Tag Archives: Sony

Questioning Attainment

There has been a little devil in my mind. The simple reason is that in the past, Samsung had hurt me, hurt me bad and I never got over that, so whenever I get a chance to smack them around a little, I tend to take it. So first we have the Terrorist edition of the Samsung phone (aka Galaxy Note 7), and now (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/24/Samsung-tv-buyers-furious-after-software-update-leaves-sets-unusable), we see (as I personally see it), a company that has outgrown its merits, outgrown the shear setting of quality and pushes out as fast as they can, whatever they can. With ‘Samsung TV owners furious after software update leaves sets unusable‘ we see the direct interaction of engineers and software engineers and forget about quality assessment and correctly testing implementations. Samsung is now approaching its ‘use by‘ date like a bad carton of milk. When we see “The Company has told customers it is working to fix the problem but so far, seven days on, nothing has been forthcoming. The problem appears to affect the latest models as owners of older Samsung TVs are not reporting the issue“, we see that the entire issue could have been resolved with the ‘rollback‘ solution. A solution that came into existence in the 80’s, so 30 years onward we see that a company so utterly set to the bottom line and profits that mere safety valves are now no longer considered, or considered and cast aside. What a lovely world we live in. The more important issue is not the TV, but the fact that corporations are almost extremist focused on replicating what the wrong people regard as ‘good idea’s’. So now we are not merely looking at the issue with the television, but the issue we see when the chances are there that a similar error will happen to the new Galaxy range of series 8. So when that happens and your apps will not work for the mere reason of not ‘having the correct licensing agreements in place’, what will you do then? When it hits your $3000 television and an optional $2000 mobile phone? That is $5000 is goods not functioning because the QA team was either asleep, or upper management at Samsung decided that certain steps were not necessary. So how do you feel about spending thousands on such items?

Even as we see the article give us “Samsung is aware of a small number of TVs in the UK (fewer than 200) affected by a firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs on 17 August. Once this issue was identified the update was switched off and we are now working with each customer to resolve the issue. Any customers affected are encouraged to get in touch with Samsung directly by calling 0330 726 7864“, what it does not state is that the ‘rollback‘ functionality would have resolved it in minutes. In addition, the fact that less than 200 complained, does not mean that it merely affects less than 200. It also calls into question that televisions, now set with ‘licensing’ agreement imply that televisions and providers are making deals behind the curtains and the consumer is not made aware of them, which now implies that the functionality of the television is now skewed and limited to what the makers behind the screens decide they are. Did you sign up for that? How long until they make a deal with console owners? Any excuse that they give on how this is not done is moot and possibly intentionally misrepresented as per their own statement “without having the correct licensing agreements in place“, so how exactly is the licensing agreement cause for “their new TVs would not access the BBC iPlayer“, or in these cases morning TV? Perhaps Samsung is dealing in antonyms? Smart TV, Dumb vision! #JustSaying

So in all this, when we see “buyer to discover that the Korean firm sells TVs that do not have the relevant BBC licence to allow them to operate iPlayer, or other popular apps“, we must be equally aware that it is not just Samsung. It seems like the makers of the BBC iPlayer also have explanations to give to the consumers. And actually (at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/tvlicence) they do. Yet how is this covered? How can we see with “It is a criminal offence to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence. It’s also a criminal offence to possess or control a device which you know or reasonably believe will be used to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence“, so how would that apply outside of the UK? Basically it is not their turf, so as we see the catch here, we need to see that the TV makers and exploiters are trying to hide to some degree in the fog of misrepresented litigation. So in the end it is all about the money and the Television makers are not informing their consumers. You see, when we consider that the BBC is actually informing the people, how many looked (at https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/nov/19/missing-iplayer-Samsung-smart-tv-licence-issue) and with ‘The televisions are supposed to offer access to the BBC’s and other channels’ catch-up services, but a licence issue is turning many customers off’, whilst not informing the readers on the given? When we see: “Unfortunately, Samsung was late in submitting the request for this device to be certified for BBC iPlayer. We work closely with all manufacturers to ensure BBC iPlayer is on as many of their devices as possible“, whilst not informing the readers regarding the entire TV Licensing part. Now, we can slash at Samsung for being late (which is also great fun to do), yet the issue is not merely the move of the not so smart TV, it is about setting the stage of apps in the long run. It seems that both makers of apps and makers of TV’s are facilitating each other, whilst at the same time leaving the consumer in the middle and often in the dark. Which in the finality of the article leaves the retailer in some lurch as neither side of the app and TV hardware provider is submitting (read: allegedly) the needed information to the retailer. So it seems that the Consumer has no real options, no one to blame and no recourse until it is settled. This issue will explode a lot more in 2019 when 5G comes on the market. If you think that licensing is an issue now, wait to see what death-traps we get when home automation comes into play. The market is not ready as Samsung clearly shows and it will disregard all levels of safety valves to merely sell what they can and to do the optional fixing afterwards, which is not what a consumer signs up for and there is the crux of the matter. The two larger issues shown at present shows that Samsung is not ready and it is very likely that they are not the only one. There are additional concerns with Microsoft at present, but not in the case of this article, so I will revisit this issue soon enough.

You see, there are a few issues with Samsung, when we consider the two elements. The BBC player and the TV licensing, how is it enforced and what data could Samsung capture for the assessment that the owner of the TV has a license? We are skating close to too much privacy driven data here and even as I do not claim to know what it is at present, there is nothing stopping the elements in all this (Samsung, BBC and App creator) to start capturing data (for legal compliance reasons) and start their own created databases of privacy driven data. There is no way to avoid that. Consider a console that has a Product license agreement and a Terms of Service, like Sony has. Now we can set that these two documents are linked to the PSN account and that makes perfect sense. So how will this impact Samsung users? This in light of whatever mobile agreement they have in place as well as their TV agreement and other devices? How is it captured and how is the enforcement on either side?

If we consider these elements in support of the consumer who owns the bought television, as well as the maker of the device Samsung for not providing the proper required consumer support? So as we see that the owners of the television which got them the ‘firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs‘ and the fact that they got no TV to watch for over a week, what do you think will happen when this happens to the first firmware updated to all Galaxy series 8? What happens to Samsung when this issue hits a million plus mobile users? A solution that is three decades old could have prevented such hardship and a television will have plenty of space for a 16GB rollback memory chip, a mobile phone tends to not have that space, so what dangers are the upcoming Samsung consumers placed in?

The attainment we see is the one that could have been secure and Samsung dropped the ball (again) to its consumers. It seems to me that the issue goes beyond Samsung, so we should be seeing a lot more questions handed out to makers of Smart TV’s and how the consumers are protected from such enormous fiasco’s and in addition, when it comes to address the damages that the consumers were set with, how will the courts place the rights of the consumers? Because this issue is a class action in the making, which tends to set everything back for years. It seems that we are missing elements in what should not even be there in the first place.

Issues that could have been prevented in both the design and testing phase of the equation, a failure most visible with Samsung at present as they have become a team that struck out twice, or in my case thrice. We need to ask Samsung, when the consumer will come first, not their accountant and not their CEO, but their customer. I wonder if they will end up having a clear answer, especially as the heir of the Samsung Empire, Lee Jae-yong will be in prison for the next 5 years for bribery and embezzlement. So will this open up the Samsung market to other players? No matter how impressive the Galaxy Note 8 presentation was, it seems that without customer care and proper testing spending a large 4 figure number on a phone and possibly a 2 year chain to a telecom provider, how are we set at ease regarding the need for quality hardware? It seems that Samsung does not have the answer as it can’t even provide a decent functioning Boob Tube.

Such is life, unwarranted attainment tends to not be worth the value of a 10 letter word, you merely have to consider what will be worth your trust and your money, because most of us do not get to spend $1400 twice, more often we don’t even get to spend it once, implying that Samsung is in a lot more problems than most realise and they are likely not alone in this.

 

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Your GCC resume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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How weird are these two?

I got confronted with the weirdest article in the Independent today, the article was 4 days old, but then, I do not frequent that paper so often, hence, I initially missed it. The article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/playstation-plus-price-date-details-sony-online-play-latest-expensive-cost-rise-hike-a7864351.html) gives us: “It’s about to get a lot more expensive to play PlayStation online“, which is an exaggeration to say the least. Now, for the longest time, the PlayStation plus has remained the same (as far as I remember), yet now we see a rate rise. The amount it rises with is £10 per year of £1 per month. It equates to 16% monthly, or 25% annually, yet the percentage increase is wrong, because it is £6.99 per month (new price), which comes to £83.88 per year, yet the full annual is a mere £49.99, which is only 59% of the monthly price on 12 months, so overall it remains a really good deal. So, as he whines on that event and how you can cancel the subscription. He also forgot to mention the fact that those with PlayStation Plus get 7 free games a month to play with, 3 PS4 games, 2 PS3 games and 2 Vita games, and the one subscription covers ALL three devices. Is it not interesting how that part got overlooked? The additional fact worth mentioning is that the list from June 2010 onwards has offered in total 493 games, 25 games had 90%+ ratings, which included games like Mass Effect (2+3), Bioshock Infinite, Batman Arkham City, Journey, Far Cry 3, God of War and a few others, So as we see the list offered, the £1 a month, or £10 a year does not add up to too much, when it amounts to 84 free games a year, which gets us an ‘enormous’ £0.11 increase per game (which makes it £0.59 per game in total) and in addition the access to multiplayer gaming, which we set at £0 for this exercise. So when Andrew Griffin writes that it is all about to get ‘a lot more expensive‘, I wonder if he has any clue on the gaming industry at all. Now, we know that there is hardship all over and that people can afford less and less, yet the option to get games at £0.59 per game remains a really good deal. In addition, you get them for the three devices without needing separate subscriptions. So I feel that Sony has always offered a really good deal for the gamers. Now, we might not always get the greatest games, yet 100+ titles had a higher than 80% rating and 25 games in addition had 90% or higher rating, so the people are getting really good games and they get a lot more than Microsoft offers and much better titles. The one part that the article does offer the reader is that if you try to renew the subscription now, you can get it for the ‘old’ price which is a pretty sweet deal, so you can delay the price increase for a year. In light of all this, not only is the description ‘a lot more expensive‘ a joke to say the least, the fact that the increase will not start until August 31st is also a clean option to quickly get the renewal now whilst the games are a mere £0.47 per game.

So when I see the title part ‘As Sony makes it more expensive to play online‘ I do wonder where he got his insights. Factual he might be right, yet in the day and age where the price of a PlayStation Plus videogame is set at less than a 1 pint bottle of Tesco Organic British Whole Milk, the entire setting of ‘a lot more expensive‘ should keep you on the floor laughing for some time to come.

From my point of view my response to the Independent is ‘Bad form, Independent, bad form!’

Second place issue

The second issue shown is one that was given to us in both the World Finance site as well as the Wall Street Journal. The issue given is “America’s young men are increasingly giving up on work in order to slay virtual aliens and fight videogame wars, new research suggests”, which is more than merely a laughable joke. The original source US National Bureau of Economic Research, the part that calls out might be “Academics from Princeton University, the University of Chicago and the University of Rochester say there’s ample evidence that since 2000, men who would otherwise be working are instead being drawn into immersive virtual worlds….”, yet what is this based on? You see, the data past 2008, a date many will remember, saw the Youth unemployment rate rise from 10% to 19%, after the beginning of 2011 those numbers have been declining steadily down to 9%, so the unemployment rate for the youth is now close on par with 1968, when it was the lowest in US History and only slightly better than 2003 which was the lowest at that point for close to 30 years. So when we consider those facts, it seems that the makers are giving us what some would regard a hatchet job. My title for that might be slightly too crass; yet when we see “Since 2004, time-use data show that younger men distinctly shifted their leisure to video gaming and other recreational computer activities. We propose a framework to answer whether improved leisure technology played a role in reducing younger men’s labor supply”, so how idiotic is such a notion when we consider the 2004 and 2008 meltdowns that thrashed the economy in several ways, in that same timeline, US unemployment (all) was set to 10% in 2008, with a steady decline that follows roughly the same downward trend to a little over 4% at present, now we might agree, that whilst unemployed those youthful individuals would divert towards videogames it is a path that is still better than heading towards the streets trying to be gainfully and criminally active.

In this the quote used by world finance “While eight percent of younger men were not in work in 2000, this number rose to 15 percent in 2016”, is more than inaccurate, according to worldfinance.com it is an outright lie. Governing.com gives us some extra information that is actually useful. Their quote (at http://www.governing.com/gov-data/economy-finance/youth-employment-unemployment-rate-data-by-state.html) is “The employment-to-population ratio for younger workers had only recovered about halfway for its recession-era decline as of early 2017. Youth employment rates have returned to pre-recession averages in just four states”, which seems to fit the other sources. This is what could be regarded as something that pisses me off. With ‘Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men’ by Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles and Erik Hurst, I have a hard time just giving it too much consideration. The paper has additional flaws, the consideration that we see on page 4 with “We further exclude full-time students who are less than age 25” which is a chunk of undergrads and post grads that work at least part time to be able to afford food and other small issues like books. So the numbers are already skewed, in addition some sources give us that 80% of the full time students work part time, which marketwatch.com gives us, which was part of a Citigroup study. The UK has numbers on 1 out of 7 students work and study full time, this might not be reflective of US students, yet it should be to some extent reflective of students in some of the US metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco where the cost of living remains a rising burden. It is in section 6 on page 31 when my laughter explodes. The issue given “we can use time allocation data to infer the rate of technological progress for gaming and computer leisure since the early 2000s”, this a given? With two recessions and the non-working youth being a historic high in 2010, surpassing the recession of the early 80’s is more than just an issue, with numbers showing a steady decrease since then, the job market starting to open, whilst outliers have a stronger impact. In 2017 retail shed 60,000 jobs in the US, whilst Wal-Mart and Amazon seem to be in a strategic battle of realigning jobs towards online presence, all elements that impact the job market. So as jobs get realigned through strategy, where do the jobs end up? What will those people do when they are not working? The information Forbes gives us on this is even scarier when it reflects the need for consumer appeal via transferred initiatives. In all this, the paper does give some interesting premises, yet relies on certain parts, which are I light of the two recessions a little too much of a stretch, yet the fact on how the formulas were used is actually quite interesting. Another flaw is seen on page 32, now this is the flaw as I personally see it regarding the data as showed, yet without the actual questionnaire on view, there is a flaw in both the results and the way that I see it might be, so we need to be aware of that.

With “We stratify by three groups: younger men who spent zero time on computer leisure the prior day, those who spent 2 hours or less, and those who spent more than 2 hours”, the flaw is the ‘when’, I would spend well over 2 hours playing after a full day work, so when we consider the working population with or without full time study, we see that the graph is flawed. Even the other way round, part time students with a full time job, they could fall into the 2 hour plus gaming bracket. It is that flaw that calls even more doubt into question regarding this paper. A final ‘consideration’ needs to be given when I take a look at the ‘Leisure Engel Curve’. Here I also must admit that I will give doubt to my own thought as I might not have comprehended that part completely (apart from the formula), you see, they do state “With the leisure Engel curves, we can link shifts in time spent across activities to an implied change in the marginal utility of total leisure”, yet does this part correct for any hype (read: diversion through peer and social group pressure)? I doubt that very much, as evidence I call for the Pokémon Go wave that started in July 2016, which is clearly computer leisure (read: mobile gaming leisure), yet the paper has not taken mobile gaming in any of it and sets gaming as a static given, yet this wave suddenly pushed 60 million people to a hyped community in the same group as other gamers, whilst mobile gamers can be set into any part of an idle time setting (like travel time), this disjoints the entire exercise as I see it and gives a larger (read accelerated) gaming community in a shifted setting according to the settings as given, yet not corrected for any version of the definition of what constitutes a gamer.

Even as we can admire the formulated exercise, we need to concern that the raw data is not reliable as such and that there are additional issues that the data model and the questionnaires and requested data cannot correct for. In addition when we see the models, there seems to be no consideration for idle time and/or transit time and the consideration of handheld devices or smartphones which calls for even more questions on the gaming environment.

No matter how clever some will think the paper looks like, from the stage as I see it, there are too many unknowns or unanswered question marks and in reflection the conclusion and some of the media statements are not in line of the reality of the recessions the people lived through.

That is merely my setting where $0.02=C(1+r)^t

 

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Drop the Mike, Ashley!

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

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

I offer in evidence the following pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we put the whole together!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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E3, a first view

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Awaiting next week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Two sides of fruit

There are always issues when you get to the topic of fruits. One is the question whether it applies to the members of the US congress (the members of the US Senate are usually labelled as nuts). Is it an issue with actual nutritional products or are we talking about the device that Newton used for gravity? Yes, it is the third one as Newton discovered gravity with an apple.

Yet even here we see two sides at present. The first one is seen with ‘iMac Pro: Apple launches powerful new desktop – starting at $4,999‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/05/imac-pro-apple-launches-powerful-new-desktop-macbook-starting-at-4999). Here we see the quote “The new iMac Pro starts with an 8-core Intel Xeon processor, but can be configured with an 18-core processor variant, as well as up to 128GB of EEC RAM, 4TB of SSD storage and Radeon Vega discrete graphics cards with up to 16GB of memory“, you see, Apple, like Microsoft, IBM and since resent ASUS have become agents of iterations, true innovation has not been on their shores for too long a time, which is why my new device is for consideration with Huawei and Google alone. Only they have shown the continued race for actual innovation. there is also Samsung, but as I had a legal issue in 1991, I took them from the consideration list, I can hold a grudge like only the Olympian gods can. Still in their defence. the question becomes how can you make a computer truly innovative? It is a question that is not easily answered. there are a few options, yet some of the technology required is still in its infancy here.

In addition, in similar ways, iWork has been unable to grow due to the restrictions (read: limitations) that the suite offers. Instead of trying to persuade the Microsoft Office users (which is not a bad path), iWork has not grown in the directions it could and they are now paying for it through reduced exposure. Still, there remains a valid opposition to my accusation of: ‘have become agents of iterations’. To see this, we cannot just state that there is a new iMac and as such they are merely iterating. There is in addition the issue of hardware versus software. So in my view, a true innovation would have been a Wi-Fi upgrade, not just a faster system, but a system that is keyed to the home and mobile devices. As we are now a little over a year from the first steps of 5G, as we are all more and more connected via different devices, Apple left out in the open a huge sales opportunity by having the options of having devices linked and interlocked. A missed opportunity. You see as bandwidth becomes more and more an issue, as we tend to have a home bandwidth that is 100 times larger, having the option of the auto upgrade manager on your desktop device (iMac). So when you come home, apps and content will be distributed to the devices you want them to placed in. So at home ‘without even thinking’ (sorry Microsoft for using your Windows 95 slogan). the devices will do what needs to be done and you need not mind. You see, as people are trying to push Block chain into every financial corner, those people forgot on how block chains can also be the foundation for users on multiple devices. Now that is not always needed, because we get mail in the cloud, data in the cloud and via the cloud, but that is not for everyone. In addition, people forget about the photo’s they took and they do not always want that in some cloud. There are legions of options here, but at time we want some of this offline. finally, as we do specific tasks (for example on a train), we prefer not to lose too much bandwidth whilst on a train. Tablet and mobile bandwidth can be expensive. In equal size we tend to forget how large some files are and as such we could rush through our bandwidth in no time. This is just one of two options and we have seen very little development in that regard. Apple might want to let others develop it first, but that also leaves them with less when they need to have that additional step forward. It was a mistake Microsoft hid behind for the better part of 2 decades. In that same approach we see how consultancy and project software could benefit a different side in their designs. Now, that is not for Apple to side with, but it could have been an opportunity to grow in new directions. Anyway this is not about starting a fight on 3rd party vs others, this is about iteration vs innovation and Apple has been reluctantly innovative.

This gets us to the other side of it and here I am not siding with Apple, but I am wondering if Apple has been treated correctly. This we see in ‘Apple ‘error 53’ sting operation caught staff misleading customers, court documents allege‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/05/apple-error-53-sting-operation-caught-staff-misleading-customers-court-documents-allege). Now first let’s take a look at the error 53 part. The issue is that “‘Error 53’ is a message that occurred after updating to iOS 9.0 on iPhones of people who had had their TouchID fingerprint sensor replaced by a repair shop not licensed by Apple. The phones were rendered useless because the operating system update detected a mismatch between the sensor and the phone, and locked the device, assuming unauthorised access was being attempted.

Now here we see two sides.

In the first side we see “Knives damaged by misuse, improper maintenance, self-repair, or tampering are not covered.“, this is something Buck knives has in play. By the way, this comes with a life time warranty so that remains awesome. In addition, for decades TV warranties were voided if unauthorised repairs were made (or repairs by unqualified repairman). With laptops there was Compaq, who would void any warranty if a non Compaq technician had worked on it. They even created special Compaq screwdrivers to keep a handle on it all. So when we see ‘replaced by a repair shop not licensed by Apple‘, I am not certain if the ACCC has a case, they have not acted against Philips, Sony and a few others for the longest of times.

So when I read: “accuses Apple of wrongly telling customers they were not entitled to free replacements or repair if they had taken their devices to an unauthorised third-party repairer” I remain in doubt whether they have a case.

So when we see “Australian consumer law clearly protects the right of a customer to a replacement or free repair if the product is faulty or of unacceptable quality“, which I agree with, yet the owner did not go to Apple, did they? I have had my own issue with Apple in this regard (different device), yet can we agree that when we read: “It is however important to note that if a non-genuine part is fitted to your Toyota and that part’s failure or the incorrect fitment damages your vehicle, then that damage may not be covered by your Toyota Warranty“, so how can something that applies and is valid for Toyota is not valid for Apple?

I believe that ACCC acted out with another agenda. The need for warranty protection by having repairs done by authorised service people has been in the axial of repairs for decades. In addition, when we look at the facts, why would ANYONE go to a third party for warranty repair? That is just insane. So when we read “wrongly telling customers they were not entitled to free replacements or repair if they had taken their devices to an unauthorised third-party repairer“, I am actually wondering how they could come to the conclusion ‘wrongly‘. You see when we read: “Australian consumer law clearly protects the right of a customer to a replacement or free repair if the product is faulty or of unacceptable quality” we now wonder how true that is. You see, warranty is either valid (Apple fixes it for free), or it is beyond the warranty term and you have to pay for it and then it is no longer done for free, so you might select a third party. Yet if this is not an Apple authorised dealer, don’t you have anyone but yourself to blame?

So this is the other side of the apple, what constitutes voided warranty.

You see, if Apple loses this part, I can start repairing Raytheon’s Griffin systems. You see the upgrade (from C to C-ER) and equipment alignment costs are roughly $15,000 per day (excluding parts), if you do not have the proper Service Level Agreement. I can offer to do it for $5,000 a day. so if my work is shoddy (which they will not know until they fire the device, I can be very innovative towards my income), can they apply for warranty at Raytheon, or have they voided their options? You see I will have a NDA with a ‘this repair has been completed to our highest corporate standards’, so I am in the clear and the way the world goes, with 225 upgrades, I will have a decent Christmas this year. Yet at that point the ACCC will not go after Raytheon, it will go after me (what a whuzzes). So how come that the rights of Raytheon are better than those of Apple?

It seems that people assume so much with their mobile devices nowadays, I need to wonder if people comprehend what they buy and what responsibilities come with it. In this the initial question ‘Why did you not take your device to Apple?‘ is one that is not addressed at present and as such I have little faith that the ACCC has a decent case at present (in the shape we saw presented today).

the second and first part interacts as the upcoming shifts will in equal part see new frontiers in Service Level Agreements, Customer Responsibility and the comprehension of the elements covered in a warranty. Because what is included is likely to shift a fair bit over the next 2 years. In addition, innovation is also a shifting concept. Whilst it was “a new idea, device or method”, we (read: the corporate marketing departments) have often seen it as ‘the application of a solution that allows to meet the new or altered requirement of the customer‘ which we get when we iterate with a more powerful processor, more storage, larger screen. So going from 1080i to 5K screens might be accepted as truly innovative, because that took another level of screen and electronics. Yet at times, the pass through of merely upgraded speeds are also seen as innovation, yet at what level is that? When the device remains merely the same to the largest extent, is that not merely iteration?

So here we see the two sides of the other Apple. What we see, what the maker offers and how we both interpret the presented term of innovation.

 

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