February 2008

The Perfect iTunes Plugin…

…would be the deRapper, which automatically identifies and deletes gratuitous rap sequences inserted into otherwise pleasant songs. You’d probably have to upgrade to deRapper Pro to add the ability to filter out rap background “vocals” that intrude on the actual song.

[this post brought to you by Melon Kinenbi’s Akuma de Fake, Onegai Miwaku no Target (Melon Pudding Mix), and Kousui (Hard Flavor Mix), the latest such vandalisms to pass my ears]

One from the Personals…

Japundit has a Personals site, which they run ads for in a sidebar on their home page. I’m not interested in joining, so all I get out of it is an occasional thumbnail headshot of a pretty girl.

This one jumped out at me in a different way. “Ai84” looks disturbingly familiar:

Japundit Personals -- Ai84

She has been out of sight for a while, and she certainly couldn’t do worse than her previous boyfriend. Probably not her, of course, but stranger things have happened.

Laptop scrubbing

When I went to Japan last year, I scrubbed my laptop of non-essential data and encrypted my home directory, to avoid any hassle if it got stolen. It sounds like I should have been more concerned about the boys working Customs.

Or perhaps not, since they just waved me through in both countries, without even a cursory inspection.

It’s obvious that the behavior described in the article can’t be extended to more than a tiny fraction of travelers, but without clear guidelines explaining what they can examine and for how long, I can understand why businesses would be very leery of allowing employees to take laptops across the border. I pity the fool who tries to separate Lucy from a laptop, though…

While a lot of folks are busy crying “police state”, I’m thinking more along the lines of “poorly-trained flunkies with no oversight”. Which is more dangerous, but less scary.

Dear R+V animators,

Please skip directly to chapter 35. No one will object. Continuity be damned.

[Update: I was going to add a comment to Ubu's discussion, but it's fallen off the front page. He poked fun at the R+V manga fanboy who whined that the anime was ruining a "serious romantic story". Now that I've read up through chapter 40 (volumes 1-10, with ~80% comprehension), I think I'm qualified to answer that. Or, rather, I'll let Tsukune's poor, bewildered cousin Kyouko answer for me:


For the kana-impaired: “Kono gakuen no shoutai, sore wa… fuuzoku ne!!!? Ecchi-na o-shigoto no senmon-gakkou nan deshou, koko!”.

Translated: “This school’s true character, it’s the… sex trade, isn’t it? This place is a dirty-job vocational school!“.

Admittedly, by showing up unannounced during the school festival, she’s gotten a slightly skewed view of things. Fortunately, she wasn’t there when Kurumu’s mom met Tsukune and offered him private lessons…

On a related note, following the usual shorten-to-four-mora pattern, Jump Comics refers to the series as RozaBan. Respectfully, I submit that it should be RozaPan. There’s not a panty-shot in every frame, but there are plenty to be found, and alt-Moka’s pantsu-fu fighting style guarantees that they show up even in the middle of the most serious battle.]

[Update: Note to people following the scanlations: chapters 39 & 40 will feel like an abrupt end to the series. 39 was in fact the end of its original serialization, and 40 was a one-shot. It started up again recently in a different magazine, Jump Square, as “season 2”. My guess is that the next collection will show up around May.

Meanwhile, the DS game will be out in March, based on the anime character designs. The screenshots make it look like a dating sim (surprise!). The title (「七夕のミス陽海学園」 = Tanabata no Miss Youkai Gakuen) suggests a beauty contest, with Tsukune picking the winner. And it’s set during the “star-crossed lovers” festival…]

Hot water

Yesterday, I had a hot water heater. Today, I have an empty tank and a bunch of wet drywall. Joy.

[Update: On the bright side, while I’m waiting at home for a plumber, I can wait at home for GE, who’ll fix my eight-year-old microwave oven for free (10-year magnetron warranty).]

R+V storyline spoilers

If ANN’s episode titles are correct, it looks like…

(no fancy spoiler tags here, so below the fold it all goes)


Amazon recommends…

…utter crap.

Amazon Recommends

I’m not sure which is worse: having their system recommend a z-grade porn cartoon, or recommending it because I liked the Mahoromatic Summer Special.

[Update: More oddities: the “better together” section says that if I buy a really nice men’s watch, I can get a great deal on another really nice men’s watch. Of course, the price is exactly the same as if I bought them separately. Sadly for them, I bought a really nice men’s watch about ten years ago, and it’s still going strong. (and, yes, it’s a Citizen Eco-Drive in titanium; definitely worth buying, but one should be enough)]

[Update: Oh, my, this one really says something about… something:]

Amazon Recommends 2

Leopardized for your protection

So, with 10.5.2 and SuperDuper 2.5 out, I was finally willing to upgrade my primary Mac.

First problem: it merged down an old version of my Safari bookmarks from .Mac, even though I had sync turned off, and the last sync had reset this machine as the master. Fortunately, it was a merge, rather than a replace, so I didn’t lose anything, and only had a small amount of cleanup to do.

Second problem: I can’t turn .Mac sync back on to reset the bookmarks, and it falsely thinks that I’ve got local iDisk sync turned on as well (something I used to use a lot, but shut off a while back due to .Mac flakiness). The whole .Mac connection seems pretty hosed, actually.

Third problem: Mail.app’s IMAP insists on showing my entire home directory on one of my servers, and walking the tree each time to check for “new messages”; this behavior cannot be overridden from the GUI. It also completely lost track of how to connect to my primary SMTP server, but after the third try I was able to get it to send mail again.

[this doesn’t include the many problems I already knew about from upgrading other machines, of course…]

[…and I’m sure I’ll find more…]

Epic Fail

Amazon’s recommendation system just blew a gasket. Here’s proof:


Ume no hana

Ume no hana

The test last week in my Japanese conversation class covered some useful grammar, including “dou yattara” and “~ka dou ka” (also humble form, about which the less said the better). The structure of the test was that the tutors composed a number of questions in advance, and students were chosen to answer each one. Grading was subjective, but just understanding what you were being asked was as important as composing a grammatically correct answer. There’s no penalty for occasionally passing with “wakarimasen”.

One that stumped a few people was a very polite and grammatically annoying version of “where can I go to see plum blossoms blooming?”. After someone finally got it, I said “my back yard”. It’s not as fancy as a proper Japanese plum garden, but at least I’ve got some.

The world changes

Toshiba has abandoned HD-DVD, and Castro has stepped down. I wonder which one of these will get more attention over the next week.


Asus EEE PC Japanese SLogan

This is the Asus EEE PC slogan localized for Japan: “manabu hataraku asobu”, which copies half of the English slogan, leaving out the whole “easy” part. Then again, it ships with Windows XP instead of a dumbed-down Xandros derivative, which might make it less approachable for a complete novice, but definitely more familiar to the Windows-centric Japanese audience.

Now that there’s a working Fedora 8 distribution for the EEE (thanks to the new official kernel support and Philip Pemberton’s RPMs), I can really start using mine. The supplied Xandros-derivative was amusing, but much too limited. Among other things, WPA2 Enterprise wireless was messy to set up, the Juniper VPN software simply didn’t work, and I really, really like chkconfig.

The most important software I’ll use on it? Claws Mail, Perl, emacs, minicom, Firefox, and StarDict. StarDict isn’t as useful a Japanese dictionary as Jedict for the Mac, but at least it uses the same source data. I’d prefer the “Green Goddess” dictionary that’s being included in some of the recent handhelds, but the EEE is small enough for most occasions, and I’ve already got a WordTank and a DS Lite running Kanji sonomama.

Been there, done that…

Xkcd: Duty Calls

Anybody else?

[Update: apparently everybody else. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen an Xkcd cartoon spread around the net.]

I was expecting another 9

After making my latest Amazon order (no, not the boy’s shoes they recommended because I rated a Microsoft mouse, or even the Bourne Ultimatum DVD they recommended because I bought a book on Tokyo (although, to be fair, I did see that movie dubbed into Japanese…)), an HP ad popped up that included a statement that seemed surprisingly honest:

HP honesty

Ink-cartridge technology must be pretty bad when you’re proud that only one in a hundred are no good.

Dear Apple,

I plugged in a freshly formatted external drive, copied a bunch of files to it, and tried to eject it. I couldn’t, because it was in use. Why? Because Spotlight was indexing the contents (specifically, a pair of “gnutar tf” processes were grovelling over the very large archives I’d just copied).

This is now the second major OS release to embed Spotlight into the OS, and there’s still no way to stop it from the GUI. If I didn’t know about “sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/foo”, it could be hours before I’d be able to eject that external drive. This is really stupid.

Also, a big “WTF?” to the person who replaced the Berkeley “ps” command with a SysV-style version in Leopard. After twenty years of practice, my fingers don’t type in “compatibility mode”.

Why the rush?

Many fans of the Rosario+Vampire manga really hate the anime series. Gonzo is adapting it rather freely, emphasizing the series’ light, fluffy side at the expense of the manga’s occasional plot. Episode 7 did the most serious continuity damage so far, bringing one of the girls into the story long before she should appear, in a way that would make it difficult to get back on track.

If, that is, they have any interest in using the slow-developing, dark and bloody manga plot. I don’t think they do. Here’s my evidence:


Amazon recommends

I’ve temporarily managed to increase the sanity of my Amazon recommendations. Unfortunately, they’re still useless.

Page 1: 8 Destroyer novels, 4 Girls Bravo manga, 3 Grenadier manga.

Page 2: 2 Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi DVDs, 1 Ai Yori Aoshi manga, 2 Destroyer novels, 2 Kaleido Star New Wings DVDs, 2 UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie DVDs, 2 Nadia DVDs, Castle in the Sky DVD (which I hadn’t marked owned yet), a Hyper Police manga, and disc 1 of Magikano.

Page 3 has another half-dozen Destroyer novels, some more anime DVDs, and some more manga. Ditto page 4. And most of page 5. The first non-anime, non-manga, non-Destroyer item is a Lacie external hard drive at #72. The second is a Logitech universal remote at #79. The list ends at #85, with only three more non-anime, non-manga, non-Destroyer items. Those final three items are the ones I’d be most likely to actually buy, because I’ve already got enough anime, manga, and Destroyer novels to last me for quite a while.

Amazon Japan, on the other hand, has a completely separate database, and I’ve been careful not to over-train it. Its knowledge of my interests and possessions is much narrower, and as a result it offers me hundreds of things that I might want to buy at some point. The first few pages are heavily oriented toward Hello!Project merchandise, but that’s the bulk of what I’ve actually bought from them in the past. The big difference is that there are things I actually want on both page 1 and page 31.

The last few items on page 43 are pretty weak, but page 42 had five DVDs of pretty girls in bikinis, one of which I found rather appealing. Advantage: Amazon Japan.

The net result is that the site I’ve bought more from and rated a wider variety of items on offers me a much narrower selection of items to purchase in the future, and mixes them up poorly, so that most of its recommendations are for the items it has the most of, which are the items I’m least likely to buy that many more of. There are over 120 Destroyer novels, and the only way to keep them from dominating my list is to claim I’m not interested in any of them. Which isn’t true, in the long run, and negatively impacts future recommendations if I do it.

And, sadly, I can’t clean up my “not interested” list, because Amazon’s tools weren’t written to handle 6,000-item lists. Their official recommendation is to create a new account, which just isn’t worth it.


[Update: No, I can’t figure it all out. The onomatopoeia is common in Japanese web pages, but not in anything I’ve got, and I basically gave up on the “mean-spirited trick” line. I got the gist of the “sinful whisper” verse, at least. Also, is there a word for a 1.5-entendre? Kurumu’s not exactly being subtle, here. No wonder they call it a “character song”: prehensile breasts, mesmerizing gaze, aggressive affection; yup, that’s our succubust!]

Feel free to sing along…

あなたが好きと ときめくフルーツが
ビキニから はちきれそう
ぷるん ぷるん ぽろん
あなたのハート ひとり占めしたくて
気づかないフルで チラリと きわどいポーズ
決めました 強引にいっちゃう!
やっふ やふふーっ
SUN SUN SUN パラソルの下で 髪の
星のリボンをほどいて 刺激的な 秘密あげる
NON NON NON はずかしいけれど いいの
あなたをトリコにしちゃう ちゃんと 瞳を見て
恋してる 私 渚のデカメロン
とくべつ甘い 真夏のスイーツは
いかがでしょ 抱きついたの
ぷにん ぷにん むぎゅん
あわてた顔が なんだか憎らしい
もうすこしワルイ いじわる 仕掛けちゃうから
恋人ライン 越せずに
好きなのに くちびるが遠いよ
やっふ やふふーっ
SUN SUN SUN わざとケンカして 逃げる
波打ち際で もつれて 濡れた素肌 つかまえてね
NON NON NON ふるえているけど 平気
あなたの自由にしてと そっと 吐息でいう
耳元で 罪な おしゃべりデカメロン
やっふ やふふーっ
SUN SUN SUN パラソルの下で 髪の
星のリボンをほどいて 刺激的な 秘密あげる
NON NON NON はずかしいけれど いいの
あなたをトリコにしちゃう ちゃんと 瞳を見て
恋してる 私 渚のデカメロン

Who knew?

There are five Kiki novels? Thanks to Amazon’s sudden shift to Miyazaki-related recommendations, I just found out about the translated edition of the first one. The cover has that accurate-but-hideous look common to children’s books (completely different from the pen-and-ink interior illustrations), but the translation is apparently decent.

Not something I’d buy, but still interesting.

Dear Apple,

Please fix Safari’s tooltips. You’ve gotten a little better at making them go away eventually, but they still often do stupid things like this:

Safari broken tooltips

The only open tab in my browser is viewing Slashdot, but the tooltip in the tab bar still refers to a site I visited an hour ago. And it wasn’t the most recent site opened in this tab.

Downsides of joining Morning Musume, #1: Fashion Sense

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”