October 9, 2021

Snippet: Japan’s Love Affair with the Fax Machine ☍

Hansun Hsiung for The Conversation:

Fast forward to 2021, and Japan’s high-tech image is peeling away. “Japan needs a software update”, the New York Times tells us. The country’s octogenarian IT minister, Naokazu Takemoto, has been mocked for his inability to maintain a functioning website. Japan, it seems, is lagging behind in the global race to digitise, despite being the home of Panasonic and Mitsubishi, of bullet trains and neon-lit urban life.

And nowhere is this better symbolised than in the country’s ongoing love affair with the fax machine. The 20th-century technology is still a fixture in many Japanese offices, where there remains an insistence on paper documents bearing personal seals. But rather than asking why Japanese businesses have patiently stood by their buzzing fax machines, perhaps we should really be asking: why do we find it so surprising? Why do representations equating Japan to high technologies persist so tenaciously, despite evidence to the contrary?

While fax machines haven’t gone away entirely here, it has always fascinated me how they were something that seemed extremely common in Japan even recently.

Snippet: A Text Message Routing Company Suffered a Five-Year-Long Breach ☍

Ian Carlos Campbell for The Verge:

Syniverse, a telecom company that helps carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T route messages between each other and other carriers abroad, disclosed last week that it was the subject of a possible five year long hack. If the name Syniverse sounds familiar, the company was also responsible for the disappearance of a swath of Valentine’s Day text messages in 2019.

The hack in question was brought to light in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Syniverse published last week. In it, Syniverse shares that in May 2021 it “became aware of unauthorized access to its operational and information technology systems by an unknown individual or organization.” The company did its due diligence notifying law enforcement and conducting an internal investigation, resulting in the discovery that the security breach first started in May 2016. That’s five years of (possibly) unfettered access.

I don’t really understand why Syniverse needs to exist in the first place and why they’re not under more scrutiny. In the US, there’s only a handful of carriers (if you count the big three and the regionals), so why can’t they handle something as basic as text message routing? At this point, with so many things outsourced, do the telecom companies do anything themselves?

Snippet: In Case Brent Doesn’t Write There Again ☍

Brent Simmons:

This blog is almost 22 years old, and in all that time I’ve been solid about posting regularly — until this recent dry spell.

I skipped the summer. Last post was in June. There was just one that month, and just one in May.

I have an explanation: while my health and physical circumstances are unchanged and, happily, fine, I have not felt the drive to write here that I always felt.

*Checks footer*…oh, I’ve also been doing this for 22 years and *checks sparse list of recent posts* things have also slowed down here. I get what Simmons is going through—while there’s a lot of technology-related things to talk about, so much of it is mature or I’ve already expressed an opinion on. The Facebook outage? Probably would’ve been worth a post in 2007. New iPhones? Even if I didn’t get one, would’ve been worth covering.

Instead, I’ve sort of found in the last year that I want to cover or share things that I think are worth posting, rather than just because it’s a big story or everyone else is covering it somehow. It might have changed the frequency of posts, but I’ll be sticking around for a bit. If you’re subscribed via RSS or Twitter, thank you. If not, there are a number of ways to (shameless plug).

Snippet: Ted Lasso is No Superhero (He’s Even Better Than That) ☍

Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic (via Matt Birchler):

One character alone can’t fully rid pop culture’s masculine paradigm of violence, cruelty, and destruction, a millennia-old model. (Although Gareth Southgate exists, so anything’s possible.) But the impact the series has had among viewers is pronounced because Ted is such a unicorn in a landscape of TV fathers and father figures who torture their children, murder their mistresses, cheat with interns, or fail their family altogether.

Considering my last post, it’s a bit weird to see the the various dynamics towards the end of this season of Ted Lasso (avoiding spoilers).

I found the first season wonderful, beingso upbeat and sweet in a time that we needed it. While the second season had its criticisms, I thought it did a wonderful job demonstrating the growth and development of characters and those interpersonal relationships. There’s not some obvious conflict, and I think that caused some people to complain there was no “villain” like Rebecca in the first season. I think it took some chances, and while some did not pay off, there were a lot of challenging and complex storylines, and the finale managed to wrap up many and set the stage for season three.

Finally, for what it’s worth, there’s a notion (including in Gilbert’s article) that the development of the Nate character might have been something cooked up for this season, but it seems some things were there from the very start.

October 5, 2021

Snippet: Former Players Accuse North Carolina Courage Coach Paul Riley of Sexual Coercion ☍

Meg Linehan and Katie Strang for The Athletic:

Former players have accused now-former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion spanning multiple teams and leagues since 2010, according to The Athletic.

Midfielder Sinead Farrelly played for Riley with three teams across three leagues, beginning in 2011. Farrelly told The Athletic that Riley often sat next to her at a bar where he regularly took the team, and eventually, she started to share deeply personal information with him. […]

Ahead of the Thorns’ 2015 season, Meleana “Mana” Shim became entangled in the “social culture” that Riley had cultivated in Portland and in his previous teams. Over time, he started texting Shim more often and asked her to watch film with him, even sometimes at his apartment and in his hotel room. […]

After the NWSL adopted a new anti-harassment policy earlier this year, Farrelly and Shim contacted the league to ask for a new investigation into Riley’s behavior. League commissioner Lisa Baird thanked them for raising their concerns but informed both former players the 2015 complaint was “investigated to conclusion,” and that she could not share any details.

This is not the usual content I post here, but I have covered NWSL things from time to time and this story, along with the fallout have been taking up a lot of my thoughts. I only provided a few excerpts from the free-to-read article (the behind-the-paywall one is way more detailed). Linehan and Strang show why journalism matters and it makes me a little disappointed that the various large, known media outlets only piggybacked on The Athletic’s reporting.

On the other hand, I think it shines a lot of on a lot of horrible things in our society, especially in certain industries or organizations. It’s such a shame it took six years for anything to even happen and one can only hope it encourages others to speak out and more importantly, those in power that can help to actually listen.