Tag Archives: Venturebeat

The BS of Software and hardware

 

We all have that moment where we wonder where ethical boundaries are. Where is the boundary of deceptive conduct, where is the boundary of profiteering and who knows what a moral centre is?

From my point of view Microsoft skates on every boundary not really giving a damn, especially giving a damn and regards towards their consumers.

The consumer has been deceived for a long time, Microsoft will never call it that, but Computerworld (at https://www.computerworld.com/article/3342416/new-non-security-win10-patches-fix-numerous-bugs-but-wheres-version-1809.html) gives us: “you’ll only get them if you manually download and install them or if, in Windows Update, you click Check for Updates. That’s a deception I’ve railed against for months, but apparently somebody at Microsoft thinks that being a seeker – clicking Check for Updates – gives the updater permission to install these lurking patches, without notification or consent.

In addition Variety gives us in part more with “New hardware sales dropped 6.1%. That drop, GameStop says, was because of 2017’s strong Xbox One X sales, but was also offset by strong growth in Nintendo Switch sales. New video game sales dropped 8.3%“, with an added “Microsoft has seen the following growth as a result of Xbox Game Pass“, which is in all honesty an awesome deal for any gamer, especially as the price would be great at twice the amount, there is no denying that. Yet every indication I have seen gives me the clear indication that the 8.3% drop might be including the Game Pass offer as that is also new video game sales. You see all those new mighty titles that were added with the launch day premise is part of new software sales making the hardship of Microsoft a lot harder than we thought it was. Tech Central adds to this with ‘Microsoft’s Surface sales edge $2bn despite chip shortage‘, you might think it is good, Yet as a surface is set to $1350, the math gives us less than 1.5 million surface pro systems sold, which on a global scale is really bad news. When I expect my own IP to do at least twice that amount, the entire stage of Microsoft is just faltering on too many levels.

Their approach to gamer exploitation (too much advertisement on the console home page, leaving much less space for game icons to start, the never ending pushed Microsoft advertisement on our consoles without the option to switch it off, the news giving us Nintendo Switch Sales Pass 32 Million in under two years, whilst the estimated lifetime sales of the Xbox One is now around 41 million (in 6+ years), that so called ‘strongest console in the world‘ equaled now by the weakest console, exact numbers are unknown as Microsoft is no longer giving us exact console sales numbers.

We saw only two weeks ago on how all surface laptops and tablets are getting massive discounts, sales are not good. From my point of view, Microsoft played a very dangerous game and comes up short. The short selling of hardware, below essential needs to push for accessories, consoles that are too shallow, with a mere 1 TB whilst the going need for basic use passed the 2 TB point two years ago, no corrections were ever made. When we take a critical look at the Financial Express article (at https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/technology/satya-nadella-bullish-on-microsoft-surface-sales/1472634/), and consider “Revenue in personal computing was $13 billion and Surface is now almost a $2 billion business for Microsoft” most will ignore the hidden parts of too few Surface systems sold, the increased discounts making revenue interesting, yet profits would decrease to almost zero. It is the stage of badly expecting the needs of the consumers. It goes from bad to worse when we see VentureBeat giving us: ‘Microsoft really doesn’t want you to buy Office 2019‘, with the added “Microsoft today launched a marketing campaign pitting Office 2019 and Office 365 against each other. The goal? To prove Office 2019 isn’t worth buying — you and your company should go with Office 365 instead.” It is product versus SaaS, and they want Software as a Service to win (likely for tax reasons which is purely speculative from my side). There is also the need of more and more commitment, subscription versus one off sales. So when we see: “Office 365 includes fully-installed Office applications — the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But those apps keep getting better over time, with new capabilities delivered every month“, it would initially make sense to get the subscription. Yet I do not want to be online all the time, having to connect is just too much of an inconvenience when I travel and all the excuses that Microsoft hands us are not getting accepted by yours truly. As for the bugs, we need to be fair here, MS Office is so huge, a bug free version is pretty much out of the question, the issue is, does it actually impact you? The few bugs that bug me only happen in extreme situations and I have for the most used Office 2012 without any hitches. If there are ugly bugs, I never really stumbled on them, another reality we need to accept, but it is not about acceptance.

You see, all this got started with ‘‘We won’t be war profiteers’: Microsoft workers protest $480m army contract‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/22/microsoft-protest-us-army-augmented-reality-headsets ), you short change consumers, mislead people on a global scale through carefully phrased words and you have an issue with a defence contract? It is even worse when we see “Workers say augmented reality headsets provided to US army risk ‘turning warfare into a simulated video game’“, it is from my point of view that these people have no or almost no comprehension of warfare. The images are those of warfare and terrorism, if we can diminish that impact on US soldiers, why would the Microsoft employees resist? In addition, in the shown concept image, if the mini-map keeps them alive, for Zen’s sake give it to them. When I see the lack of ethics that Microsoft has shown with their concept of what is perfectly acceptable and legal, the response ““We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” reads a petition being circulated inside the company, a copy of which was published on Twitter on Friday afternoon. More than 50 employees had signed the letter as of Friday afternoon, according to an employee“.

The response fails on two levels. In the first the augmented lenses are not a weapon, it is a tool and we can go as far as calling it a tactical tool that could give an edge on military and police. Consider the chance that these glasses prevent any innocent person to get shot as they were unlucky enough to get in the middle of it all. In the second part as we accept ‘how our work is used‘, we need to also accept that these employees knowingly and willingly were involved in exploiting consumers; you cannot get it both ways. And if they accept that then they have to be willing to go out and state: “We knowingly exploited consumers as this is part of our income and optionally our bonus!” If that would be the case and whilst the architectural flaws remain in the Xbox One, the lack of connectivity in the Surface devices, I really believe they should shut up or get out. It is their choice which of the two they select.

 

Now, I will accept that for some civilians the expression: “Under the terms of the army contract, however, the devices will be used to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy”” is awkward and harsh. The Pentagon sat on a live grenade a little too eagerly. The tactical setting should have been: “Under the terms of the army contract, however, the devices will be used to create increased awareness of the area, to be able to see hostile actions before they could have normally been aware of them and to decrease the chance of civilian casualties through people caught in that area without any feasible option to avoid harm.” Basically the same setting yet phrased a little different (Microsoft knows all about phrasing, do they not? In addition, the entire quote “The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game’, further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed” is open for debate. When you fire and actual firearm, the noise, the blow back of the weapon, it will not feel like a video game, not in the least. I also have an issue with ‘is designed to help people kill‘, the device does not give you skills to kill, it does give the imagery that could avoid one getting killed in the process and that is still an important factor. Add to this the need to keep civilian casualties at zero whenever possible, the part that this enables if a clear stage that a better equipped soldier gets a better chance in keeping 100% of the civilians out of harm’s way. Interesting that these so called ethically high ground Microsoft employees never gave that much thought. Although, seeing my Xbox One icon bar where 50% is used for advertisement as well as the push for more subscriptions is also an ethical debate, especially when the person who paid for a gaming console has no way of switching that part off. In that frame of mind, the Microsoft employees are actively promoting psychic assault, did they consider that part?

I wonder just how convoluted a person needs to be to walk away from half a billion dollars, a device that could save lives, it is interesting that that was a side that no one gave any attention to (media wise that is).

I am not stating that there is a negative side to this device that would be ludicrous as well. Yet if DARPA had not gone to the length it did to get us in 1970 ‘ARPANET, a pioneering network for sharing digital resources among geographically separated computers‘, we would not have the internet and we would not have e-commerce, did they consider that?

These Holo-Lenses might start in defence, yet they can go so much further. Rescue operations (finding life signs in natural or unnatural disasters), medical solutions that give surgeons direct layered information during an operation. In a large hospital not a big thing, but in small rural places, it will be a life saver. All issues that cannot come because these places do not have the billions needed to fund it, the military does and the visionary on these projects can see what else it can be used for. So when we get a couple of Microsoft sissies cry for a ‘ethics review board‘, they should consider the millions that do not want to face forced advertisement on the device they bought, or a diminished device that requires all kinds of accessories and storage to be regarded as actually functional. Their consumers have rights too, but that is apparently not in their frame of mind.

It seems to me that Microsoft has two filters, one for when things are really good and when for when that is not the case. It does fit the style of the military (making them a good match) where clothing is only available in two sizes, too large and too small. Go figure!

Have a great Friday! (60 hours until Monday morning)

 

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Facebook Folly and 5G

There was an article in the Guardian last Thursday. I had initially ignored it for all the usual reasons, yet when I sat down this morning, there was something that made me take another look and the article is actually a lot more important than most people would think. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/31/apple-facebook-campus-permissions-revoked-teens-access-data-iphone-app) named ‘Apple leaves Facebook offices in disarray after revoking app permissions‘ shows a different side that goes a lot further than merely Facebook. We see this with: “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organisation. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple”, this statement alone shows the failing of their legal department, as well as their senior board that works under the strict sense of assumptions. We see this not merely with ‘Facebook had allegedly exploited a loophole in Apple’s approval system to bypass rules that banned the harvesting of data about what apps are installed on a user’s phone.‘ We see another level when we reconsider “Facebook Research, an app the company paid users as young as 13 to install that routed their iPhone traffic through the company’s own servers“. This is not merely about hijacking data; it is about the fact that both the IOS and Android paths are a little too transparent. Academically speaking it would be possible for Apple to distribute a similar app guiding Android people to the IOS data path.

The fact that we now see that others are affected through: “According to an internal memo, obtained by Business Insider, apps including Ride, which lets employees take shuttles between buildings on the company’s sprawling campus, and Mobile Home, an employee information portal, were down“. And it is not merely the Guardian, the Apple Insider gives us: “A report from December claimed Facebook had made special data sharing arrangements with other tech companies, enabling Facebook to collect more data on its users generated on Apple devices, without either Apple or the users’ permission or knowledge.” This now gives the setting that Facebook is getting desperate, when any company needs to rely on Data snooping to keep their momentum up that is the moment we see that any tower, data based or not will fall over.

Part of that came from an article last December giving us: “A damning report on Tuesday provides further details on Facebook’s shady data sharing practices, already under intense scrutiny for the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, suggesting the social media giant enabled Apple devices to surreptitiously collect information about users without their — or apparently Apple’s — knowledge” and the nightmare scenario is not merely that Facebook is gathering data, it is the ‘data sharing‘ part and more important, who it is shared with. This has over the last two months changed my position from waiting what is actually afoot into investigation into actively prosecute Facebook for their actions.

I am certain that the prosecution goes nowhere, mainly because the legal departments allowed for the loopholes to get into position in the first place. It enables the train of thought on how involved Apple was in all that. That train of thought continues when we revisit the Apple Insider quote: “It was revealed yesterday Facebook paid users $20 to sideload a VPN onto their devices, allowing the social network to monitor what participants aged 17 to 35 did online. Claimed to be a “social media research study,” the Facebook Research iOS app took advantage of Apple’s Enterprise Developer Certificates to allow the apps to be distributed separately from the main App Store, as well as effectively providing root access to a user’s device.” In all this the legal teams did not consider the usage and installation of linked VPN applications? Is that not weird?

Bloomberg is trying to water down the event with “Facebook seems clearly to have earned its latest privacy black eye, but it’s important not to overstate what’s going on here. This is essentially a contract dispute“, is it? It seems that the users are victims of deceptive conduct; it seems to me that root access clearly implies that all data and content of the mobile device was made available to Facebook, was that ever clearly communicated to the users installing that?

It is my sincere belief that this was never ever done. So as Bloomberg in trying to add more water to the wine with “Apple’s concern about it’s “users and their data” might well be sincere, but this particular dispute isn’t about the fact that Facebook collected user data; it’s about the way that Facebook collected user data.” Here we see more than merely deceptive conduct, or to use the quote: “I’m not suggesting that what Facebook has done isn’t serious. But neither is it the end of user privacy as we know it“. You see, when you had over root access it means that you had over everything and at that point you have revoked your own right to privacy. And at the top of the watering down of wine, making it impossible to distinguish between the taste of either we see: “But users seemed to know what they were getting into — and were also paid for the privilege“, likely to be Bloomberg foulest statement of the day. Not only do they knowingly hide behind ‘seemingly’ they know for certain that no one will ever knowingly and willingly hand over root access to an unknown third party. It also tends to introduce security flaws to any phone it was installed to, when exactly were the users informed of that part?

So whilst we get another version of: “Twenty dollars per month might not sound like a lot to, say, the typical Bloomberg reader. So imagine Facebook instead had promised one free local Uber ride per month” you all seemingly forget about the international community, who like all others will never get to cash in on those events, or paid responses or alleged dollars for donuts deals. That becomes for the most direct profit for Facebook, access without a fee, how many of those people were part of that event?

Cnet phrases it a lot better with: “I think it’s highly unlikely that the vast majority of the people who went through this whole process really knew the kind of power they were giving Facebook when they clicked OK to install this (app),“, which we see (at https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-shuts-down-ios-research-app-it-used-to-access-user-data/) by Bennett Cyphers, a staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

And that is not the only part, not when we enlarge the circle. Two days ago, my predictions become fact after the Sydney Morning Herald gives us: ‘Optus concedes 5G service without best technology after Huawei ban‘, which is awesome, as the IP I came up with does not affect either and allows for Global Huawei (or Google) continued growth. So as we are treated to: “”From a pure technology perspective, Huawei is probably ahead of the other three “Mr Lew said after Optus unveiled plans for a $70-a-month unlimited service with guaranteed minimum speeds of 50Mbps. “But what we’ve got from the other suppliers will enable us to provide a globally competitive service.”” This is actually a lot more important than you think, when mobile app users seek the fastest solution, the more bang per gigabyte, the Huawei solution was essential in all this. So as Optus chief executive Allen Lew now concedes that those not using Huawei technology will be second best in the game at best, my solution will set a new level of e-commerce and information on a global scale and all I asked for was $25M upfront and 10% of the patents, the rest was for Google (or Huawei). It is a great deal for them and a really nice deal for me to, a win-win-win, because the consumer and SMB communities will equally profit. I merely circumvented paths that were not strictly legally required; merely a second tier to equal the first tier and when the speed map drives us forward, the players using second rate materials will end up losing customers like nothing they have ever seen. It’s good to use political short sighted policies against them. So whilst the world is listening on how Apple and Facebook values are affected, no one is properly looking on how Huawei and Google have a much clearer playing field on how 5G can be innovated for the consumers and small businesses. It will be on them to restart economies and they will. They are moving from ‘Wherever the consumer is‘ to ‘Whenever the consumer wants it‘, the systems are there and ready to be switched on, which will be disastrous for many wannabe 5G players. I am giving a speculative part now. I predict that Huawei holding players will be able to gain speed over all others by 0.01% a day when they go life. This implies that within 6 months after going life they can facilitate 2% better than the others and within a year is double that. These are numbers that matter, because that means that the businesses depending on speed will vacate to the better provider a hell of a lot faster than with other players. This effect will be seen especially in the Middle East and Europe. And before you start screaming ‘Huawei’ and ‘security threat’ consider that the entire Facebook mess was happening under the noses of that so called cyber aware place America. It happened under their noses and they were seemingly unaware (for the longest of time), so as security threats go, they are more clueless than most others at present. It boils down to the boy howling Huawei, whilst his sheep are getting eaten by fellow shepherds, that is what is at stake and it shows just how delusional the Huawei accusations have been form many nations. How many of them were aware of the Facebook data syphoning actions?

This gives us the final part where we see the growth of Huawei as we see ‘Saudi-based Telco opens joint ICT Academy with Huawei‘, you might not find it distinct and that is fine, yet this is the same path Cisco took a decade ago to grow the size it has now and it was an excellent example for Huawei to adopt. The middle East is the global 5G growth center and with Qatar 2022 introducing maximised 5G events, we will see that Huawei took the better path, feel free to disagree and rely on AT&T and their 5G Evolution, yet when you learn the hard way that it is merely 4G LTE and now that we also see that ‘Verizon likely halting its ‘5G Home’ service roll-out after test cities, waiting for 5G hardware to actually exist‘, we see the events come into play as I have said it would, America is lagging and it is now likely to lag between 12 and 18 months at the very least, so whilst the world is starting their 5G solutions, America gets to watch from the sidelines, how sad it all is, but then they could still intervene into the Facebook events. They are not likely to do so as they do not see that as a ‘security threat‘. So as we are given: “As reported by VentureBeat, Verizon has detailed that it won’t have true 5G hardware for its 5G Home service ready until later this year. That means expansion to more markets beyond Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Houston won’t be likely until the second half of 2019“, how many people have figured out that ‘expansion to more markets beyond Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Houston‘ implies the largest part of the USA and they are not up for anything before 2020 (and that is me being optimistic).

It is he direct impact of a stupid policy, which in the end was not policy at all, it was merely stupid and we all get to witness the impact and the carefully phrased political denials linked to all that; funny how evidence can be used to sink a politician.

This reminds me of my blog of August 2018 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/08/23/liberalism-overboard/) where I opened the premise of “the topic would be ‘How to assassinate a politician‘“, I should sell it to Alibaba Pictures or Netflix, it could be my Oscar moment (and cash in the wallet). So, it is true, political folly is good for the wallet, who would have thunk it?

 

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Plan(e)s of deception

We have been on the 5G track for a while and now, as players have been very adamant of taking the wind out of the sails of Huawei, we need to realise what they have, or merely what they have left. So to play nice with the Americans (and a few other governments), we have been drowning in all these new 5G devices, and close to exactly 2018 years after a girl named Mary forked out a little bub named Jesus of Nazareth, we were treated to all kinds of news like ‘New evidence confirms Samsung’s 5G smartphone for Verizon, codename Bolt‘, it seems that the writer Cosmin Vasile was on the ball, and I stipulate only seemed to be. For a former PR person claiming to be a tech journalist we gave him an initial pass. And when he gives us “However, Verizon announced early this month that it has teamed with Samsung to release a 5G smartphone in the United States in the first half of 2019. Now, we have more info that confirms the carrier’s statement” we get the image that there is something happening. It is only now that content creator Joshua Swingle gives us ‘Verizon’s 5G Samsung “Bolt” is actually a mobile hotspot, not a phone‘, so there we see the two parts that matter the most. The first “In actuality, Samsung’s upcoming device is a battery-powered mobile 5G hotspot. At the moment, details are pretty scarce, but a pair of Wi-Fi certifications (via VentureBeat) suggest there are two variants under development right now with the model numbers SM-V570N and SM-V570V“, and the second is “The Verizon model, on the other hand, makes use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 modem. This means it’ll be compatible with the radio frequencies used by the carrier for 5G in the US. While “Bolt” may not be the 5G smartphone everyone was expecting, Verizon customers won’t be missing out on anything. The number one carrier is still expected to offer a compatible version of Samsung’s 5G Galaxy S10 model when it launches“, the problem is that both sources are relying on Verizon to honestly inform them and that is where the problem starts, Verizon is in over their heads plain and simple. It is up against AT&T who rebranded some version of 4G as ‘5G Evolution’ and they are up against Huawei who is a lot more advanced at present, whether or not in America, others can judge Verizon for lagging behind foreign providers soon enough and that amounts to a multi-billion dollar fiasco. In addition, USA Today is giving the people “top executives from wireless powerhouses Verizon and AT&T will give keynote speeches where they are expected to outline why 5G will change the world. Both have launched limited 5G service in select cities, as consumers await the release of mass-market phones that can access the faster 5G signals. The talk will continue to heat up in February in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress show, where more manufacturers are expected to show off new 5G phones“, we can argue how valid ‘limited 5G’ is, and whether it is actually a valid version of 5G, but that is a debate for later time.

The issue of Verizon becomes more apparent when we consider GSM Arena, which in the past was a really reliable site (and it might still be), however (at https://www.gsmarena.com/there_could_be_as_many_as_five_galaxy_s10_models_lite_vanilla_plus_and_two_5g_ones-news-34909.php), we clearly see the S10 Bolt as a 5G mobile phone. I am willing to accept that GSM Arena is working on good faith with supplied information, in all this we need to wonder whether it is Verizon handing different sources different information, especially in light of: “the Beyond Bolt (Galaxy S10 Bolt) will be a Verizon-exclusive (and will feature a larger battery, though exact numbers are unknown at this point)“, which seen against Venturebeat (at https://venturebeat.com/2019/01/04/samsung-bolt-gets-wi-fi-certification-as-a-5g-hotspot-not-a-galaxy-phone/) where the people get: ‘Samsung Bolt gets Wi-Fi certification as a 5G hotspot, not a Galaxy phone‘, even as we cannot state for certainty how this all started, it seems that there is a clear path of deceptive conduct on a few levels. The entire deception part becomes more polarised when we look at Tom’s Guide who gives us “The fifth device will be known as the Galaxy S10 Bolt, Dutch blog TechTastic is reporting, citing sources. It’s unclear exactly how it’ll get its name, but some important features might tell the story. For one, it’ll work over 5G, allowing you to access the ultra-fast network in areas where it’s available this year. Additionally, Samsung will bundle a larger battery in the Bolt, according to the report. Lastly, it’ll be exclusive to Verizon.” The story (at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/samsung-galaxy-s10-bolt,news-28967.html) gives us a Dutch blogger as the source and they all repeat one another, so as Venturebeat is opening the eyes of many, we see that this game of deception is played on a much larger stage, optionally implying that Samsung and Verizon are working together to create visibility by trying to take it away from Huawei (which in the end is a valid marketing ploy).

It is Forbes that give us clarity by not giving us any. It makes sense and when we see: “both Verizon and AT&T have announced a partnership with Samsung to deliver a ‘5G Galaxy smartphone’ in the first half of 2019. And yes, we know exactly what this is. “5G is going to be about more than just a network. Customers will eventually be able to connect in near real-time to unforeseen possibilities,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. “Together with Samsung, we plan to bring the best in technology and innovation to our customers. The future we imagine with 5G is just beginning, and it is a great time to be a consumer.”” Forbes gave us the goods, as others are talking about the 5G Bolt part, Forbes gives us David Christopher who is seemingly informing us on how great it is to be a consumer, he leaves out the part where the consumers are getting misinformed. For the most we want to blame bloggers and technology reporters validly hiding behind words like ‘likely’ and ‘we expect to see’. Yet until the official unveiling in Spain at the end of February we will not actually know what is real and what is not.

So how come that they all got it wrong?

Well, they all merely seem to mimic and user each other as sources, propelling the fable forward (as I personally see it), Venturebeat did their homework and gives us (at https://www.wi-fi.org/product-finder-results?sort_by=certified&sort_order=desc&keywords=SM-V570V,SM-V570&companies=362) the certification sources. There we see (see image) and more important, we see that both are: ‘Category: Mobile Access Point (battery powered)‘, there we see the adults and the children separated, from what I can tell Venturebeat did its homework, the rest got used as the tools they seemingly are.

Is that fair?

That remains to be seen, unless we see at the end of February that Samsung is revealing an actual S10 bolt as a 5G mobile phone, these writers were tools to be used for the entertainment of Verizon, to create a marketing hype on a false product, if there is an actual S10 bolt being released, it also implies Samsung to be part of all this. You see, you do not give two different devices the same name that is a marketing no-no on a very high level. So far we have seen the actions by AT&T and now Verizon as well to be hiding behind the ‘be first’ tactic and not actually being there. It is as I wrote yesterday (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/01/04/dianhua-x2-xinche-xing/), “these players are putting it all one the table, betting everything they have to make a 5G turnaround whilst there is more than one indicating chance that this will falter. That is the gambling stage and all this is done without realising that Huawei does not need to bet, they merely have to deliver what they are promising making the others fold, losing it all over hardware that they cannot provide, or even better are already failing to manufacture“, and by the way, my premise was supported by quotes in the Wall Street Journal, and a few other highly respectable publications on the global scale, I knew what I was looking into. I partially hoped to have been wrong, yet less than 24 hours later we see additional sources merely proving my point. In addition, PC Magazine gives us only 9 hours ago (at https://www.pcmag.com/news/365649/surecalls-5g-booster-cant-extend-at-t-verizon): “AT&T is flat-out calling gigabit 4G “5GE.” Real 5G—5G NR—is coming on a range of frequency bands up and down the spectrum, with the first round of 5G phones and hotspots only supporting some of them“, as well as “Those bands, called millimeter wave, are what Verizon and AT&T are launching first, and they provide tremendous speeds but at very limited range. Unfortunately, the FCC hasn’t even set the rules for millimeter-wave boosters yet, according to SureCall CEO Hongtao Zhan, so those will probably come next year. “I don’t believe we’re the bottleneck of this. There’s no rule, there’s no standard, there’s nothing,” he says. Millimeter-wave boosters can’t be built yet, but Zhan says that’s where we’re really going to need boosters. Millimeter-wave frequencies have trouble penetrating walls. “There will be zero signal inside your buildings; it’s going to be horrible. Something has to be done to solve that problem”“, so not only is 5G a mess, there will seemingly be no reception in the building, so why buy into 5G for now? And is it not interesting that the consumer is mostly unaware to all this? In support we also get: “In my experience, he’s 80 percent right. Verizon has shown me millimeter-wave signal penetrating at least somewhat into buildings, but it drops off pretty quickly. There will definitely need to be some sort of in-building booster for millimeter wave, if the carriers want that frequency’s advantages to work inside.” All that information is missing form so many sources. At least, for me personally there is an upside, with all these additional needs, the need (and value) for my IP is growing close to exponentially, so I feel decent for now. Yet, the people who seem to adhere to David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment and his view of “a great time to be a consumer” with all the non-given information, at what point will we use these publications to start up class actions against certain players to get 100% refund on hardware we get to keep? What level of punitive damages with the US courts and other courts define as ‘non damage’ and therefor non claimable just to keep AT&T and Verizon afloat?

America is all about suing people, not about holding them accountable and that is something we might see change in 2019, the entire 5G mess is becoming a plane of deception giving rise to certain people and their plans of deception to keep the interest focussed away from other players in this field. And that is not even the start of the failing we see in the US, according to the Gulf Times (at https://www.gulf-times.com/story/617959/Vodafone-one-of-the-first-to-go-live-with-5G-comme) where we see: “From today, GBI will be the first entity to be commercially connected to Vodafone’s 5G network. Moreover, Vodafone Qatar will be the first to commercially connect several consumer customers to its 5G network across Doha starting today. “We are proud to have been the first company to experience the power of Vodafone’s 5G network and now look forward to benefit from it commercially to enhance our operations. We congratulate Vodafone on officially receiving its 5G licence and extend our full support in the journey to accelerate the country towards becoming one of the most technologically advanced in the world,” said Abdulla al-Ruwali, GBI executive director and managing director“, and it is not AT&T, or Verizon. It is Vodafone of all places that has switched it on, completely licensed. Now, this is merely one source, although I got it via Reuters, there are optionally still issues in place and the debate is not over, but there you have it, the US claiming all kinds of stuff and the 5G trophy goes to the Middle East, how is that for a reality check?

The 5G market is a Wild West stage and now we see (or are implied to be notified of the fact) that the camel jockeys and not the cowboys (or Indians for that matter) that seemingly take the victory cake home for now.

 

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Warring consoles

There are a few wars to look at, but the setting for the consoles is one that is shifty as hell. I have been outspoken against a certain brand whose name starts with ‘M‘ and ends with ‘icrosoft‘ for a few reasons, but that is not what it is about. It starts with the Sato. A writer for Siliconera giving us the sales of consoles for last week. The systems that matter for the week of 10th to the 16th of September in this are Nintendo Switch that sold 38,738 consoles, down from 43,513 last week. The PS4 12,057 down from 12,281 last week, the Xbox One 58, up from 19 last week, the PS4 pro 4,959 down from 7,442 and the Xbox One X 159 up from 30 last week (Japanese sales numbers). So we can go with the fact that Microsoft is the only one on the rise. We can go with the optional truth that Microsoft consoles (plural) merely represent 0.5% of the Nintendo Switch sales. I did not even consider News Nintendo DS systems in all this, the number would become laughingly small (and blow away whenever you open a window), if it has not done that already. Microsoft Xbox One systems are a mere 3% of the PlayStation 4 systems and that is not a good thing either (for Microsoft that is). Yet we must also acknowledge that Nintendo is a force of nature at present. You see, at present the Nintendo Switch might merely be at 45% of all the PS4 systems sold (normal and Pro), the fact that they did this in under 2 years is an amazing achievement and there is no stopping Nintendo. I expect that they will break additional records at both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year (as well as the Saint Nicholas festivities in one or two places).

It goes even further when we see the Nintendo games exploding on the screens when it comes to the revenue. This year alone, the revenue for Nintendo went up by a cool 100% to a net value of almost 10 billion dollars, that is a massive achievement in gaming and their growth is still enduring. With online play being free and Fortnite still on the rise and with 30 titles still arriving before the end of the year. It seems to me that Nintendo figured something out and Microsoft is paying a high price for the wisdom gained (Sony gets hurt too but much less).

So whilst Xbox UK is still hiding behind what I would clearly define as ‘deceptive conduct’, they might think that it is ‘innovative thinking’ we are merely confronted with a once growing game maker that is now becoming obsolete in its thinking.

So why deceptive conduct?

You see, the people were confronted with a tweet a mere three days ago. The tweet: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, yet when we read down the tweets, we see the hitch. We see: “If you already own them – no need to buy again! Just download or put the disc in, and away you go“, news that is 2 years old and we are still confronted with a digital department that just does not get it. They did not tell us “We have upgraded our backwards compatibility program to 500+ games“, no that would be too honest. No we get: “Play 500+ Classic Xbox & Xbox 360 titles on your Xbox One today… totally for free“, it is not merely deceptive conduct, it is what I would personally call an open blatant lie. You see: “totally for free” would have been the setting if pre-owning the game was not a requirement, so some purchase was required, giving the setting one that is a an outright lie, as I personally see it.

Getting back to the sales I mentioned earlier, we need to realise that this is not global. The numbers come from merely a Japanese source, sales in Japan. Yet the setting is still clear (to some degree), Nintendo is here to stay and it is growing its influence on a global scale and when we see the mere achievement of 58 Xbox One systems over a week in a nation that is around 130 million people, whilst some sources give us that 50% of them are into gaming. We do not have a comprehensive data file that gives us a more complete picture. Yet we see that there are around 700 million online gamers, which is well over 40% of the online population, when you consider that, we see that the numbers and the setting is massively important. Venturebeat gave us in the past that spend per person is Japan (#1) with $120 per person, the US (#3) with $62 the UK and Australia in 4th and 5th, whilst they are on equal footing with $62 and $55 per person. So at that point do you still think that all this misrepresented loot box mess is merely about gambling? So when we were given: ‘Australian Senate inquiry extended after study calls loot boxes ‘psychologically akin to gambling’‘ merely three days ago as well as both “The Australian Senate inquiry into micro-transactions is taking into consideration a large-scale study that claims “loot boxes” are psychologically akin to gambling“, as well as “The paper is the result of a paid online survey among 7422 gamers. Curiously, over 6000 responses to the survey were discarded because the answers were either not serious or incomplete“, which is interesting because I never saw that link in any place and I have been a gamer since 1984, long before the word ‘gamer’ was cool. The article is actually good and gives us one part that I can stand behind: “recommends adjustments to the current game classification system advising “parental advisories for games that feature loot boxes” as well as “a descriptor outlining that the game itself features gambling content”“. I would be willing to take it one step further. I would demand that there are two additional parts. The first is that there needs to a clear path where we can earn loot boxes for free (not unlike the Mass Effect 3 setting), in addition we need to see a clear sticker on the front of the box stating that ‘no loot boxes are required to play or complete the game‘ Several games have clearly stated that in the past, yet adding this on the front of the cover is not the worst idea.

I still disagree that it is gambling, yet having a clear mention that loot boxes are set to chance and optionally the chances of getting a certain rarity is not the worst idea either. And in all this, the console war is now setting to a much larger stage, even as they all (partially correctly) point their finger at EA Games. Ubisoft has unlockable content (at a price as well, yet they ALWAYS clearly stated ‘this item can be unlocked through regular gameplay‘ as well. So it is not immoral that they offer it as an initial unlock for $5, it merely shows us that that person is not really a gamer, merely a player.

In this there is more to Ubisoft; it is clearly seen in their Assassins Creed games. Going back to Assassins Creed 2, they had the Ubiclub. You can buy things there. Unlocking premiums and extra’s (skins, backgrounds, outfits and weapons), to buy them you play the games and when you get to a stage, like completing a set of conditions, making it to a certain point in the game you get points, these points re kept in you profile and you can unlock them for any Ubisoft game you have, giving you more and more by merely playing. It opens up the need to complete, the drive to achieve and the option to get cool things. Here I clearly state: ‘Well done Ubisoft!‘ and this is still an ongoing stage with badges and cool stuff with every additional game that they release. So as I state that loot boxes are not gambling, I am for the most not against the setting: ‘Study urges games with Loot Boxes to be Restricted to Players old enough to Gamble‘, which is not the same. The question is not merely on how to check it; the issue will soon be that abuse is harder to check. Even if they cannot be merely bought online, even when the loot box cash needs to be bought in the store, we will see the irresponsible act of the parent giving in to ‘junior’ buying more and more loot boxes. It is important to raise the issue as more and more consoles are confronted with games that depend on loot boxes, and that is not nearly the beginning. We see part of this in Eurogamer (at https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2018-07-23-fifa-player-uses-gdpr-to-find-out-everything-ea-has-on-him-realises-hes-spent-over-usd10-000-in-two-years-on-ultimate-team), when we are given “Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data, FIFA 18 stats, device information and more than 10 audio files (these are recordings of his calls to EA support). It also included details of every player Michael bought and sold over the past two years in FUT“, so beyond the setting of “EA also provided data relating to how much real world money (in dollars) Michael had spent on FIFA Points, and he told Eurogamer he was “gobsmacked” to discover he’d spent over $10,000 in just two years“. Apart from the fact that you are losing your screws, the mere fact that you are not aware wasting cash to such a degree is one part, yet in this, the part that everyone ignores is “30 days later, Michael was sent a data dump by EA via two PDF files each over 100 pages long. This amounted to a huge number of files, which include engagement data“. I never played FIFA, yet when Microsoft remained in denial that 5 GB in 10 days was uploaded without my consent or knowledge into the Azure cloud, they merely pointed at the internet provider and stated that this is their responsibility (whilst I had not played any multiplayer games), and now we see what EA collects, in all this, the collected data is not an issue in any of this?

And the console wars are not done, not by a close margin. This goes beyond which system is popular, with system has loot boxes. This is about data and with all these systems being online and optionally ending up collecting personal data, there is a larger for not merely gamers and players. It is about classifying people and the setting of how bankable have we become? We saw this a few months ago with ‘Esports streamers and gamers are among the most bankable influencers, pitching to a new generation of consumers that don’t track traditional‘, it is about finding money people, those who propel the brand and when we realise that we seem to have a few additional problems and the fact that no attention is given to that part in the equation is equally a problem.

 

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In Media, we distrust!

Is it not a lovely day when you wake up, you go downstairs and if it is warm enough, likely in nothing more than a simple bathrobe you sit down. At this point, whether it is inside, or outside, you get the first start of the day with coffee and the newspaper. For most people, that part had been for a long time a slice of heaven.

We would go through the news whilst sipping tea or coffee (in my case the latter). What if I told you that these times are now forever a thing of the past?

My reasoning? For this I will go over each case in three parts. First the point I make, then the reasoning for that point and lastly the motive I personally think is behind that. I would like to add sources, but at times there are little to none and it is all based on common sense.

First there is no need to rehash the entire Leveson history. That reports was made and filed and suddenly the press was all uppity uppity on ‘the freedom of speech’ and how their rights are now no more.

Let us take a look at this part.

1. How often does the press report on privacy violations by large companies like Microsoft?

Answer: almost never. I found one article by the guardian, and a few by what we would normally all less reliable sources. (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/30/microsoft-privacy-chief-nsa)

Motive: The publications rely on big business (advertisements). It relies less on governments as their form of income and in addition, government is always seeking visibility, big business brings in money. In this situation I personally think that the press seems to be willing to ‘ignore‘ or whisper very softly certain events.

How about Microsoft HealthVault?

They state: “Privacy, It’s your HealthVault account. You decide who can see, use, add, and share info, and which health apps have access to it. HealthVault won’t provide your health information to any other app or service without your permission.

Venturebeat had the following interesting quotes “For instance, Microsoft reserves the right to store your medical data offshore, in countries that may not have the same privacy protections as the U.S.

HealthVault appears to open the door to a potentially unlimited line of people, entities or programs that can obtain permission to read and alter your health information, since it’s possible to delegate the ability to grant those permissions to others.” If did find a few mentions by CBS and ZDNET, yet the papers (the big ones) did not show up in any search. Even though this issue is not that recent, it is still interesting that the big ones aren’t anywhere near this place.

If we consider that this means that if an insurer gets access to this, then the smallest visit to the hospital could result in an increase to your premium. This is all linked to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996. There we find that the HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates the disclosure of Protected Health Information held by what we would call “covered entities” (employer sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers that engage in certain health transactions.) By regulation, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the HIPAA privacy rule to independent contractors of covered entities who fit within the definition of “business partners”.

So, if these contractors are outside of the national borders, your health data goes into several other directions too.

Consider that we volunteer this and other personal data to Microsoft (your Skype, your software, your Microsoft devices and your browser). How long until you represent a Z-Value? Not before too long, you are diminished to several Z-Values, and as your value depletes to below the norm, what options will remain for you?

Yet, the press seems to banter again and again on NSA and GCHQ. The question becomes, whether the press is nothing more than a simple tool to make us look the wrong way, whilst big business has a free go at us and our personal details.

I do not claim to know what the actual truth is here, but I do know that the press has not been focusing on the wider truth and reality too much lately. That is something that becomes slightly more visible when we read Claire Fox in her smug article (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/leveson-has-done-his-damnedest-to-encourage-press-regulation-despite-his-protestations-8874676.html)

When you hear the actual response by his Lordship in regards to WHY he felt it was inappropriate to answer, Claire just trivialises it in the air of “that he would not play ball“. Let us not forget that it is her right to see things in the way she did, I will not attack that, but this situation left me with question marks on how far ‘misrepresentation‘ goes at present.

So if big business is protected through non-visibility, then why don’t we just get rid of all journalists and rely on bloggers? The digital world is ready for it all, journalists no longer seem to be truly ‘story‘ driven, when the bulk hang on the usual GCHQ drab anyone can get from Reuters and the bulk of the big business transgressions remain on blogs, I wonder where the journalistic pride and ethics remained as they claim their part in their need for ‘freedom‘.

2. How will many protect their children and finances if visibility remains low on issues that have an impact? Many PC’s and tablets get linked to games that are ‘proclaimed’ to be free. Yet, when you want to move forward, you can pay for additional options.

The BBC covered this on September 25th (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24272010). The Guardian seemed to have covered the same story and that is pretty much it. So why is there not a lot more visibility?

I had a look at a program called ‘Dragon Story‘. It looks nice, it is a little non-adult, but it has a few original sides. You can breed two dragons together and they leave an egg. You can hatch that egg and get a new different dragon. You can buy many of them, or if you take the time breed your collection. This is all pretty original. The dragons in their habitats collect money and that money can be used to grow your area. Yet, the part not shown is that some dragons are rare, some habitats (larger ones) are expensive. Smaller habitats can be bought with coins, but the larger ones must be bought with gold. That costs actual money. A child can without realising it spend $20 per habitat, some dragons; the really rare ones cost $50. So in 30 seconds a child can spend more money than a full version of Grand Theft Auto costs. It is clear that actions can be taken to prevent some damage, but the visibility is not there. Why?

In reflection upon ‘Dragon Story’, an addictive game named ‘Blockheads’ (a 2-d version of Minecraft) can also be downloaded for free, and you can buy an upgrade so that all actions go twice as fast. The price, $5! Now an additional option can be bought for $3, so that the player can play in higher resolution, a total of $8 for something that need not be bought, the choice is up to the player. THAT is what I call an excellent approach!

So where is the press here?

It cannot be for the lack of ‘public’ interest, as the tablet market in the UK alone is soaring towards 190 million owners this year. That is more than the total global owner base of the PlayStation 2 used to be (which was 150 million). So, one could say that tablet issues should be at the top of every newspaper. The Google search seemed to contradict this (I had to start somewhere).

So when we look at these heated arguments on the freedom of the press, we should be asking ourselves what they are complaining about. Freedom is nice, but when they relate it to the limits of their cubicle we get to miss a lot of information, the press and especially their editors should realise that.

In my view, to the extent I had read the Leveson report, I saw it not as an attack on the freedom of the press, but on the ‘enforcement’ of ethics and accountability. Those two are elements in any form of Journalism. For I am never against the freedom of the press, I do think that some acts require accountability. The hollow phrase ‘the people have a right to know’ lost its value when some used it to tabloid away all levels of privacy. Crashing a funeral less than two weeks ago by the Daily Mail is an excellent example of that. I do wonder whether all this is just about the journalists, or was the Leveson escalation due to a failing by the editors to keep a proper pulse of the journo’s they are supposed to mentor. To that I have no honest answer; there are too many murky facts in the open.

The PRESS fallout has been a long one and we are not there yet!

 

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