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Tic Toc Ruination

There is always a next deadline, a next target and a next threshold. When we see that point, some see obstacles, some see challenges and others await opportunities. It has always been this way. In the past we had 3G, Telstra could not keep up and gave us 3.5G and called it something else. The audience was deceived and has been deceived for a while in many ways. In Australia, as I personally see it, too many politicians dance to the needs of Telstra and as such, in the long run nothing was done. As 4G matured on a global level we saw the eCommerce run and we saw growth everywhere. And as the 5G moment grew near too many were sitting on the sidelines, all talk and no hard work. Huawei, Ericsson and a few more worked hard because he fin-tech term ‘be there first‘ applied a hundred times more to mobile technologies and we saw the escalation as China went ahead of the curve. Suddenly Huawei 5G technology got banned, a bankrupt America started and soon most nations followed, now, or at least 5 hours ago, the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/05/bt-removing-huawei-equipment-from-parts-of-4g-network) reported one additional move ‘BT removing Huawei equipment from parts of 4G network‘, we see “In a statement, the UK telecoms group has confirmed it is in the process of removing Huawei equipment from the key parts of its 3G and 4G networks to meet an existing internal policy not to have the Chinese firm at the centre of its infrastructure“, all at the behest of spymaster incredibili Alex Younger. Yet actual evidence of Chinese activities was never given in evidence. Alex does something else and in retrospect to his French, American and Canadian peers something that is actually intelligent. He gives us: “the UK needed to decide if it was “comfortable” with Chinese ownership of the technology being used.” OK, in opposition of American stupidity making claims they cannot support, Alex is giving us the national need and the premise that another government should not have ownership of infrastructure this important. I can accept that, yet in that same light, that equipment should not be American or Russian either. He also gives us: “We have to keep adapting … we are evolving again to meet the threats of the hybrid age … our task now is to master the covert action of the data age“, and he is correct. It does not state that Huawei is a danger, a risk or actively undermining the UK. I get the setting of national security first and in this Huawei might optionally in the future be that risk, it is not the same setting the yanks gave us.

Yet there is the opposition as well. At present not only is Huawei ahead by a fair bit, Engineering and Technology (at https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2018/12/china-continues-to-dominate-worldwide-patent-applications/) give us: ‘China continues to dominate worldwide patent applications‘, it is a lot larger than Huawei, yet the stage we need to comprehend is “China submitted 1.38 million of the total 3.17 million patent applications submitted“, and a chunk of that 43.5% is mobile and 5G technology. China is ahead in the race and as some people start living in denial, the stage we will see in 2020 is not that America will start its 5G part, there will be a moment when China lodges IP cases that oppose patents, and the optional proven stage of patent violations. At that point the nations moving in silly ways will learn the hard way that whatever they tried to overcome will cost them 200%-550% more that they thought it would. The entire patent system will be upside down as technology makers will be found to be technology breakers and that is one side why the US is so opposed to certain levels of protectionism (apart from their pharmaceutical patents). To give you a perspective, China applied for more patents than the US, Japan, South Korea and the European Patent Office combined, the difference is that big, there is a second benefit to a worldwide growth in IP filings and some technology offices will soon encounter the receiving side of a desist to move forward lawsuit. The Apple Samsung war in patents has shown that impact for years and when any firm is stopped in their tracks, for any 5G violation, you can flush that 5G implementation timeline down the toilet.

ZDNet gives us: “Sprint announced that it is now the fastest mobile carrier across New York City, providing customers with access to its gigabit-speed LTE services after upgrading its network in preparation for 5G services going live next year“, which sounds nice, yet when we see: “launching a 5G mobile service there in the first half of 2019“, the way the dates were given last week personally implies to me that any setback gives reason that there will be no 5G before Q3 2019. Now, I might be wrong here, yet in the past we have seen again and again that these timelines were never met and the pressure is really on this time around, making setbacks and delays even more likely. So a we see New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Indianapolis, and Phoenix moving into the 5G realm, we now see the absence of an earlier mentioned Boston, Sacramento, Dallas, Houston, So as we see San Francisco, I see no Mountain view, no Palo Alto and no San Jose (consider https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnzTgUc5ycc, just a little Helix for the fans). So will San Francisco get 5G, or will Google and Facebook infested Mountain View get the5G? The problem is not whether it comes now or later, the fact remains that implementation and deployment had to be done and be past the 100% deployment preparations 6 months ago and the players left it to the final moment, whilst some of the infrastructure should have been available a long while ago.

The setting is not merely 5G, it is the availability that is connected to all this that follows. Part of this situation is given weight to issues when we consider Telecom Lead giving us (at https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/192-operators-start-5g-network-investment-gsa-87745). The quote: “192 mobile operators in 81 countries are investing in 5G network as compared with 154 operators in 66 countries in July 2018, according to the latest GSA report released in November 2018” shows us that 15 countries are already late to the start and it involves 38 operators. Now, that might be valid as some are not in the size to be the initial adopters, yet it is merely the top of the iceberg. This Titanic is showing a leak when we get to “GSA also said 80 telecom operators in 46 countries have announced their plan to launch 5G to their customers between 2018 and 2022. 37 networks will launch 5G services in 2020 alone“. If this is the stage knowing that you are in one of the 37 countries. The 9 countries that are optionally launching between 2018 and 2020 might have a local advantage, yet which of these 9 are starting fist, or get to start between 2021 and 2022 is equally an issue to explore. We see: “Telstra, TeliaSonera Finland, Ooredoo Kuwait and Qatar, Zain Kuwait, and STC Saudi Arabia have done 5G deployments using commercial 5G base stations but are waiting for devices to enable service introduction“, here we see Australia to be ahead of the curve, yet waiting for devices implies that it goes beyond the mobile phones, I reckon that there is something else missing, yet what it is and when it comes is not given. The article also gives us the entire 5G trap and the Verizon steps that are in question. It is the reason why I mentioned Telstra 3.5G in the first place. We are given “Verizon’s network is not yet 3GPP compliant. It uses Verizon’s own 5G specification, but will be upgraded to be 3GPP compliant in the future“, so does that mean that it is merely a Verizon issue opening the market for Sprint, or are they both involved in that same pool of marketed pool to some form of ‘5G’ branding, and not the standard?

If that is truly the case, if this is truly verified, will the day that the 5G switch is turned on in the US, Japan and Saudi Arabia show that Saudi Arabia and Japan gives the people true 5G and America does not, does that make them the loser in the 5G race on day one? The question now becomes is Sprint 3GPP compliant, and more important what is the failing of 3GPP compliant bringing to the table?

When I look at the data opportunities that 5G brings, the opportunities that blockchain technology can revolutionise (especially in America) in retail with 5G are unheard of. There is a true growth of investment options available, yet are these opportunities seen as such?

So where is the ruination?

You see, this is the first time in history where high-tech is running ahead in China. In the past, America had the radio, they had the TV, they had video, DVD, Japan brought the Blu-Ray, and the US had 4G first; yet it all falters when we realise that this time around China is not merely on par, they are optionally ahead in the next technology wave, we have never seen this advantage from China before, and at the speed at how they caught up in the past, is worrying many nations as they are now ahead and optionally they can create more headway as they start giving the US less and less advantages, optionally resulting in greater economic advantages for China as America ends up having to catch up now, an advantage of being first which is now optionally no longer with the US.

The question becomes, will the consumers have to pay for that lack of headway? Even as we push for the comparison in the past app stage of 4G, we see that the IP war can become a much larger headache when you are not China, it might be good, it will most likely be bad and in the end we might benefit yet the reality is that massive amount of money will start going to the far east (China) and it will impact all manners of ecommerce soon enough. Yet will that happen? We might know tomorrow as the techboys (and one techgirl), AKA Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Ginni Rometty, Safra Katz and Steve Mollenkopf meet with White House officials later today. So as Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm decide on what happens (or needs to happen) in the next 24 hours, I wonder what concessions they will get from the White House as long as they all finish second to none and give America the 5G pole position result. Ego comes at a price and I reckon that we get to know the cost of White House ego tripping before the end of the year.

In all this, I wonder, can I make matters worse when I ‘give’ 2 billion in IP value to Huawei? When we are pushed, should we not push back? When the others face too late the element of delay by not adhering to logic, and by ignoring common sense, should I give them consideration? That is actually a main point here, as technology becomes the main political pawn, how should we react? We can agree with Alex Younger that any nation needs to negate technological risk, we could consider that he seemingly had the only valid opposition against Huawei, as it was not directed at Huawei, but at the fact that the tech is not British, the others did not work that path, and as we see that technology is cornered by the big 7, those in the White House with an absent person from both Apple and Huawei. We have accepted the changed stage of technology and that might not have been a good thing (especially in light of all the cyber-crimes out there), also a larger diverse supplier group might have addressed other weak spot via their own internal policies, another path optionally not averted. So as we focus on national needs (which is always a valid path), should I hand that 2 billion dollar patent to Australia, who is too often in the pocket of Telstra (as I personally see it), or put it on the market for any to buy it, when that happens, do I create opportunity or limitations?

That is a question that most of us did not consider as the tech market had been global for the longest of times, yet as 5G comes into play, that might soon change and with that we will get new answers, new challenges and a lot more diversity (whilst having to entertain a whole range of new limitations as well). In my view there is an unseen balance between ruination and opportunity, yet this is where time is not a factor, it will be about the connectivity that one offers another and that is when we see that time influences it, but it is not the larger factor of influence. It is a market where diversity becomes an enabler against time (partially in opposition of time). I stated this before. As 4G gave us the golden path towards ‘wherever we are‘, 5G will be largely about ‘whenever we want it‘. It affects ‘on demand’, it enables ‘I need it now’ and it gives rise to security, automation and non-repudiation to a much larger extent. We have clearly seen that Huawei and China are in pole position of that race, and we must wonder who of the other players can catch up in time offering the full 5G with all elements validly in place (not using Verizon’s own 5G specification, or a version thereof).

I look forward to 2019 as I have already found 2 optional gaps; I wonder how many more I will find.

 

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It’s called an alarm clock

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

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

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

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

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

It is that bad!

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

You might wonder why this matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In opposition

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

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

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

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

 

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No Man’s Brexit

Yes, I am not kidding, the day after the release of No Man’s Sky, we will see the UK referendum regarding the UK leaving the EU. The two correlate in a simple way. The game has 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. That same number seems to be the number of opinions that the 743 million Europeans seem to have regarding Brexit, so we need to take heed what to believe.

Personally, I feel that Brexit might be the way to go, yet as stated previously, Mark Carney, aka Governor of the British Bank, aka Marky Mark of the British Coin seems to be swaying me towards ‘Bremain’. Let me explain this. For the most, the reasoning is given here (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/may/15/mark-carney-defends-brexit-intervention-eu-bank-england-video). The important quote is “identify the issues, come straight with the British people about them and then take steps to mitigate them“. That is one thing this governor seems to have been doing from the beginning, to state it bluntly, that is what he gets paid for (nothing Personal Mr Governor)!

In opposition a case could possibly be made regarding ‘transparency’, but let’s not try to cut the bacon with a piece of string.

The issue in this case is a quote in the Guardian on that same page as the video, which was “Earlier in the programme, energy minister Andrea Leadsom accused Carney of ‘dangerous intervention’“. Let’s take a step back. The Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the person, who according to the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/energy-minister-andrea-leadsom-asked-whether-climate-change-was-real-when-she-started-the-job-a6710971.html) had to ask ‘whether climate change was real when she started the job‘ (which was on May 11th 2015), that person is questioning Governor Carney on being straight with the British people? That’s a barrel of laughs on the worst of Monday mornings imaginable. Oh, I stand corrected, the 11th of May 2015 was a Monday!

So from this quote, I am willing to state that Andrea, a politician was unaware or just didn’t watch An Inconvenient Truth, a 2006 documentary film about former United States Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate citizens about global warming. I think that she failed on multiple levels, especially as she studied political sciences. This gets to be even more interesting when we see the quote “in the past she has written to the Prime Minister calling for cuts to wind farm subsidies, and has criticised the pre-coalition Labour government for signing up to an EU target that called for 15 per cent of the UK’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2015“,

That is the person accusing Governor Carney on ‘dangerous intervention’ activities!

Now, there is not enough information for me whether cuts to wind farm subsidies was right or wrong. Let’s not forget that the UK is over a trillion in debt and certain cuts need to be made. The other part is in this case (without more evidence) equally debatable. That does not change the fact that regardless of her past economic positions whether she is anywhere near qualified to comment on the actions of the Governor of the Bank of England.

In my not to humble opinion, I would state no! You see Mark Carney was quoted as: “Carney defended his impartiality, saying it was important that people do not ignore economic risks“, I reckon that leaving the EU could have a few consequences tax wise and the issues regarding her Guernsey-based brother-in-law, Peter de Putron. This is in light of the title ‘Top Tory has family link with offshore banker who gave party £800,000‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/08/andrea-leadsom-family-links-offshore-bank-donations-tories). You see, I am an Australian Liberal, meaning that I regard myself a British Conservative and let me tell you, I would contribute to my part, yet if I am really lucky, I could perhaps donate 0.05% of that amount at best. When I work day and night I expect to receive some form of income, not pay an additional 800K (an amount I will likely never have, not even with my University degrees). The fact that a Brother in Law banker hands that kind of donations out might not be too controversial when it is for charity, when it is to a political party one must question the reasoning (read: personal tactical benefits) here.

So there are all kinds of questions that come to mind regarding Andrea Leadsom and it is my personal believe that (Brexit or not), her questioning Governor Carney leaves a lot to be desired. This 2014 article reveals another part that is important to consider: “A US non-profit news organisation, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has obtained records of more than 20,000 names. The Guardian has exclusively analysed the ICIJ’s data, and begins to reveal those who have had dealings with a discreet Jersey branch of Kleinwort Benson, a well-known London firm which specialises in ‘wealth management’“. When you consider that news and the ‘feigned’ emotions we saw regarding Mossack Fonseca, that part comes again into question. You see, the issue has been legislation, tax legislation, legislation of wealth management and this implies that some of the available data goes back to well before 2010. This clearly implies that Labor was very much in the know on these matters. It also clearly implies that both sides of the isle should have pushed tax reforms a lot sooner than is currently shown. I agree that people might see this as unreasonable, but let’s be clear, these loopholes are there, Andrea Leadsom broke no laws. We see another version of amoral versus immoral. In my view, in regards to her acts I could see her statement as immoral, mainly because the changes could end up giving her more loopholes to push non-taxable parts of herself across the British realm.

Am I wrong?

That is still the issue, because Brexit will cause a massive amount of concerns and in that regard to keep the UK interesting more tax breaks might be the consequence of the EU separation (speculative statement). I might be proven correct but it is too early day to tell what the actual taxation impact will be, that part will remain an unknown, especially as people realise that only 5 billion of the 220 billion to Greece entered the State coffers, the rest went to the banks, paying small parts of loans and massive parts of outstanding interest bills. That is the driving realisation that more and more people are going towards the Brexit road. Most believe that the recession we hear about will be short lived and the upbeat will grow stronger and stronger as the loans diminish. I agree to some degree, but I equally foresee that Mark Carney is correct, the recession that is likely to follow will change the timeline, perhaps by a lot. That is the part that is absent of an answer, absent of a final solution, most of us believe that not being part of paying for other UK only recessions is the quickest way to a surplus finance coffer.

This is how I feel to some degree, but the warnings that Mark Carney gives us are not to be ignored. Plainly stated, at present the difference between a coffer and a coffin is currently way too small for my comfort.

This is why I remain on the fence. I am not completely convinced either way, but Mark Carney was clear and concise in the House of Lords and that was the massive sway to get me from certainly Brexit to almost cautiously Bremain. Yet the biggest issues are not within the UK, Greece, the IMF and other parties are trying to keep the present engine running, in addition the US economy with minus 19 trillion is equally a concern as the debt grew with 1 trillion in a year, basically it gained the total UK debt in less than 20 months, as they are closely linked with the Euro, one will tumble the other, in that regard Brexit is still the way to go in my book. It does not diminish the risks that Mark Carney warned us for, it makes just makes them more acceptable in my book. Nowhere do I mention that Governor Carney was guilty of ‘dangerous intervention’, he is merely informing us. I think that pro Brexit Andrea Leadsom did something stupid, she might be pro Brexit like I was in the beginning, but her less than intelligent remark only pushes people away from Brexit as her statement can be dissected by people less intelligent than me in mere seconds.

So, I still remain on the fence because the reasons for Brexit are there, but less strong than they were, merely because the risk we run by Brexit. In my mind the question becomes, if there is no Brexit, can we truly make the rest of Europe more accountable for their budgets? That part is still the number one reason for me to consider Brexit. I am not pointing the finger at Greece here, but at the total debt Europe has, which is almost equaling the American debt. The question is, how much of this debt is instilled by Wall Street to keep the seesaw of economics in balance? To keep the machine running to satisfy the 35,000 greed driven executives on Wall Street? We seem to focus on the top 1% in America, which makes for the 3 million people living really really nice, but that is nothing compared to the top 1% of that top 1%, their wealth is beyond measure, consider that only 1% of that top list (the 1% of the 1%) are the 350 people that made the small solutions like Facebook, Oracle, Apple and Microsoft.

I will give you one guess to guess where the other 34,650 got their money from.

This is why I still remain a little towards Brexit, because governments on a global scale ignored the need for proper legislation. At present the US might promise a lot, but in the end he has become nothing more than a quack quack president and as such he will not get anything done. Isn’t it nice that he wants to act in the 11th hour whilst his own party will be very unlikely to support him? You see they are also up for re-election and they have options for another term, President Obama does not. Now consider the ‘evidence’ I gave at the beginning, basically this issue was ignored for 7 years. If you are considering that I am not being up front and honest with you, consider the fact that President Obama did not once mention the US tax havens that are in the US, to be more precise, the Rothschild Trusts all over America, their total treasures are stated to be in excess of 100 trillion, but no one can tell for sure, their fortune is too vast and always in motion. This is only one voice, mine, apparently there are 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 other views on this.

 

 

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Questioning Assurance

A positive approach intended to question confidence. That is at the heart of the matter today. I have been involved in such tracks before, but in a slipping age of technology, where we see greed driven (or bonus driven) changes where some executives hide behind the excuse of giving new young Turks a start in the business, we need to wonder whether they were looking at the world through chartreuse glasses.

I have seen the stupidity (for the lack of a better word) of software firms pushing out software, some to make sure they kept some deadline, whilst the product was nowhere near ready. In a few cases they thought the product was truly ready and the QA department messed up in a royal kind of way. There is of course the third option, where a product was tested, was deemed good and things pop up. These are the three parts of QA the user faces, I have seen them all!

The third one is the clearest one. Development does its work, the QA department did all the test and then some and when released things go a little awry. Weirdly enough, this tends to happen to parts of the program that people seldom use, like that weird, off the wall setting that only 0.000001% of all Microsoft Word users tend to use. Microsoft had no idea, and at some point it gets fixed. This is just a flaw. You name a product, like anything in the range of Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Oracle, SPSS, Sybase or SAS Miner, they all have them. These programs are just too large to get 100% tested, and even when that happens, there is the interaction with another program, or with an operating system update that will then throw a spanner in the cogs. You only need to search for issues with Windows 8.2 or IOS 8.2 to see that things just happen. In the zero layer, we see the hardware, in layer one we get the operating software, in layer two we see the application, in layer three we get the peripherals (printer, keyboard, mouse and joystick), one massive sandwich to check! In any of these interactions things can go wrong and a QA department needs to sift through it all. Of course even if all of that did work correctly we see the fourth layer which is the user him/herself, who then decides to dunk that layered sandwich in tea. Boy oh boy can they mess up their own system! No software can truly prepare for that!

Yet in all this QA needs to have high standards, which are proven when we see the third option in all this. Options one and two are an entirely different mess! It is for the outsider often impossible to tell what on earth happened. I had the inside scoop on an event where something was marketed ready, yet the program was nowhere near that. Deadlines for stakeholders had to be met and some figured that a patch afterwards via the BBS systems would do the trick. So basically a flawed product went to the shops. I remember those days, that was long before any level of fast internet, I was a trendsetter in those days by owning a 64Kb modem, yes I was a speed demon in those days! LOL!

You see, legally the consumer is in a messy situation, product liability laws are not that strong, unless health and lives are placed in peril, beyond that, you would think that these consumers are protected when it involved fraud, yet, when we consider that part of fraud is ‘deception intended to result in financial or personal gain’, we see any case go south really fast when the defence becomes, ‘the consumer was offered a refund’ and ‘Your honour, our costs are massive! We are doing everything to aid the consumers, offering them a refund immediately’ and we see any fraud case go south. Consider part of this with the ruling ‘intentional perversion of truth’, the keyword ‘intentional’ can usually be swayed too easily, faltering the case of fraud. But in the core, getting people to sign on in the first weeks, getting that revenue on their boards can mean the survival of such a company, so some accept the costs for what happens to remain on the game board.

The other situation is where the Quality Assurance (QA) department messed up. Here is the kicker, for the outsider to tell which scenario played is impossible, without working at a place, it is an impossible task to tell, one can make estimated guesses, but that is as good as it goes. For example, Ubisoft had a net profit on -66 million in 2013, they fell from grace in 2008 from $32 to $3.80 per share, that’s a not too healthy drop of 90%. The interesting part here is that when we look at their games, we see over those terms Prince of Persia, the language coaches on DS, which was novel (especially Japanese), Assassin’s Creed II, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction and a few more. This is the interesting part, here we see a few excellent games, a Prince of Persia that would bring back to life a forgotten franchise, Assassin’s Creed II, which was so far above the original that it mesmerised a massive player population, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, which upped the ante of Prince of Persia by a lot and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, which gave us even more challenges. Yet, these good games could not hinder the fact that Ubisoft had produced so many games over that time, many of them far below great that it impacted their stock. Is their value back to $16 because of their games? So what about Assassins Creed: Unity? Is stock the reason for the lacking game. I personally would state no! I think lacking games drop the stock. Yet, this is an emotional response, because stock is driven by demands and rejections, as great games are made, people want a shae of that rabid bunny, if the games are nowhere near, the stock gets rejected. In this case it is about the games, because Ubisoft is gaming! This is also why the E3 is such a big deal and even though I was not impressed with their E3, ‘For Honor’ clearly shows that Ubisoft has some gems in their arsenal, or should that be ‘had’? For Honor is a new and likely high in demand game, the presentation was extremely well received. I am not much for those types of games, but I also looked with anticipation of a lovely challenge. The issue here remains, it is online, so timing and decent players are required to make this a good experience. Yet beyond that new title, I would see it as a collection of predictable that have become indistinguishable from their other titles. Sequels sharing bits from other sequels with an interchangeable codebase. With too many triggered scripts. We remain with a blurred sense of gaming. I stated it a few years ago, by adding too many prince of Persia moments into Assassins Creed, we end up not playing Assassins Creed, if I wanted that, I would have bought Prince of Persia! So why these games?

Well, there is of course method to my madness (and my madness is purely methodical). You see, Assassins Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction were amazing achievements. I can still play these two today and have loads of fun. They had set a standard, even though Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was a step up, certain flaws were never dealt with, flaws that became part of the engine for 5 iterations of the game. You see that in the second premise, I went from new game to iteration? That part matters too! With the Splinter Cell series we went from Conviction to Blacklist. Again, it was a step forwards, but now we get the issue that QA messed up buy not properly testing the re-playability part of the game, leaving players in a lurch, making the game a mess if I wanted to play a ‘NewGame+’, it is a little thing, with a far reaching consequences. What was great became good, a step forward, hindered by one and a half steps back., which is the faltering part. Ubisoft needed a QA department with teeth, as I see it, they did not have one, or Marketing got involved. There is in all honesty no way to tell how that came to pass.

Yet, this is not about Ubisoft, because Rocksteady Studios outdid it all with Batman: Arkham Knight, making Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment extremely unhappy as I see it. A game that should be heralded as a new legendary release got a 50% rating by Steam and 70% by Gamespot, these are not good numbers, they are ratings that resemble coffin nails. Not a good thing at all. In my view, this is a massive fail by their QA department. However, when we accept the statement from Kotaku.com, we get “The moment I’m inside the batmobile, it’s not surprising to see it dip to 15 frames-per-second“, did QA really not see that? So is it Marketing or is it QA? No matter what answer I give here, it is pure speculation, I have no facts, just personal insight from 30 years of gaming. No matter where it lies, QA should not have signed off on it, not at such drops of quality. Which gets us back to the non-liability of these firms. ‘Res Ipsa Loquitur’, or in slightly more English “the thing speaks for itself“, The plaintiff can create a presumption of negligence by the defendant by proving that the harm would not ordinarily have occurred without negligence. Yet, what harm? The only harm the game has is spending funds which are refundable, the only harm there is for the maker of the game. So, there is no case, what is the case is that until these firms properly invest into QA, we get to go through buying and returning a lot more. Yet, these companies realise and they take a chance that the gamers (which tends to be a loyal lot) in that they hold on to the game and just download the patch. So basically, the first hour gamers become the sponsors for the development of an unfinished game. That is how I personally see it.

In my view, the game suffered, what could have been great will soon be forgotten. Yet, what happens when it is not a videogame? What happens when it is not a game, what happens when it is business software? you see the Donoghue v Stevenson case gives us that a maker can be held responsible for personal injury or damage to property, yet, what happens when neither is the case?

It is a very old UK case in Torts, where a Mrs Donoghue was drinking a bottle of ginger beer in a café in Paisley. A dead snail was in the bottle and because of that she fell ill, and she sued the ginger beer manufacturer, Mr Stevenson. The House of Lords held that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to her, which was breached, because it was reasonably foreseeable that failure to ensure the product’s safety would lead to harm of consumers. This is a 1932 case that is still the key case of torts and personal harm involving negligence. Yet, with video games there is no visible harm, there is only indirect harm, but the victims there have little say in this as the direct victim is offered a refund, the competitor missing out on revenue has no case. So as revenue is neither injury nor damage to property. Now we get the issue that if the buyer buys goods which are defective, he or she can only have a claim under contract of sale against the retailer. If the retailer is insolvent, no further claims will be possible. So, with Arkham Knight, when 2500 copies are returned, a large shop will not go insolvent, you get the idea, when the shop needs to close the doors, you are left out of money.

Here we get the crux, a maker of a game/program has pushed an inferior product to market. It will offer compensation, yet if the shop closes (that is a massively big if), the buyer is out in the cold. Now, the chance of this ever happening is too unrealistically small, but the need to set rules of quality, setting the need of standards is now becoming increasingly important. With games they are the most visible, but consider a corporation now pushing a day one product to get enough revenue to tailor a patch which the customer needs to download. An intentional path to stay afloat, to buy time. Where do you stand, when you got pushed to solution 2 as solution 1 is a month away, only to discover the flaw in the program, which gets freely adjusted in Week 23, so 22 weeks without a solution, this situation also hindering the sale of solution 1, which was fine from day one onwards.

Not only is a much better QA required, the consumer should be receiving much stronger protection against these events. That could just be me.

Now to the real issue connected to this. Assassins Creed: Unity became a really bad joke last year,

It went so far as Ubisoft offering a free game because (source: Express) “UBISOFT have confirmed some Xbox One fans who have previously applied patch 3 for Assassin’s Creed: Unity are now being hit by a 40GB download when trying to use the latest title update”. 40GB is massive, that comes down to 10 DVD Movies, it is well over 10% of the entire hard drive space, this gives us the image that one game has clear impact on the total space of the console. Also be mindful of the term ‘patch 3’, which implies that patch one and two had been applied, so is there clarity on the reasonable assumption that there is an issue with both release and QA here? In my view, delayed in addition or not, the game should never have been released to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong, with the new AAA games, the chance of a patch becomes larger and larger. You see QA can only get us to a certain distance and an issue on a console is a lot less likely than an issue on your PC (with all kinds of hardware combinations), yet the amount of fixes as shown here is way off the wall. Now we see a similar thing happening to the PC edition of Arkham knight. Warner Brothers have decided to call back the game, all sales have stopped at present. However, the issues we see on gottabemobile.com are “Warner Brothers’ forums are filled with complaints about the game including Error CE-34878-0 issues on the PS4, various issues with the Batmobile including this one on Xbox One, issues with cut scenes, Harley Quinn DLC problems on the PS4, Batman season pass problems, problems launching the game, problems with the game’s well-known Detective Mode, missing Flashpoint skin, problems with missions, problems saving the game, and more”.

Now we get the question, was this properly QA-ed? Was a proper quality test made, because the size and nature of the issues, as reported give out a negative testing vibe, which I consider to be extremely negligent! As such we must wonder, should such levels of non-functionality be allowed. Can the law allow the release of a product that causes, as alleged ‘no harm has been caused’, an industry, hoping on the users to wait quietly as a game gets finished on the consumers costs.

Now that the Nextgen consoles are all set out to be downloaded in the night, how long until games start tasking the game of ‘customer expectations’ and release a 90% game? How long until corporations will work on a business model that relies on consumer sponsoring whilst they contract even better profits. We also need to be careful, patches will always be a factor, I have no issue with that, and the list of games that needing massive patches keeps on growing, AC: Unity, GTA-V, Arkham Knight, Destiny, and the list goes on a little longer. I am only mentioning the patches over 3GB (one is well over 6Gb) and in this light Destiny gets a small pass as that game is all about multiplayer, which is a dimension of errors all on its own.  The Elder Scrolls Online wins this year with a 16Gb patch, again, all about online play, but overall the gaming industry seems to adapt the bad traits of Microsoft, which is definitely not a good idea.

For now we seem to accept it, especially as the Nextgen systems are relatively new, but that feeling will change sooner rather than later and at that point someone official needs to step in, which might end up being a lot more official that the game makers bargained for, especially as games outside of the US can be up to 70% more expensive, at that point we are entitled to some proper consumer protection, against these levels of negligence, levels that currently only exist on a limited scope.

 

 

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Another online danger

It seems that we the consumers are soon in danger of being left out in the offline cold. You might not realise it, you might not even worry, but your money, your payments online are finite!

You see, not only are the events of last week troubling (not the UK election mind you), the consequence of allowing this to move forward unanswered could be a costly one.

With online presence there is the additional danger of non-online absence.

For this I will emphasize it with one example. The game is from Enix and the title is ‘Order of War: Challenge‘, if you had bought it from Steam, then you have a possible issue, because the game has been wiped of your account. Now, this is not a massive issue of today, this is an issue from the sheer point of view called ‘You paid for it!’ and now it is no more and you can never play it again. An important fact is that this issue played in 2013, so you might wonder what gives!

That is an excellent question. I for one would not care too much for Steam, I never did. Yet the issue of yesterday is now quickly progressing towards issues out today and even more important those who are out tomorrow and after that. This goes far beyond the wiping of a ‘Silent Hill Playable Demo’. Some changes are made because the circumstances changes, which is fair enough. That is not the true issue (even though the Silent Hill fans who missed out would be miffed).

The issue is found in the mobile and console games out now and more important those released after tomorrow.

Let me give you an example.

The mobile/Tables environment has a game called ‘Dungeon Keeper’. Many of those who loved that game when it was originally released on the PC went nuts the moment that game reappeared. Yet, in hindsight this new game was a massive failure on many levels. The game had actually destroyed the image the masterful game maker Peter Molyneux had built. The game is now all about delaying events and forcing people to make very expensive purchases online in the form of Gems. As micro transactions go, this game is the one example why micro transactions should be illegal. A nice view is given at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpdoBwezFVA. Yet compared to the pc edition of the second game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DJmS7prcmE), the mobile game is horrendous.

Now we have an additional side, I cannot tell when this happened, but several people (including me) have only had access to the game once in the last two weeks, there have been ongoing server connection issues. In light of the issues that have been mentioned in the past there is now a matter for other cause. You see, if there is an issue with a game, if you had purchased enough gems, the issue at hand is not just that you are forced to a server, the fact that the server is no longer there and the player can no longer play gives weight to the question whether there should be legal consequences for those eager to sell a micro transaction relying game. Can something offered as ‘freemium’ but will only work smoothly when purchases be made, should that game be allowed to be non-functional?  Should the makers not offer an offline side to the game? That is at the foundation of what is wrong. The danger of consumers paying for something that can be removed as soon as the exploiters no longer consider the product to be viable and it stops working for various reasons.

What are those reasons?

Well Dungeon Keeper is a first example. The fact that a server is down is one thing, the fact that the server cannot be reached for two weeks is an entirely other matter. Which leads us to the question, should games that only have online server options be allowed? Beyond that, when gameplay is removed, are those who paid for additional gaming experience be entitled to credit vouchers?

This is the loaded question because basically it is payment for a service, which should be regarded as temporary, however, was that clearly communicated to those buying the service? Now we have ourselves a different video game altogether!

You see, this part will be a growing issue as people are dependent on downloads and could storage of games that are not played on a daily basis. There is the added consideration that these providers never did anything wrong as they might have specified that in the terms of service, yet who reads them? This is not a business agreement, or isn’t it?

Let me move on (for now to another example).

Now we have (or better states we used to have) the PlayStation 3. It has the option of PSN and PlayStation Home. PlayStation Home was discontinued, but what about those people who have spent money for years on the locations there? There had always been an implied assumption that there would be PlayStation Home in PS4. Clearly implied is not correct, too many sources stated most options in silence. Then when the PS4 came it was initially incomplete and in 2014 the verdict was final, no PlayStation Home on the PS4. And recently PlayStation Home was also removed from the PlayStation 3. There was no fault here, there was never any clear agreement that PlayStation Home was to be ported to the PS4, but to lose it on PS3 would never be an acceptable option to those who like it.

I thought it was a cool place, it was partially useless, yet it had the option of being a playful marketing tool. Trailers, unlockable extra’s for games and so on, there were even a few decent games in that environment. Because it had channels so that people could chat, it was something that is out there that would forever be an option. Now it seems that Sony is mostly rejecting the social media, or it is partially doing that. PlayStation home is not the only place, the profiles are a second part, but here we are forced online and in an almost ‘anti-social network’ situation.

This is where the wheels come off the wagon, you see there is another side to all this!

This all links to the previous as there is a real danger that someone at some point will deactivate a service, then what? There is currently an uneven, unequal and a dangerous push to force people online. There is now a second part that has massive consequences for gamers on a global scale. I have made references with the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) before, and it seems that several other sources are now on the bandwagon regarding the dangers here, gaming is only one aspect (and not even close to the biggest one, but because of the global setting of gamers a lot easier to spot). It is not just the ‘profile’ issue, that is the least of it all, but it is a driving force around it. More important, the cost of being ‘online’ could soon be another matter altogether.

It would be too simple to state that the TPP is just a bad consequence of a group of utterly incompetent politicians, mostly staying presently at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but that would be not entirely correct either. You see, their inadequacies resulted in a group of industrials to change the premise on Digital Rights Management (DRM) on a massive scale. For the most, I have mixed feelings. I believe that it is perfectly legit for a corporation to protect their product from being illegally copied. Now, the internet providers (ISP’s) are all about bandwidth, so as such, they like people who copy movies, they love it even better when people copy Blu-rays, because 100,000,000 people going for 2-3 blu-rays every night is a massive amount of bandwidth. There is to the smaller extent that a DRM is all about setting up who can legally use something and who cannot, but that seems to be the smallest tip of the iceberg.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald gives us ‘http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/politicalnews/trans-pacific-partnership-will-push-medicine-prices-up-review-finds-20150303-13sxty.html‘. This is not entirely correct, but not wrong either. If we take this quote “The leaked treaty text also reveals new American and Japanese proposals designed to enhance the ability of pharmaceutical manufacturers to extend and widen their patents on drugs and medicines“, it is the word ‘extend’ that is the issue. Because some pharmaceuticals are all about prolonging, we see more and more new patent additions to give any drug a longer exclusivity, which means that generic medication will be less and less of an option. There is in addition the quote “Jeffrey Bleich, accused Australian consumers of habitually stealing copyrighted content and of being some of the worst offenders with amongst the highest piracy rates … in the world“, that statement makes Jeffrey Bleich an idiot to some degree (not the worst he’s ever been called), because his peers in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden say exactly the same and he should properly investigate these matters before making those statements.

Now, he was not being too bright (or massively misinformed) and a mere voicer for large corporations, which is to some degree his job I reckon, but he could have been a smudge more thoughtful in that regard. You see, the American side has been utterly stupid for a long time. Because it was always American first, then ‘whomever is left’! We have seen that in Movies, Music and games. Although music not as much. It started in the mid 80’s when Greed took over and American corporations were utterly clueless on global corporate actions from day one. I am not just talking about Games, or movies (even though they are the most visible ones). No the utter consumer disrespect shown by Ashton-Tate, IBM, Lotus Development Corporation, Oracle, Novell and Adobe was beyond belief in those days. You would actually look forward to meeting with Macromedia, WordPerfect and Corel to see that humanity in IT was an option. Now many of them changed tunes over time, the movie and games industry stayed behind for a long time, it is only recently that the US is seeing that the money of their blockbusters are coming from outside the US in some cases in excess of 75%. Now we have ourselves a ballgame! Now we see the shift some are making, but in other ways.

You see, there is a reason why some people have an aversion to buying a game at 40%-70% more. In my early days, I had no options, a game advertised in the American magazines at $19.95 would cost me $69, that’s a not so nice 300%, so America changed the environment from the very beginning. Even today, Australian gamers will pay 40%-70% more for a new game. Now, we will see casual mention on how it is all about shipping. Well guess again. PSN (PS4) was offering games on day one in a shop for $89, On Amazon it was $59 and guess what, the download in Australia was priced at $99.

How do these elements link?

There are two parts. First the quote by Julian Assange “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies“. It is actually not that far a stretch, you only need to consider the legal disagreements between Apple and Samsung to see the dangers here.

After which the following claim is made “The leaked text shows that this agreement is more about corporate power than “free trade”. Investor-state dispute settlement is really a form of corporate sovereignty“. That part can be found here (at https://wikileaks.org/tpp-investment/WikiLeaks-TPP-Investment-Chapter/page-1.html).

Basically, in there you can find the issue “where foreign firms can ‘sue’ states and obtain taxpayer compensation for ‘expected future profits’“, this now reverts back to the earlier mention of games, movies and especially music. A false dimension of revenue has been maintained by corporate ‘baboons’, claiming ‘loss of revenue’. Relying on incomplete information from Napster, Kazaa and a few others players in the peer to peer networking solution. They basically went on the premise, one download means one sale lost. I believe that this was never a reality. People might download and listed, but would never have bought the bulk of it in the first case. That same premise of certain lacks is seen when we see the quote “Attorney-General George Brandis has signalled his intention to introduce more stringent copyright laws to crack down on online piracy“. In that regard the attorney general does not seem to strike too high on the academic scale of logic (on any given day for that matter). I posted an article on September 10th 2014 called ‘Changing topics?‘, in there the issue is better shown, you see it is not just about copyright, because that could have been dealt with quite easily. It was about Malcolm Turnbull’s anti-piracy forum. You see, if copyright was truly the issue, which would have been easy. But in that event the words ‘revenue‘ and ‘bandwidth‘ were very much skated around. Telstra was extremely cautious (and eager) to steer clear of that because in the case of Telstra, monitoring bandwidth, people actually stopping copying movies will cost Telstra billions! Now we see the consequence!

You see, America is figuring out that it cannot deal with its own ISP’s and they definitely cannot deal with the others like Telstra, Tele 2, Com Hem, KPN, TDC and a few others. They are doing it stepwise and the TPP will give them some options. Now back to that term that is laughingly referred to as ‘expected future profits‘.

One source states: “Losses to Video Game Makers Due to Piracy: $8.1 Billion“, based on what numbers? ISP’s state they cannot monitor. Then we get “Pirated Software Impact to Businesses: $63 Billion“. Again on what premise and how?

Well the first one gives us: “Video game piracy of hand-held games leads to the loss of about $8.1 Billion a year, as losses due to pirating of Sony PSP and Nintendo DS games between 2004 and 2009 lead to worldwide losses of nearly $42 Billion“. Here we see an interesting side. These are only two consoles. More important, these consoles have again and again limited legitimate access to games released in US and Japan again and again. So is this truly about piracy, or is the decision as seen here “Monster Hunter 3rd is the best-selling PSP game ever in Japan with 4,780,000 copies sold. Its PS3 HD remaster sold an excellent 500,000 copies as well, yet neither version is scheduled for an international release“. By the way, is the maker not guilty of discrimination? Let me be frank, I will not and have never condoned pirated games. I believe in getting a game and playing the original (I rarely buy games, so when I do, I will go for the VIP options that an original game brings). So, is this about piracy, or about segregation?

That part is harder to prove in the business case. The source “Business Software Alliance, “2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study,” May 2012” is an issue. I cannot be certain how they got to $63 billion, but with so many illegal versions of Office, that number seems a lot more plausible. It is funny that there, US and China are the biggest transgressors representing a little less than one third of the entire lost stack. The UK is set at 1.9 billion and Australia less than a billion, yet how were these numbers achieved, through ‘rough’ estimation perhaps?

Now we get to the monkey’s banana moment “Losses due to Music Piracy: $12.5 Billion“, which is stated “According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)“, yes, they wanted the number to be as high as possible, because it made bad productions and louse representatives look a little better. In addition, some of these numbers cannot be decently vouched for in any way, shape or form. It boils down to well over 500 million CD’s, in a numbers game that number on a population of 7 billion seems small, but here is the kicker, that same source had the following, which I found illuminating: “In a survey of over 6,000 people in Finland between the ages of 7 to 84, researchers found that on average each person who downloaded pirated content online had about 2,900 pirated music files and 90 pirated movie files. The researchers who conducted the study believes that downloaders have more music files is due to the ease of downloading pirated music. According to the study, downloading movie files require faster internet speeds, more digital storage space, as well as a higher technological ability to playback movies“.

The term ‘each person’ now becomes really interesting, because 90 movies boils down to 360 Gb, and 2900 songs come to an rough (very rough) estimation of 14.5 Gb. A person downloading that much would be visible on the ISP counter. You see, you buy bandwidth monthly and downloading this much, as well as watching online and perhaps stuff they no longer have, you are looking at $80 a month, however, only 6 years ago, I paid $70 for 25Gb. you see how the picture changes? That is centre here. By the way, if you think that 25 Gb is little, consider that I have only hit that maximum once during my entire contract with my ISP and that was because on a Friday my system decided to update Windows 7, Office 2013 and my Adobe Master collection, which was quite the resource drain that evening.

Your online presence is now a danger in more than one way. In the first more and more ‘providers’ are forcing us to save on the cloud, forcing us using bandwidth. Now, I understand the first download, but many systems are now gearing towards less memory and more reliant on cloud drives. Which was my issue with the Microsoft Xbox One even before that system was launched.  Are those not streamed services? More important, my issue there was that once a service is disconnected, would we just lose it all overnight? Consider your movie and TV series collection. What happens when your old versions of Star Trek, Dexter and Game of Thrones are discontinued?

In addition, if online presence is essential for our services to run, how will that be monitored? I only need to refer to the Sony hack, to give you a first fright that certain owned items could be lost by a mere scripted command. Again, a situation the consumer is not ready and not prepared for. Now, in the case of PlayStation Home, there is some understanding that certain services will be lost, could a local copy have solved it? (I am asking, not telling). There are unresolved issues, mainly because the new technologies move so fast and to be quite honest, some considerations are new, we never had to make them before. We the consumer must accept that some parts are lost to us at some point. Yes, I loved HERO on the Atari 2600, but to expect that game to function 30 years later is not that realistic either. In that regard, we have attached to software (especially games) to the same extent we hold onto a book. They are not the same, which is a simple reality.

But the dangers of online remain, or do they? In that regard, the issues I raise are mostly about time. We see the failing of a game and losing out on what we spend within a year totally unacceptable, yet in that same notion, we should find peace in the notion that nothing lasts, it is all a mere matter of time. Yet, there we see a partial solution, we cannot realistically expect the provider to give ‘eternal’ support, but is a local version (no servers) after a while, or before the service is pulled a possible solution? That I have yet to see and it is not that far-fetched, because in the end, with the amounts of products and the change of IP, that part is slowly but certainly becoming an essential step to consider, especially in light for the business model of any software corporation. Consider you the player with your game of Halo, or Gears of War. I reckon that at some point, you will accept that online mode falls away, but how would you feel is the single player option falls away too, especially if you still have the console or PC to run it on?

A gaming dimension that will fall away at some point, but are we ready to let go of those moments? Now consider that your console/PC can no longer link to the service, even though you have the original disc. In the new DRM, it is entirely possible that no online verification means no playing the game. This is the certainty that we face and the TPP will push us there a lot faster than you realise. Should you doubt any of the last part, then consider the site gog.com. It holds some of the most brilliant games ever created (sold at very low prices), people still revere these games and many of them (especially the original dungeon keeper) will find a place in the heart of gamers. Moreover, several of these would make fine console games when adapted (higher graphics in most cases). I believe that the MSDOS Dungeon Keeper could be a hit 3DS game (like many other games on that site), even today.

Gaming is not about the latest game (decent graphics and sound aside) it is about joy and the games on that site are most pure joy to play.

Now you might all think that this is about games and many of you readers do not care about games, but now consider that same step when you look at your Office 365 account and the fact that you are pushed away from a version that works perfect for you (like the nightmare Office 2007 users faced in the past). There is an abundance of programs that offer a similar scary outlook.

Now translate this to collections you do care about. Your music, your TV shows, perhaps even your digital books. Do not take the word of those stating that it will not happen, because it will, it has happened in the past, it is happening now and it will happen in the future. The DVD and book on your shelf are a touchable item, that part is (if you treat them properly) secure, something online can be lost by merely removing a server or damaging its data. If someone states that this can never happen, then look at Sony, they experienced that event first hand.

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