Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: EP503: Undeleted  (Read 11819 times)

eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109

bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #1 on: September 13, 2015, 07:53:13 PM
I loved this. Maybe partly because I have almost 20 years in the software industry, and I can see the day coming when people will think that because I don't currently know the latest tech, I'm washed up. Hasn't happened yet, though.



Izmir

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #2 on: September 14, 2015, 10:05:17 PM
I could not get past the narrator's terrible attempts at a Japanese accent. Seriously just sounded like a racist caricature, varying from a Ken Watanabe impersonation to the yellow-face actor in the WII propaganda film "My Japan" (I would link it, but apparently I am not allowed to post links).

Seriously, this was so offensive it drew me out of 10 years of listening and lurking. Could not make it more than 3 minutes into the actual story before having to find some music to listen to.



bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #3 on: September 15, 2015, 03:02:52 AM
I was wondering about the accent. Would love to hear from Japanese speakers on that one.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #4 on: September 15, 2015, 04:49:20 PM
I liked this one! It felt like it could have happened in the background of Snow Crash or the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, both of which I recently listened to (well, listened to again in the case of the first). It was classic cyberpunk, but very personal. I particularly liked the fact that we got to see a story of an older man - someone usually marginalized and cast out - getting one over on a young punk. Well done!

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


matweller

  • EA Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 678
Reply #5 on: September 15, 2015, 08:27:38 PM
I could not get past the narrator's terrible attempts at a Japanese accent. Seriously just sounded like a racist caricature, varying from a Ken Watanabe impersonation to the yellow-face actor in the WII propaganda film "My Japan" (I would link it, but apparently I am not allowed to post links).

Seriously, this was so offensive it drew me out of 10 years of listening and lurking. Could not make it more than 3 minutes into the actual story before having to find some music to listen to.
The narrator is half American, half Asian, though not Japanese. It was a lot less of a caricature than I could have mustered.



Zelda

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 78
Reply #6 on: September 16, 2015, 05:27:06 AM
The narrator is half American, half Asian, though not Japanese. It was a lot less of a caricature than I could have mustered.

By half American do you mean half white? They aren't the same thing.

I think the choice to have the narrator read the characters with Japanese accents was unfortunate. They were all speaking their native language so that's not the way they were hearing each other. The task of giving distinctive voices to a variety of characters while also giving them all the same accent (which is not your own) is almost unimaginatively difficult.



Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
Reply #7 on: September 16, 2015, 08:12:32 AM
The narrator is half American, half Asian, though not Japanese. It was a lot less of a caricature than I could have mustered.

By half American do you mean half white? They aren't the same thing.

I think the choice to have the narrator read the characters with Japanese accents was unfortunate. They were all speaking their native language so that's not the way they were hearing each other. The task of giving distinctive voices to a variety of characters while also giving them all the same accent (which is not your own) is almost unimaginatively difficult.

Woah,

Let's not jump to conclusions, and don't forget what happens when you make assumptions.
 
My children are half American, half European, that by no mean makes them white.  That refers to nationality, not race.  Half American, half Asian also refers to nationality, not race.  As the comment was directed toward an accent which was language specific and not race specific.   

They are two continents not two races and there are many races in America and in Asia.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 08:15:43 AM by Not-a-Robot »



Not-a-Robot

  • Guest
Reply #8 on: September 16, 2015, 08:29:47 AM
I could not get past the narrator's terrible attempts at a Japanese accent. Seriously just sounded like a racist caricature, varying from a Ken Watanabe impersonation to the yellow-face actor in the WII propaganda film "My Japan" (I would link it, but apparently I am not allowed to post links).

Seriously, this was so offensive it drew me out of 10 years of listening and lurking. Could not make it more than 3 minutes into the actual story before having to find some music to listen to.

Let's not jump to the conclusion that the reader was trying to be offensive.  I live in Germany, do you know how many bad, fake German accents there are out there?  Actually let's go one further, did you know that people in the North speak totally different than people in the South?  Did you know that you can easily distinguish north German from Bavarian from Swiss From Austrian and that all of these regions sound different when speaking?  They may even sound different when they speak English, I don't know.  I've never studied it.

Let's cut the reader some slack, as I am sure he wasn't doing it on purpose to offend anyone. 

P.S. I read Winnie the Pooh to my daughter all the time, slaughtering the English accents, but I don't deserve to be compared to anti-British propaganda from the American Revolution.

*sings Yankee-doodle.   

P.P.S.  The Disney version of Winnie the Pooh has US American accents, and I find that way more offensive to A.A. Milne.




Zelda

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 78
Reply #9 on: September 16, 2015, 10:16:18 PM
The narrator is half American, half Asian, though not Japanese. It was a lot less of a caricature than I could have mustered.

By half American do you mean half white? They aren't the same thing.


Woah,

Let's not jump to conclusions, and don't forget what happens when you make assumptions.
  

I'm not jumping to conclusions. It's a question. The problem is that "half American" is completely meaningless in that context.



Zelda

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 78
Reply #10 on: September 16, 2015, 10:34:37 PM
I disagree with Alasdair's interpretation of the story. I think that as a result of misremembering what the wife said at the airport he significantly underrates her intelligence. The wife doesn't say "I'm so stupid," she says "I'm so useless." This is a direct reference to the snippet of conversation Kentaro overheard when he was in Saito's home.

Quote
“How many times have I told you not to forget to set the alarm?” Saito said. “I did set it,” a woman replied. “Then why is it off? You’re so useless!”

The wife knew she had set the alarm but Saito ignored what she said. Either at that time or later she realized there was a strange pair of shoes in the house but because Saito had been so rude to her she didn't tell him about them. There's no doubt in my mind that at the airport the wife realized from Kentaro's shoes that he was the man who had broken into their house. A useful wife would have alerted her husband. But because Saito called her useless she chose to be useless. She knew from the earlier incident that Kentaro wasn't going to do anything violent so her silence wouldn't put Saito in danger.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #11 on: September 16, 2015, 10:36:57 PM
To weigh in on the growing controversy, have two points:
 1) I know that Escape Artists has the best of intentions. They have clearly put forth huge effort to find native speakers for languages and dialects and create an inclusive environment in their stories.
 2) In this case, the accent was probably a mistake, both because the characters were speaking their own language (personally, I think the "if they are speaking whatever, but it's for an English-speaking audience, we'll just have them speaking English with a whatever accent" trope is pretty dumb - I'd rather they just speak English so that their words will be available to the audience in the same way that they are available to the other characters) and because the narrator's attempt at an accent seems to have ticked some folks off.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


matweller

  • EA Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 678
Reply #12 on: September 17, 2015, 02:59:41 AM
The narrator is half American, half Asian, though not Japanese. It was a lot less of a caricature than I could have mustered.

By half American do you mean half white? They aren't the same thing.


Woah,

Let's not jump to conclusions, and don't forget what happens when you make assumptions.
  

I'm not jumping to conclusions. It's a question. The problem is that "half American" is completely meaningless in that context.
First, I actually think it's only meaningful in this context since Americans of any lineage have a significant chance of speaking the same standard American English. Where as "white", "red" and "brown" mean nothing in terms of natural accent.

Second, I don't know the narrator's flavor of American, "half American, half Asian, though not Japanese" is actually a direct quote from an email from the narrator because I asked, knowing that no matter if it was done in Japanese by someone in Japan some anime fanatic was going to freak out. Unfortunately, I know I'm not a good judge of the quality of an Asian accent unless it's so over the top as to be audio blackface, which this isn't by a long shot.

I made an honest attempt to be authentic enough to add something to the story. Now I know not to expect a call from a reporter at Asian Accent Aficionado Magazine. Thanks for saving me the time of waiting by the phone.  :D



bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #13 on: September 18, 2015, 02:23:22 PM
I disagree with Alasdair's interpretation of the story. I think that as a result of misremembering what the wife said at the airport he significantly underrates her intelligence. The wife doesn't say "I'm so stupid," she says "I'm so useless." This is a direct reference to the snippet of conversation Kentaro overheard when he was in Saito's home.

Quote
“How many times have I told you not to forget to set the alarm?” Saito said. “I did set it,” a woman replied. “Then why is it off? You’re so useless!”

The wife knew she had set the alarm but Saito ignored what she said. Either at that time or later she realized there was a strange pair of shoes in the house but because Saito had been so rude to her she didn't tell him about them. There's no doubt in my mind that at the airport the wife realized from Kentaro's shoes that he was the man who had broken into their house. A useful wife would have alerted her husband. But because Saito called her useless she chose to be useless. She knew from the earlier incident that Kentaro wasn't going to do anything violent so her silence wouldn't put Saito in danger.
This is how I understood it, too.



Aidan

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Reply #14 on: September 19, 2015, 12:07:14 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm the author of the story. (This is my first post on the forums). Thank you very much the comments!

I thought for the most part the narrator did a good job with what could be a difficult story to read, but I would have preferred it if the characters weren't given exaggerated accents (even though it does make it easier to distinguish who is speaking). Since they're speaking Japanese and we're getting an English translation, a "neutral" accent would have probably worked better in this case.

I loved this. Maybe partly because I have almost 20 years in the software industry, and I can see the day coming when people will think that because I don't currently know the latest tech, I'm washed up. Hasn't happened yet, though.
I'm in a similar position career wise. I like to think of Undeleted as a computer programmer reimagining of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. :)
I remember overhearing a conversation on a train between boys that looked around 10 years old. One was complaining that it was so difficult to teach his grandparents to do something as "simple as using a smartphone".

The wife knew she had set the alarm but Saito ignored what she said. Either at that time or later she realized there was a strange pair of shoes in the house but because Saito had been so rude to her she didn't tell him about them. There's no doubt in my mind that at the airport the wife realized from Kentaro's shoes that he was the man who had broken into their house. A useful wife would have alerted her husband. But because Saito called her useless she chose to be useless.
Yes. :)

One of my friends in Japan had the situation where ambulance officers came to his friend's apartment when he was there. The officers took off their shoes before entering and this detail stuck with me.

I liked this one! It felt like it could have happened in the background of Snow Crash or the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, both of which I recently listened to (well, listened to again in the case of the first). It was classic cyberpunk, but very personal. I particularly liked the fact that we got to see a story of an older man - someone usually marginalized and cast out - getting one over on a young punk. Well done!
Snow Crash is one of my favorite novels. :)

The idea of a yakuza mob boss retiring to become a Buddhist priest was inspired by a real world example.
I can't post links but if you google "Japanese underworld boss quits crime to turn Buddhist" there's a Guardian article about "Tadamasa Goto, one of Japan's most notorious underworld bosses, is to enter the Buddhist priesthood less than a year after his volatile behaviour caused a rift in the country's biggest crime syndicate."



adrianh

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 752
    • quietstars
Reply #15 on: September 19, 2015, 07:41:01 AM
Mildly enjoyed it, but I lost my suspension of disbelief a few times. The biggest issue for me was the transition from the underdog to conquering hero seemed a little bit too quick and simple. Kentaro's search-engine-training-montage didn't really convince.

The other big thing was that Kentaro's internal model of his own competence seems out-of-whack.

If he was a "superhacker" then he would know that, without having spent significant time and effort in-prison (somehow), or since his release, he would be massively out of date. I used to be pretty good at that security side fifteen years back, but I've been focused on other stuff since. I would never in a million years think I would be competent to jump back into that arena without some remedial learning first. The technology and communities around the field evolve too fast. And I'm still "in" software development on a daily basis and haven't been locked up for thirty years.

So if Kentaro was a superhacker, he would never have gone into that initial meeting so unprepared and with such a poor understanding of his own skill level. If he wasn't a superhacker he wouldn't have been able to get "good" fast.

He might have gone in to that meeting desperate, not having an alternative, knowing he would likely fail, and hoping for loyalty from the old firm… but that wasn't the vibe I got from that initial meeting.

Other things that niggled for me.

* The SFnal elements felt tacked on to me. You could take a few years off the setting, change mom's illness, and the story would work just as well.  Better even, because…

* Even with just the few extra years in the future the story is set in, it seems unlikely to me that the phone wouldn't have some kind of biometric security on the 2FA. Several of the devices in my home have fingerprint recognition right now. Why does the status conscious mob-boss have a retro phone? :–)

* In the same way it seems really unlikely that any sensible mob boss would be doing stuff on their home desktop. Criminals are already getting wise to things like key loggers — and this is another five/ten years in the future. The level of opsec for a major crime lord seems… poor ;-)

* I can't think of any international airport I've been in where I could have a reasonable chance of inserting myself into a specific part of the security queue. The plan relies on luck far too much.

* In the timeline, if Kentaro was in computer security, he would have been familiar with rainbow tables. They've been talked about since the 1980s. SQL injection attack since the 1990s. Again, Kentaro's level of competence and knowledge seems off.

None of these things completely ruined the story for me, but they kept popping me out of it so I could see the machinery (as it were).



TrishEM

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 189
Reply #16 on: September 20, 2015, 09:14:44 AM
There was never any question in my mind of whether the wife recognized the shoes. Her choosing to ignore them, and what was going on, and her quiet mockery of her husband (and of her own resignation to her denigrated situation) when she said, "I'm so useless," was my favorite part of the story.

I liked that the protagonist was older, trying to fit into a culture where he'd lost touch. Although I was mildly bothered by the issues that jarred adrianh, I was able to forgive the training-montage aspect because as it turned out, Kintaro had to use physical means to accomplish his ends. Presumably the young boss is so cutting-edge with Internet crime that he has forgotten the importance of on-the-ground security (aside from the easily sidestepped alarm system).



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #17 on: September 20, 2015, 04:48:04 PM
There was never any question in my mind of whether the wife recognized the shoes. Her choosing to ignore them, and what was going on, and her quiet mockery of her husband (and of her own resignation to her denigrated situation) when she said, "I'm so useless," was my favorite part of the story.

I liked that the protagonist was older, trying to fit into a culture where he'd lost touch. Although I was mildly bothered by the issues that jarred adrianh, I was able to forgive the training-montage aspect because as it turned out, Kintaro had to use physical means to accomplish his ends. Presumably the young boss is so cutting-edge with Internet crime that he has forgotten the importance of on-the-ground security (aside from the easily sidestepped alarm system).

Actually, my impression is that real-life infocrime often involves this kind of real world work. In a cost/risk/benefit analysis, it's often a lot easier to use some real world manipulations, when practical, to give you the access you need for the cyberattack to come.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


kkingsbury

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #18 on: September 20, 2015, 09:03:08 PM
I'm one of those who couldn't get past the accented speech, either. Agree with the above comments that since they're all speaking Japanese to each other, they all hear each other's accents as "not foreign," so the accents are superfluous. Foreignizing the accents of people who all speak and understand a language fluently is a big peeve of mine in audiobooks and podcasts. If the story had been about Japanese characters all speaking English, there would be a reason to have the accent. Add onto this the issue that I didn't even recognize the accents were supposed to be Japanese until the yazuka was mentioned.

That said, I didn't take it as anyone trying to be intentionally offensive or trying to make fun of Japanese people. But things can offend whether the offense is intentional or not.

I took a break because I was so distracted by the accent. This was my first listen to Escapepod and it didn't leave a good impression (mostly because of the accent). I'll try to finish the ep later and download some random ones to see if the show's for me, as I've gotten strong recommendations from others.



wintermute

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1291
  • What Would Batman Do?
Reply #19 on: September 21, 2015, 03:13:23 PM
Mildly enjoyed it, but I lost my suspension of disbelief a few times. The biggest issue for me was the transition from the underdog to conquering hero seemed a little bit too quick and simple. Kentaro's search-engine-training-montage didn't really convince.

To be fair, his "hack" involved exactly zero programming. He plugged in an off-the-shelf hardware component to capture passwords, and he stole a phone to be able to authenticate his transaction. There's no reason to assume that a smart 15-year-old with no hacking experience couldn't have come up with this and had a fair chance of pulling it off.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


HeartSailor

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • My Hobby
Reply #20 on: September 22, 2015, 03:22:41 AM
"There's no reason to assume that a smart 15-year-old with no hacking experience couldn't have come up with this and had a fair chance of pulling it off."

I can think of a LOT of reasons a 15 year old would not be able to pull this off.

For what it's worth, I have never met a 15 year old, especially one who might have the technical prowess to pull this off, who ever bothered to take their shoes off when they went into a house.  Before your say, "But wait!  That's a good thing!  Then the shoes would not have been found by the wife!"  

Yeees, but the 15 year old with shoes would have tracked mud all over the very clean interior, making it look like the gardener spilled loam out of the potted plant the gardener dragged throughout the house.  Hardly inconspicuous.  

I know this is how it works, as I have one of these 15 year old things in my house right now.

Other things a 15 year old would have done which would not have gone well in the breaking and entering scene:
1.  They would have tripped over their shoelaces and fallen.
2.  They would have brought their cat/gerbil/dog with them.
3.  Their phone would have been continually beeping with incessant text messages as they tried to hide in the closet.
4.  5 "best friends" would have been waiting for them outside, trying to hide in the bushes but giggling too loudly not to be caught.
5.  They would have found the X-box/Nintendo in the back room and would be playing "Call of Duty" as Saito came home.

I could go on...

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.  Thomas Merton


wintermute

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1291
  • What Would Batman Do?
Reply #21 on: September 22, 2015, 09:53:30 AM
For what it's worth, I have never met a 15 year old, especially one who might have the technical prowess to pull this off, who ever bothered to take their shoes off when they went into a house.

Well, that's a cultural thing. I'm pretty sure most Japanese 15-year-olds would reflexively remove their shoes on entering a house.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #22 on: September 22, 2015, 06:16:42 PM
I did notice the accents, but don't want to pile on.

Overall I enjoyed the story.  There were a few parts where I had trouble suspending disbelief.  
1.   That he came so unprepared for the interview with the crime boss.  Anyone who has expertise in computers (and most people who don't) is going to understand that a few years away is going to give you a major handicap.  Thirty years of time gap is the difference in the gaming world between the technology for Super Mario Bros and the tech for Halo 5. Or in movie special effects the difference between Tron and Avatar.
2.  That he took his shoes off during the robbery.  I know it's a cultural thing.  I hear the thing about paramedics removing shoes, but paramedics also aren't concerned with being unnoticed when they enter someone's home.  Maybe this makes sense for someone in the culture, but I had trouble believing it.
3.  That he bought the exact same brand and style of shoes and then wore those exact same shoes while he was going through the security line where he had to remove his shoes and put them on the rollers next to the people who might have seen the shoes.

That being said, #2 and #3 were necessary for the really pivotal moment of the story for me, when the crime boss's wife sees the shoes.  I didn't think there was any ambiguity about that moment.  She apparently had thrown away the original shoes, and recognized this new set here.  She apparently feels, in general, like she is in a position of no power, beholden to a man that has immense power and unable to have any effect on her own life or the lives of others.  But here she recognizes an opportunity.  She has the power to bring consequences down on this man who broke into her house or to have a quiet effect blocking her husband's effectiveness at always getting what he wants and in the course of that allow this stranger to go free.  She takes the opportunity to have some control over her own life and both she and this complete stranger are happier for it.  

I thought that was a really interesting element of power she had in that pivotal moment, and I can see why she made the decision she did.  Her husband tells her she is useless, no matter what she does, and so in this moment she makes a choice to be less useful to him than she would otherwise be, and in that quiet and unnoticed decision, she has control.  That moment made the story, for me.


I thought the memory restore thing felt kind of tacked on--a justification to need the money but the idea itself was interesting enough I wondered why more wasn't done with it or cut entirely.





Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3919
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #23 on: September 22, 2015, 09:19:35 PM

To be fair, his "hack" involved exactly zero programming.


The best hacking is social hacking.

I enjoyed the story. I have a soft spot for cyberpunk stories featuring underdogs forced out of retirement. Many years of Shadowrun is probably to blame.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


hardware

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 192
Reply #24 on: September 24, 2015, 09:12:15 AM
As much as I liked the concept of the story and enjoyed hearing it there were a few things that kept it from being great. Sure, the accent was not necessary but didn't take away too much of my enjoyment (perhaps because I'm not native english nor japanese). However the storytelling honestly felt a bit forced. The foreshadowing with the shoes were a bit too obvious and the scam went a little too smoothly and conveniently.

Also, even if you have been in prison, I would expect that you would know what a smartphone is and seen someone operate one - I would even guess that a hacker would have more opportunity than most to keep his crime skills up to date - at least on a theoretical level. That being said, I wasn't surprised that he went to the interview non-prepared, since he counted on being hired on reputation rather than skill.  Also, the final moment with the wife was well done and made me smile. The story could (maybe should) have ended there, really.