Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cables: Are They Making a Comeback?

    Been watching the unfolding saga of the latest WikiLeaks release. Unflattering comments about world leaders? Gracious. Gathering info on UN delegations? Goodness. Tales of Prince Andrew acting like a buffoon? Gasp.  The US has been pressured by the Saudis to take steps against Iran? Well, a bit of surprise there.
    But that the US still uses cables for diplomatic communiques? Now, that's a surprise. Or is it?

  • Despite being low-tech, they're still harder to hack than email, even encrypted ones.
  • The codes in the header provide inviolable proof of where the cable came from and its destination. Each terminal has its own unique code. They are the only electronic communications that stand up international courts because of it. 
  • The financial industry still uses them to transfer money. Shipping companies use them as well.
  • They're still fairly common in remote corners where phone systems can barely support calls, let alone any form of the Internet. It only takes a baud rate of 50 to send one using Telex machines still in operation.
        Emails? They've gone to being mundane and common. Faxes? Nice for hard copies, but a bit utilitarian. But sending a cable evokes an era of mystery and glamour that may be entering its new golden age.

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