2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage

Japan, Australia to meet for first event of Tokyo Games  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-japan-australia-meet-first-event-tokyo-games-2021-07-20/

2020 Games begin as Japan, Australia take the field   

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2OW078

Olympics-Japan win softball opener as Games ‘of hope’ begin   

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-kicks-off-games-amid-covid-19-fears-2021-07-21/

Olympics-Softball-Japan, rivals dominate their openers as Games action begins
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/olympics-softball-2020-games-begin-japan-australia-take-field-2021-07-21/

Softball-Italy draws fuel from late coach, seeks first medal – Reuters News

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-italy-draws-fuel-late-coach-seeks-first-medal-2021-07-21/

U.S. beats Canada as Abbott strikes out nine  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2OX2SZ

Softball-Skippy the kangaroo will miss Fukushima

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-skippy-kangaroo-will-miss-fukushima-2021-07-22/

Olympic softballers hunt roaming bear, no luck finding it so far  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-olympic-softballers-hunt-roaming-bear-no-luck-finding-it-so-far-2021-07-22/

Softball-Japan, U.S. off to 2-0 start as action wraps in Fukushima

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-us-beats-canada-abbott-strikes-out-nine-2021-07-22/

Mexico to replace two pitchers after positive COVID-19 tests -coach  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-mexico-replace-two-pitchers-after-positive-covid-19-tests-coach-2021-07-23/

Olympics-Softball-Mexico to take on U.S. in clash of familiar foes – and fiancees 

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-mexico-take-us-clash-familiar-foes-fiancees-2021-07-23/

Canada seize on Australian gaffes in 7-1 win  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2OZ2CA

Softball-Battle for gold looks down to Japan, U.S., Canada  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-canada-seize-australian-gaffes-7-1-win-2021-07-24/

U.S. overcome Aussie youngster in extra frame to win 2-1  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2P1006

One curve ends gold chase for Canada pitcher out of retirement  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-one-curve-ends-gold-chase-canada-pitcher-out-retirement-2021-07-25/

Softball-Japan toast Canada in extra frame to set up final with U.S.  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-us-overcome-aussie-youngster-extra-frame-win-2-1-2021-07-25/

U.S. stage late comeback over Japan in tune-up before gold match

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2P202C

No fans? Bronze-chasing Canada pitcher has family on hand

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-no-fans-bronze-chasing-canada-pitcher-has-family-hand-2021-07-26/

Surfing medals to be decided early, softball in focus as storm churns off Japan

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/no-plan-reschedule-more-events-storm-approaches-2021-07-26/

Softball-Mexico down Australia, head to bronze game with Canada    

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-us-stage-late-comeback-over-japan-tune-up-before-gold-match-2021-07-26/

Gen Z debut in Tokyo but will they be back for Los Angeles?

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-gen-z-debut-tokyo-will-they-be-back-los-angeles-2021-07-27/

Storm remains threat, bringing rain as it lurks off coast 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-weather-idCAKBN2EW2L0

Softball-Japan shuts down USA to win gold; Canada take bronze

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-canada-win-bronze-by-beating-mexico-3-2-2021-07-27/  

Japan pip Dominican team 4-3 at the last to open Games’ baseball play

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-japan-pip-dominican-team-4-3-last-open-games-baseball-play-2021-07-28/

Late rally lifts Japan over Dominican team to open Games’ baseball play

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-japan-pip-dominican-team-4-3-last-open-games-baseball-play-2021-07-28/

South Koreans strike in extra inning for comeback win over Israel  

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-olympics-2020-bsb/olympics-baseball-south-koreans-strike-in-extra-inning-for-comeback-win-over-israel-idUSKBN2EZ229

Soaring heart rates laid bare on TV as archers okay new tech  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/archery-soaring-heart-rates-laid-bare-tv-archers-okay-new-tech-2021-07-30/

One-time MLB vets lift Dominican Republic over Mexico 1-0  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2P51V9

U.S. thrash Israel 8-1, Dominican Republic down Mexico

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-one-time-mlb-vets-lift-dominican-republic-over-mexico-1-0-2021-07-30/

‘Best ball in the world’ gets mud bath, gloved treatment  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-best-ball-world-gets-mud-bath-gloved-treatment-2021-07-30/

Baseball-Japan slug Mexico 7-4 to advance to quarter-finals  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2P703G

U.S. beat S.Korea to make quarter-finals with Japan

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-japan-slug-mexico-7-4-advance-quarter-finals-2021-07-31/

Cute bullpen cart gets mixed player reviews  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-toyotas-cute-relief-cart-gets-mixed-player-reviews-2021-07-31/

U.S. pitcher woke to 2 a.m. call of trade to Twins  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-us-pitcher-woke-2-am-call-trade-twins-2021-07-31/

Israel pounds Mexico out of Tokyo 2020 in 12-5 battering 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-bsb-idCAKBN2F20YW

Umpires feel the heat in longest, hottest game  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-umpires-feel-heat-longest-hottest-game-2021-08-01/

Foul-ball watchdogs sound their sirens, though few around to hear  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-foul-ball-watchdogs-sound-their-sirens-though-few-around-hear-2021-08-01/

Mexico ousted, Dominican Republic get second chance

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-israel-pounds-mexico-out-tokyo-2020-12-5-battering-2021-08-01/

South Korea smashes Israel 11-1 to advance to final four

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2P904D

Japan, South Korea clinch spots in final four

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-south-korea-smashes-israel-11-1-advance-final-four-2021-08-02/

Boston Red Sox minor leaguers making a difference at Games  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-boston-red-sox-minor-leaguers-making-difference-games-2021-08-02/

Double lives: athletes split time between work and sport  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/double-lives-athletes-split-time-between-work-sport-2021-08-03/

Dominican Republic snap Israel dream in strange 7-6 victory  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2PA0EU

Dominican Republic rallies past Israel to advance to medal game  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-dominican-republic-rallies-past-israel-advance-medal-game-2021-08-03/

Israel’s dejected U.S.-born stars hope to inspire native heroes to fill their cleats

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-israels-dejected-us-born-stars-hope-inspire-native-heroes-fill-their-2021-08-03/

U.S. win relegates Dominican Republic to bronze-medal game  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2PB05L

Japan book spot in gold-medal game, Dominican Republic to play for bronze   
 
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-us-win-relegates-dominican-republic-bronze-medal-game-2021-08-04/

U.S. set as Japan’s date for gold-medal game with 7-2 win over S. Korea 

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-us-set-japans-date-gold-medal-game-with-7-2-win-over-s-korea-2021-08-05/

Olympics-Beach volleyball-America’s Ross and Klineman beat Australia for gold   

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/beach-volleyball-swiss-women-beat-latvia-duo-win-bronze-medal-2021-08-06/

Golden U.S. duo await music passes to wrap their ‘fairy tale’  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/beach-volleyball-golden-us-duo-await-music-passes-wrap-their-fairy-tale-2021-08-06/

Japan a win from gold feel onus to avoid sorrow, boost interest  

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-japan-win-gold-feel-onus-avoid-sorrow-boost-interest-2021-08-06/

U.S. coach who won gold in 2000 wants to tell old mates ‘I’ve got two’  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb/olympics-baseball-u-s-coach-who-won-gold-in-2000-wants-to-tell-old-mates-ive-got-two-idUSL1N2PD1DE

U.S. coach finally spells slugger Casas’s name right

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-us-coach-finally-spells-slugger-casass-name-right-2021-08-07/

Dominican Republic win bronze medal in 10-6 win over South Korea  

https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-bsb-idCNL1N2PD1KH

Japan rejoice over ‘wonderful’ gold medal, pressure off their backs 

https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-dominican-republic-take-bronze-first-ever-team-medal-2021-08-07/

Baseball-Young pitchers lead Japan to first gold as vets take backseat 
https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/baseball-young-pitchers-lead-japan-first-gold-vets-take-backseat-2021-08-07/

Olympics-Will Dodger Stadium host baseball, softball at Los Angeles 2028?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-bsb/olympics-will-dodger-stadium-host-baseball-softball-at-los-angeles-2028-idUSKBN2F907A

Highlights

Jumping into covering softball and baseball at the Olympics from the tech beat back in San Francisco was a smooth transition because I am a big fan of bat-ball sports and had the extra year to prepare when the Games were postponed. There are three overarching highlights from Japan:

One was on the field. Experiencing up-close the dominance of these softball players was awe-inspiring. And as one of the only journalists who is watching in person all 33 softball and baseball games at these Olympics, I tried to capture that for readers by describing their repetitive mid-inning routinestheir unchecked emotions on the mound and how they keep themselves psyched up by writing messages on their mitts. In the case of baseball, these aren’t the best players in the world – and they admit that – but that does not mean they are trying any less to impress. Just look at how dejected Israel was with its elimination from the Olympics.

Off the field, I cannot say enough about the gracious hosts who taxied us, interpreted for us, rushed water and ponchos to our outdoor desks, wrapped TVs and ethernet cables every night to protect them from humidity and done tons more to try to make the experience comfortable. These softball, and especially baseball games, were in uncomfortable heat and support staff and volunteers fought through it more than anyone else here to put on a good show for the media and officials in attendance and also for those watching on TV. In addition, as evidenced by my presence, Reuters brings together a global team of journalists from various beats to help cover the Olympics. The pandemic means we couldn’t all meet, but I was privileged to work on the bat-ball action alongside Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jorge Silva.

On the tech side, it was wild using face match everyday to enter venues after writing about facial recognition a bunch but rarely experiencing it in daily life. The WiFi on buses was a lifesaver and I am still stunned by how well it worked. The press conferences were streamed for journalists on Microsoft Teams, which was great because I could remotely ask questions to some players while waiting to interview others in a different area. The experience largely was error-free. I tried to keep my eye on tech stories while there, which is why I wrote about potential bias in archery’s new heart rate trackinga noisemaking gadget that keeps us safe from foul balls and the low-tech measures that make the ball here the “best in the world.” I’m also returned home with some story ideas based on the incredible usage of Google Translate, Google Lens and Yahoo Weather that I saw among visitors and locals alike. I should mention that the robot that entertains during halftime at basketball games, which somehow can swoosh a mid-court shot with ease, was just as creepy in person as everyone on social media thinks it is.

One regret: Some of the bat-ball games were in Fukushima, which is rebuilding from the devasting tsunami a decade ago. Coaches and players talked up the peaches of Fukushima ad nauseum. The prefecture government even showed media a video about their peaches and other agriculture, including what was described as the nation’s finest rice. But unless I missed a big bowl somewhere, no peaches were offered to media. The peach-pie lover in me is excited to return in the years ahead for some fresh pickings!

Photobooth rental? Check the privacy policy fine print

I was a bit taken back a few months ago when I realized a photo booth service at a wedding I had attended had publicly posted all the images from that night to a professional photo-sharing website.

I had been accustomed to thinking that when you hop into one of those photo booths and walk away with a print out or two from the session, those images die forever. Maybe I was naive, but turns out that’s not always the case.

Sure you’re at an event – a somewhat public setting. But most photo “booths” are private by their very nature, with the curtains and all that. So people going inside them expect some modicum of privacy, or at least that only them and the operator will know what silly, funny, goofy poses went down inside.

I recently polled the top 10 local photo booth purveyors to get a better sense of their image retention and image sharing policies. Five provided informative answers. The big issue that clients are in charge of setting the privacy rules. But they might not even know what rules or limits to consider, and there is not usually a mechanism deployed to communicate the chosen policies to the guests at an event.

  • The photo booth operators said it is up to clients to decide how images are protected. Some will maintain the images for clients in online storage for up to six months; others will maintain them online in perpetuity. They offer the option to have those links password-gated. Some give the option of making the links “unlisted.”
  • However, none provide disclosure to the guests at the event about what the clients have chosen….and that’s where I think there could be much improvement. I get that guests are likely to be drunk and may not fully comprehend the situation. But a little insight would go a long into knowing what you are getting yourself into. One purveyor said that some corporate clients in Silicon Valley will have their own warning notice/disclosure posted at events.
  • Before posting online, the photo booth operators generally scan through looking for nudity or extraordinarily embarrassing shots. One gives the option for phototakers to ask for images deleted on the spot at the event.
  • One operator said they do upload photos to their social media accounts in some situations when they have approval to do so. Again how guests know that approval has been given by clients is unclear.
  • On the plus side, all the purveyors said they do not sell images to external parties. Whether those guarantees are made in the contracts, worth double checking. Not all the operators actually have a “privacy policy.”







If Enterprise looked at its data…

I was just clearing out marketing emails from my inbox when I stopped on a message from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I realized now that I’m 25, I don’t need to only use Enterprise for my rental car needs. You see, Enterprise has a special page — aimed for university students and alumni — to rent a car without being at least 25 years old. Sure, you can do that other rental car firms too. But Enterprise, through this special link, doesn’t charge an extra underage driver fee in most cases. So countless times, it was my most affordable and reliable option.

I have a loyalty account with Enterprise, but I’m guessing that’s unlikely to keep me coming back now that I’m 25. There’s likely to be other options that are cheaper.

But there’s a chance Enterprise could have gripped me with a promotion or two in recent weeks. When I turned 25, some big data robot analyzing my purchases might have realized a pattern to my behavior and warned an agent that I was risk of not returning. An offer could have come my way for a free weekend getaway maybe? Not sure, but anything to get me on their good side. Or at least, a smarter reminder about why the loyalty program could pay off for me.

Shipping to store

A bad experience picking up an online order at Best Buy over the holiday weekend reminded me of a similar situation at Fry’s last summer. I took notes on the Fry’s case, but forgot to do anything with them. So now here’s a look at both encounters.

Fry’s Electronics — August 2014

As far as I can remember, Fry’s lacked a mobile-friendly website at the time. Thought it has one now, try searching for a product through the mobile website’s search box and the page reverts to a crummy desktop version.

Once you do enough zooming to place an order, Fry’s tells you to wait 20 minutes for an email that will say whether they actually have the item and that it’s ready for pick up. Definitely took longer.

At the Burbank location, there weren’t any signs to clue me into where to go to pick up the order. Of course, had I thoroughly read the confirmation email, I would have known to seek out the supervisor in charge for the audio-video department. Such an official mission. Once I figured that out, I began my trek, passing by the the product I was buying. Hmm…maybe that would have been a faster route.

The department routed me back to the front checkout counter, saying that the product had somehow ended up there. I waited in the normal line to do the pick up. And despite having done all that pinching to zoom to enter credit card details, Fry’s didn’t actually charge me through its online system. I do a normal swipe at the register. Done, or so I thought.

Maddie, who was checking receipts at the store, spotted an error. The code of the product I bought doesn’t match the package in my hand. Someone retrieved a slightly different model for me. Alas, it was quiet at the time, so she decided to get to the bottom of the issue. She thanked me for my patience and darted off.

Turns out the model I ordered online was never in stock. I know, huh? I figured I’d take this anyway, but Maddie wouldn’t let me leave with the mismatched receipt. I had to go the return line, do that reverse checkout thing, and then return to the regular checkout line to buy the item for a second time — about 32 minutes after I entered the store.

While we’re at it, the Burbank store is weird. There is?/was an odd spaceship theme mixed with giant bugs hanging from the ceiling. Is that the image you really want to send, Fry’s?

Best Buy — July 2015

I had a low quality printout of a coupon that just wouldn’t scan at one location. But the coupon had a separate and much more legible code for getting the discount online, so I ran off with my paper and vowed to order online the next day and pick up closer to home.

The mobile order experience was much better than Fry’s. For some reason though, my credit card issuer suspected fraud and declined the large transaction twice before I logged into my card account and manually approved it. The initial rejections seems to have triggered a messy reaction within Best Buy’s network, which then suspected fraud as well. But Best Buy didn’t tell me, so my order was stuck in some purgatory without my knowledge.

I was passing by the mall on my way home, so I had made the order after parking. I expected to walk around the mall for an hour before going to Best Buy. But the “Your order is ready” email never came. Could low staffing over holiday weekend be to blame? Was the product just out of stock? The man behind the online pick-up order had no idea. The computer system told him nothing. He had to call a “bridge” center, which told him about the fraud alert. Given notice by the employee to my frustration with having to wait around confused, the “bridge” finally took action, investigated the issue and removed the hold on the order nearly three hours after it was submitted. How many hours might I have been stuck in limbo otherwise?

I-110 ExpressLanes Recommendations

Should the ExpressLanes on the Interstate 110 and Interstate 10 in Los Angeles become a permanent fixture, here’s some recommendations L.A. County Metro could adopt for version 2.0.

  • An API that spits out the current price of the ExpressLanes, so that developers can integrate this into Metro’s official app, Google Maps and other applications. It would be super awesome if the API also interfaced with a predictive engine that, based off past data, showed what the price would be at various upcoming times.
  • Better signage near exits off the ExpressLanes. The left-hand exit for 39th Street/Coliseum in the northbound direction on the 110 is confusing because it comes up fast and there’s no sign saying where this exit will take you.
  • Looping in live video detection or Caltrans/CHP traffic engineers. When workers who monitor freeways via CCTV see an accident on the 110, they should immediately be able to lower the pricing for the ExpressLanes or be able to make them free. This would allow traffic to disperse over more lanes and steer further clear of the accident.
  • I think Metro should experiment with lower pricing. When I was coming on the 105 Eastbound toward the 110, I saw a price of $7 or $8 to get to the USC area and was quickly scared off. I’ve had several pleasant journeys where I saved time by paying about a $1 to use the ExpressLanes. This was the first time I was coming from the 105, and the extra money seemed pretty steep considering a long stretch of the ExpressLanes was moving at 65 mph+.
  • Decision engine. Metro may not want to get into the business of telling people what to do, but signs would be a lot smarter if they said, “$5.00 to Adams Blvd. GOOD DEAL” or “$5.00 Adams Blvd. SAVE 10 MINUTES.”
  • All Zipcars and similar “car-sharing” or “ride-sharing” vehicles should come with transponders pre-installed. Carshares should also get free ExpressLanes access even if it’s a solo driver. Zipcar could lobby for this.