Tag Archives: Microsoft

A legislative system shock

Today the Guardian brings us the news regarding the new legislation on personal data. The interesting starts with the image of Google and not Microsoft, which is a first item in all this. I will get back to this. The info we get with ‘New legislation will give people right to force online traders and social media to delete personal data and will comply with EU data protection‘ is actually something of a joke, but I will get back to that too. You see, the quote it is the caption with the image that should have been at the top of all this. With “New legislation will be even tougher than the ‘right to be forgotten’ allowing people to ask search engines to take down links to news items about their lives“, we get to ask the question who the protection is actually for?

the newspapers gives us this: “However, the measures appear to have been toughened since then, as the legislation will give people the right to have all their personal data deleted by companies, not just social media content relating to the time before they turned 18“, yet the reality is that this merely enables new facilitation for data providers to have a backup in a third party sense of data. As I personally see it, the people in all this will merely be chasing a phantom wave.

We see the self-assured Matt Hancock standing there in the image and in all this; I see no reason to claim that these laws will be the most robust set of data laws at all. They might be more pronounced, yet in all this, I question how facilitation is dealt with. With “Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, said data handlers would be made more accountable for the data “with the priority on personal privacy rights” under the new laws“, you see the viewer will always respond in the aftermath, meaning that the data is already created.

We can laugh at the statement “The definition of “personal data” will also be expanded to include IP addresses, internet cookies and DNA, while there will also be new criminal offences to stop companies intentionally or recklessly allowing people to be identified from anonymous personal data“, it is laughable because it merely opens up venues for data farms in the US and Asia, whilst diminishing the value of UK and European data farms. The mention of ‘include IP addresses‘ is funny as the bulk of the people on the internet are all on dynamic IP addresses. It is a protection for large corporations that are on static addresses. the mention of ‘stop companies intentionally or recklessly allowing people to be identified from anonymous personal data‘ is an issue as intent must be shown and proven, recklessly is something that needs to be proven as well and not on the balance of it, but beyond all reasonable doubt, so good luck with that idea!

As I read “The main aim of the legislation will be to ensure that data can continue to flow freely between the UK and EU countries after Brexit, when Britain will be classed as a third-party country. Under the EU’s data protection framework, personal data can only be transferred to a third country where an adequate level of protection is guaranteed“, is this another twist in anti-Brexit? You see none of this shows a clear ‘adequate level of protection‘, which tends to stem from technology, not from legislation, the fact that all this legislation is all about ‘after the event‘ gives rise to all this. So as I see it, the gem is at the end, when we see “the EU committee of the House of Lords has warned that there will need to be transitional arrangements covering personal information to secure uninterrupted flows of data“, it makes me wonder what those ‘actual transitional arrangements‘ are and how come that the new legislation is covering policy on this.

You see, to dig a little deeper we need to look at Nielsen. There was an article last year (at http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2016/uncommon-sense-the-big-data-warehouse.html), here we see: “just as it reached maturity, the enterprise data warehouse died, laid low by a combination of big data and the cloud“, you might not realise this, but it is actually a little more important than most realise. It is partially seen in the statement “Enterprise decision-making is increasingly reliant on data from outside the enterprise: both from traditional partners and “born in the cloud” companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as brokers of cloud-hosted utility datasets, such as weather and econometrics. Meanwhile, businesses are migrating their own internal systems and data to cloud services“.

You see, the actual dangers in all that personal data, is not the ‘privacy’ part, it is the utilities in our daily lives that are under attack. Insurances, health protection, they are all set to premiums and econometrics. These data farms are all about finding the right margins and the more they know, the less you get to work with and they (read: their data) will happily move to where ever the cloud takes them. In all this, the strong legislation merely transports data. You see the cloud has transformed data in one other way, the part Cisco could not cover. The cloud has the ability to move and work with ‘data in motion’; a concept that legislation has no way of coping with. The power (read: 8 figure value of a data utility) is about being able to do that and the parties needing that data and personalised are willing to pay through the nose for it, it is the holy grail of any secure cloud environment. I was actually relieved that it was not merely me looking at that part; another blog (at https://digitalguardian.com/blog/data-protection-data-in-transit-vs-data-at-rest) gives us the story from Nate Lord. He gives us a few definitions that are really nice to read, yet the part that he did not touch on to the degree I hoped for is that the new grail, the analyses of data in transit (read: in motion) is cutting edge application, it is what the pentagon wants, it is what the industry wants and it is what the facilitators want. It is a different approach to real time analyses, and with analyses in transit those people get an edge, an edge we all want.

Let’s give you another clear example that shows the value (and the futility of legislation). Traders get profit by being the first, which is the start of real wealth. So whoever has the fastest connection is the one getting the cream of the trade, which is why trade houses pay millions upon millions to get the best of the best. The difference between 5ms and 3ms results in billions of profit. Everyone in that industry knows that. So every firm has a Bloomberg terminal (at $27,000 per terminal), now consider the option that they could get you that data a millisecond faster and the automated scripts could therefor beat the wave of sales, giving them a much better price, how much are they willing to pay suddenly? This is a different level of armistice, it is weaponised data. The issue is not merely the speed; it is the cutting edge of being able to do it at all.

So how does this relate?

I am taking you back to the quote “it would amount to a “right to be forgotten” by companies, which will no longer be able to get limitless use of people’s data simply through default “tick boxes” online” as well as “the legislation will give people the right to have all their personal data deleted by companies“. The issue here is not to be forgotten, or to be deleted. It is about the data not being stored and data in motion is not stored, which now shows the futility of the legislation to some extent. You might think that this is BS, consider the quote by IBM (at https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/5things/entry/5_things_to_know_about_big_data_in_motion?lang=en), it comes from 2013, IBM was already looking at matters in different areas close to 5 years ago, as were all the large players like Google and Microsoft. With: “data in motion is the process of analysing data on the fly without storing it. Some big data sources feed data unceasingly in real time. Systems to analyse this data include IBM Streams “, here we get part of it. Now consider: “IBM Streams is installed on nearly every continent in the world. Here are just a few of the locations of IBM Streams, and more are being added each year“. In 2010 there were 90 streams on 6 continents, and IBM stream is not the only solution. As you read that IBM article, you also read that Real-time Analytic Processing (RTAP) is a real thing, it already was then and the legislation that we now read about does not take care of this form of data processing, what the legislation does in my view is not give you any protection, it merely limits the players in the field. It only lets the really big boys play with your details. So when you see the reference to the Bloomberg terminal, do you actually think that you are not part in the data, or ever forgotten? EVERY large newspaper and news outlet would be willing to pay well over $127,000 a year to get that data on their monitors. Let’s call them Reuter Analytic Systems (read: my speculated name for it), which gets them a true representation of all personalised analytical and reportable data in motion. So when they type the name they need, they will get every detail. In this, the events that were given 3 weeks ago with the ITPRO side (at http://www.itpro.co.uk/strategy/29082/ecj-may-extend-right-to-be-forgotten-ruling-outside-the-eu) sounds nice, yet the quote “Now, as reported by the Guardian, the ECJ will be asked to be more specific with its initial ruling and state whether sites have to delete links only in the country that requests it, or whether it’s in the EU or globally” sounds like it is the real deal, yet this is about data in rest, the links are all at rest, so the data itself will remain and as soon as HTML6 comes we might see the beginning of the change. There have been requests on that with “This is the single-page app web design pattern. Everyone’s into it because the responsiveness is so much better than loading a full page – 10-50ms with a clean API load vs. 300-1500ms for a full HTML page load. My goal would be a high-speed responsive web experience without having to load JavaScript“, as well as “having the browser internally load the data into a new data structure, and the browser then replaces DOM elements with whatever data that was loaded as needed“, it is not mere speed, it would allow for dynamic data (data in motion) to be shown. So when I read ‘UK citizens to get more rights over personal data under new laws‘, I just laughed. The article is 15 hours old and I considered instantly the issues I shown you today. I will have to wait until the legislation is released, yet I am willing to bet a quality bottle of XO Cognac that data in motion is not part of this, better stated, it will be about stored data. All this whilst the new data norm is still shifting and with G5 mobile technologies, stored data might actually phase out to be a much smaller dimension of data. The larger players knew this and have been preparing for this for several years now. This is also an initial new need for the AI that Google wants desperately, because such a system could ascertain and give weight to all data in motion, something IBM is currently not able to do to the extent they need to.

The system is about to get shocked into a largely new format, that has always been the case with evolution. It is just that actual data evolution is a rare thing. It merely shows to me how much legislation is behind on all this, perhaps I will be proven wrong after the summer recess. It would be a really interesting surprise if that were the case, but I doubt that will happen. You can see (read about that) for yourself after the recess.

I will follow up on this, whether I was right or wrong!

I’ll let you speculate which of the two I am, as history has proven me right on technology matters every single time (a small final statement to boost my own ego).

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Drop the Mike, Ashley!

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

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

I offer in evidence the following pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we put the whole together!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media

Confirmation on Arrival

Last week, I gave you some of the views I had in ‘Google is fine, not fined‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/28/google-is-fine-not-fined/). I stated “This is not on how good one or the other is, this is how valid the EU regulator findings were and so far, I have several questions in that regard. Now, I will be the last one keeping governments from getting large corporations to pay taxation, yet that part is set in the tax laws, not in EU-antitrust. As mentioned the searchers before, I wonder whether the EU regulators are facilitating for players who seem more and more clueless in a field of technology that is passing them by on the left and the right side of the highway called, the ‘Internet Of Things’“, 5 days later we see that my views were correct, again and again I have shown that looking behind the scenes is adamant to see the levels of misinformation and betrayal. Now in ‘To tackle Google’s power, regulators have to go after its ownership of data‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/01/google-european-commission-fine-search-engines) we now see: “The Google workshop at the Viva Technology show last month in Paris, which brought together players who shape the internet’s transformation“, this is what it always has been about. Who owns the data? Evgeny Morozov gives us a good story on what should be and what should not be, he pictures a possible upcoming form of feudalism, all drenched in data. It is no longer just about merely data and applicability; it is more and more about governments becoming obsolete. The EU is the first evidence in this. The EU is regarded as something that is on top of governments, yet that is not the case. It seems to be replacing them through orchestration. Mario Draghi is spending massive amounts of funds none of them have, yet in all this, yesterday we see “The European Central Bank has been dealt a heavy blow after inflation in June tumbled further below target, despite extreme measures from policymakers to stoke the economic measure” as well as “Unless price rises are stronger, ECB chief Mario Draghi has signaled that he is unlikely to scale back the mammoth levels of support for the economy“, so it is he and the ECB who are now setting the precedence of spending, printing money without any value behind supporting it. So is it ‘wealth distribution‘ or ‘wealth abolishment‘?

If we agree that this economy has failed, if we believe that this way of life is no more, when we accept that ¼th of this planets population is dead in roughly 25 years, what would come next? I would not presume to know that answer, yet can we imagine that if the dollar stops, we would need something else, in that case is data not a currency?

Now, I am perfectly happy to be utterly wrong here, I am also weirdly unsettled with the notion that our money is dwindling in value day after day. Now let’s get back to the ‘view’ of Morozov. When we see “Alphabet has so much data on each of us that any new incoming email adds very little additional context. There are, after all, diminishing returns to adding extra pieces of information to the billions it already possesses. Second, it’s evident that Alphabet, due to competition from Microsoft and Amazon, sees its paying corporate clients as critical to its future. And it’s prepared to use whatever advantages it has in the realm of data to differentiate itself from the pack – for example, by deploying its formidable AI to continue scanning the messages for viruses and malware“, we see more than just an adjustment in strategy.

Yet, I do not completely agree, you see data is only truly valued when it is up to date, so as data rolls over for new data new patterns will emerge. That would be an essential need for anything towards an AI, in this Data in motion and evolving data is essential to the core of any AI. and that timeline is soon becoming more adamant than some realise.

When we consider a quote from a 2006 article relating to a 2004 occurrence “Google published a new version of its PageRank patent, Method for node ranking in a linked database. The PageRank patent is filed under its namesake, Lawrence Page, and assigned to The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University; US Patent 7,058,628“, we should consider that the value it has will diminish (read: be reduced) in 2024 (for Google that is). There is of course another sight that this was ‘version 2‘, so others would be able to get closer with their own version. In 6 years as the Patent ends it will be open to all to use. No matter what some have, you only need to switch to Bing for a few days to see how straggling and incomplete it is. When you realise that Microsoft has no way at present to offer anything close to it, you get the first inside of how high the current Google value is and how much it scares governments and large corporations alike.

Now we get to the ‘ground works’ of it. From this we can see that Google seems to have been the only one working on an actual long term strategy, an event that others have stopped doing for a long time. All we see from Microsoft and IBM has been short term, masquerading as long term goals with 70% of those goals falling into disrepair and become obsolete through iteration (mainly to please the stakeholders they report to), is it such a surprise that I or anyone else would want to be part of an actual visionary company like Google? If Google truly pulls of the AI bit (it has enough data) we would see a parsing of intelligence (read: Business Intelligence) on a scale never witnessed before. It would be like watching a Google Marine holding a 9mm, whilst the opposite is the IBM Neanderthal (read: an exaggeration, the IBM would be the Cro-Magnon, not Neanderthal) holding a pointy stick named Watson. The extreme difference would be that large. In all this governments are no longer mentioned. They have diminished into local governments organising streams of data and facilitating consumers, mere civil servants in service of the people in their district. Above that, those levels of workers would become obsolete; the AI would set structures and set resources for billions. We went from governments, to organisations, we left fair opportunity behind and moved to ‘those who have and those who have not‘, and they are soon to be replaced for the ‘enablers and obstructers‘ and those who are the latter would fall into the shadows and face away.

Am I Crazy?

Well, that is always a fair argument, yet in all this, we have Greece as an initial example. Greece is possibly the only European nation with a civilisation that would soon become extinct twice. So as we see reports of lagging tourism revenue, on top of high regarded rises in GDP, rises we know that are not happening as the revenues are down by a larger margin (source: GTP), Greek revenue is down by 6.8 percent, which is massive! This gives stronger notions that the ‘beckoning of Greek bonds‘ is nothing more than a façade of a nation in its final moments of life. The fact that the ECB is not giving it any consideration for its trillion spending could also be regarded as evidence that the ECB has written off Greece. So tell me, when was the last time that nations were written off? Some of the press is now considering the works of former ‘rock star’ Yanis Varoufakis. Yet in all this, when did they actually change the landscape by investigating and prosecuting those who got Greece in the state it is in now? In the end, only the journalist releasing a list of millionaires pulling their money out of Greece, only he went to prison. So, as such, Greece is a first step of evidence that governments are no longer the powers they once claimed they were, and as less and less government officials are being held to account when it comes to larger financial transgressions is also a factor as to why the people of those nations no longer give them any regard.

The second view is in the UK, here we see ‘U.K. to End Half Century of Fishing Rights in Brexit Slap to EU‘, in this Bloomberg gives us “Prime Minister Theresa May will pull Britain out of the 1964 London convention that allows European fishing vessels to access waters as close as six to twelve nautical miles from the U.K. coastline“, in here we also see “This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union — one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the U.K.“, which is only partially true. You see, Michael Gove has only a partial point and it is seen with: “Britain’s fishing industry is worth 775 million pounds and in 2015 it employed 10,162 full-time fishermen, down from about 17,000 in 1990. In almost three decades, fleet numbers dropped a third to 6,200 vessels and the catch has shrunk 30 percent“, the part that is not given is that from 1930 onwards engineering made massive strides in the field of ship engines, not large strides but massive ones. A ship, and its crew can catch fish, yet it is the engines that allow for the nets to be bigger and for the winches to be stronger to hoist those filled nets. In the ‘old’ days 2000 horsepower was a really powerful vessel, which amounted to 1.5 megawatts. Nowadays, these boats start at well over 300% of what was, so not only are the ships larger, can hold more fish and pull more weight, these ships are also getting more efficient in finding fish. I personally witnessed one of the first colour screen fish radars in 1979. In this field technology has moved far beyond this, almost 4 decades beyond this. If there is one part clearly shown, than it is the simple fact that technology changed industries, which has been a given for the better part of three generations. Not merely because we got better at what we do or how we do it, but as fishing results show that catches has been down by 30%, there is the optional element that there is less to catch because we got too efficient. It is a dwindling resource and fishing is merely the first industry to see the actual effects that lack of restraint is leading to.

So when we see a collapsed industry, can we blame governments? Who can we blame and is blame an actual option? In this, is there any validity in the fact that this part of government has surpassed its date of usefulness? Perhaps yes and there is equal consideration that this is not the case, yet the amount of consumers remains growing and as available resources go down we see the need for other solutions.

This is merely a first part. As we now move into the US and their 4th of July part, I will now look at other sides as well, sides we stopped considering. You see, there is opposition and it is growing. CNBC gives us one side to this with ‘Google Deep Mind patient data deal with UK health service illegal, watchdog says‘ (at http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/03/google-deepmind-nhs-deal-health-data-illegal-ico-says.html), three points were raised. “A data sharing deal between Google’s Deep Mind and the U.K.’s National Health Service “failed to comply with data protection law“, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said“, “The deal between the two parties was aimed at developing a new app called Streams that helped monitor patients with acute kidney disease” as well as “the ICO said that patients were not notified correctly about how their data was being used“. Now, we can agree that an optional situation could exist. So does Elisabeth Denham have a point? For now let’s agree that she does, I would reckon that there has been a communicative transgression (this is how she plays it), yet is she being over formal or is she trying to slice the cake in a different way? The strongest statement is seen with “For example, a patient presenting at accident and emergency within the last five years to receive treatment or a person who engages with radiology services and who has had little or no prior engagement with the Trust would not reasonably expect their data to be accessible to a third party for the testing of a new mobile application, however positive the aims of that application may be.” OK, I can go along with that, we need certain settings for any level of privacy to be contained, yet…..there is no yet! The issue is not Google, the issue is that the data protection laws are there for a reason and now, it will hinder progress as well. As health services and especially UK NHS will need to rely on other means to stay afloat as costs are weighing it more and more to the bottom of an ocean of shortage of funding, the NHS will need to seek other solutions that will set an upward movement whilst the costs are slowly being worked on, it will take a long time and plenty of cash to sort it out, Google is merely one player who might solve the partial issue. Yet, the news could go in other directions too. Google is the largest, yet not the only player in town, as people seem to focus on marketing and presentations, we see IBM and to the smaller extent Microsoft and we all forget that Huawei is moving up in this field and it is gaining momentum. The cloud data centre in Peru is only a first step. It is only the arrogance of Americans that seem to think that this field is an American field. With Peru, India and China, Huawei is now active on a global scale. It has hired the best of the best that China has to offer and that is pretty formidable, There is no way that Huawei could catch up with Google in the short term, yet there services are now in a stage that they can equal IBM. As we see a race for what is now at times called the IoT landscape, we see the larger players fight for the acceptance of ‘their IoT standard’, and even as we see IBM mentioned, we see clearly that Google has a large advantage in achievements here and is heading the number of patents in this field, as Huawei is pretty much accepting the Google IoT standard, we see that they can focus on growth surpassing IBM, Qualcomm and Intel. In this Huawei will remain behind Apple in size and revenue, but as it is not in that field in a true competitive way Huawei might not consider Apple a goal, yet as they grow in India, Huawei could surpass the Tata group within 2 years.

So how does this matter?

As we see the steps (the not incorrect steps) of Elisabeth Denham, the acts as we saw in the Guardian on how regulators are trying to muzzle and limit the growth and activities of Google, how much influence do they have with Huawei? Even as we see that Huawei is privately owned, there have been a few articles on Ren Zhengfei and his connection to the Chinese military. It has spooked the US in the past, and consider how spooked they will get when Huawei grows their service levels in places like Greece, Spain and Italy? What will the EU state? Something like “your money smells, we will not accept it“. No! The EU is in such deep debt that they will invite Huawei like the prodigal son being welcomed home. So whilst everyone is bitching on how Google needs to be neutered, those people allow serious opponents and threats to Google’s data future to catch up. Huawei is doing so, one carrier at a time and they are doing it in a global way.

So as we see all kind of confirmations from media outlets all over the world, we seem to forget that they are not the only player in town as their growth in EU nations like Spain with a new android base Set Top Box (STB), Huawei just now becomes the competitor for Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange, implying that it now has a growing beach head into Europe with decent technology for a really affordable price. In a place where they all complain on how there is no economy, Huawei is more than a contender and it is growing business where others had mere presence and sustainable levels of revenue. It is merely a contained view on how the EU regulators seem to be fumbling the ball for long term growth, whilst handing opportunity to China (read: Huawei), who will be eagerly exporting to Europe the products they can.

In all this, CoA can be seen as a mere confirmation, a Course of Action by regulators, the Court of Appeal for Google, the Cost of Application for Huawei, the Coming of Age for Business Intelligence and the Center of Attention that Google is calling on themselves, whether intentional or not does not matter. We are left with the question whether at this point, the limelight is the best for them, we will leave that to Mr. Alphabet to decide.

1 Comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Google is fine, not fined

Yup, that’s me in denial. I know that there will be an appeal and it is time for the EU to actually get a grip on certain elements. In this matter I do speak with some expert authority as I have been part of the Google AdWords teams (not employed by Google though). The article ‘Google fined record €2.4bn by EU over search engine results‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/27/google-braces-for-record-breaking-1bn-fine-from-eu) is a clear article. Daniel Boffey gives us the facts of the case, which is what we were supposed to read and get. Yet there is another side to it all and I think the people forgot just how terribly bad the others are. So when I read: “By artificially and illegally promoting its own price comparison service in searches, Google denied both its consumers real choice and rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field, European regulators said“, so let’s start with this one and compare it to the mother of all ….. (read: Bing). First of all, there is no ‘Shopping’ tab. So there is that! If I go into the accursed browser of them (read: Internet Explorer), I get loads of unwanted results. In light of the last few days I had to enter ‘Grenfell .co.uk‘ a few times and guess what, I get “Visit Grenfell, Heart of Weddin Shire” in my top results, a .org.au site. The place is in NSW. Did I ask for that? Google gives a perfectly fine result. Now, I am not including the top ads as the advertisers can bid for whatever solution they want to capture. So let’s have a look at Bing ads. First I can choose to be visible in Aussie or Kiwi land, I can be visible globally or I can look at specific locations. So how do you appeal to the Australian and Scandinavian markets? Oh, and when you see the Bing system, it is flawed, yet it uses all the Google AdWords terms and phrases, callout extensions, snippets. They didn’t even bother to give them ‘original’ Bing names. And I still can’t see a way to target nations. So when we see a copy to this extent, we see the first evidence that Google made a system that a small time grocery shop like Microsoft cannot replicate at present. We can argue that the user interface is a little friendlier for some, but it is lacking in several ways and soon, when they are forced to overhaul, you get a new system to learn. So when the racer (Micro$oft) is coming in an Edsel and is up against a Jaguar XJ220, is it dominance by manipulating the race, or should the crying contender considered coming in an actual car?

Next, when I read ‘rival firms the ability to compete on a level playing field’, should the EU regulator consider that the other player does not have a shopping tab, the other players has a lacking advertisement management system that require massive overbidding to get there? Then we get the change history. I cannot see specifics like ‘pausing a campaign‘, this seems like a really important item to show, for the most ALL changes are important and the user is not shown several of them.

In the end, each provider will have its own system; it is just massively unsettling on how this system ‘mimics’ Google AdWords. Yet this is only the beginning.

The quote “The commission’s decision, following a seven-year probe into Google’s dominance in searches and smartphones, suggests the company may need to fundamentally rethink the way it operates. It is also now liable to face civil actions for damages by any person or business affected by its anti-competitive behaviour” really got me started. So, if we go back to 2010, we see the BBC (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8174763.stm) give us “Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power the Yahoo website and Yahoo will in turn become the advertising sales team for Microsoft’s online offering. Yahoo has been struggling to make profits in recent years. But last year it rebuffed several takeover bids from Microsoft in an attempt to go it alone” in addition there is “Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said the 10-year deal would provide Microsoft’s Bing search engine with the necessary scale to compete“. Now he might well be the 22nd richest person on the planet, yet I wonder how he got there. We have known that the Yahoo system has been flawed for a long time, I was for a long time a Yahoo fan, I kept my account for the longest of times and even when Google was winning the race, I remained a loyal Yahoo fan. It got me what I needed. Yet over time (2006-2009) Yahoo kept on lagging more and more and the Tim Weber, the Business editor of the BBC News website stated it the clearest: “Yahoo is bowing to the inevitable. It simply had neither the resources nor the focus to win the technological arms race for search supremacy“. There is no shame here, Yahoo was not number one. So as we now realise that the Bing Search engine is running on a flawed chassis, how will that impact the consumer? Having a generic chassis is fine, yet you lose against the chassis of a Bentley Continental. Why? Because the designer was more specific with the Bentley, it was specific! As Bentley states: “By bringing the Speed models 10mm closer to the ground, Bentley’s chassis engineering team laid the foundation for an even sportier driving experience. To do so they changed the springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and suspension bushes. The result is improved body control under hard cornering, together with greater agility“, one element influences the other, and the same applies to online shopping, which gets us back to Steve Ballmer. His quote to the BBC “Through this agreement with Yahoo, we will create more innovation in search, better value for advertisers, and real consumer choice in a market currently dominated by a single company“, is that so? You see, in 2009 we already knew that non-Google algorithms were flawed. It wasn’t bad, there was the clear indication that the Google algorithms were much better, these algorithms were studies at universities around the world (also at the one I attended), the PageRank as Stanford University developed it was almost a generation ahead of the rest and when the others realised that presentations and boasts didn’t get the consumer anywhere (I attended a few of those too), they lost the race. The other players were all about the corporations and getting them online, getting the ‘path build’ so that the people will buy. Yet Google did exactly the opposite they wondered what the consumer needed and tended to that part, which won them the race and it got transferred into the Advertisement dimension as such. Here too we see the failing and the BBC published it in 2009. So the second quote “Microsoft and Yahoo know there’s so much more that search could be. This agreement gives us the scale and resources to create the future of search“, well that sounds nice and all marketed, yet, the shown truth was that at this point, their formula was flawed, Yahoo was losing traction and market share on a daily basis and what future? The Bing system currently looks like a ripped of copy (a not so great one) of the Google AdWords system, so how is there any consideration of ‘the ability to compete on a level playing field‘? In my view the three large players all had their own system and the numbers two and three were not able to keep up. So is this the case (as the EU regulator calls it) of “by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors“, or is there a clear growing case that the EU regulator does not comprehend that the algorithm is everything and the others never quite comprehended the extend of the superiority of the Google ranks? Is Google demoting others, or are the others negating elements that impact the conclusion? In car terms, if the Google car is the only one using Nitro, whilst the use of Nitro is perfectly legal (in this case). In addition, we see in 2015 ‘Microsoft loses exclusivity in shaken up Yahoo search deal‘ as well as “Microsoft will continue to provide search results for Yahoo, but in a reduced capacity. The two have renegotiated the 2009 agreement that saw Redmond become the exclusive provider of search results for a company that was once known for its own search services. This came amid speculation that Yahoo would try to end the agreement entirely“, so not only are they on a flawed system, they cannot agree on how to proceed as friends. So why would anyone continue on a limited system that does not go everywhere? In addition in April 2015 we learn “The other major change is that Microsoft will now become the exclusive salesforce for ads delivered by Microsoft’s Bing Ads platform, while Yahoo will do the same for its Gemini ads platform“, So Yahoo is cutting its sales team whilst Microsoft has to grow a new one, meaning that the customers have to deal with two systems now. In addition, they are now dealing with companies having to cope with a brain drain. Still, how related are these factors?

I personally see them as linked. One will influence the other, whilst changing the car chassis to something much faster will impact suspension and wheels, we see a generalised article (at no fault to the Guardian or the writer), yet I want to see the evidence the EU regulator has, I have been searching for the case notes and so far no luck. Yet in my mind, as I see the issues that those involves on the EU regulator side d not really comprehend the technology. This can be gotten from “According to an analysis of around 1.7bn search queries, Google’s search algorithm systematically was consistently giving prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service to the detriment of rival services“, where is that evidence? Analyses are the results of the applied algorithm (when it is done correct) and in this the advertiser is still the element not begotten. I have seen clients willing to bid through the roof for one keyword, whilst today, I notice that some of the elements of the Bing Ads do not support certain parts, so that means that my results will be impacted for no less than 10%-20% on the same bidding, so is it ‘demoting results of competitors‘, or is the competitor system flawed and it requires bids that are 20% higher just to remain competitive? And if I can already state that there are dodgy findings based on the information shown, how valid is the EU regulation findings and more important, where else did they lack ‘wisdom’?

There are references to AdSense and more important the issue they have, yet when we consider that the EU is all about corporations, these places want facilitation and as they ignored AdSense, that solutions started to get traction via bloggers and information providers. So when we see: “In a second investigation into AdSense, a Google service that allows websites to run targeted ads, the commission is concerned that Google has reduced choice by preventing sites from sourcing search ads from competitors“. Is that so? The larger publishing houses like VNU (well over 50 magazines and their related sites), so in 2005, Google got new clients and as such grew a business. And that was just in the Netherlands. Now those just yanking in a corner, trying to present systems they did not have 4 years later, and they are now crying foul?

There are leagues of comparison sites. One quote I really liked was “Google is like the person that has it all together but is too conservative sometimes, and Bing is like the party friend who is open to anything but is a hot mess”. Another quote is from 2016: “With Bing Ads though, you can only show your ads on the Content Network if you’re targeting the entire US”. So an issue of targeting shown in 2016, an issue that Google AdWords did not have a year earlier. This is important because if you cannot target the right people, the right population, you cannot be competitive. This relates to the system and the EU-regulators, because a seven year ‘investigation’ shows that a year ago, the other players were still lagging against Google, in addition, when we read in the Guardian article: “the EU regulator is further investigating how else the company may have abused its position, specifically in its provision of maps, images and information on local services”, we need to realise that when we relate to cars, the other players are confined to technology of 1989 whilst Google has the Williams F1 FW40 – 2017. The difference is big and getting bigger. It is more than technology, whilst Microsoft is giving the people some PowerPoint driven speech on retention of staff, something that IBM might have given the year before, Google is boosting mental powers and pushing the envelope of technology. Whilst Bing maps exist, they merely show why we needed to look at the map in Google. This is the game, Microsoft is merely showing most people why we prefer to watch them on Google and it goes beyond maps, beyond shopping. As I personally see it, Microsoft is pushing whatever they can to boost Azure cloud. IBM is pushing in every direction to get traction on Watson. Google is pushing every solution on its own merit; that basic difference is why the others cannot keep up (that’s just a personal speculative view). I noticed a final piece of ‘evidence’ in a marketing style picture, which I am adding below. So consider the quote ’51 million unique searchers on the Yahoo! Bing Network do not use GOOGLE’, so consider the fact of those trying to address those 51 million, whilst they could be addressing 3.5 billion searchers.

The business sector wants results, not proclaimed concepts of things to come. Microsoft is still showing that flaw with their new Consoles and the upcoming Scorpio system (Xbox One X), users want storage, not streaming issues. They lost a gaming market that was almost on equal term with Sony (Xbox 360-PlayStation 3), to a situation where it now has a mere 16% market of the Sony market and that is about to drop further still as Nintendo is close to surpassing Microsoft too.

There is always a niche market (many people), who want to kick the biggest player in town, I get that. Yet at present the issues shown and as far as I get the technology, I feel that the EU regulators are failing in a bad way. I might be wrong here and If I get the entire commission papers and if issues are found, I will update this article as I am all about informing people as good and as correct as possible. Yet the one element that is most funny, is that when I open up Internet Explorer and I type in ‘Buy a Washing Machine‘ Bing gives me 8 options, 7 from David Jones and 1 from Snowys outdoors, which is a portable one and looks like a cement mixer. So when was the last time you went to David Jones to watch a washing machine? In Google Chrome I get 6 models on the right side, with 3 from Harvey Norman, 2 from the Good Guys and one from Betta, and that is before I press the shopping tab, so can we initially conclude that Micro$oft has a few issues running at present? Oh and the Google edition gives me models from $345 to $629, Bing prices were $70 for the portable one and the rest were $499-$1499.

This is not on how good one or the other is, this is how valid the EU regulator findings were and so far, I have several questions in that regard. Now, I will be the last one keeping governments from getting large corporations to pay taxation, yet that part is set in the tax laws, not in EU-antitrust. As mentioned the searchers before, I wonder whether the EU regulators are facilitating for players who seem more and more clueless in a field of technology that is passing them by on the left and the right side of the highway called, the ‘Internet Of Things’.

From my point of view Google is doing just fine!

The EU regulator? Well we have several questions for that EU department.

1 Comment

Filed under IT, Media, Science

After the E3

I tend to not take Kotaku as a source (not for any negative reason), yet they have been hammering the nail on the head, even as they did not say it.  Their part ‘the losers’ starts with an image of the Xbox with the text ‘I witnessed the most powerful console ever‘, yes, hiding behind a technical detail whilst there is no proper space to store it is always a bad idea and I was happy to call the Microsoft presence literally a ‘waste of space‘ in my previous E3 article, so far I stand by it. Consider that the most powerful console has only 50% of storage space compared to a MacBook pro, which cannot do that level of gaming. Consider (taken Seagate 2.5″ drives as an example). The shift from 1TB to 2TB is $30, the shift from 2TB to 3TB is an additional $60. I do acknowledge that the 3TB drive is 8mm thicker, yet the dimensions of the 1TB and 2TB are identical, so twice the size for a mere $30 more, this is what makes the Xbox a joke. Sony might do the same, yet with Sony, you get the run on how to change it and there are good guides to show how to replace the hard drive. Plenty of gamers shelled out the additional $120 to get the space, with Microsoft it is not an option.

Now for the hardware, the Switch showed what fun was like and it has the games and more coming to keep us all happy. Both Sony and Microsoft failed us a little there. Now Sony was more about games, which is good and they just released the PS4pro, so this is not an issue, whilst the way they did it shows long term commitment, which is what gamers like. Now we see a changing market with any PS4 next to a Nintendo switch and it is a good day for gaming. Another visible event is that some of the better Xbox One exclusives are now making their way to Sony, so whilst the Sony exclusives grow, the Xbox exclusives list is starting to shrink. In addition, although not confirmed, the consoles Sony vs Microsoft was at 2:1 in 2015, some sources now give this a 6:1 setting. The PS4 has gone through the roof, with sales now surpassing 60 million consoles, meaning that they have surpassed the PS3 and could surpass the PS2 sales by 2018. I think it is a stretch, but part of me hopes so. Part of me can go towards Steve Ballmer with an ‘I told you so‘ state of mind. The weird think is that neither Mattrick nor Ballmer are stupid, they are decently intelligent and the conclusions I got to did not take a rocket scientist, which beckons who is drawing their marching orders and why are they on some track to force people to push data towards the Azure cloud? Why endanger your console market in this way?

By the way, pretty much NONE of the E3 attending press took a decent look at that, even the Guardian avoided the storage issue, which is a question for another day.

The only questionable part in it was the Bethesda Creation club. I think that it is not just about making money. The developer gets a share (as I understood it), so those with really good mods could stand to make $1-2 per quality mod. Now, I am not much of a mod fan, but there are a few really good ones and I would not begrudge the maker those $2 if need be. It would in addition up the ante for mod creators to become even better, which is not a bad thing. Finally, in some respects, a game like Fallout 3 (PC) went from awesome to beyond legendary, just because of some mods. Now, it might not be for all and that is fair enough, yet if your perception of a 90% game becomes a 98% game through the additional $2-$4 because of 1-2 mods, is that such a bad thing? It is up to the gamer to decide that, but I believe that there is some validity in the option. The validity is for them to come with it and for us to embrace those professional mods, or to ignore them. It should not impact the foundation (the original game) you bought.

In the end Nintendo did what it always does, it did something different, which is why I did not care about the WiiU and the failure I personally see it to be, from those ashes came the Switch and it rocks, going to the edge can get you big failures and massive hits, and the Switch could become their greatest hit yet, good for Nintendo! Yet, in fairness, there are media that really do not agree with me and that is fine. International Business Times was all but creating a shrine in the honour of the Xbox One X. The BBC is on my team when it comes to the Nintendo. They raised the issue that mattered for Nintendo; can the 100M units of Wii be equalled? I believe so! Now the Wii was backward compatible with the GameCube, which was my reason for getting it on day one, beyond that the Wii was a nice machine, yet it lacked a decent array of games. They let me down a little there. The Switch is already surpassing the game titles in the first year, compared to Wii 3 years, so they have that in the bag. Nintendo has in equal measure a few new IP options which can really make the Switch a phenomenal success. So from those points of view, the option of surpassing the 100M consoles seems like an easy mark. Even if the economy does not take a turn for the better, choosing between a Switch at $450 without 4K beats the Xbox One X at $500 with 4K gaming by close to 300%. So by the end of 2018 the console offset ‘Sony:Nintendo:Microsoft’ could end up being ‘13:9:2’. This would show Microsoft on how they truly bet on the wrong marketing horses. So I admit, it is a speculative prediction, yet the sales numbers are not that far off and my expected Nintendo growth is not unrealistic. Now, in the off season, the Switch is adding roughly a million users per month. I expect that the European summer, the upcoming games and upcoming festivity days could set it to a total of 10 million by the end of the year. If the economy kicks off a little stronger, it could go to 12 million, which means that in one year the Switch will equal the total Xbox One systems in the field. As more games come to switch, the added active users will fuel growth even stronger. Good games and word of mouth tends to do that, don’t take my word for it, and just look at the PS2 and PS4.

Yet, what more can we expect with the E3 behind us? Both the critics and people gave Super Mario Odyssey best of show, which fuels growth even more and it won by a substantial margin. Assassins Creed Origin did not win on any console or PC, they all had a different winner which was nice to see. Super Mario Odyssey also became best platformer, which is not really that big a surprise and again There was no win for Assassins Creed, which when we consider the stages of completion of the different games not too bad a negative. Again Nintendo got the best title for Strategy game. In this case ‘Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle‘, so as the laurels are handed to Nintendo in several ways. IGN wasn’t the only one with a voice, Gamesradar saw another part my way, they to just announced Ubisoft as the winner of 2017. It was a fair call and two brand new IP’s definitely boosts the score for Ubisoft. Gamesradar also shows one element the others did not, the lack of Indie developers. In regards to the PlayStation and the fact that this month Elite Dangerous will make it to PS4 is actually a big thing, it is one of the three top space games and now on PS4. The second is the remastered RPG original System Shock. Nightdrive Studios has enhanced a true original and so far has been able to capture the original suspense that System Shock brought us. The third one is unconfirmed from sources not that reliable, yet if true, Unknown Worlds with their open world RPG Subnautica will make waves. I reckon that the last two might bring additional hype to the Switch if they ever adapt those two for Switch. Games radar concurs; Nintendo is a winner, Xbox a loser. It is a harsh world for Microsoft and they might want to seriously consider in 2017 what their intent truly is, but as stated now the 4K and ‘strongest console ever‘ marketing gets them some media, yet in the end they poisoned their own customer base.

I think in the end it was a great E3, partially because Ubisoft and Nintendo amazed me with actual new stuff, which is what gets any gamer to the station ;-). I feel less negative about Bethesda than some of the ‘professional’ critics. Not sure why so negative as Bethesda delivered plenty, just some of their focus is VR, which might make them the legendary winner next year. In addition their new power puncher Prey was released a month before the E3, so there is that to consider. Finally there are more DLC’s coming for those games many love, so overall, we should not be too grumpy towards Bethesda.

So as the dust settles, we now get to wait another year for the next presentation of marketed hype by all the players. I for one will be very interested to see my own projection of Nintendo upcoming future. They have 5 optional new IP’s at their back and call and if they get 3 up and running, the run for Switch will grow more than even I predict which would be nice too. In the end, I am happy that the Nintendo message ‘it is about fun‘ that got through stronger than the need for 4K, which gives hope for gamers all over the world. For me personally, the moment it is a financial option, the Switch come in, perhaps a trade for my Xbox? I do hope that Nintendo will give us Pikmin, and Metroid Prime one and two, because those are the games I miss, and I will happily buy them again for the Switch, good gaming is just that, more good!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, IT, Media, Science

E3, a first view

The E3 is in full swing for a few more days, yet let’s take an early look at it all. The first interest was of course the Bethesda show. Now, some have video blogged that it was ‘disgusting’. I do not agree! Mind you Bethesda was not strong with actual NEW stuff, but the VR edition of Fallout 4 and Doom is certainly a nice call. We saw more Skyrim, (Switch), we got to see Legend (the card game) and we got to see ‘Wolfenstein 2’ and ‘the Evil Within 2’ and more. That was not all but it was good to see all this. I agree that the show did not blow our minds to the degree it did last year, but Bethesda is delivering, I even saw some great stuff when we consider going to Morrowind online. Most of these trailers seem to be intro movies and not a lot of actual play time, but we will see more as we go to the actual Bethesdaland part of E3. Next is one that did rock da house. Yes, am talking about Ubisoft. I remain sceptic and distant when it comes to Assassins Creed, but we will get more on that later. What was stunning is the part I pounded on in 2015, yes two years ago (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/09/11/wakey-wakey/), I wrote in my article titled ‘Wakey, Wakey‘ “The weird part is that Ubisoft sat on a treasure, Black Flag could have been the pirate RPG Sid Meier could not make because technology stopped him and marketing relied on the AC brand to propel something that was close to utterly perfect“, now we see the announcement of ‘Skull and Bones‘ which is pretty much what I wrote about 2 years ago. However, this is not set near the founding beaches of Spicy Rum, it is in the heart of the Dutch West Indian Company, the ‘VOC’ The Indian Ocean and the beaches of Indonesia. An area where the ‘trade in spices’ was regarded as dealing in green gold; the seas that the Japanese Silk ships required to pass towards the ‘civilisation’ of Europe. As treacherous as the Caribbean’s and just as lucrative. The graphics and intro looked awesome and the game itself, for what we saw was impressive. The game offers 5v5 options as well as solo play and could be the Pirates game that Sid Meier fans have been waiting decades for. Yet that was merely small fry. Yes, small fry is literally the word. The stage started with what could be a new beginning for tactical games. The Switch game Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will be bringing down the house. This is one of these titles that is the reason why people by a certain console. Ubisoft is delivering this time around and it could make the Switch the most popular console this upcoming Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day and Christmas. Even as some titles are not showing until early 2018, Ubisoft did set a quality stake of mind this year and it might be the hard needed boost they desperately required. In this Microsoft decided not to disappoint us by disappointing us almost completely. Their proclaimed ‘world’s most powerful console’ is anything except professional. The fact that they still have not learned that a 1TB drive does not bring home the bacon, and therefor pushing people to get additional EXTERNAL drives is just a near laughable bump in the world of storage. It sets the stage for the name Microsoft, which is now in danger of being a brand for micro (read: small) and soft (read: weak) gamers. So as we see the quote “Under the hood, Microsoft One X has 6 teraflops of graphical processing performance, which is 1.8 teraflops more than that of Sony’s PS4 Pro. The console uses a custom GPU that’s claimed to be more powerful than that of the Xbox One and PS4 Pro” from various sources, we see basically a lack to save what you need, so you are shifting software back and forth soon thereafter. Consider a console that is proclaimed more powerful than all others, which runs out of storage within 15 games. Is that worth the $500+ price tag? This leads me to the question on my consideration ‘what a waste of space their stand was’, it is harsh, but when you decide to not do your job in regards to the gamer in us, being soft is no longer an option. From that, the good news is that the iconic games (as I personally call them) that are out on Xbox One, and also were on the early access title list are coming to PS4 before the end of this year, so there is all manner of happy thoughts of dumping my eggbox console which could soon be regarded as a ‘has been’ before it got some actual strength, So yes, the Xbox one is less a failure than the WiiU, but not by much. Should you doubt this (always valid), consider that the Xbox One X is launched with 42 4K games, so consider that 50% of that should be maxing out the hard drive, do you still think you got a good deal? In comparison my 2TB PS4 is currently at 67% filled, none of it 4K, none of it the super high res that 4K could offer I do have a fair amount of games on it. Still, consider the games of the last year NBA (41GB), Forza5 (32GB) and Battlefield4 (33GB), 3 games using well over 10% of your total drive. Consider the AC-Unit patch (yes, patch), which was a 38GB, still feel good? Now consider that Microsoft seems to reserve 138GB on the Xbox One, I am assuming that it will be even more on the One X, but that is not a given, so the system and 3 games, that makes up for 25% of the entire storage system. Now, do you get the idea on how stupid Microsoft is regarding storage? There are games that do not require that much space, but with 4K gaming, storage will go fast, much faster than you think and that is something PC gamers have seen in the past, yet they can add drives and upgrade drives easily. An additional $110 gets you 2TB more, something consoles do not allow for. Oh, and if you like high end shooting games, space will go pretty fast.

So as we are deciding where to go, the E3 is showing us that gaming happiness is a PS4 with the Nintendo Switch next to it. Yes, this is n consoles, not PC! There is one clarity, which is me, as a deadly critic of Ubisoft is claiming now, from what ‘For Honor’ last year and ‘Skull and Bones’ showed this year, there is a need for high end PC gaming, yet the price tag is not small, but if you got the $$$, ‘Skull and Bones’ will show you why a high end PC was worth the trip. When it comes to Electronic Arts, my view is mixed. If you love Battlefield and Battlefront, you are in for a good time. Those who are not into that game category are losing out somewhat. We can churn this in a variety of spins, especially when we consider the not achieved hype that Mass Effect Andromeda got. I reckon it is a year where EA needs to figure out where it could fit and fix what was not right. Apart from that EA will launch its collection of sport games, so I reckon that the large run on the shops to get FIFA18 is not far off.

One would think that Sony rocked us all with what they had to offer, yet that is not really the case. Those who love ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ will be happy to see that a Next generation remake is on the horizon and here to we got a chunk full of VR and DLC. Last year’s new IP was shown again and no release date in sight, more spectacular God of War, now showing early 2018, so there is that to look forward to. Some other titles from last year were not shown and no release date, so will see that when it is ready.

At present the only part missing is the Nintendo presentation, yet they showed part during the Ubishow and what they showed looked amazing. I reckon that they have a few more gems, which just ups the need for the 3DS and the Switch, which is already a growing factor for all those loving a game or two.

I have to say that E3 2017 had more than one awesome surprise and those who had to really score decided to stay their hand and keep others in the uncertain dark. From that I have to admit that at present Ubisoft seems to be the winner of the 2017 show.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Gaming, Media

Awaiting next week

Whatever happens, will happen. You see, the E3 is on next week and in this it will be the week of gamers. We will see presentations from the big makers and they will either wow or BS us. The interesting part is that this is the one week in the year where we either do not care or we cannot tell the difference. You could tell a little better if you are actually there, but that is not for all to do, unless you live in California that is.

The big players will give us on Saturday the 10th the EA press conference, the day after it will be for Microsoft and Bethesda to ‘wow’ its public. Monday will be Ubisoft and Sony, followed that day after by Nintendo and several small presentations with two unannounced AAA games. There is a chance that the new GTA expansion Gunrunners will take one of them. Tuesday till Thursday, from 19:30 (LA time), we will get the Giant Bomb Live (whatever that is). During those days we will get additional presentations some like Shadow of War (Shadow of Mordor 2) is set, and we will see demonstrations of games (titles not given, other than the platform they are on) and the rest is about seeing the stands and watching what wealthy gamers can enjoy in person. It is the chaos all gamers desire. There are already games in place, games by marketeers. You see Ubisoft is in a difficult position. When we see: ‘New Assassin’s Creed: Origins Leak Shows Main Character, Pyramid, And Bonus Content‘ we see a title that implies that either the issue of Ubisoft not knowing how to deal with security, which is a problem. Or, what is more likely is that its marketing department is dipping its toes in the water trying to see the feedback. The second is more likely as this is pretty much the last chance Ubisoft has to recapture the audience it lost from this franchise and that is a large audience. The fact that it is safer nowadays to just wait 8 weeks and buy the limited editions with 50% discount gives you the idea of their loss. In the old days those boxes would be sold out even before the first day of release was even close to happening, Ubisoft lost that much. The EA presentation is a hard one. When we consider what is confirmed, than they do have an issue, however, they might have surprises for us, which most tend to have. For EA it is a hard one, because they are kicking off E3 2017. Bethesda did such an amazing overwhelming job last year that EA is in a tough position, I am not writing them off, but until we see a gossip part of something truly amazing, EA might not rock-da-house so to speak. Bethesda comes the next day with several titles that will capture the minds of gamers. Several of them are all about shooting; at least one will be about shooting, stabbing and killing Nazi’s, so Blazkowitz is expected to be nearby. The Evil within 2 is announced through rumour, which is a nice surprise. After giving us a different kind of nightmare a few years ago, we will get to see what will make us fear what is under the bed this year. In addition Elder Scrolls online players will get to see more, so there is that to look forward to. The latest rumour is that there is a small chance that we will get a first glimpse of the new Elder Scrolls game, and a smaller chance that a tease for the next Fallout will hit our eyes in roughly 3 days 4 hours and a few minutes. We got a fistful of teaser last year with the upcoming god of War last year from Sony. The title is still not out, so we should expect to see more of that game, hopefully updated with an actual date of release. For the PS4pro fans, we should be hopeful to see David Braben show off the PS4 edition of Elite Dangerous, as this version is out on June 27th, which is less than 2 weeks after the E3. This E3 will be a lot more about DLC’s, so the Blizzard fans will get to see loads of upcoming stuff. The list of people awaiting the Diablo 3 addition is larger than the LA White pages, so this is something we hope to see the official release date on. Another reason to seek YouTube on the E3 events is to see the floors. When you realise that the booths of Ubisoft, Bethesda, Microsoft and Activision are the size of a department store, you know you will get to see unique things that the non-visitors will envy you for; especially, when you start forwarding the ‘selfies’ with a larger than life Butcher (Evil within, 2013). This is just one of several halls described, so when I say that the E3 is the gamers place to be, I am understating the need to be there by a fair amount. It gets even wilder when you realise that in another hall, the Sony stand is larger than the Bethesda and Microsoft combined, so we will very likely get to see a few more things regarding all things PS4pro.

In the end, do not just take my word, find the E3 events and watch the presentations. Those will show you for one what you missed out on and it will also be a first step in creating your upcoming Christmas wish list. So far the last three years have shown me what was coming and how much I was unaware of the games I really wanted. One presentation is unknown to be there, but the Subnautica early release on Xbox One was overwhelming. Not just as a game, but as the game grew and as we got more and more, the game will become an absolute must on the PS4, which is expected to be released in September 2017. Oh, and the E3 is not just software, hardware players like NVidia will also be present, so any new hardware development for PC graphics will be visible too.

So as we are awaiting the arrival of next week, for those who are a little over the bulk promises from political parties, the escalations in France and Germany’s move from Turkey, there is the option to just get into gaming and see where that leaves your sanity. In addition, as you get deeper into Call of Duty, you might find yourself more and more imagining these Nazi’s to be ISIS fighters; there is no war like the present I say. So as I leave Activision with the idea of a free DLC, so that we can practice. I also leave you with the comment of Josh Hutcherson in Red Dawn, where he states: “Dude, we are living Call of Duty and it sucks!

That is to make you aware of the difference between gaming in a lazy chair and an actual theatre of war. Because as we seek a little escapism from reality, which is good for the soul at times. We should not forget that the deadly reality is on several doorsteps; in addition, the implied changes I suggested yesterday were partially implemented by France less than 24 hours later. What were the chances of me predicting that? I offer the thought that this was not a game and the changes required in Europe seem to be adopted in France, which is good as they lack a level of security that the UK has due to the fact that it is an island. In addition, the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40195212) gives us more on Youssef Zaghba and more important, the fact that Italy placed Youssef on the SIS2 list, which now beckons the call on how Youssef actually entered the UK. If it was though the Netherlands (Ferry) or the smaller airfields like Rotterdam or Eindhoven, the question becomes how diligent are these checks? There are a few unknowns, but it seems that within Schengen, certain unchecked issues are now an actual security concern. So as we see certain implied accusations, we need to wonder whether Youssef was on SIS2, and if so when was he added?

These are all issues awaiting us for next week, one is all about recreation, one is about anything but recreations and the rest falls in the middle. We can argue, or have a conversation how the terror curve is an inverted recreation curve, yet in all this; the one element that I raised yesterday is now coming to the forefront. I mentioned that we need to think in new ways, we need a new approach to tackle intelligence solutions. The one part they all ignore, or philosophise around it, is that the better game designers have been developing at the edge of hardware possibilities and software creativity for years, a few literally for decades. It is not the worst idea for some of the larger players in the field of security find a way to have a serious conversation with some developers in regards to how creative solutions in data parsing could be found. Some of the larger developers have been doing just that for a decade or more.

As I stated, and I stand by that ‘we need to stop looking in the same direction and regard any box to be obsolete, we need to start being creative to the application of data and technology‘, it is that approach that got me to solve the NHS IT issue. The foundation took a mere hour to ‘solve’.

To those doubting me (always a valid option), I now have a few dozen I told you so articles where what I stated and those following learned came with a difference of weeks, not hours. So I reckon I have made my point a few times. When it comes to the upcoming elections, my larger fear is that Corbyn succeeds by swaying the people to dive the UK in a deeper debt, one that it cannot overcome for decades, it leaves the UK too vulnerable. So consider your choice, and also consider the bleeding hearts of Amnesty International. As they proclaim on loss of rights in Paris, they seem to leave the people in the dark on the dangers that France has faced a few times and how these dangers for now persist. There is a time and a place for everything, and for the most I have never opposed peaceful protests, yet these tend to escalate fast, and it only takes a few people to escalate it beyond proportions. In a time when a man attacking people with a hammer near Notre Dame is just another moment of extremism, is the question, should we protest now, at a time when groups get targeted by extremists? There is nothing stopping them to do this online, via Facebook or Twitter. As stated, it is not about the protest it is about the timing in the light of events as they are happening in Europe. Perhaps my thoughts are wrong on this, and you are welcome to oppose that. Yet with the amount of attacks, with the dangers as the flood of extremists is not known, do you want to be the person starting a peaceful protest, only to guide those who agree to a dangerous life threatening situation?

I do not proclaim to be wise enough to have the answer here; I am merely going on common sense here. So as we get towards and through next week. Perhaps at that point will the information be shown that I was right or wrong? I am happy to be wrong, I am less happy that me, myself and I setting the wrong stage costing the lives of others. That is fair too, is it not?

So as we see the throne of games evolve over the next week on the stages of politics, policies and PlayStation, we need to try and identify, what is marketing and what is BS marketing. The difference will impact the lives of many. It is easy to shrug it off when it is a $100 video game; it is less entertaining when it causes 15 years of austerity. I’ll let you decide on how fair that is, when in doubt, see austerity in action by watching the news on Greece!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, IT, Media, Military, Politics, Science