Welcome indeed to the billionaire toyshop

Expensive toys for very rich boys


So you've finally done it. You had an idea, or successfully nicked one; you wrote some code, or had it written. The customers flocked to buy licences, or perhaps the unpaid Web-2.0 peon hordes spewed content in an endless stream while you booked ads on the eyeballs and waxed fat. Maybe that last bit never actually happened, but you managed to convince people it would and walked away after the IPO/buyout laughing and laughing and laughing.

Alternatively, you were born into the ruling family of an oil kingdom, or the property-owning oligarchy of a developing nation. Maybe you didn't inherit anything and never got involved with any kind of new idea; you just bought and sold humdrum stuff – real estate, comedic pieces of stockmarket paper, whatever – and did really well.

But all that is either unlikely or intensely dull or both, which is why almost all of us aren't billionaires. So let's skip rapidly over that and get to the good bit. You're a billionaire, however you got there. You've got all the basic trappings – cars, palatial homes worldwide, maybe a business jet or a helicopter or a few old propellor fighters. You know, the sort of things that smallfry have; Hollywood stars, mega-selling novelists, politicians and trailer trash of that type. Poor people.

But you're a billionaire, in the I-was-in-Microsoft-early league, along with the Third-World oligarchs and oil princes. You're so rich that buying consumer goods is a real problem for you – you simply can't find expensive enough stuff to really properly show off your wealth. Ordinary middle-class scum can have fun buying a mobile, a computer, a barbecue or maybe a car, better in some way than that possessed by their envious friends; but it's difficult for you.

In the old days, before proper personal technology, it was easier to display one's prosperity. Legend tells of a long-ago episode involving noted Oz tycoon Kerry Packer, in which he got into an argument over drinks at home regarding the details of a cricket match which had taken place some years previously.

Nowadays, any ordinary sports obsessive could slot in his treasured VHS tape or DVD, fire up his PVR file or call down some VoD goodness and so settle matters. But back then there was none of that. Packer, however, had the answer: he simply phoned a TV channel which he controlled and told them to interrupt what they were showing and re-run the relevant match.


Other stories you might like

  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading
  • Utility biz Delta-Montrose Electric Association loses billing capability and two decades of records after cyber attack

    All together now - R, A, N, S, O...

    A US utility company based in Colorado was hit by a ransomware attack in November that wiped out two decades' worth of records and knocked out billing systems that won't be restored until next week at the earliest.

    The attack was detailed by the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) in a post on its website explaining that current customers won't be penalised for being unable to pay their bills because of the incident.

    "We are a victim of a malicious cyber security attack. In the middle of an investigation, that is as far as I’m willing to go," DMEA chief exec Alyssa Clemsen Roberts told a public board meeting, as reported by a local paper.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021