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Comment Toshiba: guilt by association? (Score 4, Insightful) 90

Notice how the article reports that the suspect is a "Toshiba employee" even though his activities have nothing to do with Toshiba (as far as we know). That's how things work in Japan (and Asia in general) -- the company, relatives, etc. share some responsibility for an individual's actions simply by association.

Comment Re:droid will be mine (Score 4, Informative) 121

In Japan, phones have been capable of turn-by-turn navigation for a long time. When those apps first came out, there was a lot of speculation about whether mobile phone navi would kill the standalone / built-in navigation market. The car navi folks rushed to add mobile data connectivity, so they could download the latest maps and service info to compete with the "live" services offered by the mobile phones. Accessories for mounting your phone in the car in a visible position also became available.

In the end, both devices are co-existing in the market and very few people use the phone as the primary navigation device. Reasons are: (1) Inconvenience of having to launch the app, mount the phone in the car (or kill your phone's battery), and the fact that you can't use your phone. (2) Screen size. Unlike the tiny screens on North American GPS navi units, almost all units in Japan have a 5" or 7" screen. (3) The fact that most cars already have it built in anyway.

So I predict that in North America, the GPS navi units will evolve to: (1) Larger screens, (2) Data connectivity for live updates, and (3) More specialized features and improved service quality. The competition will be good. But the standalone / built-in navi devices won't just disappear.

Comment Re:My H1-B was rejected. (Score 1) 757

Seriously, come to Canada. You'll enjoy a quality of life equal or better than that of the States, similar work / leisure culture, and an immigration process that's much more deterministic than the INS one. Information Technology has been a designated occupation in many provinces for a long time -- for example, in British Columbia you could get your permanent residency in six months through its provincial nominee programme.

I sound like a salesman to Canada but I have US citizenship and voluntarily immigrated to Canada the hard way, for what it's worth.

Comment Re:Again, I compete with people who pay less (Score 1) 141

You don't HAVE to pay first-world prices for those things; that's what the global marketplace is all about. The catch is, you don't "have" to get a first-world salary, either.

But let's get this straight. Foreign students pay higher tuition fees. That's why colleges are so keen to get international students and their money. Of course, many of them come from places where the income level isn't high enough to afford those inflated fees, so they have to earn it through work-study or merit-based scholarships. But far from being "massively subsidized", "they" are actually subsidizing YOUR education through international student tuition.

Globalization is a bitch, isn't it?

Comment Re:laptops with accurate colors (Score 1) 504

If any of you are looking for laptops for serious color accurate work then you might be interested in this article:

http://www.markzware.com/blogs/top-5-laptops-for-displaying-color-gamut/2008/10/14/

The linked article is an extremely misinformed one. Among other nonsenses, it says that 16 million colors equates to 96% of "the" color gamut, which makes about as much sense as ... (here comes the auto analogy) ... saying my minivan makes as much horsepower as a Porsche because they both have six cylinders.

I'm honestly shocked at how the writer could be so misinformed and yet purport to offer a buying guide for laptop screens. The original article is much more useful.

Comment Re:Maybe it's just me (Score 1) 267

Basically, you can think of the phone as a user interface to your credit card. So you can check your balances and usage history easily, have multiple cards on the same phone (and manage them on the phone), and do all kinds of weird stuff like pick up coupons from NFC readers around town, and log in to karaoke machines with your favourite songs.

As you say, right now, the advantages of mobile phone NFC versus a plain old NFC-enabled credit card are presently sorta marginal. In Japan the majority of people use static cards instead of the mobile phone version. But as the services start to expand and the marketing geniuses figure out how to eek some benefit out of this system, I think you'll see the adoption rate increasing.

Some things that are essential when designing such a system are: ability to use the payment system even when the device is out of battery, recovery and transfer of the user IDs to another device, and remote disabling. Somehow, I doubt the US based folks have gotten their heads around these very important aspects yet.

Comment Re:It's been 5 years . . . (Score 1) 267

I was about to reply and say, "what rock have you been living under?!" The payment terminals are simply everywhere in Tokyo; you can't miss em.

But the parent has a point: in rural and more old-fashioned areas of Japan, it's true that NFC payment systems are a bit more rare and cash is generally preferred. The exceptions are the national chain stores and convenient stores, which accept NFC payments, but for a rural resident, there might not be enough "critical" mass of stores to justify signing up.

So here we have another article that says Japan is somehow unique, homogeneous and therefore "easy" to set up NFC payments. But that's a rather flawed and tired excuse. The NFC payment systems in Japan are just as fragmented as anywhere else, with lots of mutually incompatible systems (Seven-Eleven being a prime example, accepting only their homegrown "nanaco" card). The difference is that the hardware aspects are all based on the FeLiCa standard, thus, much as different protocols can run over Ethernet, you don't need to invest in various mutually incompatible hardware sets.

People outside of Japan should follow this model too. First decide on a widely compatible communication standard (FeLiCa is a decent one and already used internationally) and then let the various billing companies fight it out.

Comment Re:view from the tranches (Score 1) 129

Parent makes an important point -- bandwidth in a cell is SHARED among the users.

Now imagine how many users you might have in a 1-km radius cell. All of a sudden your "up to 42Mb/sec" connection doesn't look so good any more. And unlike with wired nets, you don't have as many options to deal with the problem by carving out smaller subnets with independent bandwidth. Spectrum eventually hands you a limit.

In Japan we experienced this firsthand. Last year we were the first to get reasonably priced flat-rate HSDPA. As an early adopter it was awesome, but as more people signed up, the latency and bandwidth started to make some apps like VoIP intractable. The most frustrating thing is that as a customer, you're paying the same amount for less. And you have no recourse while the carrier simply makes more and more money by signing up as many people as it can.

Instead of just looking at the max speed number, we should demand MINIMUM standards as well. So we have a technology that provides zero to 42Mb/sec. How about a promise that within the service area, you will get from 500kbps to 42Mb/sec? That would be much more meaningful.

Data Storage

Submission + - Hard disk drives suitable for long term storage? 17

MrHatken writes: As many people move to using hard disk drives for online and offline backup one needs to consider possible failure modes. I've heard that if hard disk drives aren't spun up regularly the bearings can lose their lubrication and fail, or the head can stick to the disk when parked. Are these myths or reality? Is there any confirmed data on how often one needs to spin them up and for how long? Further though, how difficult would it be for manufacturers to make hard disk drives that would be suitable for long term storage? Particularly, drives that wouldn't be required to be spun up regularly to ensure they'll still function when needed. It would seem to me that it shouldn't be that hard to do ...
Medicine

Submission + - SPAM: ADHD is an advantage for nomadic tribesmen

FiReaNGeL writes: "A propensity for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be beneficial to a group of Kenyan nomads, according to new research that will be published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. By studying adult men of the Ariaal of Kenya, they investigated whether ADHD would have the same implications in a nomad environment. They found that ADHD has been linked to greater food and drug cravings and novelty-seeking. It is possible that in the nomadic setting, a boy with ADHD might be able to more effectively defend livestock against raiders or locate food and water sources, but that the same tendencies might not be as beneficial in settled pursuits such as focusing in school, farming or selling goods."
Link to Original Source
It's funny.  Laugh.

Men Willing to Give up Sex for a 50in TV 139

Active Seti writes "The NY Times reports that nearly half of British men surveyed would give up sex for six months in return for a 50-inch plasma TV. The firm found 47 percent of men would give up sex for half a year, compared to just over a third of women. 'It seems that size really does matter more for men than women,' the firm said. The survey also said a quarter of people would give up smoking, with roughly the same proportion willing to give up chocolate which could make buying a plasma TV a good alternative to programs for smoking cessation or weight loss. Of course the survey should be taken with a grain of salt since it was carried out for a firm selling televisions."
Biotech

Submission + - Making Bacteria Behind Tooth Decay Self-Destruct

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "The ability of Streptococcus mutans to survive in its own acidic waste is one reason that the species is the main driver of tooth decay worldwide. The bacteria's acid-resistance has several components including a bacterial enzyme called fatty acid biosynthase M (FabM), which when shut down, makes S. mutans 10,000 times more vulnerable to acid damage. A team led by Robert G. Quivey, Ph.D have genetically engineered a mutant form of S. mutans with the FabM gene removed and now the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is funding the team to create a catalogue of proteins that, along with FabM, can serve as targets for a multi-pronged attack on bacteria that tend to evolve around single-thrust treatments. "Our first goal is to force the major bacterium behind tooth decay to destroy itself with its own acid as soon as it eats sugar," says Quivey. "After that, this line of work could help lead to new anti-bacterial combination therapies for many infections that have become resistant to antibiotics.""
Programming

Submission + - My 9 Year old want to make a game... 1

Scott Martinez writes: My daughter was asking if she could learn to make a game on the computer. I myself have next to no programming experience and have no idea what to set my 9 year old up with. Is there something we could do together? I know she is not going to make the next Sims game right away, but I am curious what is out there that can still engage her but not frustrate.
Data Storage

Blue Blu-ray 396

TopSpin writes "Early this year the meme circulated that Blu-ray might be going the way of Betamax, and for the exact same reason: Sony's unfriendliness to the porn industry. But at Japan's recent euphemistically named Adult Treasure Expo 2007, adult filmmakers said Sony has begun offering technical support, and this was later confirmed by Sony PR. The company stated that Sony would offer support to any filmmaker working on the format, no matter their industry. Apparently, Blu-ray is now the preferred medium for Japanese adult films."

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