Jul 06 2020

The end of an odyssey

Published by under Games,Software

202 hours and 17 minutes of net playing time. I finally finished Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and its two huge DLCs.

To make this short:

Yes, I still think the game is too big for its own good.

But:

In July 2020, this game is among the three best computer games ever created: Half-Life 1, Uncharted 4, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. And not necessarily in that order.

Kassandra is the ultimate heroine, throughout the history of computer games – and movies or novels for that matter – no other female lead character was ever conceived that would match her. You have to play and finish the game if you want to discuss this. And should you finish the game, trust me, you will not question my statement. At all. Full stop.

Ancient Greece is — by far — the most beautiful location ever depicted in a computer game. Barnabas is one of the loveliest side-kick characters ever imagined in a computer game; at worst, he’s second only to Victor Sullivan in the Uncharted series. (And boy, do I get thirsty when Victor Sullivan smokes a cigar and holds a tumbler of Singe Malt in his hands…)

This game alone justifies buying an Xbox One X.  I paid 254 Euros for mine when it was on sale a few months ago. Odyssey was also on sale. So for less than 300 bucks, I was perfectly entertained for around four months. A brand new console title is sold for 70 bucks. Even should I never play another game on the One X, I think the console and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey were worth every damn penny that I paid for them. The Series X is due around Christmas, so you could tell me that I was nuts buying that console only a few weeks before its successor was released. But hell, I don’t regret buying the One X and Odyssey one bit.

This game is fucking awesome.

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Jul 05 2020

Microsoft Ubuntu

“Microsoft and Canonical have partnered to bring an outstanding value proposition for Ubuntu users on Azure; no other platform has this level of performance, security and platform integration.”
– Christian Reis, VP Public Cloud, on https://ubuntu.com/azure

I’m calling it: In a few years from now, Microsoft will announce the acquisition of Canonical Ltd. and Ubuntu will become an official Microsoft product. Just like they did it with Xamarin and Github.

Truth be told, I even believe that this would be a good thing for all Ubuntu users. But that’s just me, and I have given up on being idealistic and ideological and political about Open Source platforms or software in general.

Software is a tool like a hammer or a screwdriver; you use a tool that fits in your budget to get a job done. I have never seen craftspeople who expected their tools to be “free” (as in beer or speech for that matter), exactly like nobody ever expected craftspeople to work for free.

Nowadays, even Free and Open Source software (FOSS) is mostly used to build proprietary (cloud-based) (subscription) services. Free and Open Source software just makes it more economic for companies and corporations to build these services – but it doesn’t actually help the users anymore to gain a level of independence and sovereignty over their computing platforms. That might still have been the ultimate argument for FOSS in the 1990s and early 2000s, when desktop computers were the big thing. But then came the Internet and it made the desktop computer irrelevant, just like it made the client operating system irrelevant; we only care for the app or the web browser that we use, not for the OS it runs on.

Today, almost everything lives in the cloud – and all the great idealistic ideas behind FOSS from a few decades ago don’t help the user there anymore. Now it’s just about the numbers in the financial spreadsheets.

So, it won’t matter anymore at all if Microsoft will own the most popular Linux distribution on the planet. Microsoft is no longer the Evil Empire that rules the desktop with an iron fist – the Internet destroyed that power a long time ago and it allowed new players to become dominant.

Microsoft now tries to own a huge chunk of the Internet’s true backbone: The data centers that host the Internet’s servers and services, commonly described as “cloud”, and Microsoft even gave it a color: Azure.

“We’re building out Azure as the world’s computer.
— Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, in his ”Vision Keynote” at the Microsoft Build 2019 Conference

I believe that the Science-Fiction series “The Expanse” very accurately shows what computing will look like in the not so distant future: Our smart phones will turn into ‘converging’ client systems and all the software and data will exclusively live and run in what we today call “the cloud”. Those smartphones in “The Expanse” can also turn into equivalents of “desktop systems” on demand. There won’t be any local intelligence on those devices anymore. Everything will be streamed from the cloud. And exactly as the show demonstrates, if the cloud is switched off, nothing will work anymore. But this is where we’re headed.

Back to today. According to Microsoft, roughly half of their Azure workloads run on Linux – so it would make sense to own the most popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu. (Yes, Microsoft have an own tiny Linux distribution designed to host Azure services. I just don’t know anybody who uses it.)

Since the 1990s, we have Windows Terminal Servers, now re-branded as “Remote Desktop Servers” – your Windows desktop actually runs on that server that you remote control via a Remote Desktop client.

Then we do not just stream music or movies over the Internet anymore, we already stream the most demanding software that we usually use on a desktop system: Games. We have Microsoft’s Project xCloud, we have Sony’s PS Now, we have Google Stadia, nVidia is also entering that market.

This all demands high bandwidth networks and Internet accessibility everywhere – lucky us, 5G is coming. And if the ISP’s won’t be able to provide 5G fast enough, I believe that Microsoft, Google and other big Internet companies will simply subsidize the network rollout. They need people to be able to access the net from everywhere at any time, and they have the financial resources to bankroll the infrastructure. Who owns the infrastructure controls the world’s computing.

Seriously, Free and Open Source software – or who owns a Linux distribution – was yesterday’s battle.

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