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Comment Re:yep (Score 5, Informative) 206

This blog discusses the case and its ramifications briefly

Significance: Under this Supreme Court ruling, consumer contracts that require binding arbitration and prohibit participation in classwide arbitration are allowable.

Comment Re:Low Power (Score 5, Informative) 267

That is not really true. There was a period of (planned) rolling blackouts, but in the end energy conservation (and increased generation) meant that, except for immediately after the quake, the lights didn't go off.

However, many buildings (and stations) reduced lighting and took some escalators out of service. However, even those measures have mostly been abandoned, with escalators and the like operating as before (partly due to the fact that it wasn't practical to block off escalators in many of the busier stations). Many stores and offices, however, continue to turn off some of their lights.

That said, even at "reduced" lighting, most Japanese stations are still incredibly well lit. We aren't talking about platforms half shrouded in shadow so much as a slight reduction in the overall brightness level.

It will be interesting to see, however, what happens as we once again approach summer (and the increased energy demands due to A/C) combined with the current shut-down of nuclear power plants.

Comment So, to translate: (Score 5, Insightful) 1303

"l. A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company's dormitories, and then each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames"

Of course having next to no labour laws or enforced practices, combined with a workforce housed on site results in amazing results when last minute changes (or ramp ups in production) need to happen.

I'm sure there are many areas of expertise and scale where overseas factories outperform their American counterparts, but is this really the best example to use?


Submission + - Google kills more services (

alphadogg writes: Google is continuing to weed out its services and on Friday announced it will shut down Picnik, Google Message Continuity and Needlebase and make changes to some other services. Google acquired Seattle-based Picnik in 2010, saying it would integrate the photo editing service with its own Picasa. "We're retiring the service on April 19, 2012, so the Picnik team can continue creating photo-editing magic across Google products," Dave Girouard, vice president of product management for Google, wrote in a blog post Friday.

Comment Actually, not the Subway (Score 1) 61

I was on this train last night, actually, at it was a pretty wild experience once you realized the entire train was outfitted in Star Wars ads. The lightsabers are definitely a nice touch. That said, trains occasionally get the all-car treatment, and I remember one Yamanote line train being made up in Meiji Chocolate-bar wrap (as part of an anniversary event, being used as a call back to the lines original brown colour), and another time when a train was made out for a breath mint add where all the handlebars were shaped like mint packets!

One note, however, is that it is actually a Sobu Line Local (JR) train, not the subway.

Meiji Yamanote Train:

Comment Though I know there is a lot of concern... (Score 1) 277

As a resident of Japan, it strikes me as far more productive to donate the money I would use to buy a Geiger counter to disaster relief aimed at helping those more directly affected by the quake and tsunami. The government has been strictly monitoring levels in food and has been quite quick to prevent shipments of any food which might present even a small risk.

Comment Re:this premise makes me lol (Score 1) 242

except that the type of BBS/Bulletin-Board page you linked to in the second link remains fairly common and popular today.

Why? Because it's easy to have it and a cell-phone version. As a lot of internet-browsing gets done on cell-phones, this has meant that many sites create their cell-phone version first and the PC version second.

Comment Re:Ever been to Tokyo? (Score 1) 242

There is certainly a lot more aural stimulation in Japan.

Actually, the advertising cars (not just for politicians, but also often for second-hand stores and garbage recyclers), at least for elections came about partly due to the wording of Japanese election law as I understand it.

But you are certainly right that there are far more audio-visual displays (and giant advertising screens) even in smaller cities here in Japan than elsewhere. Interestingly though, I had to think about whether one actually existed in my city... you sort of tune them out.

I also think Mixi is a good example... though I think it has a fairly clean design, it also illustrates how important (picture) emoticons are -- something which has been inherited from the cellphone culture.

Comment Re:Ever been to Tokyo? (Score 0) 242

Heck, even a few steps from Ueno (towards Ueno-park or Asakusa) can lead you to a relatively quiet area. I think that attempting to ascribe Japanese web-design layouts to the city layouts betrays a lack of familiarity with Japan as a whole (Japan != Shibuya. Tokyo != Japan), and simply "others" Japan as an easy way to explain difference.

I think there does exist a certain "do-it-yourself" attitude within Japan which favours home-grown solutions (especially in the technological/mobile area -- look at how closely the carriers control development of cell phones). Mixi, for example, created their own version of twitter (and, made it linkable with twitter, but only for twitter->Mixi, not the other way) and emulated what they saw as the best parts of facebook (the "like it" / "ii ne" button anyone?).

Comment Well... (Score 1) 510

At least if you keep in plugged in it can be a doorstop *and* space-heater.

Still, it will be interesting to see how Sony's handling of this will progress... it seems like an amazingly big hole to miss in QA testing.

I wonder why they suddenly felt such a rush to "plug" this "hole".... did some new hack allowing pirated games to be played recently come out which utilized the "install other OS" function?

Although I must say I can't see this as being done on purpose -- no matter how much Sony might like to see the "fat" PS3s be cycled out of use.

Comment Re:I agree with their motives... (Score 1) 210

Though I certainly think that the ACTA treaty does not qualify, can you not imagine any instances where it might be necessary for a government to debate something in secret?

Are there issues where the public at large should trust their elected officials to make the decisions which best suit the needs of a populace as a whole? Are there perhaps situations where the populace as a whole knowing might lead to worse decisions being made? I'm honestly not sure as to the answer to these questions, but I do think that there are probably issues (for example pertaining to national security and military intelligence -- again, both areas into which I do not think ACTA falls) where the populace as a whole is best served by not being informed.

The point of debate is certainly to discuss -- that isn't the issue... the question is how wide an audience should participate in the discussion.

Comment I agree with their motives... (Score 2, Interesting) 210

And admire their resolve to make the treaty public -- indeed I am curious to see what it contains.

However, I wonder if parliamentary decorum doesn't traditionally restrict public discussion of issues currently up for debate...

Just because it is an unwritten rule does not mean it should be casually ignored... as much as we might disagree with the end results.

Comment Re:Still consuming (Score 1) 496

Same is also true in Japanese...

Gohan can mean both rice and a meal. Generally speaking when you ask "Did you have Gohan" you are asking whether someone ate a meal, not whether or not they had rice.

Bread and Cake are two distinct words and neither have anything to do with the characters for candy (and, in fact, are not written using Chinese characters in the first place).

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