November 2008

I'm tired of election "news", so here's Tokyo

Tokyo Tower from the Shinagawa Prince Hotel

For quite a while now, I’ve been meaning to go back and do some cleanup work on the small number of photos I shot out of our hotel room window. The one I originally posted just never looked right to me. This one is the result of some careful Levels work, combined with the updated version of Noise Ninja that works as an Aperture plug-in.

Not dodging the issues...

Ai Kago was suspended from Hello!Project for underage smoking, then kicked out completely for getting caught at a hot-springs resort with a notorious womanizer. She’s been slowly coming back into the business with a new agency, with small acting roles, an essay book, and a blog, but her first high-visibility product is a DVD: Kago Chan-neru.

Unlike modern politicians, she’s not afraid to confront her past…


Reaction 2008...

As a taxpayer, I fear for my wallet. As a believer in the limits imposed by the Constitution, I fear for the quality of next year’s laws. As a cynic, I don’t think anyone in government will even pretend to seriously investigate the rampant corruption, fraud, and violent felonies committed by supporters of Obama’s campaign.

As an American, eh, we’ve had worse. He seems like an intelligent guy, so if he actually pays attention during his national security briefings, he won’t do anything incredibly stupid abroad, and if he doesn’t try to pay off all of his far-Left nutjob backers at once, he won’t do too much damage domestically before the next round of elections has a chance to trim the Democrat majorities in Congress.

Will he try to mend fences, and take responsibility for the vile racism, sexism, bigotry, and thuggery committed in his name? I hope so, otherwise his campaign promises will be worse than empty. It would be nice to actually see some solid answers to the questions he’s been dodging all year, too.

PS: “the rest of the world” hating and fearing America? Yeah, that ain’t gonna stop. It had nothing to do with Bush. He didn’t “steal the election” or cause 9/11, either, so hopefully all those hate-filled irrational morons will finally shut the fuck up.

PPS: it would be nice to hear a few grudging apologies from all of the people who insisted that a sitting governor wasn’t even qualified to give handjobs to hobos. Way to show your class, Democrats.

Offerings to Heaven

Coincidence, really. I just liked this picture.

Prayer plaques at Meiji Shrine

Dear Apple,

Please inform your developers that the existence of virtual memory is not a good reason to ignore basic software engineering practices regarding memory management. I have 2GB of RAM. I have a Safari window and an Aperture window. Aperture has a small library loaded, for which it is simply generating thumbnails in the background. This is sufficient to page most of Safari out to disk. And Safari has a lot to page out, despite having only four small, static pages loaded in tabs.

Seriously, dude, work on your hygiene.

"Help Wanted"

“Long hours, unsafe working conditions, no benefits. Must supply own uniform.”

Tokyo construction worker

“Batteries not included. Not a union job.”

Dear Sears,

Stop buying mailing lists from spammers, and show a little class in the email you send out. I mean, when you do this, you know you’re just spamming:

This is an a d v e r t i s e m e n t.

Reflections on Tokyo

Here’s the reason I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the view from our hotel window in Tokyo, and why it took so much work to make one of them look decent:

Reflections on Tokyo

Yes, that’s the in-room television set that was bolted to a stand right by the window. I worked around it in later shots by covering it with my black jacket, but the correct solution would have been to put a rubber lens hood on the camera and press it right up against the glass (this also works with aquariums, if the glass isn’t curved).

There were three reasons I didn’t use the correct solution: first, I forgot to pack a rubber lens hood; second, it wouldn’t have helped anyway, because the hotel next door was lit up for most of the night, spilling light across the window that would have washed out any shots taken from that position; and third, because my little tabletop tripod wouldn’t have fit on the window sill.

Okay, Amazon, you got me this time

This is a recommendation I can accept:

Open and die!

A little Ghibli to start the day

Rooftop view at the Studio Ghibli Museum

If you like anime, and you plan to visit Tokyo, you’d be a fool not to visit the Studio Ghibli Museum. Just make sure to buy your ticket before you get to Japan, to avoid the weeks-to-months waiting list.

Dear Electronic Arts,

Spellcheck != editor.

Spore Teaming

[from the iPhone version of Spore Origins]

Dear random anime song lyrics site,

Using a forced refresh inside a NOSCRIPT tag combined with Javascript that disables text selection and right-click is not a copy-protection system. It’s 30 seconds of mild annoyance, at best.

You see, browsers have this remarkable function called “save as”…


In the land of Your Mileage May Vary, I found this music video so cute that I went to Amazon to look for the CD/DVD single, and was saddened to find that it was a very limited limited edition.

But I have to say, I wouldn’t drink her milkshake. She has excellent taste in potato chips, but that’s just not how you’re supposed to eat them.

[this is the OP song from Kannagi, by the way]

Smoked visitor

Smoked Visitor

The sign reads:

 〜 喫煙されるお客様へ 〜

Literally translated, it says: “To respected customers who (honorably) smoke tobacco: the premises have humbly become non-smoking, we request (you do it) at the outside smoking corner”.

The English translation is broken in a number of ways, but the most interesting part is “smoked visitor”, because it demonstrates that the translator wasn’t fluent in Japanese. The verb conjugation sareru is the passive form of suru, “to do”, so the first line really does say, “to visitors who are smoked”, but no one who speaks Japanese would interpret it that way. The context makes it painfully clear that this is the passive honorific form, and the honored visitor is the smoker, not the smokee.

So, we have a translation done by someone who doesn’t speak English or Japanese, better known as a computer. Without knowing how long ago the sign was made, it’s impossible to determine which software, but here are some modern attempts.

Babelfish (and anything else based on SYSTRAN, including Apple’s translation widget) produces something that’s almost English:

- To the customer who smokes -
the enclosure we have become prohibition of smoking,
we ask with the smoking corner outside.

Google’s attempt is poetic, but incomprehensible:

Smoking to be one of your
Smoking is on the premises,
In the smoking area outside.

Reverso, one I’d never heard of before, gives something that looks quite familiar:

I ask a smoked visitor for the yard at the outside smoking corner that smoking is prohibited in.

Paralink’s translator offers a nice contradiction:

Customers will be smoking on campus is a non-smoking, smoking outside corner.

Windows Live thinks different:

and smoking that is customer to premises smoking and: on the outside smoking corner in.

The Japanese site OCN has an interesting answer:

Premises at the outside smoking
area which becomes no smoking
to the customer who smokes, please.

Another Japanese site, @Nifty, gives this:

- Visitor smoked -
please give me premises in the outer smoking corner which is giving up smoking.

I won’t dignify Animelab’s web form with the term “translator”, but they give a link to Excite, which produced this:

?To the customer from whom it smokes?
I hope premises in the smoking corner of the outside that is no

Words I never thought I'd hear...

From the nice folks at Lexus, on their new in-car control system:

Remote Touch is as natural to the driver's hand as a computer mouse.

So, expect to hear about a lot of car-pool tunnel injuries in a few years.

Apple US goes International

For a long time now, when you order a laptop directly from Apple’s web site, you’ve been given the choice between US and Western Spanish keyboards. With the latest models, they’ve added French and Japanese keyboards (and matching user manuals) for both MacBooks and MacBook Pros, with no effect on the promised shipping time.

The new one will have to be a Pro, since they’ve ripped FireWire out of the base MacBook line and once again left out the expansion slots. Which means that I really can’t justify the expense right now. I mean, for what it would cost to buy a tricked-out MBP, I could buy the new Sinolta 25-megapixel camera body, and I can’t justify that, either. Right now I’m barely using the extremely nice camera gear I already own, and we’re headed into the rainy season. And the current laptop is a 2GHz Core Duo with 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive.

I’m not buying either Really Cool Toy. This year. Spring, maybe. Yeah, that’s it, Spring. The economy can wait until then for major new contributions from me. I might need a new car by then, too. My 2002 RX-300 has over 200,000 miles on it, and Lexus is promising that the new RX-450h will be showing up around then.

Also, my company will have had the chance for real holiday retail sales, the current product will be available in a lot more stores, and we’ll be showing off our next-generation product, so I might even be able to afford all three upgrades. Or get the company to spring for the laptop and buy the other two. :-)

Service! Service!

Coming to Japanese tv in January: Asu no Yoichi, a fish-out-of-water harem comedy about a young swordsman who ends up living with and studying under a Rushuna-scaled high-school girl.

The manga is up to seven volumes now, so perhaps it’s developed a solid story since I commented on the first one. At the very least, there’s enough material that they shouldn’t have to resort to random filler episodes.

Bare-bones home-page here.

Wet seal

On Saturday, the city informed me that my street will be “slurry sealed” on Tuesday, blocking all traffic in and out between 7am and 5pm. We’ve also been asked not to water lawns or wash cars that day. I have two predictions.

  1. some cars won’t get moved because their owners took Thanksgiving week off and are already out of town.

  2. the sealing work will look awful and have to be redone, because if runoff from sprinklers can affect it, the 11 hours of rain that’s currently predicted will really wreck the job.

No doubt this planning was done by the same genius responsible for taking a 40 MPH corner that went around a vacant lot and converting it into a 15 MPH corner that goes around a major shopping center. And the frequent damage to the new guardrail demonstrates that they’re not kidding about the 15 MPH.

I’ll be staying at a motel tonight. The alternative is over-sleeping by ten minutes and being forced to skip class and work from home. Given the logistics of the thing, they’ll start with circles and dead-end streets, so even if they quit early because of rain, they’ll be doing my block first.


When you alert me that a server is running out of swap space, I really don’t want to log in and find out that you’re the one using up all of the virtual memory.

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