Dear Amazon Japan,


Automatic machine translation is just wrong, okay?

Actual product name: “米とぎ棒 ホワイト KT-091”, which breaks down as “rice + polish/grind/sharpen + stick (white, model KT-091)”, but more correctly described as a “rice whisk” (to speed up the process of washing white rice before steaming); at least, that search string turns up several varieties of them on Amazon US.

(the “Akebono Industry” part of the product name doesn’t appear in the original at all, and seems to be hidden information; several items in the “people who looked at this also looked at” list are different models of rice whisk with, sure enough, 曙産業 in the name. My best guess for “pin” is that 棒 is used in the word for “rolling pin”, 麺棒, so it could have crept into their translation tables. No idea where the “clip” came from)

Translating the UI is good, because it’s a finite set of strings with only occasional updates, and can be QA’d. Auto-translating product names is just a mess, because to search, you have to guess what odd word choices it’s going to use. It would never have occurred to me to search for a “rice stick”, if only because that seems more likely to return links to rice paddles (which it does, as well as rice whisks and stick vacuums).

As it turns out, at least one manufacturer of a “rice sharpener” does use スティック (phonetic “stick”) instead of 棒 for their product name, and another uses 米とぎ for their rice strainer, leading to the following auto-translated product name:

Rice Sharpener All-Purpose Bowl, Highly Cooking Allie, German Developed High Quality, 5 in 1 Rice Sharpener, Wash, Relax, Smooth, Drainer, Bowl, Housewives Allied with Great Cooking, Time-saving, Household Work, Great Mass Shopping, Explosive Hit Product, Stainless Steel, 8.9 inches (22.5 cm)

Accompanied by the following descriptive text:

Please note: This product is for sale of S pearls. For that reason, we have attached a sales confirmation seal to the product; Product: This product can be used for rice sharpeners that have been troublesome until noodles can be used to create a variety of cooking chores that include time saving, housework, and light weight. You can also use it for dish drying pasta, kimono, and salads such as noodles.

It goes downhill from there.

When we were in the kitchen district in Osaka last Spring, I suddenly remembered my research into the name of the item used in the Konpira-fune-fune drinking game we played at the maiko dinner in Kyoto. So I walked into the next restaurant supply shop and asked for a beer hakama. My sister quickly realized what I was up to and got some for herself as well. And it goes like this.

I thought it was interesting that even though they had half a dozen on the shelf, they went in the back and got us fresh ones that were still wrapped up.

Unrelated: Life With A Porch Cat

With the brief heatwave broken, I had every window in the house open yesterday. Porch Cat saw me sitting at the kitchen table, came up to the screen, and loudly ordered lunch. I picked him up, carried him through the house to the front porch, fed him, and went back. Ten minutes later he came back and curled up outside the screen door. He didn’t want food or even cuddles, just some company.

That’s pretty much how I feel this week, too.

Unrelated

Reflowing a mixed-language paragraph in Emacs 26.2 breaks katakana words in the middle and inconsistently removes whitespace separating them from English words. (grumblegrumblegetoffmylawn)

Also unrelated

I really hate it when a UPS just decides to shut itself off and then complain. Fortunately I had a newer higher-capacity unit in the same room that I could move the cable modem, firewall router, and switch to. I had added the second one when I bought the Synology NAS, but hadn’t wanted to take the downtime from migrating the other stuff over, and the old UPS had a reasonably recent battery (which isn’t what failed; it’s like the damn thing just decided to stop drawing power from the perfectly-good circuit).

Safari hates Twitter

Since the lockdowns started, I have an off-and-on issue with loading Twitter pages (for the few people I still follow since I deleted my account). We’re talking minutes before it even displays the text content, and it may never get as far as loading images. Then an hour or two later, it’s lightning fast. I have no Safari extensions loaded at all. Other sites load without a problem while the Twitter tabs are spinning their gears.

Meanwhile, another browser on the same machine will load the exact same page, including all images, in a fraction of a second.

Unrelated to any of the above…

The installation instructions for the TRX Xmount tell you that you need a drill with a ¼-inch bit for the pilot hole, and a socket wrench to screw the 3/8-inch by 3-inch bolts into a stud. They fail to specify that the bolts require a 17mm metric socket. This is important when you’re going to be up on a ladder applying considerable leverage to secure the damn thing to the wall.

I find it interesting that the Amazon listing for this product completely disappeared recently, with only knock-off products showing up when you search for it. TRX seems to prefer direct sales through their own web site, to the point that the products they officially sell on Amazon and fulfill themselves are not directly comparable to the models sold on their site. Indeed, there isn’t even a comparison page showing the various generations of their product line, to allow you to make an informed purchasing decision.

They have a subscription-based workout app that I wouldn’t pay for after the free year runs out, but if you have the ability to download youtube videos and save them to your phone or tablet, they’ve been posting new ones every day during the lockdowns, including a series of live workouts with some viewer feedback.

So far, I find Niko Algieri and Jay Brockway to be the most reliable and relatable instructors (although someone really should tell Niko to remove the link to his old web site nikoalgieri.com, since he let the domain registration lapse and it’s now redirected to a Chinese lottery site).


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