir Frederick Hugh Barclay own these papers, so I call them in charge, even as I know that Aidan Barclay is actually managing pretty much anything they have in the UK (several billions worth I might add). You see, Owen Bowcott at the Guardian stated it perfectly when we see “Mass deportations of the estimated 2.9 million EU nationals living in the UK would be impractical and they should not be used as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations, the government is being warned“, this is where I see this happen. Emotional reports and statements from Bremainers getting desperate that any alternative is null and void. First of all there is the Immigration Rules on Family and Private Life (HC 194), which the Home office has here: (attachment).

When we get to the best interests of the child, we see: “arrangements are in place to ensure immigration decisions are made having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in the UK“, now when I reflect that in regards to the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/28/dutch-woman-with-two-british-children-told-to-leave-uk-after-24-years), where we see “A Dutch woman who has lived in the UK for 24 years, and has two children with her British husband, has been told by the Home Office that she should make arrangements to leave the country after she applied for citizenship after the EU referendum“, yet when we consider the Home office paper, the interest of her children and Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, where we see in section 55(6): “children means persons who are under the age of 18;“, both children fall into that category, we can argue that the Home office as presently interpreted failed in that assessment, in addition, that this family for 24 years have paid their taxation, have become a part of British society, it is there that we see the notifications from the Home Office seem to be either a careless failure or an intentional attempt to raise fear. I feel that no other direct impression remains. Even if we accept: “European citizens marrying Britons do not automatically qualify for UK citizenship under current rules“, the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 clearly provides in case of underage children which was applicable from the earliest moment on. We can also raise the issue that the 85-page application form for “permanent residency” will become an issue a few hundred thousand times more, so we can state that there will be a blooming business for immigration agents in the UK soon enough.

In all this the rights of one person are currently in danger because certain elements have been left out of too many media outlets for too long, we have forgotten where the media itself was. The Conversation gives us (at http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-analysis-shows-extent-of-press-bias-towards-brexit-61106) a much clearer view, where we see the Bremain tainted side in blue and the UKF*ckOff (read: Brexit) in red. The fact that the Times is by far the most balanced one yet remains slightly Bremain is pretty awesome to some extent. In all this we all forget that as the least reputable sources (the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express) are more widely read and reaches a much larger audience. My view is not incorrect, yet massively incomplete. You should take a look at the Conversation article by David Deacon, Dominic Wring, Emily Harmer, James Stanyer and John Downey because it is an amazing piece of work, and nearly all of them professors (oh, whoop di do). The end result that we see is “when weightings for circulation are factored in, the fact that the highest circulating newspapers have tended to support Brexit means that the gap between the two positions widens into a substantial difference of 18% pro-Remain and 82% pro-Leave“, which is scary!

My reason for remaining ever so slightly in the Brexit field was not on any of those merits and it is perhaps the one part missing here, mainly because it is perhaps not part of the view these people looked at. My view grew based on the actions of others, the inactions of several others and the denial of even more people. The actions of Mario Draghi gave view that Bremain would be too dangerous. The invoice that he would instill on all would debilitate too many, making all mere slaves with implied false freedom. We all become the cogs of the engines of financial institutions and big business whilst the wealth is removed from the people more and more. Servitude to Wall Street! That would be the result and I never signed up for that and I know most Europeans have never signed up for that. In that regard, it is equally interesting how the spokesperson (Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta) considers that “Britain should be made to answer to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) during the process in order to smooth the path for leaving“, it is my question to what regard. You see, the European Court of Justice has clearly intentionally skated away from the issue of a nation leaving for 2 decades. Mainly because no one believed it could ever happen and it is there where we see that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has utterly failed! When we see “Any member state may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, checks and balances should have been put in place. Perhaps people remember on how ‘Grexit’ was such a big deal. Perhaps you all remember 2012 when people like Roubini stated that Grexit would be possible in 2013. So when I published the paper I found by Phoebus Athanassiou, stating that expulsion from the EU and the EMU wasn’t even legally possible (published in 2009), how betrayed did you feel? All in the media we were led like sheep, and as I saw it intentionally misinformed by those around us. Is it even a surprise that the UK wanted out? It might have started with Nigel Farage, but the issue has grown so much larger, all because the people in charge needed the gravy train to continue, the continuation of the wealthy demanding their Status Quo to remain to grow their fortunes. It is that foundation that is now very much in play. Even as this is all known, even as we have seen that the European exit must be voluntary, we see the BBC give us in June 2016 (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36629145), the quote “the risk remains of Brexit precipitating the departure of Greece from the Eurozone and therefore possibly the EU“. At no point do I see the Greeks or the article state clearly that it must be voluntary, no legislation has been put in place ever since this started in 2012. Now we know that laws take a long time to set, but the effort regarding the trimming of the EU tree has been massively absent, why is that?

In all this we see that the rights of one person no longer seems to matter, which is weird because Common Law was clearly set to remain fair in that regard. Even for the most in Europe where civil law was key, the people had a fair amount of rights. Here now we see that the people remain uninformed, the media seems to be unable or unwilling to inform the people where their rights and what their rights are. It is my personal belief that the people are restoring a need for nationalism hoping that local laws will advocate a better level of informing the people, not tailoring to the needs of large global corporations. It sounds weird, yet this is what I believe to be the fear of many. The tax events on large corporations like Apple, Amazon, Google and IBM seem to be catalysts in all this. If you think that I am kidding in this matter, you should see “The discontent with legal tax avoidance, in the UK at least, is clear. A YouGov survey last year found that 59% of people think legally reducing your tax liability is wrong and make no distinction between evasion and avoidance“, which we got from Forbes in August last year (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2016/08/31/apple-falls-victim-to-rapidly-changing-public-mood-around-tax-avoidance), this doesn’t just impact the branding, there are indicators that this also fueled the anger of Brexit voters. In addition, the 180 degree view that President Obama made in The Hague (2012) as he gave a speech on responsibility and then sent senior officials to oppose the tax reformation / tax accountability was no help here. So Brexiteers had a large stack of ammunition that they could hand to the people again and again. Misguiding and misinforming have been instrumental indicators in all this. There are too many sources to name, many are just mongering, yet a large amount came from reputable sources and Forbes has pointed out more than one issue in all this.

As I see it there is an abundance of work to do, some of it should have been addressed a long time ago. Even if I admit that I have not yet filled out my permanent residency papers for the UK, the fact that this is an 85 page booklet is still cause for concern. It is linked to the situation we saw earlier this week regarding the NHS, especially the Coventry ‘issue’. It has become clear that a logistical overhaul is needed in the UK. It is the hardest and most debilitating of overhauls, yet at present it could be seen as the most essential one. Consider the cost for civil servants having to get through 1,000,000 applications, which now implies that 850,000,000 pages get reviewed and decided upon. If a person is really focused and on the ball, that person will make an error once in every 50 pages, this now gives rise to the risk that every submission will have at least one error in its assessment. How efficient is that?

There are steps that can be taken to minimise this, yet it will cost in staff or technology and in both there is still the added flaw that items will be overlooked. That is the mere nature of the beast in all this. The application right of a person will be diminished, not on purpose and not with malice, but the danger is absolute and the scars that soul is left with is pretty much for a long time, perhaps even for life. How is any of it a solution?

In this we can argue that on the middle ground that automated residency is equally not an option, but the middle ground is not trotted on and that is where the solution is to be found, somewhere in the middle, which is turf that the polarised extremists (Brexiteers and Bremainers) are currently not looking, yet neither is the Home Office, or so it seems.

 

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This last day

This last day should be a day of reflection, a day of consideration. I feel none of these things as I am observing the mistakes that Marine Le Pen is now making. I get why she would get the referendum vamped up and get stronger waves towards Frexit, yet her call to leave NATO makes a lot less sense. For one, NATO still does mean the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, France is part of that North Atlantic, she has a duty of care there (a lot less so for the EC, the EEC or the Euro for that matter). She does make a point when we look at the expansion into Eastern Europe. Let’s face it, when we look into the original line, there was Germany which goes a lot to the south, then basically it is Italy. Getting into Eastern Europe makes a lot less sense. Let’s not forget, the Americans at present no longer have the means to play this game. A fact Lockheed needs to take into consideration, even if the price of the F-35 is given without an engine ($133 million, without engine), making it basically the most expensive paperweight in history. In addition, it came with a truckload of issues in 2014, whilst the 2015 report states “the majority of the fixes and for capability deficiencies being discovered are being deferred to later blocks rather than being resolved“, with new items of concern added. I found the additional quote form the 2015 report “inherent design problems that are only becoming more obvious and difficult to fix” most amusing, so if Marine Le Pen has in mind to not go anywhere near a Lockheed design, that would make sense. Now I do not want to brag, but with all my flying hours in the Microsoft Flight Simulator (2004), I might actually beat that latest flawed Lockheed F-35 with my experience in a Mikoyan MiG-35 (OK, I am bragging a little as I have never flown ANY jet in my life). What is the issue is that the politicians have not kept a good accord on the military abilities of the armed forces, not the people mind you, but the equipment they get stuck with. As such we see a 1.5 trillion dollar project showing more holes than an IKEA Pasta insert (named ‘Stabil’, which is hilarious as it is also means stable in Swedish). A project $160 billion over budget and 7 years behind schedule, and these were the numbers in 2014. A defence project that was too big to kill and that is what the NATO partners have to content with?

So why these topics? The world is changing, it is changing faster than ever before and the minders of the store have been so selfish in regards to their own personal needs (read: visibility of self via ego) and achievements that the duty they had was pushed under the rug. This is how I personally see the F-35 project.

The financial sector in the UK alone these financial boys (girls also) had the bulk of the £44bn in bonuses this year, so did your quality of life increase any (the topic jump will make sense in a few moments)? Now, even as wealth increased, it did not do so to that extent. It is not that fair to just have a go at the financial sector, apart from the fact that they ended up with bonuses of 1900% more than the amount all the others got, so balance is not that much in play. That view is shown stronger as we look at Forbes this week (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2016/12/28/greece-the-game-is-on-again/#2585dbd946e5), the quotes that matter here are “Euclid Tsakalotos, the normally mild-mannered Finance Minister, accused the IMF writers of “economizing on the truth”. He pointed out that the main reason why so few Greeks pay income taxes is that their incomes have crashed, and that nearly half of Greek pensioners are living below the poverty line” and “The IMF’s case is that pension cost as a proportion of GDP is now unsustainable, and further, that the creditors are not going to agree to debt relief while pension cost remains so high. It is probably right on both counts. But once again, what really matters is the psychological framing“, in that regard I will be on the side of the Greeks, but not on the side of Greece. You see when their previous governments got loans and misrepresented their value, they had zero consideration on what pensions were in regards to the loans that they were getting under false pretense, in that regard, did any of those politicians go to jail? Did they refund 90% of their incomes? I am certain that the answer to both is ‘No!’, in addition those elected officials are sitting pretty and nowhere near the poverty line. Yet in all this the hardship is not over, in addition, the facts (as I personally see them) requires a little more digging, especially when I read “Attica Bank, the country’s fifth-largest lender, was poised to install a new management team he thought was capable of turning round the struggling lender” which were the thoughts of Yannis Stournaras, the governor of the central bank of Greece, which was followed by “While he was in the air, the government in Athens reversed the decision to award the job to Mr Pantalakis. It was his introduction to a web of allegedly related events, ranging from a raid on his wife’s business to an unsuccessful bid for TV rights backed by Attica loans“, this gives the implied issues on Yannis Stournaras, which gives more cause concern when we see “A confidential report on Attica carried out this year by the European Central Bank, the Eurozone’s top bank supervisor, and seen by the Financial Times, cited “severe findings” of poor governance and inadequate controls on lending. With some 70 per cent of its loans rated as non-performing, Mr Stournaras and others believed Attica urgently needed a professional banker at the helm. Government sources denied any intervention in the process to select Attica’s CEO” (at https://www.ft.com/content/aab0aaba-c6db-11e6-8f29-9445cac8966f). The implications are on a few levels especially in the light of ‘government sources denied‘, there is a mess on a few levels and the idea that personal needs were adamant in decisions is not without probable cause. The levels that are in question cannot be set because too much information is missing, but there are issues, make no mistake about that.

These issues connect, not directly but in the view of national voters, governments have made absolute shambles of their nations giving power to those with key wealth management options, in that need those who need to be at the helm are politicised and set to markers that are off the table and outside of the scope of visibility to scrutinise, whilst the presentations are showing markers that do not fit the person best suited for the job, in that Greece is not the only place with such issues. In the UK Mark Carney is facing similar issues, yet in the opposite direction. The best person for the job is the one the elected government seems to have an issue with. The independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/bank-of-england-mark-carney-theresa-may-attack-monetary-policy-tory-conference-speech-a7380016.html) gives us “Mr Carney argued that the monetary policy pursued by the Bank in recent years has had a positive impact that is “without parallel”, despite the Prime Minister using her speech to claim it had led to “bad side effects”“, in addition we see “Since quantitative easing was first introduced in the economy in 2009 … there’s been 2.6 million jobs created, GDP is up 16 per cent, per capita income is up 9 per cent and this is following a trauma in the economy“, we might see this as good news, but the good news is in the UK not dripping down to the other people just yet. In addition, the dangers will change if sharp budgets are not maintained. Getting the debt down is an absolute first, it will have additional benefits down the road, yet the initial benefit is that money could go to other destinations than paying for the interest of the debt, the interest of a debt amount that is currently in excess of 1.6 trillion. This was not the first attack, Michael Gove had a go at England’s Marky Mark in October. It is always nice when a person is called arrogant, especially when that person has proven to be amongst the very best in his field on the planet. I myself had had some issues in the past with Mark Carney, yet not against the man, but the economic issues that the UK faced because of actions (read objectives) pushed for by politicians, however his speech in the House of Lords showed him to be the expert he is and he nearly got me away from the Brexit team. Yet Mark Carney himself states it very well when he said: “Politicians have done a very good job of setting up the system. Where it can be difficult, sometimes, is if there are political comments on our policies as opposed to political comments on our objectives“, in this we see the issue that is part of the problem. as the politicians set up the objectives, they are then confronted with the policies from technocrats and those two groups do not see eye to eye, so friction goes back and forth, the Lockheed F-35 lightning is an excellent example here, in addition that part got an extra iteration as the military requirements were added by yet another group (read: the military). In all this the political objective is hampering the essential need against ‘it needs to be done by date X for no more than amount Y‘, which gives us the political joke that the NHS IT project was. A present from the Labour government which boiled down to a £11.2 billion wrapper around an empty box. Two projects set through objectives that ended up being off the wall and the back and forth friction that resulted in something unmanageable and non-functional. I reckon the political side of both events needs a new level of scrutiny, one that we have not considered before. In that regard having people like Mark Carney around is essential for the wheels of a state to remain functional, because if there is one clear thing, it is that America lost that oversight some time ago, before this Democratic Administration, the previous republican one lost sight of the needs and the accountability of the intelligence network and data processing side no later than 2006, we can all agree that the 2007-2012 total budget of $435 billion was money massively spent in all the wrong ways. This was shown in a Foreign office document that was quoted in an article stating “Army officials, though, said Palantir wasn’t up to the job. Now, a 57-page report by the Pentagon’s acquisitions arm basically says the Army was wrong to dismiss the Palantir system. The study instead gives Palantir high marks on most of the Army’s 20 key requirements for the intelligence system, including the ability to analyse large amounts of information, including critical data about terrorist networks and the locations of explosive devices, and synchronize it in a way that helps troops on the ground combat their enemies more effectively“, so there too billions were spent when millions could have sufficed. When the EGO of an individual with the power to decide is on the line, the results could be disastrous. In my personal view, if we accept the wrongful spending of 25 billion, how many extra troops could have been saved by adding fire support groups to those in IRAQ in those years? How many of the 4486 fatalities could have been prevented?

Politicians, advisors and ego are a really dangerous combination in many ways, even as we look at what is coming now, we need to be mindful of the changes that some are pushing for. Even if we are in favour of dropping the EC altogether, pushing NATO boundaries might not be the best solution. France might be privy to one of the better intelligence machines, that machine is also dependent on the intelligence it is fed from allies, an essential element that will fall away when NATO does, Marine Le Pen should be very mindful of that.

Yet this year and more important 2017 will go beyond Frexit. There is still a large debate on the Netherlands making any move away from the European Community, the numbers require people to be realistic on what will happen, yet those numbers are nowhere near the numbers Brexit had, so it is still unlikely that this will happen at present, no matter how certain Frexit will be. Italy might not have any manoeuvring space, it requires a massive infuse of funds, when we see the Reuters quote “An Italian government official told Reuters on Tuesday that €20bn earmarked for the rescue of the Italian banking system should suffice“, we need to wonder in how much trouble Italy is. This question is raised as we see Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena will issue €15 billion of debt next year (source: RTE). So we see another iteration where “The Treasury may have to put up around €6.6 billion to salvage the lender, including €2 billion to compensate around 40,000 retail bond holders“, so, how exactly is it acceptable that people ‘invest’ with a risk, yet when that risk comes calling, they still get compensated? How did any of us ever sign up for that?

Anyone who mentions that it is for the good of all is of their rocker plain and simple. Here too we see connection between France and Italy, mainly that the Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM) thought it was a good idea to list Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena as a major purchase right next to Ubisoft. I reckon a little less ‘lack of nationalism’ and putting all of that cash in addition to the other amount into Ubisoft might have been a decently better idea. I feel certain that next year when we see the ‘Top Ten Holdings’ in the Natixis report will not make mention of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which could just be me though.

So in this last day we see that we have quite the collection of choices to deal with, some good and many bad ones. Yet no matter what is happening, no matter what will fall, there is a decent indication that unless changes are made 2017 will not be a good year. I might be too negative to see some level of collapse in Q2 (no later than Q3) in the next year, yet the proper setting and if the key players are willing to forego ego and focus on cooperation, they would be setting the stage for a lucrative 2018, that is beside the initial technological presentations of the new age of G5. G5 will be the pushing power in IP, especially Trade Marks, yet that path is also loaded with new growth opportunities for IT and developers as they start setting the tone of what 5G could personalise, it will be the first firm push to switch providers to SaaS. That is almost without question, the degree to it happening is very much depending on actual cooperation. In that the Telco providers need to realise as per immediate that thinking SaaS whilst selling Paas and charging IaaS, which sounds nice on bonus day. Yet the boomerang effect is that clients will walk away a lot faster and they will also automatically entice 10 personal connection to not seek the services of the telecom provider being that stupid. Infrastructure as a Service is almost a thing of the past. It seems weird, because there should be space for it, yet in our new outfits we see that infrastructure is a long term commitment and with annual mobile purchase the people have learned to be as flexible as possible, so the limited mobiles that some sell (32Gb instead of 64Gb editions) is why people are realising to walk away from those offering limitations instead of solutions. It is at times harder with Platform as a Service. You see, PaaS might sound nice when we see Apple and SAP connecting, yet the bulk of the revenue will be the smaller fish in the pond, the small players will be 80% of the revenue, one can argue the actual taxable cake of government will be largely depending on those players and for them IaaS is a laughable solution when they are trying to get as much as possible in the first few years and those smaller players want as much flexibility as possible taking to some extent PaaS from the table. SaaS will be solution of choice and those now adhering to that need will fall short in 2018 and they are unlikely to be part of anything in 2019. In that we see the government need of objectives that cater to what the SME’s need. A mere application of supply and requirement. You might think that this is not connected to the previous parts, but it is. When we see the NHS, Banks and government, their needs to address their audience, they need to consider that no matter the infrastructure or platform for communications, they all need to see that their clientele is no longer rigid, no longer bound to certain paths for the simple reason that the infrastructure of places like the NHS can no longer deal with. It is by definition a mobile customer base that needs addressing, this means, or at least implies that the SaaS solutions require a wider setup, other paths of non-repudiation and a very different approach to data, its quality, its controls and the application of the results in any report or estimation towards costings and profit. It is a path of contribution, which is set as revenue minus costing.

For the better part an entirely new path in a setting that has for too long been about a rigid collection of data, which when compared to a setting in a flexible framework no longer holds a candle and will come with the implied death of data quality. in these places there will be a growing need for a data team that has the sole purpose of managing the quality of data, this path is one that IT has never worked on to the degree it had, because in the past systems were set in concrete and after the correct data pass had been made, the data usually would not require ‘resetting’ it in another framework, a change that will be almost evident in the systems we will see start in the next 4 years. There, for some the problem becomes that they have never contemplated the changes, which now also means that once they go into the deep of it all, the time required and the resources required will be a lot more draining than ever before. It is in that path that we see the danger of politicians and technocrats in the required path of objectives and policies. As there is plenty of evidence that so far this track record is not that great, we will see a squandering of funds and a dangerous curve of unprotected data whilst no one will be actually held accountable for the transgressions against those consumers aka victims.

So on this last day there is no way that any solution will be found, just take in the information and next week wonder what on earth is about to hit you, there is some speculation in this, yet I believe that the ‘objective callers’ (read: politicians) will rely on the word ‘glitch’ a lot more than ever before, it might just become the most popular word for 2017.

 

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Rephrasing a Minder

Politics tends to be filled full of weird and crazy people, from my point of view those people tend to be members of the Labour party. That view got a new light in the article ‘Labour calls for closer scrutiny of tech firms and their algorithms‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/18/labour-calls-for-regulation-of-algorithms-used-by-tech-firms). Now, there are two sides to any equation, so let me give you the two that I have.

1. I believe that tech companies have been facilitators for too long, many will not accept any responsibility for way too much. On the other side, I do believe that the only working internet is a free one. So when I read the words from Shadow minister Chi Onwurah, I honestly did not regard her to be anything more than a person seeking the limelight. It is equally important to realise that she is using last week’s amazon debacle in Scotland, with questions how that relates to regulating algorithm, it’s a mere application of employment law, is it not?

From the quote: “The outcomes of algorithms are regulated – the companies which use them have to meet employment law and competition law. The question is, how do we make that regulation effective when we can’t see the algorithm?” I feel slightly cautious to call Chi Onwurah a joke, there is a chance that some of this was lost in translation, if not, she has a larger problem to deal with. That problem will be clearly visible when she decided to look into a mirror. So why to look at my point of view?

You see, there are no regulations on algorithms, they are basically formulas with a solution. In addition she states: “greater scrutiny of the mathematical formulas that now control everything from the tailored news served to Facebook members to the speed at which workers are required to move around an Amazon warehouse“. I think that we need to look a little closer at the last statement. You see, it is highly likely that any staff members would need to meet a certain amount of jobs for shipment and delivery. Yet how feasible is that requirement? I can’t tell from the description that was given a week ago, too many variables missing, that does not make the approach regulated. Yet like in any job, workers have ‘responsibilities’, yet more important, they have rights. These are clearly set in most countries of the Commonwealth, so how does that equate to apparent regulated algorithms.

2. The openness of any system will silently advocate the abuse of it. A not so good example was given by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/04/google-democracy-truth-internet-search-facebook), where we see ‘Google, democracy and the truth about internet search‘. We get Carole Cadwalladr with the quote ‘and this was Google’s answer: Jews are evil. Because there, on my screen, was the proof: an entire page of results, nine out of 10 of which “confirm” this‘, which started with typing 7 letters ‘are Jews’, which is an issue from character one onward. She then tries to dilute the issues by setting the image of the search of ‘are women evil’, probably to ease the tension, but the damage is done, short-sighted (as I see it) she continues. So whilst she wastes two paragraphs on titles of the slightly anti-Semitic nature, which she then sets in an atmosphere as “I feel like I’ve fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what I’ve actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016” and she ends with “This isn’t a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. It’s hiding in plain sight“. As I personally see it, she is the person who has been standing behind an iron for most of her life and now she sees her first microwave, a cliché if I ever saw one.

You see, the article goes on for some time and there are really good parts in it too, although the spatial map is a bit of nerdy space we could have gone without, the issue I never see properly addressed is that the term ‘are women evil’ and on number one is a WordPress blog, literally with the link ‘sheddingoftheego.com/2015/06/25/are-women-evil/’ and the title ‘Are Women Evil?‘ literally a perfect match for what the person was seeking. Google worked perfectly. What is ignored and what influences many sights, especially on how Google Rankings are influenced. Now Google has a way to counter it, yet this is not immediately done and it is not perfect either. Places like Reddit are actively working on posting whatever they need to raise their ranking and the rankings of their customers. It is interesting that the Guardian, the Huffington Post and Forbes take absolutely ZERO time to explain the games that SEO’s are playing to influence ranking through scripts. because it is in the end what someone was seeking for, yet the fact that this is the direct value for SEO’s and terms like ‘Tips on how to improve your website’s ranking on Google’s search engine results’ were also ignored in these articles giving rise to the one sided and unbalanced view the press is giving, whilst those in the digital media all know that this is done and those who are doing it usually have a massive tag list ready to add to EVERY story they write.

So when we see the quote “Many search results are now reinforcing extreme views, with articles denying the holocaust or disparaging women increasingly appearing at the top of the rankings“, we need to wonder Chi Onwurah should even be allowed to be Shadow Minister of Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, or Just the elected MP for Sesame Street. By the way, what I did not know is that this department is also responsible in the area of Intellectual Property, so if Labour ever wins, we need to get scared fast.

So getting back to the MP in my sights, it is important for her to realise not just what a google search does and what it shows, but the elements that influence it and what happens under the real guise and the influenced guise of what people are looking for. By the way, her article acted for possible millions of additional clicks, because she raised the issue, whilst not raising the alert of how the numbers get influenced. So, as we go down the article, we do need to stop at a part that matters a lot. This is seen in the quote “Social media platforms are being blamed for allowing the spread of misinformation and online abuse, conditions which some argue are fuelling the resurgence of extreme politics in America and western Europe“, which is a fair point, yet as bullies and trolls can hide behind the freedom of speech without accountability, there is little chance of this changing, in addition, this isn’t a transgression from 68 million people in the UK, it is the search result and interaction of billions of internet users on the planet, so as there is no localised situation, misinformation and online abuse remains. In addition, as Chi Onwurah should clearly realise, when we see webpages with quotes like ‘Millions of People Are Cancelling Their Netflix Account Because Of This One Site‘, whilst the link looks like a cookie 2 miles long, all set to improve visibility. The media at large, including the UK make use of professional cookie, tags and ranking strategies and all kinds of advertisement counters, so when she is talking about regulations, setting anchors against the exploitative use of cookies might not be the worst idea. In addition to that thought, whilst labour was in office, they did zero to get the tax accountability rolling on corporations, so to see this quote “need to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of the algorithms and machine learning that drive their profits” in the reality of the law (the act of facilitation), she needs to realise that her statement is empty and hollow to say the least. So when we see “we need a tech-savvy government to minimise the downside by opening up algorithms to regulation as well as legislating for greater consumer ownership of data and control of the advertising revenue it generates“, she is not unreal, she is utterly unrealistic for even considering to open up that tar pit, because once we see that regulation come to ground, the economic algorithms are the first one we will have a go at and at that point, when that reality comes knocking, she will soon be the loneliest politician in the history of the UK. In addition, is it not interesting how Bing was not mentioned once in all of this? Why is that Chi Onwurah? Basically this is an act of discrimination, however let’s not nit-pick in an article that is already shoddy in several ways.

The software engineering reality (historically speaking) is that the Google search results and Google ranking was filed in 1998 with a priority in 1997. Lawrence Page realised that the content on the internet would be growing exponentially and as others were concentrating on corporations and corporate views the founders of Google looked at a much bigger picture, so finding anything would sooner rather than later become a massive issue.

In an age when the ‘great’ internet companies were about image and looking cool, Google started to get professional. In the days of Yahoo, Yahoo was the search engine of choice. Alta Vista, later Excite and a few others were garbage from week 1 whilst never catching up in any novel way. Yahoo started in 1994 and they were leaders for a while, and in the 90’s as Yahoo grew its value, they started to lag behind. Now the irony is that Yahoo got started at Stanford and the Google rank patent was designed and invented at Stanford too. By the time someone started to ask the right questions it was already too late and the Google patent for ranking gave them exclusivity which will last a little while longer, but others are now considering the consequence that Google Rank patent will still be in effect when G5 starts, as the issue of ranking is still growing near exponentially as more and more files are added and with G5 it will take on an additional dimension.

now we see the issues that are brought to the foreground in what I regard as a half-baked shadow ministers approach, asking ‘questions’ and implying regulations, all this whilst a below par informed level of knowledge is shown in the articles they set to press. One of the issues is actually shown in one paragraph in the Huffington Post “Finally—and this is the key point—even without human intervention, Google’s algorithm, while doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, routinely boosts one candidate higher in search rankings simply because of normal “organic” search activities“, which is the cornerstone. As we know, organic search (what you type in the google search bar) is used, yet what happened when this is done through scripting? What if a few of the 200 parameters gets influenced from outside though scripted actions, again and again? That part was never clearly mentioned, but it is the bread and butter of nearly every SEO, to get the position and ranking of their clients to the very top, in every possible way and method and the shadow minister does not give any visibility to it, the visibility it requires and deserves.

That is the flaw in all this and this is the need to rephrase a minder, a minder who as I saw it never understood the plot, or she did know and she was misinforming the readers to some extent, yet how much requires misinformation and was that not what she was accusing social media of? So as we await Labours industrial paper, we will have a few more options to have fun of labour especially as they define supervision whilst again not getting any results in proper corporate tax legislation, not even as suggested proper corporate tax legislation.

taxformulaSo should we see the taxation algorithm for large firms where x is the taxable amount, b is revenue and a is tax deductible options, you know that it is not just the regulations of algorithms she got wrong.

 

I’ll let you decide.

 

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The second zero hour

On 11/11/11 Bethesda released a game, we know Bethesda is pretty good at what they do, so they knew they had something that the RPG niche market would enjoy. Yet, I wonder if they were even close to realising that they were clueless on just how well they had done their job? You see, I am a passionate RPG fan, so I was on board from day one. Yet, Skyrim was different in many ways. To illustrate that, consider that it’s your 18th birthday and your parents give you a new kind of Maserati, a real one, but this one has one extra option, this car allows you to drive without any speed limits, so not speeding tickets ever. How would you react?

This is what Skyrim achieved. In the first week a little over 7 million copies were sold, which is already a record in RPG land, what no one thought possible happened, Bethesda pushed RPG clear into the mainstream gaming area, they somehow got the magical formula right. So up to now there are well over 23 million copies sold making it one of the few billion dollar plus game revenue.

Now, 5 years later we get another zero hour, the same game is being released on PS4 and XB1, the people are about to go nuts again. Leaving us with the realistic prospect that this game could equal and possibly surpass Grand Theft Auto 5 sales. That would still be a very tall order as they sold 65 million copies, but it is possible and the rage and hype that is out there at present is definitely a decent indication that it could happen.

As I said: ‘they were clueless on how well they had done their job‘, which is perhaps one of the better compliments on the doorstep of Bethesda. Even with Fallout 4 surpassing all records, this one will push their records even further. I have stated again and again, if you aren’t willing to get to the edge you will never make a truly exceptional game. Bethesda went to the edge and stared into the void of the dread father Sithis. They are coming out on top!

So why is this game so amazing?

I believe that open world games are the long term trend of games and the true desire of gamers. In this game you start as being a convict on the way to execution (a wink to the previous Elder Scroll game). After a small introduction that helps you keep your character mobile and alert, you are about to get your head chopped off and that is where the world goes pear shaped on your executioners. From that moment on you have the ‘escape’ part teaching you the elemental things of the game, which takes about 20 minutes, fraught with action and after that, it will be whatever you want to do. Follow the path offered to you or seek your own destiny. That is how most RPG players like their game and this appeal has gone mainstream (meaning the non RPG population at large). A game that offers you value for money. For the same reason that I was ‘offended’ that a $90 game named Tombraider brought with 10 hours of game-play, and for the repetitiveness that some other games bring. The open sided part of Skyrim offers a long term fun that not many games offer. For that $90 on Skyrim I have had well over 1000 hours of gaming fun. That is value for money to say the least and this version will be a one price with complete game and all the DLC additions that the game had offered for Skyrim. So for the new players this will keep you busy until the New Year. For the returning players it is a different story. You see, in my case, it is the same thing, but now with upgraded graphics. In addition, the consoles will now get the option to play mods, which was until now only an option for PC players. It will be a brand new day for RPG players, and that brand new day starts at midnight as the remastered HD edition of Skyrim hits the shelves for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

In that regard, there is one additional bonus for those who went all out earlier this quarter and bought the Xbox One S, will, if they have the right TV enjoy this game in 4K, which is as far as I can tell a first (please correct me if I was wrong), which would be a nice additional feather in the Bethesda cap. Giving an additional edge to the Xbox One market. Even as some ‘gaming experts’ have stated that there is no market for it (too expensive, no games and so on), the fact that the Xbox One S at present has two clear advantages over the PS4 Pro, the setting that Skyrim now offers can (and might) drive Xbox One S sales as it is introducing Skyrim to an even wider audience. That last part is a given as pre orders are of the charts in some places. Yet all this is now pushing for another side of visibility that also needs to be said.

That other side is seen as we look at Forbes, we see that merely 15 hours ago (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/10/25/bethesdas-decision-to-withhold-review-copies-is-bad-for-gamers-and-sets-a-dangerous-precedent/) the following was released ‘Bethesda’s Decision To Withhold Review Copies Is Bad For Gamers And Sets A Dangerous Precedent‘, and in that regard, I would initially be completely on his side, apart from the fact that Ubisoft has been doing that since Assassins Creed Unity. Yet when I look at www.youtube.com/watch?v=onFm-7_wTyA as well as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mpQF-01raY we see reviews of that new versions a week ago. Of course we agree that ‘new’ is a relative term for a game originally released on the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 11 (+2000). In addition, the second video also shows that the game has a few additional effects to the Skyrim experience. Yet the issues shown, does not diminish the words we see in Forbes. The article brings good points, yet with Cam Robinson and minion having reviewed this game a week ago, my issue is not with the article, but I am stuck with the question why that reviewer had no ‘advanced copy’. It could be for any reason, but is that a real problem? This game is a new format release, the game itself still has the same missions, quests and places to visit, what is new are the mods. So the review would not have needed that much time in the first place.

skyrim-646x372So, will you get the game on PS4 or XB1?

If you loved the game the first time around, the answer is very likely to be yes, if you are new to this game than it should be yes for several reasons and one additional reason if you are the lucky owner of the Xbox One S. Also, ‘new’ gamers should remember that this game has been played and loved for almost 5 years, which is quite the achievement for any single player game.

The one thing that is a definite, is that it will give rise to one question on a global level: ‘When will Bethesda release the 6th game in the Elder Scrolls series?’

As for me, I will enjoy playing this game again and I will try not to take an arrow to the knee this time around.

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The Taxing Delicious

Taxing delicious is a new sweet tasting Apple, even sweeter than the golden Delicious, and it is to be regarded as healthy for body, mind and government. Yes, in this case it is not a new Irish Cider (which would be a nice idea too), this is about a company getting a bill. You see, the funny part of it was that if there had been no EU, Apple would have been 13 billion wealthier. How doesn’t that beat the odds?

These are some of the thoughts rising within me again as I read ‘Apple tax ruling must be overturned, says US business group‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/16/apple-tax-ruling-must-be-overturned-says-us-business-group).

As I see it, if it is such an issue, why not do an appeal? You see, this entire issue is as convoluted as it is ever likely to get. When I see ‘Ireland Doesn’t Want Apple’s Back Taxes, but the Irish Aren’t So Sure‘ in the New York Times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/12/business/international/ireland-doesnt-want-apples-back-taxes-but-the-irish-arent-so-sure.html), my initial response to Enda Kenny would be “Are you out of your bloody mind?” Now, let’s be partially fair. There is a method to the governments madness, yet even as giving in to big business might seem appealing, but the US is changing its taxation parameters (as well as tax accountability) and after the elections there is no way to tell how the US governments hats will be pointing, so getting what you can now is not the worst idea. In addition, when Apple et al will make the jump away and to other places, they will leave you with buildings that remain empty and will not have been paid off, so you will have a billion in real estate, whilst not having any return on investment, just empty buildings wasting away. That situation is not as unimaginative or as surreal as you might think. The idea that a government is appealing against a tax bill on behalf of a Forbes 500 company is entertaining, upsetting and obscene all at the same time, but that is sometimes how the cookie crumbles.

What is interesting in all this is how the EU courts will act, you see, if they give in now, it should be regarded as the utter uselessness of that court to begin with. It gives weight that not being part of that very expensive club is indeed the way to go, which will now give weight that Brexit was not a bad move and it will in addition fuel Frexit too. All that over a mere 13 billion invoice. Less than 5% of the costs of Greece, which fuelled Brexit to begin with. This is at the heart of the matter of what the Americans just cannot comprehend. They just received the massive blowback on the lesson that you cannot win every fight and that Economic Status Quo is an illusion that will collapse upon those believing in it.

So as we see the idiotic roundtable threaten those European leaders “In an open letter to the leaders of the 28 European Union countries, the Business Roundtable group defended Apple over its tax dispute with the European commission” and “US businesses have warned European leaders they risk a “grievous self-inflicted wound” unless they overturn Brussels’ demand that Apple pay the Irish government €13bn (£11.4bn)“, I just wonder if they even considered the stupidity of their actions. On the other hand, should those leaders cave, how stupid are the European elected officials to begin with? So as we wonder whether Randall L. Stephenson has looked into the long term issues of his act, when we see that these actions drive Frexit and possibly even Italy’s act on a referendum (although the major influences would be Brexit and Frexit), will Randall respond with a ‘this is much more complex and should not have been pushed by our, what we regard to be a righteous act‘, or will we see a spokesperson state ‘Our Chairman is currently unavailable and is taking his personal time teaching the Youth how to do a proper sheepshank‘? I will let you decide, but consider that tax accountability has been an issue for over a decade and now we finally see an actual result against a large corporation we see people backing down? Perhaps they thought it would never get that far? Just like Brexit was never going to be a reality!

Yet the Irish Times did not remain quiet and less than 24 hours ago reported (at http://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/apple-fined-in-japan-for-under-reporting-earnings-sent-to-ireland-1.2793469), ‘Apple fined in Japan for under-reporting earnings sent to Ireland‘. So when we read “The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by subscribers in Japan to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK“, I just wonder who the Tax Auditor was here.

Now I am not out to make Apple the bad guy, even though they screwed me over twice! What is important is that through all the presentations and all the boasting and ego based actions, there are now 4 groups in play all trying to get Brussels to back down on a legal verdict. We need to wait the appeal on this, yet should this remain and if the US makes noise we will have clear evidence that the EU is no longer something with validity, even stronger, these events are clear signals that the TTIP is an even worse idea than initially thought of in opposition. The one sidedness aside, the fact that American business has basically become the corporate ‘bully’, we need to reassess the situation and remain clear on where our priorities are. I personally remain with the belief as I always have that the Commonwealth nations need to stick together. In these times we now see the Democratic Party under leadership of President Obama do the following “The Obama administration on Thursday took action to limit the use of foreign tax credits by American multinational companies to reduce their U.S. tax bills, a move that followed an EU order that Apple pay back taxes to Ireland“, which I think is not a bad idea. You see, Apple et al might claim how they are so investing everywhere, but that is only done (as I personally see it) to avoid paying tax in America. It is one of the massive reasons why America is so deep in debt (apart from their impossibility to manage a budget) and something has to give. If those tax dollars are used to lower that debt then I would state: “Barack, you legend you, well done!“, because an America with low debt (read: no debt), would be again the superpower it once was and currently pretends to be.

In the end, nations that have a minimal debt, these nations get to decide for themselves, not having their actions overruled by financial institutions or Large Corporation, or by Randall L. Stephenson for that matter. Yes, we can see that those moves will have impact all over Europe and not in a nice way, but that is part of the game. You cannot have it both ways that was never a reality to begin with. Now they only need to fix the holes that Mario Draghi has in his hands and we are possibly perhaps on route to get something sorted.

Yet there is one part we need to get back to and that is the verdict. You see, what is in play here is the statement “an agreement allowing Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of just 1%. In 2014, the tech firm paid tax at 0.005%. The usual rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%“, this implies that Apple didn’t just get preferential treatment, all the other players were discriminated against. When we see the parts we had already known for a long time, the fact that “Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple between 1991 and 2015 had allowed the US company to attribute sales to a “head office” that only existed on paper and could not have generated such profits“, which was a given and the result we saw on a global scale “Apple avoided tax on almost all the profit generated from its multibillion-euro sales of iPhones and other products across the EU’s single market. It booked the profits in Ireland rather than the country in which the product was sold“, gives way that a single market is perhaps not the best solution for all but one nation and in addition to this we must realise that the solution I mentioned 5 years ago to set the tax laws that taxation should be set into the nation of the buying consumers physical location could have avoided this and many other issues. A simple taxation change that made all the difference, yet it seems that no one in legislation in those nations as well as those political players ever considered changing that simple law that could have made all the difference.

You see, as the Guardian by-line offers, this case could have another escalation soon enough “Charlie Harrington, 53, a paramedic in Cork, expressed frustration that the Irish government penalized small taxpayers but seemed ready to protect Apple“, which is exactly how millions feel in both France and Italy. If this tax case caves and Apple ends up not being due this invoice, the jump to anti-EU sentiments will go up massively and very fast so. At that point President Obama will only have himself to thank for the mess he started to create when he went 180 degrees on the corporate tax issues discussed in the ‘The Hague Summit of 2013’. That was the first step that could have avoided a few things, this case being one of them.

Cause and Effect

The question becomes ‘What will happen now?’ This is something not easily answered. At present Apple has a few other issues knocking at its door and the iPhone 7 is one of them. The population at large is less money blessed, so paying $1295 for a new phone that according to Forbes is “Purchasing the iPhone 7 this morning from my local Apple Store I found a device that is remarkably similar to last year’s iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6 from 2014. The external design cues remain, the chips inside are faster, and iOS 10 is more polished but is fundamentally the same operating system. Nothing ‘feels’ news even though the package is professional and projects a revolution that is hard to find“, this is at the heart of the matter. Trying to create waves by limiting the system, whilst overall the system is still the same is an issue and at nearly $1300 a very expensive one. That whilst Android competitors are coming into the field with comparable devices, including a headphone jack at 50%-60% of the price of the iPhone 7 and the world is starting to consider the non-IOS alternative. What Apple should fear is not just the market they are losing, the dangers that people could, in regard to the tax pressures they have and the pressure that Apple seems to be able to avoid, is one that could make them feel frustrated and vindictive. The idea that a person could think ‘If the need not pay taxation, they do not need my business either is not that far a stretch‘. People are starting to see the ethical imbalance that large corporations have impressed upon nations and in Europe where the quality of life is not that great at present, seeking the much cheaper alternative that Huawei and LG are offering is one worth considering. That could bring considerable consequences for Apple soon enough. Now I am not stating that the iPhone 7 will be a flop, but for Apple in this stage, should they lose even as little as a 2% market share, the consequence for apple will be intense to state the least. In addition, the fact that the iPad has remained a success for so long could equally be the next problem child for Apple. In that regard releasing the iPad Pro was a really good idea, yet the tablet contenders are starting to realise what it takes to be a contender and if that knowledge is applied properly, there too non-IOS devices (read: android) could start to make a killing and as such undermine that market Apple has at present. The origin is not the device makers, but Google. As Google has been pushing ‘the year of mobile’ for two years, the shift of usage is also growing. There is a growing visibility that at times the mobile screen does not cut it and it gives more and more opportunity to both Phablet and Tablet. These are all examples showing quite clearly that there is no status quo to rely on and the temporary nature of devices shows that Apple needs to really push forward in an innovative way, preferably before the makers of tablets realise that an affordable 128 GB version of an Android tablet is every bit as appealing as the iPad Pro, especially when the Android version could be a lot less than the IOS edition. With Android having its own set of quality games, Apple has more to lose than they are willing to admit to and time is slowly running out for their streak of ignorance to continue. However, it is important to note that Apple has been pretty super innovative with the iPad pro, so there is still a gap to overcome for the competitors. In that regard it is equally interesting that the Android device market have ignored that side of the consumer’s need (read: desire). In all this, it was about taxation and not on markets. Yet one is linked to the other, mainly because if there is no market there is in equal measure no taxable revenue, which gets us to the final part. You see, I have written about these issues before in one form or another and now we see that the Wall Street Journal is finally waking up to this (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/lew-is-right-on-eu-tax-grab-but-lacks-credibility-1473962171), when we read “The Obama administration has had 92 months to tackle corporate tax reform. Now that Europe is making a grab for taxes on profits held by U.S. companies overseas, President Obama is ready to use his last few months in office to address tax issues that were ignored or made worse under his watch“, my response is that neither was done, as stated in earlier blogs in April 2016, when I wrote ‘Ignoranus Totalicus‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/24/ignoranus-totalicus), he refused to act (as voiced by “Senior officials in Washington have made it known“), so the non-actions are now back firing as event are now escalated. Another iteration of status quo.

What now?

This now all related to the issue at hand. IT corporations decided to maximise their profit by a consumer iterative annual approach of products. The IT market in the US nearly collapsed as it allowed for what was once regarded as a Taiwan Clone (a cheap alternative) to a quality A-brand to catch up. This is the problem with iterative thinking, when you are not in a niche market like Northrop Grumman (who at one stage actually there software patches ‘Iteration version’ I believe), you allow the market to catch up with you. ASUS caught up so and soon thereafter surpassed the original market owners. This lesson was not learned and the Telecom market decided that the profit was good in this way. So, please feel free to correct me. What happened to Ericsson and Nokia? Apple came and overwhelmed everyone and instead of truly remaining innovative, they started to largely iterate their device and called it innovation, now that LG, Samsung and Huawei have caught on and pretty much caught up, they are now offering equal, if not better options at lower prices. So how long will it take Apple to learn that status quo is merely an illusion? I reckon will see that revelation close after Christmas, after the annual sales are gone (and they will be improbable but not impossible a bit disappointing this year).

I reckon we will know in about 15-19 weeks!

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