Tag Archives: IOS

Songs in the key of Technology

Yesterday saw an article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/03/pixel-2-google-apple-iphone-htc-pixel-2-xl), with ‘what does Google need to do if it wants to beat Apple’s iPhone?‘ which is one way of looking away from what is actually happening. You see, with the opening part on how Google ‘could become big player in smartphone-making with acquisition of part of HTC and forthcoming Pixel 2 launch’ is merely the front for something a lot bigger. You see, for a year Huawei had an optional advantage towards Google whilst the one advantageous player (read: Apple) wasted their time on iteration and presentation, perhaps only partially on innovation and marketing the hell out of an event that will happen in December (read: the iMac pro). Now the gap is closing and with the HTC part Google has stepped into the space where it can compete with Huawei on an upcoming £30-45 billion market. A new market that is about to happen. Whilst everyone is playing with themselves on how some of these people are ‘rulers of the universe‘, or so they think, Google now is moving on the inside track to take that market and at least three niche markets, which will give them a long term advantage. You see, Apple might be number one, the largest and the richest, but the danger of the number one is that you need to make sure you comprehend what numbers 2, 3 and optionally the player in position 4 is doing and Apple seems to have lost track of that part. Now they are in a place where they lose one edge and as such they might remain number one, but the players in position 2 and optionally the one in the third position will be closing the advantage gap that Apple had and had been making them complacent in their actions. Now, we will wait, living on conjecture and gossip as we will get to live with 15 months of movement below the surface of the waters. For those on the sidelines, it will be like watching a submarine race, a real spectator sport (read: not really). Now we get to the accusation in regards to what Samuel Gibbs is writing about. With: “it can pull off the one thing other Android smartphone manufacturers have struggled with: differentiation” it is staging that Google is not differentiated, which might be true to some respect, but in another regard he fails to see what truly matters to the millions of users. It is actually very simple: “To give the people, the users what they desire”, so basically something pretty amazing at an affordable price. We see his claim of ‘homogenous sea of sameness‘ (it does sound cool though) whilst these same styled writers seemed to price Apple for consistency for the longest of times. What he fails to see is that this homogenous ocean creates users, users that know what they are getting and they know the value of Android (well many seem to do that). So after the age of VHS, MSDOS and MP3, where it was to get as many people as possible to adapt a standard, it suddenly becomes about ‘being different‘? No, that is not the way it is played! You see, the market Tata lost, the market Apple ignored and that same market that Huawei is waking up to, is the one that is now almost within the grasp of Google and it can potentially grow the value of Google not overnight mind you) up towards a growth of 40%-70%, that is almost unheard of and we have not seen such spectacular growth since Windows 95 was introduced. That is the key of technology that we are about to face and ballads will be composed to those creators when it hits us all.

In this I equally oppose Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. With “The Achilles heel of Android at the moment is that software updates take forever. Unlike Apple where it controls everything, you’ve got to go through the device manufacturer, and be approved by the network operator, which means it takes ages to get services and experiences out there.” He knows that he is (as I personally see it) misinforming you. All the Android hardware makers have used Android and then tweaked it for their optimisation. So when the new versions came, we all had to wait, because these makers preferred to sell new phones, not update old ones. In addition the workforce needed to truly test new android versions and test and update all the elements were not in place either. As I see it, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei and other Android facilitators should all be regarded the same and as I see it, people like Ben Wood know that, they literally can’t ‘not know’ it. So as we see the hidden Apple tweet in their story, they are missing on the fact that Android, or perhaps we would soon call it Cyborg (or Android plus) will potentially crush Apple as it goes past the stratosphere. In this, how do I know it? Well, to be honest I cannot say that for certain, yet the lull in the patent registration department is a little less loud. So it might still come, but with the time lap we see under those conditions, I would speculate that Apple is already slow, too slow to that punch, which gives the larger players (Google and Huawei) now an edge they have not had before.

So as I see the end of the article with “In doing so the Pixel could also be Google’s stake in the ground. A demonstration of what the best of Google can really do that is as much a statement as a product”, it seem like a filtered version of what we might be seeing after the Pixel 2 comes. The grounds are already starting to shift, the question becomes who will attend the changed surface and which of these players are ready to show what the other players were too slow or even worse nowhere near to address. There will not be any ‘defection’ or people dropping there IOS device, yet the growth that comes is almost a certainty, which will vocally set another motion. That changed motion would be: “Every IOS user has an Android device, but not every Android user has an IOS device”. The moment that happens, and it is a realistic shift, it is at that point that the people in the higher echelons start realising that believing ones marketing and moving the borders of true innovation are not the same thing. Going for a market with a Pro device priced at 40% more whilst not giving the people that much more power is not innovation, it is iteration, an expensive lesson that Apple might end up learning the hard way. I wonder if I end up being proven wrong. We are less than 18 months away from that moment.

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Challenging fruit

There is an old saying: ‘An Apple a day, keeps the doctor away‘, which could be regarded as correct, or at least as something that is not wrong. These are essentially two statements that depending on your way of life is either more or less correct. Yet, in technology it is a lot less correct, mainly because our health does not have a chance to survive if it comes with the daily cost of $679 a day.

You see, the fruity side of mobile phones is not really an issue when we look at the IOS side of things (aka: the iPhone world), it is quite another when we look at the Android side of things. Even though this was last Wednesday’s news. There have been a few things that required digging and it has been a little bit of a chase. The article was not the first one I saw as I was watching the Google event at 04:00 (as stated in a previous blog). The article ‘Pixel is a direct challenge to Apple – and a referendum on Google‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/05/google-pixel-phone-market-apple-iphone), was on my mind, but so were a few other items.

The article raises a few issues, some of them are not entirely agreeable from my point of view, so let’s deal with them.

Some do get monthly security updates, but others get Android version updates sometimes years after Google releases new versions, creating so-called fragmentation that makes it harder to develop apps and services” is the first quote I have an issue with. For this I need to step back to one of my earlier smartphones. The Motorola Razr-V. Now, when I bought it I though it was an amazing phone. I still have it, it still works and it is in a drawer somewhere. When I bought it 4 years ago 1GB was ‘da bomb’. I had 4GB storage, so I was happy as can be. I had one update, which was from Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) to Jelly Bean (4.1) at some point and still, all was fine, just a little nagging need for RAM. What happened was what always happens, we need more storage and we need more RAM. Yet it was not the only thing that was an issue. You see, this model would not support Kit Kat (4.4) and now we had ourselves a horse race because we saw more and more news regarding security flaws and the essential need to have android as updated as possible. Now we get to the issue with the quote: “sometimes years after Google releases new versions“, which is not that correct. You see, the makers of phones did not consider upgrades to the OS, for the mere reason that they prefer to sell a new phone instead of upgrading your old phone, when the phone is deep within warranty it is one thing, however after that passes, the seller tends to not care and getting the new system vetted and fitted requires resources and a serious amount of them. So Motorola came with a notice that it would not be possible to update this model beyond KitKat. Now, because it was a cheap deal and I had actually not considered that updating the Android OS would be a biggie, I ignored it, and it was just one of those few lessons you tend to learn the hard way the first time around. You see, I am an Android user for a reason. As Apple advocated a device that can do a million things, and it can call people, the Android was the opposite. It was a phone that could do a lot of additional things. With Android the phone remained the centre, not the apps (as I personally saw it). The issue is more than semantics, I felt it was a state of mind, which is why I prefer Android (whilst not hating the iPhone).

Now with my feelings regarding safety and security, I believe that it is very important never to be more than 2 versions old, so as I am on Lollipop, it is essential for me to get a new phone capable of Nougat. Those on Marshmallow should decide for themselves if they want to wait another version before getting a new phone. In light that the average functional phone is over $600, that rule becomes a lot more important, also knowing that you are buying something that will need essential replacement after 2 years makes it even more important to find the right device and especially at the right price. This is why I have been hammering on systems with 64GB storage and at least 2GB RAM (3GB preferred). The fact that the makers are withholding these devices, whilst they are available, angers me. This is because the Telecom companies love a consumer forced to upgrade on an annual basis. What they fail to realise that our budgets are not as wide as their need for coke and hookers (if we believe the NY marketing needs, so the entire greed philosophy falls away. So when I go to the shops now, I expect a Nougat device, or a Marshmallow version at high discount. When a shop offers a Sony with a 2 year old operating system at $900 (Lollipop, aka Android v5), they have obviously lost their minds! Now this is the part that matters in the case of Sony. They call it ‘The pioneering 4K smartphone‘, as well as ‘Sony’s next-generation camera technologies in collaboration with Sony’s Alpha engineers‘ and then they promote it, whilst not updating the phone with an operating system that is less than a year old? And only this month, will they come with a previous version of Android (Marshmallow, aka Android v6). Now, this falls in line with the quote from the Guardian, the issue I have is that if they had their ducks in a row, the phone would have been in the shops with Marshmallow (v6), with the option to update to Nougat (v7).

It is my suspicion that the service oriented devices have not caught onto the need to have a more generic framework oriented approach. I touched on it in my article ‘Chicks for free‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/03/31/chicks-for-free/), where I touches on SaaS in March 2015, as well as the advantage Huawei gave to its customers by being competitive in price and hardware. They had cornered a nice chunk of market in just one year. Parts of all this were also discussed in January 2015 (https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/15/exploiting-mobile-users/). So the issue has been around long enough for the market to adjust, they just decided not to do that. So for Google to come with the Google Pixel (XL) makes perfect sense. Although, from my point of view, $1400 for a device that might initially not last beyond 2 years is still a hard pill to swallow. Apart from the retired groups who are out of cash and comprehension of the technology, we are now facing a growing group of people where the risk of malware exposure goes up tenfold. So the precedence to slam the mobile market is very appealing.

I do not believe that Google is the bad guy here, I believe that our comprehension of accepted support is changing. Let’s take the new Pixel. For one, the marketing was perfectly done and so far from cheap Telco page to Forbes, they are all wildly enthusiastic. A fair point of view, especially as I (from my needy point of view) found just one flaw. Now, there is a side that is not yet known, however, if Google delivers on the statement ‘Two years of OS upgrade from launch‘ as stated, meaning that your Google Pixel will support the installation of Android v9 (whatever that candy name will be, I vote for ‘Liquorice’), then the Pixel will be a steal at twice the price. Meaning that your $1400 should last you 3-4 years, twice the current expected lifespan, easily making it the only choice as an Android phone.

I have an even bigger issue with the quote “Francisco Jeronimo, market research firm IDC’s research director for European mobile devices, says: “Many people care about updates. They recognise that getting the latest update is about getting something better, unless they’ve got an old phone. But it’s about how easy it is to do. Going online and finding an update is something most will not do. If you present it as a notification, as Apple does, then most will jump on board.”“, in this I state that it is my personal believe that Francisco Jeronimo didn’t give the right ambiance to this spin. I have presented evidence that this issue has been known and was visible for the better part of 3 years. Old phone or not, the issue has been limitation of hardware and now that the players realise that the gig is up, they are likely to go into some form of blame mode, whilst their own approach should have changed years ago. The fact that brands like Oppo and Sony are selling what they call state of the art today with a 2 year old OS is just as big a joke, especially if it doesn’t come with the clear notice that an upgrade is available. If I need to give it a name, I would call it the annual update Telco requirement is pushing back and most people are willing to switch providers on a moment’s notice if needed. So Google went Fruity, looked at Apple (it has its own model of OS) and from that point of view, the power of a dedicated mobile became apparent. So now we see that for a mere $150 extra, we get a phone that is not 32GB, but 128GB. So only the dedicated silly would not get that, mainly because logic suggests that Android v8 and Android v9 will all be larger than the previous versions, as could logically be deduced. So not getting storage constraints over the next 3 years makes perfect sense, even if you have a minimal amount of apps. In this case it is not the 10 apps I have now, it is the notion that over the next 3 years I might get another 10-20 apps, as well as a few thousand pictures and knowing that storage will not be an issue, that peace of mind is very important, the moment you get hit by the limitation, it will make sense.

So as Google is challenging that fruity named competitor Apple, it needs to adjust its own model a little bit too. You see, there is a reason why corporate clients still rely on Blackberry. It is the one market Apple has not been able to penetrate, once Android does that, if will be able to shift its interests to another field of data gathering (I mean client instigated data gathering) and data encryption interactions, fields that Apple was not able to surpass Blackberry in, Google has a fair chance at changing that field, with Google now entering layer 1, they have a complete layer coverage allowing to take on the industrial strength enterprise security that Blackberry is famous for, which would give Android the push into the areas where critical security issues are the number one need.

The reality is that this would take at least one additional android upgrade before they enter that field, which have giving Apple the time, but not the engineering skills or the architecture to compete with Blackberry on that level. With this I imply that Apple by keeping to its consumer market views, it ignored a corporate side, or so has create the potential to rule the market, whether it will depends on what they do next, but they have been off to a great start.

The final quote is one that the article has dealt with already “Jeronimo says: “With the Nexus, Google attempted to bring the best device running the latest version of Android, but couldn’t give priority to one of the tier two manufacturers that were interested in making it when you have companies like Samsung and Huawei leading the market. It meant Google struggled to differentiate with its own device when its partners were already making very good devices that were good value.”“, it still requires a little extra and the element that is kept silent is the one I dealt with in ‘The smokescreen of a Smartphone War‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/30/the-smokescreen-of-a-smartphone-war/), you see, making a version and then making it not an option in Australia reeks. It reeks of Telco managed collaboration, the article stipulates why I feel that way. Now that Google blows storage apart with 128GB for $150 should show those two brands and a few others too, the stupidity of their actions. Huawei had an advantage by offering the 64GB, now that is a no no, it seems that Google can make a massive change, what was once a 0.2% market has the potential to become a 10% market in the next 12 months, which would be a growth that is unheard of. A market Huawei decided not to engage and now Google has voiced it will offer options that I would have considered overkill and not essential. Google seems realise that it does not matter whether the person prefers 64GB or 128GB, by offering them 128GB at a 64GB price is a winner in everyone’s books and it shows the consumer that 32GB might be good for nana and grandpa, the rest should just go big at the additional requested fraction more. In that regard the entire model race with two price additions, one for size of screen and one for size of storage is in my view brilliant (I will give credit that Apple had this approach already).

Which leaves us with the last speculation, no matter how we see 2016, with the changes of 2017 we see that Google is entering a new innovative phase of connectivity. Android devices like Google Home, might seem like a party trick, but the reality of Android devices and the option to connect them is more than a fab, the world presentation blew me away and where it matters, your Pixel could become the hub in all this, music on that little boom box, whilst streaming the pics to your TV. For the mere giggles in me, the device (an entertainment unit), which Microsoft promised the Xbox One to be and not delivered. Google now presents and delivers an actual entertainment system whilst not promising it. It is just too funny for words.

So whatever path you take, whether IOS or Android, just make sure it delivers long term what you need, if you do that, you will remain happy with whatever choice you make and that is what truly matters in my humble opinion.

 

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Dangers of Android?

Today I got confronted with a danger that Android poses. Yet, is this truly an Android issue? An Apple user will of course nod yes in a very rapid way. My Huawei is not the only one hindered by this. At Android central the following was found: “Are the apps definitely being removed from the App Drawer, or is it just that the shortcut is disappearing from your home screen?

This is of course a fair question, it still is not OK, but the difference between an app and a shortcut is quite the difference.

It turns out that the apps are on my phone, but they no longer run, they are now called ‘com.spyfox.tripletown‘. The apps seem to have gotten themselves damaged. The question no becomes why. At this point I also notice a program called ‘Li emotion’. The kanji next to it gives it away. My question now becomes ‘what is this and what does it do? This is because it is a separate app, I never installed it (as far as I can tell) and the rights it does have are massive. Yet there is no indication what it is, why it is on my phone and why it is allowed to do many things without my permission. It does not take too long that this is part of the Huawei Emui, so there is no real issue as the operating system needs to be able to do all this. Comprehension was the mere element that resolved everything.

This does not solve my app issue (which actually fixed itself) and gets us to the Guardian video (at http://www.theguardian.com/silent-circle-partner-zone/video/2015/aug/17/smartphone-users-read-their-app-permissions-out-loud-video). So yes, when we see the rights and speak them out loud, they sound very disconcerting. But why is it such an issue? ‘Modify calendar events and send e-mails without my knowledge‘ sounds extremely offensive, but now realise that you set up a meeting, you change the meeting and all parties are automatically updated through messages. Did you know that they got another mail stating that the meeting had changed? There you go, mystery solved. Apps ‘reading your text message‘ sounds like a worry, but is that program actually comprehending the information, or does ‘reading’ mean ‘parsing’, processing the text in all this? Computer lingo for the layman is not the easiest task.

In all this the one that stood out for me was ‘I give this app permission to automatically turn of airplane mode‘ if airplane mode was there for safety reasons (the airplane message no one ever believed that mobile phones interfered with airplane instruments), than the option to turn that off should not be allowed, but in all that, this could be as simple as the dialogue box ‘Would you like to deactivate airplane mode?‘ The video ends with ‘the biggest risk to you and your privacy is your smartphone‘, this is a decent claim to make. In all this, it is actually about users and consumers who do not understand (read comprehend) what they are agreeing to. They do not understand what they have consented to. That is always dangerous, because the things you do not realise are the issues that turn you into the greater fool. Here we can paraphrase the greater fool theory which states that “the price of an object is determined not by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations of market participants” into “the security of your environment is determined not by the borders you mentally erect, but rather by naive believe that the applications on your smartphone will respect them“.

You see, I believe that people should be worried about privacy, and #Privacynow is a valid need, but what is your actual privacy? The way that they are getting there is a little bit of a worry, yet the path is not without valid reason. Consider the quote “It’s common for users to employ the same username and password across systems, so if someone compromises that particular password, the potential also exists for them to compromise additional user accounts“, this is a worry in one way, because is this about the safety of the phone and its apps or is this about Common Cyber Sense? Something I have been advocating for about 2 decades. So how is this a danger for Android? That is part of the issue. In my view the danger to IOS is not smaller and the danger is nor subsiding any day soon. One of the earliest sources is around 2008, in 2010 Computer world, CNet and other sources stated “About 20 percent of the 48,000 apps in the Android marketplace allow a third-party application access to sensitive or private information, according to a report released on Tuesday“, there are two sides here. In the first, is this like the earlier issues in the video and stated, ‘a form of feigned transgression?’ Or is this in the second ‘leaky security that leads to open access of information?’ There is however a third option, apps that were created that are intent on creating a backdoor that allows access to all data. It is the third that is a true danger, yet how realistic is this danger?

Computerworld stated this from a Google representative: “This report falsely suggests that Android users don’t have control over which apps access their data.  Not only must each Android app gets users’ Permission to access sensitive information, but developers must also go through billing background checks to confirm their real identities, and we will disable any apps that are found to be malicious“, this is not just clearly the case, there is supporting evidence on several levels that this is true. In addition, these parts are quotes from 2010 and since then both Apple and Google have upped the security game by a lot. Still, it is the news from last week (at http://www.wired.com/2015/10/iphone-malware-hitting-china-lets-not-next/) ‘iPhone Malware Is Hitting China. Let’s Not Be Next‘ is the issue today. The quote “Unlike previous spates of iOS-targeted malware, many of those victims hadn’t jailbroken their phones to install unauthorized apps. The two back-to-back attacks—one far more sophisticated than the other but both unprecedented in iOS’s history—suggest that complacent iPhone users around the world could be in for the same nasty shock“, the issue has now become the fact regarding ‘non jailbroken systems’, which implies that either a flaw has popped up in the Apple device, or overall a new level of access has become a worry. It is the quote that follows which now is centre in all this “Apple has said that only iOS 8.3 and earlier were left open to the attack. Later versions limited access to the APIs it exploited to plant its ads“, so we can accept that we all install the latest versions, yet what happens to those who have an older device (like the iPhone 4)? There are plenty of things people can do that prevent these issues, and in all this ‘Common Cyber Sense’ remains the big issue. So is China hindered by a massive lack of Common Cyber Sense?

Here we now see the evolution that is the danger. It is the assumption of the user. The laziness of their usage and the ignorance of the effects that they easily embrace. The quote “Don’t install strange apps that appear in pop-ups online and aren’t found in Apple’s App Store” is the big part we must adhere too (well Apple users anyway), for most people like you and me, we use the Google Play Store sources only! Both Google and Apple have their methods in place. Would a three pronged app remain the issue as implied in the article? That is hard to state, but what is clear is that 99% of the dangers can be averted by using the reliable source and that reliable source only. The application of ‘Common Cyber Sense’ can aid you in averting another 0.9999%, which means that if you install 10,000 apps, there is a one in 10,000 chance of you ending up having a chance of being in danger.

Yet in all this, we should never relax about the technology we use and the danger it could bring. It is that fear that is driving people in all kinds of corners they never need to be in. When you have sex, not the committed relationship one, but the quickie with that girl next door for some slap and tickle. In that case do you practice safe sex? When you live in the city, do you go to work leaving the front door to your apartment wide open? In that same sense, when you use any technology that has your personal information, you use more than the minimum safety. That last part requires Common Cyber Sense. To the previous generation it is a harder thing to do, but it can still be done, to my generation it is an additional side to my workflow. It is the next generation that is now the part that matters. Many are taking the casual approach their parents (or bigger siblings) have, whilst not realising that Common Cyber Sense will be at the foundation of their lives. So, any OS will come with its own perils. Be it Windows, LINUX, Android, IOS or any other OS. They will face a new area that is on the move with such high speed that there is no way to predict where they will be in 7 years’ time. The dangers of a complete rewrite in an iterative world. You see until 2000, both hardware and software remained highly innovative, it was after 2003 that the iterative world was set in high gear. First Hardware and now to a larger extent Software has been in iterative mode. Yet the world behind all this, the security part has made leaps and bounds and to some extent not in a good way. Here we can make a connection to an article by Tarleton Gillespie from 2014 called ‘Facebook’s algorithm — why our assumptions are wrong, and our concerns are right‘. The quote “I will say that social science has moved into uncharted waters in the last decade, from the embrace of computational social scientific techniques, to the use of social media as experimental data stations, to new kinds of collaborations between university researchers and the information technology industry“. In addition there is “Those who are upset about this research are, according to its defenders, just ignorant of the realities of Facebook and its algorithm. More and more of our culture is curated algorithmically“. This is not upsetting or ground breaking, but it is the next part that links to all this. It is a blog article called ‘Analytic Suspicions‘ (at https://analyticsuspicions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/metric-failures-and-data-assumptions-4-myths-of-social-analytics/), he is looking at a few myths in social media, in all this (it is a nice read and well written), I personally see one point that is not a myth, it is a worry and it seems to me that many remain ignorant on that danger. You see, the myths whether all Social Media is analysed, that Social Media data is clean enough to Analyse, Influencers should be targeted and sentiments analyses works. In all this we forget the 5th issue (this being the non-myth). The interaction of apps and data. The dangers that we interact our apps and the data that is linked to all this that is now becoming the true issue. You see, even with all the common cyber sense no matter how safe our mobile is, the data is still somewhere and that data becomes available, more data than we agreed on. Yet in all this is the mobile OS Android/IOS the weak link?

That is the part that is not addressed by many speakers in this realm. Some get scared by places like ‘life hacker’ and some are ignoring the woeful text that passes us by, yet when places like Forbes report that ‘Report: 97% Of Mobile Malware Is On Android‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2014/03/24/report-97-of-mobile-malware-is-on-android-this-is-the-easy-way-you-stay-safe/) people get worried (even though the article is more than a year old). Yet the article enlightens us in many ways. The most important quote here is “here’s the part Google’s rivals don’t want you to know: the figures are misleading“, which is one side of the foundation. The second on is the part I already discussed “stick to buying apps on the Play Store and every one in 1000 apps you buy may have had malware for a brief period“, the word ‘may’ is essential and ‘brief period’ is also essential, in the end, the chance of you getting the winning lottery ticket could be slightly higher, odds I’ll take any day.

Yet in all this, with all the protection these providers offer, the number one danger is you!

Common Cyber Sense is the essential step of reducing that danger to almost zero (like 0.0001% chance).

In the end the danger of Android is almost the same as the danger to IOS, both large players presenting into the margins, which is where the mobile phone user (you know that pesky consumer) does not tend to be. Which takes us to the final part in all this. It was my blog article from the 4th of October (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/10/04/cisa-and-privacy-are-not-opposites/) ‘CISA and Privacy are not opposites‘, we get confronted with Silent Circle and their Blackphone 2. I have no doubt that Phil Zimmermann and Mike Janke are men of knowledge, determination and possibly even innovation. Yet, these skills do in my humble opinion not match up to the killer skills of the Google engineers with their keyboards. So when we see the quote in the Guardian (see previous blog link) “Google didn’t support the initial software build, something that probably helped make the phone more popular, rather than less“, do you think that this was done in envy by Google, or because their build did not hold up to scrutiny? That last part is speculation because I have no data or any evidence going one way or another. The Blackphone is marketed by intelligent people with skills, no one will doubt that, and it is also clear that Silent Circle is now tapping into a direction that is gaining traction, which means the market will most definitely grow in this direction. Yet in all this, considering all the facts, in how much danger is your data?

Sit in a quiet corner and let that questions sink in for a minute. I have been in the data field since 1989, in all that time the biggest threat was ‘data at rest’ (data saved on a device), meaning that this implies that you have strong passwords on your hotspot and Bluetooth capabilities, or just switch these options to ‘off’, not data that is moving from point A to Point B. Today both areas are a ‘threat’ and the second one only since very recent.

Since November 2012 I have had 2 phones, the second one I got this year because only now, my Android needs had grown beyond a 1 GB RAM phone. As far as I can tell I have only faced one issue and that was due to an ignorant third party developer and their dim witted approach to synchronisation. The simple use of Common Cyber Sense is all I needed. Basic steps that nearly anyone can adhere to. The threat of criminals and organised crime will not go away. Common Cyber Sense will keep them at bay and common sense should do the rest.

Which now takes us back to the title, you see, the dangers of Android are largely between your ears. The only dangers you face are the ones you open yourself up to! You should never stop asking questions on where things are and what you sign up to, that is common sense, but also feel free to question what certain things mean, it is in the comprehension that you find the answer. If there is one conundrum to leave you with then it is not android or IOS, consider the idea that a Facebook game wants you to give them access to your religious views, whatever for?

To pray for ammunition?

Well, so be it: ‘halleluiah’, now die you zombie master and give me my 10 points towards a high score!

 

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The choice of a new religion

The Guardian had an interesting article yesterday by none other than Alex Hern. He and I look towards the gaming world in very different ways, it does not make him wrong and it does not make my view right. We have at times different views on things. That is the wonderful world of gaming, it is one of the few fields where the approach to any solution tends to be almost artistic, many views, none the same can still warrant true correctness or success. In ‘Apple wants the Apple TV to be a games console. But can it be trusted?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/12/apple-tv-games-console-can-it-be-trusted), which is a very true piece. The subtitle states ‘Apple would like to see its new set-top box become the next Nintendo Wii. But it’s questionable whether the company really understands gaming‘, which is as true as it gets. I have been ‘connected’ to Apple systems in one way or another since 1990. One thing from the very start is that the Apple systems were always ahead in many ways, even in artistic ways, yet true gaming was never supported to the extent it should have been. One of my very first freelance jobs was to take a look at ‘Balance of Power’ (by Mindscape), I ended up checking it on the Mac as well as the Amiga. Another one was Shadowgate by the same makers. Even though these games were always worshipped, but on the Mac they seemed to be on the side, accepted as in existence, but never truly part of the ‘Apple’ environment accepted. It is hard to get it into words. You would have had to be there to understand it.

The quote “The problem is that games are treated as just another type of app by the company – albeit a very profitable type. The games store, for instance, is organised in exactly the same way as the rest of the app store, with prominence given to a few select apps and then three charts of top-selling paid games, most-downloaded free games, and “top grossing games”“, helps here. It is like a bunch of economists see games in the spreadsheet as deep green and those economists really like deep green (as in profit). Yet games is a lot more than numbers (something Ubisoft has an issue with too). To see Apple people look at games and advice their users on is like going to your accountant for sex guidance. That person gets off on spreadsheets and a balance books, for many people not the orgasmic solutions to embrace. Yet there is also a side where I have to disagree on.

Part one is “Similarly, in the newly-released guidelines for Apple TV apps, the company reveals that “the maximum size of an Apple TV app is limited to 200MB”, with no persistent local storage. In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, part two is “The top-tier consoles right now ship their games on Blu-ray discs, which store at least 25GB and can rise to 128GB per disc (twice the total storage of the highest-capacity Apple TV“. Now, Alex speaks the truth and he is 100% correct. My issue is that quote 2 implies (he never really states it anything in that way) that size makes the game, that is wrong. Still there is a truth here. 200Mb is nowhere near enough for any decent game. If we look at previous games, like Metroid Prime on the GameCube, that game exceeds the 200Mb. Many games from the PC could get close to the 200Mb, but will in all likelihood exceed that part.

In addition, the statement “In other words, apps must be lean, and they must download everything they show from the cloud“, which now implies that we are all dependent on quality connection. A property that is even debatable in parts of Western Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. For Apple it must be good to know that at least Scandinavia and its 18 million people will see the bulk of Apple TV gaming. The second issue is “Unlike PC games, consoles have always been fairly locked down by the platform manufacturers. In a way, it’s “no sex, no drugs, only rock and roll” attitude is merely replicating the same approach that Nintendo has emphasised for years in its efforts to keep its games consoles family friendly“. Now I am all for family friendly games, yet some people want more than Mario Kart. Some want to play the master Sergeant (HALO). Some want to be in the wasteland (Fallout) or they want to sneak their ways around a city (Thief). Many of these games would never be allowed, with a massive portion of the gamers being 21+, they end up being nothing more than a nuisance to Nintendo and without a massive arsenal of IP that will not happen any day soon.

It is the final quote that is concern as well as the source of howl of deriving laughter “But its success as a games console would be handing yet more control of the medium to a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming. And that should concern anyone who likes to play“, wasting this level of resources on a system with no expertise on quality gaming will put a dent in the Apple coffers, in addition, once rejected by gamers, those at the helm will be forced to take a harsh look at their choices and their considerations. It seems that so far in new gaming only Elite Dangerous made it. If the iMac 5K would have one additional hardware update. If they had something in equal or exceeding the Radeon R9 295X2, the system would become something to behold, not just with Elite Dangerous, but in addition with games like No Man’s Sky (if it ever gets here). The iMac would be an option, the Apple TV is clearly not that option, beyond Minecraft there is not a lot that plays on the Apple TV. So do I disagree with Alex?

Actually no! When we consider his quote “Despite my concerns, there is the chance that the Apple TV could be good for gaming“, it connects to my thoughts that good gaming is not about the size (well not completely). Consider that some of the games that were a massive success on the Commodore 64, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST can still be the games in the new generation systems like the Apple TV. The games by Sid Meier, games like seven cities of gold, some of the legends like Lemmings, Dune 2 (Command and Conquer), pretty much most of the games Peter Molyneux made (including Dungeon keeper), there are loads of other games. The opposite is also true, now we can get a pirates game Sid Meier could never offer when he did because technology stopped him. In equal measure quality gaming has dwindled as there are no limitations, so that game designers are no longer trying to squeeze the maximum out of a console. Tomb Raider is an example here. When we consider that Apple TV could get a market, whilst the hard core end games on consoles and PC remains, I state ‘Yes’, that is a definite option. Yet Alex does illustrate a side of Apple that the foundation of Apple should be ‘concerned’ with. “If you want to criticise a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical App. It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store”, in all fairness there should be space for that approach, but it will hinder your business. You see, the guidelines at 15.1 state “Apps portraying realistic images of people or animals being killed or maimed, shot, stabbed, tortured or injured will be rejected“, which is nice but that pretty much sums up almost every game ever made, including New Zealand Story, where the little Kiwi loses health when he touches a spike. 15.3 makes any WW2 game a non-starter, unless Apple insists that Nazi Germany was never a real government where my response becomes: ‘good luck with that one!’

So, even though we can accept that guidelines are needed to keep certain groups (read children) free to wander on the app store selecting games. I get that, but as I stated before, it limits the Apple TV to the realm of Nintendo who already has a massive grip on its user base through several means, why would Apple TV wander in that field? It almost reads like Apple wants to add to the foundation of a failed system. The idea that was a write off in 2007, regarding a big fat fail in 2010, suddenly got the title ‘How Apple’s biggest failure could be one of its greatest accomplishments‘ in 2014 (at http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/saving-apple-tv-think-different/) we see: “Apple has a chance here to beat its competitors to the punch, first and foremost, by making sure that you can play every significant type of video file type that Apple TV doesn’t offer now. This will broaden the range of apps the device can support, and ensure they never have an issue like they did with Hulu again. They would also be wise to create a browser for the device, and to let users access its hard drive“, which is true, yet the article reads like a marketing approach to ‘new’ options for Apple TV and now a year later we see the games ploy. Is it truly about that, or is there a fear within Apple that they are being passed by, passed by those who had a clear goal and by growing in any direction they get to hold onto non-write-off a little longer.

I will let you decide on the parts that are a given, but are they truly a given? I must warn my own view that it is tainted and also clouded. There is a view that comes from true gaming and as such Apple TV does not add up to much, yet what is small can grow and as I stated, let true innovation grow through limitations. It gave us true pearls on three generations of consoles, innovations that seem to be missing in NextGen. Yes, there is still innovation, but not to the extent there was in the past. The idea that Apple starts it up again is partially pleasing. Pleasing because that is the one part that have been downplayed by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to the larger extent, if you doubt that, then look at how many independent productions made it to consoles in the past. The fact that this year is a lot more about independents is not a given, it is a fab and no guarantee exists that independents will make it through in 2016 and 2017.

That is the part where Apple could grow, you see I personally believe that the next 12 years will be all about the small innovators. As larger players have become vultures, eating the small ones and carrion eaters as they devour their brands in the insane vision that growth comes from interactive innovation, large jumps are ignored. You only need to see the success of Markus the Notch and Minecraft to see that I am right. Will Sean Murray be the next one to show this? David Braben is on the right track to do so too and they are not alone. Even though Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is not likely to be the success others are becoming, the truth is that this game is innovative. Even though in respect to my Tomb Raider view that 10 hours of game play is not acceptable, it would be equally unacceptable to see a 6 hour story as a good thing (source: YouTube). Yet, it is a story and the challenge as such is too small. You only need to look back at the game Portal (by Rob Swigart) to see something a lot larger, even though not in an open world environment, the result as well as the story was truly unique. That does not make the game a failure or inferior, yet the truth remains that the challenge needs an upgrade. Too small, yet remains a true innovation compared what is out there. In all this my own perception is an issue for discussion too. Where is it a given that a 10 hour game is insufficient? I base it on past play and play that some games give, as such 10 hours of gaming just doesn’t hack it neither does 6 hours. Yet all this started with a new religion, one of gaming. not the worship of a controller, or the divination of a system, but the choice of what we believe is to be an open direction, a choice of innovation, because without innovation gaming seizes to survive and we get iteration of a given, in the artsy world gaming exists in, that part can never be allowed to remain in iteration. This is one of the core reasons why the iteration of Assassins Creed, the iteration of Lara Croft the raider of Tombs and Call of Duty will simmer down, will cease to be the cash cows they once were.

The future is all about true innovation in gaming, in that Apple TV could have a space if it opens the doors to independent developers. When we consider the iPad, it has had a nice collection of games and some are truly innovative, in all that IOS has a place and the Apple TV could bring it to the big screen (and I do mean on your TV). In the final part, I agree with Alex for the most, except for the part “a company which fundamentally looks down on games and gaming“. I am not certain it does. It seems to have an approach not unlike Nintendo. Do we look down on them? The question does remain when we see gaming as a religion. It could be the one religion that should be without a bible, which is fair enough, but what about the 10 commandments? Should we not consider some guidelines? Personally I state no, but then again, I started in a world where gaming was born, where it evolved. In all this gaming can evolve within any limited system (consider the 16KB VIC-20), as such any system can bring the joy of gaming, we only need to consider where we take gaming. Nintendo took a direction, there is nothing stopping from Apple taking it in the same direction. In my mind, it should be now and forever about innovation, because that is what draws us to a new game. Consider how Elemental Kingdoms took the concept of CCG and gave it a digital evolution, that is just one of many options, I hope many that are yet unemployed and it awaits the next visionary to create that path.

Who? That is up to the developer that dares to dream and make it reality.

 

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In continuation

Perhaps you noticed it, perhaps not. The last article was left a little unfinished. I had to do this because we are faced with two separate parts and I needed to isolate a few things, leaving you with the idea that this was it, alas (or fortunately) it is not!

In the past we saw that software required to pass “a manner of manufacture”, the linked issue of physicality, which is one I do believe in. It is for that reason I still consider the article by Ben McIniery ‘Physicality in Australian Patent Law‘ (at Deakin law review) to be the article that everyone in IP should read. It is an absolute must in the field. The article opened my eyes to a few parts of IP. On page 465 He goes into National Research Development Corporation v Commissioner of Patents (1959) 102 CLR 252, where we see “the High Court explained that the patentable subject matter inquiry is a broad test that recognises all new and useful innovation as patent eligible, irrespective of whether it involves a physical embodiment or a transformation of physical matter“.

This is where we are now. The gaming industry is only one side of it, the mobile data and mobile device market is the big one. No matter how much you see how mobile markets are worth hundred, two, three or even four hundred billion. As I see it, the mobile device market has now passed the 1 trillion dollar mark. As the people involved are looking at ‘their’ corners, the overall interaction market, including apps, data and hardware has exceeded a trillion dollars. So why does this now matter?

This is at the core of it all. The new games are only one side, the other side connected to all this is the value of data. There was a reason that Microsoft paid 2.2 billion for a videogame. The massive connection here is not just the data, it is the collection technology that you can link to it that matters.

Software was taken to satisfy the requirement for patentable subject matter; that is, it was “a manner of manufacture”. As articulated in the watershed NRDC decision, it is a mistake to ask if an invention (in the present context, software) is a kind of manufacture because it tends to limit one’s thinking by reference to the idea of making tangible goods by hand or by machine. Rather, the correct emphasis is that the application of a manner of manufacture results in an artificially created state of affairs, and that a manner of manufacture has an industrial, commercial or trading character in that it belongs to a useful art, as distinct from a fine art, and consequently its value to the country is in a field of economic endeavour. Software would appear to satisfy that requirement. Apple found that out the hard way, when it ‘learned’ that Smartflash owned the patent (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-ip-apple-verdict-idUSKBN0LT0E720150225), the bandage for that pain has been set at half a billion dollars. Here we see the link to both gaming and mobile devices.

The hottest ticket in the gaming industry is not just the game, it is the one who gets the race horse right on cross platform workings. So, a person on an Xbox One meets a person on a PlayStation 4 and they both fight it out ‘Doom’ style, who is the baddest, deadliest and most determined player on his console? That is currently not an option to the extent it should be. If you think it is easy, than think again, Bethesda with its Elder Scrolls online has not been able to bring that baby to life (Neither has Diablo 3 for that matter, who has a lot more experience in this field).

The jackpot value goes up even more when we consider the Android and IOS devices. Cross platform is the one ticket (read: patent) that once solved will hold the trump card to instant super wealth. Leave it to greed to properly motivate innovation, but that is usually the case.

So as we see the E3 to the largest extent about gaming. I am looking at it from the additional view of Intellectual property. If you have read yesterday’s article called ‘As the heart thumps‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/15/as-the-heart-thumps/), you might wonder if there is a reason behind my focus on the navigational view of Elite: Dangerous. Now consider the design patents that Microsoft holds and consider the Elite HUD in a car window as a heads up display. It is the next step. You see, several players (read: car manufacturers) have been looking at implementing something like this, but the costs were scary. Now consider Corning’s Gorilla Glass technology solutions, not just to be a stronger screen, but a screen ‘film’ solution on the inside of the glass linked to a device that feeds the screen, whoever holds the quality design patent here will make a killing. The ‘technology’ that we saw in games for HUD, is technically already possible, now it only needs one clear implementation with the right patent and that person is sitting on the platinum patent. That same train is linked to interactive data transfer and consolidation cross platforms. Not what you think already exists (like feeds to every device), no, I am talking about true bi-directional interaction of the mobile world. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet.

In gaming terms, we are talking interactive intelligence versus scripted moments. The bulk of all games still rely on scripted moments. When you walk into a door, a new house, or meeting that ‘special’ character in the game. Games are full of that, no it is the intelligent design, regardless of moment, character or location that decides the interaction. That will be the upcoming frontier. Yes, you might think that this is about gaming, which is partially true. Yet that part is one step away from intuitive marketing; to reach any person regardless of device, location or state of travel, the holy grails of Direct Marketing and the Business Intelligence field is pursuing. You see, when we travel we tend to be decently idle. That is the moment marketing could hit us square in the face, possible resulting in us pressing the ‘buy’ button. That is as I say the platinum patent that allows for almost instant wealth beyond measure. Most of the technologies exist in generic form, whoever delivers the focus narrow enough to get set into patent will be holding onto the Chalice of Avarice.

In all this, the IP market remains in development, in addition, these events with added complication of what the TPP will offer large corporations is centre as to why I had an issue with the TPP. It gives unbalanced strength to large corporations, whilst diminishing the efforts of small innovators and it is the latter part that is most likely to come up with the golden idea, which was always my issue against the TPP.

So, when you take another look at what the E3 offers in gaming, consider how much bigger the net is that could catch options in other parts and other business segments.

 

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Fear is a tool

It started with a thought, one I have had for a little while and one that had been voiced in the past. Today, in the Guardian we see part of this in the article called ‘How we sold our souls – and more – to the internet giants‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/17/sold-our-souls-and-more-to-internet-giants-privacy-surveillance-bruce-schneier). I respectfully disagree with parts of this.

The first premise is the important one.

Did we sell our souls, or were governments on a global scale lacks and slow regarding the rights of privacy?

That is an important question as it is linked all over the place. We tend to look (as I have mentioned numerous times) regarding the information the intelligence community gets, but at the same time we allow ourselves to get mined and exploited by every social network available. A nice example that the article uses is the Hello Barbie. The Washington Post gave us loads of information in March (at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/03/11/privacy-advocates-try-to-keep-creepy-eavesdropping-hello-barbie-from-hitting-shelves/), but it did not get the global visibility it required to have.

You see, there is nothing wrong with an interactive toy. I reckon that as programs became more and more interactive, then so would toys and the Hello Barbie doll is the premium evolution for children. The big issue is not the toy, but this simple line: “As the doll ‘listens’, audio recordings travel over the Web to a server where the snippets of speech are recognized and processed. That information is used to help form Hello Barbie’s responses” Why? Why use the web? Why not connect to a device that has the software installed? The answer is simple, this is only in one part about the doll, it is a lot more about collected data and data is value (their marketing department will come with some “it’s  all so much easier via the web answer”). Collecting the questions of children gives way to trendsetting and to marketable exploitation. Of course, in that light the adult edition, where the answer to every question becomes “not now darling, I have a headache” is likely only 6 months away.

You think I am kidding? Data is the core of value, marketability of data is the new ‘O’ for industrials. Knowing how to push the button by answering the not asked questions in advertisement is the rage, the El Dorado of the marketing industry. So when we see the quote at the end of the article “Mattel and ToyTalk, the San Francisco-based start-up that created the technology used in the doll, say the privacy and security of the technology have been their top priority“, we should state that if security and safety were such important parts, you would have kept these issues local and not via the web. As for security, if hackers can take down Sony, then Mattel might not be that much of a challenge and in that light, that collected data would be worth a fortune, so people will get that data one way or another.

Beyond the toy need of a child is the need for health. That part is dealt with in “Many medical devices are starting to be internet-enabled, collecting and reporting a variety of biometric data. There are – or will be soon – devices that continually measure our vital signs, moods and brain activity“, now we get to the juicy stuff! You see in the UK there is the Data Protection Act 1998. Yet here we see the following issue:

Section 36 gives us: ‘Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III’. So Barbie is already exempt in this case.

Even though section 2 gives us in section 11 ‘Right to prevent processing for purposes of direct marketing’, which is in part II, so Barbie is again exempt.

However, we do see protection under part one section 8. Here we see: ‘Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data’. Yet the danger here is that this regards ‘personal data‘, the definition under part one states: “personal data means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified”, which is not the part that is transferred, so it does not count. The personal data is what mommy, daddy or junior enter within a website or social media, outside of the UK (or Commonwealth), so that they can receive a much more personal ‘experience‘ with Miss Barbie. This is at the core of the problem, but it is only one factor. The same applies in 99% of the cases to healthcare and fitness equipment that connects through the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the web link. All this gets collected. So when we wonder regarding the excuses on software on cheaper through the online experience, several parts give clear indication that this is about collecting data, because data is the new gold. How much do you think a health care provider is willing to pay, so that they have data that allows to cut off, or additionally charge the riskiest 10%? Even though those people are already paying premium, to have a check on the safest group and to flag the least safe group is worth a bundle. Anyone selling that data for less than a 9 figure number is getting royally screwed.

And it goes on beyond the mere computer and the internet. More precisely your smartphone. The apps you install track you here as well. They track your location and sometimes download your address book, calendar, bookmarks and search history. Not to mention a host of other parts. The most annoying part of it all is that you the user gets to pay for your bandwidth, so if your data gets downloaded, you are likely to see background usage of the data and the bandwidth used goes to your total usage.

The gem of the Guardian article is shown near the end “And it’s all possible because laws have failed to keep up with changes in business practices

This has been the number one issue for well over 4 years now and the lawmakers have basically been sitting on their hands, pretty much all over the commonwealth I might add, because data is money and those captains of industry require overhead (read data profits). It comes down to the same issue with the laughingly disturbing discussion on movie piracy. Telco’s rely on bandwidth, without that, there profits go down to the basement, in that same light their reliance on data seems to hinder governments to react in a timely manner. Research, investigations and commissions. We have seen data issues since before Edward Snowden. Yes, in all these years, how many successful alterations were made to the Data Protection Act 1998, via either legislation and/or the House of Lords? You do the math, yet the answer is simple. As I see it, look at your two hands and do not use the 10 fingers that is how often, a mere ZERO times! Just like the internet consumer change, the internet data change has seen just as many evolutions.

The worst is however yet to come!

You see, the newer mobile phones often have the capacity that surpasses many laptops and tablets. I witnessed just 4 days ago how a friend used his mobile as a SharePoint because he had to update his PS4. What He had not realised is that the PS4 also started to update his installed games. It took him less than two minutes to realise this and in that time his 2GB bandwidth was gone! Welcome to 4G bandwidth!

He’ll lose an additional $10, so he did not think it was a biggie, but now consider how much data can be passed over to wherever the applications decides. So when we get these small messages, when we are lulled into a sense of ‘security’ consider where your data is and who else has access. That is at the heart of the matter, as well as the heart of the legislative failing. Who else has access! When data is stored at any third party provider, the app maker might guarantee that THEY will not allow access to the data, but that does not state that this is the case, you see, if they have the data parked in any other provider, what does the rules of those providers stipulate? Only they? Only the executing service agents? The world of data is quite literally the new Wild West of Business and IT, a reasonable untapped frontier and we all forgot that we think that data is there and only we can access our little field of data, whilst in reality and corporation with a tractor can get to any part of that data field. It is all nicely settled in the line “are exempt from the data protection principles”, so as we consider our data and why we are not keeping it local, consider one final ‘deletable’ part, which is also in the Guardian article “In 2009, Amazon automatically deleted some editions of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from users’ Kindles because of a copyright issue. I know, you just couldn’t write this stuff anymore ironically“, yet even though the irony is out there, consider that your data is also on the cloud. So what happens when that gets deleted? Not by you or by the provider, but by a third party who got around it all? You might wonder why that is an issue, if you do then consider the final question in this dilemma: ‘Who is the owner of a deleted file?’

So here is the fear part:

Where is your data?
Who ‘owns’ it?
Who has access to it (besides you)?

These are one side of the fear equation, on the other side you have the data local storage, which you must personally manage, you must backup this data and you must keep track whether it is all backed up. Some users feel uncomfortable with that. A nice example can always be found when someone in your vicinity cries over a crashed mobile and all contacts lost (I saw that a few times happen to people I know in 2014).

One fear or another, they’re gonna getcha!

So you the user have gone with the flow and the privacy for billions is up for grabs because no one wondered, asked or pressured, now that part is almost indefinitely gone, only by adjusting the laws can we see a restoration of proper privacy of data and information, but those who rely on the value of data are extremely intent on not letting those changes happen. Consider this part from an earlier Guardian article “Facebook places tracking cookies on users’ computers if they visit any page on the facebook.com domain, including fan pages or other pages that do not require a Facebook account to visit“, do you think Google is any different? So as you are tracked and as data is combined from social media, from websites, devices and even toys. How much privacy do you think you are enjoying at present?

Now we get to a truly speculative part. Consider Google with its Nexus range. Now the new Nexus 6 looks nice (way out of my budget range), there is a 32GB and a 64GB version. No issues here! In all aspects a decent game changer for the Nexus fan. Now we get to the Nexus 9, the tablet. Before I give my view, let’s refer you to Forbes, here we see some interesting details (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2013/01/29/apples-128GB-ipad-just-gave-every-android-tablet-manufacturer-a-headache/), an important fact is that this is a January 2013 review, so more than two years old! In that regard the specs do not seem to have changed! So this ‘new’ tablet is only to be begotten in a 16GB or 32GB version. So it has a lot less storage than the Nexus 6 mobile phone. It has a few more weaknesses, but basically, as Apple already had a 128GB edition, Google remains at 25%. In my view this was intentional! The machine was released late November 2014. Why would they not have a version that is at least 64GB? My iPad 1 (yes version One) which I bought in 2011 already had 64GB). This is not a mere oversight from a bungling manager, as I see it this is an intentional drive to get people towards Google drive, with data stored in a place where some might have access (the non-user that is). Remember, this is pure speculation on my side! Google could have made a contender and is offering nothing more than a consolation price. Offering it at a very competitive price, but it comes with the foresight that people will be driven to the Google Drive, sooner rather than later!

Please feel free to reject this notion, but ask yourself, in the fight between IOS and Android, why would Google not offer a machine a lot more competitive? This is at the heart of the matter, this is as I see it the crux of it. There is of course a danger that we make ‘relationships’ between fiction and facts in events that are a figment of our imagination, but in the competitive industry that is called ‘mobile devices’ to remain behind to this extent to that degree calls for questions, does it not?

There is one part to add, the Guardian article was originally adapted (by the Guardian) from ‘Data and Goliath’ by Bruce Schneier, Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and CTO of Resilient Systems Inc. He can also be found tweeting his heart out as @schneierblog.

 

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Supporting exploitation

This time, there is a different issue in play, this time, I have felt the consequence of both crime and scheming, all in one nice package. Part of this is set in the article ‘Robbed of a mobile, but we have to pick up the thief’s phone bill. Why?‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/11/robbed-mobile-thiefs-phone-bill).

Now, my mobiles has been stolen, it has been broken and a few other issues have gone my way. Now in the first, I have to admit that I was with Optus at the time, stolen mobile, we had a business account and to my surprise, a new mobile and no hassle (just a small fee). This was great, the doom feeling of what had happened was a feeling that some places are great to be connected to. Now in the article we see the following quote: “it’s worth pointing out that you are not liable for any charges once you’ve reported a phone lost or stolen. But there are often good reasons why this may not be immediately possible, and during the briefest of delays, thieves can run up catastrophic charges“. Yes, this is true, but there is also an initial solution. You see, no matter how important you are as a business person, your ego is getting in the way fast. You see, disabling International calls on day one, in addition to 1900 and 1902 numbers stops massive costs coming your way. There is also the embarrassment you have when your boss asks you which distributor had 1900-blow-my-mobile is also worth the day one blocking action.

The next paragraph is the kicker: “In 2012, Ofcom gave service providers until that summer to present plans to cap customers’ liabilities and declared they would face enforcement action if they failed. Nothing happened. In December 2013 the government announced that six of the big providers had finally agreed a cap, and that, from spring 2014, customers – like victims of bank card theft – would not have to pay more than around £50 for thieves’ phone calls. Nothing happened. A year on, only Three has introduced protection – customers are liable for only the first £100 before a phone is reported missing, provided they report it within 24 hours“, so when you are on holiday or on business abroad, and your phone gets stolen, the chance of you notifying your stolen phone in time is not an option.

The paragraph becomes even more interesting if you Google the following “Ofcom spineless useless“, you get 32,000 hits. So we can say that whatever Ofcom pretends to be, which by their own statements is “Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries” (at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/), we can state with some certainty that it has failed the British people close to 100%. This view does not evolve in any positive way when we look at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/competition-bulletins/complaints-disputes/, where we see ‘Ofcom’s Approach to Complaints and Disputes‘, the text on that page is “This page provides links to guidance that Ofcom has produced setting out our powers and processes we will follow in conducting investigations into adherence with regulatory rules, consumer protection issues, competition issues and resolving regulatory disputes“, with a few PDF links, so how useful is Ofcom?

Well, the Guardian had this to say: “It would seem Ofcom is waiting for the government to do something and the government is waiting for the phone companies to find a solution“, which is not even close to the actual part, it seems that Ofcom is all about sort of regulating issues, but awaiting feedback from stakeholders in regards to these actions (which are likely to be phone companies and when we see the Telecoms Complaints Bulletin on Ofcom, we see a few charts on silent calls and unwanted marketing calls. So is Ofcom basically a report valve that gives the telecom companies a signal when marketeers and phone companies have to simmer down a little bit?

So when we see the claim “Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister, met the big players last month. Once again they promised a code of practice, but, strangely, still haven’t agreed on the details. “We expect the networks to confirm shortly details of liability caps and when they will be introduced,” says the Department of Media, Culture and Sport“, we must wonder if Mr Vaizey is actually seriously looking into an issue that has played for many years now.

The next part involves Vodafone (or Vodafail as some call it) and opens up an entirely new can of worms, one that I myself have been privy to.

Vodafone says it has agreed to “explore” a cap but the sticking point is how to do that without destroying the incentive to report a phone missing. “We do not want to create an environment where it is even more attractive for criminals to focus on theft,” it says“, you see, that is not the Vodafone I have been experiencing!

So, last year I had a heart attack, this happens, as it happens I had a sim for my iPad with Vodafone, which is a data only thing. Now, I admit, I was late with paying, which is my own fault and whilst in hospital, they had cut me off. With that I had no issue; I was late, my own fault, as I stated before. Now comes the kicker, whilst in hospital  and after that in recovery, I learned that even though cut off, I am still liable for ALL COSTS, so that means that whilst cut off, I am still due all monthly expenses, even when disconnected. The fact that I had had a heart attack did not interest them. So I am still in a legal fight with Vodafone, I accept the initial costs, but the months after that I refuse, so it is due to go to court at some point. Vodafone might state it is exploring, yet its main need is to stay afloat, which makes them close to desperate. That part is seen with ‘Mobile users flee Vodafone Australia‘, which started in 2013. The quote “Vodafone Hutchison Group lost 600,000 customers in the three months ending September 30, even as its British parent first-half results showed a return to profit” is only the tip of the iceberg that will sink the ‘Vodafonic’ (that event filmed by James Cameron, where you see Leonardo DiCaprio drown in icy cold water at http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2013/11/13/technology/mobile-users-flee-vodafone-australia). The fact that Vodafone is still linked to a class action brought by Piper Alderman should indicate that Vodafone has a league of issues, capping is not even close to their essential need to solve.

But we go back to the issue at hand regarding phone bills. The article ends with the realisation that in an election year these issues will not be addressed, which means that this issue will stay around until at least 2016, which is odd as we consider the article ‘Bankrupted by a mobile phone bill‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/07/mobile-phone-bill-cap-theft), which is 14 months old. The issue, that was raised and gave way for the quote “culture secretary Maria Miller told journalists in Beijing this week that a deal had been struck to introduce a bank card-style limit to a consumer’s liability – possibly as low as £50“. In my view as a Tory, both Maria Miller and Ed Vaizey need to wake up fast and start a few fires in the halls of telecom corporations. You see, it is after all an election year and should Labour or Ukip achieve that what the conservatives could not, the fallout will be, as I see it a conservative unpopular one (well over 80% of the population worries about their mobile bill), because governing from the opposition bench is not governing at all, it is merely spouting critique to those who govern. The first course of action, as I personally see it, is to shake up the Ofcom executive committee by replacing Steve Unger, Polly Weitzman and Jonathan Oxley. I reckon the signal that the chief executive, the general council and the group director for Competition are replaced by individuals with bite, who will hunt issues for the victims and the general audience, might give the signal to the Telecom companies to act now, or accept a much harsher deal soon after the elections are done. The reality is, that when that signal comes, they will all quickly agree with the Three policy, which means a £100 cap and possible a reporting extension to a max of 72 hours, which would be fair.

Yet, this is not even close to the only thing in play, you see, last month Google made an announcement to no longer support any Android version before KitKat (v4.4). This means that not only are people almost forced into new mobiles, the flaws, gaps and other issues that might pop up are at the heart of what follows and that what is already happening to the current mobile user base (including myself). First there are the iPhones. Apple is already experiencing the class action in that regard. The fact that IOS is taking up around 20% is just bizarre. Apple could have saved itself a lot of hassle by just having the 64Gb phone at a 16Gb price, I was told (from an unconfirmed source) that the parts involved costed no more than $49. So how ridiculous is the entire issue that Apple is forcing upon Apple? Let’s not forget they have around 170 billion in loose change. Now, I am not stating that they had to pay for it, but to just set the 64Gb edition at $799 would have saved them a boatload of hassles. In this Android is not without faults either. The new phones, with 2Gb ram and 16Gb storage drops down a lot in Android. There, of the 2Gb you are only left with 1Gb and you lose an easy 30% of your 16Gb. Now, that is still a decent amount, but to consider that my old smartphone, which was 1Gb with 4Gm storage has now dwindled to a 250Mb phone (so I can run 2 apps at the most), with just 2.4Gb storage is not what I signed up for. As Google became too clever for its own good, adding more and more trash I never want or need, setting dozens of updates which no longer let my phone work is now at the core of my problem. I cannot even deactivate most, it shows up at EVERY update, selecting what I actually need and not what Google thinks I might like is at the core of my growing resent of Android. And with every app pushed out, there is additional danger that the security of my phone gets compromised, especially as Jellybean is no longer supported.

Yet there is more. I am now looking at a new phone, whilst I know the limitations I face. The strongest was the Huawei Mate7 premium. Now, here is the kicker, the 3Gb phone with 32Gb storage will only get you 1.7Gb RAM and 25Gb from day one, Android takes the rest and this is close to the strongest phone that a limited budget can buy. In Australia the smallest iPhone starts at $1000, the 64Gb, which would be a minimum choice is 20% more expensive, whilst these phones only have 1Gb RAM. This all seems as short-sighted as the developers of Xbox One showed to have. Yet, it must also be said that 1Gb seems to suffice for Apple, that is shown in this small article (at http://www.phonearena.com/news/Why-Android-phones-need-3GB-of-RAM-and-iOS-gets-by-with-1GB-of-the-stuff_id62901), yes IOS is more efficient, but as IOS evolves, so will the need for RAM, which when it starts to be too little would of force us to upgrade again. Was it such a jump to set the iPhone RAM to 2Gb? When you become a penny pincher, you face class actions and that is exactly what Apple faces now. Although I remain (for now) Android minded, and When we compare the Nexus 6 (the very latest), we see that it only almost equals the Huawei Mate7 premium. The Nexus is however $100 more, whilst the screen resolution was a lot more impressive on the Huawei, but that could just be the Jazz screensaver. This shows that Huawei is not just the Android player, with the P7 and Mate7, Huawei is now the contender that makes Google sweat. Like Apple, Google could have saved themselves a lot of hassle by not skimping on resources, which could have pulled the customers in like a magnet, now in the margins they will see customers slip through their fingers, which will be an unsettling feeling for whomever misses out on commission.

All this as the providers supported exploitation; we see that the massive losses are now showing as the margins are not worth considering for some. The same could be said for the upcoming Samsung S6, it looks amazing, but as they fix one issue by being a 4Gb RAM player, they waste it on bringing a 32Gb version, which might suffice for now, but what in 2 years? Getting the 64Gb version makes sense, but then it becomes a $1240 millstone around your neck. So as I see it, Huawei is the budget choice, which still gives you a top of the line contender, iPhone and Nexus are slowly pricing themselves away by offering the entry option, which is a joke as we see space used.

All this now links back to the issue of phone theft and the inactions of Ofcom. If stolen bandwidth and phone time is all there is, than you are gravely mistaken, these smartphones are not just a connection, they are a link to your diary, your details, your credit, your access and your future. Soon, we will see that organised crime will not just call their mommy in Samarkand, Zhengzou, Davao or Vung Tao. Soon they will transfer your data and access and see what else is under the hood. That is the added danger of the smartphone, because you had one more mail to read, one more file to see or one more connection to make, all that in applications that were never closed and accessed be merely starting the application. You see, what we ‘need’ to have, came first, and we all seem to forget the consequences of such choices. Ofcom cannot be held responsible for this, but they should have set up several parameters a long time ago, as they remained inactive in the phone charges issue, they also did little to nothing into changing certain parameters in connection monitoring and non-repudiation, all that left to whomever else, that is the danger we will face in 2015 and 2016. Unless there is a drastic event that shakes up the media, there is every indication that nothing will be done until it is too late.

History taught us that there is nothing as effective as taking away someone’s cushy job to make the next person consider showing their teeth from day one, but that might just be my imagination.

 

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