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Slashback: Wal-Modem, Culpability, Misquotes 470

Posted by timothy
from the contagious-contagion dept.
Slashback with a weekend worth of updates on Wal-Mart's OS-free PC, the End of the Simpsons, Harlan Ellison v. AOL, wireless goodies and more. Read on below for the goods.

There must be some mistake; this is what I wanted. Masem writes: "The review of the OS-less PCs sold through Wal-Mart brought out a lot of comments on the inclusion of a WinModem, effectively requiring Windows to make the computer work correctly. However, NewsForge reports that shortly after that posting, Microtel, the makers of these computers, wrote back to the reviewer and indicated that new versions of the systems will ship with Linux-friendly modems from now on. Nice to see a company that knows its target audience and how to make them happy."

Thanks, Microtel!

Next: ethernet cable manufacturers. cpt kangarooski writes: "For those tuning in late, Harlan Ellison sued AOL (among others) for having the temerity to permit users to upload copies of his copyrighted works across their networks on the Usenet. As it turns out, AOL was in the right, and got a summary judgment against Ellison.

The opinion by Judge Cooper is located here in PDF format Given his reputation, Ellison will likely appeal."

Welcome to Ix, please take off your shoes. cayle clark writes "A few months back I asked slashdot about shopping in the Akihabara, Tokyo's famous "electric town," and got lots of good advice. Well, now I been and went there, took some pictures, and posted an illustrated account here. Netting it out, it's a keen place to wander, and prices are in some (but only some) cases lower than in the USA."

Hacking at the ties that bind Following up on the new venture in wireless from the LinuxCare crew, Dave Sifry writes "802.11b Networking News wrote up a summary of the new Sputnik Gateway release today, codenamed Stagecoach. The Community Gateway code runs from CD and turns a computer with an ethernet card and Prism 802.11b card into a secure authenticating firewalled 802.11b Access Point. New features of this release include support for desktop cards, like the Linksys WMP11 PCI card, which means that you can turn your old 486 in a closet into a cheap secure wireless router."

I'd rather they save Futurama, but gift horse, teeth, etc. Remik writes "Yahoo News is carrying this story letting Simpsons creator Matt Groening set the record straight that the Simpsons isn't winding down and that it isn't on the ropes. He claims he was misquoted and misunderstood in a Financial Times of London article that came out earlier this week and that he does indeed has stories for years and years. What if Marge became a robot? Hmm..."

Has anyone detected the envelope with the winner's name yet? SoundGuy666 writes "Looks like SETI made it past that 500 million milestone - wonder who won the $500 prize..."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Wal-Modem, Culpability, Misquotes

Comments Filter:
  • by NickRob (575331) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:03PM (#3473898)
    Funny, the episode last night showed a huge lack of imagination. The network may want to beat the horse for more cash, but that doesn't mean that it's not in deep trouble.
  • Usenet? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Denor (89982) <denor@yahoo.com> on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:04PM (#3473904) Homepage

    Harlan Ellison sued AOL (among others) for having the temerity to permit users to upload copies of his copyrighted works across their networks on the Usenet


    Come on man, get with it! Suing over usenet piracy is so 90's. It's all about suing p2p now!



    Next thing you know, he'll start railing off on the evils of DOOM.

  • Microtel (Score:3, Informative)

    by NickRob (575331) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:06PM (#3473910)
    Hey, they're just starting out. We can look at all the errors of every computer manufacturer in their first models. The Altair 8088 and Apple 1 were both kits, requiring a great deal of know-how (especially then) and allowed for a large deal of Human error (This was in the days of shag carpetting). Microtel is going to have a large amount of future successes for freeing us from the evil tyrant of Microsoft! Thank you, Microtel for having the balls to stand up!
  • by jethro200 (573288)
    Surprise surprise! Someone got it wrong and sold a lot more issues by misquoting the Simpson's creator, saying that he was going to stop making new episodes. How convenient. It is such a rarity too, that a magazine would misquote someone to have a big story. Of course, I'm sure that it was entirely unintentional...
  • by Fat Casper (260409) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:13PM (#3473945) Homepage
    Clean PC... Wal-Mart...

    Clean PC... Wal-Mart...

    Clean PC... Wal-Mart... Aaaaaagh!

    • Re:Moral Dilemma. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gizzmonic (412910)
      Here [mammals.org] is your solution for a Windows-free PC. Although it can run Office if you really need it to.

      • Why in the world is apple.com linked with mammals.org? What do apples have to do with mammals, other than mammals that eat apples, though lizards and birds eat apples too?
        • im guessing it had something to do with evolution, because i seem to recal that they registered it about the time darwin became a public project.
  • by knodi (93913) <softwaredeveloper AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:13PM (#3473950) Homepage
    When did it jump? [jumptheshark.com] I think I know, but everyone agrees it's happened already.

    As soon as I saw the episode where Marge is
    kidnapped by a biker gang, I said "This is so
    incredibly forced and predictable. They're not
    trying any more. I bet this show ends soon."
    I got 2 out of 3.
    • Hmmm, I think the whole Skinner/Armin Tamzarian thing was the turning point.
    • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:26PM (#3474031) Homepage Journal
      Hey, the Simpson's has years of great stories left. Why, the first example on the recent clipshow showed Homer jumping a shark. That's gotta be funny. Also, I don't recall hearing "The Simpsons are going to Antarctica!" yet. We haven't seen Homer quit his job and move to Connecticut to raise chickens, or better yet, move to California. We haven't seen Marge open up cute gift shop and have George Clooney as her handyman. Also, we haven't seen the cute little kid join the cast, the lame spin-offs, or 37 timeslot changes over 6 months.

      Don't write the show off yet.

    • After last season, i thought for sure that Simpsons was gonna be cancelled...heck, i was calling for it myself...most of the shows last season (like the one with the elf-jockeys) made little or no sense, and even had some self depricating humor that suggested that the series had out lived it's usefulness...however, i think this year's season has be a strong comeback for Homer and the Simpson clan...sure, it's not their glory years, but it's still a damn entertaining show....
      • The one with Furious D was one of the funniest episodes ever. You're nuts.

        "And what's this? A horse abusing a jockey? Could this be the start of a terrifying Planet of the Horses? In this announcer's opinion, almost certainly yes! And away I go!"

    • The Simpsons jumped the shark in the season that ended with the Behind The Laughter episode.. Season 12, I think? The characters have been rather 'off' since then.. and 'Behind The Laughter' was worst episode ever anyway.. so it's a good point to mark.
    • by rkent (73434) <rkent@@@post...harvard...edu> on Monday May 06, 2002 @09:01PM (#3474561)
      Since the simpsons is one of my hobbies and I spend lots of time talking about it (or spewing quotes) with my buddies at the bar, I'd like to offer my rebuttal to the argument that "The Simpsons jumped the shark long ago."

      The important concept is to look at the Simpsons in phases. The Tracy Ulman shorts and season 1, and to a lesser extent season 2, was basically Groening getting his feet wet in the television medium. The plots were decent, and by the end of 2, the characters were pretty damn fleshed out. But most of the time the progress was slow, the voices (especially Azaria's) were crappy, and the jokes didn't punch.

      Seasons 3 through 6,7, or 8 (depending on how much of a hardass you are) were the good years. The characters hit their prime, all the voices solidified, the animation went from "crappy" to "simple but elegant." The plots were tight, the jokes zinged. Basically every really classic episode was from this period. Flaming Moe's, Homer the Heretic, Last Temptation, Lemon of Troy... there are too many to mention.

      But the seeds of crappery were also sewed during this period. Not 1 but 2 clipshows, the spinoff showcase, and guest episodes like the johny cash and X-files episodes. I bring up those last 2 for a reason: one of the central complaints about the later seasons is all the random guest voices, but those 2 above are two of my all time FAVORITES. Which brings me, I guess, to my central point: one man's meat is another's poison. Yes, the X-files episode was a pastiche attempt to gain ratings, but it was done in a freakin' hilarious way.

      Most of the seasons after 9 typify this later approach: garish, sometimes slapdash, and always ridiculous ratings-fodder. Bart's a Jockey! Britney spears reads 2 lines! "It's N-Synch!" I would basically agree that the show had said everything meaningful it was going to say by the end of season 8 or so. And so it turned its energies outward: the long-loved and well-developed characters took on archtypal roles in critiques of pop culture.

      Homer devolved from a dumb but lovable working class chump, to an archie bunker/fred flintstone obnoxious bastard. Lisa went from vulnerable geek to elitist snob. The thing is, these changes had a point: it's the way everyone ELSE was being, and now we're commenting on that, see? In fact, I would argue that the original Homer was a counterpoint to optimistic fans of "reaganomics" in the 80s, and the later Lisa similarly responded to the 90s' rising tide of "tree-hugging liberals" aloof from traditional democratic issues. The characters simply tracked what was going on in life and responded as necessary.

      The Simpsons always had a healthy dose of biting critique, but in the end it had nothing but that. Even if it took the form of doing a totally asinine show and saying, "but you're still watching, eh?" Like the poochy episode or this most recent clip show. Basically, I commend the show for having the audacity, over the last few years, to flaunt and mock its own devolution. The fact that even this "smart" show is ultimately all about profit, and transitively, so must the rest of TV be. Not that we didn't know that, but... we're still watching, right? Granted, it's a different point than they started off trying to make in 1990, but their original idea got done to death. So they moved on. Let's, too.
    • Everyone? I see at the tabulation page on jumptheshark.com that 1,345 users voted that it never jumped (many adding in the comments: Never jumped, never will), the next closest category has 96 votes.

      Furthermore: It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it jumping the shark. - from Jump the Shark.com [jumptheshark.com].

      Ok, what is so difficult about this? Jumping the Shark is not, "when the show is clearly bad." JTS is that moment that stands as the pinnacle of the show such that all following episodes are lesser in comparison. Now, the Simpsons may get really bad but it's probably that it will never Jump the Shark because it has (so far) always hit on moments of genius even in this last season.

      But if it did Jump the Shark, it's definitely already happened and my favorite contender is the first episode of "Who Shot Mister Burns?".
  • by Vrallis (33290) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:18PM (#3473974) Homepage
    Matt made the message clear in more than just an interview. The last new episode that aired, in the opening scene where Bart is writing on the chalkboard, Bart was writing something along the lines of "A will never lie about being canceled again..."

    Gotta love finding out like that!

    Now, that said,

    I WANT MY GOD DAMNED FUTURAMA BACK YOU BASTARDS!!!
  • by astrashe (7452) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:20PM (#3473998) Journal
    Why not keep the modem, and lean on the manufacturer to come up with linux drivers?

    Walmart is pretty big, and if they said that you need a linux driver if you wanted your modems sold at wal-mart, then companies would do it, regardless of the size of the linux market.
    • ITS A *WIN*MODEM!

      you want to integrate all the PPP stuff the hardware should do into linux? then release LINMODEMS.

      this is NOT insightful.
      • you want to integrate all the PPP stuff the hardware should do into linux?
        No normal modem, hardware or softmodem does PPP. I have seen ads for single chip modems that do, but they are targeted for embedded applications (And can even handle SMTP email). Modems you buy for your PC just send characters to the other modem. The network software/operating system handles PPP.

        Just a quick summary of the types of modems (This probably has some errors, but I am sure I will be corrected :-) ):

        • Hardware modem - This is the traditional modem. They usually contain a line interface, a DSP and a controller. The controller handles things like dialing, recognizing AT commands and transferring data to and from the DSP. The DSP does the modulation and maybe the data compression. The line interface is just a digital/analog converter and some protection circuitry. The modem connects to the computer with a serial link. Internal versions put a UART on the modem so it acts like a serial port.
        • Controllerless - These modems leave off the controller. The driver handles things like dialing, monitoring status and sending data to the DSP. The driver also handles AT command processing and possibly emulating a serial port for DOS apps. The driver may also do data compression. The actual modulation is still done by a DSP.
        • Host Signal Processing - The cheapest modems leave off the DSP too. These modems are little more than sound cards with phone line interface. The driver must do all the work. Obviously you wouldn't expect exceptional performance from these. AMR modems fit in this catagory.
        Lucent modems fit into the Controllerless catagory. I have had good luck with them under Windows and Ok luck with them in Linux (All on Compaq Presario's. The modem is probably the only quality component in the whole machine...). Use the latest drivers for best connect rates.
    • Blockquoth the poster:


      Why not keep the modem, and lean on the manufacturer to come up with linux drivers?

      Walmart is pretty big, and if they said that you need a linux driver if you wanted your modems sold at wal-mart, then companies would do it, regardless of the size of the linux market.


      They are leaning on the manufacturer. Microtel has just sent a message to Lucent saying: "Your products are unsuitable for this product line, so we're not going to buy any more of them." And the message came not from a spattering of random individuals, but a fellow company. At the very least, that'll get Lucent's attention. Now I suggest we all dig out the manuals that came with those Lucent modems we can't use, find the support number, and call 'em up to make sure they get the message. (Be polite!)

  • Hmm.. maybe I interpreted the caption wrong, but I don't see how a Winmodem 'effectively requires Windows to make the computer work correctly'.

    a.) Isn't just about everybody going to want 10/100 Ethernet cards?

    b.) Wouldn't a decent modem be dirt cheap or laying around the house anyway?

    It's nice to point it out and all, but the way it was worded in the article kind of made it sound like it was some evil plot to make the machines run Windows. In reality, it was pretty benign.
    • by jimmcq (88033) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:47PM (#3474132) Journal
      a.) Isn't just about everybody going to want 10/100 Ethernet cards?
      b.) Wouldn't a decent modem be dirt cheap or laying around the house anyway?


      Those may be true about the average /. reader, but I seriously doubt they are true about the average Wal-Mart shopper.
      • "Those may be true about the average /. reader, but I seriously doubt they are true about the average Wal-Mart shopper. "

        I had the average Linux user in mind when I said 'everybody', but I failed to make that clear. I apologize to anybody I offended. It was meant as a question really.

      • I think you're missing an important point: these PCs have made linux zealots average walmart shoppers! I don't think anyone without some degree of comfort with computers is going to (intentionally) buy a OS-less PC. So computer people are now regular walmart shoppers, at least for this product...
    • "Isn't just about everybody going to want 10/100 Ethernet cards?"

      No. "Just about everybody" is on a dialup connection.

      "Wouldn't a decent modem be dirt cheap or laying around the house anyway?"

      The computer purports to have a modem in it. When "just about everybody" tries to use it with Linux and it fails they will conclude that either Linux or the computer is broken.

      "In reality, it was pretty benign."

      In reality, it was a stupid design error.
  • that he does indeed has stories for years and years

    Yeah, that's true, unfortunately. As they mentioned on that lame song on that lame 'yet another clips show' (aka Gump Roast) 2 Sundays ago:

    Have no fears we've got stories for years
  • I don't know, but I have very mixed feelings about Harlan Ellison suing AOL. He is the writer of his works, and his wishes should be respected. Unfortunately, going after AOL for usenet postings is like hitting out at the poor geek in the corner when one gets bullied.


    I wish Mr Ellison would just realize the futility and injustice of doing what he is doing and fight his fine cause elsewhere.

    • Re:Mixed Feelings (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CaseyB (1105)
      Unfortunately, going after AOL for usenet postings is like hitting out at the poor geek in the corner when one gets bullied.

      That's nothing. Last year he was ranting about how it should be illegal to write software like gnutella. Not "use for illegal purposes". Write.

      I think Ellison is gradually transitioning from his traditional role as the "outspoken grumpy curmudgeon" of the SF world, to being the "crazy homeless man shouting at the parking meter" of the SF world.

  • SETI@home changed the prize to a T-shirt shortly after the /. article.

    So no one won the $500 prize...
  • by Papineau (527159) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:49PM (#3474142) Homepage
    Can somebody enlighten me?
    What is his copyrighted work for which he sued AOL?
    • Longtime SF writer. His most famous story is probably "Repent Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman", and he wrote the ST:TOS episode "City on the Edge of Forever".
      • He's also good friends with J. Michael Strazinski and was a writing consultant on all Babylon 5 episodes and TV movies.
      • by gilroy (155262)
        Blockquoth the poster:

        he wrote the ST:TOS episode "City on the Edge of Forever".

        Well, strictly speaking, he wrote a script that contained the nucleus of "City...", but had creative differences. The script was extensively reworked into what appeared on film. And despite what Ellison screams, loudly, the script also massively improved once he was no longer part... I had the opportunity to read his script (in a book published, what, five years ago, I think), and it stank. IMHO and YMMV but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
      • by Chasuk (62477)
        He is also notorious for having compiled, edited and released two seminal SF anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions.

        I've been waiting for Last Dangerous Visions for over 25 years, but Harlan has never released it, for reasons that he has never explained.

        Ellison's has insisted for over 25 years that it will be completed, but it remains one of the most famous ever not-published books. Christopher Priest wrote about it amusingly in The Last Deadloss Visions, but, at Christopher's request, that e-text has been withdrawn from the Internet.
        And, no, it wasn't withdrawn due to censorship or Harlan's bullying, but for more commercial reasons: you can now order it in book form from Amazon as The Book on the Edge of Forever : An Enquiry into the Non-Appearance of Harlan Ellison's the Last Dangerous Visions.

        Sadly, I haven't read it for years, so I can't recount the details here.
    • by tb3 (313150) on Monday May 06, 2002 @09:19PM (#3474704) Homepage
      Just about everything you need to know about Harlan can be found on harlanellison.com [harlanellison.com]. And check out the quote on the first page. Way to make friends, Harlan.
  • by ejaw5 (570071) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:51PM (#3474149)
    I think this product is targeted towards the advanced users out there, as much of the "mainstream" users would at least think twice before buying a PC, then have to install an OS. However, most of the people I know who install and configure their own operating systems (whether windows or linux) tend to want to build their own systems themselves. Personally, I never purchase manufactured computers because I want to make sure I get "top quality" components, such as a versitile/highly configurable motherboard (like asus, i'm not endorsing). Especially when you install Linux, it's good to know exactly the hardware specs, and the easiest way to do that is to put it all together yourself.

    Despite this, I feel Walmart & Microtel are doing a good job at showing that Windows isnt the only way to compute. The Microtel SYSMAR506 - Athlon 1.4 [walmart.com] seems a good deal at around $500 for budget consious families who want to expose technology affordably to their children or for geeks who need a computer fast and cheap. It would be nice if they included both Windows and Linux drivers, but i know that 1.) Just the fact that it includes windows drivers is a much better improvement than Compaq's "recovery cd" that doesn't have drivers, and 2.) a lot of hardware is automatically detected under Linux, so it may not be necessary

  • by n6mod (17734) on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:52PM (#3474156) Homepage
    ...but you knew that.

    If you actually read Ellison's original rant, he sued AOL because the infringing postings were "received as part of his subscription to AOL."

    That's right kids, Ellison was connecting through AOL. The alleged infringer's ISP (Tehama County Online) rolled over immediately, and was thus spared inclusion in the lawsuit. AOL got sued because they carried the infringing bits to him at his request.

    At worst, they failed to proactively remove the posts from their news spools.

  • by Darkforge (28199) on Monday May 06, 2002 @08:03PM (#3474201) Homepage
    It's interesting to note that the most relevant precedent brought to bear on Ellison's case against AOL was a case in which the Scientologists (through the Religious Technology Center, one of their many dummy organizations,) tried to sue Netcom On-Line Communications Services, Inc. for storing their copyrighted religious texts on USENET.

    In that case, the court said this: "The court does not find workable a theory of direct infringement that would hold the entire Internet liable for actions that cannot reasonably be deterred." The worst possible outcome from a Scientologist's perspective.

    Judge Cooper upheld this precedent with her current summary judgement. Way cool.

    Yet again, the Scientologists shoot themselves in the foot [xenu.net]!

    • Since we know Google spiders /., it would be helpful if you'd make Scientologists [xenu.net] a link to xenu.net instead of some random phrase. After all, we all know where to go to get information on Scientology [xenu.net], but your casual Google queryist might not. Right?
  • winmodem FUD (Score:4, Redundant)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday May 06, 2002 @08:19PM (#3474291) Homepage
    Sorry but My Compaq EVO and my E500 both have winmodems and they work perfectly with linux, both slackware and redhat 7.2 and 7.3..

    A major type of winmodem chipset is happily supported by linux.. Maybe the one in the walmart computer is a el-cheapo version of a winmodem that isnt supported, I dont know what chipset it is.

    but saying that winmodems are unsupported by linux is pure FUD and has no place on slashdot.
  • ...but alas, almost all had Japanese keyboards and the Japanese version of Windows

    I'm typing on a Japanese computer right now. The keyboard is just fine for typing in English. I don't understand the problem with getting a Japanese keyboard. There are a few extra keys and Japanese letters (hiragana) in addition to the usual letters, but I'd say it's way cooler, not a problem.

    Japanese Windows, of course, requires you to be able to read, but all good geeks can install an English operating system on their computers.

    • Also Japanese keyboards have a weirdy, small space bar compared to our occidental and lengthy one.

      And lest anyone be tempted to descend into racist genital-comparison jokes I should point out that the reason for this is that Japanese text does not have spaces in it, so it is only used when typing phrases in English.

      On my recent trip to Tokyo what most impressed me was the new Vaio, model PCG-U1. You can check it out here. [www.sony.jp]

      Basically it's even smaller than the last series of Picturebooks (C1-XX series), but has even better stats- e.g. Transmeta over 800Mhz, 20G, 256MB etc- and the screen is finally the right aspect ratio.

      Trust me, when you see it in the flesh you will fall in love... (I nearly broke down when I discovered I couldn't afford it despite the fact it cost only 750 UKP, which is probably less than half what it will cost me if it ever gets to the UK).

      graspee

  • Akihabara (Score:4, Informative)

    by BJH (11355) on Monday May 06, 2002 @09:16PM (#3474674)
    OK, since there seems to be next to no posts regarding the Akihabara page, here I go... (sorry to be harsh, but I spend a lot of time there, so it sort of gets my goat to see someone come along, go around a few shops, write up a single-page report, and get that posted to /.).

    The Akihabara district of Tokyo is world-famous as a shopping district specializing in electrical and electronic equipment. I had the chance to visit the Akihabara while on an Elderhostel tour of Japan in April, 2002. (The name is pronounced ah-kee-ha-ba-rah, with no stress on any syllable. It is not, as English speakers want to say, aki-HAbara or akiha-BAra. The syllables just roll out all at the same level.)

    Not really. Spoken Japanese does not use stress as a marker, but rather pitch. 'Akihabara' declines in pitch towards the end of the word.

    Akihabara is a station on the Japan Railways line and on the Tokyo subway. The railway station is a bit more convenient. This is what you see as you start down from the station platform.

    A bit more convenient, if you happen to be using a JR line - if you're on a subway line, the subway exit is the way to go.

    There are lots of people on the street (but that's true everywhere in Tokyo). This was Sunday morning at 11AM.

    Akihabara's main street is closed to traffic on most Sundays.

    The district is roughly 6 city blocks square. Some of the streets are wide, as above, and some are narrow and have that "oriental bazaar" feel to them.

    It's quite considerably larger than that - certainly, most of the larger stores are toward the station, but if you head down the road in the direction of the Suehirocho station, there's many smaller shops in the back streets.

    This place also sold a variety of CPU and memory chips. Here is the price list. Multiply Yen by 0.008 to get dollars (as of 4/02). Thus the 2.4Ghz P4 was selling for about $575. These prices, as with most prices in the Akihabara, did not strike me as wonderful bargains. Good prices, but not good enough to cover the airfare to Tokyo!

    Gee, I'm so sorry... strange as it may seem, shops in Akihabara don't take your plane fare into account when setting their prices.

    Notice the number of clerks. Like every Japanese retail store, there are many, many clerks, all eager to be helpful. Japanese retail stores are grossly overstaffed by American standards.

    ...which could easily be rewritten to say, "American stores are grossly understaffed by Japanese standards." How often have I seen people complaining that they can't find a clerk in a US Fry's?

    The prices for Apple stuff seemed to be about the same as US prices.

    That's because Apple engages in price-fixing in Japan (they were actually convicted of it once, but it's obvious that it still goes on).

    Many stores sold games. This one is advertising the Nintendo for about $200. There were also Sega and Sony game stores. I don't know what the game is that is featured in the window display. The box was all Japanese except for the line "The voices of a distant star."

    It's called 'Hoshi no Koe' ('The Voice of the Stars' is close enough).

    When I looked closely at these PDAs I found the screen display was all in Japanese.

    OH MY GOD!!! You're KIDDING!!!! Japanese PDAs in Japan... who would have thought it?!?

    Most of the larger stores devoted much floor space to items of interest to local people, especially appliances: washing machines, microwaves, rice cookers and the like. And some absolutely gorgeous, 16:9-format TVs, which, or course, would be useless in the US.

    Obviously, these stores should immediately devote a minimum of 70% of their floor space to items that are of interest to Americans.

    There were lots of laptops to be seen, but alas, almost all had Japanese keyboards and the Japanese version of Windows. The prices for most laptops seemed to be pretty close to US prices for comparable models. The only bargains were on closeouts (clearly marked in English, "last one").

    ...I don't need to hammer the point any more, do I? (BTW, the reason you didn't find any 'bargains' was because you were looking in the wrong place - if you want a cheap laptop, the best way to find one is either online or check some of the smaller shops for weekend specials).

    The only place you find English keyboards is in the big stores, in what are advertised as "Duty Free" departments. "Duty Free" is a misnomer -- all the goods were made in Japan, so there is no question of avoiding an import duty.

    The 'Duty Free' in this case refers to the lack of the 5% consumption tax on items (which he does mention later on, although he doesn't link the two facts).

    All in all, about what I'd expect from a tourist on a quick spin through the larger shops...
    • Re:Akihabara (Score:3, Informative)

      by Belly (153998)
      If I had any mod points, you'd be getting them. I live in Tokyo, and you hit the nail(s) on the head.

      Yes folks, most of the shops/shopping in Akihabara is in fact aimed at local Japanese (shock, horror!)

      3 hours in Akihabara will just scratch the surface - there are heaps of small shops, many further away from the main train station where rent is cheaper, with more interesting bargains.

      Anyway, Akihabara has variety but not necessarily the best prices - because it is 'Akihabara', rent is high, and shops price stuff accordingly.

      I'm still laughing that this guy was actually surprised/disappointed to find lots of Japanese PDAs and PCs with Japanese keyboards in Japan of all places...

    • by Things To Do Tuesday (577819) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:47AM (#3475778) Journal
      OK, since there seems to be next to no posts regarding the Akihabara page, here I go... (sorry to be harsh, but I spend a lot of time there, so it sort of gets my goat to see someone come along, go around a few shops, write up a single-page report, and get that posted to /.).

      Why does that bother you? Were YOUR far far superior submissions to slashdot on this subject rejected or something, giving you the right to bitch?

      Gee, I'm so sorry... strange as it may seem, shops in Akihabara don't take your plane fare into account when setting their prices.

      Holy shit, talk about getting defensive about your adopted homeland. If the guy thought he was in for some life-changing bargains, then he was obviously wrong. He's just pointing that fact out, and really, was his statement wrong? Chill out, I don't think the guy was trying to offend anyone...a good idea for non-trolls.

      ...which could easily be rewritten to say, "American stores are grossly understaffed by Japanese standards." How often have I seen people complaining that they can't find a clerk in a US Fry's?

      Again with the "how dare you" attitude. By American standards (note, he implies nothing about superiority), many Japanese stores ARE overstaffed - in my experience, as well as the article author's, PLEASANTLY so.

      OH MY GOD!!! You're KIDDING!!!! Japanese PDAs in Japan... who would have thought it?!?

      See, now this was almost funny. Just lose all that extraneous punctuation, and you're halfway down the road to clown school.

      Obviously, these stores should immediately devote a minimum of 70% of their floor space to items that are of interest to Americans.

      Obviously, slashdot posters should devote 100% of their posts to inferring offense from an "outsider's" analysis. Do I have to say it? HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH, those Japanese TVs are not ideal for use outside of Japan.

      All in all, about what I'd expect from a tourist on a quick spin through the larger shops...

      All in all, about what I'd expect from a fanatical Western-raised Japan fanboy on a quick spin through slashdot.

      Now, I have things to do Tuesday.

      1. Insult a Japanese man
      2. Fuck his wife, girlfriend, and daughters
  • Harlan Ellison is an excellent example of why one should never know what one's favorite authors are like as people.

    I loved Alone Against Tomorrow and his [imho] groundbreaking novella The Region Between. He was my undisputed king of unapologetically weird 70's-era sci fi.

    I would say "love" but it's impossible to pick them up again without thinking of his trite rants on the [old] Sci Fi Channel. Now he's suing AOL for serving up content he explicitly asked for.

    Harlan, Harlan. Feh.
  • On Ellison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac (5844) on Monday May 06, 2002 @10:48PM (#3475153) Homepage Journal

    Lest Slashdot readers be tempted to dismiss Harlan Ellison as a technophobic crank, be aware that he is one of the most financially successful writers working in Hollywood today. He got that way by fighting the studios who tried to rip him off.

    Hollywood operates in large part on reputation fraud and misappropriation of other people's work, particularly screenwriters. Plot ideas and outlines are co-opted left and right. Writers in Hollywood do indeed work like dogs and end up getting treated about as well. Ellison stepped into these shark-infested waters many decades ago and has consistently and resolutely refused to allow himself to be fscked by the studios.

    Ellison is widely recognized as one of the most litigious writers out there, suing studios when they misappropriate his work. What's more, Harlan wins these suits almost all the time. Writing is his vocation and his passion, and he stands among some of the first names in science fiction. But he has seen too many of his friends and colleagues screwed by the studio system, doing lame knock-offs of their work and making millions while the writer goes hungry. Most creative types -- me included -- would just roll over and go, "Oh, well, what can I do about it?"

    Not Harlan. He bitch-slaps these creeps up Sunset Blvd. and back until they get the clue: You don't take a writer's work without paying for it.

    Where Harlan has gone wrong, IMHO, is that he has misconceptualized the nature of the "wrong" against him. Ellison's entire experience of having his work copied has been in the context of Hollywood studios and publishers. Studios copy Harlan's work, and make money off it. So Harlan sues the studio. Then he sees copies of his work are, "all over AOL," and AOL's making money off it. Ergo, the same solution applies.

    Except it doesn't.

    I hope someone can explain this to Ellison. His stock and trade is science fiction. We need the imaginations of men like him to provide the ideas and invent a future where copying is ubiquitous and unconstrained, and artists still get handsomely remunerated.

    Schwab

  • by jms (11418) on Monday May 06, 2002 @11:54PM (#3475386)
    [switching to hardware modems] may not seem like it's very significant, but it is. Consider this: One of the world's largest retailers has decided that the Open Source community may be a viable marketplace. Wal-Mart has promoted products aimed at us. And that has opened the door for us to be heard, not as techies, but as consumers.

    All true, and it also occurred to me that changing to a Linux-friendly modem is a very, very smart move on the part of Microtel.

    If Microsoft were to sue Microtel and Walmart under some theory of contributory copyright infringement -- inducing people to buy computers for the purpose of pirating Windows, it would be difficult for Microtel or Walmart to make the argument that those computers were intended for Linux use, if they contained hardware that is designed to only work under Windows.

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