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14 Dec 2017
The news [safewow.com]cheapest wow gold[/url] this week that the US intelligence agencies and the UK's Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) have being stalking around as avatars inside the online virtual worlds of Second Life, World of Warcraft and the Xbox Live gaming network brings me a wry smile as I write this. Just imagine the scene: a team of young 25 year old Edward Snowden like geeks petitioning their senior 60 year old George Smiley like boss to be allowed to spend their entire work time wandering around these virtual playparks "You do understand Mr Smiley, sir, it is purely just in case . . ." Apparently so many spooks are now doing so, that the spy agencies have actually had to put in place a "deconfliction" process so that secret avatars from different agencies do not accidentally virtually spy on each other!
National Security AgencyPerhaps, as I imagine John le Carr's George Smiley might surmise, you may believe that while online gaming keeps the young lads off the streets, it is not for you. Being stalked by creepy avatars slinking around in dark raincoats wearing virtual moustache disguises is not a particular worry in your life. Maybe so, but then this week we learned that the US's National Security Agency is collecting over five billion location events a day. Every day, the NSA is tracking where hundreds of millions of people are and were. If you carry a mobile phone, then you may well be being tracked by an intelligence agency.
But then we already know that mobile phone tracking is actively being used by our own Garda. Under our data retention legislation, mobile phone operators are required to keep details of phone usage, including location. The Garda is making between 6,000 and 10,000 requests for such data each year, without the phone owners being aware. At the time of writing, the European Court of Justice is imminently expected to rule on the compatibility of the European data retention directive with certain articles of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
But it is not just phones. I imagine George Smiley would have been intrigued if he had discovered that his book store knew which books he had bought had remained unread; which had been started but not finished, and which had been read several times. I imagine he would have raised an eyebrow had he learned that the Post Office opened every single letter he sent, whether business or personal, and also read every single letter he received. And that his social life, gossip and photo snaps were all being monitored. But in this digital age, Apple, Facebook, Google and other tech companies are energetically doing all these things to all of us who use their services.
It is not just the major internet companies. In yet another event this week, the US Federal Trade Commission accused an obscure Android smartphone development firm of needlessly collecting the phone locations of some 100 million people who innocently downloaded its flashlight app.
Why do these tech companies so actively monitor us, reading what we write and read, quietly looking over our shoulder all the time? Well, the current business model for the internet is commercial advertising, targeted at the surmised interests of the public who innocently accept the freely offered digital services. A digital advertising arms race has resulted, as internet firms vie to convince consumer brands that their digital deductions about individual consumer lifestyles are more accurate than those of their competitors.
All of this might be acceptable if digital advertising was actually accurate. But current advertising technology is woefully inefficient, and notoriously obtuse. For example, if I am reading an online article about fishing, then an advert for fishing gear would be entirely reasonable. But instead, the digital devil on my shoulder may recall that I just happened to buy a birthday gift for my very young niece a few months ago and so, rather than fishing gear, perversely now presents me with an entirely irrelevant advertisement for baby clothing.
This week eight major US web companies jointly sent a delicious media decoy to President Obama, pleading for reform of government surveillance by the NSA. They assert that the global public, and commercial firms, may well stop using their services in the light of the Snowden revelations. If usage of their cloud based services were to diminish, then of course their very own surveillance activities would flounder, resulting in falling advertising income.
End to end encryptionI believe that there is little doubt that cloud based web services are here to stay. Like the global phone infrastructure, they offer such economies of scale, accessibility and reliability, that a reversion to smaller private alternatives remains unlikely. However it is obvious that both companies and the public are becoming much more prudent when using cloud based services. Inevitably more and more content will likely become encrypted, directly within each consumer and employee device. Data held in the cloud will thus mutate to become unreadable by both the intelligence agencies and the major internet players. Such end to end encryption is emerging as the real threat to the current business model of the internet.
It is clear that the next phase of the internet is now beginning, opening up plenty of innovative opportunities to competitively disrupt some of the current major players. For a sustainable internet business model, considerably more subtle approaches are necessary. I'm sure George Smiley would approve.
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12 Dec 2017
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Yesterday, AMD announced that it would cease offering monthly driver updates, and instead issue Catalyst versions only "when it makes sense." That statement would be a good deal more comforting if it didn't "make sense" to upgrade AMD's drivers nearly every single month. Before we go down that road, we want to acknowledge that AMD's announcement just puts an official company stamp on a de facto situation. From 2010 through 2011, AMD released a new Catalyst driver every month like clock work. Starting last summer, however, AMD began having trouble with high profile game releases that performed badly,.
The CompanionsThe Companions are a group of mercenaries who take jobs from around Skyrim. These include some pretty heroic deeds such as rescuing a hostage, returning stolen heirlooms, intimidating people, or hunting animals that are disturbing someone's home. But one of their biggest kept secrets is that their ruling party, the Circle, are werewolves. They're not bad guys, though. This group was pretty good. The storyline is that a rival group of werewolf hunters seeks to kill you and your friends and you have to fight them off to the end. Now let's go over the rewards you get after completing the quest line:
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8 Dec 2017
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4 Dec 2017
Cory [safewow.com]wow gold to buy[/url] Doctorow's latest novel, For the Win, is about video games. Fittingly enough, we're discussing it across the internet. It's 8am in his time zone America's Pacific coast, where the latest leg of a continent spanning book tour has taken him but he's alert and only too happy to explain himself. And this means explaining first of all what it means to be a genuine advocate of technology, rather than merely dazzled by it.
"Someone who just accepts every technology he comes across is not being especially technophilic, because this doesn't require any reflection or choice," he argues. "It's like saying, I'm a gourmet, I'll eat anything you put in front of me.
Doctorow, 38, may be a gourmand of digital culture, but he's no aesthete. Born in Canada to an immigrant Jewish family deeply involved in protest politics, he has lived in London for much of the last decade (his wife is British), but maintains a global following and perspective. Talking to Doctorow feels a lot like reading one of his books, and even more like reading Boing Boing, the cult blog and "directory of wonderful things" he has now been co editing for a decade.
His crusading mix of technophile wonder and polemical pressure rarely lets up. "Writing For the Win wasn't about games so much as it was about economics," he explains. "As soon as you're talking about economics, you are talking about games: the economy is the economy game, really. It's got tokens that we pretend have value, it has rules, referees, it's a congenially entered negotiation, there are different ways of playing."
And, of course, it has winners and losers something that For the Win (HarperVoyager, 14.99) translates into the entwined stories of gamers from both the developing and developed worlds, flipping between lives, locations and potted lectures with the instant ease that only art or technology can manage.
Extrapolating from the relatively benign present of massively multi player online creations like World of Warcraft, the novel imagines a future of exponentially more sophisticated games where three of the world's 20 largest economies are virtual play environments controlled by the Coca Cola corporation. Within these, vast Third World labour forces serve the illegal but lucrative market of Western clients willing to pay hard currency for someone else to undertake the grinding labour of winning in game gold and possessions; a shadowy profession that has come to be known as "gold farming".
While this may sound like dystopian fantasy, the passages on gold farming come pretty close to reportage. Labourers work long shifts for a pittance, sleeping in dormitories and returning in their spare time to play the very games that are their jobs.
Doctorow's interest is in where all this leads: what the grand lessons, consequences and, above all, actions to be taken are. "The thing that got me starting thinking about this was when American auto jobs started to move to Mexico. The United Auto Workers responded to that with basically racism: those dirty Mexicans have stolen our jobs. Now, the forbears of the auto workers movement saw industrial jobs move from town to town across America as trade unionists took hold, and also move from ethnic group to ethnic group, and their response wasn't to demonise other workers, but to unionise them, to say we all have common cause. It is undeniably hard to go and organize a trade union in Mexico if you are an American. But once you get into videogame labour contexts, everyone is playing in the same virtual world. And they are playing in a world their bosses rarely venture into and have less proficiency in. This, I thought, is a really interesting turn of events."
Where this leads, in the novel, is solidarity, won in the teeth of brutal oppression by an alliance of gamers that spans the Pacific: a disaffected American teenager, Chinese, Indian and Singaporean workers who are literally earning their way out of the slums. Solidarity, here, gains a critical mass when the tightly knit groups of players begin to realise their collective power, and use it to force the hands of the companies running the actual games by calculatedly wrecking their massively profitable virtual economies.
It's a scenario that Doctorow makes painfully real, skimping on none of the details of slum living in Mumbai, of Chinese factory conditions, or of gang brutality and the potentially lethal consequences of protest. Not for him a digital era that dissolves human relations into a swamp of relativism and unreality. Perhaps the novel's key insight, and its great advantage over so many other tales of cyber derring do, is its insistence on the intransigent social and moral realities that lie behind the networks.
These characters are neither post modern nor post anything much else; they are not bored, disengaged, ignorant, amoral. They are young people caught up in a global struggle for justice in a manner impossible even two decades ago, thanks to the new transnational space they inhabit.
It's an arena whose unintended effect is to offer its players a crash course in the game like nature of the political and economic battles waged around them as well as providing a context within which friendships can grow irrespective of race, nationality, wealth, age, gender or creed. Doctorow's American teenager teaches himself Mandarin in his spare time, the better to play alongside his guild buddies, even while his parents bemoan the uselessness of his gaming habit.
While For the Win doesn't ignore the gulf between a virtual battle and real life incarceration in the filth of a Chinese jail, it does insist that this divide can be crossed, and that the real people meeting each other and training themselves within virtual arenas can take these skills into other parts of their lives. There's an element of fantasy, of course; but Doctorow insists that there's more than wishful thinking to it. "I think that the physical action is not a rare or an extremely high hurdle to cross. Physical action happens a lot. People do stuff to change their world a lot. Perhaps partly because I grew up in protest politics, it has never seemed odd to me that someone might go out and join a march."
The core audience for Doctorow's fiction is young adults, and his didactic intentions are entirely of a piece with both the kind of book he's writing and the people he's writing it for. I am not predicting, I am reflecting. Science fiction is a great activist literature: it has this tradition, expectation, even requirement that your fiction be a social actor."
When it comes to the activism he has to offer, Doctorow believes that today's young people are more in need of it than most. "Kids aren't stopping playing outdoors because of video games. Kids are playing video games because they are being prohibited from public spaces. We have taken most of our public spaces away from young people, turned them into malls where you no longer have civil liberties; instead, there's a user agreement over the door that says management has the right to deny entry at any time."
This is a peculiarly contemporary battle where social, economic and technological factors intermingle. Both Doctorow's writing and his direct activism among other things, he has been European director of the civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was co founder of the UK Open Rights Group are vehemently opposed to the reduction of digital freedoms. "One of the things that gives me the creeping horrors," he explains, is the proliferation of "walled gardens" in the digital world from file formats that can only be played via specific software in specific countries, to corporations insisting on absolute control of anything released on their hardware.
"It's like, we have one final retreat from places in which adults and powerful individuals and corporations dictate how we interact and that retreat is being taken from us in the name of stopping the four horsemen of the apocalypse: terrorists, pornographers, pirates, and the mafia."
Isn't he getting a bit carried away, given that nobody is actually forcing consumers to buy this stuff? He may not want an iPad Apple's recent corporate strategy is one of Doctorow's most prominent targets but he's free not to get one. He offers two points in response. First, "I think one of the ways that people make good choices is by there being a discourse." Second, more importantly, "the problem with privacy and digital rights management is that the consequences of your actions as a user are distant in time and space from the decisions themselves. It's very hard to learn from experiences whose outcomes have a wide gap from the initial action."
Moreover, because these are cultural goods and communicative technologies, the significance of these battles is far more profound than for mere consumer products. For example, the kind of restrictions built into many modern digital readers are, Doctorow suggests, akin to "a bookcase where the manufacturer gets to tell you what to read tells you what books to buy, whose books to read, what you're allowed to do once you're done with them, who you can share them with." It's enough to make you shiver and then swing by his website, download a few volumes, and start reading one of the founding oeuvres of the digital century.
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24 Nov 2017
US video safewow.com]gold wow buy[/url] game producer Activision Blizzard announced late Monday that it was buying King Digital Entertainment, best known for its "Candy Crush Saga" mobile game, for $5.9 billion.
Activision Blizzard, which produces such games as "Call of Duty," said in a statement the purchase "will create one of the largest global entertainment networks with over half a billion combined monthly active users in 196 countries."
California based Activision Blizzard has some of the best known video game titles on the market, including "World of Warcraft," "Diablo," "Guitar Hero," "Skylander" and most recently "Destiny."
Activision Blizzard said it believes the addition of King business, which it called highly complementary, will position it "as a global leader in interactive entertainment across mobile, console and PC platforms."
It added that the move "positions the company for future growth."
Since 2003 King Digital has "built one of the largest player networks on mobile and Facebook, with 474 million monthly active users in the third quarter (of) 2015," King CEO Riccardo Zacconi said in the joint statement.
The "Call of Duty" series is one of the best selling console games in the world, while the addictive "Candy Crush" is among the most popular games on mobile devices.
The purchase, approved by the boards of directors of both companies, has King shareholders receiving $18.00 in cash per share "comprising a total equity value of $5.9 billion and an enterprise value of $5.0 billion," according to the statement.
That represents a 20 percent premium over King closing price on October 30, it added.
The transaction should be completed by the second quarter of 2016, assuming approval from regulators.
"The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
"With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world. enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before.".
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