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Dark Friday

There was an article last Friday. I knew it was bogus from my point of view, so I waited until the end of that event (actually this is the last day). It starts with the sub line, which gives us ‘Brands, activists and charities are questioning the annual consumer feeding frenzy‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/23/has-the-backlash-to-black-friday-already-started), it was the undertone that made me wonder and even as I knew it was from my point of view a bogus article, I waited to see how it unfurled. And behold, hallelujah, someone states the stupid part and my case is won. It is seen with: “The whole Black Friday thing is fake and customers are getting wise to it,” said FatFace boss Anthony Thompson. “Bigger brands and retailers should look very hard at what they are doing. They are damaging the high streets and local independent traders who can’t compete with these fake promotions and customers are getting ripped off.”” I am certain that Anthony is a driven ideologist towards his own brand and we cannot fault him for that. You see clothing, shoes and other temporary items dread these sales moments as it undermines their bottom dollar, they need their margins and for them Black Friday is a problem, yet it is not something fake. It has become something real, it always was real, yet now it impacts people to a much larger degree. I remember last year, I got Assassins Creed Origin with statue for well over 55% off. What was $199 was offered at that point for a mere $85, so that was a real saving. There was more at that point, and I got one or two additional things. I believe it was Nioh, with season pass and all extra’s for $24, a bargain if ever there was one. this year my budget is strapped, so I have to forego Black Sunday this year around, which is a shame, because getting yourself a nice Christmas present 4 weeks early with 50% or more off is a huge deal. That is also the impact of Black Friday; it is close to Christmas for all those people doing their Christmas shopping early. A Xbox One S for $299 (+ games) is a real deal and those who have the old Xbox, it is also a nice step up and that is beside the point that the slimline Colgate white One S is actually really pretty to see, there is no denying that. Loads of places give 20% of TV’s, Camera’s and laptops, so at that point getting the device that is on its last legs a quick replacement is a good option to have.

Nothing fake about this moment and we all need it, even as some people are in denial (especially Anthony Thompson), most of us have too small a budget, we cannot afford to get the nice things as the cost of living all over the world keeps on going up and there is less cash to go around for other things. At that point the Black Friday is a blessing. Especially for parents, most kids desire a console, or perhaps a new mobile. At that point 20% makes a dent in that bill and even as some parents give the present early stating no bog presents at Christmas, for these kids Christmas came early and they are all so happy. It also applies to adults, especially when we take a look at Applewear and Fitbit deals, there were plenty.

Yet there is nothing fake about other venues either. When I see: “The Charities Aid Foundation is backing the UK’s efforts for global charity event Giving Tuesday on 27 November, which encourages people to do something for – or give something to – a charity they care about. Celebrities including blogger and Strictly Come Dancing participant Joe Sugg, Ricky Gervais and Martin Lewis are supporting the day which last year raised £213m online alone around the world” I see that there is reason to look in other directions too. I am a little amazed that there was no union. How would it be if a store on the Black Friday announces that any sale under $109 adds 50 cents to that charity and over $109 the send $1 that way. It could effectively add millions to such causes and that would be a reason to embrace Black Friday even more. Knowing that I was looking forward to this black Friday hoping that there was some cash left, I would not have whinged at the extra $1, even with a purchase of $85, the saving was already awesome and the extra dollar would not have dented it. So when I see this article, is it really about a missed opportunity for charities, or were some of the people at Charities Aid Foundation negligent to see if a deal could have been made with the thousands of retailers for those few extra coins for every visitor? There was even the chance that some of them would have been willing to add it that little extra to every deal they had, even more money lost out on.

There is a similar issue with the opinion piece by Stuart Jeffries where we see: ‘I’ve discovered the Joy of Missing Out. Black Friday isn’t for me‘. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/23/black-friday-joy-of-missing-out) an be seen in more than one way. Apart from the sensation of ‘Missing Out’ which tends to be a negative one. Like many other men, I do not really warm up to 50% fashion sales, unless I am in dire need of Jeans, Cargo Pants, Polo shirts or something like that. He takes us to an advertisement with: “Take the ad starring Martin Freeman for a mobile phone company. His train carriage is filled with boneheads staring into their handsets; even in the loo he finds the guard furtively watching something on his phone when he should be checking tickets. “What is wrong with you!” Freeman yells. And then a beat, before he realises that what’s wrong is him. He doesn’t have a two-year data deal to get unmissable TV, music, movies and sport promised in the voiceover. Freeman winces – and there it is, Fomo in the face“. I personally believe that contracts are for the most not a spur of the moment thing. They are long lasting and even as I had a great deal 2 years ago where I got an additional 200GB for $50 (considering that any gig over quota gets rewarded with $10 to the bill, $50 is a steal any given day. We need to think long term when we sign up to those deals. It will impact long term, yet getting a console, a game, movies or perhaps even a TV is a short term impact and 30% of a 65” 4K TV is actual money for savings. These are things you do not normally buy, so getting them in January or February when all the sales are on is the time to get them, now Black Friday changed that by offering a similar deal just before Christmas and people are getting in line a year ahead to see what else is getting the large write-off. We have to as it is almost the only moment when we have the option to spend cash on something we normally cannot afford. It is at that point that we see that the article was stupid, hollow and misguided, especially when we realise the ‘customers are getting ripped off‘, how is 20%-30% discount ripping of customers?

As for the entire Charities Aid Foundation, we see another path, perhaps it was taken; I do not know that part. Yet the entire setting where I give the option of $1 (or £1) per sale and 50% of that if the amount was small would have made an extra mountain of cash for Charities Aid Foundation. Was that path taken? I guess not, but that would be speculation. From my point of view, even cash strapped when you gain (in my personal example) 114 coins of profit, handing one over to charity seems perfectly normal and it would be given when the savings were really nice, the impact would have been marginalised to zero. Not everyone can do this, but the bulk can and in that I do not see a ‘backlash to Black Friday‘, I merely see a ‘missed opportunity for the Charities Aid Foundation‘ and of course all other charities trying to get a few extra coins on November 27th. As I see it, giving Tuesday could have started early, optionally giving the premise for people to give one more coin on Tuesday too, so how much will be missed out on as we whinge in one direction whilst we all know that there are more and more people depending on this point in time to get something essential, something the budget does not allow for?

It is in that trend that I always look forward to Christmas dinner on December 27th when all the supermarkets are pricing their Turkeys and hams down by 60% or more, December 25th is merely 0.273% of a year. When you can do that (most atheists and agnostics can) does it really matter when you have an abundance of food as a meal? whether I do or do not does not matter, when our lives are set to strapping for a budget we look towards what the opportunities give us and it seems to me that for several players Black Friday ended up being a missed opportunity. I wonder if that book ‘The Joy of Missing Out: The Art of Self-Restraint in an Age of Excess‘ by professor Svend Brinkmann takes into consideration the timing of maximising one’s budget, and as it goes on sale in March 2019, at a time when there might still be book sales going on, so we can find out then.

I am curious, merely because the list of people getting to live a life of excess is actually dwindling down. Even as incomes are not the worst, some groceries (especially meat) went up by 12% last month, and when you consider that budgets are tight, 12% has an actual impact on people, especially in places like meat & milk, items most of us need on a daily basis.

Budgeting is becoming an art for many families and for them Black Friday is becoming an opportunity to put a dent in what is needed versus available funds, nothing to miss out on. So if we see the Charities Aid Foundation using next Black Friday to give a ramp towards Giving Tuesday, I would happily hand over those extra coins if I am able to participate in the Black Friday deal, we will see what happens on Black Friday 2019.

This is merely my view on the matter, feel free to oppose it.

 

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Deadlock removed

Forbes gave us news in several ways. It merely flared my nostrils for 0.337 seconds (roughly) and after that I saw opportunity knock. In all this Microsoft has been short-sighted for the longest of times and initially that case could be made in this instance too. Yet, I acknowledge that there is a business case to be made. The news on Forbes with the title ‘Why Microsoft ‘Confirmed’ Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/09/15/microsoft-windows-7-monthly-charge-windows-10-free-upgrade-cost-2) gives us a few parts. First there is “Using Windows 7 was meant to be free, but shortly after announcing new monthly charges for Windows 10, Microsoft confirmed it would also be introducing monthly fees for Windows 7 and “the price will increase each year”. Understandably, there has been a lot of anger“. There is also “News of the monthly fees was quietly announced near the bottom of a September 6th Microsoft blog post called “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”“, so it is done in the hush hush style, quietly, like thieves in the night so to say. In addition there is “Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, explained: “Today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year.” No pricing details were revealed“. This is not meant for the home users, it is the professional versions and enterprise editions, that is meant for volumes and large businesses. So they now get a new setting. Leaving pricing in the middle, in the air and unspoken will only add stress to all kinds of places, but not to fret.

It is a good thing (perhaps not for Microsoft). You see, just like the ‘always online’ folly that Microsoft pushed for with the Xbox, we now see that in the home sphere a push for change will be made and that is a good thing. We all still have laptops and we all still have our Windows editions, but we forgot that we had been lulled to sleep for many years and it is time to wake up. This is a time for praise, glory, joy and all kinds of positive parts. You see, Google had the solution well over 5 years ago, and as we are pushed for change, we get to have a new place for it all.

Introducing Google Chromebook

You might have seen it, you might have ignored it, but in the cast of it all. Why did you not consider it? Now, off the bat, it is clear if you have a specific program need, you might not have that option. In my case, I have no need for a lot of it on my laptop, yes to the desktop, but that is a different setting altogether.

So with a Chromebook, I get to directly work with Docs (Word), Sheets (Excel) and Slides (PowerPoint) and they read and export to the Microsoft formats (as well as PDF). There is Photos, Gmail, Contacts and Calendar, taking care of the Outlook part, even Keep (Notes), Video Calling and a host of other parts that Microsoft does not offer within the foundation of their Office range. More important, there is more than just the Google option. Asus has one with a card reader allowing you to keep your files on a SD card, and a battery that offers 7-10 hours, which in light of the Surface Go that in one test merely gave 5 hours a lot better and the Chromebook is there for $399, a lot cheaper as well. In this it was EndGadet that labelled it: ‘It’s not perfect, but it’s very close.

Asus has several models, so a little more expensive, but comes with added features. In the bare minimum version it does over 90% of whatever a student needs to do under normal conditions. It is a market that Microsoft could lose and in that setting lose a lot more than merely some users. These will be users looking for alternatives in the workplace, the optional setting for loss that Microsoft was unable to cope with; it will now be on the forefront of their settings. In my view the direct consequence of iterative thinking.

And in this it is not merely Asus in the race, HP has a competitive Chromebook, almost the same price, they do have a slightly larger option 14″ (instead of 11.9″) for a mere $100 more, which also comes with a stronger battery, and there is also Acer. So the market is there. I get it, for many people those with stronger database needs, those with accounting software needs, for them it is not an option and we need to recognise that too. Yet the fact that in a mobile environment I have had no need for anything Microsoft Specific and that there Surface Go is twice the price of a Chromebook, yet not offering anything I would need makes me rethink my entire Microsoft needs. In addition, I can get a much better performance out of my old laptop by switching to Linux, who has a whole range of software options. So whilst it has been my view that Microsoft merely pushed a technological armistice race for the longest time, I merely ignored them as my windows 7 did what it needed to do and did it well, getting bullied into another path was never my thing, hence I am vacating to another user realm, a book with a heart of Chrome. So whilst we look at one vendor, we also see the added ‘Microsoft Office 365 Home 1 Year Subscription‘ at $128, so what happens after that year? Another $128, that whilst Google offers it for free? You do remember that Students have really tight budgets, do you not? And after that, students, unless business related changes happen, prefer a free solution as well. So whilst Microsoft is changing its premise, it seems to have found the setting of ‘free software’ offensive. You see, I get it when we never paid for it, but I bought almost every office version since Office 95. For the longest times issues were not resolved and the amount of security patches still indicates that Windows NT version 4 was the best they ever got to. I get that security patches are needed, yet the fact that some users have gone through thousands of patches only to get charge extra now feels more like treason then customer care and that is where they will lose the war and lose a lot.

So when you see subscription, you also need to consider the dark side of Microsoft. You partially see that with: “If you choose to let your subscription expire, the Office software applications enter read-only mode, which means that you can view or print documents, but you can’t create new documents or edit existing documents.” Now we agree that they clearly stated ‘subscription’, yet they cannot give any assurances that it will still be $128 next year, it could be $199, or even $249. I do not know and they shall not tell, just like in Forbes, where we saw ‘News of the monthly fees was quietly announced‘.

When we dig deeper and see: ‘Predicting the success of premium Chromebooks‘, LapTopMag treats us to: “The million-dollar question is whether these new, more expensive Chrome OS laptops can find a foothold in a market dominated by Windows 10 and Mac OS devices. Analysts are bullish about Chromebook’s potential to make a dent in the laptop market share“, which was given to us yesterday. Yet in this, the missing element is that Windows will now come with subscriptions to some and to more down the track, or lose the security of windows, now that picture takes a larger leap and the more expensive Google Pixelbooks (much higher specs then the others mentioned) will suddenly become a very interesting option. One review stated on the Pixelbook: “the Pixelbook is an insanely overpowered machine. And, lest we forget, overpriced“, which might be true, yet the little lower Atlas Chromebook was $439. So yes, the big one might not be for all and let’s face it. A 4K screen is for some overkill. That’s like needing to watch homemade porn in an IMAX theatre. The true need for 4K is gaming and high end photography/film editing, two elements that was never really for the Chromebook. At that point a powerful MacBook or MacBook pro will be essential setting you back $2900-$11400. So, loads of options and variations, at a price mind you. As I see it, the Microsoft market is now close to officially dissolving. There is a whole host of people that cannot live without it, and that is fine. I am officially still happy with my Windows 7, always have been. Yet when I see the future and my non-gaming life, Linux will be a great replacement and when being mobile a Chromebook will allow me to do what I need to do. It is only in spreadsheets that I will miss out a little at time, I acknowledge that too, but in all this there is no comparison with the subscription form and as it comes from my own pocket is see no issues with the full on and complete switch to Google and its apps in the immediate future. I feel close to certain that my loss will minimal at the most. A path that not all will have, I see that too, but when thinking the hundreds of thousands of students that are about to start University, they for the most can make that switch with equal ease and there we see the first crux. It was the setting that Microsoft in a position of strength had for the longest time, enabling students so that they are ready for the workplace changes. They will now grow up with the Chromebooks being able to do what they need and they will transfer that to the workplace too. Giving us that the workplace will be scattered with Chromebooks and with all kinds of SaaS solutions that can connect to the Chromebook too. The Chromebook now becomes some terminal to server apps enabling more and more users towards a cloud server software solution. As these solutions are deployed, more and more niche markets will move in nibbling on the Market share that Microsoft had, diminishing that once great company to a history, to being pushed beyond that towards being forgotten and at some point being a myth, one that is no longer in the game. It is also the first step that IBM now has to bank in on that setting and push for the old mainframe settings, yet they will not call it a mainframe, they will call it the Watson cloud, performing, processing and storing, available data on any Chromebook at the mere completion of a login. It is not all there yet, but SPSS created their Client server edition a decade ago, so as the client becomes slimmer, the Chromebook could easily deal with it and become even more powerful, that is beside the optional dashboard evolutions in the SaaS market, the same could be stated for IBM Cloud and databases. That is the one part that should be embraced by third party designers. As SaaS grows the need to look in Chromebook, Android and IOS solutions will grow exponentially. All this, with the most beautiful of starting signals ever given: ‘Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘, the one step that Microsoft did not consider in any other direction and with G5 growing in 2021-2023 that push will only increase. If only they had not stuffed up their mobile market to the degree they had (my personal view). I see the Windows Mobile as a security risk, plain and simple. I could be wrong here, but there is too much chaff on Windows and as I cannot see what the wheat is (or if there is any at all), and as Microsoft has been often enough in the ‘quietly announcing‘ stage and that is not a good thing either.

Should you doubt my vision (always a valid consideration), consider that Veolia Environnement S.A. is already on this path. Announced less than two weeks ago we see “So we propose a global migration program to Chromebooks and we propose to give [our employees] a collaborative workplace. “We want to enable new, modern ways of working”“, linked to the article: ‘Veolia to be ‘data centre-less’ within two years‘ (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/veolia-to-be-data-centre-less-within-two-years-499453), merely one of the first of many to follow. As the SaaS for Chromebooks increases, they will end up with a powerful workforce, more secure data and a better management of resources. Add to this the Google ID-Key solution and the range of secure connections will go up by a lot, diminishing a whole host of security issues (or security patches for that matter). All options available now and have been for a few years now. So when we see the Chromebook market push forward, we should thank Microsoft for enabling exponential growth; it is my personal believe that the absence of a monthly fee would have slowed that process considerably in a whole range of markets.

So thanks Microsoft! You alienated gamers for years, and now we see that you are repeating that same silly path with both starting students and businesses that are trying to grow.

I’ll ask Sundar Pichai to send you a fruit basket, it’s the least I can do (OK, the least I can do is nothing, but that seems so mean).

 

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Trusting Anti-trust cases?

Today will be about Jennifer Rankin and her article ‘Google fined £3.8bn by EU over Android antitrust violations’. First off, it is a good article, she did absolutely nothing wrong (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/18/google-faces-record-multibillion-fine-from-eu-over-android). We get the goods (not all mind you) but a clear picture and that is what I like, a clear picture to work with.

Right off the bat we start with “Google has been hit with a landmark €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union over “serious illegal behaviour” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones“. Interesting setting as there are Android based phones and IOS (Apple brand X phones). The android systems ALL have full access to Google. As for the search engine, there are two elements. The first the engine for searching itself, which is in android, giving us an open source setting and (at https://searchcode.com/), you can take a look yourself, now you will still need the skills to program, but that is a discussion for another day. The second part is to find stuff, which requires the PageRank. Now we have an issue, because (as the Americans say): ‘that shit is patented!‘ plain and simple. Whilst Microsoft and IBM were belittling Google in 1999 (heard it myself in the UK) Google was working and growing in what is now defined as ‘the development of the Android mobile operating system, the Google Chrome web browser, and Chrome OS, a lightweight operating system based on the Chrome browser‘, it took 5 years for them to get serious traction and whilst they grew, the other two were marketing their BS on every level whilst trusting in VP and players who actually did not know any of their shit, people relying on PowerPoint presentations, bullet points and hype expressions. Now we get the first part that matters: “The European commission imposed the record penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser apps on devices using its Android operating system, which is used on 80% of all phones“. This is the first part. You see, there is a merely a partial truth and it is largely incomplete. Any mobile smartphone needs an OS. So we have Apple with IOS, there is or was) Blackberry, Microsoft and Google with Android. The rest was either not willing or eager to play on any serious level. They all had this: ‘it is much better going for larger systems‘. Even the larger players ignored the power of Mobile and Smartphones for too long. That evidence is seen with NBC where we see “In a farewell post on LinkedIn, Microsoft’s former head of Windows, Terry Myerson, explained why Microsoft failed in the smartphone business“, (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/29/why-microsoft-failed-in-phones.html). The quote: “It comes down to two problems: Underestimating Android’s business model, and building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job“. So in two mere dimensions we see the acknowledgment of large corporations set in a place of short sighted expectations whilst using a narrow minded business model. That is apart from the issues that Windows Mobile had, I wanted to add that list of issues, but I calculated that this section would be no less than 6000 words, with the additional issues on Windows 10 mobile adding a serious amount of words to the 6000 words required. Blackberry did not survive the times either. It had a good platform, but ultimately too expensive for most businesses. It is still going on, but not in the same way it was. Blackberry was not flawed, it focused on specific groups and those groups, those who choose Blackberry will love it forever, it merely could not hold up the settings there were, I reckon that the 2008 crash wiped well over 35% of their customer base instantly, a setting that many corporations tend to see as a fatal blow, Blackberry was no exception. So 50% of the ‘larger’ players are already gone, none of it had anything to do with Google, or with the patented parts. So I would love to scrutinise the Danish Margrethe Vestager (without resorting to Denmark and Hamlet). It starts with: “Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”” No! They did not! We see the clear admission from Terry Myerson giving us ‘building on an older technical platform that wasn’t quite ready for the job‘, knowing that already sets one of the two outside of the consideration. I have given the audience evidence again and again on how stupidity rules at Microsoft. The Surface and Xbox platforms are two distinctive places where this is visible. Both have a narrow minded setting, both are short sighted and even the business approach to grow the customer base failed to do its job. Reuters gave us that last year with ‘Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability: Consumer Reports‘, an overpriced system that cannot even get close to 80% of what Apple could do with its very first iPad in 2011. In addition Reuters gives us: “The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published on Thursday“, how can any device with a 25% failure issue be in the market in the first place, and it is very connected, as this is the mobile industry, the mobile industry is more than merely a mobile phone, all connected devices that rely on mobile technology (Wi-Fi or cellular) are part of that failure. The Reuters article (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-surface-idUSKBN1AQ1EP) we also get “According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said. Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple Inc. had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said“, so how many corporations should be considered when they are the outlier in a negative way? #JustAsking

It is time to look at article 101 (antitrust) (at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12008E101&from=EN). Here we see:

  1. The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, and in particular those which:
    (a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions; (not charging for a service is a right anyone has)
    (b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment; (impeding your own technical development, intentional or not is merely your own visionary stupidity)
    (c) share markets or sources of supply;
    (d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage; (nope, the non-patented part of android is open to anyone)
    (e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The first issue is that the Page rank which is part of this is patented, so there is already a setting of exclusion. The fact that the others are 10 year late to the party is equally evidence that there is a wrongful conviction here. The setting that they are all scared with the coming of 5G, whilst Apple and Google are the ONLY ONES who will be decently ready, both ending up with a massive market share. We see at this point the third failure of Microsoft. You see, it was not merely the two that Terry Myerson stated at CNBC, the ‘Underestimating Android’s business model‘, as well as the ‘an older technical platform that wasn’t ready for the job‘, it is to some extent the ‘25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices‘ failing, they are all connected to overlapping user groups making the damage even larger. The Xbox debacle that showed a bullying setting of ‘always online’ as well as storage shortage issues (a killer in the mobile devices), their bullying setting of pushing people online is equally part of the failure. It was the fourth part that truly took Microsoft out of the race. Google (as I personally see it) looked at roughly 1.7 million university students and looked at where the future was pointing. They saw where the future was heading and they build on that long term view. Just look at the Gmail storage, the YouTube facilitation, and to openness of their business suite apps, just a few examples. Over 3 years I have only two parts where I missed Microsoft Office a little, over 3 years that is nothing. That in a setting where Microsoft went into the ‘greed’ setting it becomes a lot more funny, especially when we see students having to get by a few dollars a day, yet Microsoft has a $199 version for these students, yes it will be cloud, secure (so they say) and update cost free, a subscription service. Google merely states $0, on the cloud. You tell me what students want! The issues are linked, because Microsoft had been actively growing the anti-Microsoft feelings for almost a decade. I understand that Microsoft has a business model and ‘free software’ is an issue for them, they have a right to be like hat. Google understood that the poor students who hardly can keep a budget now, are going to be the executives of tomorrow, those people then are executives now and they all embrace Google (well, most of them anyway). There was no force, there was no (how did that Danish lady put it?) ‘Restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market‘, many went to iPhone and IOS and Google is fine with that. No, the issue is that the other players are confronted with the stupidity of the previous post holders and that is an issue now, it links together.

By not realising the future 15 years ago, the present is close to unobtainable for them. I watched how I saw again and again how some of them went by ‘We are now working on the new technology surpassing the others‘ again and again (and not delivering). You merely need to find the history of ‘SPSS Data entry for Windows‘ and realise that this was an excellent way to lose 6000 businesses, and close to 35,000 users (relabeling it ‘form design software’ was never a solution). Microsoft went in that same direction and now they are close to side lined from the next technology by their own stupidity. No resources, no ‘know-how’ and no vision, yet Google is the big bad wolf here!

This is the underlying story that links it all and some companies are merely indicative, but they overall went the same direction. So where we see ‘preventing rivals from innovating and competing‘, I see that this was not the case, they merely went a greed driven path (OK, I admit, I should say ‘revenue driven path’), whilst actual new technology is all about innovation and never about iteration. Microsoft, after IBM the larger player feeling left out has shown us on several fields that innovation is merely marketing, not actively pursuing issues and with a ‘25% failure issue’ setting in the Surface department, I believe that their flaws are clearly shown. It becomes more of a farce when we see “Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.”“, users want what works; we are not interesting in a $199 fee for apps that they we get for free, ask any student. There are apparently 207 million higher education students globally, ask them! In addition, that mere setting where we see the onus of the user, to not look for more is punishing a company because the users are lazy? Since when can we convict Google for not installing in the second degree, because the user was lazy?

In many situations there are no competing apps, not of any quality that is and when you look in the Google play, we see that the users are allowed to set the tone. I will be the first to agree, that there are issues and that there might have been a case to some extent. Microsoft faced that years ago when it was still in the delusional setting that they had the better browser. Now we see a different picture. Now we are faced with IBM that put everything on Watson (not sure if that was a good idea), but it can facilitate to the larger degree in every direction, including the third parties banking on 5G, IBM is eager to oblige. Microsoft has nowhere to go, they burned down their options and as they screwed up again and again, it has nothing left but to sulk like a little child. Just consider the upcoming Microsoft Surface Go, for people with budgets. Now consider the News we are given: “With a starting price of $469, the Apple iPad (with Wi-Fi connectivity only) is the winner on affordability”, “The consumer/education version is priced at $599 and will run Windows 10 Home in S mode – which only allows apps that are available in the Windows store”, all this, for a system not out yet, and the Australian Financial Review (at https://www.afr.com/technology/mobiles-and-tablets/will-the-surface-go-boldly-where-other-tablets-cannot-20180713-h12n71) gives us: “Why has Microsoft just released a tablet at a time when almost everyone is buying smartphones and almost no one is buying tablets? Sales of tablets such as Apple’s iPad have been in steep decline since 2015, a decline that shows no signs of reversing in the next four or five years, analysts say”, so in that setting another optional failure is introduced. That whilst I saw it coming, just as the short sighted failures that are part what now with giggles is called the ‘most powerful console on the market’ (The Xbox One X), that is the company that is connected to all this.

That part can be found in a few places. In this case I give you the New York Post where (at https://nypost.com/2015/04/15/microsoft-the-big-winner-in-google-antitrust-lawsuit/) we see “While Google CEO Larry Page took his lumps with the suit, Microsoft, very quietly, came out the big winner, sources said. “Microsoft complained a lot,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “Microsoft definitely counselled the [EC], suggesting it made sense to send Google a statement of objections so Google would be forced to produce documents” showing its search-result recipe, another source said”, this was a joke 3 years in the making. I hope that I can turn that joke on these losers as they have diminished consumer trust in their narrow minded way (not to mention short sighted ways).

Even when we turn this in another direction through the Register two month ago (at https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/21/antitrust_google_us_government/), where we see ‘On 20th anniversary of Microsoft antitrust, US Treasury Sec calls for Google monopoly probe‘, I am not arguing how right or wrong it is. I am merely pointing out that Google went in a direction that was long term, whilst all the others went into the short term path that was demanded from their board of directors, who for the most could not read a spreadsheet properly because the bullet points were missing (their optional opposition to the NRA perhaps?). That was the setting and those with vision are dumbfounded and they got hurt through the inadequacy of stupid people.

So the Danish party was already active then. What is an issue is Jeremy Stoppelman, he had vision with Yelp, even as he did not understand certain markets (miscalculated is a better word), he had faith in his product, which I applaud. it worked for a while, yet I see that bad choices (unfortunate choices is a better setting) impacted it all, so even as Yelp failed to meet expectations, if it survives and gets 5G traction, it will be ahead of others a decent amount, it turned down Google who wanted them when the going was good and he would have had a strong place if he had taken that part, but it was his decision and I applaud him for it. Yelp and Turnstyle Analytics would have an optional strong 5G setting if it had kept international operations and grow the data the way they had, it will not be easy now for them, but I digress. With: “Mnuchin’s comments on Google came after a special 60 Minutes episode that focused in part on the company and its effective search monopoly. That segment was notable for the inclusion of two people: EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman“, yet all parties have their ‘its effective search monopoly‘, what they are not telling us is that they had a vision that everyone would come with a future need and they got Stanford University to create the algorithm that got patented. All the other players remained dumb to the future. And then we get the one gem I expected: “Also, the EU announced it was launching a probe of Google’s Android operating system to see if its agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals. While Microsoft likely does not care much about search preference, “the investigation throws sand in the gears of Google’s innovation,” the former FTC official said“, so there it is ‘agreements with cellular phone makers was hurting rivals‘, phone makers had options, Apple had its own system and there are NO non-Apple IOS phones. Interesting that this does not make that cut is it? An open system was offered and the alternative Microsoft (rejected because it was not up to the job), Blackberry (is only after the collapse that it became an option to others), we see that Google has an open option, yet they are the boogeymen. So we get two elements, a partially failed entrepreneur (only in part) and a limelight seeking politician. The power of the google Appeal is found in a simple statement: “Her staff ran through over a billion Google searches and found that Google was knowingly manipulating its search algorithms to promote its own products and push competitors far down the ranking“, that evidence must be shown in court and get scrutinised! You see, the timeline for a billion searches can only partially be automated and those results can be used by Google as evidence against Margrethe Vestager as well. The evidence of ‘manipulating its search algorithms‘ will be equally a discussion point putting EVERY intern and assistant of Margrethe Vestager in the witness box, no exception. A setting that I personally see as the EC has close to no chance of winning. Even as I saw the algorithm in my University classes for an assignment, I am decently certain that I did not see the whole 100% of all elements of the algorithm, one element out of place and that is as I (again: personally) see it the crushing of the EC case, the appeal will be won by Google.

The fact that Microsoft was part of this in several ways from 2015 onwards and likely before that is more than enough for me to consider the premise that trusting antitrust is not always a good thing. I do agree that antitrust should exist, yet it should be clear that this is not a handle for the narrow minded, the short sighted, the greedy and the stupid to use because they could not get their shit together. They should reread Chapter 11 of their favourite pornographic work, whether that text comes in 50 shades of mixing several combinations of white and black. A colourless equation in a setting where colour was the only part that the global users demanded, listening to them would have been a first requirement. It is the setting, which gets me to the final image.

An interesting to set the stage, because if Microsoft was a marketing firm, they would be reduced to merely being a spammer, look at the first screen of your Xbox One (X optional) for that part, also all the parts people have to go through in Windows 10 (https://www.windowscentral.com/how-remove-advertising-windows-10), so in the end, the advisors have their own games to play (quite literally at some point). The Independent was kind enough to give us this with: “In the meantime, we probably ought to do our bit to help her by making a little more use of Google’s rivals, such as Microsoft’s Bing, which is a perfectly serviceable search engine“, it is seen at (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/google-eu-fine-margrethe-vestager-android-search-microsoft-bing-silicon-valley-mobile-phones-a8453486.html)

Just ‘Bing’ “UK Law firms”, to get a UK law firm and immediately I see 10 law firms (page top view), 50% Australian ones (3 of those advertised), so if Bing cannot give me what I am looking for, why should I even consider them? With the term “Dutch Lawyers” I get 25% fulfilling the search. I can go on for a while, but I think the case of the doubt regarding ‘a perfectly serviceable search engine’ and the case on how it isn’t one has been made. I did not need to go far. Oh, and if you do have a sense of humour, try “Microsoft guilty” (with brackets), to see Bing give you “We didn’t find any results for “Microsoft guilty””, whilst Chrome giving us an immediate 8 results, with the quotes on these links. So when it comes to censoring (or is that just their flawed algorithm), we can soon see that there is an optional setting where Margrethe Vestager could be seen as a tool for Microsoft (as they might have been ‘searching’ for optional solutions), it might not be a fair setting, yet the entirety of the Antitrust case is seen by me in that way. Microsoft and a few others need time to catch up, being stupid merely gets you at the back of the line (which is where all future opportunities are lost), they need time and they are using the EC to try to catch up. My sense of giggling will be found the moment the appeal is won by Google; we are likely to see a tsunami of ‘carefully phrased denials from European political players trying to avoid the limelight’.

Oh, and whilst we are at it, when we see ‘placing them at a competitive disadvantage‘, that in light of Huawei surpassing Apple (source: the Verge). With: “Huawei has surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone brand. Sales have overtaken Apple for the first time”, Margrethe Vestager will call it ‘proving her point’, yet the truth is that Huawei went for the affordable option, a side Apple has not considered in decades, whilst in addition, the decline of Samsung and the growth of Huawei reinforces that it was about affordability for the longest of times, those losing market shares are their own worst enemy, because the wrong people are setting the price, I added enough evidence of that for the longest of times. This all in a setting where we see that even as Huawei realises that Europe is the key, the others are isolating themselves even more. Soon enough it will no longer be about Google and Android, it will become on non-American mobile players gaining the upper hand  over all the others, I wonder what anti-trust case will be filed at that point.

#PriceDiscriminationAnyone?

 

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The E3 end is nigh

Yes, we are 24 hours away from the end, the end of the 2018 E3. Now it is time to see how the chances of my earlier predictions are. The biggest player involved is Nintendo. From the very beginning two years ago at that E3, we were shown something new and it was clear that Nintendo had a winner. That one presentation gave us the goods. No matter how we all sliced it, we were not ready for the tsunami of acceptance from players on a global level. I think that not even the big bosses of Nintendo had a clue just what kind of winner they had. So as we saw how sales records got crushed, I saw the issue and the nightmare that Microsoft faced. The most powerful console in the world would be surpassed by the weakest one. My lifetime view of fun over hype got proven correctly against a console with a few hundred million dollars in development. Now we see how far the 26 titles are coming. Nintendo started with giving us the party and group games, all focussed on having fun, as well as a linked new Pokémon games where the game can link to your Pokémon Go mobile games and get across the Pokémon’s caught, it is a game changer. We also saw a game that allows 4v4 multiplayer, so as we are seeing on the more and more Switch abilities, we are shown a path where Nintendo will increase its sales in the near future by a fair bit and of course the free Bethesda games were announced, as well as Wolfenstein 2, Fortnite (another free games), Battle Royale (out now) and a lot more to come some from new developers, some well treasured games from the Nintendo past. So the second issue I expected is actually becoming a reality, Sony will need to up its game. Nintendo will not overtake them, but it will be able to narrow the gap and as the family fun label is very clearly shown, Sony will without a doubt lose some expected revenue towards Nintendo. So instead of people buying 5 PS4 games until the end of the year, they end up selling 4 and Nintendo gets the 5th, which implies a 20% lessened revenue. The fact that the Amazon top 10 included 90% Nintendo Switch games is merely one piece of evidence. Just as we accept that every Xbox lover will get Forza Horizon 4, the Nintendo Switch will have the same with Super Smash bros. As we were shown ‘everyone is here‘, we are looking at every fighter in Super Smash bros history is in the game, so as you start with 10 characters, you will unlock the hundred plus fighters over the course of the game, and it is not done in a dull way. Each character with personalised attacks, and there is no substitute for Snake sneaking up to Pac-man and Kirby. If only Snake knew the deadly opponents he would face here. If there are parents that want to be the cool parents, you better pre-order this game today, because it will definitely be sold out on day one. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the massive amount of stages to fight in, controller options as well as amiibo compatibility, this game releases December 7th, too late for Saint Nicholas and Thanksgiving, but in time for Santa Clause (pun intended).

This all before you realise that this is a four player battle arena, so the challenge and the hard-core fun is not going to stop any day soon. So Nintendo brought the goods and then some! So even as this is merely one game, it is the one too many were waiting for. Yet it is not the end of the innovations that Nintendo brings. Free Fortnite was a lovely surprise for everyone, yet the addition is that “you can use any standard 3.5 mm headset for online voice chat, which is a feature that no other game offers on the system“, online chat in a team battle is pretty much a dealmaker, so the Nintendo will be for many the system of choice, especially when they are travelling. It seems that from now on, no road trip will be complete without the Nintendo Switch. Yet, Nintendo left us hanging with too little on the 26 games announced, in addition, there were expectations on the new Pokémon game, but that stayed absent, it is not a deal breaker and perhaps they want to wait for the Pikachu and Evee games to have their time in the limelight, it makes marketing sense, yet at times the E3 is not always about making sense. It is the one part that only Phil Spencer and Todd Howard really got right at the E3. In addition we see the upcoming Starlink, a new Ubisoft game that will be an absolute blockbuster. I can tell you about it, but the Verge will do it better (at https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/11/17449232/starlink-ubisoft-preview-ps4-xbox-switch-e3-2018). Here we see “Starlink: Battle for Atlas takes place in a large sci-fi universe, which spans seven explorable planets that you can seamlessly travel between. Each world has its own wildlife and ecosystem, and there are different factions battling among themselves, vying for control“, a kid friendly mix of Star Wars and No Mans Sky. So as we make a balance on the games, it is clear that Nintendo has the gaming goods that equal what PS4 and Xbox One has, yet all these titles are kid friendly and family founded. It might not seem like much, but it is. You see, there is more and more noise from parents regarding ‘game addiction‘, yet more often they worry about the environment they are in. I am not sure whether it actually is, but the perception is there. So as we see the clarity of the family friendly setting that Nintendo has evangelised for the longest of times, parents feel safe with a brand like Nintendo and that will sell, especially as some kids have exhausted their bandwidth on mobiles before 50% of the month is gone, so the math is exceedingly simple that the Nintendo Switch offers a break even point within 6 months, that too is a selling point, and the absence of bloodshed and violence in Nintendo games makes the consideration for parents a lot easier. These two elements will drive Nintendo sales as well, and now with the upcoming games this year alone, seeing a $375 solution that has all the assuring sides that other consoles do not offer (from a parents point of view) implies a stronger growth option for Nintendo. I personally think that the setting of others is not wrong, but comes at a price. Battlefield 5 feels like it is about overwhelming the player with chaos, the Division 2 is about engaging and the Switch games are about fun. I believe that all three are valid paths, but the Nintendo one is too hard to resist. You see, we all want to engage like in the division, enter the overwhelming chaos of Battlefield 5, yet we are often in the mindset that we just want to have some fun. That path is becoming more enticing to many players and they feel like that a lot more often than before. These players will most likely all have a Nintendo Switch on the side, sooner rather than later. This is what makes the Nintendo the stronger player for now and as the engaging levels of Nintendo remains, that interest curve is the Switch will keep on growing. If there are 20 million Switch players out there today, than the chance of 5 million wanting to get Super Smash Brothers is merely a low conservative estimate. That implies an additional quarter of a billion in revenue before the end of 2018. That is nothing to be sneered at and that is also the clear signal from Sony to up their game, because that many gamers will merely increase the sales curve of the Nintendo Switch soon enough. It does not stop there. Business Insider (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/best-buy-listing-hulu-netflix-streaming-nintendo-switch-2018-6), several sources are now on the setting that Netflix and YouTube are heading to the Nintendo Switch as well. It changes the game as the overwhelming amount of apps and free games tend to drive sales as well. Consider Fortnite and Fallout Shelter being free games. Now add Netflix and YouTube and this console is becoming nothing short of irresistible. Nintendo played their cards right and that impact will both Sony and Microsoft, there is no denying it. Nintendo got its homerun and we will see lot more Nintendo Switch systems in almost every corner of our lives, it is utterly unavoidable.

We have one more day of E3 and of course the many deals that all the players are offering during this week. Microsoft has been reducing prices by a lot, so did Sony and some stores are giving up to 75% discount on some titles. So this is a great week to get the 1-2 titles you never wanted to pay full price for. As the E3 ends, we will all await the games we want the most to be released yesterday. For me personally it will be Fallout 76, yet there is a whole range of games that would love to play and Nintendo made the desire for the Switch only greater. So even as the Express leaned on speculation with ‘so expect to see Splinter Cell make an appearance with a brand new gameplay trailer during E3‘ and disappointed its readers by being wrong. They in the end all missed the Elder Scrolls 6 teaser and that is why the E3 is an event not to miss and hypes should be avoided as much as possible. What was a much larger surprise is the amount of effort and push that both Ubisoft and Bethesda gave towards the Nintendo Switch. EA was there, but they were expected, a free Fallout Shelter and Ubisoft with Trials Rising and Starlink were not on everybody’s mind and that is changing perception as well. You merely have to watch the hilarious insanity and consider not playing this game. You will most likely fail. Watch this (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyBsT7a8JZg) and decide for yourself. You can die 1000 deaths and still want more, merely to finish the trial. Redlynx is taking death defying tests to a whole new laughing level.

So whatever system you lean to, whatever game you go through, make sure you have fun doing it. As to the fun in gaming, you merely have to see Devolver Digital (a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ytFiRVMwg) to see how serious ‘fun‘ should be taken at times.

Have a great day!

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That one place

There is a place where everyone is the same, where it does not matter what your convictions are, what your gender is or how you swing your love life. That is the one thing I always believed, I remain faithful to the notion that games and gaming is the one place where it does not matter what you are, who you are and how you are, as long as you are fine that is. I grew up with games, I reviewed and tested games for well over a decade and played them for additional decades beyond that. I was already a gamer when the term did not even exist.

I always believed that games had, in those days two distinct powers. One was to entertain the person playing; the other was to lower the threshold of using computers, I ended up being correct on both counts. I started my gaming life in 1982, almost 36 years ago. I started with a Commodore VIC-20, after that a Commodore 64 and after that I was off to the races. So, the VIC-20, CBM-64, Atari 2600, CD-32, Atari ST, Amiga 500, PC, MAC, Nintendo-64, Sega Megadrive, Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, 2, 3, and 4, Xbox, Xbox360 and Xbox One. I had them all and played them all. I saw games evolve from blocks; I played Pong and many arcade games. I always hoped that the women would not keep on considering it ‘an act too nerdy’ and behold, in the beginning of the second millennia I saw more and more women taking up gaming to some extent. I always thought that gaming was a true equaliser and to some extent it became one, so I was a little upset to see ‘eSports analyst receives death threats after thanking men on women’s day‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/mar/09/soembie-soe-gschwind-penski-overwatch-league), there she is on the article smiling and announcing the Blizzard event, looking like an overwatch player. Soe Gschwind-Penski was not the pesky Peski adversarial player that was up against people, she was hosting the event as the excellent eSports commentator she is regarded to be. So, the lady born in the land of Cheese and Chocolate gave the tweet: “It’s #InternationalWomensDay I’d like to give a special shoutout to all the men in our lives who have supported us, gave us a voice when we had none, fought for our cause and treated us the way we all ought to treat each other…like a fellow human being – no race, no gender.” as @Soembie she gave us all a nice tweet, all positive in every direction giving a voice to an international day. So for the utter life of me, I cannot comprehend the fact that people hand out responses that lead to: ““Ive gotten death threats and hundreds of hate messages the past 20 minutes because I thanked men for treating me as their equal, on a day which is all about womens struggle for equality,” Gschwind-Penski posted. “Hate, because I am grateful for the men in our lives who fight alongside us for our rights.”“, from my point of view that could not have been done by anyone who is an actual real gamer. I see it as actions from people pretending to be ‘gamers’; pretending to know anything at all. Like those people claiming that they finished ‘Dead Space in Impossible mode in two hours‘, or something as ridiculous like that. They tend to use cheats and god mode codes or alterations so that they can run through a game not getting hurt by anything, they are not and never will be players. I never had any regard or respect for them. So am I a great gamer? Nope! I am a good gamer and I like to enjoy games, so I will never run through an RPG. What is the purpose of running through Skyrim, or Fallout 4 and missing on the magnificent views the game offers? I even admire the fact that Fallout 4 can be played as a pacifist. I never did that, but the fact that it is there is just awesome, it makes for a gamer to be an actual gamer (cause for a golden Achievement; Hint, hint). I am not one for multiple shooting games. I used to like it, but Unreal Tournament spoiled that for me. All people hopping like kangaroos through the game, it was just too weird for me. Still, there is plenty of awesomeness in going down the throat of Diablo 3 with three other players. A game I loved since the very first Diablo and my team of 7 hardcore mode level 70 characters are decent evidence of that.

So in that setting the entire abuse of Soe Gschwind-Penski makes no sense at all. Even when we see: “The two-year-old OWL did make headlines last month when South Korean teenager Kim Se-yeon signed with the Shanghai Dragons to become the league’s first female player. But high-profile eSports competitions remain a male-dominated space: Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team.

You see, for the most finding female gamers, serious gamers are still a rare thing. So even as there might be a case in regards to the fact that ‘Gschwind-Penski is the only female member of OWL’s full-time commentary team‘, we must equally realise that for the longest time, even today that a high estimate from my speculative view is that the women in gaming are set to a mere 10% at best (I apologise if I am wrong). So we are happy that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski, Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) from Eurogamer, Stephanie Claire Bendixsen (aka Hex), and Anita Sarkeesian. The list is way too short and we can point fingers at the reasons, but in the end I am not certain if there is an actual real culprit. If there is one than I might blame the makers of these review sites and channels as the culprit for not hiring more women, or is that actually the non-capability of finding more women?

You see, I started gaming in the age when nearly all women remained in enthusiastic denial of games for well over a decade. I know that because in those days woman in gaming was extremely rare. Roberta Williams was one of the very few. Jane Jensen would not appear until a decade later and the writing she did on EcoQuest and Police Quest 3 put her on the map (both excellent games). Yet the last two were two of a very small group of game designers, not game critics or reviewers (or hosts). Yet, I still believe that women are as welcome in the gaming industry and the gaming world as much as anyone else. Anyone who does not agree with that view is of course allowed to disagree, but he is not an actual gamer plain and simple!

You see, it truly does not matter what you are or who you are in gaming. It is merely the setting that you can hold your own in that virtual team, once you do you are in it for life! There are several women that I have met who can hold their own in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer on platinum level. That is all it requires and even as the settings change per game, they are all about being able to hold your own and strengthen the multiplayer (MP) team. So in all this I have absolutely no clue why anyone would give death threats to any female gamer and I feel certain that this was not dome by any real gamer, at best a wannabe, and optionally merely a game hater and we have no real use for each of these two groups.

It is my view that it needs to be dealt with. It is in that regard that I remember an article (and found it) which was from 2014. The Guardian gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/nov/28/alanah-pearce-tells-on-her-internet-trolls-to-their-mothers) , so when we read the tweet “Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I’ve started telling their mothers“, most actual gamers would be laughing out loud and when we read the results “more than 11,000 users had retweeted her comment, and more than 20,000 had favourited it, eight hours after Pearce made her original post” game reviewer Alanah Pearce struck gold! Actually, in my view it does not really matter how young or old the person is, when it comes to the threats that Soe Gschwind-Penski was exposed to, it should be standard practise to tell on them to their mommy’s. For them to be exposed as the utter disappointment they show themselves to be to others might not be a bad thing. The wannabe’s will stop pretending to be gamers and hide in a corner, the rest will get a quick moral adjustment they desperately needed.

In my view gaming is for all and everyone. It does not matter what your gender, religion orientation or conviction is. The world of gaming is about the gaming world you enter, whether that is in the depths of a cathedral in Diablo, the house in Overwatch, the landing site on Mass Effect 3, or the power chamber in Unreal Tournament. You only have to hold your own. If you cannot do that, choose a lower level and get there, or get better. It is the one part that every player can do and that is why gaming will remain a world of inclusion, it is the only place where your inclusion only relies on you doing your part which is awesome in nearly everyone’s view. And the nicest part is that if you are not ready today, you can practice, get better and return, gender was never an issue.

Yet, there is still a long way to go, not because of gamers or gender, the fact that the President of the United States is still a few cans short of a six pack and that evidence is shown in light of “Donald Trump will host executives from the video game industry at the White House on Thursday, resurrecting a debate over the link between violent video games and gun-related deaths in the aftermath of the Parkland high school shooting“, so how long until women (and some men) will turn away from Overwatch out of fear for being seen as an aspiring psychopath?

Do you think I am kidding?

The foundation of all this is values and inherent choices. The choice an abuser makes is seen in two settings. Psychology Today gives us the 5 types of abuse:

– Emotional (killing pet, playing mind games)
– Verbal (calling names)
– Technological (GPS system /Face book sabotage)
– Sexual (forcing sex while sleep or based on the bible)
– Physical (killing, punching, choking)

The issue is seen in the first two, emotional, and then verbal after that we get the physical one. Yet in gaming this is all in a virtual setting and the gamer knows this. So they know that the person they fight with is a virtual person, and in games like Half-Life counter-strike we know that the opposing person is a virtual one too. The issue is that every psychopath might be a gamer to some extent, but that person will not be able to tell the virtual world and the real world apart. They merely want to hurt people, to actually abuse them, a gamer never does. It was that same article that gave me something that I did not know. Did you know that an actual abuser ‘Holds very rigid gender roles‘? So basically these threatening people might be actual abusers and reporting them becomes a duty for every gamer, not merely every women threatened. This person, usually a male regards himself as ‘King of the Castle’, it is her duty to cater (and service) him. As I am not like that, I had no idea, but that becomes a worry and Trump is not making it easier. If anything he is currently catering to abusers and psychopaths. This could be a comforting notion if the entire issue was not that worrying, but it actually is.

Then we get the worrying part, worrying because it is a dangerous step. As we see ‘Treatment for this population‘, we get to see “Group Therapy is important because it allows the batterer to be confronted by his peers on his behavior. I’ve facilitated groups with 16 men in the room at times it would become very confrontational but it was important for the men to be held accountable for their behavior by other men and group facilitators so this might translate into “making them a group of inclusion, allow and accept them in our midst and calling them openly out on every transgression they make“. I for one am happy to shun abusers and never letting them in our midst, but I recognise that I would make matters worse, in my defence, I feel more compelled to protect my fellow gamer, whether he is a man or a woman, because quality gamers are rare and I feel that their protection is more important than curing a non-gamer in the gaming world. This is merely my personal view.

In the end I would call to my fellow gamers to call out those who attack gamers like Soe Gschwind-Penski because our population of true gamers is not that large when we compare 2-3 million on a total of 8 billion. I would love for that number to double the next few years, so as we grow we will hopefully see more women join our ranks.

In opposition

There is however a part I need to mention. I never agreed with it, but it is a view we must not ignore. In 2013 (at https://www.newstatesman.com/if-you-love-games-you-are-not-a-gamer), in the New Statesman there was a piece. In its origin the New Statesman is a British political and cultural magazine published in London. Founded as a weekly review of politics and literature on 12 April 1913, so a magazine from before WW1, gave us “The idea of the ‘gaming community’ needs to die“, it is one view. You see, as gamers we segregate ourselves, I am happy to do just that because I am proud to be a gamer, I always have been. One quote applies to the origin of the gamers (in the 80’s). With: “gamers are depicted as the contemporary nerd group, a mildly downtrodden crowd, shunned by the jocks and achievers. Gamers are the losers who spend their days in darkened bedrooms furiously tapping on controllers or keyboards in a solitary pursuit that sits close to masturbation in the mind“, in the old days that was certainly true as the image presented of gamers as others saw them. Yet is that true now? Now the gaming industry is a $100+ billion a year. Now we see that people group and identify with the worlds of Skyrim, post-apocalyptic USA and as other groups are formed around successful games like GTA5, Far Cry, League of Legends and Overwatch that image is not only no longer true, it is in opposition of all those developers called by the need of $$$ (and their developing powers). So when we see “Within the next century ‘gamers’ will be a term that encompasses every gay and transgender person, every girl and woman, every politician in the cabinet, everyone with a title in the House of Lords, every teacher, nurse, banker, social worker, dustman and paedophile“, which is an unsettling truth. It is unsettling because even as we all want our fellow gamers to be merely gamers regardless of gender, we cannot (and perhaps should not) see what they are in real life. So it is not impossible that the serial killer hides in GTA5 multiplayer, killing whatever he/she can until the call for real blood is needed. So my view is in opposition of President Trump, he is stating that every rectangle is a square, whilst I identify that every square is a rectangle, as well as proving him wrong at the same time. It is not the same but there is a foundation and a foundation where a person can hide in anonymity. I belief it is a good thing, but it could be abused by those who have in ‘the core of the matter’ no business being there. In that part the Statesman does not make the case but the call for the cancellation of any community is not overtly evil. It is a non-invalid view, especially when we see “the urge to form groups with like-minded people is a universal one. But when that collective power is turned against those on the margins of the group“, so even as we are gamers, and we unite and think alike, but when that makes us a target, is the call valid to endanger some of us? I believe that when we unite we are more than ready for those attacking us, even if we merely start protecting our fellow gamers by calling the mommy and daddy of their attackers, no matter what age they have.

In the end I hope that people like Soe Gschwind-Penski realise that every real gamer is happy that she is around and that we have no qualms about her presence, even if she, in addition, defeats us in the most humiliating way. It merely ups the ante for us to get better, and that is in the core of multiplayer gaming, a drive to improve, a fellow gamer that makes any of us a better gamer, how great is such a life?

Live it to find out!

 

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Approaching death of Scorpio

Do you remember the day when gamers were all looking forward towards the initial presentation of the Xbox One? Perhaps you do, perhaps not, what became the issue is that the person, who disappeared soon thereafter was talking about mandatory online presence, news of no longer getting second hand games also came to light and the gamers shouted in outrage. The changes Microsoft had to make were not small, the business managers of Microsoft at that point actually got scared and the consequence was that Sony became the undebated ruler of the next generation console.

Sony made a few errors, but they were small and some have been rectified. For the Xbox One it is an entirely different matter. They have gone to some extent from bad to worse and there are decent indicators that Scorpio will continue on that downward spiral.

The article in the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/project-scorpio-xbox-chief-microsoft-plans-console) gives some highlights, especially on the speculation of native 4K gaming, yet in other uncertain terms other elements are not addressed.

Since the Xbox 360 the gamers lost the ability to play offline, with the option to keep their achievements. Now there is a cumbersome need to change settings. Sony had the same issue, but has rectified this, although the gamer needs to click two additional times, offline achievements can be viewed. Microsoft has been unwilling to reset to the Xbox 360 options in that regard. More important, the issue seen only a few months ago shows that Microsoft without consent has been uploading massive chunks of data into their Azure cloud. Within one week I lost 50% of my monthly bandwidth allowance ($60 damage). The press has not looked at this at all, the press remains silent on non-consensual uploads and the Microsoft helpdesk plainly blamed my ISP for this (what a load of rubbish). In that frame, my less diplomatic view would be that Microsoft has become a data lady of ill repute.

The fact that Microsoft remains silent on storage is equally a failure. They should have figured out that some gamers have much higher needs and we should agree that this is not for everyone, the option that gamers would want to get a larger hard-drive from day one (even if they have to personally upgrade like it is the case with the PS3/PS4), the fact that Microsoft remains pushy towards clouds and mineable data is a large issue, especially as this constitutes backwater thinking on the part of the developer. Lessons that Microsoft could have seen and learned from Sony 5 years ago, and with 4K gaming, you better believe these patches will continue to grow into several gigabytes per game. In comparison, I have as per this morning 4 patches waiting requiring 29GB storage, do you think that will get less on 4K? You only need to look at a few Ubisoft games (specifically the size of their patches) to realise that the storage requirement will grow faster and faster. A 2TB drive will not satisfy the need of the gamer, let alone a 1TB drive. Microsoft as ben aiming for data control too soon and to stringently, an error that could be the death of Scorpio, in that regard Death on Release date is not that far fetched at present.

In addition, we read that Phil Spencer makes the biggest blooper of all. The quote: “it may be possible for some teams to add extra gameplay content only accessible to Scorpio owners”. So those who recently bought an Xbox One or Xbox One S will face a system renewal within a year. So not only is he resetting gamer needs, he is basically downgrading the current generation console from a gamers point of view, because gamers want 100% of the game they play, not some restriction. In this he gives extra ammunition to Sony, so he might get a nice Christmas hamper from Kaz Hirai himself.

In all this the article is a good read, not just for fans of the Microsoft console, but more or the competitors (read: Sony) for the elements that have not been raised or discussed. The fact that the console OS requires more than half a dozen upgrades and improvement, just to get back to the decent levels of the Xbox 360 is one issue, the idea that we might see a mandatory push to Azure is also a danger that Phil needs to put to rest real quick, because a large group of gamers are not in places where unlimited bandwidth is an option, and that is in the better locations. When Microsoft learns the hard way that 7 US states and chunks of Japan and Europe wont facilitate those data needs, they will need to adjust their scope again and again. This whilst the gamers get to suffer limitations and outages for a console that will be pricey to say the least.

All issues that have been known in advance if those at the top had done their homework. Now, we should realize that the console will not be here for some time to come, but at this point, if the hardware specs are not upgraded (like the laughable 1TB drive), getting enough consoles sold by the end of the year will be a stretch and I reckon that within 4 months the gamers will face limitations they have never experienced before, which will push the console down in sales faster and harder. All elements that could have been avoided 2 years before launch. When we consider that the better games will require 50GB-100GB of data space, the idea that a 1TB drive with an operating system would only have space for 5-8 games could be the most laughable part yet. In that regard, those who love their RPG games (Witcher 3, Fallout, Skyrim) could see a special marketing deal of the Scorpio console with 5 games because that is all the console has space for. I agree that this is me being mean, but Microsoft has been warned by gamers more than once. The fact that we have enough evidence that they will not learn or listen is a mere consideration to drop the Scorpio from your wish list until such time comes that they clearly clean up their act and please their customers, not the need of others business groups to keep certain power users on a monitored online presence. This is how I see it, and this is what you need to consider before you waste too many of your hard earned coins on an announced console that comes with too many limitations even before the system ships on day one.

Oh, and the news (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/27/xbox-chief-netflix-video-games-episodes-subscription-downloads-phil-spencer),  how much bandwith and storage will that require? Not to mention upgraded Netflix on 4K, that poor 1TB storage system will unlikely make it past the second month. Yes, Scorpio might sound revolutionary, but not for the gamer.

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The danger of Colbert and the Press

When we see an interview with General Michael Hayden and Stephen Colbert, it is hard to imagine, but it is actually Stephen Colbert who is endangering the lives of many. Did you realise that? First, the interview (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buI8aO7nRDM) should be watched. It is a brilliant interview. Getting a former CIA and NSA director in view is always a little awesome and the man plays the audience brilliantly. Now, I say ‘play’ and I mean that in the best positive way. He is funny direct and answers the questions clearly. It is Hayden that gets the applause and it was an applause that was well deserved. He debunks conspiracy theorists and cuckoo cases all over America. Then something happens, suddenly Colbert does something dangerous and stupid. At 4:55 he plays the game regarding Smart TV’s spying on you, he plays us all as he is linking this to the CIA. What happened was that on February 6th the FTC fined Vizio $2.2 million for collecting viewing histories without users consent (at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/02/vizio-pay-22-million-ftc-state-new-jersey-settle-charges-it), pretty much the same thing that Microsoft seems to be doing to its Xbox population at present and uploading their data into the Azure cloud (without consent).

This might seem like a nuisance, but it is a lot more than that. Large corporations have run out of spreadable funds and like any other corporations, they now need to optimise. It is almost the same situation that SPSS was selling when it offered companies a product called AnswerTree (back in 1997). Marketing firms had to get a certain quota, let’s say 4%, now to get there you could either throw more money on it, and going from 2% to 4% did not just mean a little over 100% more to get the growth. No, with their product AnswerTree, you could make an inventory of who you mailed and who responded and started to prune the tree of those who responded a lot below quota, so basically, the mailings became more efficient, a more clever path to the people buying and it is all perfectly legal and acceptable. That is what is happening now in new ways and Vizio got caught because it happened in an automated way without any level of consent. So who did not get caught? Because I can tell you right now that the bulk of the people with a smart TV have not considered where this data is being logged.

Now, I am going to ask you a question: ‘If marketing is harassment, is the marketing contact that you purchase from still a harasser?

If we have all the do not call registers, how long until these marketeers use other methods? Free games, free apps and free TV shows, all connected, you just have to agree to advertisements connected to them. It is a mere reward for exposure which is all perfectly valid. In all this the CIA was not a factor or a danger. It is the large corporations that are classifying you, more important, it is the links that they can resell that are a danger to your way of life, which is why at times smart TV’s are sold with 60% discount (speculation from my side).

In 2015 I would never have expected to be able to afford a 55 inch smart TV, it is huge (and I was happy with my 42 inch one) but it broke, I had a decent job, but the surprise that a brand new 100 Hz Sony 55 inch was priced down from $1900 to $800 (very lucky me), which was just ridiculous as the next TV (almost the same as my broken one) was a 40 inch at $699, which was perfectly decently priced for those days. Now, we can hang onto the idea that it was just a crazy sales, which does happen, but to flood the market with something almost twice the size, with much higher specifications at next to the same price as a small B-brand TV is too weird. It is almost like having a Canon 5D at the normal $2500 and offering next to it a Hasselblad X1D-50c at $3000, which would be awesome as these babies go for $13,000. It would be 20Mp versus 50Mp. As a photographer I can tell you that I would kill for a Hasselblad 50 Megapixel camera (and as I know the Evidence Act 1995, I might get away with it).

So, I hope you understand the weirdness of such good deals. And in all this, Sony has the ability to capture this data (I am not accusing them of doing this, I have no evidence of any kind that this is happening), but the threat to our privacy is real. Now you might not think that this is important. Yet consider that this data could be sold, how many hours are you not sporting, how many hours do you watch TV and what do you watch? How long until you suddenly get a 12% spike in health insurance? There is where the difference is! You see, these players are very very interested in that data, minimise their risk and charge extra to anyone that is a risk. In my case it does not matter, my smart TV is connected to my console and my Blu-ray player, so there is no ‘smart’ data to capture. What is important for these sales people that the 0.5% of the group that I represent is not the issue, their value is the 80%+ that does connect their TV for Netflix and other reasons, that is where their value is and it is potentially bringing in millions, so the 60% discount is a joke to them. That is the part Colbert smoothly walked over whilst he joked about the CIA and the press at large stayed away from that FTC ruling, so there is one of the dangers.

The other danger is organised crime. How long until people realise that being away from home means no TV? That means that the smart TV logs are not showing movement. How long until the criminals can connect smart TV usage and social media action into, which house is empty? Oh and as you advertise on Facebook that you are on Cuba, how long until you realise that you gave away the info that your house is unprotected? More important the quote “Oversharing on social media could not only leave you open to burglary but it could also invalidate your home insurance policy” is not a joke, this quote was given 2 years ago. Justice Gibson of the District Court of New South Wales raised the issue as early as 2014, the courts are not ready for this and for the most, they are only dealing with the fallout that Contract Law is giving them, more precisely the contracts that Insurance agencies have been working on. With currently well over 80% of Australians on social media (which is actually low compared to Scandinavian nations), the consideration of implementing certain risks is an essential need for any insurance agent. Yet, at what point can usage of social media be seen as evidence towards negligence? Mobile phones tells us where we are, smartphones tell everyone what we do (through our usage), and Smart TV’s give us what we watch, out interests and our activities, or lack thereof. At what point is any of this evidence to act, to surcharge to act as a penalty or as an option to nullify the security of insurance?

That is the part not considered and it gets even worse!

This is seen in the news that is hitting us now through what is marketed as Vault 7. CNN Money (at http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/09/technology/cia-smart-tv-wikileaks-public-hacks/) gives us the news on how the CIA is spying, although they do also mention “security researchers say the methods imitate exploits that were discovered — and made public years ago“, So when I see “Samsung warned users about exactly this type of susceptibility in 2015. The company told CNNTech this week that it is ‘urgently looking into the matter.’“, my question becomes: ‘How much data did you collect?‘, so as the warning is 2 years old, apart from making batteries explode, did you do anything to stop this threat? And as we see Dan Trentler, CEO of the Phobos Group security firm state: ‘That appears to be the same exploit he witnessed in action onstage at a security conference in 2013, he said‘, can we give accusation that there is nothing innocent going on and the level of negligence shown in one article spanning 3 years of events, that is enough to warrant a much larger investigation into privacy invasion by large corporations?

 

It is not about just consent, they are mining our choices and leaving us with less. You might not consider this or comprehend this, but it is an optimised way of American business. I have to explain this.

I was confronted with a larger group of board members of a large firm. As an ‘upper’ grunt I had two distinct jobs. One give the best service to my clients and protect them as much as possible from any negative event, which is what any good Technical consultant does. And I had to be faithful and supportive to my bosses, which is what a loyal employee does. Now consider the meeting where we get the premise: ‘What if you cannot service your client 100%, but only 80%, would that be acceptable?

Now, the danger here is that my answer would be a solid ‘No!’ A danger from the corporation side when we consider the introduction of service level agreements, the introduction that the client was unwilling to pay for the service given. How do you take a stand (driven by wisdom) at that point?

This is where you the consumer are at, but it comes from another direction. Places like Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, HP, IBM and Apple are all in the optimisation phase, because the economy is still not great and most of us would only be able to afford one of these devices, perhaps a second one for Christmas if we are lucky. So as we can get 2 out of 5, so how do corporations go about getting the largest share you can? Now we get to the AnswerTree part, you become smarter in how you get to your audience to choose you, not merely marketing but marketing to the most likely buying population. The question then becomes what options you have at your disposal. Do you sacrifice one device so you get an option to see 2 more options for alternative sale and get the contribution needed? The reasons is that in this day and age, it is not about revenue, when you are a listed company, when you have stakeholders, it will be about contribution (revenue minus costs), if you fail that, no great bonus, no mistress, no fast car and in the end no job.

So here we see the rundown on how Stephen Colbert became a danger to you, he made it into a CIA joke, whilst the bitter and solemn truth is that the real danger is the invitation you readily give out to all manner of freebie givers, only to learn the hard way that they get back what they gave out in tenfold, just by collecting your inactions and sell it to whomever can transform that into personal profit. So whilst some people are falling asleep reading (at http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Providers-adjusting-to-greater-use-of-social-media-in-healthcare) how social media is interacting in health care, consider what an insurer would give to know that you visited a free clinic for the third time this quarter. It might not cost them anything, but it will set a flag to raise premiums the next year. Did you consider that? And as we shrug at seeing “Social media analysis done with natural language processing has given care facilities a more efficient way to get patient feedback“, many will ignore, just like the previous example on raising premiums. Even as you consider a visit for planned parenthood to be perfectly natural and normal (which it is), but when the insurer realises that you will be needing to visit an OBGYN in the near future, you better realise that you are lucky if your premium rises with only 5%. That is the way business is done and the initial ‘risk’ numbers to which you were held at premium are 10 years old and you fall in a much higher group. Only the super healthy teenager who does not get sick gets the low increase, that whilst he was actually a 0% risk. How fair is that and why is the media not all over that on a daily basis?

The CIA was never worthy to be mentioned in this regard, for 99% of the Americans they are nothing as these 99% of Americans were harmless so the CIA never cared to begin with and that is the group Colbert was aiming for which is odd in one way and on the other hand, we do get that he is a comedian who is trying to entertain 100% of his clients, those who tune in on his version of humour. He cannot be faulted for that, the press at large however can be faulted and they should but they stay away from it for other reasons. Mainly because they want a slice of the Samsung $700 million advertisement budget (that is for the USA alone), Microsoft and Sony are in similar predicaments, which is why certain events will not make the front cover any day soon. The reason of data collection being the most obvious one, but at times it can be trivialised as they are only gamers, or it is only a console and consent is overrated. I’ll let you be the judge of what matters and what not, just remember, when you are no longer within the 80% of the group they cater for and you already bought the device, where will your rights be, or your service provider? Perhaps you get the same answer Microsoft gave me: ‘we have no control over uploads, that is all with your internet provider!‘ Interesting how my consent was manoeuvred around in all of this.

 

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