May 2013

Secret Yoohoo

You’re welcome. Or I’m sorry, depending on what effect cute Korean girls and earbugs have on you.

Do you want tea?

More k-pop cuteness, from HelloVenus; must be something in the air:

Religious liberties...

This is the cover of Miko-Ama-Sister!, a serious exploration of religion in modern Japan, in which a scholarly young man probes the depths of Shinto, Buddhism, and Christianity with the help of a shrine maiden and two nuns.

Nah, just kidding, it’s a porn novel.

Miko, Ama, Sister

Evernote iOS gotcha

Evernote is an extremely useful cross-platform application, allowing you to keep lightly-formatted documents in sync across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Heck, they even support Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Windows RT tablets, and if you’re masochistic enough to run a Linux desktop, you can at least run it in Chrome.

The basic product is free, and most of their money seems to come from an array of partnerships rather than the small monthly fee for premium use. The friends I know who use it mostly don’t even know there is a premium option; they just like the convenient syncing.

The feature that made premium useful for me was offline notebooks; my phone and laptop are usually online, but I tend to leave the wireless off on my Sony Android tablet unless I’m actively using it, because it drains the battery. However, it turns out that there’s another feature that is really, really useful, and that allows you to recover from an annoying issue in the iOS client.

I was using my iPhone to make a small change to a long note that was filled with images, and I wanted to remove some gratuitous formatting from a paragraph. When you pull up the formatting panel, there are two buttons side by side: “Simplify” and “Plain Text”. If you accidentally hit the second one, all formatting including embedded images is removed from the note, and there’s no undo. If your phone has a data connection, your change will sync up as soon as you close the note, and wipe out the good version everywhere else.

(technically, there is one level of undo, but most people don’t know that “shake the device” is the iOS gesture for “undo typing/delete”; I certainly never would have guessed it after two years with an iPhone and several more running apps on an iPod Touch, because 90% of apps that implement shake do something else with it, and it’s usually something stupid that I want to turn off. Coincidentally, a lot of people apparently would love to turn off “shake to undo”…)

Fortunately, one of the other features Evernote premium gives you is version history; if the good version was ever synced up, you can get it back… from the desktop or web clients, at least; this feature hasn’t been implemented in iOS yet. It’s also possible to use offline editing to modify the good version that’s cached on another device, and generate a sync conflict that preserves both versions.

If you don’t have premium, your only real option is generating a sync conflict by editing on another device before closing the note on the iOS device.

Why was I messing with the formatting in the first place? Because Evernote’s cross-platform nature often results in some really hideous font and text-size issues when you paste things in on the different clients. I have no idea what’s going to happen when I paste text into it.

Roughen, Expand, Simplify

Words to live by, possibly even outside the context of producing a distressed look in Illustrator.

(and the infectious “snap to pixel grid” setting needs to die in a fire)

[Update: Wow, they really broke the actions support in CS5.x; simple operations do not work in the standard “accelerated” mode, and you can’t just tell the damn thing to always use step-by-step mode]

New logo

Why am I designing an artist’s chop for myself? Because, after assisting my Shinkendo instructor with getting proper seals made for the dojo, I found myself with fonts, templates, whimsy, and a web site that can turn an Illustrator file into a sturdy rubber seal. (they only ship domestically, but by some small coincidence, I’d recently updated my reshipping info at Tenso)

Dotclue rakkan-in

The font is Hakushu Tensho, the text reads 手掛 (“te-gakari” =“clue”), the color is Chinese Red, and the distressed effect is a quick Roughen/Expand/Simplify. The physical seal should be here sometime next week.

Side note: good fonts are pricy. I have a decent collection (read “shovelware CD”) of Japanese fonts from Dynaware, but Hakushu is one of the few foundries that makes a full line of professional old-fashioned fonts, and they charge professional prices. Fortunately, they offer free downloads of fonts containing just the grade-school kanji.

Actually buying their fonts is a bit tricky, because most places only sell them on CD, only take domestic credit cards, and only ship domestically. Amazon Japan does carry them, and if you’re lucky they’ll be in stock, but because font CDs are flagged as software, you have to use a reshipping service like Tenso. The only working source I’ve found for purchasing downloadable fonts is imagenavi; you have to be a bit creative fudging the address fields, but you can sign up for an account and use a non-Japanese credit card to buy things from them.

[Which reminds me: one of the many little adventures I had in Kyoto was helping my sister set up an account with Pizza-La so we could get dinner delivered to our hotel room. Worth the effort; I think we ordered the “Alsace-style Flambeed Onions and Bacon” pie three times. They actually have an English menu, but if you can’t read Japanese, placing an order is still tricky; she made it most of the way through the signup process with Chrome’s auto-translation, but got stuck when it insisted on having her enter her name in katakana.]

Ink Pickpocket Boy

The Google translation of this is amusing, but easily understood: 墨すり小僧 (sumi-suri kozou) means “ink-rubbing apprentice”. However, there are several godan verbs that conjugate as “suri”, with meanings that include printing, shaving, frosting, rubbing, and… picking pockets. Kozou isn’t quite as versatile, but youngster/errand boy/apprentice still leaves you plenty of room to guess the wrong context.

Also, this 30-minute process shows you why a lot of people buy their calligraphy ink as bottles of liquid these days.

Baidu, WTF?

Dear (aka Beijing Baidu Netcom Science and Technology Co., Ltd.), this blog is not Amazon, nor is it an open HTTP proxy, kthxbye.

[Tue May 14 04:05:16 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/GU10-SMD-4-5w-Cool-White/dp/B004BEC9QY
[Tue May 14 06:34:45 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Agatha-Christies-Miss-Marple-Collection/dp/B00012SYQY
[Tue May 14 07:19:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Watt-6400k-Energy-Saving-Light/dp/B003BF3TE0
[Tue May 14 07:49:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Technote-Trumpet-Stand/dp/B002S0NN22
[Tue May 14 08:34:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/technology-expectancy-typically-maintenance-including/dp/B003VR9NV6
[Tue May 14 09:49:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Satya-Champa-Incense-Sticks-Special/dp/B000SARC4O
[Tue May 14 10:19:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Rockburn-foot-Moulded-Jacks-Guitar/dp/B000GG4B4O
[Tue May 14 11:04:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Rifle-Pellet-Takes-targets-17cms/dp/B003Y21ATQ
[Tue May 14 11:19:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Polypropylene-Rope-Blue-30m-6mm/dp/B000U5A0E6
[Tue May 14 11:49:24 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /htdocs/Plastic-Pirate-Crossbones-Bunting-Metres/dp/B000MSP80W

Google's new wearable interface...

Burning question: does anyone else wonder if this device will bring back the obsolete tech-slang term “glass ttys”? Judging from the users I’ve seen accidentally taking pictures and accidentally forwarding things to the wrong contacts, I figure it’s just a matter of time.

Hanko braindump

Short version: information gathered from a variety of hanko shops (particularly Inkan Honpo, Hankoman, Hobundo, Hanko2510, and Shoyu-net calligraphy shop).

I’m quite happy with the quality of the seals I ordered from Inkan Honpo’s site, and their online preview not only gives you a pretty good idea how things will look in the different fonts, but also lets you set your own line breaks to improve the layout a bit. Their Illustrator templates for custom rubber seals are also simple and clear.

Long version:


Popular sizes...

Interesting that the Golden Ghost Ship makes an appearance in this size comparison (part of announcing the 1/40000-scale model of the ship), right up there with the Enterprise, the Yamato, Laputa, a Star Destroyer, etc.

The way this season’s going, though, I’m surprised it doesn’t include Gargantia. :-)

Catian cultural assimilation

Speaking of hanko, I just reached a scene in AsoIku book 12 where the stress and long hours involved in getting the exchange program started have caused Kio to pass out from exhaustion, with Eris not far behind him. After a scolding by Doctor Dyureru and Melwin, they’re sentenced to a full day of bed rest. The medical assistoroid pulls out a square hanko and stamps them both with the image of a cartoon Dyureru whose speech bubble reads 絶対安静 (“Zettai ansei!” = “absolute rest”).

In typical Catian fashion, the ink actually consists of medical nanomachines that will help restore them, and then fade away when the job’s done.

By the way, Melwin was sleeping over at Kio’s place, wearing one of his white shirts as a nightgown and cuddling her personal assistoroid as a teddy bear. Sadly, they did not choose to illustrate this scene. Fortunately, someone else has illustrated Dyureru in a half-open white shirt, putting even more stress on the fabric than Eris does.

Next chapter, it looks like Aoi’s busty half-alien younger sister finally shows up. (although I don’t think she reveals her identity until the final scene)

[Update: no little sister yet, but just in case there was a shortage of hijinks coming, it was decided that Kio’s replacement on the Catian ship will be Antonia. And she’s bringing Sara along. Chaika will be subbing for Eris, leaving her younger daughters unsupervised… (no, wait, that’s just foreshadowing for book 15; the kids who run off in this book are Aoi’s assistoroids, who end up in Tokyo busing tables at the coffee shop run by Jens and her little sister).

The kidnapping/assassination plot that sets everything in motion doesn’t make much sense, since the perpetrators don’t seem to be working for any of the usual bad guys, but the teenage cyborg goth-loli secret agent (back from the previous book…) somehow knows about it anyway. The book ends on a cliffhanger, with Aoi’s little sister revealing her identity and challenging her to a duel. That should be interesting, since sis is a big, strong, tough, ruthless mercenary lizard-girl, and apparently Aoi’s apporting power runs in the family.]

Oh, good, I wasn't imagining that

Separated at birth: Pinion and Louie

Not just the same seiyuu, pretty much the same personality as well.

Nancy Drew, bear-puncher

No, seriously, this is what girl-power comics have come to. Amusingly, the two sidekicks drop into standard gender roles without hesitation.

AsoIku book 13 girl-fight revelations

The prologue of the book is a quiet scene of an unnamed male staring out the window of a spaceship as his female companion reflects on what he’s feeling. Spoiler: it’s Aoi’s dad and his alien second wife, Rauva of the lizardlike Gaavuru race. It doesn’t tell their full story, but does reveal that at the end of their epic duel N years ago, he was near death, and she took him away from Earth as much to get him properly healed as to claim him as her mate. She even returned him to Earth five years later to search for his wife and child, and his belief that they were both dead allowed him to move on and accept his role in her society.

Their ship isn’t far from Earth, and he’s not just thinking about the old days; he’s also worried about his second daughter Sawori’s official first hunt. Neither one of them knows that Aoi is alive, or that Sawori has chosen her half-sister as her target.

Aoi needs the full power of her Catian-provided battlesuit to survive the duel, and barely manages to win by outthinking lil’sis just before collapsing from exhaustion. A bit out of sorts, Kio manages to deeply offend the Gaavuru observers, but is rescued by the unexpected arrival of Uncle Yuuichi and a strangely familiar gorgeous blonde catgirl in a red china dress.

Familiar to the Gaavuru, too, since it seems she beat the crap out of a whole team of them 50 years ago. By the way, when the Gaavuru were being explained to Kio and company at the end of the last book, it was casually mentioned that in their last duel against Catians 20 years ago, the targets were Kuune and Chaika, who also wiped the floor with them. Clearly lizardfolk should steer clear of anything with cat ears.

Hot blonde catgirl turns things around, and gets them to explain the whole little sister thing. Sadly, they teleported out with Sawori right after dropping the news about Dad being alive and well.

Hot blonde catgirl is of course Ichika, but all grown up and looking very different. Seems her magic extends to shape-shifting, and this was the body she’d been wearing way back in book 2 when she helped Kio rescue Aoi from Antonia’s ship. He’d been so busy at the time that he’d forgotten about that little mystery. I hadn’t realized there was a mystery, since the description was pretty vague.

In any case, it came as no surprise to the reader in this book, since she’s normal-Ichika when she hitches a ride with Yuuichi, and china-dress-hottie when they reach the scene.

[I don’t know if they’re done with Sawori for this book now, but I do know she comes back soon, having gotten the idea into her head that losing the duel with Aoi means they should marry. This includes the sight of a lizard-girl in a maid costume.]

Wow, what a bad idea

Katana fast-draw competition timers, modeled on the sort of devices used in pistol competition.

I particularly like the fact that the scoring rules in the manual give a half-second penalty for splitting open your scabbard or bending your sword, but a two-second penalty for missing the target. Actually cutting yourself is a disqualification, at least, but This Will Not End Well.

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