WhatsApp and Privacy: Get The Facts Right

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 11.10.33 AM
I’m pretty surprised that WhatsApp’s official website hasn’t updated its screenshots.

The hoo-hah over WhatsApp’s changes to its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy has caused quite a stir recently, with many groups calling foul to WhatsApp’s doings as a sly move in an attempt to make more money. I certainly thought that it was a bad move on WhatsApp, but in light of recent discussions I’ve seen from friends in our conversations and on Facebook, I decided to dive into the situation to shed some light on the actual facts (instead of the erroneous claims that is often seen on social media).


Yes, WhatsApp is sharing your phone number with Facebook, but that doesn’t mean random people can see your phone number.

I was initially skeptical about this, but it turns out that this is indeed happening, despite what WhatsApp claims in the “Account” page:

Your chats and phone number will not be shared onto Facebook regardless of this setting.

I believe that it’s clever wordplay intended to misguide users here – “shared onto Facebook” probably means that your personal information will not be, in any way, visible to the news feed, or any feature on Facebook that can be viewed by other users in a social context.

Your phone number, however, will still be imported into Facebook’s systems, through a two-tier approach implemented by the opt-out feature (the checkbox in your Account settings):

  • If you do not opt-out, your mobile number will be used for future value-added services, as quoted from the WhatsApp blog post:

    Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls. We want to test these features in the next several months, but need to update our terms and privacy policy to do so.

    And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.

  • If you opt-out, none of that will happen to you, but your phone number is still being shared into Facebook’s systems for other services that do not impact you on a personal level:

    The Facebook family of companies will still receive and use this information for other purposes such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities.

While this may potentially introduce spam calls and messages, I think the services that WhatsApp is planning to implement seem exciting enough for me to remain opted in – after all, who doesn’t want their life made simpler?


No, your chats will not be readable by WhatsApp.

In addition, when you and your contacts use the latest version of our app, your messages are end-to-end encrypted by default. When your messages are end-to-end encrypted, only the people you are messaging with can read them – not WhatsApp, Facebook, or anyone else.

That’s that. No privacy concerns here.


Yes, WhatsApp did not honor its promise of upholding privacy as a priority.

When WhatsApp was launched in 2009, its founders promised not to sell your personal information to anyone. They reaffirmed this in 2014. Guess not.


Ultimately, I wasn’t surprised at the bold move – after all, we are using a free service, and WhatsApp using these information to build a better ecosystem (and earn money, I guess) should be expected. Of course, them going back on their word is another matter that will definitely make people lose their trust in WhatsApp.

Advertisements

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Featured image credit: finalfantasy.wikia.com

If you liked Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, you’ll like Kingsglaive.

Audi-R8-Final-Fantasy-XV-Kingsglaive-screenshot-01
Product placement much? Photo credit: paultan.org

Kingsglaive introduced me to the breathtaking world of Eos – a place paralleling our mother Earth, but with the inclusion of magic and Final Fantasy-style mechana. Captivating the audience with its realistic depiction of magic-infused battles, Kingsglaive did not disappoint in its CGI. Especially the characters’ hair. It’s like everyone came out from L’Oréal commercial. Haha!

ffxv-kingsglaive-date
Photo credit: xboxachievements.com

My favourite character in terms of accurate human recreation has got to be King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII – the amount of detail on the wrinkles on his face was impressive!

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.27.02 PM
Photo credit: Youtube

The use of magic for short range teleportation to the location of a thrown dagger was the main attraction of combat in Kingsglaive, and it really shines. The CGI was detailed beautifully in its rendered fast scenes, which kept me at the edge of my seat through the various battles with monsters or empowered humans alike.

Kingsglaive-Final-Fantasy-XV-Characters-11
Photo credit: attackofthefanboy.com

One thing I really look out for in movies is its cinematography, and Square Enix lives up to the hype. Kingsglaive’s interpretation of a modern FF-inspired world combines the best elements of contemporary architecture with the freeform, slick elements of magic to construct its unique but relatable huildings, giving a unique sense of realism while establishing itself as a fantasy.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.33.00 PM
Photo credit: Youtube

The rugged presentation of its plot, however, left me slightly disappointed, as there were times I felt characters were behaving a certain way only to advance the story. Of note is Libertus’ changing viewpoints on the empire and Lucis, which was the weakest element to me.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 1.33.44 PM
The magical shields were rendered beautifully. Photo credit: Youtube

The movie also threw the audience into action immediately, using only a short narration to introduce the audience to the ongoing conflict, which wouldn’t capture our attention and appreciation for the hardships the characters have gone through, in my opinion. I would accept some sacrifices in action scene time for more development any day.

Furthermore, the twist of the story, while surprising, did not draw its intended shock from me, again largely due to the lack of empathy for the characters in question. It could definitely be handled better.

Kingsglaive-FFXV-Featured-Image
Not enough development for Lunafreya 😦 Photo credit: nerdist.com

All in all, it’s a good watch for people who enjoy the fast-paced action that Kingsglaive offers, especially for those who have played the game. While it’s storyline leaves much to be desired, the art that Square Enix has created makes this worth a watch in my opinion.

P/S: the Lucci gods are bastards..

“If It Doesn’t Suck, It’s Not Worth Doing.”

Featured photo credit: huffingtonpost.com

Yesterday night, I was about to do my pull up routine at the pull up bar below my HDB block – when I noticed a guy sitting at a chair beside the training area.

I left without any attempts.

I justified to myself, you can do it tomorrow. It would be uncomfortable showing your incompetency.

Then I went home, did the routine stuff, and thanks to me convincing myself to read an article before I sleep, I read this.

No more of this bullshit.

I’m stuck in a rut, and I have a plan for pulling myself out of it. Not gonna say what yet, because –

You are rewarded for the work you actually accomplish. Not the promises you make. – Ryan Holiday

I hope this story has encouraged you to stop giving yourself excuses for the goals you want to achieve.

It starts from within. Now.

This post was written on 8/3.

Suicide Squad

So.. did Suicide Squad save the DC film universe?

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!
maxresdefault
A bunch of weirdos doing their thang, because the Dark Knight and the Scarlet Speedster couldn’t be bothered to help. But, logic. Photo credit: Youtube

Let’s first talk about the good stuff –

Harley Quinn

suicide-squad-harley-quinn-margot-robbie
Spectacular acting from Margot Robbie. Photo credit: collider.com

The character Harley Quinn singlehandedly brought that light-hearted and silly humour that the show very much needed, much thanks to Margot Robbie’s goofy portrayal of the Queen of Gotham. She cracks the silliest jokes like a baby girl at the most inappropriate situations (for a good laugh) to slacken the atmosphere. Definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie, but she could be less sexualized, I guess.

El Diablo

cladq6vwiaat_y_
Because fire is cool. Photo credit: superherohype.com

The only supporting cast to get his own character development, Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo transforms from being afraid of his own identity to setting foot on his path to redemption through the show. I appreciated the subplot intertwining within the main storyline, and El Diablo really felt like the X-Factor that made or broke the team. And of course, the best part is when he went full bankai – sooooo exciting!

Then for the mehhhh things –

Joker

the-joker_0
Jared Leto tried out a few laughs for his character, and not all of them were appropriate 😂 Photo credit: ew.com

Despite having a really large shoe to fill from the late Heath Ledger’s incarnation of the character, Jared Leto exhibited his own personality in his own rendition of the deranged clown, and I enjoyed his acting on screen. Regrettably, the Joker felt more like a convenient plot tool in this show to drive certain developments forward, and in my opinion his behaviour in the show was logically inconsistent, particularly at the points where he chose not to save Harley Quinn. It might just be me though.

And the areas for improvement,

The Objective (Enchantress)

1352286317399127229560288049834248822097345ojpg
Cara Delevingne goes crazy in the show. Photo credit: inverse.com

If the Enchantress is really that powerful, I’m pretty sure that she could’ve found ways to gain her freedom through other means, instead of how it was portrayed in the movie. Also, the whole world domination thing is really becoming too cliche at this moment.. and how she got taken down was another disappointment, at least for me.

Script and Filming Decisions

suicide-squad-wb-2
Killer Croc gets left out of the limelight. Credits: zap2it.com

Although the movie is said to feature an “ensemble cast”, it is obvious that Will Smith and Margot Robbie gets the most on-screen time. I felt that this was a waste as the characters of Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang deserves their own development as well, and this is definitely possible as seen in Marvel’s Avengers movie (at least the first) and the more recent Civil War. Something DC can learn from Marvel perhaps.

Furthermore, the whole film felt rather disjointed transitioning from scene to scene – seems like the reshoots and last-minute edits disrupted the film’s overall cohesiveness.


All in all, Suicide Squad was generally an enjoyable film, but definitely not of blockbuster quality. But if you’ve seen reviews (and/or read up to this point), your expectations should be lowered to a point where the movie can be fun to watch. 😂

 

Mobius Final Fantasy

While everyone is enjoying the mobile craze that is Pokémon GO, I’m one of the few that remains uninterested at the game – primarily because the game felt more like a tech demo without any cognitive benefits to playing it. That’s for another blog post though! For now, I’ve been engrossed in the mobile game Square Enix released a few days ago, that is Mobius Final Fantasy.

final-fantasy-7-remake-crossover-mobius-final-fantasy.jpg.optimal
Photo credit: gamerant.com

Unlike the previous mobile offering from Square Enix, Mobius Final Fantasy drew me into its world due to its fully 3D graphics, a feat that’s seldom accomplished in a free-to-play mobile RPG game. Though my phone (Zenfone 2) wasn’t able to render the game at full quality (and stutters sometimes through the game), the world that Mobius Final Fantasy created, Palamecia, still attracts me with its realistic interpretation of a Final Fantasy-esque world, with its monsters, elements, characters and spells.

Which brings me to one of the most unique aspects of the game – it’s played in portrait! I was pleasantly surprised as most RPG games required you to play the game in landscape, which usually means with two hands. The controls are touch-optimized and I really felt that I was playing a proper mobile game with a touch of the Final Fantasy experience.

Screenshot_20160807-021027
Boss battle against a Fire Dragon.

Battles are turn-based, which might disappoint players who are used to the Active Time Battle (ATB) system that various flagship titles from the series have employed. However, the combat experience still offers enough complexity, in the form of using elemental orbs you acquired from enemies for either offense or defense; using an element for defense will affect the probability of drawing the particular element for subsequent turns, which is a key strategic element that I really enjoy.

“You need to put on some clothes.” Best dialogue ever.

The story is written by the mind behind Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X, and while I have only played the game for a short period of time, the initial setting was intriguing enough to keep me captivated – some of the dialogue is beautifully written.

Outside the main storyline and battle elements, character customization is in the form of a pseudo-deck building system that involves collecting cards from enemies and levelling them up. This aspect of the game is the most confusing and complex to me, as there are many different benefits from equipping a single card and the tutorial kinda vomitted the entire system in one go – it can be intimidating at first but I’m still trying to get the hang of it! At least there’s jobs that you can switch around, which is a nice touch.

Screenshot_20160807-164452
Social elements – renting cards from other players for spells

As mobile games are often played on the go, many of us would switch the sound off, especially if we are not wearing earphones. However, I strongly recommend playing the game with sounds on – composer Mitsuto Suzuki has done a fantastic job in crafting the perfect ambient soundtracks for the game, and most of the dialogue are also voice-acted in pure Final Fantasy fashion. It’s a beautiful, quaint touch that makes Mobius Final Fantasy stand out from the crowded mobile game industry.

Of course, the game isn’t without its flaws – the constant requirement for an internet connection can be infuriating at times, especially when loading times are long. Also, the game has crashed on me multiple times, but luckily not too much to turn me off.


mobius-final-fantasy-logo

Photo credit: androidauthority.net

All in all, I would recommend the game to casual gamers who miss playing old RPG games like the old Final Fantasy playstation titles. You might just find it a more intelligent time waster compared to Pokémon GO. 🙂