Tag Archives: Microsoft

Passion of the player

I have been in a state where I decided to have a second go at some of the games I have had for some time and to get a few of the achievements added to my profile. Because of the Microsoft issues outstanding, my Xbox One is switched off, even if it has one of the most treasured games in my history of gaming. There is something wrong in the Xbox Universe and the press is happy to ignore it, because they want the Microsoft Surface Pro advertisement revenue (or at least that is what I personally think it is). Yet, not to fret, the game I love is coming to PS4, so soon (I hope), I can rejoice and feel alive again. Last week I started to replay Arkham Knight on my PS4. I had not played it for some time and there were several achievements I never got. I got them now (not all yet) and I still think that Arkham Knight is one of the best, near perfect games made for the longest of times. There is only one mission (the ACP mission), where the maker of that mission should consider lobotimisation. Yet that is the only mission that is just too dumb for words. The game gives us a batman world that the batman lover will embrace. The game is just too awesome in too many ways. In addition, I had installed the DLC’s yet I had forgotten to check them, so as I restarted the game, I had 4 additional Arkham episodes to play. What a feeling of bliss that brought. The game has all kinds of issues to some, yet in all of this, I loved pretty much every moment of this game (except the ACP bungle). The feeling a truly good game brings is often overwhelming, which is why I tend to get really testy when some (read: Ubisoft) drop the ball and deprive their games of a legendary status when it was (as I personally see it) within their grasp. I actually stayed away from Wildlands, so that is not a title to consider for bad or for good. Yet I have seen too often how some parts could have made a difference with just a little more effort. Yet, you need to realise that this is what I personally see as ‘a little more effort’, yet after being into reviewing games since 1987, I have a good handle on how certain things could have been better. So when I state that Arkham Knight is near perfect, I am not trying to sway your eyes. Like any game it tends to go a little over the top at times, but the Batman feeling and even the Joker and Scarecrow (masterly voiced by John Noble) gives us a setting that will be hard to overcome. Yet, is that not part of the game, to surpass others? In this I get back to the silent release of Shadow of Mordor, which I initially ignored because it seemed to be some Lord of the Rings title. I have never been happier to have been proven wrong. I saw one small movie on YouTube and I ran to the city in record time. Shadow of Mordor is one of those ‘must have’ games if stealth is what you like. The game is balanced and gives options for the rowdy slasher and the silent throat cutter alike. The entire nemesis system gives the game a flair that is pretty unique and the fact that it is all in Mordor just adds to it all. The game is quite excellent, so as we move towards a bigger sequel called ‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ many players will move into the ‘ranger shivers’ stage as they want that feeling of bliss gaming. Where Ryse and Watchdogs fall short, these games deliver. That is the name of the game and Ubisoft has fallen short (read: not flopped) a few times too often. Ryse is also an important title to mention. You see, I did not go for it, mainly because of the ‘button press action sequences’ in the game. I loathe them. The graphics were good, yet there was a repetitive side to the game that was unsettling. The second wind rounds and a few other items that just take the joy away. Yet Ryse is important in another way. This I learned when I decided to watch the YouTube storyline. I was just curious on how bad the game was and that title was soon lost, because Ryse has one of the best storylines I had seen for some time, equal to Arkham Knight, the story lines we see, Ryse has a storyline that is more and captivating, the entire Damocles story is almost an epic Greek story, one that the God of War trilogy would have been proud to have. It is one element in a game that does not satisfy which makes me wonder, could a more visionary maker have taken Ryse and make it a legendary title for the history of the console? I personally believe that the answer is Yes, which is now also an issue, because with the upcoming and less trusted Scorpio and the PS4 pro are going to be reliant on very good titles. You see, the console that wins will be the one that brings the better games. Even as the balance has games like Diablo 3 on both, perhaps Diablo 4 at some point, it is the unique games that make for the push towards a console. I believe that outside titles like Death Stranding will push systems and we cannot wait for the impact of that experience. We seem to latch onto some games like God of War (4) and hope to see the same feeling that the first three gave us, yet the Scorpio will have tis own game list and some of those fans (like HALO linked games) are just as fanatical towards their passion. In this I have to mention that one of these underrated games, on the Xbox was Styx. Those who got it for free on Live: Gold should get the sequel, like the previous game it offers challenge and is again larger then the prequel. I, for one love stealth games and Styx delivers in a few ways that few do. Still there are more games and more options. It is just where you seek your entertainment. When it was introduced, my first thought was not ‘Awesome!’, it was, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ (that is apart from me not owning the IP that is), I am referring to Pokken Tournament. Think of a Tekken game and now replace them with Pokémon’s! Can you imagine, the population that is all Pokémon Go! and now gets to battle brawl, crush and batter your opponent using Pokémon’s?  It gets even better if you consider what could be achieved with a setting like that. Apart from the previous Pokémon Colosseum (GameCube), the idea to have an RPG where you have to actually fight in the game. Not just tactical, but in a more arcade setting? The fact that your grass type Pokémon has additional benefits on a grassy knoll is just awesome. That game could keep you busy for months on any next generation console. All this in ways we have never played or even considered playing Pokémon before. As we see the arrival of remaked games this year (System Shock and Elite Dangerous PS4), gamers are recognising certain older games that brought more joy than some ‘open world’ games today claim they bring. I still keep my Wii, because I would love to replay Metroid Prime (1 and 2) again some day. When you feel that deep about a game, you know that the game is well above certain levels. Consider those who loved the Ultima series of Richard Garriott, consider playing that game on a Skyrim engine. To explore Sosaria, a true open world with missions to find, but overall the game is to just live and grow the character you created, exploring based on a ‘central mission’ but one that grows and brings more and more travels and challenges over time. It is in that light I initially made a design that I named Elder Scrolls 6: Restoration. the light of artistic creation (in my case a story and storylines) is one we need to embrace. We all have our own way of growing our artistic side. If you consider this to be not true, then look up ‘GTA5 Story DLC’, the demand for this mentioned product is off the scales and that makes perfect sense for those who love GTA5. The need for more and new challenges is within us all and addressing that is what gives some games the extra desire. Diablo 3 and Shadow of Mordor have their own engine giving us new and different opponents. It is that variety of bosses and treasures that makes us go back to the game that offers it. I was playing Diablo 3 (still) a few weeks ago, only to get a legendary item I had never had before, giving that character (my Witchdoctor) a mojo and dagger that makes short work of opponents, even on Torment 4, which is a decent challenge in the best of days and a nightmare on others. I now finished a portal in 4 minutes on that level, a speed I have never even been close to even before. Those are the moments a gamer lives for, Blizzard and Bethesda have figured that out for some time and they have so far not stopped delivering to the gamers need. In that CD Project Red is another player who with Witcher 3 reached the acclaimed ‘legend’ status of game creators, in that, do you think that there is one gamer, who loves that genre of gaming who does not check for ‘Cyberpunk 2077′ on a nearly daily basis? In all this, the reviewer (as I was in the past) I have been careful not to dismiss genre’s I did not like. For example, I do not give a toss about GTA5, it is just not my game, yet I can clearly see the excellence and quality of that game. So even as I am unlikely to give it a 100% score, it doesn’t take a genius to see that it is clearly a 90%+ game. That insight is one I kept with me when I was reviewing games in my days. very few games made it to the 100% bar, in my time less than a dozen games got that score. One game that did get that score was Ultima 7, my favourite System Shock got 95% and System Shock 2 got 92% if I remember correctly. There is however a shift, as games got graphically better, and as PC systems were more and more depending on more expensive cards the way to correctly review a game changed. I accept that and I was no longer reviewing PC games before that happened, I think the last PC review was Thief 3, which required me to upgrade my Diamonds Lab card in 2003 just to play the game. It was an upgrade well worth it, yet the element of graphic cards had already grown in those days. Nowadays the issue is a serious one. when we now see that the main negative point of such a card would be that ’99 percent of gamers can’t afford it’, in this case the GeForce GTX Titan X card, we need to reconsider certain system for games. now, I am going for the very top, so there are definitely alternatives. It is the aftermath that now becomes more and more important. The idea that I have to give a lifeline of a mere 2 years to a card that would at present cost me an arm and a leg is an issue younger gamers need to realise early in the game. the idea that a gamer needs to reserve around $800 a year to keep his graphics card up to date is a little much. Oh and this is the top of the range, there are good cards that require $500 a year, so there is manoeuvring space. Yet, when you are passionate about a certain game. The idea that you cannot play it at 100% of possible, how does that go over? It is for that reason that I stopped chasing PC hardware. I believe that the console delivers good gaming. I accept that PC’s will always bring better results. Yet in consideration of a $600 console versus a $2500 medium gaming PC, versus a $6000 for an upper range gaming PC, what can you, or what are you willing to dish out? That has always been the issue, and I cannot answer for others, yet when we consider the bad luck PC gamers had with Arkham Knight, my view will remain with the consoles. Although, in fairness the GTA5 edition, is supposed to be worth all 60 $100 bills for a top level gaming PC. It is where your passion lies and who delivers the experience to the fullest.

There are still a few games coming in 2017 and many are counting the days for the release date, yet as we see a shift in consoles, the gamers who have moved to console will have to see how they will address their gaming needs. For me with Microsoft, the issue will remain that relying on a 1TB drive, whilst you have already been shown that this is not sufficient, there will be a blowback, especially as Sony has opted to give gamers the freedom to replace the Drive for a larger edition. Crunching on a mere $60 to give the gamer half the storage is just dumb, no matter how you slice it. It is even more silly when you consider their claim “With 6 Teraflops, 326GB/s of Memory Bandwidth and advanced, custom silicon, the Scorpio Engine is the most powerful console gaming processor ever created“, and now consider that the system would be able to crunch the entire drive in 3 seconds, what are they playing at? Now, in honesty, Sony offers the same drive size, but allows players to place a larger drive. More interesting, I can just move my PS4 drive in a new PS4 pro and start playing almost immediately (OS requires update I reckon), 100% more storage, an option Microsoft does not allow for. Now, again in honesty, Microsoft did offer the Xbox 1s with a 2TB drive and that is well worth it, so why not get 2TB or even 3TB of the bat? the difference between 2TB and 3TB is less than $50 ($80 from 1 to 3 TB), who would not go that distance to resolve storage issues for the better part of the lifetime of that console? I have done that with the two previous consoles and never regretted it, there was never a storage issue. That is comfort we pay for!

We gamers we have always paid for our passion to be one in comfort, I just do not get it when game makers are ignorant of that part, there is years of data and evidence supporting my view. So to all a good day of gaming, and for those chasing achievements on the games they love, may you get that truly rare achievement today, and if you get ‘The Dark Soul’ achievement in Dark Souls 3, then we all bow to you, oh game master!

 

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See Other Side

I am just looking at an article of last Saturday, and I have to be fair, I really liked Pamela Duncan and Cath Levett’s article (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/datablog/2017/may/20/general-election-2017-manifesto-word-count-in-data), now there will be a whole host of issues we could go into, yet the article is a nice read. Weirdly enough it is the part of the Lib Dems that stands out a little in a positive way. You see, in this age, they are the ones having a high usage of the word ‘support’. That does not mean that it is a good way (or a bad way), the fact that neither Labour or Conservatives have that word in their top 5 is an equal issue to make. Labour is all about ensure and we saw how that went over. the idea that they are using ‘ensure’ whilst they are about to push the UK well over a third of a trillion deeper in debt is a massive issue. The Tories are using it down the line as well, so in what way are the words used? You do not have to wonder or think of it too deep. Reading the manifesto is a first and I had loads of issues with the Labour one, the way it was made (secretive) the way they shouted when it leaked and the way they so easily want to make ‘promises’ whilst having no finds to do so. The UK will need at least another decade to get over their previous spending spree and the least said about bungling the NHS IT issues the better. It is interesting that UKIP was taken out of the consideration at all. That is because now in the age of Brexit, their next steps are actually interesting and required knowledge. It is the follow up of the party that advocated Brexit that is an essential. Do not think for one minute that the article does not matter, you see, the Facebook article (at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/may/21/revealed-facebook-internal-rulebook-sex-terrorism-violence), shows that in a lot more detail. Facebook is no longer a mere facilitator. With the ‘Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence‘ article on moderation, we see that there is a shift from moderation to opportunity creation. The quote “Yet these blueprints may also alarm free speech advocates concerned about Facebook’s de facto role as the world’s largest censor. Both sides are likely to demand greater transparency” is in the limelight here. The article gives us generic terms to illustrate, yet in a setting where the secondary lines are all about swaying, how does text and text analytics have any consideration of validity to censor or impede? In this the article skates near it in a sentence of life ending regarding President Trump. The reality is “they are not regarded as credible threats” is the jewel that cannot be ascertained by algorithms, for the mere reason that content is created, it tends to be a shifting wave not set in stone, making algorithms pretty useless. It is also why Google is focussing on AI, as with that, the ability to dimensionally set content becomes a close reality. In this another realisation is coming to light. The article gives us “Some photos of non-sexual physical abuse and bullying of children do not have to be deleted or “actioned” unless there is a sadistic or celebratory element“, consider that this gives the setting that bullying is to be condoned. One source stated: “The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts“, whilst Facebook is stating that it is not intervening in bullying. We can argue that there is the freedom of speech, yet the bulk of such bullying is done through fake accounts. Facebook is at present ‘reviewing more than 6.5m reports a week relating to potentially fake accounts – known as FNRP (fake, not real person)‘. That is a potential 350 million accounts a year, that is a little short of 17% of all Facebook accounts. We cannot fault Facebook here completely, as the quote “Facebook cannot keep control of its content,” said one source. “It has grown too big, too quickly.“, the ‘too quick‘ and ‘too big‘ have sunk large corporations before. It is the realisation of content that is at play. Another quote that matters, links to a May 1st article on dangerous content. The quote “the biggest and richest social media companies are shamefully far from taking sufficient action to tackle illegal or dangerous content, to implement proper community standards or to keep their users safe“. Which is pretty much the quote of Yvette Cooper, Labour MP. Yet in all this we ask how? Either the world becomes a censoring police state, or it allows as much freedom of speech and freedom of expression possible. Facebook and Google both have issues in this. By trying to facilitate they set up a situation that those not allowed to speak do so in almost extreme fashion. We know and were ‘sullied’ by political players regarding content. And in this ‘sullied’ is pretty much the way they set it. You see, the quote “Referring to Google’s failure to prevent paid advertising from reputable companies appearing next to YouTube videos posted by extremists“, which seems to be the correct description in a pig’s eye. the statement is true, yet the actual truth is that Google designed a online facilitation of advertisement allowing small businesses to gain proper and granulated visibility of what they offer to the interested audience at less than 10% of what printed media demands. Give me one example where that will not be exploited? And when it comes to explosive situations, lets remember Alfred Nobel who found a way to make working for tunnel diggers relatively safe. It was these crying governments who thought of using dynamite against people during acts of war was a good idea, so please Yvette Cooper, go cry me a river somewhere else, and please feel free to flush yourself like you are a cast member of Trainspotting; please please pretty please. In this Germany is not without fault either. The quote “In Germany, the report points out, the justice ministry has proposed imposing financial penalties of up to €50m on social media companies that are slow to remove illegal content“, Illegal where, and what is ‘slow to remove‘? All pointless statements in a proposition that is laughable. We can all agree that ‘illegal‘ content is to be removed, yet I think the Germans need to consider their high chair when we consider the issues regarding the CDU before Angela Merkel was in charge, the days of Christian Wulff has a few issues whilst he resigned and subsequently got acquitted in 2014. The press and government hid behind ‘since it was not clear who had paid for these holidays‘ should be an issue as there is a debatable consideration that they did not pay for it, you see for the bulk of all of us, when we go on holidays it tends to be a real dip in our daily cost of living. That might not be for everyone, yet when we see clarity of who did pay, there is a lot more going on. The entire Google matter gives rise to political games in favour of printed media who feels massively threatened, whilst Google has NEVER EVER been unclear of how their AdWords system worked and how you could maximise YOUR visibility. So when the part of ‘YOUR visibility‘ is a not so nice organisation, in a system that facilitates for millions, the damage could happen. It is a lot more complex than merely paying for a vacation using your bank card or credit card. Here, we now have content!

In this light, when we consider the elements and we go back to the first article “the parties will “ensure” that in “government” they will “work” to do “new” things that “support” you, the “people”.” it is a clear political message that can fit any of the three parties and that is what the writers set out to do. Yet what are the new things? Where are the funds coming from? How will it better your life? That is where the content is. Labour pushes you in even further debt, the Tories are trying to go one way, whilst you lose as little as possible, and that whilst trying to deal with large issues like the NHS and the debt. The Lib Dems want to be supportive of you as they have lost way too much to actually achieve anything. The manifestos are trying to sway you in the way they can and ways that are allowed. In this social media is the unspoken gun that will spray consequences on the choices of opponents and whilst they would like to guide you towards their base of choice, the censors are seeing a shift in methodology. In all this we see non political parties trying to play a similar game whilst ‘enticing’ you to ‘their’ places of ‘combat’, which in extremist views are actually ‘theatres of war’. In all this we see shifts as governments on a global scale (USA and Indonesia) are now on the verge of having to deal with people who return from Syria in a radicalised state. America in this has even more problems as Syrian and Iranian ties are getting stronger. This implies the dangers for America as this pool of radicalised people is an optional source for VEJA to see what damage they could to to America and more important, whether they could give pressure to Indonesia giving American Allies (read: Australia) more headaches that they are comfortable with at present. So where is that content? You see, as you might have seen in the past and in the media, content is created, it is created by setting a stage and let data be data, making the watcher nervous, or reactive, in social media is an absolute first to create large waves. The problem with censorship is that you create waves, whether you censor or not, by trying to create the waves in your favour you are also fuelling the opposition who could hurt you if intentional censorship is exposed. In this the attempt to ‘save’ the Trans Pacific Partnership is a clear monument of evidence how political players are there to ‘cater’ to big business whilst misrepresenting it as ‘labour rights and environmental protections‘ that whilst too many media outlets have already reported on how consumers will basically lose rights. So as we see that we keep an optional job, whilst having no say on where we spend our money and having no options to the amount we have to pay to get better, can you explain to me how that is a good thing for anyone else than big business? In this we now get back to Google. Yes of course they are in it for the money (to some extent), yet they have shifted the bar of technology 5 times in the last 7 years, whilst Microsoft has merely pushed the same bar forwards three times and making us pay for those new iterations. Does Google have issues? Of course it has, when you push out something as revolutionary as Google AdWords, things will happen and flaws will be found. You show me a windows version that got the bulk of basic parts correct after 29 iterations and you will be on the shortlist for receiving a Nobel price (they gave one to Barack Obama after all).

We all create content and whilst we saw on how the number of words might persuade us on how well any political manifesto was, we know that content was not given, mere curiosity (read: and it is still a nice article to read). We can agree that speech, whether elective or hate based is to address a group that will listen to them. in this there are points of technology (read: facilitation), yet in UK law there is an explicit defence for facilitation, as there is in almost every Common Law nation. In this we can clearly argue that there are issues to solve, nobody denies that, not even the technology firms. Yet do you want to live in a Microsoft world where it is merely iterative result of non fixed software that works, yet has issues and we get to pay for these flaws again or again, or are we willing to see Google solutions evolve where we have been introduced to new options, and amazing new boundaries as we moved from 3G, 4G and now towards 5G, with smartphone issues that Apple could not give in the last 4 versions of their iPhone. I got introduced to more invigorating options in 12 months of Google than I saw Microsoft show us in 15 years and that is whilst the Media remains very uninformative on non-consensual upload of data by Microsoft, that too is content!

In finality, consider the quote “Facebook also told MPs that it is is reviewing how it handles violent videos and other objectionable material after a video of a murder in the United States remained on its service for more than two hours“, whilst we need to consider the 2014 event of ‘Video of ISIS beheading U.S. journalist James Foley‘, the issue the CNN brought forward was: “The question is why taking it down is controversial at all. The answer, I think, shows how important services like Twitter have become, and how this has thrust unexpected responsibilities onto them“, it took years in court to deal with the Christian Wulff case as some would state it in a very unsatisfied way, whilst there is the raising of hell in light of certain videos? We can agree that some should not have gotten through, yet that is when we are in the emotional stage of not realising the size of technology involved. We should like the 2008 Facebook sex tape case conviction towards the poster of the video. Yet the political players know that this is a game that they cannot win, so it is easier to go after Facebook and Google, that whilst they rely on businesses to use these solutions to turn a few pennies, all knowing perfectly well that it is a cloud of facilitation. Is it merely because being linked to a large firm getting kicked is sexier that actually solving issues like age discrimination or giving suspended sentences on intentional fraud. When we are set in such an environment, can we trust anyone? We are all dealing with concepts of ‘facilitation’, ‘censoring’, and ‘technology’, at times on a daily basis. We all need to consider what is on the other side of that piece of paper, because when we consider that on page two of that news is an advertisement mentioning bogus scientific results? How criminal is the paper? and how will you take down printed advertisement? The elements here matter, because it introduces a term that has bearing, one that politicians have used for decades. In this they ‘hide’ behind the term “wilful blindness“, to remain ignorant intentionally of a situation is an issue, an issue that Yvette Cooper has been demonstrating in the response as given by the media. In equal measure can we accuse Microsoft of the same thing? The fact that some bugs that were seen in Office 95 and are still an issue in Office 2007, does that matter? That’s well over 12 years!

We ourselves also create content by not looking at the other side, which during the upcoming election is a bit of an issue, because, as I personally see it, Europe is in a new level of turmoil, one that it has not seen for several decades. It is also a larger issue as most nations have borrowed away the reserves they had. The safety netting is gone, which makes proper and complete information a lot more important than the previous 4 elections.

So lets not forget to see the other side, because when we are told: ‘look here’ the actual action that harms us is over there on the other side, in that it is my personal view, that in that regard all politicians are alike, and not one party has ever been ignorant of using that tactic.

In this business will go vastly beyond politics, because as the 5G waves start hitting us all, it will be about creating content, in this we will all look at the other side of the page and wonder about the validity, not because we want to, but because we have to. We will no longer have a choice in the matter.

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Where to focus?

This is an issue on the best of days, we are overwhelmed with information, real news, fake news and of course the Direct marketing waves that hit our internet eyes nearly 24:7. The internet is no longer some child, it is a grown adult and adults tend to lack a certain sense of humour, well the adult eyes of the beholder that is. Yet, what matters to us? When we move beyond the job that feeds you, the partner that … you and the family that gives you (usually) strength. When these things are dealt with, what matters next?

The fearful will look at North Korea, on how they are a threat and when we look at the Washington Post, a very respectable paper we see (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-north-korean-nuclear-threat-is-very-real-time-to-start-treating-it-that-way/2017/05/18/d60cbeec-39a4-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html) on how the threat is real. Even as we saw two failed launches, and in addition, we have yet to see anything from North Korea to get any missile that far (reaching the US), that an opinion piece states: “Stephen Rademaker, a principal with the Podesta Group, was an assistant secretary of state responsible for arms control and nonproliferation from 2002 to 2006“, so here we see the message, yet the core truth is: “The Podesta Group is a lobbying and public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C.. It was founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta, it can be found at 1001 G Street, NW Suite 1000 W Washington, DC 20001“. Basically it is a marketing firm working a very niche market. Don’t get me wrong. I am not ‘attacking’ them, I would accept a position in such a firm any day of the week. Whether we call them marketeers, government strategy councillors or even diplomatic assistants, they are professionals and I do love working with professionals, especially in an environment I am not fully comprehensive of. You see, when you are out of your waters, most people tend to get to be a little apprehensive. Not me, it invigorates me, whether it is working as a document carrier for Faisal bin Abdullah, or Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, doing work for google (which has been one of the most mentally intoxicating and invigorating environments ever) or merely finding new data solutions, working through data and solving the puzzle I see. So is North Korea a real threat or a perceived one? The safe bet is too see them as a real threat as they have access to Uraninite. You see, the world tends to be a little more complex than that. Having the stuff is not enough, getting the delivery method working correctly is an entirely different matter. It can be by having people from Pyongyang masked as South Koreans attending international universities in science and engineering would be a first, which is not that far a stretch. I literally (by accident) I told this Korean student “Does your family still have that bar in Pyongyang?“, he turned pale and said ‘How did you know that?‘, which was not the response I was going for, but OK, such is life, full of surprises. So as you ponder this, wonder on how China has little or no worry. If North Korea ever actually launches a missile towards America, do you think that the President of the USA would not instantly retaliate (especially the current one), what happens to places like Shenyang (in China), also consider whatever hits the water will make fishing no longer an option for decades, Japan learned that the hard way, so there you have it. In addition, we have seen the North Korea military look at systems like they were magical and those were computers the current European generation laughs at. That can be corroborated by the press as they were on a North Korean press tour a little over a year ago. The ‘minders‘ of those groups had NEVER seen a smart phone. I think that North Korea talks a lot, but for now has no real byte. Now the last part of that the Podesta group is a professional organisation. So was it merely an opinion piece or was the article their business, business they charge for? I will leave you with that thought.

The older American would look at the danger of pensions, which we also see in the Washington Post (athttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/05/18/trumps-budget-calls-for-hits-on-federal-employee-retirement-programs), the article ‘Trump’s budget calls for hits on federal employee retirement programs‘ describes on how it impacts. The article is a really good read and gives me the feeling that US retirement plans are an awful mess, with the additional danger that they seem to be running dry slightly too soon, which is what you get with a 20 trillion-dollar debt I reckon. The quote “A preliminary budget document released in March called for a domestic discretionary budget decrease of $54 billion, with an equal increase for defense, homeland security and veterans. Nineteen 19 small agencies would be eliminated, along with their workforces“, the additional “Increasing the FERS employee contribution would result in the average federal employee losing nearly $5,000 per year in take home pay, that’s per year after the phase-in is finished, he estimated. “Phasing this outrageous pension cut in over several years does not make it any more palatable. If this change is made, federal employees will no longer have a secure retirement. Period.”” is even more food for thought. The one equaliser in American business has for the longest time been that those people had a secure retirement, when this is off the table the one part of quiet governmental officials was that there was a long term benefit, with that off the table the environment in government positions will change. Now, we might think that this is not a bad thing, but it will result in chaos, and when we have seen and known that the American infrastructure has no real way to deal with chaos in its ranks, we will see different whirly waves of discontent, a few will leave marks on everyone. So when we read “The budget proposal President Trump plans to unveil Tuesday would give to federal employees with one hand, while taking away with five others” is an interesting one and I reckon that when the full paper is released this coming Tuesday, the US national papers will give it high visibility, because the United States federal civil service has a total of around 3 million people, which is 1% of the US population, making it decently important to cater to them. Perhaps those trying to sell the change might have been better off talking to the Podesta group first?

For me, the news was not in a newspaper. It was found in Digital health article. It re-iterated the issue of ‘urgent change‘ I voiced in my blog yesterday. In there I showed the NHS digital part regarding the endgadget quote “NHS digital had notified staff on patches” which would have diminished the Cyber attack gives us two sides. One, would there have been diminished damage, because that would suffice as evidence. Yet in Digital health we see: “a small team of developers is recommending the health service reduce its reliance on Microsoft“, which is overall not a bad idea, yet the NHS is too big to just make a shift in policy like that. I would be in favour of a shift towards something a lot safer like Linux, but that requires expertise. Another option is to rely on an android option where the NHS is all about apps, equally optional, but it will require massive amounts of resources on programmers, testers, upgraders and cyber monitoring. All these options require a drastic shift in IT operations. When we accept that in too many places there is no minding the NHS IT store (by not patching) the dangers will increase. As I quoted: “It is also my personal belief that in many cases the person claiming ‘urgent action is needed’ is also the person who wants the ‘victim’ to jump the shark so that they can coin in as large a way as possible“, which is what we see right here in the article. Now consider the quote: “To demonstrate that there is a licence-free alternative, GP Marcus Baw and technologist Rob Dyke have adapted the open source Linux-based Ubuntu operating system specifically for the NHS. They call it NHSbuntu“. So why not just use the foundation called Ubuntu? I cannot judge the intent (noble or not), but consider that technologist Rob Dyke has to pay for rent and so much, where is his interest? Do not get me wrong, we should not just dismiss any idea that might work, yet will it? You see any IT environment needs oversight and maintenance. The NHS is in no position to make such drastic changes as it is short on basic needs (nurses and doctors), I do agree that the IT needs to be addressed, yet two Labour governments wasted the IT budget of close to 10 years, lets leave it alone until we can actually address solutions. In this, one additional quote from Beta News. they give us “The report reveals that 12.8 percent of non-Microsoft programs were un-patched in the first quarter of this year“. If patching is so important, and it is, why give voice to 12.8% of additional risk? As stated, I am no Microsoft fan, but it does work in the current NHS environment and if we believe NHS Digital and the trusts do actually patch their stuff, the danger would have been a lot lower. As the evidence is at present, this issue would have been addressed by mere policy and replacing those not adhering to it might be the cheapest and best solution. In all this IT News gives us one more part, the fact that Microsoft is actually releasing a patch for operating systems that are no longer supported is also evidence. I do not see it as merely “to protect the company’s customer ecosystem“, which is a decent answer if you believe that. You see they could have merely told the customers to freely upgrade to Windows 10. I believe that, as they state it “to protect users against NSA-derived ransomware“. I believe that someone has evidence on a Microsoft-NSA cooperation in the beginning of the data snooping age and somehow the makers of the Ransomware (less and less likely to be North Korean) got access to the information needed. I reckon that anyone upgrading will be removing the digital evidence on their computers of that event. If you doubt me, consider the quote in that same article “Current versions of WannaCrypt use two exploits leaked by the ShadowBrokers hackers, who gained access to systems at The Equation Group, which is linked to the United States NSA, last year“, if that is true, how did North Korea get this? If they are good enough to be allegedly part of the NSA (source: Kaspersky), how come that the bulk of the cyber intelligence world has no knowledge of North Korea being such a threat against a player like that? It does not matter how it got out. Whether it was a disgruntled ex-employee. Some hacker that got sucked and suckered by a honey trap, there are enough options nowadays. The reality is that somehow the intel got out. It is being addressed and fixed. It does not make the issue go away, it merely tells us that remaining up to date and properly patched was the way to go. Urgently addressing does apply to systems being reasonable up to date, which does mean that there are costs, pushing yourself away from Microsoft (not the worst idea) comes with a cost, one that the NHS cannot afford, no matter how ambitious it seems and they got plenty of that, especially with non working systems. So, lets not make that error twice!

So when you wonder where you need to focus, I am merely suggesting that when your private house is in order, consider playing a video game or watch a nice blu-ray. It seems to me that a balanced life is the most important thing you can arrange for yourself, let the circus play its game and decide not to watch every show they offer, in the end it could just be merely Direct Marketing.

Get what you actually need, not what others state you need!

 

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Finger in a dike

We have all heard the story of the boy who stopped a flood by putting his finger in a dike; Robin Williams made a reference to it and women in comfortable shoes in the past (whatever that means). The story is known, the act sounds just too ridiculous, because any flood that can be stopped with a finger is one that will not amount to much flooding. Yet the story behind it is very different. You see, the story is about the dangerous Muskrats, who dig themselves boroughs in dikes. These boroughs have canals that can go for hundreds of feet and as the Muskrat population grows, the dikes and dams they are in could be damaged beyond normal repair and that is when the dangers start, because dikes are important in the Netherlands. A large part of it is vastly below sea level, meaning that such a loss could have impacted safe living in that place. Muskrats are also fierce fighters and feeders, meaning that as their population grows, the other animals become extinct. Even as that rat has a usual lifespan for a year, in that year it can reap damage that only people can match. So as we consider the damage a year brings, we need to now consider todays story in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/14/freedom-of-information-act-document-leaks-could-become-criminal), where we see: “criminalise passing on information discoverable under FOI requests“, so basically any news given, even when it can be obtained by an FOI request can become an issue that follows prosecution and even conviction? How is anyone allowed to pass this as law allowed in office, especially as he lives by the motto that was a Herman Brood hit (read: I’ll never be clever). There is a weighting here. I for one have spoken out against the non-accountability of the press. The one time they got scared (read: The Leveson enquiry), they started to scream foul and promise bettering themselves. A promise some of the press broke even before the ink of that promised dried. Yet there is in equal measure a need to keep the people correctly and decently informed. There is a need to get cybersecurity on a decent level and there is a need to hunt down hackers. In this places like Sony are feeling the brunt of hackers and until the authorities are willing to execute the parents (or children) of these hackers, depending of the age of the hacker in front of their eyes, they will not ever see the light and these issues will happen. In this, the entire whistle-blower thing is another hot potato and some politicians seem to think that the one will stop the other, which is even more delusional than my idea of executions to make a point. There is another side to all this that is linked. You see, in the military there is a strict need of secrecy. In that this Bradley Manning person is just a traitor who did not realise just how stupid he really was. The fact that he did not spend life in prison until death is another failing which has been covered by too many for too long and too often. Julian Assange is another matter. Basically he was a mere facilitator, we might seem to consider him a traitor but in the end he did not break any laws and the US knows this, they just have another need to address the ego of certain people. I see Snowden as a traitor, plain and simple. As we were misrepresented with a movie, a book and all kinds of stories, there is still the issue that things did not add up. The never did and never will. In this light a whistle-blower seems to be a very different needed person (I will get to that later).

The three names mentioned all have their own role to play in all this. In case of Manning, it is treason plain and simple, whomever got him off lightly did a stellar Law job, but in the end, he committed treason under war time conditions. Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-08-02/bradley-manning-s-crime-is-smaller-than-treason) gives us the view of John Yoo, a legal expert, whose view I share: “His actions knowingly placed the lives of American soldiers, agents, and allies at grave risk. In the world of instant, world-wide communications and non-state terrorist groups, Manning committed the crime of aiding the enemy, and he is lucky to escape the death penalty“. As an operator, Manning had access to do his job and he abused the access he had endangering the lives of his ‘fellow’ soldiers. In this the less diplomatic view would be that he was more entitled to death by hanging than some of those executed at Nuremberg. So as we realise that Manning soon could have more rights than an optional member of the press is just a little too insane in my book. In all this, as we see that part in a little biased light, we need to realise that the press has a need to expose certain elements. Yet they too are biased and they are biased towards advertisers and stakeholders, which is why certain military documents are placed in a juicy sexy light, yet the issues of Microsoft, Sony and a few others that clearly food for thought for a generation of consumers seems to be misplaced. So how should we see the less responsible acts of the press in that light?

The second part is Snowden, again, as I see it a traitor, here the issue is severe on all sides, the Intelligence community failed miserably on several sides as one person has seemingly access to systems that should have been monitoring access on a few sides. I saw within two hours at least 3 issues for consideration of prosecution of certain heads of intelligence for mere gross negligence. The issues found with NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III just adds to the issues in Alphabet soup land. In this there would have been the need of a very different whistle blower, one that could have walked into the US supreme court stating that his nation is in serious danger giving evidence free from prosecution where an ‘uncle’ of the NSA walks into the office of Admiral Rogers (current director, not the director at that time) asking what the f**k he thinks he is doing on the farm. In a system that is about subterfuge and misdirection, those making errors are often chastised in unbalanced ways. As they are about deadlines and being flawless (which is a delusion all by itself) finding ways to clear issues, solve issues and give support in a place that is relying just a little too much on contractors is an essential need. In this the US is the most visible, but we can agree that the UK has its own demons, the most visible ones were in the 70’s, yet the cloud is now a dangerous place and in addition, I foresee that the near future will bring us more, because if a place like Sony cannot keep a lid on its data, do you actually believe that the cloud is secure? It is not, because some people were pushing too fast for a technology that has issues on several levels. As the cloud grows the customer is no longest charged per Gigabyte, but per Terabyte, so as the cost seems to be 0.1% of what was, they are all seeing the financial benefit and they are clearly ignoring the need to comprehends data sizes and what to put where. As the sales teams are giving nice presentations on security and no loss of data, they seem to be a little more silent on amount of data replicated somewhere else. Which in case of Intelligence is a bit of an issue under the best conditions. By the way that switch from GB to TB happened in the last 5 years alone, so this market is accelerated but in ways that seems to be a little too uncomfortable and I love tech and I embrace it whenever possible, so others should be a lot more mindful and worried than I am at present.

Last we get to Julian Assange, he is either loved or hated. I tried to remain in the balance of it as he basically broke no laws, but to shed the dirty laundry in the way he did was a little stupid. We read all the things on how certain stuff was removed and so on, but there is an issue. In all this we heard all the military stuff, yet when the mention and threats of bank presentations came, he went quiet and dark less than 48 hours later, so it seems that some issues are just not given to the people, especially certain facts that should have been brought out. Here we see another side of the whistle-blower. I get that certain events should not be allowed out, yet when I read: “We would expand the Freedom of Information act to stop ministers and departments from being able to block the publication of information they see as politically inconvenient“, which we get from Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson. We see another part of the conversation, one that needs scrutiny on a few levels. The entire issue that a conviction is possible for releasing information that is readily available under the FOI is dodgy to say the least. There is a side in my that there should be a certain level of control on whistle-blowers, yet in that same light as we see too often that corporate whistle-blowers are refused the light of day by the press calls for questions marks on the earliest given Mondays of any week.

If the dike is to stop the people from drowning we need to make sure that the muskrat is stopped for various reasons, yet when that dike is also the road that facilitates for the shipment of toxic waste, we need to wonder what the basic need of that specific dike is. And that is before we see that the road facilitates for ‘Big Pharma’ to ship its medication, whilst the 1000’s of tonnes of pharmaceutical waste is left ignored, which is ignored by the media when Dr Who (read: World Health Organisation) is telling people that there is now a direct danger to newborns, with in India alone an estimated 56,000 deaths of newborns dying from resistant infections. So as we see very little of that in the news, what are those opposing the whistleblowing actions crying about? They themselves have become filters on what the people are allowed to learn about. Doesn’t that sound slightly too sanctimonious to you?

The issue that goes on is that these events are less and less an issue of rarity. The Times (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/600-tonnes-of-waste-dumped-under-road-dmttlzrkh), gives us, when you are subscripted, a view that “Up to 600 tonnes of household rubbish have been dumped under the A40 in Buckinghamshire, in one of Britain’s worst incidents of fly-tipping”, this is not some issue that is done with a simple truck, this took time and staff. This was deliberate and orchestrated. In this the whistle-blower would have been essential in dealing with such a crime, as it stands now, it made someone an easy £90,000 and the damage could end up being considerable larger and more expensive. It is anyone’s guess if the CPS will ever secure an arrest and conviction. So as we see the toxicity of the changes the UK and others could face. When we consider the final part “Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, said: “The Law Commission’s proposals would move the clock backwards, undoing improvements in the UK’s 1989 Official Secrets Acts, and setting a dangerous example of eroding freedom of expression protections, which may be copied by oppressive regimes globally”, we must ask what the devils own sugar did the Law Commission have in mind when these changes were proposed. By the way, the moment it gets adopted, there is every chance that any person with direct links to Wall Street will see other sides. This is what we get from the NY Post, “The Financial CHOICE Act 2.0, which passed the House Financial Services Committee last week, has provisions to keep corporate whistle-blowers involved in any wrongdoing from collecting awards. The act would also require the whistle-blower to try to stop violations from happening within their company — a stipulation that advocates fear would force employees to choose between being fired or not reporting anything at all”, we see this at http://nypost.com/2017/05/14/whistleblower-bill-sparks-fear-among-advocates/, so you tell me who this is all supposed to benefit. As I see it, we see a shift where those who have not are stronger and stronger segregated from those who have and those who continuously want to have. A mere adaption from the battle strategy segregation, isolation and assassination? Assassination needs not resolve in death, today we see how economic and financial death could at times be much worse than anything permanently offered, although the mothers in India might disagree on that. The question becomes where does the press truly stand, with informing the people or with the advertisers they rely on nowadays?

 

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Approaching death of Scorpio

Do you remember the day when gamers were all looking forward towards the initial presentation of the Xbox One? Perhaps you do, perhaps not, what became the issue is that the person, who disappeared soon thereafter was talking about mandatory online presence, news of no longer getting second hand games also came to light and the gamers shouted in outrage. The changes Microsoft had to make were not small, the business managers of Microsoft at that point actually got scared and the consequence was that Sony became the undebated ruler of the next generation console.

Sony made a few errors, but they were small and some have been rectified. For the Xbox One it is an entirely different matter. They have gone to some extent from bad to worse and there are decent indicators that Scorpio will continue on that downward spiral.

The article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/project-scorpio-xbox-chief-microsoft-plans-console) gives some highlights, especially on the speculation of native 4K gaming, yet in other uncertain terms other elements are not addressed.

Since the Xbox 360 the gamers lost the ability to play offline, with the option to keep their achievements. Now there is a cumbersome need to change settings. Sony had the same issue, but has rectified this, although the gamer needs to click two additional times, offline achievements can be viewed. Microsoft has been unwilling to reset to the Xbox 360 options in that regard. More important, the issue seen only a few months ago shows that Microsoft without consent has been uploading massive chunks of data into their Azure cloud. Within one week I lost 50% of my monthly bandwidth allowance ($60 damage). The press has not looked at this at all, the press remains silent on non-consensual uploads and the Microsoft helpdesk plainly blamed my ISP for this (what a load of rubbish). In that frame, my less diplomatic view would be that Microsoft has become a data lady of ill repute.

The fact that Microsoft remains silent on storage is equally a failure. They should have figured out that some gamers have much higher needs and we should agree that this is not for everyone, the option that gamers would want to get a larger hard-drive from day one (even if they have to personally upgrade like it is the case with the PS3/PS4), the fact that Microsoft remains pushy towards clouds and mineable data is a large issue, especially as this constitutes backwater thinking on the part of the developer. Lessons that Microsoft could have seen and learned from Sony 5 years ago, and with 4K gaming, you better believe these patches will continue to grow into several gigabytes per game. In comparison, I have as per this morning 4 patches waiting requiring 29GB storage, do you think that will get less on 4K? You only need to look at a few Ubisoft games (specifically the size of their patches) to realise that the storage requirement will grow faster and faster. A 2TB drive will not satisfy the need of the gamer, let alone a 1TB drive. Microsoft as ben aiming for data control too soon and to stringently, an error that could be the death of Scorpio, in that regard Death on Release date is not that far fetched at present.

In addition, we read that Phil Spencer makes the biggest blooper of all. The quote: “it may be possible for some teams to add extra gameplay content only accessible to Scorpio owners”. So those who recently bought an Xbox One or Xbox One S will face a system renewal within a year. So not only is he resetting gamer needs, he is basically downgrading the current generation console from a gamers point of view, because gamers want 100% of the game they play, not some restriction. In this he gives extra ammunition to Sony, so he might get a nice Christmas hamper from Kaz Hirai himself.

In all this the article is a good read, not just for fans of the Microsoft console, but more or the competitors (read: Sony) for the elements that have not been raised or discussed. The fact that the console OS requires more than half a dozen upgrades and improvement, just to get back to the decent levels of the Xbox 360 is one issue, the idea that we might see a mandatory push to Azure is also a danger that Phil needs to put to rest real quick, because a large group of gamers are not in places where unlimited bandwidth is an option, and that is in the better locations. When Microsoft learns the hard way that 7 US states and chunks of Japan and Europe wont facilitate those data needs, they will need to adjust their scope again and again. This whilst the gamers get to suffer limitations and outages for a console that will be pricey to say the least.

All issues that have been known in advance if those at the top had done their homework. Now, we should realize that the console will not be here for some time to come, but at this point, if the hardware specs are not upgraded (like the laughable 1TB drive), getting enough consoles sold by the end of the year will be a stretch and I reckon that within 4 months the gamers will face limitations they have never experienced before, which will push the console down in sales faster and harder. All elements that could have been avoided 2 years before launch. When we consider that the better games will require 50GB-100GB of data space, the idea that a 1TB drive with an operating system would only have space for 5-8 games could be the most laughable part yet. In that regard, those who love their RPG games (Witcher 3, Fallout, Skyrim) could see a special marketing deal of the Scorpio console with 5 games because that is all the console has space for. I agree that this is me being mean, but Microsoft has been warned by gamers more than once. The fact that we have enough evidence that they will not learn or listen is a mere consideration to drop the Scorpio from your wish list until such time comes that they clearly clean up their act and please their customers, not the need of others business groups to keep certain power users on a monitored online presence. This is how I see it, and this is what you need to consider before you waste too many of your hard earned coins on an announced console that comes with too many limitations even before the system ships on day one.

Oh, and the news (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/xbox-chief-netflix-video-games-episodes-subscription-downloads-phil-spencer),  how much bandwith and storage will that require? Not to mention upgraded Netflix on 4K, that poor 1TB storage system will unlikely make it past the second month. Yes, Scorpio might sound revolutionary, but not for the gamer.

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The danger of Colbert and the Press

When we see an interview with General Michael Hayden and Stephen Colbert, it is hard to imagine, but it is actually Stephen Colbert who is endangering the lives of many. Did you realise that? First, the interview (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buI8aO7nRDM) should be watched. It is a brilliant interview. Getting a former CIA and NSA director in view is always a little awesome and the man plays the audience brilliantly. Now, I say ‘play’ and I mean that in the best positive way. He is funny direct and answers the questions clearly. It is Hayden that gets the applause and it was an applause that was well deserved. He debunks conspiracy theorists and cuckoo cases all over America. Then something happens, suddenly Colbert does something dangerous and stupid. At 4:55 he plays the game regarding Smart TV’s spying on you, he plays us all as he is linking this to the CIA. What happened was that on February 6th the FTC fined Vizio $2.2 million for collecting viewing histories without users consent (at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/02/vizio-pay-22-million-ftc-state-new-jersey-settle-charges-it), pretty much the same thing that Microsoft seems to be doing to its Xbox population at present and uploading their data into the Azure cloud (without consent).

This might seem like a nuisance, but it is a lot more than that. Large corporations have run out of spreadable funds and like any other corporations, they now need to optimise. It is almost the same situation that SPSS was selling when it offered companies a product called AnswerTree (back in 1997). Marketing firms had to get a certain quota, let’s say 4%, now to get there you could either throw more money on it, and going from 2% to 4% did not just mean a little over 100% more to get the growth. No, with their product AnswerTree, you could make an inventory of who you mailed and who responded and started to prune the tree of those who responded a lot below quota, so basically, the mailings became more efficient, a more clever path to the people buying and it is all perfectly legal and acceptable. That is what is happening now in new ways and Vizio got caught because it happened in an automated way without any level of consent. So who did not get caught? Because I can tell you right now that the bulk of the people with a smart TV have not considered where this data is being logged.

Now, I am going to ask you a question: ‘If marketing is harassment, is the marketing contact that you purchase from still a harasser?

If we have all the do not call registers, how long until these marketeers use other methods? Free games, free apps and free TV shows, all connected, you just have to agree to advertisements connected to them. It is a mere reward for exposure which is all perfectly valid. In all this the CIA was not a factor or a danger. It is the large corporations that are classifying you, more important, it is the links that they can resell that are a danger to your way of life, which is why at times smart TV’s are sold with 60% discount (speculation from my side).

In 2015 I would never have expected to be able to afford a 55 inch smart TV, it is huge (and I was happy with my 42 inch one) but it broke, I had a decent job, but the surprise that a brand new 100 Hz Sony 55 inch was priced down from $1900 to $800 (very lucky me), which was just ridiculous as the next TV (almost the same as my broken one) was a 40 inch at $699, which was perfectly decently priced for those days. Now, we can hang onto the idea that it was just a crazy sales, which does happen, but to flood the market with something almost twice the size, with much higher specifications at next to the same price as a small B-brand TV is too weird. It is almost like having a Canon 5D at the normal $2500 and offering next to it a Hasselblad X1D-50c at $3000, which would be awesome as these babies go for $13,000. It would be 20Mp versus 50Mp. As a photographer I can tell you that I would kill for a Hasselblad 50 Megapixel camera (and as I know the Evidence Act 1995, I might get away with it).

So, I hope you understand the weirdness of such good deals. And in all this, Sony has the ability to capture this data (I am not accusing them of doing this, I have no evidence of any kind that this is happening), but the threat to our privacy is real. Now you might not think that this is important. Yet consider that this data could be sold, how many hours are you not sporting, how many hours do you watch TV and what do you watch? How long until you suddenly get a 12% spike in health insurance? There is where the difference is! You see, these players are very very interested in that data, minimise their risk and charge extra to anyone that is a risk. In my case it does not matter, my smart TV is connected to my console and my Blu-ray player, so there is no ‘smart’ data to capture. What is important for these sales people that the 0.5% of the group that I represent is not the issue, their value is the 80%+ that does connect their TV for Netflix and other reasons, that is where their value is and it is potentially bringing in millions, so the 60% discount is a joke to them. That is the part Colbert smoothly walked over whilst he joked about the CIA and the press at large stayed away from that FTC ruling, so there is one of the dangers.

The other danger is organised crime. How long until people realise that being away from home means no TV? That means that the smart TV logs are not showing movement. How long until the criminals can connect smart TV usage and social media action into, which house is empty? Oh and as you advertise on Facebook that you are on Cuba, how long until you realise that you gave away the info that your house is unprotected? More important the quote “Oversharing on social media could not only leave you open to burglary but it could also invalidate your home insurance policy” is not a joke, this quote was given 2 years ago. Justice Gibson of the District Court of New South Wales raised the issue as early as 2014, the courts are not ready for this and for the most, they are only dealing with the fallout that Contract Law is giving them, more precisely the contracts that Insurance agencies have been working on. With currently well over 80% of Australians on social media (which is actually low compared to Scandinavian nations), the consideration of implementing certain risks is an essential need for any insurance agent. Yet, at what point can usage of social media be seen as evidence towards negligence? Mobile phones tells us where we are, smartphones tell everyone what we do (through our usage), and Smart TV’s give us what we watch, out interests and our activities, or lack thereof. At what point is any of this evidence to act, to surcharge to act as a penalty or as an option to nullify the security of insurance?

That is the part not considered and it gets even worse!

This is seen in the news that is hitting us now through what is marketed as Vault 7. CNN Money (at http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/09/technology/cia-smart-tv-wikileaks-public-hacks/) gives us the news on how the CIA is spying, although they do also mention “security researchers say the methods imitate exploits that were discovered — and made public years ago“, So when I see “Samsung warned users about exactly this type of susceptibility in 2015. The company told CNNTech this week that it is ‘urgently looking into the matter.’“, my question becomes: ‘How much data did you collect?‘, so as the warning is 2 years old, apart from making batteries explode, did you do anything to stop this threat? And as we see Dan Trentler, CEO of the Phobos Group security firm state: ‘That appears to be the same exploit he witnessed in action onstage at a security conference in 2013, he said‘, can we give accusation that there is nothing innocent going on and the level of negligence shown in one article spanning 3 years of events, that is enough to warrant a much larger investigation into privacy invasion by large corporations?

 

It is not about just consent, they are mining our choices and leaving us with less. You might not consider this or comprehend this, but it is an optimised way of American business. I have to explain this.

I was confronted with a larger group of board members of a large firm. As an ‘upper’ grunt I had two distinct jobs. One give the best service to my clients and protect them as much as possible from any negative event, which is what any good Technical consultant does. And I had to be faithful and supportive to my bosses, which is what a loyal employee does. Now consider the meeting where we get the premise: ‘What if you cannot service your client 100%, but only 80%, would that be acceptable?

Now, the danger here is that my answer would be a solid ‘No!’ A danger from the corporation side when we consider the introduction of service level agreements, the introduction that the client was unwilling to pay for the service given. How do you take a stand (driven by wisdom) at that point?

This is where you the consumer are at, but it comes from another direction. Places like Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, HP, IBM and Apple are all in the optimisation phase, because the economy is still not great and most of us would only be able to afford one of these devices, perhaps a second one for Christmas if we are lucky. So as we can get 2 out of 5, so how do corporations go about getting the largest share you can? Now we get to the AnswerTree part, you become smarter in how you get to your audience to choose you, not merely marketing but marketing to the most likely buying population. The question then becomes what options you have at your disposal. Do you sacrifice one device so you get an option to see 2 more options for alternative sale and get the contribution needed? The reasons is that in this day and age, it is not about revenue, when you are a listed company, when you have stakeholders, it will be about contribution (revenue minus costs), if you fail that, no great bonus, no mistress, no fast car and in the end no job.

So here we see the rundown on how Stephen Colbert became a danger to you, he made it into a CIA joke, whilst the bitter and solemn truth is that the real danger is the invitation you readily give out to all manner of freebie givers, only to learn the hard way that they get back what they gave out in tenfold, just by collecting your inactions and sell it to whomever can transform that into personal profit. So whilst some people are falling asleep reading (at http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Providers-adjusting-to-greater-use-of-social-media-in-healthcare) how social media is interacting in health care, consider what an insurer would give to know that you visited a free clinic for the third time this quarter. It might not cost them anything, but it will set a flag to raise premiums the next year. Did you consider that? And as we shrug at seeing “Social media analysis done with natural language processing has given care facilities a more efficient way to get patient feedback“, many will ignore, just like the previous example on raising premiums. Even as you consider a visit for planned parenthood to be perfectly natural and normal (which it is), but when the insurer realises that you will be needing to visit an OBGYN in the near future, you better realise that you are lucky if your premium rises with only 5%. That is the way business is done and the initial ‘risk’ numbers to which you were held at premium are 10 years old and you fall in a much higher group. Only the super healthy teenager who does not get sick gets the low increase, that whilst he was actually a 0% risk. How fair is that and why is the media not all over that on a daily basis?

The CIA was never worthy to be mentioned in this regard, for 99% of the Americans they are nothing as these 99% of Americans were harmless so the CIA never cared to begin with and that is the group Colbert was aiming for which is odd in one way and on the other hand, we do get that he is a comedian who is trying to entertain 100% of his clients, those who tune in on his version of humour. He cannot be faulted for that, the press at large however can be faulted and they should but they stay away from it for other reasons. Mainly because they want a slice of the Samsung $700 million advertisement budget (that is for the USA alone), Microsoft and Sony are in similar predicaments, which is why certain events will not make the front cover any day soon. The reason of data collection being the most obvious one, but at times it can be trivialised as they are only gamers, or it is only a console and consent is overrated. I’ll let you be the judge of what matters and what not, just remember, when you are no longer within the 80% of the group they cater for and you already bought the device, where will your rights be, or your service provider? Perhaps you get the same answer Microsoft gave me: ‘we have no control over uploads, that is all with your internet provider!‘ Interesting how my consent was manoeuvred around in all of this.

 

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Is it a Prise, Prize or Price fight?

This is an interesting time, you see, many will not yet realise it, but we are roughly 19 months away from a game changing moment in our lives. There are groups of people scurrying to get to a virtual starting position, because they have learned the hard way that not setting the stage for the fight means that they will lose out the second time and this time there will be no third round for them. If you are at this point considering that I am kidding or that my statement is over the top, you better reconsider fast, because Orange Poland is now starting to get backers who have serious amounts of cash and last Wednesday, AT&T released ECOMP (their version) in San Francisco. They called it Indigo and it is one of two markers that are now actively in place to set the stage for massive shifts in Big Data. Yes, you are reading this correct!

This is not just a stage of evolution, this is now starting to be a stage of transition. As the people are marketed into a sullied state of dreams, they are tempted to seek what the places bring to them. Places like Tableau relying on AdWords top placement to show how important they are in this industry, with others using the same path on how ‘the magic quadrant of Big Business‘ is the solution, on how we see the ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader‘, but the truth is actually in another direction. Places like AT&T who basically got their asses handed to them as they did not act in the 90’s, they now see that being there ahead of the game is the only move left to them, because AT&T sees that America will not make them great, it will not make them the global player. That is the first shift we see are now witnessing.

In this a very similar view can be found in the movie Assassins Creed. Now, it got written off by a several critics, but the beauty of the product is not in the movie, which is still bringing in a decent amount of profit (millions) for first time producer (and actor) Michael Fassbender. The reason why this movie is so interesting is seen in the revenue. Only 25% came from the US, the rest international. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does it to some degree where the US and international set is 50/50, the US is no longer the bulk of the income for, a basic issue that now needs addressing, especially by the American players.  That time has gone and these players have caught on that in 22 months the infrastructure is either in place, or they are out of the race. Even as we still see large players (like the Dutch KPN) rely on presentations on how ‘great’ they are. Certain players are realising more that tactics need to change, the presentation is no longer enough, and they need to be ready sooner than ever expected.

This is seen in another way, a way I already saw coming. This time it is the Canberra Times (at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/ftc-accuses-vizio-of-spying-on-smart-tv-customers-20170206-gu70p5.html) that gives the goods. We see ‘The US Federal Trade Commission said on Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers‘, which reminded me of my blog article ‘The back door‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/12/29/the-back-door/), which I wrote on December 29th 2016 with the part “consider the amount of mail you have at present and see what happens when 10 devices are added to your house profile. The refrigerator, your smart TV, your smart recorder, your game console, your laptop/tablet/PC, your 5 smart devices” as well as “A large group of people will get more and more access to your way of life. In addition, there will be an option to influence your way of life, which is a side nobody signed up for“, a stage that is now coming a lot faster than I expected. The Vizio case is only the most visible one now, this whilst more evidence is coming that Microsoft is engaged in similar actions. Is it not interesting that Microsoft is not mentioned? Perhaps that is because they are only doing that outside of the US? What is interesting is that with Vizio, places like Time.com states how to deactivate certain options, there are more and more indicators out there that this is not an option with Windows 10. How many devices use that? The other part we need to know is that the Vizio case started all the way back in 2014. So it took the trade commission well over 2 years to get there, and for how long was data collected? The interesting part is however not there, it is in the quote “manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, according to the complaint“. You see, the issue is not seen towards one place, when you consider ‘including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices‘, this implies that Vizio played the field and was also getting the data from Consoles (which hurts Microsoft and Sony) as well as Foxtel (several data paths), so did Vizio get dobbed in? You see, in 2014 this field was in its infancy, now in 2017, whilst data will be the essential centre stage to all matters big data related, now it gets to be a different thing and still the media at large is asking way too few questions on the who, where and for how long. And as our exposure is set to 2014 cases that are only decided now. Even as now suddenly a wave of newscasts is hitting the screens of people on how Microsoft has privacy tools, how Microsoft is trying to quash gag orders. Microsoft is part of all this from the ground up. Whilst within a Chinese wall environment, one side of the wall is boasting that they champion the privacy of others. As we see that there are now Microsoft privacy tools, we see that that part comes with the small quote “coming to future editions of Windows 10“, which is the case because Microsoft and AT&T are very aware that being alive is being in the game and data is the one element that allows them to do it in an affordable way. There is an additional side, which was brought by Forbes. It is just a week old and gives us the consideration we actually need. The part where we get hit with ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, which could just be a storm in a teacup is not that minor an issue. You see Forbes own Thomas Fox-Brewster is setting the stage, but is he doing it intentionally so? consider “Trump’s decision should only affect the privacy of data handled by government agencies, not private companies” as well as “the only way in which the order may affect non-U.S. individuals lies in the manner the Department of Homeland Security handles personal information“, which is actually the part we should not care about. It is the ‘private companies‘ part that is the actual danger. First we need to take a look at the legal part. Now, I can do that, but the experienced people at DLA Piper (at https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2016/07/privacy-shield-is-final/) did that and I just hate inventing the wheel twice. Yet in that part the following issue rose, and it did so because it has happened before (and it will happen again). It is seen in this part ‘Secure personal data and ensure the ability to restrict secondary uses‘ and the issue is not because of that part exactly, it is because of the technological side to it. You see the restrictions on data and backup data are not the same, backup data is not seen as data. Forbes actually raised it in 2012 with “First and foremost, IT auditors need to come up to speed on the implications of auditing data that’s beyond the organization’s control and beyond the organization’s home borders. While some auditors are worried, many are more optimistic that these requirements provide business opportunities within the security, compliance and auditing community as organizations move data and long-term storage into the cloud” as well as “When data is moved beyond an organization’s technological and geographic borders, the organization runs the risk of losing control of how that data complies with regulatory compliance. By addressing legal and regulatory challenges up front through technology, an organization can begin architecting an off-premise, cloud-based storage solution that meets the business’s needs as well as keeps regulatory compliance at bay“, yet only now, or better stated only recently do we see a shift that places like SAP are now realising that technicians and consultants have their own agenda’s and an American one does not see things the same way a European technician sees things. Computer Weekly raised it, but they did so with the interesting quote “data analytics technology, will ensure that only technicians in Europe will have access to potentially sensitive data held in its cloud datacentres, if companies demand it“, you see, it’s the ‘if companies demand it‘ part that matters. If provider A has an infrastructure yet it gets its backup serviced by consultancy provider B who uses a different cloud and cloud system, where is the security set when system B is in the USA and system A is in Italy? There we might see the term ‘data safety is not impacted‘, yet it is equally not impacted when Intelligence Agency ‘who gives a damn‘ has mirrored that backup and now has 100% of all data. That is the realistic issue that the Privacy Shield addresses, but does it do that in equal measure for a cloud corporate infrastructure? Is the backup party vetted, or even identified? You see, this is not about paranoia or what people learn about me. This is about large corporations getting an even more unbalanced advantage. That part is not addressed because those supporting large corporation only need to delay things (Vizio 2014 is evidence enough). It is Kevin Werbach from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania who gives the parts I have been referring to. In a podcast on innovation we get “Companies like Uber and Airbnb are built on algorithms. They’re built on software that understands supply and demand and matches people on both sides of the network“, THIS IS IT!

That is why the players need the data and as much as they can. Do you think that people like Mike McNamara (Target Corp) got a massive oversized budget for the fun of it? No, he realised (and successfully sold that to the board of directors), that if he had the data and the systems in place he can take K-Mart and Walmart to town and take chunks of their share, in the next 6 months we are likely to see the first small victories, small in start but it will be a growing wave, have no doubt about that part. These are the advantages that larger corporations have and some are doing it ethically acceptable. Yet in a similar fashion I see that those taking a different path are not questioned or hold to any level of accountability. How is that for screwed up? I have nothing against these places, but in the global setting, Target would gain an advantage against the Dutch C&A if this continues. I believe that to some degree competitiveness is a good thing, but what happens when the tools available are not available to all? What happens when one retailer is ethically kept blind, whilst the outside competitor has a dataset describing the national population in excellent detail? Where is the fairness then?

So are we facing a fight with three players? That is not a given, there are a few elements in motion over the next 18+ months so there will be shifting. Except those who are claiming and considering not participating, they are pretty much out of the game for good. Nokia is now re-joining the mobile fight, trying to bring a competitor to the Pixar XL and the iPhone 7 to the fight (Nokia P1), what was interesting is that they avoided the one ‘mistake’ the Google Pixar has. It will be one way for people to get a cheap solution this year, but will it be enough?

Not enough data to tell and that is where it sets the pace of the continuing fighters, who has the data? Which might be the premise of a joke. Three fighters were getting into the match. One thought it was a prize fight, one thought it was a prise fight and one assumed it was a price fight.

Which player do you think will be the one left standing in the end?

 

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