Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Ding ding goes the alarm clock

The Guardian is waking us up. I was already awake as I have mentioned this danger close to two years ago; actually I gave rise to the risk even before anyone had heard of Cambridge Analytica. As we see the quote: “The government is launching an inquiry into the use of personal data to set individual prices for holidays, cars and household goods, amid rising fears of a consumer rip-off” from the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/04/inquiry-personal-data-dynamic-pricing-consumer-fairness). You see, the issue is a lot larger and people are just not waking up to this danger. They all think that it isn’t really an issue, or that it will not hit them. Well, think again, it is already hitting you and the field of impact is growing on a nearly daily basis.

Setting the stage

The quote goes way beyond “Philip Hammond, has asked a panel of experts led by Jason Furman, a former adviser to Barack Obama, to examine competition in the digital economy, including how machine learning and algorithms are used to set prices and whether firms could gang up to disadvantage consumers“. You see, the large issues are actually the ones that are known in advance. World Business Forum, Forbes Women’s Summit, B2B Marketing Forum, E3, ComiCon, Call Center Week and so on. Some of these places are not merely known in advance, some will go to known places like Viva Las Vegas, so the impact is not as large as one would think, although an additional 2500 hotel rooms is still an impact. No, it is the other stuff, the IP World Summit – Amsterdam, the London Law Expo 2018. Niche markets where we think that it is merely a business venture and the expenses will not be noticed, that is where the coin is found and the impact and influence is felt over a larger group.

Even as it is currently states as ‘could’, the quote “when you think about posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you probably don’t consider how it could affect your insurance. The truth is, social media could very well become a standard part of the insurance underwriting process in the not too distant future“, I personally believe that it is already impacting people. The example in the US Insurance agent is: ‘Taking pictures while driving and uploading them to social media could result in having your policy non-renewed based on the implication that you are a distracted driver‘, Yet in Ireland alone we see ‘14,000 drivers caught on their phones in 2017 – and some were posing for selfies‘. Now consider that you must comply with: “If you received a fixed penalty notice for a road traffic offence, you will need to disclose this to motor insurance providers for five years if you were 18 or over at the time“, at this point your premium goes up by a fair bit, it is something that can often be checked and even those not convicted can be hit with an increase, you have become a risk. In addition, tat lovely new phone you have is also the issue as ‘Why social media posts could invalidate your home insurance‘. Here it is not merely what you do, but where you were. So as we see: “Insurers are increasingly rejecting claims made by customers whose houses have been burgled while on holiday if they have shared the fact that they are away from home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram“. Yet, this is the small stuff. Life insurances are seen harsher. Insurance companies are getting more and more savvy in analysing photos online. You see, that one cigarette, or even a cigar to celebrate a birth has impact. The policy is: ‘if you smoke at all, you are considered a smoker and your rates will be higher‘, it gets to be worse. If you claimed that you were a non-smoker and the insurance company can find two pics of you smoking, you could be regarded as fraudulent and it nullifies your life insurance, so as you get planted six foot deep at some grassy field, whomever you left behind ends up not getting a penny. Decades of premiums paid down the drain. This is the direct and clear stuff, yet in that stage, we see the impact of fees, premiums and algorithms. The story takes a deep turn for the worse there.

The real and the not so real stage

Consider that every convention is online, every events is documented. Instead of the airlines setting the stage of the need for an additional plane in advance, they do that and increase the price of the fee. We might think that it is normal when we see: “The average cost of a flight out of the UK to all destinations between the 16th and 31st of December is 12 per cent higher on the big day itself“, yet if you knew this a year in advance, the increase is a little less normal, even as we understand that the bulk wants to get there on that day, now consider that this is applied to a stage where it is not thousands, but hundreds more and the issue is not Christmas, but an event in New Jersey, or a convention in Budapest. Yet, this is still merely the top of the iceberg. What if it is not a flight, but an item you desperately need to buy online? Not some Ubermeal, but the version of ‘John Lewis to launch £10,000 ‘private shopping’ service‘, a service where you always pay premium. Now, we might not care as these people are wealthy and they will not mind paying a few extra £’s on the dollar. Yet, that model will also impact the general population, it’s merely the stage as something becomes a ‘phase’ we all want it, most people tend to be sheep, and there is a loaded part here. Is it wrong for a place like John Lewis to maximise on their stock? It is merely ‘whether firms could gang up to disadvantage consumers‘, is that still the case? The point is that this is becoming a grey area. Even as we see the customer care part of: ‘another new service is called the Shopping List, under which a member of John Lewis’s team can be booked free of charge to gather either a specific basket of items or to help pick out gifts for specific people‘. The data behind it can become much more lucrative. Even as we see the battering that many of these stores have taken, and we are notified (again) of ‘It has also spent millions of pounds on improving its home delivery infrastructure and IT systems to cater to demand for online shopping‘. That data can prove to be invaluable setting the next stage in all this and the question is not merely what the watchdog is saying it is, but the underlying part becomes, if this is about staying afloat, about maximising the revenue, is there a case of ‘disadvantage consumers‘, or are we seeing the data impact of optional fraudulent claims of healthcare benefits whilst the subscriber was not completely honest on the application form. Even as I agree that the people need to wake up, even as I have stated that the people are in a vice, part of it is done to themselves. Now, I am less inclined to stand on the side of the insurance on the burgled house whilst doing the dance party 24:7 on Ibiza. It was not the person; it was the burglar in all this that is at fault. Yet the opposite that ‘telling’ a person that a house is safe and unguarded is still a dangerous step and even as we are so shareable in some ways, we need to see that this data is now a hazard to the quality of our lives. The question is more ‘what should you never do‘ and not ‘did you set yourself up to be the disadvantaged consumer?‘ We all know that Christmas presents are the best bought two days after Christmas, so even as we know that the price is higher on December 24th; can we blame the seller for charging 110% 21-24 December, knowing he will try to sell it as 65% on December 27-30? We forget on the stage that we set ourselves. On a rainy day an umbrella might optionally be £1 more expensive, yet is this data we are looking at, or can we claim that we know that we are knowingly selling to aquaphobes that day? The second is a clear stage of ‘disadvantage consumers‘. This stage is moving as dashboards can be changed in every way. You see if the answer does not match, you merely change the question which is politics 101. Data is actually almost the same, it is not on the results; it is now the population that makes the result. It is the grasp of an Old Dutch joke: “We see the impact where mothers are no longer working in families with 2.4 children“, so basically a pregnant woman with 2 children is unlikely seek employment, or to be employed; it is the same yet presented completely different. And when you consider the stage (the 70’s) is behind that, we see that this stage has merely matured in both the application of the spoken word, as well as the stage of presented facts. If we see that a number is, or that a factor applies, we automatically assume certain stages. As it is about a gender, or a location, yet it is still a weighted part, a presented population (the people that were part of the equation) and this field is growing exponentially. Consider that Google is adding close to a million facts every hour (highly speculative), this ensures not merely what is known about a person; it also makes its advertisement drive more efficient. Google’s non advertisement share grew by 14% in the last year. The other side, its advertising accounted for a total of 111 billion U.S. dollars. To make this grow, data granularity becomes increasingly important and even as Google does not allow individual access to data, the fact that some facts can be found, means that more and more will be known about everyone and a lot of it through our own actions. Selfies, Geo-tagging, and other parts are making identification and classification happen in all this. Even as we push forward in one direction, we give it away in another. It does not matter whether we move in Google Ads, or push towards Amazon Ads. We give away our details and we think that what one sees, none of the others see it, it is that part that is the folly, whatever we share online is almost instantly known to everyone and machine learning is merely making the exchange (read: collecting) of our details more efficient.

How we get charged

Yes the alarm clock needs to go ding dong, preferably at 100db so that you actually wake up. Even as it was a little over 6 months ago, Miles Brignall gave us: “Next time your car insurance renewal comes through, don’t fall into the trap of describing yourself as unemployed if, for example, you are retired, a student or a housewife/house husband. If you do, you could end up paying 50% more“, a comparison where they merely changed recorded occupation, now consider how up to date your LinkedIn account is. Do you still think that it will not matter your case? When you are confronted with: “MoneySuperMarket says students and retired people who mistakenly describe themselves as “unemployed” have the most to lose – potentially up to £700 a year in the worst cases. Retirees who do the same may have to cough up an additional 37%, it found.” Now we see the danger, this is not maximised ‘retail effort’ this is clearly a stage of ‘disadvantage consumers‘ and it came from an optional direction we never considered, because if LinkedIn is the one place where we can get a new job, how dangerous should their system be regarded when our cost of living could be hit by an additional 50%? And this is not via Hacked Data, this is you the optional consumer and in need of services being as visible as possible, a part you never expected is now affecting you in other ways too.

I have always believed that LinkedIn is a massive force for good, yet others have found an alternative use of that and with hundreds of thousands facing an optional £250 a year extra; we now have merely one side that starts amounting to some serious cash. So when you tell me who ignores such serious levels of cash, I will at that point introduce you to a liar. It is that simple in this day and age, machine learning is merely changing the threshold of you paying extra. It is a great benefit, but in some hands it will be their revenue benefit, and takes your cost of living through the roof.

Yet the question for me remains that even as I believe such a watchdog to be essential, there is a question on how effective they will be at the end of the day, because when the conversation degrades to a ‘he claimed‘, whilst ‘he gave in writing‘ against ‘he posted freely online‘, to the opposition trying to make a ‘disadvantage consumers‘ case, we will end up seeing a case that is unlikely to ever be won.

 

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Fruity tech sides ignored

We have seen plenty of events in the last few days, some we will side one way, and the next the other way. some of these issues are not black and white, they are grey at best and we can no longer decide which shade of grey we are looking at, even less decide if there are 50 shades of them. We see places like the Sydney Morning Herald give us: ‘Facebook is turning into an Apple lookalike‘, whilst CNBC gives us: “Facebook’s revenue miss means more ads could flood user timelines“. I believe that this goes beyond a mere notion of ‘Facebook growth slows as Zuckerberg says developed countries are saturated‘, which we get from the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/30/facebook-quarterly-report-revenue-growth). Yes there definitely is saturation, but there is also a growing resentment from the users themselves. You see, Facebook is no longer about the users, it is no longer about what we want, Facebook is about telling us what we want and the resentment group is starting to grow, perhaps soon enough on an exponential scale. This is what I would call the precursor to collapse. Facebook did this to its self and that is not even considering the Cambridge Analytica element in the equation. When I start Facebook I want to see my timeline as a timeline, I need it chronologically as I have friends and family all over the world, so time zones are important here. Yet every time I start Facebook on desktop or mobile, it resorts to what gets the most visibility, it is about the most interactions hoping that it will lead to more engagement, but that is now more and more less likely to be the case as users have evolved. They know what to look for and when to look. Facebook is about traffic pressure and does not seem to care on what the users want and that saturated group is starting to look for other places where they can get what they need. It ends up not being good news for Facebook and they are hurting themselves more and more by not considering their users and placing them first, they place traffic pressures for the need of enhanced advertisement first and the people are now backing away.

So when the Guardian treats us to: “Zuckerberg cautioned that revenue could slow in the future“, I merely see the truth as it should be which is “Zuckerberg should be cautioning us that revenue will slow in the foreseeable future“, they are not the same.

And even as we are told: “Last week, the company announced that the war room team had detected and deleted 82 pages, groups, and accounts, all found to be part of an Iranian disinformation campaign targeting voters in the US and UK” it seems merely the top of the iceberg and even as I have no real notion of what they think is a war room, but there are doubts on what Facebook thinks it is and what it actually should be from a few directions.

To continue that it would seem important that I use the quotes from last May when Bloomberg gave us: “At the end of April, Al-Ahed’s website linked to an Arabic Facebook page with more than 33,000 followers. Content on the page included a video of masked snipers targeting Israeli soldiers. Another Al-Ahed Facebook page had more than 47,000 followers, and one in English had 5,000. Facebook’s policies prohibit material that supports or advances terrorism. The company’s definition of the term, published last month for the first time, includes a ban on nongovernmental organizations that use violence to achieve political, religious, or ideological aims. It specifies that such groups include religious extremists, white supremacists, and militant environmental groups. Facebook also says content that violates its policies is “not allowed” on the site.

Now consider this site (at https://www.memri.org/reports/hizbullah-reveals-drones-and-missile-museum-jihadi-tourism-south-lebanon), whilst we see: “In August 2018, for the first time, Hizbullah revealed drones and the short-range 75-kilometer Khaibar missile that it used during the July 2006 war with Israel. These are on display as part of a new exhibition held at the organization’s “Museum for Jihadi Tourism” (also known as the “Mleeta Tourist Landmark”) in Mleeta, South Lebanon, to mark 12 years since the war. Reports about these new exhibits and others were published in various Hizbullah media“, also consider “the head of Hizbullah’s media department, ‘Ali Daher, told the organization’s news website Al-‘Ahed that, until recently, the museum had displayed only old-generation drones, but now drones of several generations, which can carry out a variety of missions, are on display. The report stated that Hizbullah has a fleet of advanced drones stamped with the emblem of the organization’s “aerial force,” which first came into operational use during the July 2006 war“. That place also shows missiles used on targets last year (‘liberating’ Al-Juroud in 2017). So in this my short and direct message to Mark Zuckerberg is (as diplomatically as I could presently possibly muster): ‘Do you have a fucking clue what you and your war room are NOT achieving?‘ You see the Memri.org group has over one hundred and seventy eight thousand followers on Facebook mind you! As martyrs are ‘heralded’ and optionally ‘recruited’ via a non-profit organisation there is no issue? Who exactly are they effing kidding here?

Now we must be careful, as MEMRI also gives us: “Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS) 2018 Manama Dialogue, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said: “Israel is one of the countries in the region… Maybe it is time that Israel had the same privileges and duties as other countries.” Bin Abdullah said that the Torah and the Israelite prophets emerged in the Middle East and that there had even been Jews in Medina. He stated that improved relations between Israel and its neighbours can be accomplished“, which could be seen as a monumental step, yet there is still an issue. I will agree that the shades of grey become increasingly hazardous for everyone here, so painting with one brush will not bode well for everyone, yet Yesterday they also gave us: ‘Palestinian Columnist In Qatari Daily Calls For Armed Struggle Against Israel‘, which can be read (happily or not) on Facebook at this very moment (I did just so roughly 221 seconds ago). So there is a lot on Facebook that is out of whack. And with “He called on Fatah to take up arms, and on Hamas to expand its struggle against Israel to the West Bank and the Palestinian diaspora” we can see how roughly 178,633 followers were kept up to date (optionally picking up arms against the state of Israel) less than 24 hours ago. It seems to me that Facebook is mopping the floor and forgot to shut off the water tap before commencing the mopping, so we can see that this is going anywhere ever, and in that process they are going nowhere anytime soon. How is that for recognition? You Markie Mark Zuckerberg!

Oh and by the way Mark, feel free to reward me for bringing this to your attention with a 4.2 GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 27″ iMac 3TB and a new iPad Pro Cellular and Wi-Fi 1TB (12.9 Inch) with Keyboard and pen (preferably both with Apple Care). I mean let’s face it; you just had a sweet deal of 128 Million dollars by selling 5 million shares just in time. There is nothing like spreading the wealth (or at least recognise the fact that you have become a little lost for now).

You see, being fruity is all good and fine, yet when you neglect the need of your users the game changes. You will merely be feeling the pressures of less and less forward momentum as you neglected their direct desires and their indirect needs and this group is actually increasing so much faster than you can imagine. With every semester as students are connecting through international exchange programs, at that point their time line need changes as well, because not every exchange student goes to MIT, Stanford or Berkeley. Some will go to the Luleå University of Technology (the Swedish version of MIT) where we see only 75,000 in the entire city, or perhaps Örebro University, a place you might not know, it merely has 107,000 people living there, yet Örebro University has a Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences that is ahead of the curve by a comfortable space. In addition, Örebro University is in the lower part of the top 2% of all the universities on the planet. So whilst you, Mark Zuckerberg, you seem to be focussing on the 2 billion daily users. You are seemingly trying to build engagement pressure. You will of course fail as you are also (seemingly) forgetting that these 2 billion users all staged in segments to some degree and in that you seemingly forgot the (roughly) 5,324,883 niche groups that are a large chunk of Facebook as a whole. So whilst you focus on a net that captures all the people, the mazes of that net are getting too large and you will start to lose all the sardines, after which you will lose the herrings, then the eels, and so on. I hope that you get the idea of the danger you have put Facebook in. You have been so upset with a net that captures all the fish that you completely forgot on why the fish were there in the first place. It was not just a new deep blue sea, it was a comfortable place for fish and as you have been removing that part, you will see the shoals swim away. There is logic referring to fish. You see when we see “Any group of fish that stays together for social reasons is said to be shoaling, and if the shoal is swimming in the same direction together, it is schooling. About one quarter of fish shoal all their lives, and about one half of fish shoal for part of their lives.” In this TJ Pitcher gave us an article in 1992 on the behaviour of Teleost Fishes; it is on Page 363 if you are really curious. So whilst we concentrate on a net capturing them, your teams forgot to focus on the reason that they were there. Most for union, some for connection, some for protection and some just to swim and all these niche groups are the reasons for these fishes to remain together, yet some shoals unite and are what is seen as ‘about one half of fish shoal for part of their lives‘, yet they will move from shoal to shoal and that is where these niche markets become increasingly important. Google+ figured that part of the equation out within the first 30 days, so as you are placing pressure on your 2 billion users, you forgot all about the basics and you could be losing a lot more faster and sooner than you think and that is where my prediction “Zuckerberg should be cautioning us that revenue will slow in the foreseeable future” becomes more than a reality, it will be optional prophecy and it could have been avoided a long time ago. It almost feels like me and Mark Zuckerberg are opposites to some degree (and in some ways, especially financially) not the greatest place for me to be, but I believe in my path, that is how I roll.

Naval Extremism

Let’s take a look at an extremely fictive setting that is based on the truth, so as the story begins, a story I wrote and thought up myself mind you: “There is always an upbeat path in looking at ‘new’ technology. In the age of now, as I got bored, the need for entertainment was nigh and highly needed. So as I got the details on the USS Pennsylvania (via a documentary), my mind went racing. I always had a soft spot for Submarines. Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in Operation Petticoat might have been the first starting that interest; they were in the end not the only inspiration. There was the Hunt for Red October on the CBM Amiga (as well as the silver screen with Sean Connery). It is especially interesting to see the development of submarines from WW2 onwards. So as I looked at my initial solution to remove the Iranian navy from every equation, I decided to think through on how a submarine could be used to deploy such solutions. It is not a hard task and it seems applicable to do so, so it was not really a challenge. Then I got the idea to apply my solution in another way. The technology of the fibre torpedo gave me the idea, not to blow up a submarine, but to incapacitate it. The only problem at present is that the solution will not work on a submarine at full speed, so it is basically not a solution (yet). Now my mind focusses on solving problems and I like that. It does not matter what kind of puzzle it is. The less I know, the more I can learn; it is applied engineering and design in one cool patent package. At this time my engineering knob is 99% active and likely merely 1% efficient; I look at the video and remember the Russian VA-111 Shkval, a torpedo that goes like a bat out of hell (200 knots) at whatever they need to hit. The fact that this puppy can be nuclear is not a good thing for any submarine to meet, so I look at this puzzle and wonder how to make it less efficient. It takes an hour to come up with the craziest idea and I do not expect it to work because someone in any navy would have had that idea as well, or so I would believe. Yet what if no one had ever looked at this solution? Now consider that the Russian VA-111 Shkval uses GOLIS autonomous inertial guidance, giving me the idea in the first place , as we are confronted with the stage of Go-Onto-Location-in-Space, we see that this has the flaw of requiring a stationary or near-stationary target, and in a war condition a submarine getting fired on is like a virgin shouting that she is in heat, if she stays stationary she is going to get screwed, so movement is pretty essential at this point. This is where I had the craziest idea of releasing a cylinder behind the submarine, roughly 500 KG with copper and liquid (preferably solid) Oxygen (or Nitrogen) and let pressure blow it apart (nothing heat related), the water around it would freeze and the copper would likely transfer it stronger as well as making the object more solid, solid enough for the lump to take the hit and not the submarine. OK, it is the craziest idea and it might not ever work, yet it took me less than 30 minutes to come up with the idea after watching one History channel episode on the USS Pennsylvania” Now we go back to Facebook and we see a whole range of iterations ignored by the makers themselves. They have been so growth oriented that they forgot all about quality orientation, a part that is my only conclusion as we see the failings in the app and desktop side of the matter. It goes further as we see the evolution of people now getting judged on their social media profile, a stage where Facebook is completely ignoring the two sides in every person (a fun and a work related side), yet the people are not tailored to, and that is seen as more and more young new worker bees are leaving Facebook unattended to a bigger degree (and for longer times) and they are focusing more on LinkedIn and optionally learning that Twitter has what they need to a much better degree. All niches falling away, all niches selling other waters that look, feel and sense like the other deep blue sea, the deep blue sea they once thought they were in. A staged exit for all the people looking for what they need, for what they desire whilst Facebook has been focussing on what they thought their subscribers wanted and desired for the benefit of the selling of ads that the bank account of Mark Zuckerberg (et al) required, all versions of perceived and proclaimed truths whilst the fish in the Facebook database no longer experience it to be.

For a better term, Facebook lost the Googlyness it once heralded and there are sharks around who desperately needs to trim Facebook, because the strength is had with 2 billion, the strength of having a true global opinion customer base was just too scary for some of the political players and the sharks are circling the Facebook net that is showing more and more weakness at present. It is a risk of catering to the goals that were outside of the perception of the fish in the net. Fruity and techie can remain yummy for all the players, yet it will require a massive adjustment. When you consider that both Sony and Microsoft made claims in 2011/2012 on what was to come and that never really happened to the degree that the people might have hoped for. Now also consider that Facebook has 2 billion users and that other sources give us that more than 1.2 billion people are playing games worldwide, part of them is a group of 700 million who play online games. When you realise that, and you see that Facebook only touched on that to the smallest of degrees, when you realise that gaming social media is as isolated as it gets, how many balls did Mark Zuckerberg drop? And to be clear I am not talking about the two he should have on a biological level. I have watched on a massive oversight, one of the biggest niches on the planet.

It is a stage where 16% of the entire planet plays games, optionally up to 60% of all Facebook users. When we realise that, what other avenues is Facebook not investigating? Like the shoals of fish, gamers are part of several flocks, moving from flock to flock, yet staying in that same part of the ocean, how long until Facebook realises that the fish they had moved to another ocean? If gaming brings comfort to so many people, is it not weird that Facebook is not trying to appease such a large title dedicated group? Once we realise that we are all seeking a place of comfort where we can be ourselves, where we can unwind, does the failure of the current version of Facebook still makes sense to too many? Have we become complacent or are we merely too lazy to look around for the players that actually are customer engagement oriented?

You tell me!

 

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Brother, can you spare a meal?

Again Facebook makes the headlines, but now for a very different reason in a very different direction. You see, initially one would want to call council member John McAlister an idiot, but he is not. We want to call him all kinds of names, but he is none of those. He is an elected official and he does try to set the stage for the small businesses in his region, all commendable I have to add. Yet, what makes me act out?

You see, I did enjoy 5 star lunches (aka the Google kitchen) for a year. To work, to sit down have an amazing meal and then go back to work, it was for a year an absolute slice of heaven. So when I see that apparently the same lifestyle is offered at Facebook, I rejoice in my choice to enter the high tech workforce in 1988. So when I see “Free food has long been a perk of Silicon Valley. On the campuses of Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, employees have access to high-end restaurants with pizza ovens, sushi counters, freshly baked pastries and ice cream“, I say YAY! It all stops when we see “technology companies come under increasing pressure to deliver more value to the communities they inhabit, cities are clamping down on campus cafeterias in an attempt to support local restaurants“, I am not happy, but let’s face it, in the end council member John McAlister had a job to do and making me happy was not on the charter. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/25/facebook-free-lunch-banned-silicon-valley-restaurants) gives us more, yet what it does not give us is what I will now impose on you, even though you likely already know. You have to go through this on a regular basis. We all normally get an hour to have lunch, sometimes merely half an hour or 45 minutes, bosses have different settings. So in that time frame, you have to rush to the place, get in line and order food. It is often not that cheap either. So in the luxurious setting of an hour 15-20 minutes are gone and the meal is not served yet. Now, you have to eat, get back, and go to the bathroom, and brush teeth; so you get almost a whole 600 seconds to devour your lunch. So the setting from having almost 2700 seconds to enjoy lunch a mere 600 were left. That is the reality for an employee. This is how McDonalds, Wimpy, Wendy and Burger King got to be so big. So is John McAlister about the smaller restaurants or about the three McDonald’s in Mountain View? I am not accusing John or implying anything. I am merely asking. The article also gives us “The rules for Facebook’s new office are designed to encourage the thousands of tech workers to spend some money in and integrate with the local community, rather than arriving in a bus each day and never leaving the building“, I have nothing against that. It might be a good idea to let the busses leave an hour later, giving rise to take a walk and to look around in the local sector, all fine by me. Yet that one hour, my lunch, I would want to get the best out of that hour and apart from any lunch places right in front of the building, there would be the additional lost time and especially the anxiety and frustration when we need to wait for our food, yet there are other options. In Sweden many places had resorted to buffet solutions. Many of them quite outstanding, good value for money too. I myself would kill for an amazing Pizza (5 cheeses with loads of Oregano) and perhaps there is just that in Mountain View. I do like the response that we see from Gwyneth Borden, the executive director of Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a trade group for restaurants in the city. When we see: ““This is not a prohibition on catering or providing free food,” said Borden, noting that companies could instead give staff vouchers to buy food from local businesses” we like the idea and we are all likely to be in favour of it all, yet the issue is not the food, it is the time allotted, any more time given and we go home later. Some of these working minions decided to get married and get creative (aka children). So the delay of getting home also implies less time with the family. The lunchrooms in the building fix all that. It is not the food (optionally is it about the food quality loss), it is about time and time is not merely money, it represents quality of lunchtime. That is the part that matters and until that gets dealt with, the new places, or as we see it “the measure would alter city planning laws to ban workplace cafeterias in any new developments, but would not be retroactive“, which implies that in regards to new growth John McAlister cut himself in the fingers on that one.

In addition, as we see the change also affects workers. We see this in: “The ban on having a free cafeteria in the Mountain View complex could mean losing well-paid jobs to minimum-wage jobs in nearby restaurants“, it does not change my mind on this, the setting from McAlister is optionally noble, but the backwash is drowning whatever good he is trying to put in place, especially when you fidget with someone’s available time, there was no way to win this and in the end, it merely sets himself up for replacement in 2021 when his number is up. In the end, when we see that the placement of Facebook that moves into The Village at San Antonio Center, a place that was already a Mall in the first place.

So, in regard to the ban, Ian Lewis, the research director at the labour union Unite Here seems to have the proper view. In the end, not only will the restaurants miss out, the setting offers the play where in the end, if this setting moves forward that the McDonalds on 600 Showers Dr, Mountain View, CA 94040, USA might become the only big winner in that end, even as Paul Martin’s American Grill is one third the distance. In the end lunch is about time and John McAlister decided to crunch down on the time that Facebook staffers get to have. Overall it was not merely wrong, it was a miscalculation, someone whispered in his ear and it was the wrong whisper. I do not deny that there is a chance that restaurants miss out, but Facebook is in the middle of a large mall; there is a cinema, a GameStop (an essential need in my life), it even has the one place many of us will try to avoid 24:7 (aka the Veggie Grill).

Outside of the working hours, there seems to be plenty to do, enough to hitch a ride to the office to work Saturday morning and take the afternoon to relax and perhaps try and get some decent clothes (in light of the Facebook 15 expression), so even as the prices at Paul Martin’s American Grill are by Australian Standards not the cheapest ones (at https://paulmartinsamericangrill.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Dec17_LUNCH_PLUS-2.pdf), the Steakhouse Cobb still seems like an adventure to try and if my main man Paul (to coin a phrase) delivers on the images shown (at https://paulmartinsamericangrill.com/specials/), there is no way I will pass that place up with some regularity, whether I work at Facebook or not, because no matter how good the food looks at Facebook, My Thursday and Friday evening are about seeing a movie and having a few drinks, both require a decent meal, but that is just me. So in the end, in my specific case John McAlister overreacted, or better stated, the ones whispering in his ear did and we can already see the backwash that it could potentially form for anyone else going in that direction, which becomes a loss for Mountain View.

And as the direct vicinity of Facebook offers the needs I have, why would I (in the beginning) look outside of the San Antonio Center? So if Luu Noodle, Sushi 88 & Ramen, PAAG, Pacific Catch en yes, optionally the Veggie Grill too, if they have their act together, they might not have the lunches, but they will have optionally 2,000 additional consumers who need some weekly satisfaction, plenty of places had to make due with a lot less.

Even as we do not deny the setting that Mountain View has, in the end when we tally the setting, the dangers and the opportunities, have the city officials cut themselves in the fingers? I personally believe so, but there is a truth, when it comes to the lunches, the weakness and threat that loss of time offers is just too great against the lack of opportunity that is found outside of places like Facebook and LinkedIn. It merely forces us back to the fast food phase where all the players involved lost (unless you invested in McDonald’s and like minded places), so as stated if some of these places revert to buffet’s they do not need to squander on quality and excellence, they merely need to consider that the lunch market is a very competitive one and time is the biggest currency of all.

 

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It’s called an alarm clock

This all started with the Guardian, they put an article there that connects directly with the last two articles and that is why I decided to take a look. It also directly connects to me with my Data skills and as such I thought it was a good idea to look at it. So the article ‘You aren’t as anonymous as you think‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/anonymous-browsing-data-medical-records-identity-privacy) is not a consideration, it is an absolute truth that goes back to the ages of Windows 3.1. All these users thinking that you cannot be found, and that you are invisible online. That was never a truth. Yes, you can hide, you can deceive people on location, but in the end you leave data behind. So when the article treats me to “Names and other identifying features were removed from the records in an effort to protect individuals’ privacy, but a research team from the University of Melbourne soon discovered that it was simple to re-identify people, and learn about their entire medical history without their consent, by comparing the dataset to other publicly available information, such as reports of celebrities having babies or athletes having surgeries“, I was not at all surprised. If data can be aggregated, to some extent that data can also be reversed. The mere consideration of ‘comparing the dataset to other publicly available information‘ makes it happen. It goes even further when you consider not publicly available data. For example data on those watching a YouTube video, data from supermarkets (loyalty programs) and there are dozens of them. The amount of people who are connected to no less than half a dozen of them is staggering. Now consider the data in places like Facebook and you have a setting to create wires, each wire a person and a system fast enough to extrapolate dozens of wires a second, 85,000 people identified a day. You might think that this is nothing, but this new database is only growing adding more and more public data to it every second. Even if we start now, within a year 31 million people would be identified, categorised and classified. It will grow faster after that, actually the growing of that dataset is only a dozen a second in the first day, it already accelerates soon thereafter and this has been going on for close to a decade at the very least.

The text that follows: “This privacy nightmare is one of many examples of seemingly innocuous, “de-identified” pieces of information being reverse-engineered to expose people’s identities. And it’s only getting worse as people spend more of their lives online, sprinkling digital breadcrumbs that can be traced back to them to violate their privacy in ways they never expected” is true but a little fear mongering in nature. You see, it only matters when you put your life online. I saw this danger and the reality of it well before 2003, so I never allowed for internet banking, EVER!

There were issues with the X.25 protocol for a long time, my bosses then called me crazy, the flaw in the defence computer found in 1981 was ignored, people told me that I had no clue because I was not educated (with two graduates and a master I would oppose that nowadays, but then I could not). So when I saw the presentation recently by Raoul Chiesa (Telecom Security Task Force) I found the pieces that I never had in those days. His quote “We encountered a huge number of breaches on tested infrastructures, usually getting access via the main X.25 link. More than 90% was insecure“, that is the smallest part (here), so today I take my anger out on two Lt’s and a Major then were eager to belittle me and call me dumb whilst removing me from access from a system that I tried to warn them about (I held thus grudge since 1981). At the Dutch Defence Ministry, the payment systems were used to keep track of it all, it was a mere customer support function. It was fun for a month, and then I considered (and tested) the flaw. Even as there was a boss and he had a keyboard with actual keys to unlock certain options (like the keys of a lunchbox), but it was merely a charade. I learned that the system had a flaw. It was possible to get the down and out of every officer in no time, especially if they had loans. There was the flaw, and when I tried to warn someone I was muzzled and send to the basement to clean out the archives (which gave me access to a lot more). So when we see the data setting, there is a lot more going on because if someone figured out the how to get into one system, they can get into a lot more systems.

In this specific case I learned that the system was only for those following the menu rules. Yet when you press ‘SYS REQ‘ you get a blank screen, even as this was not new, knowing that one program gets you into the main screen, the people were able to get into ANY part because security was not monitored to the extent it needed to be (good old IBM), so even as you get into the system, by entering “MDET 2710” I got a new blank screen, but now with the cursor almost in the middle, I have found the loans system. So by entering the registration numbers of soldiers, when there was a loan, there would be numbers and now there is an issue, because when you know there are debts, there are issues and weaknesses. I always suspected that this was how some officers had been gotten to, but I was the idiot and quickly send away.

Now consider the fact that X.25 is still in use, that there is still a use for it (attached document) and now consider that page 19 gives the Australian defence prefixes. Now also consider that prefixes are not that secret. Now switch to page 40, where we see the assessment of Raoul telling us (unverified) that 1% of the top 1000 companies are ‘not penetrable‘, this now gives us that the top 990 companies that still have X.25 links are indeed optional data sifts.

It is that bad!

Getting back to the article we see the setting where we are confronted with “In later work, Sweeney showed that 87% of the population of the United States could be uniquely identified by their date of birth, gender and five-digit zip codes“, depending on the country it can get a lot worse sooner. You see, the Netherlands has a well-designed postcode (very postman friendly) so the 4 letter code gets you to the near location, the two letters that follows can get you to within a 10 house distance; that alone could offer the setting of identification sooner. But the clarity should be there, a zip code and a birthdate is all you need. Now, tell me how often have you filled in some voucher for a great deal and you got a massive discount? Did it include your zip code? Well, the credit card will most likely have sealed the deal uniquely identifying you to an amazing offer and from there you are now the direct target for targeted marketing and other offers. This does not need to be a bad thing, because the more 40% discounts you get, the better your quality of life looks, yet now that it is linked to a bank card or credit card also means that optionally EVRYTHING purchased after that can be linked to you too, now we get a spending pattern, we get products and services you need and want, giving those offering it a setting where they can optimise how much you get to spend (by varying services and costs). This also links to “Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational privacy researcher, showed how the vast majority of the population can be identified from the behavioural patterns revealed by location data from mobile phones. By analysing a mobile phone database of the approximate locations (based on the nearest cell tower) of 1.5 million people over 15 months (with no other identifying information) it was possible to uniquely identify 95% of the people with just four data points of places and times. About 50% could be identified from just two points“, there we get the next tier, because any additional tier gets the owner more clarity on you as a person and what you aim for (what you desire). Where you are, when you were there and why you went there. Now, a lot of this is still a stretch, because you go to work and you lunch and shop around the office to spare time. Yet that is not a given in the weekend is it and that data set grows and grows.

You might wonder why this matters.

It might not for you, you might not notice but having the needs of 3 million people in London mapped also implies where the good deals are and where true profit can be found. London is perhaps the best evidence as it is so choc-a-block full. So when you are interested in setting up a building anywhere in London is a good place, yet when you know where the spending sprees happen, you can also tell where they are much lower and the latter is the place you do not want to build. It could set the profit margin up by close to 10%, not merely in value, but by starting somewhere and the plots are sold before the building is finished, that is a hell of a lot o margin to play with. The other side is equally happening. Consider that all your activities are known, how much is a health insurer willing to pay for access? Evidence that shows a person to be a 15% larger risk factor, what will his or her premium be like in the end? Consider: ‘Insurers have to tell you why they’ve ended your coverage‘, so we accept that, but what are the chances that we get to hear the truth? They might have told you that you falsely claimed that you were a non-smoker, but is that actually the real reason?

The next quote is a little silly, but it was Apples finest hour, so I cannot deprive you of it: “Even if location data doesn’t reveal an individual’s identity, it can still put groups of people at risk, she explained. A public map released by the fitness app Strava, for example, inadvertently became a national security risk as it revealed the location and movements of people in secretive military bases“. Yes that is one option, it was a certain lack of common cyber sense from the military side of things, but not the worst, when you combine the X.25 issue, sniffers and military locations, it becomes easier to identify logistical targets, yet that is not the issue, it is the data that matters. When you figure out what goes where, you get the setting that data in transit is no longer as secure as we once thought it was, so as data is cloned in transit we lose even more. Oracle stated in one of their papers “Enterprises are concerned about the lack of control on the data in the cloud due to on-going data breaches, lawsuits, government/regulatory agencies involvement, the volume of the data being generated by hundreds of applications and the related components“, it is not merely that, it is the factual setting where data is trusted, and too often to what we might consider is the wrong party.

Wired gave us that with: “Like any industry, there are many newcomers that give the reputable cloud solution providers a bad name. These companies are poorly financed, staffed, and resourced. They are traditionally an IT solution provider who has installed some server in a data center and called it a cloud. They are not security experts, and have poor security measures in place“, that is part of the problem, we cannot tell one apart from the other and they are all on LinkedIn trying to grow their business. A valid step to take, but how can we differentiate the wheat from the chaff? That is the first issue already and we haven’t even started to keep data safe. You think that people would employ common cyber sense in keeping safe, but no, the bosses tend to go for the good deals, the ones that are on special and when they get one they let you sort it out after data was transferred, that is the cold reality of corporations.

And when it is set up, there is always one employee stupid enough to think that some mails were specifically for them and when they look at the present it is a mere cool meme, after which they have given access to the outsider, including their cloud account. That is the cold light of day in this. So the alarm clock is not there to wake you up, but to tell you that you have been asleep and things are already moving from bad to worse.

And it is not over; the large companies are still at it. Consider the headline ‘Apple Rebuilding Maps App, Hopes to Outperform Google‘, you would think that they would give up and merely use Google Maps, but the reality is that the data coming from 800 million iPhone users is just too much not to get. The business intelligence value alone goes deep into the billions and there we see it, we will connect to one or the other, but we will connect and let others collect data on activities and events, completing the picture of every unique user that is online. The fact is that if it all was secure it would not be a big thing, but there are two flaws in that thinking. The first is that free services are never free, Apple is not wasting a billion dollars on a solution that is merely a free service, for every million invested, they expect between 3 and 4 million in return. The second flaw is that whilst you think that apps are secure, they are not. Let’s be fair, most merely want to write a cool app that has fans and makes them some coins, 99% of these developers are all like that and that is a good thing, but when the system is flawed, issues happen and we are caught in the middle, whilst all our details go everywhere. Some do it intentionally through Facebook, some do it without knowing what they are doing, they are introduced to the impact down the line.

That is how it crumbles and the people need to become Data Aware and have a better Common Cyber Sense more and more, because the response ‘It was just on my own computer‘ no longer holds any water when it comes to defending your online actions.

In opposition

There is one part in the article that I do not agree with. It is the part: “One of the failings of privacy law is it pushes too much responsibility on to the consumer in an environment where they are not well-equipped to understand the risks,” said Johnston. “Much more legal responsibility should be pushed on to the custodians [of data, such as governments, researchers and companies].”” I only agree in part, the fact that data is collected needs to be revealed from the start and it is ‘opt in’ only! That means that if the customer disagrees, no data is to be collected ever. Yet many will not like it because the unwary user is the treasure trove they all want. I do not believe that we can allow for the ‘not well-equipped to understand the risks‘, like a car, a plane and a shotgun, usage can be socially fatal and have long lasting considerations.

If you did not want to learn, then do not use it. Additional responsibility is to be placed on the custodians regardless, but leaving the consumer in the country of ‘no man’s land’, in the city of ‘never accountable’ is also no longer acceptable form my point of view. The ‘figuring it out‘ time has gone. The impact is too large to remain on that route and there is enough evidence to show it.

My last ‘disagreement’ is with the end quote: “Privacy is not dead. We need it and we’re going to get there”, it is optimistic and I love it, but it is not very realistic.

In the online world: “Privacy is optionally public domain. Getting somewhere eager is to become a member of the public domain charter and that population already surpassed a billion and still growing every minute“.

 

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Grand Determination to Public Relation

It was given yesterday, but it started earlier, it has been going on for a little while now and some people are just not happy about it all. We see this (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/25/facebook-google-gdpr-complaints-eu-consumer-rights), with the setting ‘Facebook and Google targeted as first GDPR complaints filed‘, they would be the one of the initial companies. It is a surprise that Microsoft didn’t make the first two in all this, so they will likely get a legal awakening coming Monday. When we see “Users have been forced into agreeing new terms of service, says EU consumer rights body”, under such a setting it is even more surprising that Microsoft did not make the cut (for now). So when we see: “the companies have forced users into agreeing to new terms of service; in breach of the requirement in the law that such consent should be freely given. Max Schrems, the chair of Noyb, said: “Facebook has even blocked accounts of users who have not given consent. In the end users only had the choice to delete the account or hit the agree button – that’s not a free choice, it more reminds of a North Korean election process.”“, which is one way of putting it. The GDPR isd a monster comprised of well over 55,000 words, roughly 90 pages. The New York Times (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/opinion/gdpr-europe-data-protection.html) stated it best almost two weeks ago when they gave us “The G.D.P.R. will give Europeans the right to data portability (allowing people, for example, to take their data from one social network to another) and the right not to be subject to decisions based on automated data processing (prohibiting, for example, the use of an algorithm to reject applicants for jobs or loans). Advocates seem to believe that the new law could replace a corporate-controlled internet with a digital democracy. There’s just one problem: No one understands the G.D.P.R.

That is not a good setting, it tends to allow for ambiguity on a much higher level and in light of privacy that has never been a good thing. So when we see “I learned that many scientists and data managers who will be subject to the law find it incomprehensible. They doubted that absolute compliance was even possible” we are introduced to the notion that our goose is truly cooked. The info is at https://www.eugdpr.org/key-changes.html, and when we dig deeper we get small issues like “GDPR makes its applicability very clear – it will apply to the processing of personal data by controllers and processors in the EU, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU or not“, and when we see “Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it” we tend to expect progress and a positive wave, so when we consider Article 21 paragraph 6, where we see: “Where personal data are processed for scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes pursuant to Article 89(1), the data subject, on grounds relating to his or her particular situation, shall have the right to object to processing of personal data concerning him or her, unless the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out for reasons of public interest“, it reflects on Article 89 paragraph 1, now we have ourselves a ballgame. You see, there is plenty of media that fall in that category, there is plenty of ‘Public Interest‘, yet when we take a look at that article 89, we see: “Processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes, shall be subject to appropriate safeguards, in accordance with this Regulation, for the rights and freedoms of the data subject.“, so what exactly are ‘appropriate safeguards‘ and who monitors them, or who decided on what is an appropriate safeguard? We also see “those safeguards shall ensure that technical and organisational measures are in place in particular in order to ensure respect for the principle of data minimisation“, you merely have to look at market research and data manipulation to see that not happening any day soon. Merely setting out demographics and their statistics makes minimisation an issue often enough. We get a partial answer in the final setting “Those measures may include pseudonymisation provided that those purposes can be fulfilled in that manner. Where those purposes can be fulfilled by further processing which does not permit or no longer permits the identification of data subjects, those purposes shall be fulfilled in that manner.” Yet pseudonymisation is not all it is cracked up to be, When we consider the image (at http://theconversation.com/gdpr-ground-zero-for-a-more-trusted-secure-internet-95951), Consider the simple example of the NHS, as a patient is admitted to more than one hospital over a time period, that research is no longer reliable as the same person would end up with multiple Pseudonym numbers, making the process a lot less accurate, OK, I admit ‘a lot less‘ is overstated in this case, yet is that still the case when it is on another subject, like office home travel analyses? What happens when we see royalty cards, membership cards and student card issues? At that point, their anonymity is a lot less guaranteed, more important, we can accept that those firms will bend over backward to do the right thing, yet at what state is anonymisation expected and what is the minimum degree here? Certainly not before the final reports are done, at that point, what happens when the computer gets hacked? What was exactly an adequate safeguard at that point?

Article 22 is even more fun to consider in light of banks. So when we see: “The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her“, when a person applies for a bank loan, a person interacts and enters the data, when that banker gets the results and we no longer see a approved/denied, but a scale and the banker states ‘Under these conditions I do not see a loan to be a viable option for you, I am so sorry to give you this bad news‘, so at what point was it a solely automated decision? Telling the story, or given the story based on a credit score, where is it automated and can that be proven?

But fear not, paragraph 2 gives us “is necessary for entering into, or performance of, a contract between the data subject and a data controller;” like applying for a bank loan for example. So when is it an issue, when you are being profiled for a job? When exactly can that be proven that this is done to yourself? And at what point will we see all companies reverting to the Apple approach? You no longer get a rejection, no! You merely are not the best fit at present time.

Paragraph 2c of that article is even funnier. So when I see the exception “is based on the data subject’s explicit consent“, We cannot offer you the job until you passed certain requirements that forces us to make a few checks, to proceed in the job application, you will have to give your explicit consent. Are you willing to do that at this time? When it is about a job, how many people will say no? I reckon the one extreme case is dopey the dwarf not explicitly consenting to drug testing for all the imaginable reasons.

And in all this, the NY Times is on my side, as we see “the regulation is intentionally ambiguous, representing a series of compromises. It promises to ease restrictions on data flows while allowing citizens to control their personal data, and to spur European economic growth while protecting the right to privacy. It skirts over possible differences between current and future technologies by using broad principles“, I do see a positive point, when this collapses (read: falls over might be a better term), when we see the EU having more and more issues trying to get a global growth the data restrictions could potentially set a level of discrimination for those inside and outside the EU, making it no longer an issue. What do you think happens when EU people get a massive boost of options under LinkedIn and this setting is not allowed on a global scale, how long until we see another channel that remains open and non-ambiguous? I do not know the answer; I am merely posing the question. I don’t think that the GDPR is a bad thing; I merely think that clarity should have been at the core of it all and that is the part that is missing. In the end the NY Times gives us a golden setting, with “we need more research that looks carefully at how personal data is collected and by whom, and how those people make decisions about data protection. Policymakers should use such studies as a basis for developing empirically grounded, practical rules“, that makes perfect sense and in that, we could see the start, there is every chance that we will see a GDPRv2 no later than early 2019, before 5G hits the ground, at that point the GDPR could end up being a charter that is globally accepted, which makes up for all the flaws we see, or the flaws we think we see, at present.

The final part we see in Fortune (at http://fortune.com/2018/05/25/ai-machine-learning-privacy-gdpr/), you see, even as we think we have cornered it with ‘AI Has a Big Privacy Problem and Europe’s New Data Protection Law Is About to Expose It‘, we need to take one step back, it is not about the AI, it is about machine learning, which is not the same thing. With Machine learning it is about big data, see when we realise that “Big data challenges purpose limitation, data minimization and data retention–most people never get rid of it with big data,” said Edwards. “It challenges transparency and the notion of consent, since you can’t consent lawfully without knowing to what purposes you’re consenting… Algorithmic transparency means you can see how the decision is reached, but you can’t with [machine-learning] systems because it’s not rule-based software“, we get the first whiff of “When they collect personal data, companies have to say what it will be used for, and not use it for anything else“, so the criminal will not allow us to keep their personal data, to the system cannot act to create a profile to trap the fraud driven individual as there is no data to learn when fraud is being committed, a real win for organised crime, even if I say so myself. In addition, the statement “If personal data is used to make automated decisions about people, companies must be able to explain the logic behind the decision-making process“, which comes close to a near impossibility. In the age where development of AI and using machine learning to get there, the EU just pushed themselves out of the race as they will not have any data to progress with, how is that for a Monday morning wakeup call?

 

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Yemen, weapons or water lemons?

We see two streams of news; the first is Unicef asking for 250 million to feed the starving children. It is a good cause, a right cause and as they look towards President Trump and his arms sale we see the reference “The comments by Geert Cappelaere, Middle East and North Africa director at the UN children’s fund UNICEF, on Sunday, appeared to mock US President Donald Trump, who last week described billions of dollars in Saudi arms purchases as “peanuts”“. He is right to make the comment as would anyone trying to feed starving children. So as we see “According to the United Nations, the ongoing war has killed more than 10,000 people and wounded more than 40,000. The UN describes Yemen as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world”“, we can conclude that the UN has completely forgotten the mess in Syria and Kurdistan, but leave it to politicians to have a short term memory linked to remember only what they directly and immediately care for. The fact that Yemen is in a bad state is not denied, the fact that this happened as Iran is stopping any resolution to move forward is also a fact.

In addition, we see ‘Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile over Riyadh‘ (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1273566/saudi-arabia), which is one of several sources. So as we see “Saudi air defenses intercepted a ballistic missile over Riyadh late on Sunday, in an apparent Iran-backed Houthi militia attack“, I can definitely predict that things are about to get a hell of a lot worse for Yemen. The additional fact is that this missile as three other ones were manufactured in Iran, so not only is Iran directly involved, the fact that things are escalating remains. You see, it only has to go wrong once. The moment one missile makes it to Riyadh, the moment even one part damages one of the grand mosques, the King Khalid grand mosque or the King Abdullah grand mosque. Do you think that after that any diplomacy will remain? After that they Saudi’s en mass will bomb Yemen into extinction, you better take that part for granted (personal speculation)! After that there will be no diplomacy and all the diplomats will have to reconsider on why there had been no stronger actions against the involvement of Iran.

So even as we were ‘treated’ to ‘Iran urges US, Europe to discontinue support for aggressors in Yemen‘ (at http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/03/25/556503/Foreign-Ministry-Iran-Yemen-statement), we see very little about Iran’s involvement in all this. Moreover, the mere issue that the UN was ‘mulling things over’ in February, whilst no results are in play shows the inactions of too many politicians. So when we get “The Iranian Foreign Ministry described as “very deplorable” the ongoing humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the aggressors have failed to achieve any of their objectives and have only ravaged the impoverished country and committed inhumane crimes there“, my response will be ‘So why don’t you stop shipping missiles to Yemen?‘, that conclusion did not require that much rocket science to begin with. In addition the quote “It emphasized that the Saudi-led coalition’s use of famine and hunger as a tool to exert pressure on the Yemeni people is an inhuman move, which runs counter to international humanitarian law”, can be countered with: ‘teaching the Houthi to target Saudi civilian populations like Riyadh might not have been the best idea either‘, but Iran will not make mention of that part, will they?

Now we get from Al Arabia ‘Iran’s use of Hezbollah Unit 3800 to create a new Hezbollah in Yemen‘ (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2018/03/25/Iran-s-use-of-Hezbollah-Unit-3800-to-create-a-new-Hezbollah-in-Yemen.html). The source here is Tony Duheaume, who has been around for a few decades, although his LinkedIn does not give us any Journalistic degrees, he has been a middle east analyst for close to 4 decades (self-proclaimed), so I’ll let you decide on the weight of his writing. You see, I cannot tell whether he is right or wrong. the two paragraphs I cared about is “The missiles used in these attacks, were believed to have been smuggled into Yemen in parts, and on arrival, operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah had reassembled them, in readiness to launch at Saudi targets. More proof came to light November 7, 2017, when US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, specifically referenced a missile fired by the Houthis in July of the same year to have contained Iranian markings, which were also found on missiles fired in the November attacks. Then once again, on December 19, the Yemeni rebel group targeted the Al-Yamamah Palace in the Saudi capital, and just like the others, the missile was unsuccessful in reaching its target, after being intercepted and shot down by air defences operated by the Royal Saudi Air Defence Forces“, I made similar conclusions late December last year (or was it early this year?). In my view it indicated that Iran has ‘boots on the ground’ in Yemen, also because the Yemeni do not really have the skill levels to target Riyadh (my personal assumption). This is however a far stretch from ‘create a new Hezbollah in Yemen‘, as well as the involvement of ‘use of Hezbollah Unit 3800‘, I would need to see much better evidence confirming that and the article does not bring it out in my conviction. Nobody denies Iran’s involvement and the mere fact that Hezbollah would allow them to be used as a tool is not a stretch, but this accusation is much deeper and the Intel I see does not support it. In support is that when you search ‘Hezbollah 3800‘ Google has merely one hit (the article) and open source intelligence doesn’t give us a whole lot more to go on. This is why I mention the matter, not because it is false or true, but the fact that a lot more exposure is missing gives rise that even if Hezbollah is involved, it is nowhere near the level we saw in that one article, but that might be merely my view on the matter.

What is a given is that as missiles are now shot down close to Riyadh means that this situation will escalate, I am not sure if I feel that it should be opposed. The Houthi decided to target civilian populations, whilst there is supporting evidence that the Houthi hid among populations to continue their spread of terror, their total absence of setting safe zones for civilians, and set the pace for humanitarian support to be given to the Yemeni civilians, especially the children is further evidence still.

The additional need to end it all in Yemen sooner rather than later was seen last Friday when we were introduced to ‘Houthi leader vows to fight with Hezbollah in future war with Israel‘ (at http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/houthis-leader-say-they-will-ally-hezbollah-against-israel-future-war-1044362159). I set that part aside initially as there was an opportunity to slap PwC around (one that failed as they had done nothing wrong on that one instance). Yet the given Houthi language is clear. With “Abdul Malik al-Houthi told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Friday that “our announcement that we are prepared to send fighters in any Israeli war against Lebanon or Palestine, is based on our principles”“, we see their need to escalate on a much larger scale. Now with ‘based on our principles‘, we see enough issues as they have hindered humanitarian aid to children and babies (and their mothers). What is now a given is that their principles were never about resolving anything, it was about their ‘glorious war’ and their hatred of the state of Israel. So even as we see: “Israelis had participated alongside UAE officers in planning some military activities in Yemen“, yet they offer no evidence whatsoever, meaning that they are more like Iran on growing the theatre of war. It is my personal belief that they see the stabilising effect of Saudi Arabia as a threat and that is one of the pinnacles to drive this war further forward because it shows that Iran is not a party that could be trusted, not a party that would genuinely offer true peace and stability. The second lie (or perhaps better stated ‘non-truth’) is “Houthi said that his movement is developing its missiles capacity to enable it to reach long-distance targets “in the deep territories of the enemy. [Our missiles] reached Riyadh and the area of Abu Dhabi… and Volcano-2 missiles reached Yamama Palace in Riyadh, and this was confirmed by the Americans“, so the moment someone can explain to me how any level of research can be done in an active warzone (apart from the lack of development engineers) where there is plenty of evidence that no one there holds the knowledge to even ‘develop’ mere fireworks, it is at that point that we realise that Iran is deeper involved than anyone is reporting and more importantly, the dangers of letting Iran continue this could destabilise the Middle East to a much larger degree, which would end up being a loss for every nation in the Middle East.

the fact that this was concluded with: “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam” should be regarded as evidence that the Houthi’s were always about progressing war and destabilisation, but feel free not to take my word on that, there are plenty of sources confirming my view and the longer these so called diplomats remain in ‘conversation ‘ on all this, the worse it will get for Yemen and the Middle East in general.

 

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A windmill concussion

That was the first thought I had whilst looking at the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/01/eu-facebook-google-youtube-twitter-extremist-content) where Andrus Ansip was staring back at me. So the EU is giving Facebook and Google three months to tackle extremist content. In what relation is that going to be a workable idea? You see, there are dozens of ways to hide and wrongfully classify video and images. To give you an idea of what Mr Ansip is missing, let me give you a few details.

YouTube
300 hours of video is uploaded every minute.
5 billion videos watched per day.
YouTube gets over 30 million visits a day.

Facebook
500+ terabytes of data added each day.
300 million photos per day
2.5 billion pieces of content added each day

This is merely the action of 2 companies. We have not even looked at Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, Qzone, Instagram, LinkedIn, Netlog and several others. The ones I mentioned have over 100,000,000 registered users and there are plenty more of that size. The largest issue is not the mere size, it is that in Common Law any part of Defamation and the defence of dissemination becomes a player in all this, in Australia it is covered in section 32 of the Defamation Act 2005, the UK, the US and pretty much every Common Law nation has its own version of it, so the EU is merely setting the trend of all the social media hubs to move out of the EU and into the UK, which is good for the UK. The European courts cannot just blanket approve this, because it is in its core an attack on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of expression. I agree that this is just insane, but that is how they had set it up for their liberal non-accountable friends and now that it works against them, they want to push the responsibility onto others? Seems a bit weird does it not? So when we see “Digital commissioner Andrus Ansip said: “While several platforms have been removing more illegal content than ever before … we still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens’ security, safety and fundamental rights.”“, my question becomes whether the man has any clue what he is doing. Whilst the EC is hiding behind their own propaganda with “European governments have said that extremist content on the web has influenced lone-wolf attackers who have killed people in several European cities after being radicalised“, it pretty much ignored the reality of it all. When we look to the new-tech (at https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/18/15330042/tumblr-cabana-video-chat-app-announced-launches-ios), where a solution like Cabana allows for video and instructions whilst screen does not show an image of the watchers, but a piece of carton with texts like “مجنون”, “الجن”, “عسل”, “نهر”, “جمل” and “تاجر”. How long until the threshold of ‘extreme video‘ is triggered? How long until the system figures out that the meeting ended 3 weeks ago and that the video had encryption?

It seems to me that Andrus Ansip is on a fool’s errant. An engineering graduate that went into politics and now he is in a place where he is aware but not clued in to the extent he needs to be (OK that was a cruel comparison by me). In addition, I seriously doubt that he has the largest clue on the level of data parsing that such systems require to be, not merely to parse the data but systems like that will raise false flags, even at 0.01% false flags, that means sifting through 50Mb of data sifted through EVERY DAY. And that is not taking into account, framed Gifs, instead of video of JPG, or text, languages and interpreting text as extreme, so there will be language barriers as well. So in all this even with AI and machine learning, you would need to get the links. It becomes even more complex when Facebook or YouTube start receiving 4chan Video URL’s. So when I see “and other internet companies three months to show that they are removing extremist content more rapidly“, I see the first piece of clear evidence that the European Commission has lost control, they have no way of getting some of this done and they have no option to proceed. They have gone into blame mode with the ultimatum: ‘Do this or else‘. They are now going through the issues that the UK faced in the 60’s with Pirate radio. I remember listening to Radio Caroline in the evening, and there were so many more stations. In that regard, the movie The Boat That Rocked is one that Andrus Ansip should watch. He is the Sir Alistair Dormandy, a strict government minister who endeavours to shut down pirate radio stations in all this. A role nicely played by Kenneth Brannagh I might add. The movie shows just how useless the current exercise is. Now, I am all for finding solutions against extremist video, but when you consider that a small player like Heavy.com had an extreme video online for well over a year (I had the link in a previous article), whilst having no more than a few hundred video’s a week and we see this demand. How ludicrous is the exercise we see now?

The problem is not merely the online extremist materials, it is also the setting of when exactly it becomes ‘extremist‘, as well as realising that when it is a link that goes to a ‘dedicated’ chat group the lone wolves avoid all scrutiny and nothing is found until it is much too late, yet the politicians are hiding behind this puppet presentation, because that is what they tend to do.

So when we look at “It also urged the predominantly US-dominated technology sector to adopt a more proactive approach, with automated systems to detect and remove illegal content, something Facebook and Google have been pushing as the most effective way of dealing with the issue. However, the European Digital Rights group described the Commission’s approach as putting internet giants in charge of censoring Europe, saying that only legislation would ensure democratic scrutiny and judicial review“, we see dangers. That is because, ‘automated systems aren’t‘, ‘censoring can’t‘ and ‘democratic scrutiny won’t‘; three basic elemental issues we are confronted with for most of our teenage life and after that too. So there are already three foundational issues with a system that has to deal with more stored data than we have seen in a history spanning 20 years of spam, yet here we see the complication that we need to find the needle in a field full of haystacks and we have no idea which stack to look in, whether the needle is a metal one and how large it is. Anyone coming to you with: ‘a simple automated system is the solution’ has no idea on what a solution is, has no idea how to automate it and has never seen the scope of data in the matter, so good luck with that approach!

So when we are confronted with “The UK government recently unveiled its own AI-powered system for tackling the spread of extremist propaganda online, which it said would be offered to smaller firms that have seen an increase in terrorist use as they seek to avoid action by the biggest US firms“, I see another matter. You see, the issues and options I gave earlier are already circumventing to the larger degree “The technology could stop the majority of Isis videos from reaching the internet by analysing the audio and images of a video file during the uploading process, and rejecting extremist content“, what is stated (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/feb/13/home-office-unveils-ai-program-to-tackle-isis-online-propaganda), until that upload solution is pushed to 100% of all firms, so good luck with that. In equal measure we see “The AI technology has been trained by analysing more than 1,000 Isis videos, automatically detecting 94% of propaganda with a 99.99% success rate” and here I wonder that if ISIS changes its format, and the way it gives the information (another reference to the Heavy.com video), will the solution still work or will the makers need to upgrade their video solution.

They are meaningless whilst chasing our tails in this and even as I agree that a solution is required, we see the internet as an open system where everyone is watching the front door, but when one person enters the building through the window, the solution stops working. So what happens when someone starts making a new codec encoder that has two movies? Remember the old ‘gimmicky‘ multi angle DVD’s? Was that option provided for? how about video in video (picture in picture variant), the problem there is that with new programming frameworks it becomes easier to set the stage into multi-tier productions, not merely encoding, but a two stage decoder where only the receiver can see the message. So the setting of “extremist content on the web has influenced lone-wolf attackers who have killed people in several European cities after being radicalised” is unlikely to be stopped, moreover, there is every chance that they never became a blip on the radar. In that same setting when we see “If the platform were to process 1m randomly selected videos, only 50 would require additional human review“, from the Daily statistics we get that 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute, so in that regard, we get a total of 26 million hours of video to parse, so if every movie was 2 minutes, we get to parse 21 million videos every day and that means over 1000 movies require vetting every day, from merely one provider. Now that seems like an optional solution, yet what if the signal changes? What if the vetting is a much larger problem? Don’t forget it is not merely extremist videos that get flagged, but copyrighted materials too. When we see that the average video length was 4 minutes and 20 seconds, whilst the range is between 42 seconds and 9:15, how will the numbers shift? This is a daily issue and the numbers are rising, as well as the providers and let’s not forget that this is ONE supplier only. That is the data we are confronted with, so there are a whole lot of issues that are not covered at all. So the two articles read like the political engines are playing possum with reality. And all this is even before the consideration that a hostile player could make internet servers available for extremists, the dark web that is not patrolled at all (read: almost impossible to do so) as well as lazy IT people who did not properly configure their servers and an extremist sympathiser has set up a secondary non indexed domain to upload files. All solutions where the so called anti-ISIS AI has been circumvented, and that is merely the tip of the iceberg.

So I have an issue with the messaging and the issues presented by those who think they have a solution and those who will callously blame the disseminators in all this, whilst the connected players know that this was never a realistic exercise in any part of this, merely the need and the desire to monitor it all and the articles given show that they are clueless (to some extent), which is news we never wanted ISIS to know in the first place. In that regard, when we see news that is a year old, where ISIS was mentioned that they use Twitter to recruit, merely through messaging and monitoring, we see another part where these systems have failed, because a question like that could be framed in many ways. It is almost the setting where the creative mind can ask more questions than any AI can comprehend, that first realisation is important to realise how empty the entire setting of these ‘solutions’ are, In my personal view is that Andrus Ansip has a job that has become nothing more than a temporary castle in the sand before it is washed away by the tide. It is unlikely that this is his choice or desire, but that is how it has become, and there is supporting evidence. Take a look at the Washington Post article (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/09/25/absolutely-everything-you-need-to-know-to-understand-4chan-the-internets-own-bogeyman/?utm_term=.35c366cd91eb), where we see “participants can say and do virtually anything they want with only the most remote threat of accountability“, more important, monitoring that part is not impossible yet would require large resources, 4chan is equally a worry to some extend and what happens when ISIS merely downloads a 4chat or 4chan skeleton and places it on the dark web? There is close to no options to ever find them at that point, two simple acts to circumvent the entire circus, a part that Andrus Ansip should have (and he might have) informed the EC commissioners on, so we see the waste of large amounts of money and in the end there will be nothing to show for. Is that what we want to happen to keep ourselves safe? So when the ISIS person needs nothing but a mobile phone and a TOR browser how will we find them and stop the content? Well, there is a two letter word for that. NO! It ain’t happening baby, a mere realisation that can be comprehended by most people in the smallest amount of time.

By the way, when 5G hits us in less than 18 months, with the speeds, the bandwidth and the upload options as well as additional new forms if media, which optionally means new automated forms of Social Media, how much redesign will be required? In my personal book this reads like: “the chance that Europe will be introduced to a huge invoice for the useless application of a non-working solution, twice!” How you feel about that part?

In my view it is not about stopping the upload, it is about getting clever on how the information reaches those who desire, want and optionally need the information. We need to get a grip on that reality and see how we can get there, because the current method is not working. In that regard we can take a grip towards history, where in the Netherlands Aage Meinesz used a thermal lance to go through the concrete next to the vault door, he did that in the early 70’s. So when we see the solutions we saw earlier, we need to remember that this solution only works until 10 seconds after someone else realises that there was a way to ignore the need of an upload, or realise that the system is assuming certain parts. You only need to look through Fatal Vision Alcohol goggles once, to realise that it does not only distort view, it could potentially be used to counter a distorted view, I wonder how those AI solutions comprehend that and consider that with every iteration accuracy decreases, human intervention increases and less gets achieved, some older gimmicks in photography relied on such paths to entice the watchers (like the old Betty Page books with red and green glasses). I could go on for hours, and with every other part more and more flaws are found. In all this it is equally a worry to push this onto those tech companies. It is the old premise of being prepared for that what you do not know, that what you cannot see and that what is not there. The demand of the conundrum, one that Military Intelligence was faced with for over 30 years and the solution needs to be presented in three months.

The request has to be adhered to in three months, it is ludicrous and unrealistic, whilst in addition the demands shows a level of discrimination as there is a massive size of social media enablers that are not involved; there are creators of technology providers that are not accountable to any level. For example Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and IBM (as they are not internet companies), yet some of them proclaim their Deep Blue, Azure and whatever other massive data mining solution provider in a box for ‘everyone’, so where are they in all this? When we consider those parts, how empty is the “face legislation forcing them to do so” threat?

It becomes even more hilarious, when you consider the setting in full, so Andrus Ansip, the current European Commissioner for Digital Single Market is giving us this, whilst we see (at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/digital-single-market_en) that the European Commission for Digital single market has there on its page the priority for ‘Bringing down barriers to unlock online opportunities’, which they use to create barriers, preferably flexible barriers and in the end it is the creation on opportunities for a very small group of designers and whilst we see that ‘protect children and tackle hate speech‘ is the smallest part of one element in a setting with 7 additional setting on a much larger scale. It seems to me that in this case Andrus Ansip is trying to extent his reach by the size of a continent, it does not add up on several sides, especially when you consider that the documents setting in that commission has nothing past September 2017, which makes the entire setting of pushing social media tech groups as a wishful thinking one, and one that was never realistic to begin with, it’s like he merely chasing windmills, just like Don Quichotte.

 

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