What I’ve Read This Week (July 26 2021 to August 1 2021)

Paul Benjamin Osterlund writes about a wild Ponzi scheme involving a Farmville clone:

Launched in 2016, Farm Bank was billed as a way for players to “win as they play, and have fun as they win,” and encouraged them to invest in what they thought was actual livestock and agricultural land. Spurred on by friends and relatives, who claimed to have received returns on their investments, thousands of people rushed to put their money in Farm Bank. In actuality, Farm Bank was a smartphone-based pyramid scheme.

Mint writes about the action JRPG Scarlet Nexus:

But you know, if the biggest criticism I can come away with in Scarlet Nexus is “the levels could be a little more interesting,” then we’ve definitely got a winner on our hands. Scarlet Nexus truly shocked me with its fantastic combat and a plot that goes some absolutely buckwild places. It isn’t “pretty good” or “good in a bad way” — it is absolutely excellent, and I recommend to anyone looking for a great new Action-JRPG to play.

Geoff Huston writes about the recent Akamai outage and the incident report they published which was unfortunately an unusual occurrence for the industry:

Why do I find this report unusual?

It’s informative in detailing their understanding of the root cause of the problem; the response they performed to rectify the immediate problem; the measures being undertaken to prevent a recurrence of this issue; and the longer-term measures to improve the monitoring and alerting processes used within their platform.

I guess we’ve become used to reading evasive and vague outage reports that talk about ‘operational anomalies’ causing ‘service incidents’ that are ‘being rectified by our stalwart team of engineers as we speak’. It’s as if any admission of the details of a fault in the service exposes the provider to some form of ill-defined liability or reputation damage, and to minimize this exposure, the reports of faults, root causes and mediation actions are all phrased in terms of vague and meaningless generalities.

When we see a report that details the issues and the remedial measures, it sticks out as a very welcome deviation from the mean.

Nick Heer writes about the recent news about the Pegasus malware, NSO Group and our information security landscape:

The security story we have is one of great risk, with responsibility held by very few. There are layers of firewalls and scanners and obfuscation techniques and encryption and all of that — but a determined attacker knows there are limited variables. iOS is not especially weak, but it is exceptionally vertically-integrated. If the latest iPhone running the latest software updates is vulnerable, all iPhones probably are as well.

Ethan Gach writes about how Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones has been stuck in development hell for the past 8 years. For those of you in software/game development this will seem like all too familiar a story:

But interviews with more than 20 current and former Ubisoft developers, as well as those with knowledge of the game, its troubled development, and the studio leading production on it, tell a different story. Skull & Bones never had a clear creative vision behind it, suffered from too many managers vying for power, and was plagued by almost annual reboots and mini-refreshes, they said. Years into development basic questions around the game’s core design still haven’t been nailed down, even as ambitions for the would-be game-as-a-service continue to mount within Ubisoft’s head Paris office.

Ade Onibada writes about how the legacy of sundown towns still affect Black drivers:

Loewen said the number of sundown towns is much higher than the general public would guess. But despite their prevalence, little work has been done to interrogate the history of these communities to reconcile with the legacy of racism and the second-generation sundown issues that can present themselves even where the policy is no longer formally enforced.

That is all from me this week. See y’all next week!