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The deceptive engine

We are all in anticipation of the E3, the one place where the game makers get to take the stage and either entice us for almost a year, or get completely destroyed. As we are 5 weeks away from the event, the game changes. It is all about creating hype, or creating optional falsehood. The false hype allegedly shows that the brand might still care to be inflated in perception value and regard. That is what I see when I look at the Daily Star, who gave us: “Microsoft games news: Has Xbox dealt ANOTHER KILLER BLOW to Sony and PlayStation in 2018?” That notion was so ridiculous that I decided to drill down a little. I have no idea who Dom Peppiatt is, but let’s drill down a little on the article (at https://www.dailystar.co.uk/tech/gaming/696572/Microsoft-games-news-Has-Xbox-dealt-ANOTHER-KILLER-BLOW-to-Sony-and-PlayStation-in-2018). So we start with “The company behind Xbox has recruited Darrell Gallagher to work on the Microsoft Studios Executive Leadership Team. Gallagher has a pretty significant history in gaming: he started as Head of Creative at Sony in 1997, then moved to Rockstar Games in 2004 to work as a lead artist. His next step was to become art director at THQ, before he joined Crystal Dynamics as art director in 2005“. This is fair enough, if Microsoft has acquired a titan like that, there will be optional forward momentum for Microsoft. I state optional, because we have seen that Microsoft tends to ignore its customer base and not listen to actual gamers, which tends to be a much larger issue. Then we get the not so nice parts “NEW Xbox One Games rumoured to be in development“, so the operative word is ‘rumoured‘, that was a first mistake, because we have seen that before, rumoured does not make it true and waiting for 5 weeks gives hype, yet in the same space gives massive amounts of resentment. With Rumoured we see references to ‘Perfect Dark’ and ‘Fable’ with old artwork and no evidence of any kind that it is true. Merely the ‘as leaked by Resetera user Klobrille‘ is given, like that ads any value to it all. The only one that is a decent given is a new (upgraded) Forza Horizons, it is the parade horse of Microsoft and it makes sense to make sure that it is there in all 4K glory. The second one is Age of Empires, it has been bled dry on the PC and it coming to Xbox One was merely a time setting. It was originally one of the better games they had, and if the interface is decently improved upon, it might be a niche market winner. So with 2 out of the 5 games that are ‘optionally’ games to come, what kind of ‘killer blow’ is that? It is not even close to a killer blow, so far they have not had any killer blows against Sony, and the Release of God of War last Friday is Sony showing all others that their games are of a massively higher plane of gamer satisfaction than anything Microsoft exclusively has to offer (at present), and they have close to nothing on the exclusive titles front. When we see “Microsoft and Xbox has acquired marketing rights on some massive upcoming games, including Borderlands 3, Cyberpunk 2077, Splinter Cell, Battlefield V, and Anthem“, we need to understand that ‘marketing rights’ does not make it an exclusive title. Another source had given us two weeks earlier “Borderlands 3 hasn’t been confirmed as being actively in development quite yet, Gearbox has unsurprisingly not given it a release date either“, with in addition “It’s likely to be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC“, so why acquire the marketing rights for a non-exclusive title? Seems a waste of money as I personally see it. Second is (from another source) “Ghost Recon Wildlands Splinter Cell DLC is getting a big reveal today. The Ubisoft content for the PS4, Xbox One and PC“, yet there is also mention that this is merely the setting for a new Splinter Cell and in that regard, there is every notion that Ubisoft, the people behind it will not be making it an exclusive title. The same is a given for the makers of Witcher 3, now prepping for Cyberpunk 2077, which leaves two titles none of these exclusives either. So as the article gives us “it’s important to note these are only rumours at the time of writing” in the end, the entire article was a waste of space for all gamers except for the need of Microsoft getting hypes out. The news that they have acquired Darrell Gallagher, which would be good news for Microsoft, yet to surround it with rumours, nothing to show and the fact that marketing exclusives were tailored whilst the games are not confirmed to be is merely a setting for failure, which we saw with the death blow against Microsoft with the release of God of War and actual exclusive title. It will only get harder for Microsoft; the consoles are set to 2.5:1 so for every Xbox One there are 2.5 PS4’s. There is not a game maker in the world that will not make for both if possible. The only option there is what Microsoft had exclusive and keep on converting the PC games that never made it to console. For Sony, it has its own worries. Both The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding are exclusive titles, but these two players will not go to bed with anything but perfection and for both no official release dates are known, now that God of War delivered all it promised the hunger for these other two titles seems to be growing exponentially. And a gamer that gets too hungry for new games makes weird leaps, that has been proven in the past. So were the two titles just fabs? I am not certain there has been a massive desire to get the Fable line remastered (one, two and three) and the anniversary edition on the 360 only grew the fans of Fable. So getting them all three on the Xbox One remastered, not merely backwards compatible would be a real win for Microsoft, there is no denying it. It is not as clear with Perfect Dark, the heralded game just wasn’t the stuff of legends on the 360, so were some other games. Yet the fans will bow towards the Fable setting in a large way, in equal measure the Mass Effect rumours seem to resurface again and again, also in light of the Andromeda failure, that trilogy would be equally a win on the Xbox, anyone denying that is just utterly stupid. There are a few others, but they are in essence mere remastered games, not actual new games and that is what Microsoft desperately needs and so far they have too little, too few titles and no push towards exclusive wins.

It is in that regard that we see Forbes, who gives us “Sony And PS4 Are Beginning A Massive 2018 With ‘God Of War,’ And Microsoft Should Be Worried“. Yes, we all agree and even as actual numbers are not seen at present, we see in the UK “In terms of purely boxed units, it outsold God of War III by 35 per cent“, that is in merely 3 days, which is almost unheard of. The only title to ever pull that off was GTA5 in 2013. More good news is not console set, but for Ubisoft, it does not matter, Far Cry 5 broke the 100K boundary (on PS4) in Japan which should make the people at Ubisoft proud and happy and rightfully so, the fact that this will also benefit the Xbox One players is merely icing on the cake for Ubisoft and that is what counts. You see, actual gaming is never about the console itself, it is about the game and gaming. Even as God of War is ruling, Ubisoft is getting a nice global boost and with other Ubisoft titles ready to be released it will be a good thing. When it is about the gaming, we will not care, we only care about ‘gaming the play’, or was that ‘playing the game’? We tend to all get together I tend to burn whomever is trying to hand us hypes that are ridiculous, in that regard we have absolutely no regard for any hype bringer.

In the end, will it help us the gamers? Hypes do not, it is an engine of deception to maximise the product, that is the focal point, in this in that regard that the moment the hype is proven wrong (in 5 weeks at the E3), when any of the Daily Star mentioned ‘rumoured to happen‘ it will lash out to the Microsoft community and they will hold Microsoft accountable. You see, when it suits Microsoft they are all over a publisher with falsehood, when it suits them, so either the rumours are true (and I will reports one it), or this was a false hype that has the potential to sway more XB1 owners to switch console, which is overall bad news for Microsoft when that happens. I they have only one advantage this month than it is the rare case where the Gold Live Free games in April are actually better than PS Plus offer for a change. With AC Syndicate and Dead Space 2 ruling the free games, they are giving a better value in an uncommon move.

When it comes to the deceptive engine, it will not stop, not for at least 4 weeks and it is not limited to the Xbox, there are plenty of ‘rumours’ on the PS4 and Switch field, which we find equally annoying, in addition, it is not just limited to some papers, even a site like Christian Today is all about those rumours, which is unsettling on a few levels.

When you consider that ‘Deception’ is act of propagating a belief that is not true, or is not the whole truth, you might understand why we despise it in gaming. So if we consider that the ‘pro’ Microsoft article was optionally propaganda, as well as distraction, or concealment. The gamer has to ask, what is Microsoft trying to conceal or distract from? We will know in 5 weeks when we get to see the E3 presentation.

 

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In awe of Ares

The independent is throwing its readers a curveball with ‘The survey comes after it was revealed that a new political party with access to up to £50m in funding has been secretly under development for more than a year‘, it is change, change of a kind that makes us wonder if politicians are getting there ‘inspiration’ form somewhere else. This is not about that, this is absolutely not about politics. This is about the curveball.

Santa Monica Studio, they awed us two years ago at the E3, where we were treated to a teaser, one that made our jaws drop and we were nowhere near ready to see the real deal. That happened 48 hours ago, 48 hours since we woke up, in optionally the most overwhelming way. If you missed it all, you missed a lot. For those not entirely aware, let me explain, let’s take you back to 2013, when the people on the PS3 were treated to ‘the Last of Us‘. It was a game that surpassed whatever came before, the end of a console treated to the diamond of diamonds. Now take that feeling, multiply that by 3 and that is what you will feel with the normal God of War 4 edition on a normal PS4, I haven’t even seen it on a Pro with 4K yet. The beginning is simple yet still overwhelming, the graphics are beyond awesome and the music and sound effects give it an entirely new dimension.

So here we are he who took the powers of Ares, god of war. Now we are in the setting of Norse mythology. The initial intro to the game, the movement, the draughr, Balder and a few others are just overwhelming. When we dig deeper into the game we get to certain points that this is still very much a God of War game, yet there is also evolution. even as button mashing got you most of the way previously, this time around you need to be a little clever, button mashing gets you killed again and again (and again). It has the chests and it has health parts, slightly different, but still in spirit basically the same. Some chests now come with puzzles and a few are a little trying. It is all a step forward. The graphics throughout the game remain overwhelming and are beyond awesome. The tactics are a little more essential, yet it remains a God of War game. Christopher Judge, the (in)famous Teal’c from Stargate takes the axe from the predecessors and gives Kratos soul in a way that is amazing, the deepness of voice and the entire embodiment of Kratos slayer of gods comes to life with Christopher Judge, a stellar performance.

There will always be issues with any videogame, so has this game its little snippets of frustration, but the overall impact of the game is what I would regard it a 97% game, Metacritic gave it a 95% rating, what means that it should be regarded as a must for any PS4 owner. Even as you play the game, you feel a little lost at times, wondering where to go next. It is not a bad feeling, you get a clear view of your surrounding and it is close to breathtaking. The people at Santa Monica really outdid themselves, and not just them. In equal measure Bear McCreary, famous for his soundtrack work on Battlestar Gallactica truly shines. His music adds to the game in several ways. I wonder if anyone would be able to play the game on a TV with a sound bar, the music is that amazing. I am actually listening to it on YouTube whilst writing this. I hope that it will be a download option soon enough (or a soundtrack for sale). So in nearly all matters the game shines. So why am I using ‘nearly’? Well in the beginning as you have the options to better your character with outfits and upgrades, you are a little in the dark and in the beginning of the game optionally accidently wasting resources on the wrong parts and it is a merely a small loss, yet it makes for a great replay. This is perhaps the only small flaw in all this and it is so small a flaw that not heeding my words in this is just fine. Yet as you play the game you are almost overwhelmed by what you see and when you think that you’ve seen it all, you get introduced to Alfheim. If you consider that Midgard is the forest in midwinter, then Alfheim is the forest in spring and everything is in full bloom, a second whiff over being overwhelmed and I haven’t even seen the subsequent parts yet. Whilst I have been upgrading my skills and my weapon, the monsters have been becoming a lot stronger too, so the opposition is not getting easier and you the player are forced to thinking a little more tactics and no mash buttons, it is essential to making it through. It is almost like Santa Monica Studio saw the setting of Dark Souls and borrowed an idea or two, which is not a bad thing at all. In this, I found that the avoidance by Kratos is not completely flawless and it makes for a more challenging fight, all defence and no offence being pointless in the end. It makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things and God of War is more than the jackpot. If the next Last of Us is anything to go by, we are witness to a new level of gameplay, one that the Xbox cannot match, because Ubisoft will not be able to match it. That is not an attack on Ubisoft, it truly is not! They have shown with AC Origin to up their game by a fair bit. Microsoft was just not ready (read: awake enough) to up the game for gamers other than their ‘most powerful consolestatement. Now with the God of War first released, and the Last of Us 2 teasers making us desire more and that is whilst we know that there is every chance that Death Stranding will surpass them both, a Kojima special that does not ill to the other two titles, but we know that Sony is about to up the game for gamers a fair bit and that is merely the top of the 2018 iceberg.We have no idea what we will see in 7 weeks at the E3 2018.

That whilst Windows central ‘treats’ us to: “Ever since the Xbox One launched in 2013, Microsoft has revealed clothing items and other merchandise which were either E3 exclusives, competition rewards, or simply gifts for employees. Luckily, it seems like that’s about to change because a merchandise store is coming soon“, perhaps with a lack of exclusive games that is all they can offer?

Even as Bethesda has been giving us heaps of amazing options, the bulk of the gamer’s desires are set to Elder Scrolls 6 and an optional Fallout 5, and/or Fallout 4b. Bethesda is like Monica Studios and for the longest time they have delivered, even today Skyrim is still played, 6.5 year later, that is the trademark of the truly great and satisfying game and God of War 4 is a welcome addition. It is behind GTA5 the highest Metacritic rating ever and the people of Santa Monica Studio have all the rights, the reason and the ability to feel pride, be proud and enjoy the reverence they will receive for the rest of the year. In this they are sharing the warmth of reverence this year (optionally) with the makers of Spiderman for PS4, another exclusive title, which is now sold out on amazon. So the pre-orders of a game released in September 2018 are already sold out, so in that part Santa Monica Studios is just one player driving the Sony gaming force forward and the competitors have nothing even close to matching that.

Even as I am drawn to return to play God of War, I know that Santa Monica is likely to have a few interesting twists on their bow of confusion. So it will be essential to meet up with Morrighan, Crone of War. She can enlighten me to the opponents that Kratos may face. The Celts were always masters of the skull cleaver and I need to be alert and ready to whatever Santa Monica Studio will throw at me next. The life of a gamer, always trying to remain in synch with the game and with life to get the best results, only the truly great game makers allow us to do that.

When we consider the path that this game series has taken, the path seems obvious, but it is not, the upgrade and evolution of your weapon have options so it can enhance your strength or give power to the weaker side of you that in itself is also brilliant. If you are a range fighter of up close and personal, both have options to give you a much better chance of survival and in the end, you cannot really afford all the upgrades all the time, so choices must be made which makes the game even more challenging and rewarding when you get to the next point. That in itself is also a new victory for the series. The map reveals even more new sides, but I will steer away from that so you can experience that for yourself, making the impact even better.

In the end the God of War treated us to something special two years ago and now we are overwhelmed with what they have actually achieved, no small feat for any development studio, laurels well earned. Even if you are not into the hack and slash games, this game brings a new game, that overwhelms nearly all your senses that alone will be worth buying it for.

That is the curveball, the delivery of something special and again Santa Monica Studio surpassed our expectations, an art that politicians have been lacking for decades, perhaps they should actively listen to Kratos, Ares and Morrighan, nothing less will do at present.

There is one part that politicians can take away from all this. It is not the expected that makes you shine, it is the ability to exceed our expectations that truly matter, isn’t it funny that the one article that they looked down on for three decades (video games) have been able to deliver just that? I see it as the combination of art and imagination and God of War got it right on all counts.

 

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Waking up 5 years late

I have had something like this, I swear it’s true. It was after I came back from the Middle East, I was more of a ‘party person’ in those days and I would party all weekend non-stop. It would start on Friday evening and I would get home Sunday afternoon. So one weekend, I had gone through the nightclub, day club, bars and Shoarma pit stops after which I went home. I went to bed and I get woken up by the telephone. It is my boss, asking me whether I would be coming to work that day. I noticed it was 09:30, I had overslept. I apologised and rushed to the office. I told him I was sorry that I had overslept and I did not expect too much nose as it was the first time that I had overslept. So the follow up question became “and where were you yesterday?” My puzzled look from my eyes told him something was wrong. It was Tuesday! I had actually slept from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. It would be the weirdest week in a lifetime. I had lost an entire day and I had no idea how I lost a day. I still think back to that moment every now and then, the sensation of the perception of a week being different, I never got over it, now 31 years ago, and it still gets to me every now and then.

A similar sensation is optionally hitting Christine Lagarde I reckon, although if she is still hitting the party scene, my initial response will be “You go girl!

You see with “Market power wielded by US tech giants concerns IMF chief” (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/19/market-power-wielded-by-us-tech-giants-concerns-imf-chief-christine-lagarde) we see the issues on a very different level. So even as we all accept “Christine Lagarde, has expressed concern about the market power wielded by the US technology giants and called for more competition to protect economies and individuals”, we see not the message, but the exclusion. So as we consider “Pressure has been building in the US for antitrust laws to be used to break up some of the biggest companies, with Google, Facebook and Amazon all targeted by critics“, I see a very different landscape. You see as we see Microsoft, IBM and Apple missing in that group, it is my personal consideration that this is about something else. You see Microsoft, IBM and Apple have one thing in common. They are Patent Powerhouses and no one messes with those. This is about power consolidation and the fact that Christine Lagarde is speaking out in such a way is an absolute hypocrite setting for the IMF to have.

You see, to get that you need to be aware of two elements. The first is the American economy. Now in my personal (highly opposed) vision, the US has been bankrupt; it has been for some time and just like the entire Moody debacle in 2008. People might have seen in in ‘the Big Short‘, a movie that showed part of it and whilst the Guardian reported ““Moody’s failed to adhere to its own credit-rating standards and fell short on its pledge of transparency in the run-up to the ‘great recession’,” principal deputy associate attorney general Bill Baer said in the statement“, it is merely one version of betrayal to the people of the US by giving protection to special people in excess of billions and they merely had to pay a $864m penalty. I am certain that those billionaires have split that penalty amongst them. So, as I stated, the US should be seen as bankrupt. It is not the only part in this. The Sydney Morning Herald (at https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/how-trump-s-hair-raising-level-of-debt-could-bring-us-all-crashing-down-20180420-p4zank.html) gives us “Twin reports by the International Monetary Fund sketch a chain reaction of dangerous consequences for world finance. The policy – if you can call it that – puts the US on an untenable debt trajectory. It smacks of Latin American caudillo populism, a Peronist contagion that threatens to destroy the moral foundations of the Great Republic. The IMF’s Fiscal Monitor estimates that the US budget deficit will spike to 5.3 per cent of GDP this year and 5.9 per cent in 2019. This is happening at a stage of the economic cycle when swelling tax revenues should be reducing net borrowing to zero“. I am actually decently certain that this will happen. Now we need to look back to my earlier statement.

You see, if the US borrowing power is nullified, the US is left without any options, unless (you saw that coming didn’t you). The underwriting power of debt becomes patent power. Patents have been set to IP support. I attended a few of those events (being a Master of Intellectual Property Law) and even as my heart is in Trademarks, I do have a fine appreciation of Patents. In this the econometrics of the world are seeing the national values and the value of any GDP supported by the economic value of patents.

In this, in 2016 we got “Innovation and creative endeavors are indispensable elements that drive economic growth and sustain the competitive edge of the U.S. economy. The last century recorded unprecedented improvements in the health, economic well-being, and overall quality of life for the entire U.S. population. As the world leader in innovation, U.S. companies have relied on intellectual property (IP) as one of the leading tools with which such advances were promoted and realized. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the principal means for establishing ownership rights to the creations, inventions, and brands that can be used to generate tangible economic benefits to their owner“, as such the cookie has crumbled into where the value is set (see attached), one of the key findings is “IP-intensive industries continue to be a major, integral and growing part of the U.S. economy“, as such we see the tech giants that I mentioned as missing and not being mentioned by Christine Lagarde. It is merely one setting and there are optionally a lot more, but in light of certain elements I believe that patents are a driving force and those three have a bundle, Apple has so many that it can use those patents too buy several European nations. IBM with their (what I personally believe to be) an overvalued Watson, we have seen the entire mess moving forward, presenting itself and pushing ‘boundaries’ as we are set into a stage of ‘look what’s coming’! It is all about research, MIT and Think 2018. It is almost like Think 2018 is about the point of concept, the moment of awareness and the professional use of AI. In that IBM, in its own blog accidently gave away the goods as I see it with: “As we get closer to Think, we’re looking forward to unveiling more sessions, speakers and demos“, I think they are close, they are getting to certain levels, but they are not there yet. In my personal view they need to keep the momentum going, even if they need to throw in three more high exposed events, free plane tickets and all kinds of swag to flim flam the audience. I think that they are prepping for the events that will not be complete in an alpha stage until 2020. Yet that momentum is growing, and it needs to remain growing. Two quotes give us that essential ‘need’.

  1. The US Army signed a 33-month, $135 million contract with IBM for cloud services including Watson IoT, predictive analytics and AI for better visibility into equipment readiness.
  2. In 2017, IBM inventors received more than 1,900 patents for new cloud technologies to help solve critical business challenges.

The second is the money shot. An early estimate is outside of the realm of most, you see the IP Watchdog gave us: “IBM Inventors received a record 9043 US patents in 2017, patenting in such areas as AI, Cloud, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing technology“, the low estimate is a value of $11.8 trillion dollars. That is what IBM is sitting on. That is the power of just ONE tech giant, and how come that Christine Lagarde missed out on mentioning IBM? I’ll let you decide, or perhaps it was Larry Elliott from the Guardian who missed out? I doubt it, because Larry Elliott is many things, stupid ain’t one. I might not agree with him, or at times with his point of view, but he is the clever one and his views are valid ones.

So in all this we see that there is a push, but is it the one the IMF is giving or is there another play? The fact that banks have a much larger influence in what happens is not mentioned, yet that is not the play and I accept that, it is not what is at stake. There is a push on many levels and even as we agree that some tech giants have a larger piece of the cake (Facebook, Google and Amazon), a lot could have been prevented by proper corporate taxation, but that gets to most of the EU and the American Donald Duck, or was that Trump are all about not walking that road? The fact that Christine has failed (one amongst many) to introduce proper tax accountability on tech giants is a much larger issue and it is not all on her plate in all honesty, so there are a few issues with all this and the supporting views on all this is not given with “Lagarde expressed concern at the growing threat of a trade war between the US and China, saying that protectionism posed a threat to the upswing in the global economy and to an international system that had served countries well“, it is seen in several fields, one field, was given by The Hill, in an opinion piece. The information is accurate it is merely important to see that it has the views of the writer (just like any blog).

So with “Last December, the United States and 76 other WTO members agreed at the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial to start exploring WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. Those WTO members are now beginning their work by identifying the objectives of such an agreement. The U.S. paper is an important contribution because it comprehensively addresses the digital trade barriers faced by many companies“, which now underlines “A recent United States paper submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a notable step toward establishing rules to remove digital trade barriers. The paper is significant for identifying the objectives of an international agreement on digital trade“. This now directly gives rise to “the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law also requested that the new NAFTA require increased protections in trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents“, which we get from ‘Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA‘ (at https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/ambassador-lighthizer-urged-to-include-52674/) less than 10 hours ago. So when we link that to the quote “The proposals included: that Canada and Mexico establish criminal penalties for trade secrets violations similar to those in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act, an agreement that Mexico eliminate its requirement that trademarks be visible, a prohibition on the lowering of minimum standards of patent protection“. So when we now look back towards the statement of Christine Lagarde and her exclusion of IBM, Microsoft and Apple, how is she not directly being a protectionist of some tech giants?

I think that the IMF is also feeling the waters what happens when the US economy takes a dip, because at the current debt levels that impact is a hell of a lot more intense and the games like Moody’s have been played and cannot be played again. Getting caught on that level means that the US would have to be removed from several world economic executive decisions, not a place anyone in Wall Street is willing to accept, so that that point Pandora’s Box gets opened and no one will be able to close it at that point. So after waking up 5 years late we see that the plays have been again and again about keeping the status quo and as such the digital rights is the one card left to play, which gives the three tech giants an amount of power they have never had before, so as everyone’s favourite slapping donkey (Facebook) is mentioned next to a few others, it is the issue of those not mentioned that will be having the cake and quality venison that we all desire. In this we are in a dangerous place, even more the small developers who come up with the interesting IP’s they envisioned. As their value becomes overstated from day one, they will be pushed to sell their IP way too early, more important, that point comes before their value comes to fruition and as such those tech giants (Apple, IBM, and Microsoft) will get an even more overbearing value. Let’s be clear they are not alone, the larger players like Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Sony and Fujitsu are also on that list. The list of top players has around 300 members, including 6 universities (all American). So that part of the entire economy is massively in American hands and we see no clear second place, not for a long time. Even as the singled out tech giants are on that list, it is the value that they have that sets them a little more apart. Perhaps when you consider having a go at three of them, whilst one is already under heavy emotional scrutiny is perhaps a small price to pay.

How nice for them to wake up, I merely lost one day once, they have been playing the sleeping game for years and we will get that invoice at the expense of the futures we were not allowed to have, if you wonder how weird that statement is, then take a look at the current retirees, the devaluation they face, the amount they are still about to lose and wonder what you will be left with when you consider that the social jar will be empty long before you retire. The one part we hoped to have at the very least is the one we will never have because governments decided that budgeting was just too hard a task, so they preferred to squander it all away. The gap of those who have and those who have not will become a lot wider over the next 5 years, so those who retire before 2028 will see hardships they never bargained for. So how exactly are you served with addressing “‘too much concentration in hands of the few’ does not help economy“, they aren’t and you weren’t. It is merely the setting for what comes next, because in all this it was never about that. It is the first fear of America that counts. With ‘US ponders how it can stem China’s technology march‘ (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/us-ponders-how-it-can-stem-chinas-technology-march-20180418-h0yyaw), we start seeing that shift, so as we see “The New York Times reported on April 7 that “at the heart” of the trade dispute is a contest over which country plays “a leading role in high-tech industries”. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12 that the US was preparing rules to block Chinese technology investment in the US, while continuing to negotiate over trade penalties“, we see the shifted theatre of trade war. It will be about the national economic value with the weight of patents smack in the middle. In that regard, the more you depreciate other parts, the more important the value of patents becomes. It is not a simple or easy picture, but we will see loads of econometrics giving their view on all that within the next 2-3 weeks.

Have a great weekend and please do not bother to wake up, it seems that Christine Lagarde didn’t bother waking up for years.

 

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Physical vs Virtual (part2)

In part 2 we look at the virtual aspect in all this and for that we need to take a look at the other part of the equation, and see where the interaction ended up, because that is also a matter that truly counts.

Virtually

It started way before now, but the now gives us ‘Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/19/facebook-moves-15bn-users-out-of-reach-of-new-european-privacy-law). You see the law is one thing, yet in all this, when we see “Facebook has moved more than 1.5 billion users out of reach of European privacy law, despite a promise from Mark Zuckerberg to apply the “spirit” of the legislation globally“, was anything illegal done? When we see: “when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg demurred. “We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” he said“, did he lie?

Those are the immediate questions. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU in this gives us “replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy“, so the people created their account long before these privacy issues were there. They never cared for the longest time, as long as the US government didn’t get any data and when we respond to pornographic images and videos on social media, oh no, that was not us, that was merely Gavin Barwell (see part 1), in a time when his mind should have been all other kinds of matters. Ah well, we all have an itch now and then. Yes, it is that itch, because we are all on social media for some reason, to share, to look, to listen and to judge. Some of them actually communicate, and that has also been proven so communication on social media is not a fab. So when we see the EU site on the GDPR: “the biggest change to the regulatory landscape of data privacy comes with the extended jurisdiction of the GDPR, as it applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location. Previously, territorial applicability of the directive was ambiguous and referred to data process ‘in context of an establishment’. This topic has arisen in a number of high profile court cases. GPDR makes its applicability very clear – it will apply to the processing of personal data by controllers and processors in the EU, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU or not“, the first thing we see is that social media has no business having offices or processing data in the EU, that basically is the signal for Facebook to vacate using the ASAP protocol and they did just that. And Mark Zuckerberg did it all in the spirit of it all, it is just not what was expected and the Senate hearing just gave themselves (allegedly) access to de data to nearly all the European users. the second part gives us “The GDPR will also apply to the processing of personal data of data subjects in the EU by a controller or processor not established in the EU, where the activities relate to: offering goods or services to EU citizens (irrespective of whether payment is required) and the monitoring of behaviour that takes place within the EU. Non-Eu businesses processing the data of EU citizens will also have to appoint a representative in the EU“, so with ‘monitoring of behaviour that takes place within the EU‘, is a much larger issue and Alex Hern makes no mention of this anywhere in the article (that is not an accusation), merely that Facebook has moved the data and that the people in the EU have less rights under US law. Was that not always the case? Was that not the initial setting when Facebook started? So when we read “This is a major and unprecedented change in the data privacy landscape. The change will amount to the reduction of privacy guarantees and the rights of users, with a number of ramifications, notably for consent requirements“, which we get from Privacy researcher Lukasz Olejnik, we actually do not get anything new, because the GDPR would not have been enforced until next month, so there! (OK, not an entirely justified outcry, but I am feeling batty)

In all this the missed issue of monitoring is actually a lot larger for some and those boasting on what they bought on the dark net (some people remain simple on every level) will have a few repercussions, yet in all this when it regards Cambridge Analytica, we see all kinds of media exploitations, rumours, alleged actions, yet no arrests, no one in the dock and still the entire mess is merely focussed on Facebook. We have seen news on a massive amount of apps collecting data, smart toys, and with the upcoming 5G, the RFID and mobile tag as well as device tags will be an exponentially growing data market with the entire Fortune 500 chomping at the bits to get their fingers on that data, yet at present the legislation has been faulty at best and nominally missing completely. All that because the people give it all away willingly, that is what the next fridge with a £250 discount will warrant, as did the 2016 Sony Smart TV as just about all following models. that is not a joke, you agreed to this when you bought the TV,

it is in the end users license agreement and they are not alone, it is a massive list of corporation that are doing this and the media was, yet they were largely silent about it and the Sony issue in 2012, where the media is what I would personally label as: ‘whoring for advertisement options‘ instead of informing 30 million consumers on the change and its impact, is what still has my nostrils flaring 6 years later and I am an actual Sony fan.

So as we see how we are singularly focussed on where our personal data is and not what we allowed it to be used for, especially as it came with the free use of Facebook, we all need to accept that nothing is for free and the corporation requires its return of investment, well in the case of Facebook merely 60 billion. Where did you think that value came from? Watching advertisement? In that Facebook and google are largely alike. So in these issues in the physical and virtual side, we are short on memory, too large on emotions and unclear on how to make the houses of Lords and Commons more accountable for the matters at hand. Even as they cannot prevent you from staying with Facebook, we all have been failed by legislation that was too slow and MP’s that are showing to be lacking the necessary skills to do something successfully. It would be so lovely if Sir Martin Moore-Bick would be kind enough to show both matters, because it would have a much larger impact. Even as we see, (what I would personally call) the failed false promises of Jeremy Corbyn regarding housing, with: “One million new “genuinely affordable homes” over a decade, mostly for social rent. That’s not quite 1m new council houses – a chunk of these would be delivered by housing associations – but it gets very close” is also a Porky Pie of the largest order. You merely have to look at google Maps to see that there is no place for even 30% of that in London, so will they mostly be in Wales, Penzance, Brighton and Scarborough? In addition, none of the sides of the houses
(Lords or Commons) have successfully done anything to make a change, regarding leasehold which will drive the entire social housing matter further and 1,000,000 houses will not nearly be enough. So, back to the Virtual part, because that is still central in this. In that part I have to thank the realtor Harcourts for bringing the juice.

You see, with: “NPP1 – Collection of Information; Agencies are prohibited from collecting personal information unless it is necessary for one or more of its functions. Personal data should only be collected in a lawful, fair, and not unreasonably obtrusive way. The agency must disclose certain information at the point of collection“, yet in all this the terms: ‘unless it is necessary for one or more of its functions‘ gives a much wider scope, does it not? In addition, with ‘only be collected in a lawful, fair, and not unreasonably obtrusive way‘. So when they (the real estate in general) offer a £199 rebate for registering you as the leasehold owner, how many people do you think that will consider it necessary and not unreasonable? It merely needs to satisfy one function and the deed is covered with the mantle of opportunity. In addition we see “Personal and sometimes sensitive information may be collected and stored on standard real estate industry forms, such as tenancy applications, listing forms, etc. These need to be secured and available for inspection by customers“, so when did you look at what some call the RP Database? In Australia there is a firm CoreLogic and it has a product called RP Data Professional. In all this we see: “RP Data Professional is the leading property data solution used by property professionals in Australia. Prepare reports for prospects and clients, generate value estimates, verify information and conduct valuable research and highly targeted marketing. Packages starting from $150 / month“. It is widely used by debt collecting agencies as well as realtors. You would be surprised to see all that data and what every address offers. Do you think that they are the only ones? Data is gold, it is the printer that allows you to print your own money and for the most it is massively unchecked. Now, I know that RP Data is merely a facilitator in all this, all perfectly valid, and nothing illegal. Yet when we consider ABC in 2016 with “The Reserve Bank has taken the highly unusual step of switching its preferred home value data, arguing that CoreLogic’s figures overstated price growth in April and May due to a methodology change“, so as you see the data goes a lot further and for the most the people, the tenants and Real Estate seekers are totally unaware of such parts and in all this do you think that the UK does not have its own options. In all this, with the explosive cladding issues, did you not think that the clad dealers were not tailoring to ‘property value increase at minimum costs’? This goes a lot wider in several lanes and the sudden much larger issue of cladding is almost not looked at (I did say almost).

So when we see “CoreLogic’s head of research Tim Lawless acknowledged that the changes to the index may have temporarily bumped up the figures for a couple of months. However, he said other data indicate that those two months were still relatively strong for Sydney and Melbourne housing sales” we forget to look at the aligned indications and what else is setting the pass in all this. Even as the last parts were the Australian side of this, CoreLogic is also active in the UK. In this no one seems to have talked to CoreLogic to see if the cladding industry has been given (through subscription) access to the UK RP Database. Is that not interesting too? You see, when we accept the January setting of “Just three tower blocks out of almost 300 with the same “dangerous” and “flammable” cladding as Grenfell Tower have had panels taken down and replaced“, how come the number of buildings is so high? Are all cladding providers so very bad, or was there a very intelligent salesperson selling cladding to the right people, when the timing was just right? I am fairly certain that this part of the conversations has not been showing up anywhere.

The virtual side to the Grenfell disaster was not seen, perhaps that part was immaterial at that time, yet when we see 297 tower blocks in a serious setting of harm, with the initial setting of finding the proper candidates, have we considered that corporate social media (like LinkedIn) could be used to get the goods (in alleged Cambridge Analytica style) to create fear in other ways? A lack of value versus a larger valuation set against a minimal investment. You show me a person who turns that down and I will introduce you to a person who is very aware of the concept of dishonesty.

You see, we have seen for the better part of 5 years the notion of taking fear from the workplace, usually in the style of ‘Corporate Leaders Must Remove Fear Factor from the Workplace‘, which we get from the Huffington Post (at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-prefontaine/corporate-leaders-must-re_1_b_1437445.html) as early as 2012, so when we see “As reported in the Harvard Business Review, employees faced with incivility are likely to narrow their focus to avoid risks, and lose opportunities to learn in the process. Obviously this impacts their level of personal success and the success of the organization“, yet in equal measure, those actors never considered to take the fear factor out of the boardrooms, which are forever ruled by the bottom line and in that respect there is very little difference between a corporate boardroom, or places like the Kensington and Chelsea TMO, which has one bottom line, which is the value of housing and the rise of values of upcoming new housing. So now, the entire Metro section we saw in part one with ‘Cladding added to Grenfell Tower to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats‘ it makes a whole lot more sense does it not? It is my personal view and opinion, yet in all that data was at the very Core and Logic of it all (pun intended). So when you think the Facebook data is an issue, guess again. The issue is a lot bigger, wider and more exploitable at the expense of yourself of course) than you would have thought.

All within the considerate view of those not looking at any of this, and you think I went deep here? I merely touched the surface and I will be very surprised if the public inquiry touches on any of those matters, not because they do not want to, but because the legal scope is unlikely to be there, as it would have been in the emotional seeking justice side. I guess that it is one of the questions that certain councils do not want to answer, so making sure that the question is not asked will be a first priority for all of them, because if it does get to the table, those who want to stiff Leaseholders with a £40,000 bill might optionally end up being not so successful and there is every indication that a fair chunk of those 297 tower blocks are currently facing a similar dilemma.

That is just my thought on the matter, and in all this, when you start realising the issues at hand and the time that this has taken, in addition that I saw some in minutes a few more in hours and one or two through my decades of data experience, are you not surprised that the elected officials remained in the dark? I know I am one of the better ones on the planet, but I know close to a dozen equal or better than me, many living in London. Do you actually think that some were in the dark or are they allegedly keeping themselves ignorant? In that case, if more happens, how many lives was the price of that ignorance? Can we afford to find out?

I’ll leave you with those questions, have a great Friday and do try to enjoy the weekend!

 

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Media rigging

We have had issues, massive issues for the longest of times. Now we can focus on the blatant transgressors, we can focus on the exclusion examples of good journalism like the guardian, the Independent, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Times and the Financial Times (the Australian and non-Australian editions), yet the founding flaw is actually larger.

You see, journalism has become an issue in itself. Whatever people and participators thought it was in the 70’s is no longer the case. Perhaps it never was. In my view, journalism is no longer merely about ‘exposing’, it is about partially revealing, whilst mediating the needs of the shareholder, the stake holders and the advertisers making it a very different issue. It is there where I did not just have my issue with Microsoft, in that same setting the hands of Sony are equally tainted. They are the two visible ones; but that list is distinguished and very long. So as we see overcompensation we see it on both sides of the equation, not giving it a level of equilibrium, but an exaggerated level of grossly unsettling.

In this we have two articles. The first is directly linked to what I have been writing about so let’s start with that. The Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/04/16/thousands-of-android-apps-may-be-illegally-tracking-children-study-finds) gives us ‘Thousands of Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds’. Now, I am not convinced that this is all limited to Android, but that is a personal feeling that has not been met with in-depth investigation, so I could most certainly be wrong on that count. What is the issue is seen with “Seven researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that the majority of them may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Thousands of the tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without a parent’s permission, the study found“,as this had been going on for years and i reported on it years ago, I am not at all surprised, yet the way that this now reaches the limelight is an issue to some degree. I am unaware what Serge Egelman has been doing with their life, but “The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done” was not a consideration in 2010, or 2009, so why is it an issue now? Is it because Osama Bin Laden is dead now (intentionally utterly unrelated)? There has been a freedom of actions, a blatant setting of non-investigation for close to a decade and even as it is now more and more clear that the issue was never ‘not there’. In February 2016 we saw (unfortunately through the Telegraph) “The security flaw in Fisher-Price’s Smart Toy Bear meant access to a child’s name, date of birth and gender could have been easily accessed. The researchers at Rapid7, a Boston-based security company that spotted the defect, said the toy could also be hijacked to give a malicious actor control over account data and in-built functions“, so this is not new. The fact that it was the Telegraph who brought it does not make it false. And yes, I did bite my tongue to prevent the addition of ‘in this case‘ to the previous line. In addition we see (at http://www.dickinson-wright.com/news-alerts/legal-and-privacy-issues-with-connected-toys) that law firm Dickinson Wright has been on the ball since 2015, so how come that the media is lagging to such an extent? Like me, they saw the rain come and in their case it is profitable to be aware of the issues. So with “Since 2015 the technology and legal implications regarding these types of toys has only grown as the market now includes smart toys, such as Talk-to-Me Mikey, SmartToy Monkey, and Kidizoon Smartwatch DX; connected toys, such as SelfieMic and Grush; and other connected smart toys such as Cognitoys’ DINO, and My Friend Cayla“, they again show to be ahead of the curve and most of the media lagging to a much larger degree. Did you think that this was going to go away by keeping quiet? I think that the answer is clearly shown in the Post article. The most powerful statement is seen with “The researchers note that Google has worked to enforce COPPA by requiring child app developers to certify that they comply with the law. “However, as our results show, there appears to not be any (or only limited) enforcement,” the researchers said. They added that it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research to detect the apps and the developers that may be violating child privacy laws“, in this we see two parts, and the first is that the call of data value tends to nullify ethics to a much larger degree. The second is that I do not disagree with ‘it would not be difficult for Google to augment their research‘, I merely think that the people have not given Google the rights to police systems. Can we hold Microsoft responsible for every NBA gave that collects the abilities of users on that game? Should Microsoft police Electronic Arts, or 2K for that matter? The ability does not imply ‘to have the right’. Although it is a hard stance to make, we cannot go from the fact that all software developers are guilty by default, it is counterproductive. Yet in that same light, those transgressors should face multi-million dollar fines to say the least.

The final quote is a good one, but also a loaded one. With “Critics of Google’s app platform say the company and other players in the digital-advertising business, such as Facebook, have profited greatly from advances in data-tracking technology, even as regulators have failed to keep up with the resulting privacy intrusions” there is a hidden truth that also applies to Facebook. You see, they merely facilitate to give the advertiser the best value of their advertisement (like AdWords), yet the agency of advertiser only benefits from using the system. Their ad does get exposed to the best possible audience, yet the results they get back in AdWords is totally devoid of any personal data. So the advertiser sees Gender, age group location and other data, but nothing that personally identifies a person. In addition, if the ad is shown to an anonymous browser, there will be no data at all for that case.

So yes, data-tracking gives the advantage, but the privacy intrusions were not instigated by either Google or Facebook and as far as I know AdWords does not allow for such intrusions, should I be wrong than I will correct this at the earliest opportunity. Yet in all this, whilst everyone is having a go at Facebook, the media is very much avoiding Cambridge Analytica (minus one whistle-blower), other than to include them in speculations like ‘Cambridge Analytica appears to have an open contract‘, ‘Was it Cambridge Analytica that carried the day for Kenyatta‘ and ‘could have been shared with Cambridge Analytica‘. It almost reads like ‘Daily Mail reporter Sarah Vine might possibly have a vagina‘, which brings us to the second part in all this.

Invisibly linked

For the first time (I think ever) did I feel for a reporter! It was not what she said or how she said it, it was ‘Daily Mail fires reporter who inadvertently published obscenity‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/apr/16/daily-mail-removes-obscene-language-attack-on-reality-tv-stars). Now it is important that we consider two parts. the first is the blatant abuse of ‘political correctness‘ which has been putting the people at large on their rear hooves for way too long, which might also be the reason why comedians like Jimmy Carr are rising in popularity in a way we have not seen since Aristophanes wrote The Frogs in 435BC. My issue starts with “Daily Mail Australia has fired a reporter who accidentally uploaded her own “musings” about reality television contestants being “vapid cunts” on to the news website on Sunday“, so the Daily Mail does not have a draft setting that needs to be approved by the editor, no, it gets uploaded directly and even as that might be commendable. The fact that we also see “Sources at the Daily Mail earlier said the young reporter was “mortified” by the mistake“, whilst the lovers of the TV-Series Newsroom saw a similar event happen in 2014, so the fact that reality catches up with comedy and TV-Series is not merely fun, the fact that this happened in the heralded ‘Newsroom‘ should be seen as a signal. As we see “The Daily Mail reporter was writing in a Google document because of problems with the content management system and she inadvertently cut and pasted a paragraph about Bachelor in Paradise contestant Florence Alexandra which she says was written for her own eyes only, Guardian Australia understands” it is not merely about the fact on who wrote it, the mere part that the content manager part was flawed, we also see “The reporter had filed no fewer than five stories on Sunday and four on Monday, which is a normal workload for a Daily Mail journalist. It is customary for Mail reporters to upload their own copy into the system unless the story is legally contentious“. So even as we accept that the pressure is on, the system was flawed and that there was a lot of truth in her writing, and all this about a Dutch model whose fame seems to be limited to being ‘not ugly‘. So as the Daily Mail was happy to get her bum-shot and label it ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (9th September 2017), whilst in addition there has been no other transgressions, she was quite literally thrown to the wolves and out of a job. So when we do see the term ‘vapid cunts‘ (with the clever application of ‘vapid’, did the editorial consider that the term might have meant ‘a bland covering of the green envious setting of finding love and overcoming rejection‘, which we get from ‘vapid=bland‘ and ‘vagina = a sheath formed round a stem by the base of a leaf‘.

You see, in the end, this is a paper covering a reality show, a fake event created to entice an audience from living a life and wasting an hour on seeing something fake whilst they could have sought it out for real. In all this the overworked journalist gets the axe. So even if I feel a little for the journalist in this case and whilst we see that the audience replied with ‘Refreshing honesty from the Daily Mail this morning‘, which should be a real signal for the editor in change, no he threw it all out to hopefully avoid whatever would come next.

You see, even if it is not now, there are enough issues around which means that Leveson 2 might be delayed, but will still most likely happen. So even as the Telegraph is already on the ‘would be a threat to a free press‘, whilst trying to drown the reader with ‘The first Leveson inquiry cost taxpayers £5.4 million, yet the legal bill for the newspaper industry to comply with the process was far more than that‘, some journalists were up to their old tricks even before the Leveson ink dried. So in this the moment that Leveson 2 does happen, their clean desks will not be because some journalists tried to keep it clean, it will be because they were told to leave. The fact that some see Leveson 2 in relation to ‘undermining high quality journalism‘ seems to forget that high quality journalism is a thing of the past. It perhaps ended long before John Simm decided to portray a journalist in the excellent ‘State of Play‘. In all this there will be a massive blowback for the media at large, the moment it does happen, I will have every intention to get part of it set as an investigation of news that would have been considered as ‘mishandled’. There is at large enough evidence that the Sony event of 2012, the Microsoft events of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, as well as IBM 2015 and 2017. There have been too many of events that were somehow ‘filtered’. In addition to that there are not merely the data breaches, the fact that there are strong indications that the media at times, merely reported through the act of copy and paste, whilst not looking deeper into the matter. Tesco, the North Korean Sony ‘Hack’ and a few other matters that should be dug into as there are enough indications that events had faltered and faltered might be seen as the most positive way to define an event that should be seen as utterly negative.

In my view, as some editors and shareholders will try to navigate the term journalist, I would be on the horse of removing that word altogether and have those papers be subject to the full 20% VAT. I wonder how they will suddenly offer to (again) monitor themselves. Like that was a raging success the first time around. It is as I see it the price of not being held to any standards, apart from the overreacting from two unintended words, which is in my view a massive overreaction on several levels. I wonder why that was and who made the call to the editor on that, because I don’t think it was merely an overreacting Dutch model. In that I am decently convinced that she has been called a hell of a lot worse, the side effect of trying to be a ‘social media selfie darling’. Yet that is merely my point of view and I have not always been correct.

 

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Direction X

It is the Columbian (at http://www.columbian.com/news/2018/apr/15/harrop-facebook-wont-alter-its-lucrative-practices-without-regulations/) that gives us a light to work with today. A light that some US congressman and US Senators have been pushing for, so it is fun to have a go at that point of view. Now, do not mistake my opposition to it as a way to invalidate the view. I do not agree with the point of view, but many have it. So I see it as a way to inform the readers on the things that they need to know. Froma Harrop starts with three events. We see:

  • Mark Zuckerberg in 2006: “We really messed this one up. …We did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them.”
  • Zuckerberg in 2010: “Sometimes we move too fast. … We will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use.”
  • Zuckerberg early this year: “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. … There’s more we can do here to limit the information developers can access and put more safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Now, they are valid events, but the dimensionality is missing. With the exception of certain Google products, Facebook has been the biggest evolving platform on a near daily basis, the integration with mobile apps, mobile reporting, stories, clips, annotated pictures, travelling, and so much more. Over a period of 10 years Facebook went from a dynamic page (for each user or group) to a collected omnibus of information available to all their friends. That is a level of growth that even Microsoft has not been able to compete with and in all this, there will always be mistakes. Some small and trivial and some will be bang up monsters of flaws. Compare this to Microsoft who did not push forward with its Xbox360, no it offered for sale a more powerful machine whilst trimming the functionality down by close to 20% (personal projected loss) with the shift from Xbox360 to Xbox One and Xbox One to Xbox One X. A data collecting machine of greed (whilst everyone is ignoring the data that Microsoft is uploading), pushing users like a bully, to do what they wanted the user to do or be left out. So when exactly did Facebook do that to that degree? Sony with its PlayStation at least pushed forward to some degree.

Froma makes a nice case with: “The law will require them to obtain consent for use of personal information in simple language. (Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings.)“, this is nice in contrast to some consoles (like the Sony consoles) who suddenly made it illegal to use second hand games on their consoles in their terms of service, they quietly backed away when it blew up in the faces of Microsoft. In all this, yet with my sense of humour and realising where this article was, it was not without a giggle that I took a look at the Columbia Journal of European Law (at http://cjel.law.columbia.edu/preliminary-reference/2017/mind-the-gap-loopholes-in-the-eu-data-privacy-regime/) where we see “any set of information relating to individuals to the extent that, although the information is not processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose, the set is structured, either by reference to individuals or by reference to criteria relating to individuals, in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible“, which now leads to “This language of “specific information [that] is readily accessible” indeed was interpreted by the English courts in a manner conflicting with the Directive. In Durant v. Financial Services Authority, the English and Wales Court of Appeal formulated a two part test to evaluate whether a filing system is caught by the Directive:” and that now leaves us with “(i) [T]he files forming part of [the filing system] are structured or referenced in such a way as clearly to indicate at the outset of the search whether specific information capable of amounting to personal data [] is held within the system and, if so, in which file or files it is held; (ii) [The filing system] has, as part of its own structure or referencing mechanism, a sufficiently sophisticated and detailed means of readily indicating whether and where in an individual file or files specific criteria or information about the applicant can be readily located.

So in that case Froma is left with a piece of paper to be stationed where the sun does not shine and it merely took the case Durant v. Financial Services Authority to show its ‘lack‘ of complexity, or did it? She is right that ‘Users shouldn’t have to take a night course to understand privacy and security settings, it merely took law lord Sir Robin Ernest Auld (a former Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales) a hell of a lot more than a night course, more like 25 years on the bench as a lawyer, an elected judge and his ascension to lord justice of the appellant court to get it all figured out.

So as we get that out of the way we also need to look at “The companies will have to notify users of a data break-in within 72 hours of its discovery. They’ll have to give up monopoly control of the personal information; people will have the right to obtain a copy of their data and share it with others“, it took Sony a hell of a lot longer to figure out that they were breached and notify people. So now consider the breaches of Equifax (143 million), eBay (145 million), Yahoo (3 billion) and Target stores (110 million). the implication of alerting that many people is not just weird, it is actually dangerous as people tend to overreact do something stupid and lock their accounts, these 4 events could set the stage for close to 4.5 billion locked accounts. The entire 72 hours, that whilst the discovery does not guarantee that the intrusion is stopped opens the entire system up for all kinds of hackers to have a go at that victim and truly make a much bigger mess of it all. Now the people should be informed, but the entire 72 hours was (as I personally see it) pulled out of a hat. In all this the latest Facebook issue was not done by hackers, it was done by corporations who intentionally abused the system, they set their profit knowingly at the expense of the users of that system and exactly who at Cambridge Analytica is currently under arrest and in prison? It seems to me that Facebook, clearly a victim here, has made mistakes, yet the transgressors are not held to vigorous account, yet the maker of the system is. Now, let’s be clear, Mark has clearly some explaining to do. Yet, when we see “Facebook failed in an attempt to get a handle on the Cambridge Analytica scandal Monday, after British authorities ordered its auditors to vacate the political consultancy’s offices” (source: Fortune), all this whilst the offices of Cambridge Analytica ended up being raided 5 days later, I have never seen authorities giving bank robbers that level of leeway, so why was this level of freedom given to Cambridge Analytica? When we consider that this data could be transplanted to writable objects (Blu-ray) in mere hours, it seems to me that giving them 5 days to wipe the evidence is a lot more questionable than merely thumping Facebook for the flaws.

The one part I truly disagree with is “Many of us have a need to connect and share. But expecting much privacy in a business model that relies on selling your information is highly unrealistic“, you see, here we see two levels of privacy, that what the person shares, free of will and that what is accessed. In one part the privacy from the outside is partially an easy thing, because Google with AdWords has shown that to be a clear option, their advertisers can create and address a population to the granularity available, yet the results of this marketing is done in a level of aggregation, individual records per person are not available. The fact that apps could capture it was a given, but the fact that all unique identifiers were optionally possible was kept in the shadows and that is where Cambridge Analytica worked. Now, this is a generalisation, but it fits the overall issues. Facebook could have done better, yet it was massively naive when it thought that the paying corporations would not try to get their fingers on EVERY part they could. In that I wonder what data the insurance companies in the end got a hold on.

So when I see “Tech investor Jason Calacanis has set up a contest — the Open Book Challenge — to create a Facebook replacement. Finalists will be given $100,000 and residence in a 12-week incubator“, when we see it in the light of “Facebook has delivered Zuckerberg a net worth of over $60 billion” must be the easiest pickings for Jason Calacanis that any entrepreneur has ever been a part of. It is like the pyramid games after 15 rounds whilst the top person stayed on top never having to pay more than 0.0001% of the total earning, not even Las Vegas in its wildest times offered such odds.

So I am very much against regulations, it is merely a way for governments to get a hold of that data. Now I am not against that if it truly serves national security, but the fact that actual criminals and terrorists use such systems to elude identification and strike form a distance merely makes it a waste of time and most analysts know this. Now, we also know that when we know where exactly to look, Facebook could reveal stuff, but to hold those billions of accounts to optionally find merely one person is an extremely bad application of time management.

In the end, the one additional part I liked was Zuckerberg stating “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I’m responsible for what happens here”. I like it because of the realisation that in all the bungles of IBM in the last 30 years, especially the PS/2 range, at what point did any of them stand up and tell their consumers that they screwed up? Especially in line of the setting that the average Model 80 (80386) computer was 400% more expensive at merely 28% of the power of a Taiwan clone, in addition the on board time clock battery has given the user more headaches than a hammer and the graphical underperformance offered should be forgotten at the drop of any hat.

So in this Zuckerberg kept his head high and in all this the entire setting of data abuse is still not addressed by either the US or UK government, in all this there is absolutely no indication that the abusers will be facing punishment or prison, so in all this the law failed the people a lot more than Facebook ever did, especially in the light of issues like this have been going on for years, but we do not get to read that part, do we?

 

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Identity denied

There are moments when we resort to other ways of expressing ourselves; it is in our nature to find alternatives to the story, so that we can tell the story. Nearly every person does it. Sometimes we ask ‘would you take that extra pastry?‘ instead of telling someone that you really feel like having another pastry. So when it comes to social media, we see not ourselves, but the person we want to be. We want to own the Hall of Faces (Game of Thrones) where we can mask ourselves with the identity of a dead person, like Ethan Hawke in Mission Impossible, walk in, sound like the person we are not, because we do not like ourselves in that particular moment. So when we look at Facebook, are we thinking the Hall of faces? In light of all that was revealed, are we in a stage where we prefer to be someone else?

You see, the shit is on the walls as some would say. Mark the Zuckyman did the right thing, he stood up (after a few days of silence) and held himself responsible and we are all over this that he is the culprit, but is he truly guilty? We see all kinds of articles on Facebook, like ‘You’ve decided to delete Facebook but what will you replace it with?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/31/youve-decided-to-delete-facebook-but-what-will-you-replace-it-with), even after a week this is still highly valid, because for millions of the multibillion users of Facebook, it has yet to sink in. Go to WhatsApp? Instagram? Both are owned by Facebook, so where does that leave you? So when we try to trivialise it with #DeleteFacebook, we need to realise that this is new territory. We now talk about the Social Media Landscape and it is not small. It is huge and most importantly, this is the first true generation of the Social media generation. We were not ready, and i have been trying to explain that to people for nearly 3 years. Now we see overreactions whilst sitting down contemplating it all was never an option. The law was missing it as it is more interested in facilitating for commerce, exploitation and profit (Sony and Microsoft are nice examples there), Human rights are failing, because the issue of Digital rights is only seen in the relation of commerce, not in the relation of privacy, in this the entire Google and the people’s rights to be forgotten is merely a reason to giggle, a Google giggle if you preferred.

The article has one funny part, with “For those determined to exit the Facebook ecosystem, the best approach is more likely to be a patchwork of sites and apps that mirror individual features. Messaging is the easiest: apps such as Telegram and Signal offer messaging and group chats, as well as voice calls, with encryption to keep your communications private. Telegram even has a thriving collection of chatbots, similar to Facebook Messenger“, you see, it is done on a smartphone (mostly), so you could consider dialing a person and have a conversation, your mum if she is still alive is not the worst idea to have. You see, the plain point is where you end up. So when we see “Part of Vero’s appeal to Facebook deleters is its determination to be ad-free. It is planning instead to start charging a small annual subscription at some point“, you see these people designed it for wealth (as one would) so where are they getting the money? The small annual subscription does make sense, but in light of that you better remember where all your data is and even as we see ‘emphasis on privacy‘ we need to realise that there are clear situations where the word Privacy is open to suggestion. What people forget is that ‘The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes‘, so are their settings of what is private the same as yours? Also, when they sell their company for a mere 2 billion, make no mistake, the word privacy is not open for debate, it will be whatever the new owner decides it to be. This is merely one side of data, as data is currency. That is what I have been trying to explain to nearly everyone (for 5 years now) and they all shrugged and stated, ‘it’ll be right‘, so is it right? Is it all right now? If you are considering becoming a member of the growing party of #DeleteFacebook it clearly was not.

So when we are treated to ‘News of Facebook’s secret tool to delete executive messages caps days of chaos‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/facebook-using-secret-tool-to-delete-messages-from-executives) we see another part of Facebook, we see new uproar. The question is whether this is justified. You see, when we see “the company has a two-tiered privacy standard (one for executives, one for everyone else) and over its use of facial recognition software“, in most cases this makes perfect sense. Corporate executives tend to be under scrutiny a lot, as it sometimes is valid; they still have a job to be done. I was amazed on how many people Mark Zuckerberg was connected to in the beginning of Facebook. It was awesome and cool, but I reckoned that it was not always constructive to productivity. I have been in places where the executives had their own server for a number of reasons, mostly for HR reasons and whether it is valid or not, it is a corporate decision, in that light I am not amazed, only when I was doing work for Google was I on a system where I could see everything and everyone all including what I thought was the board of directors. Here is where it gets interesting, because Google has a (what we refer to) a true open system for all who work there. It is invigorating to get access to so much information and my first night was me dreaming of combining things, what if we did ….. and ….. would we then be able to …..? It was exhilarating to feel that rush of creativity, in areas where I had no skill levels to boot. With a ‘closed’ system like Facebook, we need to consider that by setting the state of all is open that it is a legal trap when you give billions of people access to systems and situations. The mere legal differences between the UK, US and AUS, all common law nations would be the legal nightmare of decades. Shielding the executives from that is a first priority, because without them at the wheel it all falls to chaos.

That reality is seen with “Facebook says the change was made following the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, when a mass data breach at the movie studio resulted in embarrassing email histories being leaked for a number of executives, ultimately costing co-chair Amy Pascal her job“, some might remember the mail that George Clooney send in regards to the Monuments Man, it made pretty much all the papers. I love his work, I enjoy the artistic values he has, shares and embodies, but without certain levels of privacy and shielding his artistic side might take a large dump towards uncertainty, not a side I am hoping for, because even as he is merely 360 days older than me, he should be able to create another 30 years of movie excellence and I would like to see those movies, especially as we see that he is doing to Matt Damon in Suburbicon, what the Coen brothers were doing to him in Burn after reading and Hail, Caesar!, so plenty of fun times ahead for all us movie fans.

Even as we are all looking where we want to go next, the foundation of issues remain. There is an utter lack of Social media legislation; there is a mess of issues on where privacy is and what is to be regarded as privacy. The users gave it all away when they signed up for options, apps and ‘solutions’ again and again. Until that is settled, any move we make moves the issue and moves the problems, it will not solve anything, no matter what some of the app developers decide to state. In the third part “‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/06/mark-zuckerberg-public-image-cambridge-analytica-facebook), I think he got kicked in the head real hard, but not humiliated, although he might think he was. So as we recall Dean Martin with Ain’t That a Kick in the Head? we need to realise that is what happens. That is what happens when Social media becomes a multi-billion user behemoth. Mark Zuckerberg made mistakes plain and simple. What do you do? You get up from the floor, fix it and restore the need for growth. And now still we see that mistakes are made. This is seen with “On Friday morning, the company apologized and pledged to stop deleting executives’ messages until they could make the same functionality available to everyone“, the largest mistake and it opens social media to all kinds of organised crime. Merely send the threat, tell the people to do …. or else and after an hour, after it is seen to have been read, the message is deleted, it becomes a miscommunication and no prosecution is possible.

That is the biggest mistake of all, to set a multi-billion user group open to the needs of organised crime even further then it likely is. How stupid is that? You see, as I interpret this, both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg are in the musical chair setting, trying to do things on the fly and that will hurt them a lot more than anything else. We get it that mistakes were made, fix them, but not on the fly and not just quick jumps overnight. Someone has pushed them into defence play and they actually suck at that. It is time for them to put their foot down and go into offensive and attack mode (pun intended). When we consider what was before, we get it that Zuckerberg made mistakes and he will make more. We merely need to look at Microsoft and their actions over the last 3 decades to see that they screwed to pooch even more royally than Zuckerberg will be able to do, but the media is silent there as it relies on Microsoft advertiser funds. IBM and Apple have made their blunders in the past as well, yet they all had one large advantage, the impact was never towards billions of users, it potentially could have hit them all, but it mostly just a much smaller group of people, that was their small blessing. Apple directly hurt me and when I lost out on $5500, I merely got a ‘C’est la vie‘ from their technical centre, so screw that part!

There will be a large change sooner rather than later, the issue with Cambridge Analytica was too large to not make that happen. I merely hope that Zuckerberg has his ducks on a row when he makes the jump, in addition to that was Steve Bannon arrested? Especially when we consider Article 178, violating the Free decision of Voters. You see, it is not that simple, social media has never been used in that way, to such an extent, the law is unclear and proving that what Cambridge Analytica did would constitute a clear violation of the free decision of voters, that is what makes this a mess, legislation on a global scale has failed when it came to privacy and options regarding the people in social media. Steve Bannon can keep on smiling because of all the visibility he will get for years to come and after years when no conviction comes, he can go on the ‘I told you so!‘ horse and ride of wealthy into the sunset. That situation needs to be rectified and it needs to go way beyond Facebook, the law itself has faltered to a much larger degree.

The fact that politicians are all about terror cells and spilling inflammatory messages whilst having no resolution on any of this is merely showing what a bunch of apes they have proven themselves to be. So when we saw in January ‘Facebook, Google tell Congress they’re fighting extremist content‘, where were these congressmen? Where the fuck was Clint Watts, the Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and National Security analyst as CNN now reports that optionally 78 million records have been pushed onto the Russian servers? (at https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/08/politics/cambridge-analytica-data-millions/index.html), now implying that Cambridge Analytica has undermined US safety and security in one operation to a much larger extent than any terrorist has been able to achieve since September 13th 2001. That is 17 years of figments, against one political setting on the freedom to choose. I wonder how Clint Watts can even validate his reasoning to attend the US Congress at all. And this goes way beyond the US; in this the European Commission could be regarded as an even larger failure in all this. But it is unlikely we ever get treated to that side of the entire show.

The media needs both players a lot more and bashing Facebook makes for good entertainment they reckon. Time will tell whether they were right, or that the people at large just never cared, we merely end up having no social media identity, it will have been denied for reasons that were never real in the first place.

 

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