Japan Today

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Posted in: 7-Eleven mobile payment service to end in Sept due to weak security See in context

My PASMO Card works just fine. I use it just like cash and I don’t end up with pockets full of little aluminum coins. PASMO and Suica are finally going mainstream up here in Tohoku. Only shortcoming is that we can only stack 20,000 on the card at any given time.

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Posted in: Warehouse in Saitama still ablaze after 5 days See in context

A modern facility of this type should have a wet pipe fire sprinkler system in working order. Even in Japan. I am suspicious that there is a sprinkler system in here and that it was disabled for some reason (to make repairs?) and then forgotten about. Someone has a lot of questions to answer.

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Posted in: Apple bets on radio splash in streaming bid See in context

I'm with gogogo. Thanks to Shoutcast, Winamp and many others, streaming radio has been "global" for many, many years.

Spotify is probably available in Japan. You just cannot sign up from Japan. Find a VPN to fix that. Use the laptop/pc to sign up online with VPN one time. Then you can login by way of cell phone while in Japan. You could even get a friend in another country to create an account for you. My experience with these streaming services is only the signup process is region blocked.

AAC+ excels over MP3 with certain types of music. Female voices in harmony get trashed in MP3. I only give MP3 a thumbs up if it is 128 or higher. Anyway, streaming radio online has come a long way from the early days.

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Posted in: Apple sued for promising more available storage space than it actually delivers See in context

gogogo just nailed it! There is your answer.

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Posted in: Hundreds of U.S. theaters begin screening 'The Interview' See in context

It was not Sony who cancelled showings. It was NATO (National Association of Theater Owners). Individual theater owners and chains made the decision to not show the film. The rationale behind the decision is not entirely clear but I'm guessing it may have had something to do with safety and liability. But Sony never made this decision.

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Posted in: Water power See in context

The large bodies of water near most of these plants are used as heat sinks. The seawater is used indirectly to cool things down. Recirculating seawater cools the heavy freshwater. Ideally the two should never meet but in the case at Hamaoka it seems there is a leak and contamination. Looks like there will be more inspections at more sites now. You would think tests for infiltrating seawater would be a frequent/routine check. Maybe not. We'll see.

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Posted in: Popular curry restaurant runs out of stock due to quake shortages See in context

Had the pork platter last evening in Hachinohe. Did notice that the beef menu items were crossed out. Now I know why.

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Posted in: Sharp to introduce high-output LED lighting devices See in context

Buy yourself one of the new CREE type flashlights and check out the new technology for yourself. These new LED chips are way out ahead of their predecessors. Blinding. The flashligh probably only uses one chip. What a 25 watt cluster could do should be amazing.

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Posted in: NHK to revamp satellite broadcasting next April See in context

Starting in July 2011 the only way to receive NHK programming will be for the set owner to call a phone number to have the B-CAS card registered. After that you pay electronically somehow. Fail to pay and those channels on your set will lock out. Or at least get that annoying black rectangle box. No more "free" (covert) reception after July 2011.

Since this will all be electronic and controlled at a central point then the door-to-door collectors should just disappear.

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Posted in: Apple tablet could stir up video game business See in context

Iriver uses WMA. Anything other than MP3 is better. AAC+ and ATRAC come to mind also. Almost lossless. Why people think MP3, a very lossy format is the way to go I do not know. I suppose there is a whole generation out there that has never listened to analog. There is intelligent compression and then there is MP3. Fact of life.

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Posted in: PAL deploys new Boeing 777-300ER on Tokyo route See in context

American has had the 777 and entertainment system mentioned here on the NRT-DFW route for many years. Nice aircraft. But over the years many of the TV sets have started developing little glitches that almost render them useless. On one trip to Dallas had to turn the thing off completely.

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Posted in: New AQUOS D TV series See in context

"V-Inch" stands for "visable inches".. Many years ago many manufacturers were fudging by measuring out to the edge of the masking. Now the measurement is the actual viewing space. And the Japanese use the inch as the unit of measure when it comes to TVs.

Based on what I see in the stores and my neighbors around me it seems every one is on the digital TV bandwagon. There will be few left by the deadline date that will need converting. This reminds me of the big switch to color back in the late 60s, early 70s. Perfectly good B&W sets were piled high at the curbside as the Japanese tried to beat their neighbors to get that new color set.

It is true that one could buy a converter to receive the new digital broadcasts but that route would only allow the user to view analog quality. The antenna would be an issue too since there is no "fringe" reception of digital broadcasts. If you live in the country far from the transmitter this would be a big issue. In that case the converter would fail unless the antenna were upgraded.

Digital TV has been on the air for many years in Japan and while my TV can receive both analog and digital signals you won't see us watching any of the analog channels. The features and clarity of the new channels outweigh that. If you have a new set you know what I am talking about.

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Posted in: Hundreds line up for an hour at Osaka McDonald's for Quarter Pounder debut See in context

Wait a minute! I very much remember McD coming to Okinawa in 1976 and the QP was on the menu. It was still on the menu when I left in 1979. My next door neighbor sold half his storefront to McD so they could open McD in Awase Medows. He managed to garner two of those huge window posters. One for the Big Mac and one for the QP. On the poster in English it said "McDonalds has come to Okinawa - Why not come to McDonalds?" Still got those posters rolled up in a tube somewhere. Only two stores opened then and there were some long lines for several days. But let's remember Okinawa has always been different.

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Posted in: American Airlines completes upgrade of Boeing 777 fleet See in context

Great! I fly on Tuesday on economy class. This probably means the seats in the back are pressed closer together to make room for the Suite rows. Otherwise I find the 777 a good aircraft. Not too big.

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Posted in: Sky Perfect, Microsoft tie up in program distribution See in context

We retired our SkyPer subscription five years ago. The repetitive nature of all the channels became intolerable and not worth the rediculous price.

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Posted in: Deadly fire raises Japan building safety fears See in context

He said the number of violators could be “astronomical.”

An understatement.

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Posted in: Tokyo Electric, Mitsui to build solar power system at Haneda See in context

Based on my recent past experience $5000 will get you four 80W PV panels, four batteries and charger. The system will politely operate three 20 Watt compact fluorescent lamps and not much else.

There must be a typo here if they are expecting 2 megawatts out of this thing. (2,000 x 1,000)

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Posted in: For quality broadband, it's Japan by a mile See in context

We were an early adopter of YahooBB (now SoftbankBB?) and that was provided over NTT copper pair. We still use it. Not as fast as the fiber Flets keeps trying to throw at us but we don't wish to give up the YahooBB Phone. Never had any trouble with the BB-Phone. Crystal clear connection all the time with no drops or echoes and just pennies per hour. The more folks drop YahooBB and move over to fiber then the more bandwidth for me. Thanks!

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