Suica & Apple Pay

Just a reminder of how far ahead this combo is in Japan compared to anything in the US:

Suica and Apple Pay is a perfect martini of fast cash and slow credit with the secret dash of always online mobile technology. Apple Pay Suica recharge completely removes the cash recharge docking requirement transforming Suica into a super slick card for transit and store purchases that uses the pokey credit card for occasional financial backing.

The mobile difference that removes the Suica cash recharge docking requirement makes all the difference. Purchasing or riding anything, anywhere, anytime is simply pulling iPhone out and holding it to the reader. It quickly becomes second nature.

From atadistance.net

Remapping Enter to Control?

I don’t know if I buy this as useful, but cool that it’s an option:

That’s actually even better than what I had originally suggested, as here it’s also suggested to use CapsLock with a dual purpose as well – Control when held down and Escape otherwise. I have no idea how this never came to my mind, but it’s truly epic! A crazy productivity boost just got even crazier!

From <a href=”http://emacsredux.com/blog/2017/12/31/a-crazy-productivity-boost-remapping-return-to-control-2017-edition/”>http://emacsredux.com/blog/2017/12/31/a-crazy-productivity-boost-remapping-return-to-control-2017-edition/</a>

New Year’s Eve 2017

Tonight I’m staring down the barrel of 2018 in the same seat I occupied 365 days ago. I’m 13.5 months into my Japan stay. I don’t do resolutions, but I have some notes:

  • I forgot or didn’t realize how much Tokyo empties out over New Year’s. Next year I want to plan a trip to a non-Japan and non-US destination.
  • I still don’t own a bicycle. It’s the perfect example of a Sunday night sudden recollection. I’ve added it to my task list for next week.
  • I want to get back to a destination every weekend. I’ve been content getting all “hygge” lately. That’s fine, but I can get cozy anywhere.
  • I want to add the dimension of traveling outside of Tokyo at least once a month. I intended to in the second half of last year but failed to plan adequately.
  • I’m in a rut as to restaurants, pubs, and haunts. I should set up some SMART goals to mix things up more.

I’m looking forward to starting Japanese classes in January. I get a reset-of-sorts at work which will be interesting. I might even host some of my friends at my house for a get together in January.

There is one thing resolution-ish in my wish list for 2018: I want to do nothing that I will regret.

Steve Purcell

Steve Purcell:

Melpa is a volunteer operation run by Steve Purcell. Everything that happens on Melpa happens because Purcell or one of his helpers spent their time doing it for free … we all owe Purcell thanks for a job well done and for donating his time for this unpaid but very important work …

(Via Emacs – Irreal)

I’m one of the many Emacs users who rely on Melpa for installing and updating packages. Thanks, Steve & volunteers, for your hard work!

Advertising

I would rather live in the world of Japanese commercials than American ads.

Reflection on #Japanese

If I’d studied and committed to memory one Japanese word or phrase each day since I moved here, I would know roughly 300 more words and phrases than I do.

Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Ambivolence as Empowerment

Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency

A former co-worker and former friend coined that phrase for me. He was fired for exercising that customer support philosophy far too stringently on a day-to-day basis (among many, many other sins). Both his mantra and eventual fate educated me.

Long after his departure, the poem “If” by Kipling stuck home:

“If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

The opening quote to this post takes on a new meaning if the opening of “If” is included.

Emergency responders, be they Emergency Medical Technicians or police or fire fighters, do what they do to their training. For example, if you find yourself impaled on a piece of rebar your sense of urgency is to remove the rebar. The EMT knows removing the rebar is the wrong thing to do. Maintaining your blood pressure, treating for shock, and many other things are more important.

Case in point: About 10 years ago my team and I were pressed into service performing real life disaster recovery for a business unit that planned for no such disaster. We came in and assessed the situation. We told our customer truths about the current state of affairs they did not want to hear. We required them to make hard choices about which they wanted to dither and debate. We, as part of a larger response team, got them back up and running far faster than they deserved based on their lack of planning.

Ultimately our value was as much in our not being emotionally invested as our ability. They needed a rational actor in what they experienced as a highly irrational environment. My team and I offered independent advice, provided facts, and ultimately used our skills and creative thinking to help our customer get back on line from a catastrophic event.

We could have empathized. We could have offered platitudes. We could have told them everything would be okay, that being strong in the face of adversity would overcome.

Again, our emotional ambivalence offered more value. We didn’t coddle or make people feel good about themselves. We were there to fix things. We needed the business to make decisions based off of uncomfortable and ugly facts. These were hard business choices – short term, medium term, or long term; pick one. Shop floor production or back office support? Payroll or shipping?

Our stark A/B questions caused a number of recalculations. Back office staff could be easily relocated elsewhere, so they were moved off site. Some finishing and shipping could be shifted to another site, too.

Some of the stuff we tried failed. When that happened, we tried something else. Today that’s called agile development.

The catastrophe evolved to an event to a disruption to restored service in 6 days. I don’t presume my team’s approach was the primary catalyst for the speedy resolution of things, but without a doubt it made a positive impact.

This story highlights the value of an emotionally independent or ambivalent actor with their wits about them when yours are completely invested. This is true in an emergency, but also true when yours are too invested in the status quo.

The Strange WannaCry Attribution

The Strange WannaCry Attribution:

I’ve been trying to figure out why the U.S. government thought it was useful to attribute the “WannaCry” attack to North Korea …

… I must be missing something here. Probably what I am missing is that the public attribution sends an important signal to the North Koreans about the extent to which we have penetrated their cyber operations and are watching their current cyber activities. But that message could have been delivered privately, and it does not explain why the United States delayed public attribution at least six months after its internal attribution, and two months after the U.K. had done so publicly. Perhaps the answer to the delay question, and another thing I am missing, is that the public attribution is part of larger plan related to a planned attack on North Korea because of its nuclear threat. Bossert’s unconvincing op-ed and incoherent press conference wouldn’t support either interpretation; and if either interpretation is right, it still comes at a cost to general deterrence. But perhaps, surely, hopefully, there is more here than meets the eye.

(Via Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices)

This WannaCry Attribution was a head scratcher for me, too. Listeners of the late lamented PVC Security podcast know that I am generally not a fan of attribution, or more specifically see only limited real life usefulness for 97% of companies’ and individuals’ security. For governments, intelligence agencies, the military, and law enforcement there is more value, but how much value so far after the fact?

This piece by Jack Goldsmith lays out pretty much every issue I have with this plus provides something of a timeline for those for whom this is ancient history (in security terms, anyway).

Got a theory or opinion on this?

Improving iOS keyboard support, maybe?

From Six Colors:

One major advantage of this, as Gurman says, is that it would potentially help breathe new life into the Mac App Store, which has never seen quite the same level of success as its iOS counterpart. Developers would still have to deploy a custom Mac UI optimized for trackpad and keyboard rather than iOS’s direct touch interaction, but much of the code could then be written once for both iOS and Mac apps.

Of course—and here I’m diverging into my own speculation—if Apple decided it wanted to create a direct-touch interface on the Mac, this would help that along as well. If apps already contain UIs that are optimized for touch, that could make it easier to bring touch capabilities to the rest of the Mac. It would still require some pretty large shakeups to adapt the rest of the macOS to a touch interface, but it could point the way towards a future unified platform.

One App platform to rule them all

While this speculation may come to pass, my hope is that it encourages developers to improve (and in some cases implement) better keyboard support in apps.

If this helps Apple come up with pointing device support like the trackpad (or mouse), that would be huge for professionals. I think this is a highly unlikely outcome, but one can hope.

Cybersecurity in the 2017 National Security Strategy

Cybersecurity in the 2017 National Security Strategy:

The administration should be given relatively high marks for the document’s cybersecurity components—especially for recognizing the breadth of the threat and that it’s going to take more than the help desk to fix it. Admittedly, that’s a pretty low bar. But National Security Strategy documents are not known as documents where big policy innovation occurs. Instead, the best you can usually do is articulate the broad contours of the main threats to national security coupled with some rough themes about what the government will do to make things better. Here, the administration does not isolate “the cyber” to the sidelines; instead, by talking about cyber issues throughout the document, the administration shows an understanding that cyberspace is a critical part to practically every aspect of national security.

(Via Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices)

I haven’t yet had the time to read the National Security Strategy (NSS) for the US, but I have read quite a bit of the analysis (I’m okay with spoilers). The cited post above is one of the most comprehensive I’ve come across.

The two big take-aways are the surprise at the focus on cybersecurity, as talked about in the quote above, and the lack of even a mention about better protecting elections.