JoshuaInNippon writes: The force is strong with Darth Vader's acting. The symbolic Star Wars character was one of seven people to be given an acting award at this year's ACC CM Festival in Japan. The ACC is a Japanese group dedicated to TV and radio commercials. Vader had played the role of himself (from Ep. 4-6) in a series of NTT DoCoMo cellular commercials with Inception actor Ken Watanabe, who also won a prize. Darth Vader was present at the festival's ceremony to accept his award, but reportedly did little more than breathe deeply while on stage.
JoshuaInNippon writes: Not sure what you're thirty for? New vending machines in Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Japan will tell you based on your age and gender. The machines, controlled by a centralized server, come equipped with sensors that recognize basic costumer information, and then provide recommendations along side the list of available drinks. A massive 47-inch touch panel display is used in place of the typical button system, allowing for an automatic digital advertising mode when no people are directly in front of the machine. (Hey look, the vending machine has eyes and is saying it is thirsty, I'm thirsty now too!) Customers can pay with either cash, or via a number of automatic credit systems used in Japan, such as JR East's SUICA. The company that produced the machines, JR East Water Business Co., has put two into use as of August 10th, and hopes to have 500 deployed within the next two years.
JoshuaInNippon writes: Leading Japanese search provider Yahoo Japan announced a two year deal with Google to incorporate Google's web search engine and ad system technology into its own. The agreement will see Yahoo Japan customize Google's technology to improve its search and ad service results, while retaining its own search technologies and services. In addition, Yahoo Japan stated that they will be providing data back to Google to help improve both companies' services. The news comes as a stark contract to sister company Yahoo, Inc. decision last year to work with Microsoft. While Yahoo, Inc. owns nearly a third of Yahoo Japan, it is not a controlling majority, and the two companies are separate entities. Some have questioned whether the deal between Yahoo Japan and Google would create a search monopoly, as the two companies reportedly command a combined 90% of Japan's search engine market share. However, Yahoo Japan states they have already had discussions with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, and foresee no problems. The two companies had teamed up in the past, and stated that also plan to continue competing with each other in all service areas.
JoshuaInNippon writes: Move over Blu-ray. Japanese researchers from Sony and Tohoku University announced the development of a "blue-violet ultrafast pulsed semiconductor laser," which Sony is aiming to use for disk. The new technology, with "a laser wavelength of 405 nanometers in the blue-violet region" and a power out put "more than a hundred times the world'(TM)s highest output value for conventional blue-violet pulse semiconductor lasers," is believe to be capable of holding more than 20 times the information of current Blu-ray technology, while retaining a practical size. Japanese news reports have speculated that one blue-violet disk could be capable of holding more than 50 high-quality movie titles, easily fitting entire seasons of popular TV shows like 24. When the technology may hit markets was not indicated.
JoshuaInNippon writes: A 31-year old unemployed man was arrested by police in Japan on July 20th for illegal transmission of TV programs. It was indicated that the man had uploaded around 165 programs — mainly Japanese variety shows — over the last half year, with police apparently targeting three programs he recorded and seeded in a six-day period in early June. The suspect claimed he did it for the benefit of those who missed the shows. He told investigators that he choose BitTorrent for his activities because he believed it was safer from viruses than other Japanese P2P programs and it was free from the eyes of local authorities. Japanese police noted that the arrest was a national first related to BitTorrent use.
JoshuaInNippon writes: Those who have studied Japanese know how imposing kanji, or Chinese characters, can be in learning the language. There is an official list of 1,945 characters that one is expected to understand to graduate from a Japanese high school or be considered fluent. For the first time in 29 years, that list is set to change — increasing by nearly ten percent to 2,136 characters. 196 are being added, and 5 deleted. The added characters are ones believed to be found commonly in life use, but are considered to be harder to write by hand and therefore overlooked in previous editions of the official list. Japanese officials seem to have recognized that with the advent and spread of computers in daily life, writing in Japanese has simplified dramatically. Changing the phonetic spelling of a word to its correct kanji only requires a couple presses of a button, rather than memorizing an elaborate series of brush strokes. At the same time, the barrage of words that people see has increased, thereby increasing the necessity to understand them. Computers have simplified the task of writing in Japanese, but inadvertently now complicated the lives of Japanese language learners. (Oh, if you read Japanese and are interested in more details on specific changes, Slashdot.jp has some information!)
JoshuaInNippon writes: On May 26th, Sony announced that they have developed an organic LED so flexible that it can be rolled up on a cylinder with a radius of 4mm (about 1/8th in.) while playing back full color video. The company stated that they combined OLED technology with OTFTs (Organic Thin-Film Transistors) to create the flexible display, which is only 80 micrometers thick, but has a 121 pixel-per-inch resolution. While the product is still in development with some obvious kinks, the promotional footage of the product is like watching a scene from a sci-fi flick. Sony hopes to see the technology used in "thin, light-weight, durable and mobile devices with enhanced form-factor."
JoshuaInNippon writes: Japanese video sharing site NicoNicoDouga(9), behind only YouTube in popularity within Japan, posted its first ever profits during the first quarter of 2010. The Tokyo-based company saw ¥1.428 billion in income to ¥1.399 billion in expenses, for a profit of approximately ¥29 million, or roughly $300,000 USD, between January and March of this year. Interestingly, while the site is free to use with email registration, the profits were generated largely by premium memberships, rather than advertising. The site's premium membership, which costs ¥525 per month, allows for such perks as access priority for uploading and downloading and live video streams. While current profits are still relatively small, the company boasts that 1-in-2 Japanese in their twenties has registered with the site, as well as a steadily growing membership. Might such reasonably priced perk membership schemes be a way for similar sites to earn sustainable profits while providing free content?
from the summon-godzilla dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "Japan has gone life-size anime model crazy. Last year there was the robotic 1:1 Gundam model that guarded Tokyo for a few months in the summer to mark the series' 30th anniversary, and then there was the giant Gigantor moment that opened in Kobe in the fall in honor of the city's rejuvenation from the devastating 1995 earthquake. Now, an amusement park near Mt. Fuji named Fuji-Q Highland is building an Eva Unit 01 from the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion series, or at least a bust of it, in conjunction with the series' recent movies. The bust will sit in a replica hanger, and reportedly stand around 9 meters tall. Visitors will have the chance, for a little extra money, to have their photo taken in the unit's cockpit, where the series' protagonist-of-sorts Shinji Ikari normally sits. The attraction is set to a cost of over US$1.6 million to build, and open on July 23 of this year. It will also undoubtedly be swamped by crazed fans looking the opportunity to bring their anime dreams to life."
from the didn't-confuse-me-for-one-frobnitzjibber dept.
ObsessiveMathsFreak writes "Today's xkcd comic introduced an unusual word — malamanteau — by giving its supposed definition on Wikipedia. The only trouble is that the word (as well as its supposed wiki page) did not in fact exist. Naturally, much ado ensued at the supposed wiki page, which was swiftly created in response to the comic. This article has more on how the comic and the confusion it caused have put the Net in a tizzy. It turns out that a malamanteau is a portmanteau of portmanteau and malapropism, but also a malapropism of portmanteau. All this puts Wikipedia in the confusing position of not allowing a page for an undefined word whose meaning is defined via the Wikipedia page for that word — and now I have to lie down for a moment."
JoshuaInNippon writes: Japan has gone life-size anime model crazy. Last year there was the robotic 1:1 Gundam model that guarded Tokyo for a few months in the summer to mark the series' 30th anniversary, and then there was the giant Gigantor moment that opened in Kobe in the fall in honor of the city's rejuvenation from the devastating 1995 earthquake. Now, an amusement park near Mt. Fuji named Fuji-Q Highland is building an Eva Unit 01 from the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion series, or at least a bust of it, in conjunction with the series' recent movies. The bust will sit in a replica hanger, and reportedly stand around 9 meters tall. Visitors will have the chance, for a little extra money, to have their photo taken in the unit's cockpit, where the series' protagonist-of-sorts Shinji Ikari normally sits. The attraction is set to a cost of over US$1.6 million to build, and open on July 23rd of this year. It will also undoubtedly be swamped by crazed fans looking the opportunity to bring their anime dreams to life.
JoshuaInNippon writes: A Japanese manufacturing cooperative named Astro-Technology SOHLA announced on April 27th that they are planning to create and send a two-legged humanoid robot to the moon, have it draw the Japanese flag on the surface, and hopefully then get it to return to the Earth, all by the year 2015. The group wants to inspire people, particularly in Japan, about space and generate confidence among SMEs to create low-cost space technology. While the idea may seem far-fetched to some, SOHLA had success in building a small low-cost satellite, named "Maido-1", which was launched into space aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket in early 2009. The group also commented that they want to have their future humanoid robot hitch a ride to the moon with a surveying rover that JAXA is building.
JoshuaInNippon writes: In a brief press released buried within Sony Japan's website, the company announced that they would be ending sales of the class 3.5 inch floppy disk in the country in March of 2011. Sony introduced the size to the world in 1981, which saw its heyday in the 1990s. Sony has been one of the last major manufactures to continue shipments of the disk type they helped develop, but had ended most worldwide sales in March of this year. The company's production of the 3.5 inch floppy ceased in 2009. Sony noted the demand, or a lack there of, as the reason. The company's withdrawal is one of the final marks in the slow death of the floppy era.
JoshuaInNippon writes: Japanese scientists at the National Research Institute of Aquaculture, Fisheries Research Agency have reported that they successfully completed an artificial cultivation cycle for unagi, or eel, a world first. Unagi is a traditional delicacy in Japan, and can commonly be found in baked-form at sushi restaurants. The fish has long been caught either matured, or still young and then fattened on farms. Sadly as a result, natural stocks of unagi have plummeted in recent years. However, the research news has indicated a future method to completely farm breed the tasty creature in mass quantity. Good news for sushi-lovers, Japanese businesses, and wild eel alike.