Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Typhoon No.9

taifun no.9

For three days now strong wind, rain and humid heat are the heralds of Typhoon No 9. Tonight it will finally reach Honshu and sweep over Tokyo. So you better stay home with some icecream and a good book and listen to the rain beating on the roof… Ki o tsukete kudasai (= take care)!

日本人の平均寿命

6年ぶりに前年を下回ったそうだけど、とはいえ男性が 78.53 歳、女性なんてもっとすごい 85.49 歳 !
私なんてまだまだだぁ。
あ、うちのおばぁちゃんは結構いいセンいってるかも!

How old is your grand mother ?
Average of Japanese grannies’ age is 85.49(!), and No.1 in the world for 21 years, oooh impressed…

News Bits & Bobs

A couple of news stories have been running about in my mind today, so I hope people don’t mind if I just blab on about them here for a bit…

I had always thought their was a ban on casino type gambling in Japan… hence those crazy little holes in the wall where you sell back the pen you won at the pachinko parlour for cash. That being the case, it looks like the government is finally admitting the truth… people love to gamble in this country. Bloomberg.com reports that Japan is in talks with major global casino operators. I assume some gaudy monstrosity will pop up in Tokyo in the not so distant future… what will that mean for the tourism industry in Korea etc, where many serious Japanese casino fans go to “holiday”?

Is a head of lettuce going to be costing us 400yen soon? Do any of you remember when the rainy season was long and with conditions similar to this year a few years ago? It was around that time that vegetable prices skyrocketed and a humble lettuce was around 400yen at my local Akafudado. I heard on TV that the rain is doing serious damage to crops and then read on The Daily Yomiuri Online that the lack of sunlight, as the rainy season drags on, is stunting veggie growth and pushing prices up! Oh joy! They said prices will probably go up 30% by mid-august.

Am I wrong to think she is tying up resources? Megumi Ogawa is a Japanese PhD student who has been studying in Australia since 1999. Recently her visa ran out and she failed in several legal actions to be allowed to stay in Australia, so she was to be deported. It now seems (as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald) that she has applied for asylum!!! She has stated she has no fear of the Japanese government… I guess she really likes Australia. This story stays with me for two very different reasons. One, asylum is a very necessary process and I worry that her stalling process is at the determent to real asylum seekers in Australian Detention Centres (and I believe there are plenty of them thanks to Australia’s John Howard) and two, I was out with an Australian the other week who was telling me how “easy it is to migrate to Australia”… I guess Megumi would disagree.

Sorry if you weren’t interested, but I’ve posted it now…

Nintendo DS + Opera browser = July 24 !

Do you remember my old post ?
Yes, Opera software announced the day finally, yay!!
Opera Software’s announcement

There is no information from Nintendo now, I can’t wait !

Mixi saved a kitty in a wall

MAY 9th, a woman heard meow meow at Meidaimae trainstation. She tried to find a kitty, followed the meows. then, finally found out where the voice from. The little kitty was calling mom from inside of a wall.

She asked a station worker if there is any way to rescue him. The station worker said he was going to ask his boss if they could break a wall down for saving the kitty. But you know, she was worried if they really working on it. so asked help on mixi which is the largest Japanese SNS.

A lot of people kindly joined pushing station workers. People kept asking station workers, emailing Keio-line, calling to headquarter of Keio….. So finally, Keio called rescue team for the kitty. Cute tabby was saved last afternoon, with no injury or sickness. absolutely fine.
The woman who found out his meow took him to her home. According to her, he eats a lot and sleep a lot.

This news brought me smiles.

A composer of Godzilla passed away

Akira Ifukube (伊福部 昭)
It was yesterday’s night.
May his soul rest in peace.

If you don’t know his name, you may listen to roar of Godzilla, or a soundtrack of Godzilla film.
I think, most of Japanese people love Godzilla.

Huser condo owners seek help (then, people forgetting about it because of livedoor inspection)

OjimaBehind the livedoor scandals, the big case is almost left out. The Huser scandal is almost gone.

(to know about this, please find articles here)
I think police started inspecting livedoor on that day so people forget about Susumu Ojima, President of Huser Ltd, who has strong connection with congressional representatives. So Ojima can get away from strong bashing from people. This is very sad.

From playboy to jailbird: Livedoor CEO Horie now under arrest

Takafumi Horie News sources here are reporting that 33-year-old millionaire and Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie has just tonight finally been arrested on charges of securities fraud. Prosecuters are asserting that Livedoor executives carried out some monkeyshines to inflate the company’s share price and also did some clumsy water-into-wine parlour magic to try to make the company appear profitable at a time when it was actually operating at a loss. Three other Livedoor executives were arrested along with Horie: the company president, CFO, and marketing president.

In case you’ve not been following the news lately: The fun began last week, when a crack team of expert box carriers raided Livedoor’s offices and carted off evidence which prosecutors claim incriminates Livedoor and its executives in fraud. The raid and statements from prosecutors caused Livedoor’s share price to nose-dive and to take most of the Nikkei Index down with it. Things got a lot grimmer when it was reported that an executive of a company whose offices were also raided as part of the investigation, Hideaki Noguchi (who is also apparently of personal friend of Horie) was found dead down in Okinawa, in what police are saying was a suicide.

The back story behind all this news is the drastic change in fortune for Horie that has come about in the past week. His youth, his personal wealth and lifestyle, the brashness of his business actions, his battles against the old guard (and their efforts to do everything they can to stop him), and especially the tone of his public comments over the last few years have turned him into a media celebrity here. That in spite of the fact that he and Livedoor have not exactly had a sterling record of success in recent memory (he failed quite spectacularly in attempts to buy a baseball team and to take over one of the biggest TV networks here, and Livedoor is now widely perceived as a company without much skill at innovating but with a lot of experience in copying other companies’ successes).

In the past, when circumstances have not turned out in his favor, he’s sometimes said things like, “Everything’s still going just the way I planned.” It’ll be very interesting to hear what spin he ends up putting on these latest events.

Tokyo Art Beat & News of Its Co-Founder’s Return to Design Consulting

Tokyo Art Beat
Among those people in Tokyo who have been following the local art
scene for any length of time, recorded history can be cleanly into two
epochs.

The previous epoch (abbreviated as B.T. to distinguish it
from the current epoch, A.T.) was a sort of Dark Ages in which
we wandered about without much guidance of any kind – one in
which information about upcoming art/design openings and events and
locations of venues was transmitted through a primitive technology
we
referred to by a variety of names and abbreviations, including
WOM, whisper down the
lane
, and el teléfono estropeado. It proved to be a
not-particularly efficient way to share information – one that
resulted in many people missing out on info about many openings and
events
, or in never being able to find their way to many of the
obscure little art venues situated far off in the hinterlands of the
city.

But as I write this, in the year 1 A.T. (or in the opinion of some
scholars, 2 A.T.), we find ourselves in Tokyo in an entirely new
epoch. In this, a sort of modern Renaissance, we now have a single,
central, and easy-to-use system for finding out about upcoming
openings and events and venues
 – and for every piece of
information that might be associated with those: detailed descriptions
with images, exact times, venue addresses and phone numbers, maps, QR
codes, and more.

The system responsible for the art-information Renaissance that has
come about here is an extremely clever work of website and
web-application design called Tokyo Art Beat (TAB). And the two people to whom we principally owe our
gratitude for TAB are its co-founders: Olivier Thereaux and Paul Baron
(Olivier did most
of the work on the TAB information architecture and Paul
designed its user interface).

I don’t have room here to do justice to an adequate description of
the details that make TAB such a powerful piece of work. Just make
sure to go over there and check it out for yourself. What you’ll find
is an extremely clean and easy-to-navigate design that still manages
to provide an abundance of features
. And all of it completely
Japanese/English bilingual. And personalizable (through a MyTAB
feature). And with a companion mobile site as well – also
full-featured and beautifully designed.

And after exploring the TAB site(s), you might also want to head
over to Paul Baron’s personal site and check out his professional portfolio
. I think
you’ll probably find a few things to interest you there, too. And
you’ll also find an interesting bit of information at the site: a short and
understated posting from Paul
announcing that he has returned to
doing freelance/contract design work and consulting
.

I’m personally anxious to see what he might get involved with
next. Tokyo Art Beat – in all elegance and its ambitious
scale – was not Paul’s nor Olivier’s full-time work while it was
being created, but instead something that they worked on in their
after-hours. And though he only makes brief mention of “print” and
“usability/interface” as among the kinds of work he’s available for, I
know from talking with him that he has serious chops outside of just
website design
 – for example, work in print media (brochure
design, editorial design) and work in application
usability/user-interaction/interface design.

So I reckon that if you have a current or upcoming project in the
planning that would benefit from the full attention fo a
skilled designer with a record of very interesting ideas and work, it
certainly wouldn’t hurt to contact Paul and find out if he might be available.

2channel, blogging, and “real news”

2ch.gif

If you live outside of Japan and/or have never been here, I guess the chances are you’ve probably never heard of 2channel. (Or maybe you have. I don’t get away from Japan more than once or twice a year any more, so I can’t really claim to know.) Anyway, if you haven’t heard of it, do yourself a favor and head over to the Wikipedia site to read the 2channel article there. That article begins with the following:

2channel (2ちゃんねる, pronounced “ni-channeru”, 2ch for short) is the largest Internet forum in the world. With over 10 million visitors every day (as of 2001), it is gaining significant influence in Japanese society, approaching that of traditional mass media such as TV, radio and magazines.

As impressive as that may sound, I think it understates the influence that 2channel has had in Japan. Read a little further down in that article, and you will find this:

What is unique about this website is its scale and its management style. It has more than 600 active boards (Japanese ita) such as “Social News”, “Computers” and “Cooking”, making it the most comprehensive forum in Japan. Each board usually has thousands of specific threads, such as “Coming election in Tokyo: 4th vote”, “P4 vs. Athlon: overheating 51 times”, and “Best wheat for making Pizza: 3rd slice”.

And as far as the 2channel “management style”, well, there is none. At all. It is basically one big information free-for-all. And a completely anonymous one, at that. Because another feature that has set 2channel apart is that all posting there is done
anonymously
.

Anyway, I am far from an expert on 2channel. But from what I know and have seen of it, I know that it is in part a resource where people go to ask questions and get some (hopefully) expert advice — even on the most obscure topics. People also rely on 2channel as a real-time source for breaking news and for discussion about breaking news.Yeah, some of it is just hearsay, but there are also firsthand reports, including reports from people who otherwise would not be sharing information unless they could do share it anonymously.

Now, as you would probably expect, users at 2channel can and do sometimes post bogus information. Sometimes they do it just for fun, sometimes for more sinister reasons. Given all that, the natural question to ask is: How do you know whom and what to trust there?

(more…)

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