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Old 02-20-2020, 02:59 PM
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Japan and technology.


Japan is often thought of as the country of cutting edge, futuristic technology, but that might not always be true. I recently read that lots of people in Japan still use fax machines and a lot of Japanese companies still use Geocities for web design.

Can anyone who's been to Japan or knows more about Japanese culture say if this is true or not? And if it's true, why does Japan use outdated technology?
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Old 02-20-2020, 03:17 PM
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The thing I remembered that that everyone uses cash for everything. Nobody uses a bank card at a store.
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Old 02-20-2020, 03:51 PM
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The thing I remembered that that everyone uses cash for everything. Nobody uses a bank card at a store.
Credit/debit card usage is getting more common. During my most recent trip (last fall) we used cash for little things like snacks at Lawson's, but for most of our meals and other shopping, we used a credit card. Oddly, you don't swipe/insert your own credit card like you do here in the US: you hand it to the clerk, and they do it for you, even though the keypad and card slot are facing you.

There is now a smartphone app for purchasing Shinkansen tickets. So instead of standing in line at the ticket counter, you can use the app at your convenience to reserve specific seats. Shortly before boarding the train, you visit an automated ticketing machine, insert your credit card (the same one you used to buy the tickets in the app), and type your password, and it prints out your tickets.

I think internet commerce is at least partly responsible for the rise in popularity of credit/debit cards in Japan, and now brick-and-mortar merchants are being forced to come around on the issue.

Smartphones themselves are finding increased usage for payments as well, including for access to trains; hold your phone to the scanner at the turnstile, and you walk on through without breaking your stride.
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:56 PM
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... why does Japan use outdated technology?
Fax machines were more widespread in Japan than it ever was in the US. According to this article, by year 2002, over 50% of households had fax machines. 71% had personal computers and 87% had mobile phones, but nevertheless, the fax machine became one of the standard tools of communication, not just for businesses but for personal use as well. So there was a lot of momentum to keep them in use.

Also, there are a lot more elderly people in Japan than in the US (median age of the US population is 38, Japan is 47). That means a lot of people who learned to use fax machines, but never moved on to e-mail.

As for cash being common - there is less security concern about carrying a lot of cash. I remember seeing an elderly man on a Tokyo subway take out an envelope, count ten 10,000 yen bills (~$100 each) and put it back. I don't think anyone would feel safe carrying that much cash in the US or Europe, let alone show it openly on a subway.

Last edited by scr4; 02-20-2020 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by CastletonSnob View Post
Japan is often thought of as the country of cutting edge, futuristic technology, but that might not always be true. I recently read that lots of people in Japan still use fax machines and a lot of Japanese companies still use Geocities for web design.

Can anyone who's been to Japan or knows more about Japanese culture say if this is true or not? And if it's true, why does Japan use outdated technology?
I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology. You personally may be smart; I don't know. I've never met you. But you hold some mighty ignorant opinions.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:31 AM
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The thing I remembered that that everyone uses cash for everything. Nobody uses a bank card at a store.
On average, 90% of my purchases in the past 12 months were "cashless". There are still quite a shops and eateries that are exclusively cash these days. But I use Google Pay on mobile and my Japanese credit card most of the time.
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Old 02-21-2020, 02:12 AM
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I haven't been in the country in, probably, a decade.

Japan likes gimmicky things. They are less fond of practical things. They'll invent a toilet that sings to you but they won't use a clothes dryer, let alone improve upon it.

A possible reason for this is that the country has a built-in low-cost underclass, in the form of women. Banks, for example, use women to file documents and look up documents and if you computerize all of that...what will all the women do? Do you give them real jobs? It would massively disrupt the social system. Or if you cut them out of the system entirely, then you don't have all the pretty girls around the office any more.

Granted, ideally, the country is less sexist these days and is moving away from that style of thinking. They already seemed to be getting better when I left, but I'm not sure where things are at now.

The TV show, Shomuni, is a good watch by the way, for anyone interested in a funny The Office style show.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:33 AM
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I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology. You personally may be smart; I don't know. I've never met you. But you hold some mighty ignorant opinions.
They are as outdated as CD's, floppies, and women wearing only dresses.
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:11 AM
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I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology.
Why? It's true. I literally cannot remember the last time I used a fax machine. If I've got a hardcopy of a document that I want to send to someone, I scan it and attach the electronic version to an email.

The fax machine in the office where I work has been gathering dust for years now.

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Originally Posted by Sage Rat
A possible reason for this is that the country has a built-in low-cost underclass, in the form of women. Banks, for example, use women to file documents and look up documents and if you computerize all of that...what will all the women do? Do you give them real jobs? It would massively disrupt the social system. Or if you cut them out of the system entirely, then you don't have all the pretty girls around the office any more.
The traditional attitude in Japan is that women aren't supposed to work, at least not once they get married. Japan still thinks that way: labor shortages are being solved by importing foreign workers. Walk into a conbini these days, and the odds are good that the person behind the register barely speaks Japanese.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by CastletonSnob View Post
Japan is often thought of as the country of cutting edge, futuristic technology, but that might not always be true. I recently read that lots of people in Japan still use fax machines and a lot of Japanese companies still use Geocities for web design.

Can anyone who's been to Japan or knows more about Japanese culture say if this is true or not? And if it's true, why does Japan use outdated technology?
Japan tech research is quite good. Better in some research areas than others, but at least in the world top five, I guess.

But businesses are slow to change. If it ain't broke don't fix it. If fax is broke, show me why.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:40 AM
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They are as outdated as CD's, floppies, and women wearing only dresses.
Does a technology become "outdated" as soon as a better alternative becomes available? Is it "outdated" even when 40% of households still use it? Are land lines "outdated" in the US?

Last edited by scr4; 02-21-2020 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:56 AM
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If fax is broke, show me why.
It wastes paper, on both ends of the exchange.

It's an extra machine to purchase - or an extra capability to incorporate into an existing machine (at an extra cost).

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Originally Posted by scr4
Does a technology become "outdated" as soon as a better alternative becomes available? Is it "outdated" even when 40% of households still use it? Are land lines "outdated" in the US?
If a new technology is truly better, the old technology can only persist because of inertia and cultural reasons. Example, I pretty much only listen to MP3 music files, but I confess to maintaining and growing a large collection of CDs, which I can only justify for emotional reasons. I use them as the source discs for the MP3s; I can't remember the last time I listened to music directly from a CD. Still, I don't know if I'll ever want to get rid of my CD collection.

Poking around the internet, it seems Japan has its own reasons for clinging to fax machines long after other nations have abandoned them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/w...t-a-relic.html
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Old 02-21-2020, 10:25 AM
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I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology. You personally may be smart; I don't know. I've never met you. But you hold some mighty ignorant opinions.
Do you own a fax machine company or something?

It's outdated the same way 8 tracks are outdated.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:37 AM
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Do you own a fax machine company or something?

It's outdated the same way 8 tracks are outdated.
I would bet that you aren’t in the medical field. The vast majority of doctor’s offices, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, etc. all use fax machines on a daily basis.

ETA. At least those in the United States.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 02-21-2020 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:11 PM
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I would bet that you aren’t in the medical field. The vast majority of doctor’s offices, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, etc. all use fax machines on a daily basis.

ETA. At least those in the United States.
That in no way makes them not outdated.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:30 PM
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I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology. You personally may be smart; I don't know. I've never met you. But you hold some mighty ignorant opinions.
Attack the post, not the poster. You have a valid point here. You can easily make it without attacking the poster.

Since this is in effect calling someone ignorant, this is an official warning for a personal attack/personal insults outside of the Pit.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:47 PM
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That in no way makes them not outdated.
In what way? They aren't being used due to nostalgia. They aren't still in use due to all these facilities refusing to upgrade to a more modern technology. They are still used because the other alternatives don't provide the required functions that the fax machines do. If they are still used because they are the only option available, to me that means they are not outdated.
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Old 02-21-2020, 12:57 PM
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Japan likes gimmicky things.
When Mrs. ToKnow lived in Japan for a while in the 90s, one of the things she noticed was that every time a new cell phone model came out (almost monthly to hear her tell it today), you could buy the previous model for (IIRC) either 1 Yen or 1 dollar. Either way, ridiculously cheap.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:37 PM
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I would bet that you aren’t in the medical field. The vast majority of doctor’s offices, nursing homes, clinics, hospitals, etc. all use fax machines on a daily basis.

ETA. At least those in the United States.
As I understand it, the preference is because fax-to-fax communications is point-to-point, unlike email.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:37 PM
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They are still used because the other alternatives don't provide the required functions that the fax machines do.
What functionality is a fax machine uniquely able to provide?
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:37 PM
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They are still used because the other alternatives don't provide the required functions that the fax machines do. If they are still used because they are the only option available, to me that means they are not outdated.
The technology itself still is outdated. There's no real functionality that cannot be replicated or improved with more modern alternatives.

They're still used in healthcare due to HIPAA requirements and a lingering (sometimes confirmed) fear that other electronic modes of data transfer can be less secure.

There's no real functionality benefit of fax machines over alternatives but regulatory requirements and security concerns are very real on their own. And now, decades on, simple inertia becomes increasingly difficult to overcome.

At the end there's also no technology reason modern alternatives couldn't be used - like a server that mimics the functions of a fax machine and internally converts pdf (or doc or whatever) to a fax signal. My home printer basically does that and can even send it over a phone line. There'd be added value from the things an actual computer could do to those documents before sending.

But that would require changes to relevant regulation (and interpretation of that regulation) and perhaps also some extra guarantees on encryption and data security.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:43 PM
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Does a technology become "outdated" as soon as a better alternative becomes available? Is it "outdated" even when 40% of households still use it? Are land lines "outdated" in the US?
1) Yes 2) Yes 3) Yes.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:47 PM
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In what way? They aren't being used due to nostalgia. They aren't still in use due to all these facilities refusing to upgrade to a more modern technology. They are still used because the other alternatives don't provide the required functions that the fax machines do. If they are still used because they are the only option available, to me that means they are not outdated.
I think I see the problem.

I think you're parsing "outdated" as meaning "useless". It means just what you alluded to -- that another option(s) are widely available and considered by most to be an upgrade.

Many people can name several pieces of outdated technology they own.

For listening to music, I prefer my mp3 player and wired headphones to using a phone and Bluetooth headphones for various personal reasons.

My Nintendo 3ds fulfills it's intended purpose very well (something to throw in my bag for long flights), but it's been outdated since the switch was released, and of course no new games are made for it.

Sent from my Redmi 5A using Tapatalk
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:49 PM
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What functionality is a fax machine uniquely able to provide?
It is more secure than an email because it only travels on the telephone network instead of the internet.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:54 PM
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1) Yes 2) Yes 3) Yes.
Stole my answer. And that is speaking as an older gentleman( well...older man, anyway )who still has a landline, reads paper newspapers and uses CDs to listen to music. Even fired up the old Blu-ray the other day for nostalgia's sake .

Doesn't mean that earlier technology is fully obsolete. It may just be obsolescent. Like message boards.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 02-21-2020 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:20 PM
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When Mrs. ToKnow lived in Japan for a while in the 90s, one of the things she noticed was that every time a new cell phone model came out (almost monthly to hear her tell it today), you could buy the previous model for (IIRC) either 1 Yen or 1 dollar. Either way, ridiculously cheap.
It was pretty similar in the US in the early 1990s.
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Old 02-21-2020, 06:48 PM
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Moderator Warning



Attack the post, not the poster. You have a valid point here. You can easily make it without attacking the poster.

Since this is in effect calling someone ignorant, this is an official warning for a personal attack/personal insults outside of the Pit.
In what way is saying "You personally may be smart" an insult?

Since you clearly cannot tell what is an insult and what is not, let me spell it out for you--
You are an incredibly stupid, ignorant person. You are far too stupid to be a moderator. This is an official insult directed at you as a person.
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:08 PM
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Since you clearly cannot tell what is an insult and what is not, let me spell it out for you--
You are an incredibly stupid, ignorant person. You are far too stupid to be a moderator. This is an official insult directed at you as a person.
Stressed out about the sluggish sales at the fax machine company, huh?

I dig it, man. Keep your chin up.

Last edited by Moriarty; 02-21-2020 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:10 PM
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In what way is saying "You personally may be smart" an insult?

Since you clearly cannot tell what is an insult and what is not, let me spell it out for you--
You are an incredibly stupid, ignorant person. You are far too stupid to be a moderator. This is an official insult directed at you as a person.
Did a fax machine break your heart or something?

You seem a tad emotional about this.
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:21 PM
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I saw what (I think) is the same story on BBC news. We'd recently travelled to Japan just before this came out and I found it fascinating - how they can be some advanced in some ways, but so backwards in others:

Why is hi-tech Japan using cassette tapes and faxes?
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34667380

Quote:
Japanese companies generally lag foreign companies by roughly five-to-10 years in adoption of modern IT practices...
Those defending them by suggesting they're using old technology because it has some "benefits" that presumably they see, but the rest of the world doesn't (telephone lines being more secure?? ) are 100% wrong:

Quote:
...[they're] often conservative, if not downright Luddite
Their continued use of outdated tech is not just some quaint cultural quirk that doesn't matter, it's having a huge productivity impact on the Japan and the Japanese economy and is a big issue for them:

Quote:
Japan's non-manufacturing productivity, despite the long hours worked, is the worst in the OECD countries and roughly half that of the US.
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:52 PM
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1) Yes 2) Yes 3) Yes.
So what do so many Americans keep using outdated technology such as land line phones, desktop computers, Blu-ray players, and magnetic strip credit cards?
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:09 PM
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I know someone who used a fax machine for years because he could not be bothered to learn how to type. I will bet you are thinking, now he probably transmits a photo snapshot of his writing, right? Nope. He was far too clever for that, and found a better, truly old-school solution: get someone else to take care of the entire thing.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:17 PM
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So what do so many Americans keep using outdated technology such as land line phones, desktop computers, Blu-ray players, and magnetic strip credit cards?
Who cares? That's completely irrelevant to whether or not those things are out dated.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:41 PM
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Dude, no U.S. household has a separate dedicated fax machine, let alone 40% best case is some folks have printers at home with scan/fax capabilities.

Health care uses fax. Considering the state of U.S. healthcare I can't see how that's a great endorsement.
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As I understand it, the preference is because fax-to-fax communications is point-to-point, unlike email.
Could someone explain what that means, please?
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:48 PM
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Could someone explain what that means, please?
It means nothing unless you have a dedicated secure line. The public telephone network uses a bunch of exchanges and switches.
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Old 02-22-2020, 05:46 AM
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I am sick and tired of people sneering at fax machines and claiming that they're outdated technology.
The mental image of people sneering at facsimile machines is priceless.
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Old 02-22-2020, 05:51 AM
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In what way is saying "You personally may be smart" an insult?
Saying that at the beginning does not prevent saying that they "hold some mighty ignorant opinions" from being a personal insult/personal attack. You have been around here more than long enough to know that the rule is attack the post, not the poster. You chose to attack the poster.

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Since you clearly cannot tell what is an insult and what is not, let me spell it out for you--
You are an incredibly stupid, ignorant person. You are far too stupid to be a moderator. This is an official insult directed at you as a person.
That will earn you a second warning, and given that you have had over a dozen warnings, most of which are for personal attacks or insults, that will also earn you a suspension while we discuss your posting privileges here.
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Old 02-22-2020, 05:56 AM
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They're still used in healthcare due to HIPAA requirements and a lingering (sometimes confirmed) fear that other electronic modes of data transfer can be less secure.
Just this week I had to confirm my income from Pfizer so I could continue to get one of its drugs without a copay that was half my income. The form to fill out was one of those fill in the blanks .pdfs but it and the supporting documents had to be mailed or faxed.
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Old 02-22-2020, 07:52 AM
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Did a fax machine break your heart or something?

You seem a tad emotional about this.
Do you know what it's like to desperately want to connect with someone, but hear only angry screeching on the other end of the line whenever you call? To know that whatever you say, no matter what you put into the relationship, it will soon become a flat, faded version of what it once was? To want so badly to share something right now because it just can't wait—and try as you might to modulate your feelings, you wonder if your partner will even be able to decipher the meaning of your words?
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Old 02-22-2020, 08:05 AM
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I would presume convenience is a factor with faxing in the medical field. They have the machines to do it, and those machines can do it all automatically. You put the sheet in, use the built-in phonebook to call the right place, and it gets sent. I am unaware of a machine that automates the scan/email process to this extent. You usually have to create an email, scan it in, add your own text, and then send it. Thus, when you deal with a lot of documents to be scanned and you already have fax machines, it makes sense to me that these are used. It's only recently I've seen this changing.

I also don't agree with you guys' definition of obsolete. It doesn't just mean that a superior technology exists. That new technology has to be widespread and the old technology waning. For example, the VP9 video codec (used on, say, YouTube) is not obsolete simply because the superior AP1 exists. That said, VP8 is obsolete, because it is barely ever used anymore. This isn't true of h.264 vs h.265 as the former is still ubiquitous, though the latter is used for anything above 1080p.

By my definition. I would argue that, in general, fax machines are obsolete, but not in certain fields like medicine where they still have not been widely replaced with superior technologies. The medical field hangs behind on upgrading because of the need to establish stricter requirements than most people when importing new technologies. And, when they do upgrade, the medical side gets priority, not the administrative side.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:28 AM
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The medical field hangs behind on upgrading because of the need to establish stricter requirements than most people when importing new technologies. And, when they do upgrade, the medical side gets priority, not the administrative side.
Is it really, though? For years, everybody, including those on the medical side, have been saying we need to modernize medical record keeping. And literal billions of dollars have been spent trying to do so across the country.

It's not just the need for stricter requirements. These attempts often fail because of simple inertia.

Regulatory requirements are a factor but they are experiencing the same problems other industries faced in modernization:
  • Leadership is often older and less tech-savvy
  • End users are often focused on their 'core' business of medicine and less than inclined to change ways until forced
  • Getting the right people to help with tech upgrades can be expensive (and more expensive the with an increasing gap in existing tech) and time-consuming. Keeping them around is harder. This isn't a 'sexy' branch of tech development.
  • The negative feedback loop that waiting longer means ever greater expense for eventual tech overhaul letting the inertia solution of not changing cheaper and more appealing


There aren't any intractable issues, but they get more expensive every day and harder to achieve the longer they aren't. At some point, patients themselves are hurt because these updates aren't made. It's a cop-out to say the medical side gets priority over administrative because not changing eventually does affect patient health. If they are still using fax machines in 100 years, then yes, that is a major impact on patient health. Not changing is a way of focusing on the short term over the long term needs of patients.
  #42  
Old 02-22-2020, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Vinyl Turnip View Post
Do you know what it's like to desperately want to connect with someone, but hear only angry screeching on the other end of the line whenever you call? To know that whatever you say, no matter what you put into the relationship, it will soon become a flat, faded version of what it once was? To want so badly to share something right now because it just can't wait—and try as you might to modulate your feelings, you wonder if your partner will even be able to decipher the meaning of your words?
You just gave a whole new dimension to the baseball bat scene in "Office Space".
  #43  
Old 02-22-2020, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by drewder View Post
It is more secure than an email because it only travels on the telephone network instead of the internet.


Lol

All these words seem to make a coherent English sentence yet as a whole it’s gibberish.

“Secure” — against what? How? Why? A fax doesn’t encrypt anything: phone/fax numbers are so easy to spoof “trivial” doesn’t cover it. it is literally the electronic equivalent of a boy running down the street shouting your message. Anyone can hear it, anyone can send it and anyone can claim to be the recipient. (As is email)


“Only travels.. “ because “the internet” and “the telephone network” are 2 separate entities. (In your house this might still be true, when the signal leaves your house there is no such distinction.

Remember:
All old-fashioned communications are not secure in any way. Phone, fax, email are all not secure in any meaningful way.

“The internet” is a term for all things interconnect through the world: at no point in time was the “phone network” not considered a part of the internet (except by you of course)

For any communication to be secure there has to be a way to encrypt the message, verify the identity of the sender and verify the recipient. Anything lacking those 3 features is not secure (fax, phone, email don’t have any of those features)
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  #44  
Old 02-22-2020, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by The Librarian View Post
Remember:
All old-fashioned communications are not secure in any way. Phone, fax, email are all not secure in any meaningful way.
I think this is worded a little too strongly. Let's look at an example that follows the HIPAA guidelines for "reasonable" procedures to protect information (keeping in mind that verbal point to point communication is acceptable, so it doesn't require encryption, just similar level of precautions):
1 - Recipient provides fax number to sender
2 - Sender programs in the number so it doesn't need to be dialed, it can be selected
3 - Sender sends a test page
4 - Recipient verbally confirms (over a phone call etc.) that the test page was received
5 - Sender sends actual docs to recipient using pre-programmed entry

There are a number of ways a person could get the information, like tapping the phone line on either side, or installing malware on either fax machine, or going to either office and physically grabbing the docs.

But, there is definitely limited exposure in this point to point communication compared to having digital content on multiple servers (sender, receiver) that is very difficult to properly secure (as anyone that works in tech is aware of).
  #45  
Old 02-22-2020, 06:20 PM
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I feel the need to comment on how funny I think it is that a good & valid question about Japan's culture and their lack of technological adoption has been completely derailed & devolved into a debate about whether fax machines are in any way secure (Bad news, they're not - I knew this back in the 1980's when my company received "confidential" faxes almost daily because senders entered the wrong fax number. How the F' is this even being discussed in 2020?)

This is simultaneously what I love about SDMB and what I hate about it as well.
  #46  
Old 02-22-2020, 08:41 PM
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The alternative to putting a paper into a fax machine and pushing 1 or 2 buttons to select a recipient and send, is one where there is never a piece of paper in the first place, and certainly no manual scanning or sending of e-mails. Some sort of sophisticated secure document cloud which enforces formal privacy policies. Does one already exist? Has it been tested under real-world conditions? What if one lab/hospital is running it, but now there is an external clinic involved? Much of this may not have to do with Japan specifically.

A question, to which I do not know the answer, is, perhaps Japan is conservative in certain ways. Perhaps Japanese merchants to not want to pay fees to be able to accept a dozen different cashless apps and cards. Maybe they think cash is nifty. It's not like advanced technology does not exist there, or that you can't pay for a cab or train or at the convenience store, hotel, shopping mall, etc., using a credit card.

Last edited by DPRK; 02-22-2020 at 08:42 PM.
  #47  
Old 02-22-2020, 11:34 PM
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I asked on a Japanese language social media app concerning faxing. Some people said that their industry still uses them, including one person in care for elderly people. Another said her choir groups had to use faxes to make reservations at a church for practices. Most of the people don't use them now for personal communication, including talking to their elderly parents.

One reason that a higher percent of Japanese homes have faxes now is that a much higher percentage of households had fax machines in the 1990s. It's not surprising that many of those homes still have them. One comment was that the person didn't buy a combination fax / phone when replacing his last one because he never used it anymore.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
A question, to which I do not know the answer, is, perhaps Japan is conservative in certain ways. Perhaps Japanese merchants to not want to pay fees to be able to accept a dozen different cashless apps and cards. Maybe they think cash is nifty. It's not like advanced technology does not exist there, or that you can't pay for a cab or train or at the convenience store, hotel, shopping mall, etc., using a credit card.
My bolding. You hit it out of the park in your first sentence.

I lived in Japan for 25 years, including sales / marketing, management and having my own distribution company. I can't "unsee" Japan any longer, because it was part of my life for too long, but many, if not most Westerners really get Japan wrong. I think its partly because "Japan is this totally weird place" sells well in the press. It also seems to be a Rorschach test for the observer. Japan really has an insular society, so it's not easily understood by outsiders, even some foreigners who live and work in Japan if they don't speak the language or aren't interested in really learning the culture.

The BBC article GMANCANADA linked to is a generally good read, although not perfect. This is the link again.

As GMANCANADA quoted, Japan really lags the West on some technologies. I was there doing business between 1990 and 2013 and watched the introduction of email and internet.

The first company I worked for was in the documentation company in the early 90s. A much higher percentage of Japanese didn't have computers at work than in America. Translators were sending floppy disks by mail and in urgent cases, sending by fax and we would retype them. I helped introduce computer-to-computer file transfers which was a pain in the ass since no one had dedicated data lines.

Next was a Japanese import company, in the mid 1990s, faxes were still used everywhere worldwide, although most of our Western suppliers transitioned to email faster than our company. My company had absolutely not interest in having a web site in the late 90s.

There is an incident which I've used repeatedly over the years to explain the difference between the cultures.

I was looking for a new job in 1993 and 1994. I interviewed with an American company which had a service for sending overseas faxes cheaper. You would rent an adapter which would route the fax to their dedicated line and overseas calls were cheaper.

In the interview, the person explained their business model which was to get referrals from existing customers, then call the company and do sales via phone. The company would send the adapter to the new customer, who only had to disconnect the phone line to their fax machine, instead connect it to the adapter and connect the adapter to the fax machine. There was a number for a test fax and it was all set.

I told the person that I didn't think Japanese customers were ready for that, it would take an actual sales visit and having the company actually install the machine. She disagreed and I wasn't offered the job. Instead, I found that Japanese import company and got a job there.

Shortly after I started working at the import company, my boss asked me to sit in a sales pitch selling a fax service. You can see where this is going. It was a salesperson from that same fax service company. We signed off and I told them that I could install the machine, but they insisted their "field technician" would come and personally install it.

In a remarkably short period of time, they had figured out that Japanese companies were far more conservative than US companies. (Sadly for them, they didn't have an answer for email and the business model died in the 2000s.)

In 2000, I set up the Japanese branch office for a US manufacturer and again watched the difference in speed in adopting technologies. The US head office wanted our customers to go things which they weren't ready for.

From the article
Quote:
Yoji Otokozawa, president of Tokyo-based IT consultants Interarrows, says Japan Inc. is poor in digital literacy because small businesses, not multinationals, rule the country.

"You have to understand how SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] dominate the Japanese business landscape," he says.

SMEs account for 99.7% of Japan's 4.2 million companies, according to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. So the world's third biggest economy is driven by minor establishments, not the giants everybody knows outside of Japan.
This is an example of bad reporting. The vast majority of companies in any country are SMEs. A quick goggle shows that 99.4% of American companies (by revenue) 99.6% (by number of employees) are SMEs. So virtually identical percentages. [/rant]

Something which was not covered in the article is the speed which Japan moves when people finally decide to adapt something. Its slow to move, but once it moves, it tends to go very quickly.
  #48  
Old 02-23-2020, 12:16 AM
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Damn I was gonna make a slick joke about Flyer being Phil Collins, but now he's been suspended.
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"You can do anything you set your mind to...But money helps"
  #49  
Old 02-23-2020, 01:22 AM
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I think this is worded a little too strongly. Let's look at an example that follows the HIPAA guidelines for "reasonable" procedures to protect information (keeping in mind that verbal point to point communication is acceptable, so it doesn't require encryption, just similar level of precautions):

1 - Recipient provides fax number to sender

2 - Sender programs in the number so it doesn't need to be dialed, it can be selected

3 - Sender sends a test page

4 - Recipient verbally confirms (over a phone call etc.) that the test page was received

5 - Sender sends actual docs to recipient using pre-programmed entry



There are a number of ways a person could get the information, like tapping the phone line on either side, or installing malware on either fax machine, or going to either office and physically grabbing the docs.



But, there is definitely limited exposure in this point to point communication compared to having digital content on multiple servers (sender, receiver) that is very difficult to properly secure (as anyone that works in tech is aware of).


If anything: not worded strong enough.

A “procedure” for sending a fax doesn’t improve any security: if anything it adds a false sense of security. (Scare quotes to be imagined with roll eyes and meaningful pauses)
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  #50  
Old 02-23-2020, 06:01 AM
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Perhaps Japanese merchants to not want to pay fees to be able to accept a dozen different cashless apps and cards.
This was a topic recently on Japanese Twitter. (Jitter?)
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