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A Life Less Analog Technology

Racist tirade of tech CEO Michael Lofthouse vs Fil-Am family

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A white man who was identified as Michael Lofthouse, CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing company Solid8, was caught on video unleashing a racist tirade against a Filipino American family.

This disgusting, unprovoked attack happened over the Fourth of July weekend. The Orosa and Chan family from Southern California had taken a trip to Carmel Valley. They were celebrating a birthday at a restaurant when this racist started harassing them.

“’We were having fun, playing games and when we were having dessert, suddenly, we hear somebody behind us yelling, ‘You f***ing Asians,’ Raymond Orosa told the Asian Journal.

“On July 4, Orosa, along with his sister-in-law and her two children, was at the Bernardus Lodge and Spa’s Lucia restaurant to celebrate his wife Mari’s special day.”

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A Life Less Analog Geek Culture

D&D Live 2020: Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone

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Almost two weeks after it ended, I’m still on a D&D Live 2020 high. Not only did this star-studded virtual event raise money for charity, but also it proved that Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone.

I never got to play D&D in high school. My barkada and I always wanted to. We would stare longingly at the D&D manuals whenever we went to the bookstore. But they were too expensive.

It was only in college that my high school barkada and I finally got to play D&D. And I even became their Dungeon Master (DM). But I didn’t play D&D anymore after college. Not even the video games. But I always looked back at it fondly, and would occasionally check out the site or read articles about it.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

EdVision launched to help schools embrace e-learning

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To help schools transition to the new normal and embrace e-learning, Lenovo Philippines, in collaboration with Microsoft, has launched the EdVision program.

Even though classes in the Philippines are scheduled to reopen in August, schools will have to maintain learning through virtual platforms. This is to comply with the community quarantine and social distancing protocols. Under the EdVision program, a number of pioneer schools in the Philippines will get free access to online resources to help them through their education transformation journey. They will also enjoy complimentary or subsidized access to the latest solutions in education tech.

How prepared are schools for distance learning, not only in terms of technology but also teacher training? I posed this question to Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan at this afternoon’s virtual press briefing.

“There are really some schools that actually were prepared, and there are also some schools that are in the midst of preparing for the new normal. This education program is not just about selling the hardware to these schools. What Lenovo and Microsoft would like to really do is bring our expertise to the schools. To empower teachers, to empower the students, to adapt faster to these technologies around flexible learning. And we see a big portion of the education market today lagging behind in terms of adopting technology. And I think it’s not just going to be Lenovo there, it’s not just going to be Microsoft there. There will be other components, like our telco friends, who will have to play a big part in ensuring that flexible learning or distance learning will be carried out smoothly,” Ngan told Digital Life Asia.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Death of democracy: Why authoritarians like Facebook

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The death of democracy is happening right before our eyes. But many of us just go on with our daily lives. Pretending nothing is happening.

This is how democracy dies. Death by a thousand cuts. I live in a country which you might consider ground zero of the death of democracy. Where an award-winning journalist and Time Person of the Year has just been convicted over cyber libel charges. Because of a typo.

Ground zero because Filipinos are among the most avid users of Facebook. Ground zero because this country is the testing ground for weaponizing social media and creating an army of online trolls.

Facebook is a cancer. And yet so many of us still like it so much. Spending so much time on this platform of choice of authoritarians. Posting. Liking. Sharing. Commenting. Scrolling and scrolling, while democracy dies.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Facebook is a cancer that spreads racism and fascism

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I’ve stopped using my Facebook profile. I haven’t deactivated it yet, and I’m still maintaining the Facebook page of Digital Life Asia. But I sincerely believe Facebook is a cancer and look forward to the day when I will no longer have to use it. In fact, I look forward to the day when no one will be using Facebook anymore.

I don’t think anyone actually likes Facebook these days. It’s toxic, amplifying our worst instincts, pushing extreme views, and highlighting our differences. Instead of bringing us together, it’s tearing us apart. Instead of being an online community for real people, it’s become the playground of paid trolls and the platform of choice of authoritarians.

Image credit: Facebook Media Gallery
Image credit: Facebook Media Gallery

Facebook is a cancer that has been spreading fake news. Moreover, in the midst of protests in the US over the killing of African-American George Floyd, Mark Zuckerberg has defended Facebook’s hands-off approach toward Donald Trump. This is in stark contrast to Twitter, which fact-checked Trump’s tweets, and whose CEO Jack Dorsey refused to back down. Even Facebook employees are revolting against Zuckerberg. For the first time, they are publicly criticizing him, and even staged a walkout. Now, advertisers are also taking a break from Facebook.

So why are people still using Facebook?

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A Life Less Analog Science

Wildlife trade must end to help prevent future outbreaks

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Scientists have not yet identified the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. What we do know, however, is that the wildlife trade increases the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases. Do we want to reduce the threat of future outbreaks? Then we must take a serious look at the dangers posed by the wildlife trade.

Richard Thomas, head of communications for TRAFFIC, was the speaker in a webinar on April 23. TRAFFIC is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. Internews and its Earth Journalism Network held the webinar to provide more information on zoonotic diseases. Thomas discussed the role of the wildlife trade and the possible origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I asked Thomas what we can do to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of COVID-19. After all, what has made this pandemic worse is that it has been accompanied by an infodemic and fake news. Thomas, by the way, spearheaded the response to the H5N1 bird flu virus (also called avian influenza) outbreak in 2006 and 2007.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Cyberbullying: Toxic online culture kills Hana Kimura

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Hana Kimura died at age 22. A victim of cyberbullying.

The news broke my heart on Saturday, May 24. Hana was one of my favorite pro wrestlers, even though I didn’t know her until she became a housemate on the popular Japanese reality TV show on Netflix, “Terrace House”. Hana is half-Japanese, half-Indonesian, and a second-generation pro wrestler, being the daughter of retired pro wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter Kyoko Kimura. Later I would find out that her Indonesian dad left before Hana was a year old, and that his identity isn’t publicly known.

Hana Kimura died at age 22. A victim of cyberbullying. Image credit: Hana Kimura's Twitter account
Image credit: Hana Kimura’s Twitter account

From the moment she appeared, Hana became my favorite housemate this season. In fact, my favorite “Terrace House” cast member of all time. Because of her, I started watching her wrestling promotion, World Wonder Ring Stardom, which is usually just referred to as Stardom. I’ve been a pro wrestling fan since I was a kid and love Japanese pro wrestling, or puroresu. But I hadn’t been been watching the latest generation of Joshi (Japanese women’s wrestling) wrestlers. Hana changed that. She was a charismatic, hardworking, and talented pro wrestler. And a joyful, kind, and loving person.

Hana died at age 22. A victim of cyberbullying.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

BSP chief: 50% of retail payments to be digital by 2023

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The Philippines has embraced the digital imperative, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor . In line with this, at least 5o percent of the country’s retail payments will already shift to digital by 2023.

“There is no arguing that the new economy is digital. Our aspirations for a more inclusive and prosperous post-COVID world necessitate putting in place the critical pillars of a digital economy, including robust digital infrastructure, digital skills, e-government, digital ID, and an enabling legal/regulatory framework. All these have given new urgency to BSP’s longstanding financial inclusion and digital transformation agenda for the financial sector,” said Diokno.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said that by 2023, at least 50 percent of the country's retail payments will already be digital.

“The BSP committed by the end of my term at least 50 percent of retail payment transactions shifted to digital, and 70 percent of adult Filipinos having and using a transaction account. Towards this end, the BSP has drawn up a three-year digital payments transformation roadmap outlining our priority policy initiatives, including open banking.”

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A Life Less Analog Gaming

Digital meditation is real with ‘SoundSelf: A Technodelic’

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I confess: I’ve never been into meditation. But digital meditation? Via a video game? As a self-professed geek and gamer, that’s something I’m definitely willing to try.

So when publisher Andromeda Entertainment asked me if I would be interested in a Steam key to review their game “SoundSelf: A Technodelic,” I said yes.

I interviewed Robin Arnott, CEO and co-founder of Andromeda Entertainment, before the launch on April 22. Andromeda touts “SoundSelf” as the first video game to produce transcendent states of consciousness guided by your own voice.I watched the teaser video. Saw the screenshots. Yes, it’s a game you control with your voice. With your breathing, actually. But knowing all this didn’t make the experience any less strange.

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A Life Less Analog Gaming

Gaming is community entertainment — Riot Games exec

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Now that we are forced to stay home, more people are discovering the joy of playing video games. In the new normal, gaming is community entertainment that helps us cope and stay connected.

“We see esports and gaming as a form of positive community entertainment,” Jennifer Poulson, Head of Publishing and Product for Southeast Asia of Riot Games, told Digital Life Asia.

“That is why our number one priority is ensuring that our games stay up and operational. We want to be there for our players during these hard times,” she said.