May 2009

This can't be good

Vegan Soy Jerky:

Really, if you’re going to eat something that isn’t meat, you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more if you don’t extrude it into a pretend-meat product.

Me? I’d rather have the meat. This looks promising…

Samsung U70 mini monitor

[Update 5/20: the beta driver broke under MacOS X 10.5.7. A reinstall briefly worked, but then stopped. This tip fixed it for me.]

[Update: one additional negative added]

Samsung’s been adding DisplayLink USB monitor support to their digital picture frames for a while, but none of those work with a Mac. DisplayLink has a reference driver, but Samsung added their own protocol for determining whether it should come up as a monitor or a flash drive when plugged in, which requires their driver.

Most of the other USB mini-monitors are either insanely overpriced, in very limited supply, or both. Samsung is slowly rolling out a dedicated mini-monitor, the U70, and DisplayLink’s latest MacOS X reference driver supports it. Sadly, the only importer I’ve found it at is geekstuff4u, which charges nearly twice what Amazon Japan does.

Amazon Japan won’t ship gadgets to the US, but I set up my Tenso reshipping account for just this sort of thing. Since someone else at work also wanted one, I ordered two. Tenso ships EMS, which charges by weight at a fairly steep rate, so they’re still overpriced, but a full $70 cheaper than geekstuff4u. That’s $70 each.

When Samsung brings them to the US for real, they’ll probably run about $90, but as a toy-loving early-adopting technogeek, my per-unit total came to $112 (including sales tax, free shipping to Tenso, and international shipping and handling).

Pros: compact 7” widescreen LCD display (800x480), decent brightness and color, works in portrait or landscape modes, great Mac support, runs on USB power (optional second USB plug if your machine doesn’t put out enough power with just one). Works great for video, chat clients, Photoshop palettes, status windows, etc.

Cons: picture-frame-style stand is not particularly stable in landscape mode (press photos are mildly deceptive about this…), no supplied carrying case.

I happened to have a little padded case that’s just the right size to transport it, so my only real complaint is about the stand, and I can solve that by using the Kensington security slot on the back as the mounting point for a second leg.

Is it worth it? Yes, if you want a little extra screen space that doesn’t require a power cord. I’ll find it extremely useful for running Photoshop and Aperture on my laptop. Large external displays are nice, but for some reason I never like using one with the laptop. I like the small side display, though.

[Update] Another con I just noticed: significantly higher CPU use when you watch video on it. Dragging an h264 DVD-rip from the main display to the little Samsung chews up a full core on my 2.93GHz Core 2 Duo. On the main display, QuickTime uses 20% of a core and WindowServer another 4%; on the U70, QuickTime uses 100%, WindowServer uses 20%, and DisplayLinkManager yet another 20%. This causes the fans to spin up to about 4800rpm, increasing the noise significantly.

Dear Apple,

Why is this option here, and only here? And off by default?

Leopard printer driver auto-quit option

Electrical Service

The NSFW teaser trailer is out for Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan. Youtube has already removed at least one version of it, so that link might not last long (now updated with alternate site…). The show is either going to be much less revealing than this clip, or heavily censored for broadcast, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. Instead, let’s look at the relationship between heroine Plug Cryostat and her rival Arrester Blanket:

Plug taunts Arrester

After her intimately-detailed transformation scene, Plug intrudes on Arrester’s intro and holds up a sign reading 「メガネ乳女」, “megane-chimé”. 乳女 is not a word you’ll find in dictionaries, but it’s in common use on the Internet, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who recognizes the characters for “breasts/milk” and “woman”. Clearly she feels comfortable enough about her own figure to tease her top-heavy senpai.

[You’ll also find the characters in the other order, 女乳, read as めにゅう, “menyuu”. Searching for either one will bring up lots of sites featuring women possessing Arrester’s bustline, if not her glasses. The odds of those sites being worksafe are very, very low.]

"Somebody, anybody, please buy our apples"

Just got back from Costco, where I was surprised and amused to discover that every apple in the place was “certified organic”, at the same price they were selling conventional produce last time I visited. My usual response when I see “organic” produce is to search for the conventional alternative, which is larger, cheaper, and safer, but there weren’t any.

It looks like at least one major Washington apple grower is taking it in the shorts as people reassess their willingness to pay extra for a sticker on the label.

Spam knows no borders

Best spam subject line I’ve seen in weeks:

Stimulez votre baby-maker

And here I thought the French hated the creeping spread of English…

Usually the bait is more appetizing than the switch...

Browsing the folder all my spam lands into, I find the subject line 「お食事のお誘いです♪」, which can be translated as “this is a meal invitation”. The URL in the message is, which sounds a bit more… filling.

It was an innocent search, honest...

I’m transcribing lyrics from an album I found in the discount bin at Kinokuniya, 草原の人. It’s the soundtrack from one of Hello!Project’s musicals, featuring Aya Matsuura and Melon Kinenbi, and the songs are short and mostly missing from the Project!Hello lyrics site.

I’ve done this a few times before, and the hard part is figuring out the names of the songwriters and arrangers. They’re usually printed smaller than the lyrics, and my usual electronic dictionary doesn’t have names. I can get placenames and family names on my Sharp Papyrus, but first names are tricky, and in one case, the reading was so unusual that Enamdict didn’t even have it (知枝 as かずえ instead of ちえ or ともえ).

My fallback solution in such cases is Google, doing mixed searches of the kanji, kana, and romaji until I find a person who appears to be in the correct business. Instead, I found two partial name matches in an adult video titled 巨乳携帯ショップ (NSFW! NSFW!). It’s not what I was looking for, being the erotic adventures of the busty staff of a cellphone store dedicated to support and アフターサービス, but it’s amusing to come across. By the way, the store’s called PAIMOM, from the slang phrase パイ揉み.

(I wouldn’t buy it, because Japanese porn tends to focus on domination, but I might look up the pretty girls in the cast to see if they’ve done anything less explicit)

[Update: Amazon has one that is trending toward five-bladed razor territory for fetish overload: 巨乳女子校生中出し, Volume 4]

Dear Apple,

I get it, I do; you felt it was necessary and cool to have little video clips playing on the System Preferences panel for the new trackpads, to show all the cool multi-touch gestures.

But did it ever occur to you that the videos keep running as long as System Preferences is open to this panel, even in the background, even when the app is hidden? That’s 15-20% of one of my CPUs devoted to showing off multi-touch, when what I really care about is that you keep resetting the tracking speed of the trackpad whenever I plug in an external mouse.

Could you take some of that effort you put into the first five minutes of the user experience with a new piece of hardware, and maybe spend a little of it on how the device behaves for the next five years?

Dear Hollywood,

WTF is this? Sherlock Bond?

Flexible, Cuddly

Out of nowhere, I remembered her first name, and Google turned up a solid link to her last name: Jennifer Collins. Sadly, her career in the circus arts doesn’t seem to have prospered enough to turn up any news since 2003. I don’t know how she compares technically to other contortionists, but as an entertainer, with a warm, funny stage presence, she’s top-notch.


The tagline: “Powered by Really Cute Asians

The wisdom of fools...

Koutarou Nanbara says:


I’m halfway through an attempt to read the first Hand Maid May novel without a dictionary. I’m missing quite a bit this way, but I know the story well enough to fill in most of the missing pieces, and 100 roughly-understood pages are more fun than 10 carefully-translated ones. When I go through it the second time, the story will be fresh enough that stopping to look things up won’t interrupt the experience as badly. I tried to do this with the Louie novel last year, but I was missing too much grammar and vocabulary.

Machine translation in Word 2007

I just noticed that Word 2007 offers to translate any text in your document, with a combination of on- and offline tools.

Let’s see what it does with some relatively straightforward Japanese prose, namely the first scene of Kyoutarou Nishimura’s murder-mystery story Ame no naka ni shinu


Food, redefined

I made a sandwich for dinner tonight. The label on the bread proudly announced that it contained no high-fructose corn syrup, and the sliced chicken proclaimed that it was gluten-free. When I got to the mayo, I was honestly surprised that it didn’t boast of being low-carb.

The bacon, of course, laughed and shouted, I am flavor!

Dear Melon Kinenbi,

Street cred fail.


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