Tag Archives: Sony

A flawed generation?

I was browsing the Guardian, more important the movie section. Then a thought came forth. It made me grab back to a Ted presentation, one of the most moving ones from 2006. Sir Ken Robinson treated us to comedy whilst underlining one of the most important issues, or so it should have been, watch it at https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity, it will be the best 17 minutes of your week, so how did I get here?

So, I was browsing articles, some I have already read like (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/feb/05/the-cloverfield-paradox-review) ‘Netflix sequel is a monstrous mess‘. The few quotes that sprung out were: “disparate elements carelessly smashed together“, “most of them largely nonsensical“, and “the underseen ‘Life’ managed to combine thrills and ingenuity“. Yet this is not the only article. The second one is one that I had not looked at before (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/05/black-panther-fought-off-a-toxic-ghostbusters-online-campaign-rotten-tomatoes), you see, I have mixed feelings on this movie. The trailer was awesome and I would love to see it, yet unlike the other ‘super heroes’, this is one comic I never read. Not intentionally mind you, you see whilst growing up in The Netherlands, the 70’s gave me some comics, but not all, so some franchises never made it across the Atlantic river. I did see the Black Panther as there was a guest appearance in like ‘Fantastic Four’, but that was pretty much it (besides Captain America Civil War). The other heroes are not a mystery and I had seen at least a few comics from each of them. So my mixed feelings are about not being able to relate it to the comics, so some of the background will be unknown to me. That’s all on that. The article became a larger issue when I saw “this attack was aimed at the most high-profile movie ever to feature a predominantly black cast felt racist” as well as “In an era when culture wars are predominantly fought on social media, this sort of down-voting can seem like an effective guerrilla tactic. Clicking on an angry red face or selecting zero stars is even easier than adding your name to an online petition“. It does not make sense to me to have hatred of a product you are utterly unfamiliar with; it counters art and creativity in almost every way as I personally see it. It goes on with the third article (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/13/venom-trailer-tom-hardy-sony-spider-man), where you can read: “In recent years we’ve seen examples of movies that have triumphed at the box office almost entirely on the basis of snazzy advance publicity“, as well as: “fans were more interested in finding out what the new big screen version of Venom looks like than charting the next stage in Hardy’s career-long mission to channel the most eccentric human beings on the planet. And, on that count, they were left profoundly disappointed“. It was at that point that I remembered the Ted Talk with Sir Ken Robinson, the presentation that is still funny and legend after almost 12 years. What is more important that it is actually more to the point as an issue nowadays? When he states “Art, we get educated out of it!” he made a stronger point than even he might have envisioned. I think that this time was recently in the past and many of us have gone to a negative point past that. This could be considered on both side of the isle. The ‘haters‘ who seem to use whatever option they have to be toxic against whatever they want to be against using automated channels to ‘voice‘ it, or to merely spout their discriminatory bias. Yet on the other side, we see flaws too, with “Sony, of course, is facing a very different problem, in that its previous big screen incarnation of Venom was not beloved at all” we actually don’t get to see it, it is merely a reflection of a ‘failed’ movie, yet when you consider that they made $890,871,626 whilst the production costs were set at $258 million, I wonder what they are bitching about, because they took home a nice clean half a billion plus. So what gives? I think that Netflix, HBO and others are making the same mistake I accused Ubisoft of in the last few years. By relying on some business model with forecasting, a model set ‘to not get a failure‘ we are treated to the near impossibility of seeing an actual mind-blowing movie. If you are unwilling to move that could be a failure, you will in addition also miss out on making an exceptional win. It is like the line between genius and insanity, it is a very thin line and walking it is the only way to get something truly exceptional.

This is also seen in another way, most will not agree, or even be aware, but Ridley Scott is the person ending up making one of the most awesome and most amazing Crusader movies ever made. Kingdom of Heaven is seen as an utter failure to some, but the movie costing $130M still brought in a little over $211M worldwide. That’s still $80M in the pocket, I would instantly sign up for that. So as we see that ‘forecasting models‘ are becoming more and more the daily bacon of our lives, we are not moving towards better profits, we are moving away from exceptional achievements. There was a second reason to mention Kingdom of Heaven, you see, just like the Abyss, the trailers were actually bad, I consider them no reason to watch the movie, but the end result was in both cases spectacular. The dangers of marketing jives and kneejerk reactions to incomplete data, is that the studios seem to be overreacting. If it is not a positive Hype, it will not be a success. We see that danger to Venom, which would be somewhat of a risky choice no matter how you slice it, but in equal measure, the danger could to a much smaller extent also apply to Aquaman. It is a lot smaller, because Jason Momoa rocked it in Justice League, so he has created momentum. Another example will be seen when places like Netflix will grow the comic book Universe and add other characters, like for example Moon Knight, or more apt, as the New Mutants arrives in 2019, will the makers be willing to make Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik) dark enough? That is the question that the viewers/fans face. Even as the moviemakers are now direct enough (John Wick) and sexual tensioned enough (Spartacus, Game of Thrones) to take a leap to the edgy side, but when we see the absence of the edgy sides, was that truly the vision of the maker, or is that the forecasting model on how the prediction on what I regard to be unrealistic data to be setting the stage?

I cannot prove either part in this, but I am hopeful that outdated concepts are moving away further and further (John Wick is a nice example), but is it enough? You see, the more primal anything is, the more it links to our emotions and creativity (I personally believe that they tend to go hand in hand).

When it comes to the superheroes we tend to look at the legend Stan Lee and why not, he showed that creativity drives popularity and profit. The man has been around since 1922 and he was part of the creation of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor, representing well over $8 billion in movie revenue. So the larger bulk is all on him. Yet, I also want to see how this creativity is seen by the new makers like David Wohl, Marc Silvestri and Garth Ennis who created the Darkness. Can the dark view of Jackie Estacado, be created in the really dark way? As a videogame it was well received and ended up being an interesting setting, yet how would that work for the big screen? The problem is that the setting is now no more about the art (mainly), it is about the profit. Stan Lee had the benefit that the art stage was powerful enough and proven to be strong enough that most ‘forecasting models’ would remain obsolete, yet that path would be much less considered for anything new and unproven. We have seen How Azrael and Knightfall Batman were well received as comic books, but Azrael and the order of St Dumas, as a movie, or Netflix series, would it even survive if the character and acts were not dark enough? Will the ‘fan’ still embrace it when the forecasting models push the makers into making it into some Disney angora woolen soft product version, would it then instantly flop? I personally hope so!

The Main event

So as we saw some of the franchises evolve for the big screen, there seems to be a tactical and business side, but less of an artsy side to this. It is almost like we can no longer do that proving the point that Sir Ken Robinson made in 2006. As we look at how much coin we can get from a comic book transfer, we see a similar danger that it is merely the reutilisation of something already made, which in this light shows how rare the movie Life is (apart from the fact that Ryan Reynolds can make most movies watchable). Even as it seems to have been down written in reviews, I found it very enjoyable, in addition to that, the work of the other main cast members Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada was excellent. The issue is not just what is original, but what could make it. To see that distinction, you only need step out of your comfort zone and take a look at the Japanese movie ‘the Audition‘ (there is only the Japanese edition with subtitles), so you can’t be dyslexic for this one, or you need to be fluent in Japanese. That is the nice part of primal sides in any movie. It is the dark and unsettling side. It is easy to get to the primal sides of lust, because sex sells, it tends to do so with the greatest of ease. It is the other side where we are bound through discomfort, where we see exceptional works rise, but these instances are extremely rare which is a shame. In comic book world the fans are hopeful that they will see a good version of the Sandman, but that is still the stuff of ‘questionable future events’. So how can we rely on creativity to bring us an exceptional original movie, that whilst there is growing evidence that creativity is moving out, out of nearly all our lives, how can we move forward? I actually do not know. I have tried my hand at creativity in many ways, but I was never a movie maker, a storyteller (like all others ‘working’ on my first novel, which is currently approaching 60,000 words).

Getting back to where we had it

So how can creativity be reintroduced to the people? Well starting to create something, or better start to create anything is always a first step. We tend to replicate, then emulate and after that create. It is these actions that drive movies, TV series and video games forward. For something to be better than a mix of two (like a Pokémon RPG), we need to see it where we create within ourselves. This is how I found an optional new way to sink an Iranian frigate, how I came up with the concept of the Elder Scrolls: Restoration (ES6) and how I got the idea on two different kinds of RPG, as well as a new solution to resolve the NHS issues in more than one nation. Yet, even as the ideas were seemingly easy to grow and adapt; how to get them into reality? I am not a programmer and equally limited in my drawing skills, hence I rely on storytelling.

We see part of this (at https://www.polygon.com/2018/1/31/16952652/david-brevik-it-lurks-below-announcement), where the maker of Diablo is now building something new. Even as it looks familiar and it has elements of Minecraft (or Blockheads), we see the growth of a new approach, just like I saw with Subnautica which is an awesome result to an entirely new approach on survival RPG. Even as David Brevik revamped the 1985 game Gauntlet, and added more famous characters to create ‘Marvel Heroes’, the span between the arcade machine and Marvel Heroes gave it not just a more fresh approach, it gave it a new dimension as you could grow different super powers/skills making the game very replayable. So, even as I came up with this ‘new’ RPG, I did remember my many hours in the 7 cities of gold game on the Amiga and that shaped some of my ideas. Even as some of these games have been forgotten, the Amiga was a leap forward in those days. It had hundreds of games that were innovative (for a system with a mere 64Kb), so the fact that some of these ideas have not been restarted and evolved is simply beyond me. Now, is that new and creative? That is a point of view, by altering and evolving a game, it becomes a different game, by adding to it, the game does not merely becomes bigger, it becomes more. Now even as some games are remastered and as such remain the great games they were (System Shock for example), yet some games were nice on the original system (example Escape from Hell, Masters of Orion, Battle Chess, Covert Action), nowadays, these games would be too small, too limited and too restrictive, no bang for the buck. This is what has forever fuelled my passion for RPG (and sandbox games), the idea and the actions to do what I want, where I want, and at times when I want. Yet, I also believe that there should be inhibitors, just getting every mission, every option makes even an RPG game grinding. With limitations, we make choices, opening some doors, shutting others. It is that part that makes a game replayable and more important, it gives a much longer lifespan to any game you get.

Yet as I see it, the game makers are getting more and more restrictive, it is either making us do a thousand things on the side (AC: Origin), which is still a good game that I enjoyed, or we get into the grinding mode (Monster Hunter), a part in gaming I really do not like. Even as the graphics are amazing, it is the grinding that gets to me (I played the game on the 3DS). In that regard, the makers aren’t really making it easy for us, with Horizon Zero Dawn being a novel exception. In 2018 a new look on Spiderman is keeping us interested, but the actual ‘new’ additions seems to be limited to Sea of thieves, God of War and Vampyr, these seem to be the only games that are actually new and God of War only makes that cut because it is in an entirely new setting with only the playable character remaining the same, whilst the game play has actually change (a lot) from the previous 3, making it basically a new game. So including Monster Hunter there are 5 new games, the others are pretty much franchises (I left PC games out of the consideration).

In the end

Even as it is most visible with games, there is also an issue with movies nowadays. I love to see something really new, I equally enjoy the DC and Marvel movies, but if we take these and the sequels out of the equation, I am saddened to see it boils down to Red Sparrow, Annihilation, and Ready Player One. The rest seems to be either sequel, remakes or an altered version for something we have seen before. That does not make them bad movies, it is merely not really new, which is the issue here, they come through creativity. Isn’t it sad that the innovative list of truly new works is not growing to the degree it is? Now, we can look beyond borders, yet the reality is in my personal view that we have become less and less creative and we are losing out in several ways. Even if we are not game makers, TV producers or movie makers, as an audience we are equally missing out and we need to find a way to repair that flaw. One of the psychology views is: “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, its complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated“. Even as the shrink focusses on complexity, I do not adhere there, I believe that the creative mind becomes ever better in analysing complexity and simplifying it, and reducing complex matters it into something ‘manageable’. It is an ability every person can have, but I believe that as our creativity levels went down, we lost some of that. The ‘business results driven‘ educational world has done this to us. We see the results more and more around us. We are blindly relying on automation and process instead of common sense. I am not stating that we should not adhere to these elements. I merely believe that once an automation or process failed that it will take a lot longer for people to react and that is not a good thing. Westpac saw such a failure only last week. With: “The meteoric rise of automated credit card applications has been called into question after Westpac was forced to refund a total of $11.3 million to credit card customers. The refunds, which worked out as several thousand dollars per customer, were necessary because the bank’s online assessment process had failed to gather enough information about the customers’ financial situation“, when we consider “Corporate watchdog ASIC said the crux of the problem was that Westpac had relied on automated application processes” and “Westpac admitted that customers’ employment status and income may not have been “directly reconfirmed in the credit card credit limit increase application process”” could be seen as optional evidence that a more creative mind would have seen the flawed complexity and beyond that optionally saved their boss 11 million. That is merely my point of view, but I stand firm on our loss of creativity, it is all around me every day. It gives rise that we have become a flawed generation; we lost more than we bargained for. I reckon that the academics will state that this element was a separate question and they were not instructed to focus on that as they designed the education system of the 70’s and 80’s, we can go on that this flawed system is still in place today giving us the danger of a descending line of our creativity and actual new experiences in the arts, a frightening concept to say the least.

 

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That sinking console feeling

I stated it in the past, I was even going to be cautious on the numbers, yet the banging buck that the Nintendo Switch is bringing, is now completely bringing down the house. Last November, numbers were given out by certain sources (not Microsoft) that the total Xbox One sales had surpassed the 31 million mark. It had taken well over 3 years to get to that number, yet Nintendo has now clearly surpassed the 14 million mark in less than a year and the sales numbers are still rising, rising a lot faster than even Nintendo expected, the forecast now is that in two months the 17 million mark will be reached, meaning that in a little over 1 year the 50% mark against Microsoft is reached. Even a Microsoft marketing is still hiding behind ‘the most powerful console‘, other publications, especially in the UK are now getting on the bandwagon I proclaimed six months before the very first Xbox One was released and the technical flaw is only getting worse, especially with the space that 4K games need. This is not a David versus Goliath, this is now becoming a fight between one that is trying to be the coolest (and apparently the most powerful one) against one that is about having the most fun. So when you consider the price your ego is trying to cost you, what would you do?

Now, there is no way they get close to the Sony numbers any day soon, but the long term view for the Switch is that this console could potentially equal the total sales over time. This is becoming more and more realistic as the list of PS4 players who want a Switch on the side, that group is actually growing rapidly, and it as massively surpassed the group of people who had a PS2 and any kind of Nintendo on the side. So even as there is no threat for the PS4/PS4pro, there is now a clear indication on where Sony would need to grow its software arsenal, mainly because from the past as it was, Nintendo is re-establishing itself as the family fun system that the GameCube and Wii used to be, in this Nintendo is getting more attention from parents at present, a dilemma that Sony would want to fix fast and with quality fun based games.

There is an additional jump, with some of the more power pounding games like the original Dark Souls, Skyrim and their unique label with a new Pokémon RPG, there will be less and less reasons not to get the Switch, or optionally a Nintendo Switch on the side. I saw the winner it would be when the Switch was presented in the world premiere, but even I am amazed at the rush to sales it became. I knew that Microsoft would take a rating loss, but that the Switch console is now optionally closing in on the current total sales of PS4 over time is something that I did not see coming, of course the fun part will also be on how Microsoft moves into third place on the console market around 2019, at that point I wonder what excuse they will use. Perhaps they will blame the Azure Cloud resources, let’s face it, the Xbox One is uploading Gigabytes of console data to it, whilst Microsoft support stated that this issue is with our internet provider. So as we can see that it will take Nintendo a while to get there, the vibe is that they will actually pull that off. If they add and re-master Metroid Prime 1, 2 and 3, this closing gap is almost a certainty, because over time none of the consoles ever got a game franchise like that produced. As Nintendo is now starting to embrace remastered games and is also looking into the PS2 range, whilst the makers are potentially upgrading those games, other developers will see options and larger fortunes by remastering some of those golden oldies (Dark Souls is already announced). I will go one step further, if Nintendo gets their fingers on some of the Dreamcast titles, for example Soulcalibur and Fur Fighters (which has always been a personal favourite, but not the PS2 edition, that one was mucho yuck), they could increase their market share and increase it faster. So there are over 600 games on the Dreamcast and over 1800 PS2 games. So, if only some of the 95%+ games are remastered, the Switch owners could end up with a decent amount of games from the ‘totally addictive‘ and ‘blowing my game mind on fun‘ category and that is before the older PC game makers consider what an opportunity the Switch is for them as well. Not to mention all the IOS and Android developers, who would be able to add a large chunk of players. They could also gain speed by offering the cross platform choice like Minecraft did. So Owners of one platform could buy the new platform version for a mere $4. I updated from PS3 to Xbox One and Xb360 to PS4, for $8 instead of $24, that is a real saving!

With the Switch, Nintendo did not just break the mould in gaming, it could potentially replace it with a titanic sized golden statue named ‘opportunity‘, because the events as given now don’t just show just how Microsoft missed the calling, it in equal measure could potentially show that Sony needs to up its game high to not fall victim to closing gap of gaming fun aimed populous, a fight that we have not seen before. The first PlayStation became well established before Nintendo could grow to a better placement, now that people are realising that it is about the quality of the game. Even as I found it hilarious that the Switch supports up to 2TB, whilst the ‘most’ powerful console with 4K gaming cannot get past 1TB. How you like your Xbox One X console now? We clearly see that Nintendo is laying down the gauntlet for both Sony and Microsoft, we can see that in numbers Microsoft is pretty much done for, but the fact that that little Mario will in the future get closer to what Sony has (closer not catch up) is something the markers could not have foreseen.

So where is the evidence?

Well, most of it has been reported by the Guardian, IGN and a few other gaming sites, some of the numbers are from Statistica and VZCharts. It is my personal view that gaming is about fun (challenging fun at times), it is not about 4K gaming, although we all agree that the identical game on 4K and Switch will look better on the 4K system, there is no denying it. Yet that is where Microsoft marketing is hiding, and whilst we can all agree that Assassins Creed Origin in 4K is an amazing feat, which it is without any reservations, the issue that the Xbox One will support in 1TB around a dozen games in total before it runs out of space, there are already articles out where gamers ran out after 14 games. Considering that Forza, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5 are around 100Gb, whilst several other AAA games are somewhere between 70 and 85 GB, I am surprised they got to 14. The utter stupidity of saving on a drive twice the size for a mere $15 is shown in the most gruesome way. If only Microsoft had done what Sony does and let the gamers upgrade the drive themselves, this issue would be close to non-existing, but now it is and it is happening whilst Nintendo is moving in, and it is moving in with the optional storage that is twice their size, it gives the gamer and the consumer confidence in that brand, something Microsoft should have realised a long time ago. I foresaw this and wrote about it (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/24/spin-dryers-by-microsoft/) almost 5 years ago, that was long before there was a 4K option, the issue was already clear at that point. That point alone gives clear evidence that Microsoft does not really care about its gamers, merely about their revenue and their Azure cloud, that alone should anger people and that is why Nintendo is catching up so much faster than anticipated (this is a personal assumption). You see, you might have the most powerful console in the world, but when its management team ignores its user base, that contraption will end up on the side of the road like an Ford Edsel, catching dust, rust and leaving the gamer without trust.

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Consideration in 3 parts

There are several things playing and I think it is only fair that I jump a little this time around. In the first jump I will take us into the realm of technology. First the hardware where Keith Stuart gives us ‘is it worth a £100 upgrade?‘ This is a valid question, yet in all the issue is not merely the £100, it is more so “Microsoft has always marketed Xbox One X as an elite product for true enthusiasts and that’s exactly what it is“, which is something I cannot agree with. You see, Microsoft has refused to listen to the gamers, the actual gamers for the longest of times and with the Xbox One X, I expect (read: I hope) that they will get the pounding they have so deserved for the longest of times. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/03/xbox-one-x-review-4k-console-gaming-upgrade) gives you some of the goods, but not all of the goods. You see, the £450 with a 1TB drive is a joke, it always has been. The article names a few games and there a few sources re stating that Destiny 2 is 50GB WITHOUT the 4K assets. There is no clear way for me to find a reliable number there, but with the OS also taking a chunk of the hard-drive, which will be 300Mb at least, we are looking at a console where one game takes well over 5% of that drive. Forza 7 will take well over 10% of that system, now with all the reserved spaces and mind you not ALL these games are that big, you are looking at a dozen games at the most and that is in many cases not including the extra space that the 4K libraries need, so when I stated even before the Xbox One came out (the first one) that Microsoft was not giving consideration to their gamers, I was not kidding. With the Sony PS4 (both old and pro) we have the option to switch the drive at our own expense to a 2TB drive and these things are a mere $105, so one extra cost has kept me safe and hassle free for well over 3 years. Microsoft never allowed their gamers that option, which could be seen as another indicator that Microsoft is actually not giving true consideration to the ‘true enthusiasts‘ as they label them. There are additional flaws in the OS that give less consideration that the Xbox 360 did, so there is that to consider too. A console that might be seen as overpriced, overvalued and overdue a real upgrade. There are more issues, but they are for another day, for now we await the over-hyped release in 2 days.

The second part is one where I have to show fairness (which I have always done). The second part is Assassins Creed Origins. Now, it is on my list to get as I was not trusting Ubisoft after all the things they have done in the past, with the additional embargo of any publications of the game until the day before launch, their approach was shoddy and shady at best. In this case it worked against them. I have watched well over a dozen videos with Eurogamer and IGN showing the best sides, but also leaving us with questions. Yet I had a few questions of my own and i think they need to be put into the limelight. You see, I have slammed Guillemot and Ubisoft for the longest time for not doing their job (or better stated, the job they were capable of). For relying on average scripted events and what I still label as ‘bad programming’. This is not the case in ACO (Assassins Creed Origin). Now when we pull away from the 4K events (which are close to breathtaking), we see a game that has been through quite the change and as such should get some praise, praise on several levels.

First are the reviews, they are like mine all opinions, and even though I was relentless to AC ratings in the past, from all that is clearly shown these ratings are lower than expected. I see the game somewhere between 88%-92% rated (the non PC versions), yet most remain below it and Gamespot gives it a 70% rating which I personally believe to be equally unfair. Now, we can be hard on Guillemot on a few levels, but they did get this game decent. We can argue all we like, but the team that made Black Flag made this game in a good way and I believe that this game might not be regarded as a real AC game. Origin is the start of it all and that makes it fair game, but the clarity is that there are elements that we relate to Witcher 3, Far Fry Primal and Destiny. The reality is that elements in this game have been seen before going all the way back to Ultima7 Serpents Isle, so there is no real identity linking it to a certain game. Now, I do see the elements of Witcher 3 and that is not a bad thing, whilst we need to acknowledge that this game is not some Witcher 3 game, it is truly an Assassins Creed game (whether the player is an actual assassin or not). The wildlife is more dangerous and relentless and a lot less forgiving, which is a good thing (more realistic), and it seems that as far as I can observe, the locations are as any AC game has almost always been. Graphically sublime, even if you have no 4K solution at present. Even as I have been reluctant to see this last AC as a great game, it seems that should this be the last AC game, than Ubisoft goes out on a high note, and that should be heralded by nearly all gamers.

The final part is not a game. I am also getting less convinced that this is merely a leak. We could have accepted to the smallest degree that the Panama Papers were a leak, yet the amount of data that was leaked leaves us with the larger question on how stupid a financial adviser needs to be to endanger billions of dollars in revenue. I have gone back into time checking on a dozen corporations only to find that there was a healthy dose of paranoia in each and every one of them. Some were paranoid from the start, some were pushed by IT as they wanted the latest of the latest and pressing the ‘leak’ button seems to have worked each and every time. So whilst we have been in the sunshine with newspapers giving us Panama Papers on a daily basis, I found it particularly interesting to see the revelation of the Paradise Papers. So when I read “the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth”, I am not surprised. I have written about the failing of legislation on a global level for long before the Panama Papers and the Tesco affair. As we are told ‘obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung‘ we are not asking the right questions. Obtained how? Who gave them? You see, earlier this year we saw some mention of certain players, yet again and again the media have seemingly steered clear of certain parts of the evidence and it is time to mention it. In March we saw a few papers mention on how Barclays, RBS and Crédit Agricole had a sort of Tax Haven set-up where they had to pay a mere 2% in taxation. I think that this opened a door to some players. I think that the Paradise papers is not a leak, I personally believe it to be an attack on these three players as well as an attack on a few others too. The BBC is giving us part (at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41876939), with the mention of the SIBUR shareholders, we see that there is an issue as the corporations are facing US sanctions, but the individuals Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko are not. They represent a wealth that is roughly 50% of what is Microsoft nowadays. It is making a few people more and more nervous. I personally believe that the Paradise Papers is not a leak it is an American corporate ploy, possibly even with the assistance of Rothschild wealth management (a speculation from my side) to push changes that are a lot more interesting to America. Can I prove this?

That is partially the issue. You see, without the clear data on the leak it might never be proven. it is merely too weird that this happened three times in a row (yes three times, I will let you look deeper into certain places to find the first instance). You see the most interesting part is casually shown at the end of the BBC article. With “a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders“, this is showing not to be a leak, this is a data gathering by a select few and the combination of large data sets. You see, multiple sources which is clearly seen through the use of ‘mostly‘, and added the ‘19 tax registries‘, shows this to be an event that is precise, it is an act of data gathering and filtering. As such, I see this as a precise strike, more likely than not from financial players who have seen certain bank (Credit Agricole being the most visible one) to grow beyond certain measures and that was not the acceptable mindset of the players who want a different shedding of wealth. This is one of the reasons that I have been keeping tabs on Credit Agricole and that is why they have been in my blog several times. Yet, in all this I did not see the Paradise Papers coming and the clarity we see now, is one where we need to consider who is playing us all, and the media most of all. The Guardian gives us more and more mentions of ‘Tax Avoidance’ and as I mentioned a few days ago. It is not illegal, it is perfectly legal. Most papers will hide behind ’emotional’ parts to cry outrage, but in the end they too are not outspoken on pushing to adapt legislation to change this and to push for clear corporate taxation needs, whilst we see that they are all on the second largest data drain set at 1.4TB. So after the Panama Papers, do you think that banks, especially banks of these kinds, banks that rely on such paths to ensure themselves of a good income. Do you think they would hesitate to invest a few millions into hardware that keeps it secure? No, we see more and more technology, more and more Cloud solutions failing to keep data safe. The BBC gave us in April 2016: “In other words, your data could get lost, wiped, corrupted or stolen“. It seems that not enough people are really listening, happy to embrace the marketing of Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, whilst there is a real concern on safety (for now). Yet, is that how the data was acquired? It is all good and fine to blame a party whilst the data was somewhere else. You see, those IT people (at Appleby’s) would know better, yet when we see the Irish Times (at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/appleby-the-offshore-law-firm-with-a-record-of-compliance-failures-1.3280860), we see “Appleby has transformed itself into a global institution with more than 700 employees across nearly every major tax haven from the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to the Isle of Man in Europe, Mauritius in Africa and Hong Kong in Asia“, in that there is no doubt in my mind that IT would have had (or needed) a much higher visibility on their security profile. I wonder, if I got to investigate their non-repudiation systems and logs, what failings would I find. I can personally guarantee you that with every passing check-mark in place, we get to see more and more clearly that this was not a leak, I would regard this as a precision strike to shift billions from one place to the other, because just like we saw with he Panama Papers, when the super-rich get nervous, a lot of them can be manipulated a lot easier than ever before and in my mind there is no doubt, in this Rothschild is likely to be the one true victor and the one party who had the most to win.

I can only speculate on a few matters, but in the light of the global financial industry, Bermuda, Nassau, Riyadh and Nevada are the larger tax havens. The two papers are giving loads of limelight to three of them, so where will those people go to next?

The financial industry is correlating more and more to a video game, it is all about the hardware and scripted events. When we know that hardware is not the initial flaw one remains, making the case stronger and stronger that this was not a leak, it was a scripted event, whether made specifically for certain hardware remains to be seen . I wonder if the media will ever truly look deeper into how the data was acquired, I doubt it, because that does not make for a sexy story, making them in my personal view less of a player and more of a tool, the question that remains is: ‘the tool for who?

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The tail of a prophet

I spoke on all kinds of matters, and I also gave some upcoming predictions. So, on June 17th of 2017 I predicted: “So by the end of 2018 the console offset ‘Sony:Nintendo:Microsoft’ could end up being ‘13:9:2’. This would show Microsoft on how they truly bet on the wrong marketing horses. So I admit, it is a speculative prediction, yet the sales numbers are not that far off and my expected Nintendo growth is not unrealistic“. It was (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/06/17/after-the-e3/) where I decided to introduce the audience to some of the massive bungles that upper management at Microsoft is involved in. Now, if they replied (read: if, if is good), it would be along the way of ‘it is not our core business‘, or ‘we have all out vestment set to the Azure solution‘. Yet in that view options like Hadoop are already mentioned on the way out, getting replaced by a new flavour of Big Data. Microsoft has Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), but there the adaption is not on the curve they need it to be, so as we see other places become contenders, we realise that Microsoft is too big to just fall over, but as they wanted to be in the generic ‘let’s be there for everyone‘, I see (a personal believe) that those focusing on one part of a business that they are excelling and they are taking away customers left right and centre. Now, this is not a tidal wave, it is a slow process. Yet, in all, the quote I gave now has a serious side. Only last night did I get the news that the Nintendo Switch has hit the 5 million sales mark Compare this to PlayStation 4 Total Sales: 63.4 million and Xbox One Total Sales: 26.5 million (not entirely accurate as clear numbers are hard to find), both released in November 2013. So in 6 months Nintendo closed the gap by a lot. Nintendo is currently committed to get production up towards 2 million consoles a month and this is showing as some analysts (not the group I have the most faith in) have predicted that by March 2018 Nintendo will be expected to be seen in over 13 million homes. So in one year the Nintendo Switch will close the gap with the Microsoft Xbox. My predictions are still on speed to become a reality, yet the given by December 2018 might not be the case. If Nintendo releases the games they have planned on time, the curve will increase and whilst the Microsoft business analysts will bedazzle the people with Scorpio, 4K gaming and other things, the consumers are starting to realise that the people at Microsoft are less clued in on the gamers needs, a thing I clearly stated for close to 2 years (or was that 3 years) and now my predictions are slowly moving into the sunlight for all to see. At present my 13:9:2 is likely to be 12:5:3 no more than, yet Nintendo remains in 3rd place, which was the larger part that mattered. Still this is based on two players with 6 years and Nintendo with less than 2 years by the end of 2018, so even as consoles would have been sold, the Microsoft growth will stagnate as a larger population from their camp will switch to Nintendo and the family friendly games that Ubisoft produces are not helping the plight of Microsoft in any way.

You see, there are two groups and as Microsoft does not care about one of them, it is that group that will drive the dagger home so to speak. It is my personal believe that Microsoft is ignoring the people who bought one and they are realise that to some degree they ended with a lemon. Now these people are not going to jump to Sony, but with the Nintendo wave and the good pricing of that console they will consider the Switch for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there is a 95% chance that Nintendo will have a great Christmas on a near global level. You see, the group Microsoft neglected is now showing a dusty Xbox One, these people are not going to Scorpio and depending on their gaming prowess, not only will they advocate non-Microsoft solutions and buy a Switch, they will in theory prevent 2-3 other players getting an Xbox as well. So not only will Microsoft be fighting an uphill battle from the day they launch, their new system will be buried by the sales achievements that Nintendo is bringing to the ‘Just Dance’ floor, which will be a growing and is likely to be a Nintendo dominant dance floor. A nice little positive event (read: impressive achievement) for Ubisoft as well. A game that has hit the 25 million mark is showing to be as successful as the Xbox One console at present ever was. The fact that some Microsoft executives are not contemplating suicide is a small miracle to say the least. Perhaps they should have actually listened to the gaming community and not revere the spreadsheet they adhere to.

We see at present more and more news in both camps. One showing that Microsoft is more and more successful for the Scorpio, some show that Microsoft remains stagnant and are now setting $50 price drops and one source gives us “Only 13% Of Hardcore Gamers Plan On Buying An Xbox Scorpio“, which is a number I feel uncomfortable with as I expect that number to be at least twice as high. Yet between the expected buyer and the actual buyer there will be a gap and the results of Nintendo show that gap to likely be widening on a nearly daily basis. In other news, a few months ago we saw (at https://mspoweruser.com/project-scorpio-fails-impress-american-gamers-according-nielsen/) the title “Project Scorpio fails to impress American gamers according to Nielsen“. This fact is a lot more interesting were it not for one given part. When we consider the quote “Phil Spencer has to prove to gamers that they need to upgrade. The only way to do this is to show mind-blowing graphical upgrades and flood the internet and television with advertisements of the device” we need to wonder about the job Nielsen has in this. You see, ‘mind-blowing graphical upgrades‘ might seem nice, but in the end it is about good gaming and that has not been delivered by many games, not to the degree it needed to be. In the second, the part ‘flood the internet and television‘ might be to appease their other customers, but it does nothing for the gamers, only the badly informed consumers and that market has shifted a lot. It has shifted because people bought the WiiU and some of them are now hurting by the Xbox One, not in the smallest part because of unwanted and non-consensual uploads by the Xbox One into the Azure cloud. We are becoming more and more data savvy and the Microsoft helpdesk telling me (read: they really did) that this lies solely with the internet provider is a party line so stupid, it makes me want to vomit. So from the side of Microsoft, we see their hardware, their policies and their shortcomings, they sold out the gamer three times in a row with one console. that and the ignored part by Nielsen on how much of a blasting success the Switch was gives us more and more light that properly informing an audience is a loaded canon to say the least.

Now, I am willing to say that my data is not completely up to scrap. When we consider that several sources who give clear Sony sales records need to guess and get other data sources to compile the Microsoft numbers. The fact that Microsoft has been remiss (or pushing dates of publishing numbers) is one tactic to keep the diminishing group of Scorpio pre orders in the dark. The first set will be immediately sold out, that was never in question, but the three subsequent pushes are the ones that are in play. The war for Christmas is on and even as I have illusions regarding Nintendo winning that, there will be loads of Ps4pro’s and Scorpios on the list of plenty of kids. The A$650 might seem nice, but in the end, as people realise that storage remains an issue, having the A$675 2TB edition would have been the smarter move. Oh wait, that one does not exist because Microsoft did not consider the gamer in any of this, just their Teraflop speech laced with 4K resolution. That evidence is shown by Microsoft when we see “While Forza Motorsport 7 hasn’t been released yet and it won’t be out until October 3rd, the official Microsoft Windows store has listed the download size for the game and it is a gigantic 100 GB” (source: gearnuke.com), a factor I mentioned before, so as the 1TB drive loses around 300Mb for the operating system and store parts and so on, the gamer soon realises that there will only be space for 7 games in 4K. So how long was Microsoft going to hide that disaster? When you have to reinstall 3 games within 6 months and get the patches, how long until you get to be in an aggravated state of irritation? A clear issue that the Xbox One had and even as Microsoft had the ability to diffuse the situation, they decided to not do anything, which is another battle they lost to Sony and one that might drive more gamers towards the additional Nintendo pile of those who want to enjoy a game. This now also fuels the previous blog on digital rights (one that Euro gamer made me start after their video), because in that setting a physical copy on disc becomes more and more important to every gamer. Yet this is not all, it is the largest factor in gaming that is now starting to push the envelope to the degree that Microsoft will not be happy about. With the announcement of ‘a Nintendo Switch version for Fear Effect Sedna‘ just today will be coming to Switch pushes the bar as Microsoft is losing their exclusive range of games faster and faster. This is a known bar that both Sony and Microsoft pushed as much as possible, now that some iconic titles are also coming to Switch; the results will have an impact on all consoles (it will impact Sony to a much lesser extent). Even as I personally believe that some titles will not make a person not buy a game, but could push a gamer to get the Nintendo Switch on the side. This action results in more and more hazard points for the continuation of Microsoft consoles as a growing group of people are now cancelling pre-orders. Now, that is not an entirely accurate statement. Let me give you the ‘down low‘ on it. Last month has given more and more forums the issue where people came with the same issue “my Xbox One X pre-order was cancelled for no explainable reason by Target“. There seems to be a separate play going on. Some players never cancelled their pre-order, it seems that some players who wanted to make quick solid revenue are now confronted that their infrastructure cannot deal with the sudden ‘need’ of thousands of players and their systems seem to be unable to keep score to coin a phrase. So here Microsoft is wrongfully set in a bad light as other systems cannot deal with the infrastructure of some consumer chains and Target does not seem to be the only one. I believe that there are people having second thoughts, which will always happen. I believe that the ‘converted’ curve of Microsoft is a lot lower when we consider actual ‘converted’ gamers. So there are those numbers to consider as well. The backup in all this is that as cancellations happen, sales numbers might regionally shift and this is happening in the height of Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there will be a larger lash back to consider in January, but that will be a story for another day.

So as my tail is considering the tale of a console that was designed not fore gamers, but for players. Microsoft needs to sit down and make some clear considerations on where they went wrong and how they moved from second place to a possible degradation to initially position three, all because three factors that could have been directly avoided were ignored for (as I personally see it) other business needs.

A harsh situation that again, as I personally see it, is all the doing of Microsoft self and they only have themselves to blame, a market shift in merely 2 years. I wonder who they’ll blame when the numbers become crystal clear at the end of the next financial year. Perhaps it will give us a new console in 2018, the Microsoft EOFYbox, free with every Microsoft Surface Pro IV.

 

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In case of your death

I was surprised to see a Eurogamer article on the steam account of dead people (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLFUbU5ceI). The article is interesting and puzzling all at the same time. You see a view that is interesting, mainly because Eurogamer is merely voicing issues that the audience bring to their attention. Now, let’s be fair, the maker Chris Bratt also mentions the bulk of other users of this approach.

It is puzzling because I reckoned that people should have known better. You can leave your physical products behind, but digital products will not transfer. That part has been a clear issue for decades (yes, not years, but decades) it comes with clarity that certain services, especially digital services are services, not goods with a clear setting of ownership. Digital ownership tends to remain with the maker of the product and you the gamer, or user are merely ‘leasing’ that product for the length of your life and in plenty of cases not even that long (read: annual fee).

That is a clear situation in the sight of the worrying owner (the maker) of the product. So in case of software products like Adobe, Microsoft and other players, the digital arena is granting access to, to the person that paid for these services. So when that person dies, the service will be gone, because the service is no longer required for the person who bought it. In my view it is simple and clear, because this is how it has always been. Now that people are actually thinking for the first time on what happens ‘afterwards’, only now are they considering the consequences of their initial forward thinking part to embrace Steam (as a first example). So, even as their might have seemed to be an advantage, having the physical copy will always be better. So now we see that people are catching on. Yet in light of a growing nagging population, do they have a case? You see they purchased a service, not a product, the difference is not what they do, but it is the stage of physicality, the lack of a media carrier. Even then it is not a given that you have any options. The history of software products has had the setting for the longest of time that the purchased products were not transferable. Ashton Tate with dBase 3 and 3 plus (1979) is one of the earlier examples in Software, the bulk of all Microsoft products, although Windows was usually not linked to a person, but a computer. So the phenomenon is not new or unique. So why is it now getting more and more limelight? Well, people are now starting to catch on that their thousands of dollars of games are linked to their identity, to their account and when that is gone, what has been bought is gone too. We can argue on it and also argue on how valid any discussion is on the products that do come with a physical element. What is a given is that as time progresses, the option to own for life a product will fail too. You see, there is a valid case that a product bought is set to the original buyer and no further. The greedy players like Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Ubisoft have been playing with that setting for the longest time. And let’s face it; they do have a point (to some degree). They promised to service your gaming needs, not those of your children and grandchildren. Now, when this is a single player game, a case could be made to transfer the disc to whomever it ends up with, yet there is also a clear case that the services and support are set to the original buyer and without it the game cannot continue. It might be regarded as an open and shut case, but is that truly the case?

We have seen it be done for decades, but was that a legally acceptable reason? I am merely leaving the point of view open to debate. Should a game be allowed to be transferred? Is it fair on the makers of the software products for this to happen? Nowadays we are waiting for the maximised utilisation, the greed driven makers on the minimum option and to some extent the truth tends to be in the middle. This is not because it is fair, but because it is expected. We grew into the expectation of ownership from books and gramophones. Only when the time of digital installation began, only at that point did we see the change towards the expectations that the makers had on ownership and with the age of parchment and gramophones behind us, the consideration of set service terms were not truly on the scale it needed to be. Yet now, with the cloud, with digital ownerships and with downloadable content we are seeing the shift where we are no longer the owner, but the authorised user of the digital product. Now we have the shift that the industry wanted and perhaps in the view of some was entitled to.

In all this we need to realise that the power of creation is not merely remastering of older versions it is the need of revenue for the makers to continue their development and is it fair or unfair to allow for this path? It is at times depending on the point of view that the person has, and n that setting the software industry and the user are unlikely to see thins eye to eye. Some like Sony have the option to link one account to all the devices, so three people could be playing at the same time (each on a different system), some give options for multiple users for a few dollars more and some will try to fetch cash from every user. It is as I personally see it linked to where our expectations are and through history they have been set in favour of the user, now with the cloud and with digital versions that ‘advantage’ is lost to the users and it is largely depending on the others on how they allow us to set this in motion.

Eurogamer is all set towards the need of a champion with references towards Bruce Willis, but is that fair? The best setting is one that Microsoft tried (best for them that is). They wanted to disable the option of pre-owned players and that got buried real fast. Now, I am on the gamer’s side when it comes to a physical product. But in case of Mass Effect, can we truly expect that multiplayer accounts are transferred? Is it fair to continue digital server service ‘ad infinitum’? I personally do not believe that to be fair. Yet in that same push, I think that a physical copy should not be linked to one person, to one owner, but in that as the future comes pushing us, the wrong stance to have. I believe that the intertwining of services, physical and non-physical will stop or enhance the push for limited authorised access.

It is merely my view and perhaps a wrong one, but I am willing to consider that we as users must accept this shift. In this it will become more and more important to have a full physical game. We see the setting of patents in the requirement of manufacturing and physicality, yet now with the cloud and distributed usage (including cloud gaming) we see that every unit is part of the whole, so as such person X with license Y will become part of the whole implying that person X2 with license Y is another entity altogether, I will go one step further that as each player becomes a mere key of the machine, we see that physicality is set in hardware and software and as such, the combination becomes its own dimension, meaning that transfer of ownership becomes a thing of the past. Yet this also spells dangers in other ways, because as non-repudiation becomes a larger issue, any element (like email address) becomes an absolute setting, so that we are in danger of stopping ourselves to move forward with a second email address, a thing we saw with Ubisoft in the past. So once we lose our e-mail address through hackers we could in theory lose whatever we purchased through that medium. Now, most have their own registration system, yet what happens when that depository is lost, damages or altered? That is the part that is not fixed and is unlikely to be properly addressed for some time. It is even more conceivable that our children will in their lifetime see the need and growth of identity implants. Perhaps even more than one and it is at that point that the digital age of ownership takes another leap, perhaps a much larger leap than we have seen in the last 25 years. It opens up whole new ranges of opportunities and dangers. The question will sooner become, which one tips the scales of balance and how will it affect all?

So in case of your death you might be confronted with the implants of your parents, the implants of peers and siblings. In this the law is actually not ready and it is not as simple as what will happen with your games. Because as the setting is fixed it will be about bank accounts, available funds and set funding of growth and wealth. In all this we will see shifts and we will ponder where the rights of services will be set. In this it will go beyond commercial versus NGO, it will be about the shift that identity enables us to hold and that will shift the movements that we are able to do. It will be a new level of hindrance and perhaps even a step towards global discrimination, because when you realise that the age of implants is already here, consider the impairment that some people will have by allowing these changes to the body and to the external extremities.

For those in IP it is a great time to get involved with block chains and non-repudiation, because the game of games, gaming and software will be changed to much larger degrees than people realise and the initial changes as some realise them to be at present are only the tip of the iceberg.

Enjoy the weekend.

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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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