Tag Archives: technology

Remembering things

This started when LinkedIn was the source of a question. I suddenly remembered another setting, I wrote about it (when is not important), it was around a year ago, but the part that matters is that this was something Adobe could have used in a number of ways (especially when it decreases the impact of Microsoft). The idea was… let’s start at the beginning.

Above you see the question that shook my mind.

Now take a look below.

Now we see a simple setting towards a project. There is some version control and perhaps Adobe upgraded that part, but too often we see people howl with despair when their version control gives out. USB and Laptop issues are the most common issues, but they are not alone and some go with cloud solutions, yet there are times when connections are lousy, there are cloud security issues, thee have always been cloud security issues and some have more than others, the latter side is that some people tend to rely on local versions, that is fine. Now consider the addition of blockchain to a project file. A file that keeps track of all versions and optionally with Adobe we see actions as well in each version. So now the initial question becomes a mere exercise. A project that gathers the versions and optionally puts them in one place. In this I still like the old DEC (Digital Engineering Corporation) who had VAX/VMS, in the late 80’s they already had version control. At the end of EVERY file there was “;xx” the x’s were a number, as such we could have 99 files called image.jpg. It would take decades for other systems to catch up, DEC was ahead of its time. Now this solution will no longer do and we need to seek alternatives, so how about an alternative use of Blockchain? OR a Blockchain like solution? In a previous article I took that to a whole new level, but that was then and this is now. It was a question that got pushed back to the front of my mind. 

I wonder if anyone else is on that bus ride. Have a great day and please stop crashing drones, they might only be $700K, but it is a waste of good material.


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Afford versus Effort

They are apart, but not in the mind of some. You see the old expression “You get an A for effort” got corrupted. I reckon it started after the 90’s when effort was no longer the main dish. It became not what we can do, but what we can afford so that the fat cats can get their bonus, whilst meeting all other obligations. It wasn’t wholly unexpected. I had spoken to some McDonalds people in the Netherlands in the 80’s. They told be about meeting expectations and not overrun it past the 100%, merely meet the expectations of their bosses. Do not be the ‘surprise’ no one sees coming. At the time it was an utter alien thought. I did not catch on to that exercise until mid 90’s. It was weird. You were hired to do your best, but that became you are to do your best as THEY expect you can be a nothing more. I touched on this slightly whilst writing ‘It was one keyword’ 5 days ago (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2023/03/04/it-was-one-keyword/). This must have stuck in the back of my mind, because it came out yesterday with a vengeance. Two things bubbled up. One reflects on LinkedIn and Facebook. They have (for the most) been all about the quantity and not the quality of stuff. They will give you some runaround on complexity (with loads of yada yada yada), but the foundation is that this was out there years ago. I never mentioned it before as I was designing IP to meltdown Iranian (and Russian) nuclear reactors. I did find a solution with the use of a snow globe (how is that for effort?) But the larger stage is not that, it was the story from some girl with a huge smile telling us how people died. That is how it reflects because that is how her profile picture was set. Big smile, no matter what. I do not care that some people can add emoji’s, we can stage ‘emotions’ like they were sad or angry. It would have been so simple to give any person several profile pics, one solemn, one happy (default), one angry and so on. There I a limit, but I reckon that most are covered with less than 9 profile pictures. There are plenty of accounts that have one picture, these are neutral pictures and that is fine. But showing someone how mines impact the human body with a big smile gives the wrong message. And Facebook and LinkedIn could have done something years ago, there is your A for effort right there, no effort because we get some technology babble on how they could not afford it.

This gets me to the second part. The image gives us a mothers day gift. OK, nice, optionally caring, but why? Not giving the gift, I am all for that (even though my mum died almost half a century ago), but see the second image. 

Now consider this a mockup, set to about 4 inches, optionally in merely in greyscales. The edge has the battery, and an option for an micro SD slot. There would be an USB charging option with the more expensive model having some kind of dock. And we include the one cool thing Microsoft did 30 years ago. We get the about screen to give the holder who it was from and what for (like mothers day). The screen could have not merely a calendar, which the simplest UNIX command (cal), but we could add a dot around important dates, like birthday’s mothers day, fathers day anniversary days and so on. The LCD has a clock option so that they can place it anywhere where they need time and optionally showing images, like pictures. And yes the colour version would be more expensive but that is on the buyer. So why are we looking at some acrylic heart that is reduced to a paperweight within a year? It is a nice gift and the emotion behind it is most likely real, but giving something that has long term impact, is that realisation wrong? Is that now beyond achieving? Why is that? This setting came to me in mere seconds, so why isn’t a player like Amazon all over that? They have pretty much all the technology required, the digital transparent LCD clock is decades old. No one took that for a ride to the next generation? 

That is what shows effort versus afford. We forgot to go all the way, we forgot to take the train to the station past the last station. Technology is cheaper and gets to be cheaper still. In 2005 I bought a 2GB card for my camera for $850. Now that same card is $8, in less then 20 years. So what about the other technology? We forget that our bosses need us, we don’t need them that much, the Covid era made that clear, so go all in, show your maximum effort and you will soon see that the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ people will try their luck in Uber or they become barbers. You need to shine and as such you need to make your maximum effort so that you get noticed by the right people, because the greed game is unrelenting, some boss will notice this and they will see YOUR value, something your boss was eager to trivialise for HIS needs.

Just consider that for a moment.

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Huh? Wha? Duh!

I was a little baffled today. The article that I saw in Al Jazeera (at https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/2/8/google-shares-tank-8-as-ai-chatbot-bard-flubs-answer-in-ad) had me. I saw the headline ‘Google shares tank 8% as AI chatbot Bard flubs answer in ad’. So I got to read and I saw “Shares of Google’s parent company lost more than $100bn after its Bard chatbot advertisement showed inaccurate information”, now there are a few issues here and one of them I mentioned before, but for the people of massively less intelligence, lets go over it again.

AI does not exist
Yes, it sounds funny but that is the short and sweet of it. AI does not exist. There is machine learning and there is deeper machine learning and these two are AWESOME, but they are merely an aspect of an actual AI. We have the theory of one element, which was discovered by a Dutch physicist, the Ypsilon particle. You see, we are still in the binary age and when the Ypsilon particle is applied to computer science it all changes. You see we are users of binary technology, zero and one. No and Yes, False and True and so on. The Ypsilon particle allows for a new technology. It will allow for No, Yes, Both and Neither. That is a very different kind of chocolate my friends. The second part we need and we are missing for now are shallow circuits. IBM has that technology and as far as I now they are the only ones with their quantum computer.  These two elements allow for an ACTUAL AI to become a reality. 

I found an image once that might give a better view, the image below is a collection of elements that an AI needs to have, do you think that this is the case? Now consider that the Ypsilon particle is not a reality yet and Quantum computers are inly in its infancy at present.

Then we get to the next part. Here we see “The tech giant posted a short GIF video of Bard in action via Twitter, describing the chatbot as a “launchpad for curiosity” that would help simplify complex topics, but it delivered an inaccurate answer that was spotted just hours before the launch event for Bard in Paris.” This is a different kind of candy. Before we get to any event we test and we test again and again and Google is no different, Google is not stupid, so what gives? Then we get the mother of all events “Google’s event came one day after Microsoft unveiled plans to integrate its rival AI chatbot ChatGPT into its Bing search engine and other products in a major challenge to Google, which for years has outpaced Microsoft in search and browser technology”, well apart from the small part that I intensely dislike Microsoft, these AI claims are set on massive amounts of data and Bing doesn’t have that, it lacks data and in some events it was merely copying other people’s data, which I dislike even further and to be honest, even if Bing comes with a blowjob by either Laura Vandervoort or Olivia Wilde. No way will I touch Bing, and beside that point, I do not trust Microsoft, no matter of ‘additions’ will rectify for that. It sounds a bit personal but Microsoft is done for and for them to chose ChatGPT is on them, but does not mean I will trust them, oh and the final part, there is no AI!

But it is about the error, what on earth was Google doing without thoroughly testing something? How did this get to some advertisement stage? At present Machine learning requires massive amounts of data and Google has it, Microsoft does not as far as I know, so the knee-jerk reaction is weird to say the least. So when we read “Bard is given the prompt, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year-old about?” Bard responds with a number of answers, including one suggesting the JWST was used to take the very first pictures of a planet outside the Earth’s solar system, or exoplanets. This is inaccurate, as the first pictures of exoplanets were taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in 2004, as confirmed by NASA” this is a data error, this is the consequence of people handing over data to a machine that is flawed (the data, not the machine). That is the flaw and that should have been tested for for a stage that lasts months. I can only guess how it happened here, but I can give you a nice example.

In 1992 I went for a job interview. During the interview I got a question on deviation, what I did not know that statistics had deviation. I came from a shipping world and in the Netherlands declination is called deviation. So I responded ‘deviation is the difference between true and magnetic north’, which for me was correct and the interviewer saw my answer as wrong, but the interviewer had the ability to extrapolate from my answer (as well as my resume) that I came from a shipping environment. I got that job in the end and I stayed there for well over 10 years. 

Anyway the article has me baffled to some degree. Google is better and more accurate all of the time, so this setting makes no sense to me. And as I read “A Google spokesperson told Reuters, “This highlights the importance of a rigorous testing process, something that we’re kicking off this week with our Trusted Tester programme.”” Yes, but it tends to be important to have rigorous testing processes in place BEFORE you have a public release. It tends to make matters better and in this case you do not lose $100,000,000,000 which is 2,000 times the amount I wanted for my solution to sell well over 50,000,000 stadia consoles for a solution no one had thought of, which is now solely the option for Amazon, go figure and Google cancelled the Stadia, go figure again.

The third bungle I expect to see in the near future is that they fired the wrong 12,000 people, but there is time for that news as well. Yes, Wednesday is a weird day this time around, but not to worry. I get to keep my sanity playing Hogwarts Legacy which is awesome in many ways. And that I did not have to test, it was seemingly properly tested before I got the game (I have not spotted any bugs after well over 20 hours of gameplay, optionally merely one glitch).

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NSA linked to corporate dangers?

The Netherlands are facing a new issue, one that they had not bargained for. It is my personal view that the matter at hand seems to be getting misrepresented, so I need to do something about it.

First let us take a look at the reported facts.

On Saturday 21st September the Dutch NOS reported on TV and on their website on how the Dutch are opening their doors to the NSA (at http://nos.nl/artikel/553680-nederland-opent-deur-voor-nsa.html) The issue is that on business grounds the Amsterdam Internet Exchange is considering opening an office in the US, which would under the FISA all their servers open to investigation by the NSA. In that scenario all of the Dutch internet traffic can at that point be monitored by the NSA.

The first question that comes to mind is what the exact benefit is to open an American office. I wonder why that step is so essential. That reason might be very valid, I just do not know.

The danger is not ‘privacy‘ as such. So many people keep on blabbing on how their privacy is so much in danger. I think that remains to be grossly exaggerated. The additional issue raised by the NOS on their Saturday broadcast (which was not on their website) is a different matter. In there the mention was made by Nico van Eijk from the University of Amsterdam, where British executives from an online gambling site, something that is perfectly legal in England, is not legal in the US and when these executives were in the US on business for other ventures, they got themselves arrested. This info can be found at http://www.cato.org/blog/uk-gambling-ceo-arrested-us-airport. The important quote here is “the U.S. has exploited those treaties to effectively kidnap British citizens who broke no British laws, and extradite them to the U.S. for trial on charges of violating U.S. law“. There is of course another legal side to this. Did David Carruthers actually enable these transgressions of law? Connected to this is the Mark Emery case, which involved a Canadian ‘evangelist’ for medical Marijuana. Did either enable US business?

A quote from the UK’s Daily Mail gave us “Investment bankers Goldman Sachs says that the clampdown by the American authorities could mean ‘that the US could cease to be a viable market for online gaming companies.’ That would be tantamount to destroying the earnings of the main firms since 70% of them originate from the United States.

The two sides here are that in the first degree these companies do rely on their American market. Knowing that the events were illegal, going to the place looking out for you was not really that bright was it? The second was that the statement came from Goldman Sachs. Bringers of the popular gambling option ‘soon, because of our bad judgement, you no longer own a house‘. Seems a little warped doesn’t it?

We could of course come to the notion that the NSA executive is riddled with spineless paperbacks, not a hardcover amongst them! But the reality is not that clear. In actuality, the game they could end up playing is a lot less appealing for those outside of the US.

For that part we need to take a look at the NSA website (certain parts of it) and to start we need to look at a document that came from the Defense Technical Information Center in Fort Belvoir Virginia. This document called “2009 National Intelligence, A Consumer’s Guide“, where at page 52 it states “The Act specifies that OIA shall be responsible for the receipt, analysis, collation, and dissemination of foreign intelligence and foreign counter-intelligence information related to the operation and responsibilities of the Department of the Treasury.

Now add the information on the mission statement from the treasury as displayed by the white house. “Support the Department of the Treasury’s mission to promote economic prosperity and the financial security of the United States” this is only part of that mission statement, but by itself it is just as valid. The two now give them additional possibilities through the NSA.

That part is seen on the actual website of the NSA and specifically a department called the ‘Information Assurance Business Affairs Office‘ (at http://www.nsa.gov/ia/business_research/ia_bao/index.shtml), here we see the following parts:

1. The IA Business Affairs Office (BAO) is the focal point for IA partnerships with industry. It also provides guidance to vendors and the NSA workforce in establishing IA business relationships and cultivates partnerships with commercial industry through demonstrations and technical exchanges.

2. The benefits of working with the BAO are (two of them):

  • Increased product marketability
  • Assistance in the development of next generation solutions

These are only part of the mission. They do a lot more. So in the upcoming age where the world will revolve on big data and parsing information, US businesses might get the option to get access to Exabyte sized data, marketable, distributable and sell-able. The intelligence side of the US was never the problem. The corporate side, for which I have tried on several occasions to warn others about (like ‘the Google’ and ‘the Facebook’) will get access to information and innovation on a global scale.

When we consider the utter inability by the US government to get their own spending under control (not just them mind you). As they are now closer and closer on the edge of bankruptcy (17 trillion in national debt will do that to anyone), their own treasury will only need to receive just one mandate ‘to grow and assure the continuation of the United States and its economy‘, which is already part of the treasuries mission statement. In the age where the current president is so polarised against his opposition, where he is adamant that spending is the only option, he will not hesitate to speak these words (can’t really blame him, can I?). It is decently likely that this would give specifically assigned parts of corporate America the option to market Petabytes of data. Outside of the US, the industrial age would then collapse in a way you cannot even imagine. They could globally sell lists on scales no one can compete with. Consider the future to have one provider in data; the ripple effect in the industry would be devastating. However bad you think you have it is nothing compared to what happens if the thought I am having is a reality. Consider the data files people created. The issue I was confronted with yesterday is that someone saw a nice design on a 3d printer and he wanted to use it, but it was not his design. The help file contained the info I expected it to have. All files from that program were to be considered shareware/freeware and could be used and distributed freely. The software maker had done this to avoid liabilities. It made perfect sense. He made a program he wanted people to use, he did not charge anyone for it and to avoid people coming after him for being nice, he made it all freeware. But whoever designs in that program, those data files are freeware too. So anyone can use it. How many programs do you think are out there built on that principle? Now consider those artistic idea’s, traded freely and there is nothing you can do about it.

That was part of the fear I had and as almost EVERYONE gave away their rights on social media, who profits? It seems to me, not the creator!

But then those in social media opted for that, however those on corporate networks and business internet connections did not opt for such futures. The question is, how protected are they from misuse of their data?

So how long until it is no longer about finding terrorists?


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The marks of trade

Even as we look into an abyss of unsettling economic prospects, we notice that many of the gadgets providing entities are still playing the high game for now. The fact of the matter is that even though many places are in recession, some places seem to be getting through and only a few are on the path of former comfort, all of the people are looking at some light point in their life, whether it is for them personally, or for the entire family. However, in the US there are the upcoming Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. A large portion of the world relies on Christmas day with a few places having an added feast of Saint Nicholas. Basically three moments the retail industry relies on these days to stop them from turning into Lemmings and run of the nearest cliff (could be an excellent game).

The following players (some of them) are:

  • Sony is going for the Playstation 4
  • Microsoft is going for the Xbox One
  • Nokia (a Microsoft company) is aiming at the Lumia 1020
  • Apple has a league of ‘new’ options, with all kinds of letters (and/or numbers).

So if these places have trademarks, then are they about protecting their recognisable design or expression. Yet, is that true, or is that what they proclaim they do?

What if their recognisable design becomes:

  • Playstation 4 – An average renewed system where they forgot about harddrive space?
  • XBox One – The place where your privacy truly went lost forever
  • Lumia 1020 – Another model, now with 41Mp camera, but where to store all those pics?
  • iPhone – more of the same and additional ways to run out of battery power before lunch.

So whist the brand (Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony) have the one story, their products are getting different labels, and it is likely that the junior marketeers as stated ‘Junior’ seem to be not on par with HQ as it goes for the mission of the brand, and drop the ball all over as it comes to the product. When I see the trade shows, as I saw the stories and the way they try to hype the concept, I do wonder whether some of these ‘soldiers’ are on proper par with the concepts of trademark and long term damage that they seem to invoke.

So let us go over these ‘Trademarks’ in that order.

Playstation 4 – This is the one system I have decent levels of faith in. It’s initially weaknesses has been dealt with. The too small hard drive can now be upgraded. Mind you the 500 Gb should last a while, however, as 500Gb to 1 Tb is a mere $25 extra, so I wonder why 500Gb was chosen. If you spend an additional $100, you can upgrade immediately to 2Tb. I agree it is overkill, however upgrading once at start could prevent a 1-2 day loss down the line. I did it with my PS3 and never regretted it. ‘Sony, where storage was left at Kennard’s!’

XBox One – There have been loads of messages about online all the time, or even once a day. This has now been ‘removed’ as an issue as Microsoft no longer requires it. You see, it is so much better to get these people connected with a carrot then with a shotgun, so now the console comes with a free digital copy of FIFA 14. Which still needs to be downloaded! Whether this is only once, or the start to get people online in a sneakier way is yours to debate or conclude. Gamers for the most (the multi-player group) need to be online; the rest could be if the game is good. Many of the issues are about digital privacy fears. Some are realistic, some are speculated rumours, but a large portion is just absurd conspiracy theory. There was a rumour that deliveries were down, but this was denied by two sources. So in case you heard the 1 million less consoles on launch day, be sure to check your sources. I personally believe that the invasion of privacy was the biggest blast this trademark took. The additional issue of online once a day did not help, especially knowing how irritating broadband has been in plenty of places outside of the US. It would be nice to just dump this on Don Mattrick, yet I feel that this was not just his call and those above him should start taking a long hard look at the population of gamers. Calling this an ‘entertainment system’ instead of a ‘gaming console’ might seem nice and claiming that it will make you win the war is also nice, but the reality is that this multi-billion dollar market is all about gamers, not knowing that population will turn out to be ultimately fatal to the Microsoft XB-1 brand, no matter what else it can do.

Lumia 1020 – This is a new contraption. It has two sides. One, it is really fun to use (I tried it) and the camera abilities blew me away. Yet, the other side is that it is linked to Microsoft and they will have a few issues to deal with down the line (not just that weird OS). The device itself is no longer a Nokia device, or not in the traditional sense. Nokia was always the number one brand for me and it lost appeal as it was too slow moving into the smart phone world. They are coming back strong, but a 2 Gb ram when you have a 41Mp camera? Seems a little short sighted. So, they added a free 7 Gb SkyDrive option. Oh, wait? Is that not the place from Microsoft who gave their access to the NSA? So what about your privacy, not to mention the data usage price?

As you see, we are getting more and more towards the new Microsoft Trademark ‘Microsoft, because privacy is just an illusion!’ Is that fair? Not sure! You see, in the end I do not care whether the NSA gets access to my data. My worry is that overall, cyber criminals have more resources and abilities then we see at federal places. You know those small, massively underfunded places where they try to stop cybercrime (read FBI). The fact that the NSA gets access means that there is external access, which means that criminals get to have a go too. To that part I do object.

iPhone – the device that truly revolutionised smartphone and mobile usage is now going towards mobile phones in the same way Russia showed diversity for the S-300 (22 letters added over 30 years). Apple seems to forget to truly move their battery forward and in other fields of smartphones the iPhone is no longer regarded as the heralded winner. The device wants to be too much of everything and ends up coming up short in many of the fields they are in. So will the new Apple Trademark read ‘Apple – Master of none, drowning in some?’

There are plenty more devices out and about for the expensive festive season, yet it seems to me that some of the players entered that field by using spokespeople with a golf handicap equalling their IQ, or is that the other way round? When the digital world is entering the field where more and more possible ‘new’ consumers are updated through the net, it seems that their marketing and party lines need to get a massive overhaul and it should all get a much better mentor system then it currently seems to have.


They might be seen as great assets, yet when those trademarks get assigned by the audience (example: Vodafail, because Vodafone just doesn’t connect) and it gives your brand itself a twist moving its customers towards to competition, you know you have problems coming (and many of these from your own board of directors).


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Look horny!

Seems an odd title to start with, but whenever I see certain reports by boards of directors as they make it to the press, then I am reminded of an old Dutch cartoon called ‘father and son‘ about the conservative father and the progressive son. It was a political cartoon by a man called Peter van Straaten. In one of these drawings a man is standing with a camera whilst the woman is standing not that dressed next to the fireplace, the by-line is ‘Look Horny’. It was hilarious! So was the published remark from the Apple board of directors “Apple’s (AAPL) Board of Directors has grown frustrated at the company’s lack of visible innovation.”

Be innovative in this light is as weird as being horny on command. We can all be innovative at times, but we are innovative with the means at our disposal. In his case this is about vision. Was Steve Jobs the visionary, or was he the man who could recognise it when it was shown to him? Let’s face it; we all have ideas at time. I remember coming up with something that is now called Facebook. Hold on, wait! I am not claiming I invented Facebook. In the late 90’s Warner brothers had these web spaces that were hosted through a provider called Angelfire. There was the Halliwell home, the Babylon 5 home, the Bat cave. All forms of addresses that linked the subscriber to their favourite series, or movie. It was free and it came with 20Mb space. However, it was completely static. I thought it would be a good idea to have something similar and to let these members talk to one another. Our benefit would be that we could talk to them all, a place for free advertising at the cost of one web server and a few additional costs. My boss stated that this was not our mission (which was true) and that this would never work (Really?). I think I still have the e-mail somewhere. I had no other means to pursue this idea and in the end it would never have been anywhere near Facebook, so it does not matter.

The moral is that if your boss lacks insight, things will never get pushed forward. It seems that Steve Jobs had this insight in abundance. Likely he was one of these true visionaries and the timing was right. Timing is all in that field, come a little too soon and it will not happen, come too late and you are a copycat at best.

Does the board of directors at Apple comprehend this?

Perhaps Tim Cook has part of these abilities, perhaps not. Perhaps there is no real innovation to be gotten. Let’s just face that between the cassette, the mini-disc and the iPad there were many years of waiting. The origin of the cassette recorder was around the 1930’s, which was PRE WW2 and would not be a consumer item until decently after WW2. So it took almost half a century to get to the Mini-Disc and almost a decade to get to the iPod. Will it take that long for the iPod to evolve to something truly new? There is no way to tell, innovation comes in many forms and a real breakthrough is needed to shape innovation.

I reckon the new Mac Pro is sure sign that innovation is not dead, this is however nothing more than displayable innovation with to a smaller extent an engineering level of innovation, yet, this is nothing more than a new step forward, not a leap forward onto a new train. As for ‘new’, let’s not forget that Cray had the round professional computer (read mainframe) first, the Cray CDC8600, which was released in the late 60’s, so is the idea Apple had truly innovative? The Cray version came with a bench around it, so where’s my chair Apple!

There is also a downside to innovation the way Apple does it. That part is becoming more and more visible with the iPad. There is now the iPad2 and iPad3. My iPad1 is great, I bought it to use in University and it does exactly what it needs to do and I was until recently quite happy. Developers make applications for the device and I have bought a decent amount of them. However, recently, more and more applications can no longer be updated. Even more irritating is that some updated applications will no longer work and crash as these developers only seem to consider the new iPad’s for testing and not the old ones. More important, new software often no longer works on the old models, so from that we could come to the thought that the innovation of Apple comes at the price where a device like the iPad, must be replaced after two years, which seems an expensive approach for consumers.

Now let’s take a step back. Innovation should not be a hype word. The dictionary states it as: “the act of innovating – introduction of new things or methods.”

So Apple is not really adding anything truly new to their cascading fleet of devices. There is even the idea that in the end this step like approach is a really bad idea. They seem to forget that the economy is in a slump and most of us cannot afford a steplike replacement of our devices.

I reckon the board of directors should also realise that the ‘innovative’ track of Apple has been an expensive one for its consumers; I lost close to $8000, whilst Apple was all too eager not to step forward on their failings and I am not alone. How is that related? Well, when you lose money, until something TRULY innovative comes, why would you purchase that brand? In my case my expensive laptop had to be replaced after only 14 months and as such I did not buy an apple. I am not alone; several around me had such an uncomfortable experience with the iPhone 4 that they have since moved to a non-Apple android solution.

So perhaps their board of directors need to focus on quality of the innovation, not quantity of innovations. In the end, they have nothing valid to complain about. Apple is in the bulk of the homes in one way or another. Whether it is through desktop (iMac), laptop (Macbook Air/Pro) or handheld (iPad/iPod/iPhone). If you talk to 10 of your friends then it is likely that 5 out of 10 have at least one Apple device and 2 out of these 5 are likely to have more than one device. Plenty of CEO’s would sell their first born into slavery for such returns. So in plain words, what are these board members bitching about? Is it truly about innovation or is it about simple greed?

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The Telco is on the wall

The Dutch giant KPN is in the market to stay alive. As the message is now that they are selling E-plus to Telefonica. Consider that the sale of this company is sold for 8 billion, which might seem good. It was however bought a decade ago for 20 billion. So that means a loss of 1.2 billion a year.

So this seems not that good an investment, when you look at it. Is this turning into a moment of selling the family silver cutlery, or is it about more? KPN is not the only one in this regard. Nuon (a Dutch energy provider) is also surfing the red waves of tremendous debt. So much so that its mother company Vattenfal is now putting the Dutch energy giant up for sale. Experts have stated that some of these problems are due to the company holding on to old methods for too long. Considering that they require gas, and the price of gas is up, means that their energy is more expansive then most others.

Back to the Telecoms! In Australia, Vodafone has a multitude of problems. Due to less reliable connection issues they had, over 550 thousand customers left Vodafone Australia for other providers. That is a shift of customers that started only 6 months ago. That means that Vodafone is facing a loss of revenue approaching 20 million a month. So we are talking about a decent amount of revenue. It amounts to a loss of almost 8% of their customer base. That is not even close to the end for Vodafone Australia. They currently have a class action running against them, so that is likely to be a none too small bill, and linked to the loss of customers (at http://www.zdnet.com/au/vodafone-australia-reports-customer-losses-of-551k-7000018290/) we also see that there are currently some legal threats coming from Telstra. That can be read at http://www.zdnet.com/au/telstra-ramps-up-4g-rollout-as-3g-scales-down-7000018225/.

The quote that matters is “Riley also took aim at recent claims from Vodafone that it has better spectrum holdings than Telstra in the capital cities, allowing the company to offer faster 4G services.

Perhaps Telstra needs to consider a few things!

First there is the article that ABC published in 2011 (at: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2011/09/28/3327530.htm).

Yes, I got to hear all about it in Uni when I was doing my mobile technologies subject (party of my IT degree), so if this is about ‘marketing’ claims, then Telstra might revoice the words stated in the claim. They could read the following: “Riley also took aim at recent claims from Vodafone that it has better spectrum holdings than Telstra in the capital cities, allowing the company to offer faster 4G services” in the air of “Riley is also aiming at the mention that Vodafone is more colourful then Telstra when offering a mobile service labelled as 4G in the capital cities“. Have you seen those BORING 4G posters all over Sydney? Yup, making legal threats against opinions, that makes perfect sense to me…..NOT!

OK, it is 2013 now and there are true 4G providers now, but what is important?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone mobile communication technology standards. (Quick Wiki grab). When we consider the 4th generations, we see WiMAX and we see LTE (Long Term Evolution).  The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) stated the requirements on what makes a 4G standard. So when the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification was set for the 4th generation in 2008, there was an actual next generation target to achieve. You wonder why it took so long? Well, the ITU looks forward on what the next step would be. So they set peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users). This would indeed be a massive step forward in a time when those speeds were not even close to an option. It makes perfect sense. You have seen this before. When we went from VHS to DVD, similar steps forward were made. This step was even larger as people moved from DVD to Blu-Ray.
It is technical evolution baby!

Yet, Telco’s are all about marketing, and Telstra was really clever. From the information that WAS then, they basically offered 3G+ and named it 4G, but that does not make it true 4G. That is how I personally see it! When I think of a power Telco offering 4G, I think of NTT DoCoMo and TATA (India). DoCoMo has close to 60 million customers in Japan, which is well over 45% of the mobile user population. How many Telco’s can actually make the claim that 1 in 2 connects to them in the Mobile community? In India there is the Tata Teleservices group with over 75 million customers, and NTT DoCoMo owns 25% of this.

So when we think Telco, Telstra and Vodafone Australia do not really measure up. Yet the interesting link here is that NTT DoCoMo had Billions invested all over the world, including in KPN in the Netherlands. Is it not interesting to see how these Telco’s seem to cross pollinate? This raises an issue that many people forget. If we consider the Vodafone class action, and if we consider the reasons of bad connections, then what is going on? Our little Island has 20 million people, which is less than a third of the active Japanese mobile phone users. So why are our connections failing (I am only considering the large cities)? It is clearly not about technology, but about infrastructure and implementation (in my humble view). Yes, we should not forget costing here either, as it all costs money, but consider the income in India and Japan, consider the amount of users. NTT ended up with a net income (after expenses and licenses) of roughly 5 billion dollar last year, which is almost 12% of the total revenue. So we see three things.

1. A ROI of 12% is not that bad.
2. Several nations are competing against giants with means we cannot fathom.
3. All of them seem to be writing off ‘losses’ on massive levels.

Is this about losses, about write offs or about something that is not here?

I reckon it is mostly about the not being there bit. When we look at incomes then we see that the Vodafone Europe CEO (Vittorio Colao) made 2.2 million Euro, whilst David Thodey, CEO of Telstra makes a mere 7 million dollars. So, yes they make decent coin, yet nothing more a mere mid-level banker is likely to get as an annual bonus, so the money is not draining away in that direction either.

No, I personally see the issues as a side effect of devaluation of technology. This is a side that has been ignored by most members of the public from 1997 onwards. You see, technology providers saw the benefit of the armistice race and went the same way. Every year we see a PC, laptop or tablet that is better, faster and newer, but how much faster? The impact with computers is not that big as it hits the individual. They deal with slightly larger programs, and that is pretty much it. Your text file is not that much larger. If you consider a 3000 word document, then that file remained relatively the same over the last 10 years. For electronic devices like TV’s it is also the same. We get the same signal and beyond that it only looks nicer, all this did not impact the provider.

With telecom it’s a different cattle of fish (pun intended). When we upgrade our phones we also attach to that an almost exponential growth of data needs, as such as Apple sold around 25 million mobile phones per quarter, we see that the need for an almost exponential growth of infrastructure is needed (a lesson Vodafone is learning the hard way). Even as the large Telco’s are installing the need for hardware on a continuing base, and as we see the replacement of equipment, we see that the life time of current facilitating hardware is likely less than 40% of its actual life cycle. It is either that of build more places with facilitating equipment, with a connected drain of ‘revenue left’ as well. The last level is one that is not that apparent at present, but will hit Telco company values on a massive scale soon enough. This side can be read at http://www.globallegalpost.com/blogs/global-view/registered-patents-devalued-by-outdated-ip-laws-6786253. Considering the issues at play, then the assets of Telco companies are about (read 2-4 years) to hit a certain basement value. I reckon that there will be consequences down the road. In my view it will be that the truly big boys will continue, the smaller packs will no longer be able to compete in a field where they will get charged for services needed and then some.

What is the solution? Not sure, it is in the end a business answer. Yet, voicing a 1.2 billion loss a year cannot be that good for the ego, and as the amount of players increase, these levels of ‘bad’ news will continue. It will not hit your taxes, but consider that services falter, where will you run to when your mobile phone leaves you with the message ‘searching…’ from your provider?


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Control and Censorship

I am a simple person. I use an iPad, and I use it in a standard way. I synch, I play, I read, I listen! (Yes, I know such a selfish user I am). So when I read about the jailbreak issue I was actually surprised. Most of us never bothered with 3rd party software or other solutions. Yet, overall I do understand that some people might want to. I also do not see the issue for Apple or others to intervene. Some valid reasons might exist, and some might want this to develop their dreams, all valid reasons why a jailbreak system might be needed.

So the issue I read about today was that a game (Deus Ex) would not function on a jailbroken system. This might have been a simple issue with compatibility. No, this was not the case, as it was stated in the article the non-functionality was intentional. The person gets the message “We are sorry but you can’t fire on jailbroken devices.” So it is not just a bug but an intentional act to ‘sift out‘ certain users.

This does not make sense to me. So a person wanting the freedom to do certain things is now punished? I think it is high time that both Apple and Enix have some explaining to do. (Source: http://au.gamespot.com/news/deus-ex-the-fall-disables-firing-on-jailbroken-devices-6411343) the reader should especially accept the idea that there is a group of ‘legally jailbroken devices’ and they are in the same predicament.

It seems that the IT field is changing. This field is now more and more about personal data collection, discriminating groups and limiting the freedom of choice. At least, that is how I see it. But is this true?

When we see the jailbroken system then the following had occurred. The IOS has been modified. When we look at Apple support we see the following at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3743. This is fair enough. It is nothing short of a person disassembling a television, then wanting it fixed under warrantee. So, I cannot fault apple for not fixing it. Yet the software gave us another issue. This is intentional intervention against those who ‘altered’ their system.

There are two sides to these events. On one side, I can understand why a system might be jailbroken. The immediate reason is that I was in the past the victim of Apple’s short-sightedness and their own party line flaws. It actually costed me thousands of dollars, so at that point, I feel that I am justified when I state ‘Apple Get Fu$#d!‘ (In regards to the lost $$$$).

The first part is the one some might remember from the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Because some people were unacceptably greed driven, they forced many in a place where they decided what we were allowed to have and when. In the early days, games would appear in US and Japan almost a year early. To circumvent this, a ‘mod chip’ was available and as such people could order their games on Amazon in the US. Not only were the games up to a year early, in addition these games were 40%-65% cheaper, which was a massive benefit for many. Weirdly enough, the first reason was to many gamers more important than the price issue, but they happily took that benefit on board.

The second part of the ‘mod chip’ was alas less noble. It allowed people to copy original games and they would work on any modified system. For the most on the PlayStation 1, yet it had a large following in the PlayStation 2 as well. In my mind the second part was mainly due because of greed driven marketing, to exploit every person, wherever they lived to the fullest. The same was evident in the DVD market, however, there was a valid issue that Asian copyright violation was so strong that something needed to be done, yet overall the events seemed to have made little difference.

Are these dangers the same for jailbroken systems?

Because of the term ‘legally jailbroken devices’, I wonder what those were. The answer was found at the core of all hardware knowledge, a magazine called wired (at http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/feds-ok-iphone-jailbreaking/). This is the interesting crux! This verdict came out in 2010. So the fact that Enix had been adding a certain ‘limit’ could be read as intentional discrimination.

In the end, the quote I personally cannot disagree with Natalie Kerris said Apple won’t change its policy that voids iPhone warranties if a phone has been jail broken. “It can violate the warranty and cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliable”, this is fair enough, and should a jail broken system be used to play games people did not pay for, then this would be a violation, yet that was not the case in the game Deux Ex ‘the Fall’.

There is a new side to all this. Even though no longer an issue (likely only temporarily), the Xbox One with their need to connect, the Apple with jail breaking and all kinds of likely issues the PS4 will have (because even though we do not know at present, they will have their own issues), we are looking at new developments involving Digital Rights Management (DRM), deployment on the cloud via UltraViolet and the Keychest system. You the users are about to get hit by levels of user-based licensing and limitations unlike any w have ever experienced. More important, users are likely to get hit a lot harder on user license agreements then companies have ever faced over the last 15 years. In my view 99% of the population will press an ‘I agree‘ button and have no clue what they agreed to. The fact that the users who signed the apple user license and then ‘jailbroke’ their system should be ample proof of that.

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Smear campaign vs Blame campaign

Another day, another NSA/GCHQ article! I must admit that the thread, not threat of privacy is getting a little too biased. I must admit that slapping the government comes over slightly cheap at this point (for the reason that too many articles out there are more and more based on speculation and less on actual facts). It is also the time I think that Mr John Naughton (the Guardian / Observer) should add a little more balance in his very valid opinions. As his profiles states “John Naughton is professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University“. So the man knows his stuff (and reading his articles makes that clear), and let me be upfront that even though his pieces are definitely opinionated at times, he has not stated anything false or in error (as far as I can tell).

What does bother me to a little extent is that in his article “To the internet giants, you’re not a customer. You’re just another user” (at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jun/09/internet-giants-just-another-customer) he states when relating to Gmail and Yahoo mail “You do however ‘pay’ in a different currency, namely your personal data.

This is the issue I have as well. Especially when comparing to the article “The NSA/GCHQ metadata reassurances are breathtakingly cynical“, where he states “the metadata is what the spooks want for the simple reason that it’s machine-readable and therefore searchable” (at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/07/nsa-gchq-metadata-reassurances). This is correct, and it is preferred for automated systems, as it takes one person his/her entire career to get through 1 hour of non-spam e-mail for one area of London. So any chance of getting anything useful needs massive levels of automation. So it seems acceptable to be a marketing outlet (the consequence of a free service), yet the group trying to keep you alive gets tarred, feathered, drawn and quartered for doing their jobs.

I am at times slightly amazed that these security measures are such an issue for the UK population. Let us not forget that the UK had decades of issues as they needed to overcome the ‘difference of opinion’ the UK government had with the IRA. As such they have had plenty of reasons to be cautious, compared the limited amount of events the US went through.

I still remember the 1993 bombing of Liverpool street station. I also remember attending the ECTS (Electronic Consumer Trade Show) 5 months later and that area was still an indescribable mess. So the UK population clearly know the dangers of terrorism.

So is this truly about privacy or fear? Not the fear of being attacked, but the fear others have if someone read the messages they send/receive (and I am not even talking about the actual criminal ones that get mailed).

Consider that there is another attack (anywhere in London) and it was not stopped, because privacy laws stopped the intelligence community. Then what? How long until the press, who is all so up in arms on privacy comes with the text ‘why did the Intelligence community not do more?‘ whilst at the same time making people expectant that in Facebook, Google+, Gmail and Yahoo mail your data can be sold on, your details on parade like a debutante to all eligible data sources who would want to have a go at you. Seems a little short sighted doesn’t it?

I am all for privacy, I truly am! However, data being private does not mean that I am not willing to assist the government in keeping the nation safe. And the argument that ‘I’ was not guilty, so there was no reason, does not hold water here. Knowing who is innocent (read safe) is as important as those who raise flags. A raised XML flag does not make you guilty, 5 raised flags do not make you guilty. Especially when this is about automatic parsing of information (read Meta data). When we look at on how these service giants deal with privacy is actually less important than the fact that their international size allows these people to avoid taxes a lot better than Ebenezer Scrooge ever could. So people are up in arms on what governments know, yet these fat cat collecting corporations paying 0.1% tax in this day and age of economic hardship is an acceptable act? I wonder whether people have their priorities straight.

In that regard it is also interesting to read the Benjamin Franklin Quote “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither“. So many are often so easy to hide behind this quote, when siting issues on privacy, yet in those days of Franklin, they thought of war as a gentleman’s game. You know the time of clean Red uniforms. Stand up straight! Moobs forward! Aim! Fire!
Those people, if they ever saw the Vietnam War in their dreams, would wake up screaming.

In this same way we should regard data collecting a la von Clausewitz “Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain” in that light, the survivor had superior information, which means it is another form of war altogether. Our protectors must get it right all the time; a terrorist, only needs to succeed once. The quote and the premise is the issue we face today and history never properly prepared us for what we now face. I think that under these conditions I prefer the quote “War is such a dangerous business that mistakes that come from kindness are the very worst.” This one is true and also most appropriate. If Privacy is seen as a human right (which it is) and it is a driving force in humanity, then we could see the danger that our Humanity gives strength to the Terrorist (this is of course false), however, in the light of fighting terrorism it does hold a truthful foundation. This brings me to an interesting question I recently saw! “What if the right to privacy depends upon the existence of surveillance and an acknowledgement that some of it, at least, is legitimate?” This is not my question, this was voiced in a discussion paper called “Navigating the Data verse privacy, Technology, Human Rights“, which was published by the International council on Human Rights Policy and can be found at (http://www.ichrp.org/files/reports/64/132_report_en.pdf). It is well worth reading.

The question in my mind is that if we see the news as valid. Is the press on a smear campaign against the Governments? Even though I singled out John Naughton, does not mean that I call him that. His work is amongst the most interesting to read and his writing is pretty compelling, and even though I feel I cannot agree with him at times, he puts down his points clearly and precise. The reason I cannot agree is again the fact that we are expected to be marketed by those offering ‘free’ services, but must oppose those who are out to keep us safe. It seems a very topsy turvy approach from us on keeping ourselves safe.

That makes me think, this could actually be a new Gilbert and Sullivan (read with the tune of ‘A wandering minstrel’ from the Mikado)

A surfing seeker I…
A man of links and searchings
of Mails, Pics and Profiles,
and selling you on my Facebook,
my friend list is so long,
through every like and linking,
and to your e-mail sending
I mine all data for cash!
I mine all data for cash!

So are we giving up essential liberties? I feel we do not, data mining is today’s efficient way of approaching the ‘right’ population, yet this is also a danger! Not of freedom, but of choice. As these companies focus on the options that embrace the bulk of people, the outside innovation will reach us less and less likely. Is that not giving up liberties? As we become part of mass media only, the small innovator will no longer reach us? Who thought of that part of the equation? Actually, John Noughton did raise it in some way in his article “Technology is a double-edged sword” in December 2012. Even though he focusses on Evangelists and Luddites, the outcome is similar. We can look at a coin from either side, but one coin is only complete with both sides.

Consider that the police and intelligence communities are the ‘other’ side (the evangelists), then most people (the Luddites) have a point no less fair, but we must accept that if the people get their way, once things go wrong we have no right to invoke a blame campaign, for the simple reason that with the freedom of choice comes the responsibility of consequence.

A combination of views often forgotten!

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Classes of Classification

I was about to do that horizontal thing (sleeping, in case you wondered), where one is in a natural state and loudly snores like the local sawmill! I was actually looking forward to that event. It is almost 00:30, so I need to get up in about 5 hours. However, Sky News stopped that idea pretty quick.

The reason is that the news just showed me a part involving Edward Snowden and more information he ‘leaked’. In this case it was all about spying on the EU diplomatic mission and how that was ‘strictly confidential‘, roughly 0.0324 seconds later I was more than wide awake and started this blog.

So what are the issues? Well three come to mind, but the third one is for a little later down this story.

So the first issue is the classification. No matter, whether the documents were from the CIA, NSA or Alphabet Soup Incorporated. There are levels of classification. Confidential is a lower level. Apart from the issue that there is an issue that the diplomatic integrity of an ally was ‘transgressed’ upon, is there actually any reason why such information would not be Secret or higher? I would even think that this would be Top Secret level information and as such that information remains with a small (read extremely small) group.

Let’s take a look at this ‘Strictly confidential’. I do not have the rules that the NSA applies, but I was able to get the protocol from a World Bank document as to how this is treated. They might be kids play compared to the NSA, but you will get the idea (and I have to start somewhere).

Information and documents that are deemed to be of a highly sensitive nature or to be inadequately protected by the CONFIDENTIAL classification shall be classified as STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL and access to them shall be restricted solely to persons with a specific need to know. The staffs of the Institutions shall establish a control and tracking system for documents classified as STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL, including the maintenance of control logs. Documents classified as STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL shall be:
(i) marked with such classification on each page;
(ii) kept under lock and key or given equivalent protection when not in use;
(iii) in the case of physical documents, transmitted by an inner sealed envelope indicating the classification marking and an outer envelope indicating no classification, or, in the case of documents in electronic form, transmitted by encrypted or password-secured files.

So if we consider the digital version, and consider that most intelligence organisations use Security Enhanced Unix servers, then just accessing these documents without others knowing this is pretty much a ‘no no’. EVEN if he had access, there would be a log, and as such there is also a mention if that document was copied in any way. It is not impossible to get a hold of this, but with each document, his chance of getting caught grows quicker and quicker. He did not get caught, not for many megabytes of duplication.

So, whether these events were true or not, there is now an issue. Not with external trust, but from my point of view with internal trust. If he remained undetected, then several alphabet groups have IT issues of an unprecedented level. Could this even be remotely true?

The second issue is that like any Intelligence organisation like the GCHQ for example, most people are assigned certain areas. The fact that Edward Snowden had such a wide access is more than questionable. The fact that the press seems to just take whatever he serves up with a certain air that whatever Edward Snowden claims is true should also be looked at. In my view it does not. Especially when we consider that he is stuck in some Russian airport terminal awaiting the option to ‘escape’ to Ecuador. You see, his access raises too many flags. It does not matter whether he is the IT guy. The NSA has dozens upon dozens of them, and as such, the fact that he was able to syphon off such a wide area of information (and get it out of the building) seems to be an issue that no one is too investigative about.

What is this all about? That is the question we should be asking. All these events do not add up. This is not some FBI leak (no attack on the FBI). This is a group that was referred to for a long time as ‘No Such Agency‘. The fact that he passed all kinds of interviews befroe the job (on psychological probing levels far above most can imagine), a man who ‘just’ walked away with the kitchen sink and a USB drive loaded with tagged documents. It does not add up in my book.

Now we get to the third issue.

If some amount of this data would be rock solid, then the US has an intelligence community that is leaky as a sieve.

1. A disillusioned intelligence operator gets a job at a department even more hush hush then the CIA and the psychological interview does not raise flags considering the conditions he left the CIA?
2. That person gets access to information on several levels and from several branches and no one is the wiser. More important no flags on these secure servers are tripped?
3. This person gets the goods into Hong Kong, then casually flies into Russia and now is waiting for his flight to Ecuador, whilst at the same time US extradition groups (according to Hong Kong media) drop the ball in getting a hold of Edward Snowden?

Is no one suspicious on what is going on? I for one see reason to distrust several sources at present.

Looking back, Julian Assange got access to his documents though military channels. There have been less than positive issues with the lack of Common Cyber Sense in several military areas. The fact that those events happened outside of the US and under military field conditions where certain security measures are hard to uphold is understandable. That does not make it right, but the circumstances were pretty unique. The fact that someone walks out of places like the NSA or GCHQ with a USB filled with all levels of information is an entirely different matter.

If we accept this article by Sky News as true http://news.sky.com/story/1109739/snowden-spying-claims-us-bugged-eu-offices, then we could be in for a rough ride.

In the end, reality is that spying goes on at all times on many levels (as stated by Mr Reardon on Sky News UK). Mi-5 tries to keep an eye on what the CIA does in the UK, the FBI keeps tabs on MI-6 in the US and none of them care what happens in Australia. Works for me!

So the fact that the CIA is keeping tabs on the EU makes perfect sense, especially with all those new states getting added. However, bugging the hell out of all these buildings is not that productive overall (as there are other sources to these kinds of information). So is the reality that there were just 2-3 bugs (the German Spiegel was aware of one of them) and some document Edward Snowden had just adds loads more?
What Intel does he have that is actually reliable? Are we being run by some wannabe laying it on thick hoping for a nice fat pay check? I wonder what happens now that Russia and China both lack interest (and Ecuador is not that appealing if one lives there without money). So what of Edward Snowden? Sky had another article on that. http://news.sky.com/story/1109235/whistleblower-snowden-may-return-to-the-us. In this article the father is afraid his son is being manipulated by different parties. Even by WikiLeaks. He might return to US if certain conditions are met.

Conditions? For a traitor? And next they claim that all politicians are straight shooters too!
Well, for those who believe that, I have a bridge to sell you, GREAT view on the Tower of London!

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