電武士

news and views from michael rollins in tokyo

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Some Things We Need Words For

As a foreigner living in Japan you have access to not one but TWO richly descriptive languages. Nonetheless, there are some things we experience on a daily basis for which no word exists in either. I’ve identified some of them here. Candidates welcome!
  1. The disappointment you feel when finding that the dish you ordered after seeing it on the menu it is nothing like the photo, or when peeling open a half-empty conbini sandwich.
  2. Walking while staring into a cell phone, PSP or DS.
  3. Any slow-walking group of three or more people who block the sidewalk by walking abreast and chatting.
  4. Pretending you’re asleep to avoid having to give up your seat.
  5. The conversational format whereby both parties forego their own native language and stubbornly speak in the native language of the other.
  6. Trying to look cool when flipping open your clamshell cell phone.
  7. The variant of “Japanese” whereby foreigners end fully-formed, complete English sentences with words like でしょう? or ね.

QubeSys Review : Dissatisfaction & Regret

A quick word of advice for anyone thinking of working with India-based QubeSys Technologiesdon’t. Our experience with them was dismal. Thank God it was a small project and not something big and complicated, because these guys completely suck. The designs we  sent for coding were largely ignored, with changes to the layout, fonts and colors made arbitrarily by the “developer” assigned to the project. Shockingly bad is the only way to describe the quality of work received. In the end they stuck firmly to the originally quoted fee and were uninterested in discounting the job even though the project was executed so poorly. Oh, and the dev site they created? Indexed by Google because these morons don’t know what a robots.txt file is. Avoid at all costs.

A Lament for Those Left Behind

The events of March 11th are already beginning to recede into memory, nudged along perhaps by the weighty demands of the work that piled up in the week that followed, a week now essentially a wash. Once back home, however, one need only watch the evening news  to see that the horrific reality of it all lingers still .

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Psst. If you LOVE TV…

Some companies–Apple, for example–excel at marketing, while others kind of suck. Yahoo! falls squarely into the latter group. Take this massive ad I found gracing their login screen today.

First, last time I checked, hipster-types likes these folks don’t self-identify as TV lovers. In fact, they’re more likely to insist they don’t own a TV at all. And then there’s the copy: “If you love TV, then you’re gonna love us.” This is the kind of prose that you’d expect to emerge from the Marketing class at your local community college.

And again, what kind of person says they “love TV”? That’s like saying you love the idea of plopping down on a couch and staring at a glowing box to the attentive exclusion of whatever might be happening around you. People like shows and name them. People like characters or actors or keeping up with current events or learning how to cook. The only people who love “TV” are those who might spell it with six letters.

And why is her finger on the power button?

Kawasaki Halloween Festival 2010

The end of October each year finds La Cittadella and much of the rest of Kawasaki surrounding the station filled with costumed Halloween revelers and a massive throng of spectators. The event gets bigger and better produced every year, and for the first time the family and I decided to join in the festivities. We chose Alice in Wonderland for our theme, with me as the Mad Hatter, R as the Red Queen, M as the White Queen and S as Alice. We bought basic costumes online and then embellished them with add-ons and other assorted touches. We thought we were looking pretty fine, until we got to the venue and had a look at how the pros do it. Here are some examples.

Looking forward to doing it again (and better) next year!

You can see the full gallery (with high-res versions) on my Picasa site.

Beautiful iPad Life

I waited a while before getting an iPad. From the pre-release hype right on through the orgiastic post-launch buying frenzy I kept thinking, “now here’s a device that’s getting waaaay more attention than it deserves.” I mean, let’s face it, the way things are these days Apple could announce an iFlowbee and Mac fans everywhere would be as giddy with excitement as a Japanese schoolgirl queuing for an Arashi concert.

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