Tag Archives: Netflix

The E3 end is nigh

Yes, we are 24 hours away from the end, the end of the 2018 E3. Now it is time to see how the chances of my earlier predictions are. The biggest player involved is Nintendo. From the very beginning two years ago at that E3, we were shown something new and it was clear that Nintendo had a winner. That one presentation gave us the goods. No matter how we all sliced it, we were not ready for the tsunami of acceptance from players on a global level. I think that not even the big bosses of Nintendo had a clue just what kind of winner they had. So as we saw how sales records got crushed, I saw the issue and the nightmare that Microsoft faced. The most powerful console in the world would be surpassed by the weakest one. My lifetime view of fun over hype got proven correctly against a console with a few hundred million dollars in development. Now we see how far the 26 titles are coming. Nintendo started with giving us the party and group games, all focussed on having fun, as well as a linked new Pokémon games where the game can link to your Pokémon Go mobile games and get across the Pokémon’s caught, it is a game changer. We also saw a game that allows 4v4 multiplayer, so as we are seeing on the more and more Switch abilities, we are shown a path where Nintendo will increase its sales in the near future by a fair bit and of course the free Bethesda games were announced, as well as Wolfenstein 2, Fortnite (another free games), Battle Royale (out now) and a lot more to come some from new developers, some well treasured games from the Nintendo past. So the second issue I expected is actually becoming a reality, Sony will need to up its game. Nintendo will not overtake them, but it will be able to narrow the gap and as the family fun label is very clearly shown, Sony will without a doubt lose some expected revenue towards Nintendo. So instead of people buying 5 PS4 games until the end of the year, they end up selling 4 and Nintendo gets the 5th, which implies a 20% lessened revenue. The fact that the Amazon top 10 included 90% Nintendo Switch games is merely one piece of evidence. Just as we accept that every Xbox lover will get Forza Horizon 4, the Nintendo Switch will have the same with Super Smash bros. As we were shown ‘everyone is here‘, we are looking at every fighter in Super Smash bros history is in the game, so as you start with 10 characters, you will unlock the hundred plus fighters over the course of the game, and it is not done in a dull way. Each character with personalised attacks, and there is no substitute for Snake sneaking up to Pac-man and Kirby. If only Snake knew the deadly opponents he would face here. If there are parents that want to be the cool parents, you better pre-order this game today, because it will definitely be sold out on day one. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the massive amount of stages to fight in, controller options as well as amiibo compatibility, this game releases December 7th, too late for Saint Nicholas and Thanksgiving, but in time for Santa Clause (pun intended).

This all before you realise that this is a four player battle arena, so the challenge and the hard-core fun is not going to stop any day soon. So Nintendo brought the goods and then some! So even as this is merely one game, it is the one too many were waiting for. Yet it is not the end of the innovations that Nintendo brings. Free Fortnite was a lovely surprise for everyone, yet the addition is that “you can use any standard 3.5 mm headset for online voice chat, which is a feature that no other game offers on the system“, online chat in a team battle is pretty much a dealmaker, so the Nintendo will be for many the system of choice, especially when they are travelling. It seems that from now on, no road trip will be complete without the Nintendo Switch. Yet, Nintendo left us hanging with too little on the 26 games announced, in addition, there were expectations on the new Pokémon game, but that stayed absent, it is not a deal breaker and perhaps they want to wait for the Pikachu and Evee games to have their time in the limelight, it makes marketing sense, yet at times the E3 is not always about making sense. It is the one part that only Phil Spencer and Todd Howard really got right at the E3. In addition we see the upcoming Starlink, a new Ubisoft game that will be an absolute blockbuster. I can tell you about it, but the Verge will do it better (at https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/11/17449232/starlink-ubisoft-preview-ps4-xbox-switch-e3-2018). Here we see “Starlink: Battle for Atlas takes place in a large sci-fi universe, which spans seven explorable planets that you can seamlessly travel between. Each world has its own wildlife and ecosystem, and there are different factions battling among themselves, vying for control“, a kid friendly mix of Star Wars and No Mans Sky. So as we make a balance on the games, it is clear that Nintendo has the gaming goods that equal what PS4 and Xbox One has, yet all these titles are kid friendly and family founded. It might not seem like much, but it is. You see, there is more and more noise from parents regarding ‘game addiction‘, yet more often they worry about the environment they are in. I am not sure whether it actually is, but the perception is there. So as we see the clarity of the family friendly setting that Nintendo has evangelised for the longest of times, parents feel safe with a brand like Nintendo and that will sell, especially as some kids have exhausted their bandwidth on mobiles before 50% of the month is gone, so the math is exceedingly simple that the Nintendo Switch offers a break even point within 6 months, that too is a selling point, and the absence of bloodshed and violence in Nintendo games makes the consideration for parents a lot easier. These two elements will drive Nintendo sales as well, and now with the upcoming games this year alone, seeing a $375 solution that has all the assuring sides that other consoles do not offer (from a parents point of view) implies a stronger growth option for Nintendo. I personally think that the setting of others is not wrong, but comes at a price. Battlefield 5 feels like it is about overwhelming the player with chaos, the Division 2 is about engaging and the Switch games are about fun. I believe that all three are valid paths, but the Nintendo one is too hard to resist. You see, we all want to engage like in the division, enter the overwhelming chaos of Battlefield 5, yet we are often in the mindset that we just want to have some fun. That path is becoming more enticing to many players and they feel like that a lot more often than before. These players will most likely all have a Nintendo Switch on the side, sooner rather than later. This is what makes the Nintendo the stronger player for now and as the engaging levels of Nintendo remains, that interest curve is the Switch will keep on growing. If there are 20 million Switch players out there today, than the chance of 5 million wanting to get Super Smash Brothers is merely a low conservative estimate. That implies an additional quarter of a billion in revenue before the end of 2018. That is nothing to be sneered at and that is also the clear signal from Sony to up their game, because that many gamers will merely increase the sales curve of the Nintendo Switch soon enough. It does not stop there. Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/best-buy-listing-hulu-netflix-streaming-nintendo-switch-2018-6), several sources are now on the setting that Netflix and YouTube are heading to the Nintendo Switch as well. It changes the game as the overwhelming amount of apps and free games tend to drive sales as well. Consider Fortnite and Fallout Shelter being free games. Now add Netflix and YouTube and this console is becoming nothing short of irresistible. Nintendo played their cards right and that impact will both Sony and Microsoft, there is no denying it. Nintendo got its homerun and we will see lot more Nintendo Switch systems in almost every corner of our lives, it is utterly unavoidable.

We have one more day of E3 and of course the many deals that all the players are offering during this week. Microsoft has been reducing prices by a lot, so did Sony and some stores are giving up to 75% discount on some titles. So this is a great week to get the 1-2 titles you never wanted to pay full price for. As the E3 ends, we will all await the games we want the most to be released yesterday. For me personally it will be Fallout 76, yet there is a whole range of games that would love to play and Nintendo made the desire for the Switch only greater. So even as the Express leaned on speculation with ‘so expect to see Splinter Cell make an appearance with a brand new gameplay trailer during E3‘ and disappointed its readers by being wrong. They in the end all missed the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser and that is why the E3 is an event not to miss and hypes should be avoided as much as possible. What was a much larger surprise is the amount of effort and push that both Ubisoft and Bethesda gave towards the Nintendo Switch. EA was there, but they were expected, a free Fallout Shelter and Ubisoft with Trials Rising and Starlink were not on everybody’s mind and that is changing perception as well. You merely have to watch the hilarious insanity and consider not playing this game. You will most likely fail. Watch this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyBsT7a8JZg) and decide for yourself. You can die 1000 deaths and still want more, merely to finish the trial. Redlynx is taking death defying tests to a whole new laughing level.

So whatever system you lean to, whatever game you go through, make sure you have fun doing it. As to the fun in gaming, you merely have to see Devolver Digital (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ytFiRVMwg) to see how serious ‘fun‘ should be taken at times.

Have a great day!

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The last stretch?

The E3 is now 4 weeks away, we see more leaks and a few confirmations. Most confirmations are to counter the ridiculous statements we have seen in the near past. Statements like: ‘we could see a first announcement of the new PS5‘, utterly ridiculous from the first moment it was voiced. The PS4 and PS4Pro are doing just fine at present, there is no need for new hardware, especially with all those games that are coming. Places like the UK Daily Star, who gave us ‘THE SONY PS5 console is coming – eventually – but some BIG E3 2018 news revealed this week could give us our biggest hint yet for when Sony will release a PlayStation 5 games machine‘, with ‘eventually‘ they cover their setting of utter stupidity. It is basically on the same level as ‘If we have unprotected sex the coming year every night, you might end up being pregnant at some point‘, it is on that level we need to see this. As stated previously, the Nintendo Switch will release 28 games between now and August 2018, that is rather huge, some of these titles have been revered for the longest of times, so the current owners are already hyped and if that was not enough, it is also hyping those who want one, so that is working for Nintendo at least twice over. In that regard, another source gave us earlier this month “Microsoft Won’t Release Xbox One Sales But Claims There’s Been Growth … as a key indicator of our success and will no longer report total console sales“, the upcoming degradation to third position has shaken Microsoft to the core, even as we accept ‘There’s Been Growth‘, the issue remains that there will always be growth, there will be an interest in buying an Xbox One, it is not a bad system, merely a flawed one and in that regard, it still has games, good games too. What is remarkable is the entire setting change within Microsoft. You might remember on how it was not a gaming system but set as an ‘entertainment‘ system for the whole family, which bites even more when you realise that some top boxes offer well over 100% more storage, so the ladies can get all 6 seasons of Sex in the city, whilst the partner can hold onto his entire NHL annual season games. Yet beyond that, when we dig deeper, we see that Microsoft fumbled yet again. In this case I must stand up for Microsoft in its defence (just a little), the market was suddenly overwhelmed with all kinds of Fetch options and recording of TV shows. It took a bigger leap as some offer Netflix, Stan, National Geographic and ABC iView whilst it will not count towards the data usage, which for the Netflix addicted is the sales pitch of the century. The fact that some offer mobiles a special deal that now includes a set top box is just a bonus. Microsoft will not be offering the Xbox One X for a mere $80, will they? That is not their fault, it is my personal belief that those offering these deals know what the data value of a consumer is, and this started merely a year ago, years after the console was released.

So when we go back 3 years (for the comparison), take a look (at https://www.onmsft.com/news/xbox-one-more-all-one-home-entertainment-ever), where we see: “Where media entertainment and television integration were the first talking point announcing the Xbox One, they are now on the back burner. Gaming has taken its rightful place as the emphasis of Microsoft’s gaming console. At E3 Microsoft didn’t focus on anything related to cable television or media streaming, they focused on their library of games, and gaming features such as Xbox One backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360. And that’s smart of them to do, but that doesn’t mean the Xbox One isn’t a home entertainment system. In fact, it’s even more of one than when it was initially announced“, which is all true and fair, yet as I basically stated about 2 months BEFORE that date, when you rely on a 1TB drive, whilst for the consumer the difference between the 1TB drive and the 2TB drive was at that point no more than AU$27, meaning that the difference for Microsoft would be a lot smaller, so why be so stupid to settle on 50% storage? I believe that their sense of pushing people into the Azure cloud never faded, it merely bites them now as we see data collecting abuse (Cambridge Analytica is one among many). That set off the gamers in the same way that ‘always online‘ did, and there is not denying it, it hurt Microsoft bad. Now, do not think for one minute that Sony would have been any better, because it took a while for them to back paddle the offline achievements, but they did and Microsoft did not (well only partially). From my point of view to some extent, the Xbox One offered in some ways less than the Xbox360 did.

Even Nintendo Switch would at some point make an error or two, but in all this the Xbox was the worst, even as we see news left, right and centre, and we see gossip on those same three paths, I am trying to see the reality and report on that. Yet in the end, we are still unsure what big whoppers Microsoft will offer during the E3 and that really matters. Even as we now see that Sony and Nintendo are ready to hit it out of the ballpark during their presentation, we still do not know how ready Microsoft is, because that is at the heart of the mounting pressure; The Daily Star gave us last week “It’s a great time to be a gamer and to be a part of Team Xbox. We’re hard at work on exciting plans for E3, from what will be a great briefing filled with new games to the fan experience at the Microsoft Theater. This is our biggest E3 yet, and we look forward to a great week for gamers“, it sounds cool but there is no beef on the bone of rumours, so we will have to wait another 4 weeks.

In all this I am not alone, more and more professional gamer sites and magazines give responses like ‘Microsoft has a lot of pressure to compete with Sony’s fantastic line-up‘, that is the crux of it, Microsoft cannot hope for a homerun, it desperately needs one at present that is for certain. In this, places like Techradar give us: “Now that the Nintendo Switch is so beloved and Microsoft can boast the most powerful console on the market, we’re hoping to see Sony pull out all the stops for PlayStation this year“, Sony who started and still embraces ‘For the players‘, seems to be ready to do just that. That is the setting that Microsoft is up against. when I look at their victory there is no way around Minecraft 4K, that is not a joke, for those addicted to Minecraft, seeing the 4K version on Xbox One was jaw dropping, in equal measure Forza Motorsport 7 will boast and deliver. Honest to god, what I saw (the short part I did see), I could not tell the difference between watching an actual F1 race on Blu-ray and Forza 7 4K. So they have the goods, and there is no way that it will not drive sales for Microsoft. From what I did see, whether you are a racing fan or not, there is no way around Forza this time around, only the foolish and the dead are unlikely to purchase that game if they have an Xbox One X. Yet, will it be enough? We will know in 4 weeks, for now, there is the smallest chance that Microsoft can turn the downturn around, but it will not be cheap and they have no further room for error, because the moment we see an actual first announcements of the PS5 (I reckon in 2020) and Microsoft has not mended its way, it will no longer be seriously considered by anyone but the devoted Microsoft fans, which remains fair enough.

It is up to Microsoft to figure out whether they are in their final stretch, the only real advice I have for them is to boot their marketing department and actually start listening to the gamers, not the Azure department, the Microsoft cloud needs and whomever else could benefit, because it did not bring the Xbox department anything at all (speculative on my side). Putting Phil Spencer on top of all this was a good first step, in 4 weeks we will see what the Xbox Owner gets to play between June 2018 and December 2019, we should hope for the best for more than one reason, because from my pragmatic view, as I see it, when Microsoft properly ups the game, Sony will be forced to do the same and that is good for every gamer in the world. In that Nintendo remains the wild card, they do what they it is that gamers want and they really got it right this time around (referring to the WiiU vs Nintendo Switch),

No matter what system you are on, there will be huge announcements for every system, which is always good and those who have more than one system will have to decide on which system to buy their games more, or less. It is in the end, the gamer’s choice!

As For the E3, the spaces are set, Sony rocks the western hall, see the image below , it is right next to Nintendo, which has half the space Sony has, so that will be one hell of a bottleneck. I wonder if the media will be there asking if people have both systems. Nintendo has two more attached stands, just like Sony. An interesting setting is that Big Ben Interactive is there too, as is NVidia and at least a dozen others. In the South hall, also below it is different. Most large ones are pretty much the same size, except for Square Enix and Bethesda being slightly larger. Microsoft has a tiny presence there, but it has its own venue as stated by some ‘across the street’, There was no mention of any Microsoft at the West hall at all, implying that their small presence in the South hall is merely some stations for playing. The images are nice to see and to behold some of the names there, what is clear is that Sony and Nintendo are ready to take this to the next level, especially in light of how unrealistically expensive floor space on the E3 is. Yet the best source of released info is the site of the venue itself (at https://www.e3expo.com/).

 

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A Marvel Time

So we heard the news, we read the stories and they are all beyond what most expected it to be. Not only is Black Panther in 9th position at present, it is still on the course to get to 8th position within 2 weeks, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. It is unlikely to catch up with his brother on 7th (Age of Ultron), which now implies that within the coming week 4 Marvel movies will be set in the register of the 10 most successful movies of all time. These are The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Black Panther and upcoming racing to number 4 or higher is Avengers: Infinity War. some of the players saw this coming (I was one of them), yet I was late to the party, merely because I never looked at some of the other numbers, for me it is and will remain the joy of watching a movie on the screen, preferably the big silver one. I expected this to some extent, as I mentioned it in my blog ‘the successful and the less so‘ last week, still seeing that the movie made a global $1,166,407,350 in 10 days is still hard-core awesome. And Netflix is picking up on it, and has been for some time. You see there is a good, an evil and a dangerous side to all this. When we consider the ones in Netflix Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent Carter, Marvel’s Inhumans, Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, Marvel’s The Defenders, Marvel’s The Punisher, Marvel’s Runaways and Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger they might think it is all good and dandy, but the danger is that there will be too much Marvel on the retina’s and they will learn the one lesson that Paramount learned too late with Star Trek, too much of it is also not a good thing. I accept that like comic books I never read them all. I was nuts about Batman and the X-Man, and my youthful best friend was all about the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, so on Saturday we read the ones we bought and quickly exchanged them on Sunday to give back on Monday, a ritual that went on for years because as younger people our budgets were limited. The fact that we can let ourselves go on Netflix like a teenager who ‘accidently’ gets locked in the pastry shop all night long has several issues which we will not go into. The evil side (yes it is), is not how the approach is made, it is how it is translated to the screen, the fact that the social roles of Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are reversed, because in this day and age it would fit either way, but the darkness of the original comic books is lost when we see “acquire superpowers while forming a romantic relationship“, the actuality is lost, because in the actual story it was not some “superhero love story”, they were captured and experimented on to make drugs more efficient in creating addiction, the experiment went wrong and they acquired superpowers, they were set together in a deep bond because of the rage and violence, drawn together as they needed to rely on one another. That darkness that was the appeal for many who loved the comic and it all got a little more interesting as police detective Brigid O’Reilly became Mayhem. So we have a switched setting, that darkness gone and I am uncertain that ‘watering down’ American issues is any way to get anything done, that darkness held an appeal, that appeal is now lost. The danger is also escalating as more series take a ‘lighter’ setting to the visualised darkness that some readers embraced and watering down remains a bad thing.

We acknowledge what Marvel has achieved and we are in awe and in desperate need to view of what comes next, but by saying that, we need to see that some of the darker parts have their own appeal, it was voiced many times with Logan (2017), the darker side was well captured and it was widely regarded as the best Wolverine movie of the lot, Wolverine basically left on a high and that should have been comprehended by those in charge of the Marvel IP.

I believe that to some extent, the Rotten Tomatoes score seem to indicate my version of deviation from the comic books when we see the Punisher with a mere 62%, yet as I am extremely unaware with the some of the comic books, I cannot explain Iron Fist (18%) and the Inhumans (10%), I am willing to wager that the oddity of the Inhumans is more like the Guardians of the Galaxy (little exposure to either comic book), yet the movie got it just right, whilst the Inhumans on the TV series might have (speculative) faltered there.

I reckon that we all have our guesses on that; I am merely telling you that my guess will be as good as yours. It is actually a shifting situation, as the fans got introduced that the Marvel series are moving to Disney, there is a side of me thinking that this is a bad move, not that they move to Disney, but that they move away from Netflix, you see, Netflix has massive momentum and Marvel alone cannot create that momentum for Disney overnight. They need to realise that they are poisoning their own well, they are setting the stage where they decrease momentum. Netflix has 118 million paying viewers, there is definitely space for a second channel and by the time Disney resets its brand to ‘include’ the mature watchers, they will optionally have lost 3 years and many millions, so whilst we see nearly a dozen series take hit after hit on amount of viewers, how do you think the future for all these productions are set? It is not merely the advertisers who take a back gander in all this, whomever is making that decision at Disney needs to realise that they are undersigning close to $200 million loss for longer than a short term, so by the time the momentum is back on the road half a billion is gone, with almost no option to recapture that, do they not realise that?

And no one is insensitive to the Marvel Universe, most of us have been exposed (beyond the comic books) through animation series, TV series and other means of exposure like video games and we all know it works, yet in that light being extra careful, not brazenly blunt is the way to go for a long term setting with a fickle viewing audience, because DC is just one step behind. They had several fumbles and whilst the relaunch series started their successes with Smallville (2001-2011), they still have the same issues that Marvel has. I believe that Constantine showed part of that flaw. It has the goods, yet in my personal view was not willing to be dark enough, it is a view that Europeans and former Europeans share and in all that it is an important side, because they are 50% of Netflix at present and they represented 61% of the Avengers: Infinity War revenue (actually the non-Americans are that), but a massive part is Europe and in the equation of revenue that is a lot more important than the producers realise. You see Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddlestone are not just excellent actors, they are non-American actors and that ‘non’ part is equally important. Europeans seems to be identifying themselves easier to these actors which is becoming more and more of a factor. And that is nothing negative on the quality of any of the American actors, which is of the highest quality. So as we realise that non-American parts are increasingly important, why is the embrace of the story so often too deeply soaked in American ‘value setting‘? It is not merely that a person like Mark Wahlberg was in Boogie Nights, he was awesome as an actor, it was merely the setting and directness of Boogie Nights that captured the global heart, the fact that this movie was American in origin was even more astounding. That is the captured emotion Marvel (DC also) needs and I believe from my side that going deeply dark on some of the series will not be negative, most will see it as a refreshing side to a comic book universe that has many colours. I believe that in that regard Witchblade was made too early, it merely got through 2 seasons, like the Darkness (also a Top Cow production) it was deeply dark and as special effects could not match the comic books (it pretty much can today) as well as the need to be dark as hell (pun intended) showed over 20 years a setting embraced by many readers and mostly appreciative of the amazing illustrations. Marvel still has a few option (they have loads actually), yet the setting of a darker presence they have the series Moon Knight, which ultimately led to the Secret Avengers (how secret can a comic book actually get?). Even as it started with the inclusion of Captain America, Black Widow, Ant Man and War Machine, it would also give us temporary people that have been in several comics like the Avengers and Thor (Valkyrie), X-Man (Beast) and New Warriors (Nova), Moon Knight, even as you might have seen him in a comic or two with Spiderman, remains unknown to a much larger audience. It would also grace presence from Hawkeye (played presently by Jeremy Renner) and Venom (agent Venom), the Flash Thompson version. So not only are a few characters darker, the interaction might allow for a level of darkness, or perhaps better stated ‘living via less legally accepted values’ to interact with the greater good. It is a part that Civil war scratched on, yet as we know that it had been in the central side of many comic books for the longest of times (the DC Azrael series as well as Knightfall), the acceptance that we have that by the book never gets us anywhere and going overboard to the extremely other side is also accepted as ‘existing’, those who are in denial of that existence, please look up ‘mercenary’, ‘Blackwater’ and ‘Aegis Defence Services’, so there is that to consider. We are already seeing the reality of certain places and the issues they provide and solve (and create). So part of Moon knight is already fraught with examples that go back to the Congo and as present as Syria (some Russian corporation), the absence of that darkness is in the end not a good thing, things become ‘too vanilla’ is perhaps not the right tone, but when we consider the near impossible achievement that Avengers: Infinity War created, we need to see that staying on that exact course is not achievable as it started with almost a dozen other movies (3 Iron Man, 3 Thor, 3 Captain America, 2 Guardians of the Galaxy, 1 Dr Strange, 1 Black Panther and several Spiderman’s), so that foundation was well designed and part of the creation of the hype, but pulling that off again might not be possible to that degree. Now it becomes a melting pot of settings between light and dark, good and wrong, evil and optional.

Philosophically we could speculate that we are shaped as people through the interaction of extremes, so ignoring the other side, or perhaps trivialising it through caricature characters like MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing), we can giggle on it in the comic books in an obsolete episode (read: one off), yet when it becomes the main boss in a TV series, the people will change channels to watch the late news pretty quickly. I believe that making Constantine much darker, by adding these options and by not making Cloak and Dagger some love story, momentum could have been gained. There are plenty more opportunities there, yet I feel that the overall package might at some point become lesser. I feel that the evidence shown in the movie Watchman, the darkness that Rorschach represented was perfect, overall the exposed darker side was what made the movie an absolute gem and of course there was no lack of evil when we saw a blonde version of Matthew Goode playing Ozymandias (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

So if that one side of Marvel can get addressed they will optionally be having an even bigger marvellous time than they are already having. there is larger premise to my consideration, we see this over the ages as Marvel has had its share of ‘darker’ characters, it is seen in Spider Woman, who is originally set as “In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was to be an actual spider evolved into a human as imagined by writer/co-creator Goodwin. Her debut was shortly followed by a four-issue story arc in Marvel Two-in-One in which Wolfman presented a different origin retcon as he felt her original origin was too implausible for mid-1970s readers“, it was the sales of Marvel Spotlight#32 that took it to a new level. Even now as we see gene splicing, we see the setting of adding to the human gene, yet the setting of adding human sides to the other gene is still a little far-fetched, yet in 40 years we have gone from ‘too implausible’ to merely ‘implausible’, so there is progress. In all this we have the presented setting like the movie Ex Machina, Kirk Langstrom (man bat character from Batman), Venom, my favourite Alex Mercer from the Prototype series and last but not least the original X-man Beast both the Kelsey Grammer and the Nicholas Hoult edition. There is a league of settings that Marvel (as well as DC) already offered and it seems they are stepped over (read: partially ignored), not merely in one part as they weren’t as successful as the Asgardian characters or the billionaires Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, we can debate that all day, but the American setting is getting more and more ‘wrong’ ((less accepted might be a better term), implying that darker series will be a lot better received that most American producers can fathom, I merely need to point at the success of American Gods to make that point.

So let’s see that we can all have a marvellous time between now and 2020 (when the Infinity War hype passes), because after that we still want to go to the movies, watch Blu-ray and Netflix (those who have not passed away by then that is).

Was that dark enough? Have a fun day today!

 

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Squeezing the Apple juice

We know that Apple has been playing games in the past, I myself lost close to $5,000 due to their little games, yet I also have had great joy with their devices, so when I read ‘Apple faces lawsuits over its intentional slowing of older iPhones‘, (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/22/apple-lawsuits-intentional-slowing-older-iphones), I decided to remain a little cautious. One of the claims in the class action regarding the batteries was countered by Apple with: “Apple has admitted to slowing down the iPhone 6, 6S, 7 and SE when their batteries are either old, cold or have a low charge to prevent abrupt shutdowns“, this is odd as the Apple 7 is less than 15 months old (about the same time I got screwed with my Apple). What is a real danger is linked to the claim “Apple purposefully and knowingly released operating system software updates to iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and certain iPhone 7 phones that slowed the performance speeds of the central processing units (‘CPUs’) of these devices“, if proven could result in a massive fine and even could opt for the dropping of the price of the iPhone X by a lot (30%-60%), which would give the first wave owners additional reason to be angry too. One of the plaintiffs gave: “Instead, Apple appears to have obscured and concealed why older phones were slowing down.” which would be part of the issue and not the smallest part of it.

And Apple is not done, in the last few days, the media have been drowning us with all kinds of Apple news. Some come with the upcoming optional acquisition of Netflix, some come with the fact that the prices of Apple batteries have been slashed to a mere $29 dollars, Apple developer program fee waiver and even Fortune with ‘Why the Next iPhone X Could Be Apple’s Biggest Smartphone Ever‘ is taking part in all this. With “KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that he believes Apple will offer an updated iPhone X this year to complement a larger, 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus model” we see a new twist. The people who spent $1829 on the ‘old’ model merely a week ago will see their model outdated whilst it is still in the warranty phase, that is if they didn’t spent the additional $299 for the Apple Care option. So as we see these waves we might lose side of the Business Insider who is giving us: “Apple’s battery controversy could cost the company over $10 billion in lost iPhone sales“, (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/apple-battery-controversy-10-billion-lost-iphone-sales-2018-1).

Barclays gives us four main reason, but the one that matters is awareness, Apple had been left in the shadows for the longest of times and now that the actions of Apple are out, the people are taking more notice, the fact that the old X is now getting the shadow of the new X is equally an issue as sales could plummet. Who wants the old model now, when they could feel inferior as the Greek summer arrives and a larger screen edition, all for taking the bikini selfies on 6.5″ would be preferred by man and woman alike?

Yet in all this, the act of the accused battery drain scenario is now falling in the backdrop. Even Forbes who gives us “reducing the $79 charge for battery replacement services to $29 for 11 months “for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later” does not seem to give too much addition to all those iPhones that were working fine recently and now that the patch is there, the 5 year old iPhone 5, immaculate or not is to be regarded as obsolete. So much for the tribute to Steve Jobs that Tim Cook gave in September 2017. With “Steve’s spirit and timeless philosophy on life will always be the DNA of Apple“, which pretty much went out of the window through the use of a battery and an alleged software patch. Even as Vox gave us ‘Apple admitted it’s slowing down certain iPhones‘, yet how will this play in the class action? I am betting that their legal defence will rely on the words ‘miscommunication‘ and a ‘failure at the QA level‘, which does not make Apple innocent, it merely makes it look less guilty and whilst we now see all the massive waves of news (the Netflix rumour, which I got from a Citi source is the biggest limelight push) will aid in getting the water nice and muddy until the people care a little less on their bad investment of $1800+. The Vox article (at https://www.vox.com/2017/12/22/16807056/apple-slow-iphone-batteries) also has the Apple ‘party line’, which is: “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components“, which is in my book a way of stating that the battery is the lemon not worth the Squeeze. Apple basically needed the Samsung Note 7 battery, but dreaded the inflammation of flames in the iPhone, we saw how that pounced Samsung, so as we see that their battery was not the solution (according to the software) we see the dangers that down the track your mobility and connectivity is set to a $29 battery and its 330 day lifeline. So is the larger screen about a larger screen, or will it be because the larger new iPhone X will be about the essentially desperately needed larger merely to keep the iPhone X switched on?

the most important part is seen in the statement by John Poole, founder of Primate Labs and Geekbench developer. with “Once the phone is shut down, the battery is in a state where the only way to get the phone back online is to plug it into a charger. If you’re out with your phone on the go, that’s clearly not a great situation to be in” we see that the negative evolution of iPhone from mobile smart phone to merely a phone and not a very smart one is at hand and for those on route, they get to live like the executives of 1975, on the road without a phone to appraise their customers of the delay that they are facing.

They could take a break and eat an apple, to keep the doctor and his/her ulcer medication away, but that would be the mean thought to have.

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As we know it

The universe has changed, it changed some time ago, yet the powers that be, be it in business, administration (read: government) or retail where all for the most are in denial. They deceive themselves through stories. One uses Tableaux to use the data to present the picture, a picture often based on incomplete or overly weighted data. The next one relies on dashboards like SAP to use spreadsheets to bedazzle the people with slice and dice numbers, looking pretty as a pie chart, yet not giving us the goods, because nowadays, these companies hire people who can sell a story, not drill deep on the results. The story is whatever the paying customer is willing to hear. They are all adopting the political need that has been in play for many years: ‘If the data does not match, change the question‘. That is the first part in a sliding scale of representation, and those representing the stories are running out of options (read: point fingers) to turn to.

The first part is seen in ‘At the time of year when queues usually form for popcorn and the money pours in, box office revenues are plunging. Where are the blockbusters?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/26/even-superheroes-may-not-save-hollywood-desperate-summer), here we see: “The true scale of the potential problem facing the industry can be seen in the precipitous drop in movie attendance this summer, down 52% year-on-year to 385 million at the time of writing. It is the lowest level of attendance since the summer of 1992“, in addition we get “Hollywood is stuck in a rut and it needs a safety net – superhero flicks fit that bill right now“. Two statements that might be the bill of the story, but in reality, the people are adhering to mismatched data and not properly investigated results as I see it. You see, the data is evident and it is out there, the games industry is taking 100 billion plus a year now and some of the other elements of gaming are taking a slice of that. In addition, providers like Netflix are now in much better control of their audiences that is mainly because they figured out what was wrong in the first place. You see, the gaming part is the first part of the evidence. People are now spending it on something else and they are no longer relying on the box office as Netflix gives then options. the second part is seen in the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/us-cities-where-cost-of-living-is-rising-the-fastest-2017-6) where we see that on number 10 (New Orleans) the cost of living went up by 18%, on number one we see Nashville with a cost of living raise of nearly 30%, as we have not seen any actual economy increase from the United States, or better stated, the working people of the United States have seen almost no increase in wages and quality of life, those representing certain numbers decided to just ignore issues and evidence. Now, that top 10 list is a little skewed too, yet when we realise that for 3% of Americans their cost of living went up by 18% or more, how worried do we need to be with certain represented numbers? So consider that Los Angeles was part of that top 10, yet New York is not, there we get ‘Cost of living index in New York is 21.37% higher than in Los Angeles‘, which with close to 9 million is 2% of the US population, so now we see that the hardship and quality of life is hitting 5% of the American population and the numbers do still go up, so when we see “drop in movie attendance this summer” how can anyone be surprised? In addition, we should also realise that this gives rise to the fact that apart from people not going to the cinema, many are now spending it on something else and a $20 spend on 90 minutes is not considered when $55 gets them hours, sometimes hundreds of hours of gameplay. We are all getting more and more weary on the bang for our buck and the cinema can no longer deliver that value. No one denies that movies are just better on the big screen, but for many it is a trip only affordable a few times a year so the people are getting really picky on what they see on the big screen. Richard Cooper gives us part of the news, but also ‘forgets‘ to give the full picture. With “It is mid-budget films and their fans that have tended to suffer“, here he only gives us part of the story. As the Hollywood engine of greed and reselling remains on a steady course, we see the need for maximising results and as such the movie makers are closing the gap between cinema and digital release. Why spend on the cinema whilst within 26 weeks the movie will be out on Blu-ray? Basically it is the same price, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an excellent example in this case. People are becoming stingy because they have no other options. All the messages of a fake economy and how good it is might look nice on the news, but for the most, people in the US cannot afford any extras. Many in the USA need to work double jobs just to get by. The US census gives us that in 2015 13.5% of Americans were in poverty, I feel certain that this number has gone up in 2017, some sources give us that this has gone up to 14.5%, so one in seven is in poverty. Do you think that these people will be watching movies on the big screen? So the Hollywood moment of desperation is not to be resolved, not until the quality of life and cost of living for Americans is set to a much better status. Those who can might try to leech of the neighbour’s Netflix, those who cannot need to find affordable entertainment, if they get any at all.

In the second we see that this economy is also bolstering a new level of exploitation. Even as we all ignore certain elements, Uber has changed the game, with ‘Inside the gig economy: the ‘vulnerable human underbelly’ of UK’s labour market‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/aug/24/inside-gig-economy-vulnerable-human-underbelly-of-uk-labour-market) we see a new level where the people are sold a cheap story (read: Uber story) and as they are hiding behind what people should investigate, we see that desperation is exploited in other levels. It is not merely an American issue; it is becoming a global issue. With “Each passenger’s destination, however, will remain a mystery until they have been collected. And regardless of the considerable costs they might incur to fulfill that journey, the driver will have no say in the fare. Uber both sets the fare, then takes a hefty rate of commission from it“, we are shown that there is a dangerous precedent. As we see online needs explodes as people need cheaper solutions, Uber will weigh in on maximising its profit. As I see it: ‘the drivers having no other options to work to near death for scraps’. With “The driver knows that failure to accept these terms will result in an immediate loss of work: they will be blocked for a set period of time from accessing Uber’s online system that provides work” we see new levels of legalising slave labour. The ‘do it or else‘ approach is now strangling the freedom of people to death. We see evidence of my statements with “The companies themselves tend to talk about the freedom, independence, and flexibility with which self-employment is usually associated. But many of the couriers and drivers we have spoken with over the past year have had an alternative model of self-employment, and with it much financial insecurity, enforced upon them“, and the law is not offering any solution, not in the UK and not in the USA, being an entrepreneur tends to have long lasting benefits at times. They all voluntarily went into the contract and they can all walk away and starve. It is not an option for those with families to support and feed. Part of this crux is seen in “we have noted how companies are able to use the guise of self-employment to dump a whole series of obligations and liabilities onto their workforce, while depriving them of protections enjoyed by the rest of working Britain“, to be the entrepreneur comes with hidden dangers, especially when you work for other entrepreneurs. The age of exploitation is upon us and as we know it, we can no longer afford to go to the cinema, a side Mark Sweney seems to have ignored. Yes, he does give us the Netflix element and there was no way to avoid it. He does go in the wrong direction with “For film fans, theatres still have an allure for the launch of big movies, but in the new world, where all media is competing for eyeballs and time in the “leisure economy”, the Netflix threat is rising“, he is not incorrect, yet he is incomplete. He forgets that Netflix is all many can afford (and a fair amount cannot even afford that). So why go to the cinema for the next sequel? Box Office Mojo gives us part of the goods, in 2017 only 2 movies broke the 1 billion mark, Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson (I personally do not think she was a beast in that movie) and the Fate of the Furious, which makes sense as Vin Diesel is stark raving nuts on most given days (in the fast and furious series) and who doesn’t enjoy a chase movie whilst we know that the driver is Looney Tunes. A movie with a good grasp on the desired quality of life time! So if we accept that the bulk of the Americans had to choose two movies these would be it. Yet, that number is not correct. You see Vin Diesel is attracting an audience, but 81% is not domestic, in the case of Miss Watson it is a 60% non-domestic audience. If we focus on the American market the Beauty and the beast was best, but only good for half a billion, if we focus on the domestic market, it is merely the Force Awakens that brings the goods for Americans. It makes sense with the following it has, but it is also deeply sad that decent movies are no longer bringing in the bacon. We cannot merely be blaming Netflix on this, we can surmise that the people can no longer afford the large screens in America, it is the most likely scenario, when we consider that only 3 movies got the domestic top 100 of gross revenue in 2017 and 11 in 2016, we cannot disagree with the view we get offered, but in retrospect, there is enough evidence that the US job market was worse last year. So with still 3 upcoming box office smashes, the big screen performance remains down, to what extent is harder to state, because there is enough indications that there is a lack of quality numbers, which makes my predictions not wrong, merely speculations and I accept that, yet the makers of the article and the presenters of the story of ‘Even superheroes may not be able to save Hollywood’s desperate summer‘ know that they were blaming the DC and Marvel Universe for not saving an economy that does not presently exist. The economy only exists on the Dow Jones index and that one is skewed towards the 1% of Americans that can afford a large apartment in New York and other places. What a shame that reality requires the 99% of Americans they give no consideration to. Yet it could be worse and there is every chance of that happening. As we see Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen warn against regulatory cuts, as we see “European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said protectionist policies pose a “serious risk” for growth in the global economy“, we could deduce that Draghi is soon depending on exploitation tactics to grow the economy, not only has his Quantative Easing failed, he will soon depend on legalised slave labour to get the economy the boost no one wants in such a manner. So as Draghi states: “To foster a dynamic global economy we need to resist protectionist urges“, which will not just end the filling of any quality of life if it was up to certain Uber approaches, it is also signaling the end of places like Hollywood, because they only get to exist when people can afford to go to the cinema, an display of ‘ingoranus totalicus‘ shown by these same people as they bolster the story that ignores the needs and plight of those in the lover 60% of the total income bracket in most of the modern western world.

We will see in the next 18 months what remains of the values we considered in the past. Life as we know it will change, that has always been the consideration of an evolving natural life. We merely forgot that those in charge are not in favour of change unless they could directly profit by it. I wonder if the people in Hollywood realise that part of the equation.

 

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Your GCC resume

Qatar remains in the news, some are looking at the $5.9 billion deal in Italian dinghy’s, others look at the cancelled deal to become an American Airlines stake holder and others like me are focussing towards the GCC futures. According to the Defence minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah this setting is not in an increasing danger. The problem is not merely the GCC in itself, it is what you will not see in many newspapers, it is the overhanging impact on OPEC. The news given by Oilprice.com is “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts. Doha will be able to sabotage the current 6+3 production cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members. If Doha decides to join the ranks of Iran and Iraq, OPEC’s future will be in doubt” it is at the very end of the article (at http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Clash-Between-Qatar-And-The-Saudis-Could-Threaten-OPEC-Deal.html), yet that in itself is not the bacon maker, or if pork is taboo, it is the lamb to the slaughter. When we see: “The Arab criticism may have been less harsh if U.S. officials would not have put oil on the fire. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis openly warned Qatar that it should change its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mattis also stated that U.S. president Trump is considering classifying the Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization, which could have a very negative impact on the U.S.-Qatar economic-military cooperation in the coming months“, this reflects right back to the pressures that the American players where trying to establish through pressuring the WTO issues as written yesterday (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/08/02/a-big-tree-in-the-desert/). Another source (Leaprate.com) gives us the links to Iran and re-elected Hassan Rouhani. Here we see “America’s new-found protectionist outlook and open contempt for the JCPOA, has put a question mark against its future, while Iran’s ties with Qatar, currently the subject of embargos by many neighbouring states, is a further concern for investors“, this is the part that most do not get informed about. Partially the US has a valid point as the previous president of Iran was openly waging war towards the US and against the state of Israel. The dangers as I gave them years ago, especially in the light of the nuclear treaties is not how good or how reforming the newly elected President Hassan Rouhani was, it is the issue about the next person, who will get the presidential trophy in 2021 and what happens then? This is the long term worry, most will agree that one extreme leader on the edge of insanity is good enough and keeping that person in North Korea is for now the best place.

Yet, that was not what this is about, when we consider that the JCPOA (also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we see the given by Ali Akbar Salehi with ““After JCPOA, our oil production has soared from 1 million barrels per day to 3.9 million bpd,” IRNA quoted Salehi as saying on Sunday, two days after the two-year anniversary of the action plan. This marks a success for Iran’s oil-based economy in reclaiming its market share lost over the years of sanctions“, the issue is that this directly opposes OPEC with “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts” for the UAE and Saudi Arabia that is a problem, as Iran has increased its production by nearly 3 million barrels a day, the other players have to decrease even more, which means that they are hurting well $150 million a day or we will see the pressures shift all over the Middle East, which is not good for America (or the UK for that matter), because that impacts what Saudi Arabia can buy, and the monthly $4.5 billion is partially for the hardware delivered and expected before December 2017, so as these sales paths are impacted, we will see a level of hurt all over the weapons of mass consumer requirements market.

So we have valid and greed driven concerns regarding Iran, in this the Qatar issue does not help and the play that the US is making as we see it should not be considered as a beneficial path. No matter how valid the present situation is as we see it given through the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Ivanov is giving a present truth with “The main line of Tehran’s policy is to get out of sanctions and gradually restore its economic and financial potential“, we do not deny this, yet the past decades was about setting the pressures to Iran as the western nations had to deal with extremism, in addition to the funding that Iran gave Hamas as it kept on attacking the State of Israel, there are ample issues in all this as the strategic setting before 2021 (Iranian general elections) could face the US, Israel and Western Europe with an economic revitalised Iran, which will be pushing the players back to square one if that seat will become the sitting arrangement for another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is not out of the question.

When that happens, those with a GCC resume, with or without references to OPEC might wonder where their employability resides. Now, if they have been smitten with a 7 figure annual income, they might not care, yet those without that part for at least 4 years might need to scrape by, having to live on $40K a month for the rest of their lives. I can advise these people that it can be done, if they shed the 4 luxury cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bentley), give up their membership in the Yas Links Golf Club, Almouj Golf and The Majlis, Emirates Golf Club as well as their 4 bedroom apartment in Riyadh and they are already half way there. So how serious is this? Well, it is actually a lot more serious than most people realise. When we consider that the GCC is a realistic target for cyber-attacks and cyber terrorists, Raytheon is setting up technological barriers to thwart to some degree these plans. the issue is not what the presentations give, whilst we do not oppose of attack the stance that CEO Thomas Kennedy has, the quote (source: Raytheon) “It has since reinforced its cybersecurity capacity with the purchase of 14 companies. In 2015, it acquired a company called Forcepoint (previously known as Websense and Raytheon|Websense) to enhance its commercial presence. This is now the world’s second-largest privately-held cybersecurity firm. Raytheon recently secured a five-year, $1bn contract for the US Department of Homeland Security to help defend “.gov” websites from cyber-attacks. Now the goal is to bring that working knowledge to the Gulf” is merely showing a deficit in the technology. Acquisition is a partial solution to any cyber given industry, the given premise to survive is not what can be bought today, but what must be developed for tomorrow. You see the firms that have that focus tend not to be for sale in the first place. Whilst Raytheon’s focus is very valid to catch up, it is much less a solution for those who are arming themselves for tomorrow, their own missile system department can teach them that part. It is not merely about the technology, it is the development of new systems in cloud and non-repudiation that will give the GCC and other gulf places the edge to be ahead of the cyber-attack curve. A partial issue is found with “We have one of the best data-leakage protection systems in the entire cybersecurity field, and we combine this with our insider-threat behaviour system, which detects suspicious activity and ensures IP and data is not compromised“, which might be non-false, yet the events as Sony has seen shows that the reflective comments are from a behind the wave assessment, with HBO being an example as they were hacked a few days ago. The one provider that relies on cyber security as it sells its value through Netflix is now giving Vanity Fair “When Netflix was hacked earlier this year, the cyber-criminals behind the attack demanded a ransom. But there was no such demand in the hack that struck HBO over the weekend, and the sheer amount of compromised data has led some to believe that video footage, internal documents, or e-mails could be leaked next. The premium-cable giant is working with the F.B.I. and cyber-security firm Mandiant to investigate the breach, in which hackers claimed to have stolen 1.5 terabytes’ worth of data“. This is what Raytheon is up against, not some access issue, but stopping the drain of terabytes, basically every part of the GCC removed in mere hours, whilst the cyber minders were in the dark until after the event and the quote that follows (at https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/08/hbo-hack-seven-times-larger-sony) “A traditional business-grade D.S.L. link would take about two weeks at full blast to exfiltrate that much data,” Farsight Security C.E.O. Paul Vixie told T.H.R. “If not for video and sound, a corporation the size of HBO might fit [entirely] in a terabyte, including all the e-mail and spreadsheets ever written or stored.” Another expert added that the entire Library of Congress contains an estimate of 10 terabytes of print material—so it is almost certain that video and/or audio were stolen“, this directly reflects on Raytheon. It is not what we know it is what others have figured out that is the issue. Whether it was through frame leaking, through cloud replication, there are issues that remain non-secure, even as security is at the top of the salespersons mind. There is a need for a new designed system no longer merely on access, but on ‘bio wired’ non-repudiation that is driving the need for evolution and these sales forces have remained in denial as it is something that they cannot offer at present, so they reflect on it as being a non-solution, a non-reality. They stick to the solutions that they can sell now and that is where the GCC finds itself, the lack of visionary evolution of data systems.

So when Raytheon gives their next presentation and someone at the GCC asks “How can we assure that the Bolero electronic Bills of Lading are not stolen or corrupted?” what happens then? Will that person at GCC need to write his resume tout suite, or will his superiors realise that the question was valid and that this situation is an immediate threat to the GCC members? Because in this day and age where extremists are all about the attack on infrastructures, the Bolero Title Registry, the repository and application that manages the transfer of title of the eBL is a clear weak point. Ones the recipients are scrapped and the cargo gets locked down, the ship will have two issues. The first being that the ownership cannot be transferred, you might think that this could be solved in a few days, and that would be right. The direct consequence is that the transfer of oil stop would cost an additional $578,000 in port charges, twice the amount in addition for pilots and towage fees. And as they are moved around additional costs will be incurred, that is apart from the issue that the delays bring and when a visionary does find the way to reset ownership, the delivery of 1 million barrels comes down to a nice $50 million fee, that optionally went somewhere else.

The one place where cyber security was essential is as given in indications running behind and not catching up; the only way to do that is to get ahead of it all. Now, as stated, this is not an attack on Raytheon, this is merely the direct issue on the business need to set serious cash into evolving the new systems to be ahead of the curve and be in a state where the hackers learn that it is not merely about access, the nice part of adding a new ‘language‘ to the plot is not to delay their invasion, it become to take away their comprehension of what they see (hopefully for longer than short term). You see, I have loved Cisco solutions, but they all talk the same language and their precise documentation have been a real assist on those with no-good intentions, we merely need to ask Google ‘what does a cisco frame look like?‘ and we get so much information, enough for too many to get to the heart of the matter and in the early stages of the internet that was a really good thing, we need to move beyond certain settings and push towards dedicated systems that have additional layers of protection, now that might be a mere delay, yet consider what is being protected. How willing are you to keep data safe? Not merely oil data of ownership, in the age of Netflix whilst hackers are streaming the episodes by the dozen, depriving places like Sony and HBO from valid revenue, revenue they invested in, the game needs to be changed. We have seen the uselessness of some governments as they were facilitating towards the communication sellers on bandwidth; we need to change the game regardless of those players. One way to do that is remove their existence to impact. Google did that to some extent, but not to the extent needed. As we realise that providers are 15 dimes to the dollar, we need to set a different scope, not merely in the cloud, but in the need for dedicated non-repudiation. Only then can we make a first effort to push the boundary towards a safer zone. And perhaps Raytheon will bring that to the table, the fact is that we do not know the player that delivers the need of tomorrow today, we merely know that it will not be Beaker bringing it (a Muppet Show reference). In this the ‘evidence’ can be seen when we realise that Raytheon gives us John D Harris II and his view on how forward thinking Talon laser guided rockets are. Yes John this was really the need for Cyber safety! As we consider the issue beyond point-to-point communication. In addition the $100m development program reads sexy for your bonus, yet the issue is data, both at rest and in transit. There are the issues, not in the rocket man shooting by a member of the UAE air force. So as we moved from certain parts of the GCC, via Iran to other providers, we need to see and comprehend that there are several players, all with their own agenda, a perfectly sound and valid situation, yet when we see that stability is centre in all this, destabilisation will impact both the GCC members, the OPEC members and when the overlap is shown (those in both), we need to realise that Iran and Iraq will not care about the needs of the GCC, they are not part of that, which ties hands of the six GCC players and in that Qatar is the centre of the seesaw that the 6 members prefer to have in some level of balance, yet the issues as we are seeing them escalate will impact all the given needs for all the players having their ‘own’ needs to satisfy. None of that is likely to happen any day soon. We could see the US and both their needs towards JCPOA and the WTO as an opposing issue, one that is not beneficial to the GCC or the Qatar issues as they are playing. I cannot say what the GCC members should do next, but it seems to me resolving some parts and creating a new initial balance is the best way forward. This gets me back to the question phrase yesterday. If each of the 4 members could phrase one issue to resolve by Qatar, what would that be? If Qatar can get the conversation started on that, as merely a first show of good will, yet from my point of view, if they Promise to have a good look at Al-Jazeera and do some immediate reforms there as a first step of good will towards the four opposing parties, it might just be enough to reduce tensions and give time for non-escalations to settle and as such forward momentum in resolving issues will be found. In my view it would leave Qatar in a much better view by all other players and global non players. It will open the doors and perhaps that is a good beginning, merely a good beginning, but more than we have now.

And none of this, none of my views were set to painting any of the players as the bad people, merely a path to find the track towards profit and growth, profit for all the players and economic growth for all of them. In all this the one question that is forming in my mind is that Oman has been the one GCC member that is outside of the equation to some extent, could they be a mediating party in all this? I actually do not know the answer; I am merely voicing the question that I have not seen in the news. You see when you realise that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the driving force behind Vision 2030, the economic diversification strategy. Is that something that a nation like Oman could see benefits in, when we consider diversification, when we realise that this impacts range of products as well as field of operation. Would it not be interesting how this view could be beneficial to the Middle East as a whole? In all this, as the driving force surpasses boundaries, is that not a field of economic diplomacy to see it grow? To push forward momentum is to find a place and subject of discussion, in my view it would be to find a topic many can agree on, a topic that is always a hard sell in most occasions and it seems to me that oil dependency is always a good option for those realising that it is the only thing they offer, by adding more options, any nation connected is merely opening paths to more stability and more opportunities, especially when these paths can be sold to nations seeking more than oil, which is close to every nation on the planet. Finding a place of stabile growth is the best product any player is ever likely to sell. In this stability is a lot more sexy than quick gain, especially on Wall Street and they are having too often too much to say on that matter. As we need a different language in the cyber world, it is clear that outside of that world a common language is the only solution. The question becomes what language and how to start the conversation, even those setting up their GCC resume right now. That is a fact as it is a resume that they want everyone to read, a comprehensible common ground is the first step in this.

 

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Prognosticated WaterhouseCoopers

I forgot what fun it is to go up against PwC, I missed slapping them around and the article ‘Netflix and Amazon ‘will overtake UK cinema box office spending by 2020’‘ was a mighty fine reason. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jun/14/netflix-amazon-uk-cinema-box-office-film-dvd-blu-ray-pwc) gives us a few things. The title is fine, I have no issue with that and there is every reason to believe that this is true. I always prefer and love to watch the big screen, but I know that I am a majority here. It is the subtitle that got me. With “Film industry will remain ‘pretty healthy’ but DVD and Blu-ray sales will go into ‘terminal collapse’, says PwC” they gave me a reason to have a go at them. As I search deeper and deeper, we are confronted with a wave of titles that have been released on Blu-Ray and DVD, yet there is no Netflix date, they do not seem to have any titles released to disc from 2017. So that is the first group. I reckon the Marvel fans would race to the shop to pick up Logan as soon as Wolverinely possible. The second thing I found is that a decent list of TV series is absent. This is a lot harder to predict, yet Grimm, Lucifer, Sleepy Hollow, Battlestar Galactica and a list of others do not even show on Netflix. This makes the need of Blu-ray consistently there. There is no doubt that those with really good bandwidth will prefer Netflix, so there will be an impact, yet the size of that impact is not a given for now. You see, as Net neutrality becomes more and more endangered, we will see shifts. We saw President Trump put Jessica Rosenworcel in the FCC seat and she apparently champions net neutrality, yet there is a rustling in some bushes, especially the adult entertainment bush. What people ignore, or like me do not care about is that certain ‘settings’ is seen in International Business Times (at http://www.ibtimes.com/july-12-net-neutrality-day-action-will-slow-down-your-pornhub-videos-2552375). It is a place like ‘Pornhub’ that brings the news. The quote “Pai’s proposal would remove the FCC’s authority to enforce net neutrality and other consumer protections while simultaneously allowing companies including Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to create “slow lanes” that force consumers to pay more for certain sites or as a competitive move among corporate telecom rivals“, is one thing, the second quote from a related article gives us “The Washington Examiner reported Trump deliberately withdrew her nomination when he took office. That move temporarily gave Republicans a majority in the FCC. Since then, the FCC has voted to revoke net neutrality regulations. If Trump’s renewed nomination leads to her confirmation, as is expected, then this idealist could return to take on the telecom industry head on.“, these quotes give only an indication of what will happen next, it is seen a little better when we consider the Law Times (at http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201706126217/focus-on/focus-u-s-and-canada-diverge-on-net-neutrality), which is 3 days old. Here we see: “With the possibility of broadband rate regulation looming on the horizon, companies investing in next-generation networks hesitated to build or expand networks, unsure of whether the government would let them compete in the free market,” he wrote, advocating for a return to a “light-touch” approach to Internet regulation“. This is now the indication, as the FCC rolled back a few things, they leave it with the providers and a ‘free market’ to offer ISP packages, which of course comes at different prices. So, as net neutrality comes back, it comes with the option that is linked to a Service Level Agreement and they tend to come with $$$ labels attached. In addition we see “The CRTC’s decision and policy position on “differential pricing” arose out of Videotron’s 2015 launch of Unlimited Music, a premium service that allowed customers to stream as much music as they liked on services such as Spotify without having the data use count against their monthly allowance“, so as we get premium ISP options, how do you think that this will impact the Netflix use? Are you sure that this billion user service will not come with nails attached? You see, the issue is no longer mere net neutrality in speed; it is now ‘the elimination of data caps for home and mobile Internet use for Canadians?‘ This implies not just Canada; it is merely a stepping stone for America as they use Canada as a show case, what will happen when the gamers are added? This is a simple math part. Assassins Creed Unity sold over 2 million copies (exact number unknown), now in December 2014, the owners had to download a patch that was 34GB in size. So consider 2 million downloads of that patch, how congested will the internet get? As the number was global, there is no way to tell how the patch impacted on areas, yet as caps are removed, we will see more and more shabby developers getting new patches out ‘as soon as possible’ making us download patches more and more. So as there are globally well over 105 million Consoles (next Generation only), the millions of Gaming PC’s, now consider the amount of patches and the impact on the internetworking’s, as well as the Internet of Things, because bandwidth hits all options. Now consider 3 massive games released per month, game download and patches and now consider how Netflix is impacted, because it will. I am putting those two groups together because they get their ‘net mobility’ from the very same fuel tank. Now add Spotify and a few other players in this domain. There was never any question that there was a need for net neutrality, yet in all this it goes via an ISP and that player is greedy, so if the cap cannot be pushed in place, or when it is removed, why do you think will happen next? There will be an impact on speed.

This is set in an easy equation (not an accurate one, but it shows certain factors). Fuel = data_amount * speed * users, so if data_amount is infinite, how will that impact speed? The same we see when the user base become massively larger, speed is again impacted. yet there is another consideration, to keep speed high, the number of user and data_amount needs to remain in a state of balance and set at a nominal place, when we realise that this is not an option from day one, speed will always be impacted and that is where the ISP’s are now, creating in a conjoint setting the Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and the option to price it all. The FCC can claim it is out of their hands and as the FCC is about avoiding ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, the FCC rules are altered and whatever comes back might seem nice, but will come with the ability to let the ISP call the shots. As such Netflix, unless it sets ironclad contracts with ISP’s, these users will see a shift of options and usage, at a price that is.

How does this make sense?

You see, even as the numbers are global based, the US has a lot more congestion than the UK at present, yet the current growth as seen, which is before the upcoming 5G data need, the ISP’s have been milking their system and these providers have not been addressing the ‘fuel tank’ they had. Now, this issue is in the UK and Western Europe is nowhere near the mess that the US is in, but as the UK rural growth is now growing at an accelerated rate, the congestion is still becoming a factor, Cisco tells us: “Services like YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video continue to be a huge draw, which has in turn helped to fuel demand for superfast broadband connections”, in addition, we get “Cisco forecasts that the average Internet user is expected to generate 140GB (Gigabytes) of Internet traffic per month in 2021”, which is average and I expect that to be a conservative low estimate. Now consider that a Netflix movie can take up to 7.5GB, now consider 3 million people in London alone will watch a Saturday movie, and now consider that in the UK another 15 million will do the same, do the numbers start adding up? Even if these 18 million do not start it on the same time, there will be a sizeable overlap, there is enough indication that congestion will be an issue, which either ups the price of the internet, or there will be an increased agitation for Netflix. This is why there is enough questions on ‘terminal decline’, there is in addition consideration that when 5G hits, the curve will steepen by a lot. It is too soon to predict a near exponential growth for data need, but it is not unrealistic, especially when we consider the push from 3G to 4G and data usage curve when most moved to 4G.

Now I go back to these gamers, even as the Statistics state the gamers group to be a steady penetration of around 42%, their data need has grown more than exponential. The Next generation consoles, as well as the growth of being online whilst gaming has grown. So this is not just about downloads and patches, merely the online presence which fuels uploads, Even as some statistics state that they are on average 5 hours per week online, there is enough data to question that. Polygon gave us the title ‘PS4 owners spend about 50,000 years a week gaming’, again a global number, but that already gets us an average of 7 hours a week, which is 40% higher and these are 2016-2017 numbers. As it all comes from the same ‘fuel tank’, I hope that we can clearly see that it impacts the ability to service Netflix. I believe that congestion will be its worst enemy and as we see a shift in costing, the prediction is unlikely to become reality (yet, I am willing to accept that I could be wrong)

So back to the Guardian article! The quote “PwC predicts a “terminal decline” for DVD and Blu-ray sales from £1.22bn in 2016 to just £533m by 2021. The report predicts that internet video will overtake DVD sales this year, but some analysts claim this has already happened“, I believe that the market will adjust in a different way. I believe that the initial shift will be in price. The price of $40 for a new movie cannot be maintained with monthly services and as the margin is large, we much consider that shift. It has been stated a few times that “high-definition mastering costs for Blu-ray will run close to US$40,000 per title with a pressing cost of US$2.00 per Blu-ray disc”, so at 100,000 discs sold, the making comes to about $2.50, so selling at $20 would still leave a large margin, There is a given that mastering goes down in price, yet at this pace, the impact becomes negligible. So when we consider that owning a movie we like at $20 is still a good idea, even if we have Netflix, my view is that there is an impact, yet not to the degree PwC claims.

Could PwC be right?

Yes, that is indeed the case, especially if the economy does not pick up. If the economy stays in the bad shape it currently is in now, Netflix might be the only option for some people, yet the options will still depends on whatever internet options that household has. In that, we see the impact on both sales down as the economy faltered whilst buying movies is equally a non-option.

There is one element that has been ignored by me and it is time to address that now. The mention ‘some analyst’s claim this has already happened‘ is one that needs a look at. It comes from the January article ‘Film and TV ​streaming and downloads overtake DVD sales for first time‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/jan/05/film-and-tv-streaming-and-downloads-overtake-dvd-sales-for-first-time-netflix-amazon-uk). one element is ‘Netflix has rapidly grown to 6 million UK subscribers since launching in 2012‘, which is fine and the issue that physical retail is in decline cannot be countered either. The fact that the UK cost of living has been through the roof; so as we see the price of a Blu-ray being equal to 2 months of Netflix, people adjusted their budget. Yet in all this, the internet bandwidth remained an issue. As long as it could be pushed through Wi-Fi and more importantly the Free Wi-Fi places, people were fine, yet just like some of the more advanced filters, when those places start actively blocking Netflix, the user game changes too. You see, Spotify demands cellular data and does not stream via Wi-Fi. So remember the earlier formula? Spotify has 50 million users. Now consider that the other elements were speed and data amount. As these services grow congestion will be a logical consequence, meaning that the ISP’s have reasons to push through the SLA solution, solving all their issues and none of yours.

Netflix is here to stay, nobody opposes that, there will be an impact on DVD/Blu-ray sales and nobody opposes that either. It is the part of ‘terminal collapse‘ that I oppose and I am certain that at some point it will happen, yet not in the time period PwC says it will be. I could be wrong of course, but I don’t think so.

If they were wrong, then nothing is lost, for that PwC analyst there could be a golden future in show business for them as a the new member in Orange is the new Black Season 7 named ‘Wall Street Bitches‘ (speculated conjecture).

In the end?

In the end, the Guardian article does have one larger benefit; it is bringing congestion issues to the surface, as such the article had a good side, In the UK most people know it as ‘Internet Rush Hour’, yet what happens when the infrastructure will no longer provide for that side? The BBC gave us in 2011 “UK broadband speeds drop by an average of 35% from their off-peak highs when most people are online in the evening, according to a report”, yet the growth that we have seen then was at the beginning of 4G, even as the ISP’s upgraded their equipment, the user base In the last year alone, went up by 1.5% for the entire population. In addition, over the last 5 years, the amount of inactive internet users decreased by 13.3%, which is a lot, also consider that the UK Netflix user base is expected to double between 2015 and 2020; these numbers show a dangerous part. The largest one is that the numbers seem to have been incorrectly speculated. I get there as the growth of subscriptions grew by 1.8 million during 2015-2016, which was almost a third of the 100% expected growth. You might think that the Guardian article is therefore a lot more accurate, I still disagree, merely for the fact that congestion is a larger risk, which now gets us back to the Net Neutrality issue. Because as this grows, ISP’s will have additional ammunition to start thinking and pushing for Service Level Agreements on consumer markets, it is what the FCC sees as ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, yet what the ISP sees as commercial opportunity. Here I truly hope to be wrong, yet some sources (read: ISPreview) are already revealing prices to rise close to 10%, in addition, the prices will rise even more next year due to the 2017 Digital Economy Act. This is where we get back to the ‘Pornhub’ part. You see, I give not a toss about them, but they illustrated a part that other sites are now getting into. When we look at Endgadget, we get: “There’s one slight issue with age gates in that we’re still no clearer on how they are to be implemented. Proving age using credit card details, the electoral roll and pay-monthly mobile phone contracts have all been suggested, but the government has admitted that forcing you to expose your identity might be a step too far. And so, it’ll likely be some time before this new law can be enforced as the government and newly appointed regulator decide on the best and least intrusive way for porn sites to verify age.” You see, it is not about the fact that it is about adult content, it is about the option to classify, so consider that via politicians (never a good start) to settle on what defines the boundary and needs more than mere access. It is the first time that there would be commercial option to slice services, not cutting them, but restraining the maximum bandwidth. When we see the quote ‘the new data-sharing regime effectively being lawful already’, we might think ‘government’ but that is the least of our concern, it is “Any business that handles large volumes of personal data is required to employ a data-protection officer under the new rules, and any breach must be disclosed within 72 hours”, you might think that this covers it, but what about back-ups, what about social media with multiple ownership over a larger amount of nations? It is the commercial value that is being played with and the EU does not have a great track record when it comes to commercial versus private interest. So as these elements come into play, there are now already three upcoming levels that would cater to ‘Service Level Agreement’, which is defined to charges a person has. It gives one more level that Net Neutrality is already a thing of the past. This is seen in “Reed Hastings seemed to walk away from fighting for net neutrality but his company has done a big 180”, so in the two days that I worked on this, Netflix did a massive corporate ‘about face’, the direct implication of ISP’s and the limit of bandwidth is showing now, almost a year before it actually hits us. News Network (at http://www.news.com.au/technology/online/after-ceo-downplayed-the-importance-of-net-neutrality-netflix-changes-tact-and-rejoins-the-fight/news-story/654c63348e3dbd4f7d697fe322eeb350) also gives us “major Telco company AT & T is in bed with media conglomerate Time Warner. Because of this high level of “vertical integration” there’s a lot more scepticism in the US that companies will be compelled to engage in anti competitive and “non mutual” practices”, which I already knew. Yet the clarity as given in my earlier setting in ‘anything that negatively affects competition and innovation in the sector‘, is now showing its fruition and that is before the dozens of new 5G services come to our mobiles and TV settings. As this collides, and it will! People will happily return to a worry free Blu-ray ad DVD, if the makers adjust pricing and remove the 5 iteration contribution application, the discs will be here to stay for at least a decade or (hopefully) two more.

 

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