GBR48 comments

Posted in: Taiwan applies to join Pacific trade deal days after China See in context

When it ran this story, Boris's Broadcasting Company called Taiwan and China 'places', so as not to annoy Beijing.

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Posted in: JNTO introduces 'accessible tourism' initiatives See in context

This is a good thing, if/when Japan opens up to tourists again.

The easiest fix for the metro is better signage for lifts. There are some stations where I have struggled to find the exit, and others where I have 'exited' into a shopping mall. Some signs need to be bigger than others. A tech option is to use an app interacting with nearby sensors. Wherever you are, the app will detect your position and display a localised map with basic directions.

To make Japan more accessible for elderly people, fix the pavements. The constant redevelopment has turned some areas into a trip hazard theme park.

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Posted in: Lithuanian agency warns against use of Chinese-made phones See in context

So many downvotes. I'll stick with my Moto. You can pay silly money to Apple to buy a phone with no memory card slot. Enjoy having your personal photos scanned.

-1.4 billion people live their lives under constant subjugation by the state.

As opposed to occasional lockdowns, travel bans and trade sanctions? The Chinese people are very good at evading this 'constant subjugation' whenever they need to. They just don't publicise it.

If 1.4bn Chinese didn't want to live their lives under the thumb of the state, they could get rid of the CCP by bumping them off. Revolutions used to happen all the time. You don't need a licence. I guess people have just gotten lazy.


True. Wherever you live, if your government wants to spy on you, the internet is the finest surveillance state infrastructure there is. And we even pay for our own telescreens.

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Posted in: Vaccine mandates: Is no jab, no entry into restaurants, cafes, bars, sporting and event venues discrimination? See in context

Discriminating. Adverb. Having or showing refined taste or good judgement.

The assumption here is that discrimination is always bad. I happily discriminate between good and bad options on a daily basis, and so do all of you.

Given some government policies, citizens may have no choice but to block unvaccinated people from areas of social mixing. It's not a decision where they have an unfettered choice. Governments will lock them all down if they do not. The only way the majority can protect themselves from government action is by persecuting a minority. I suspect there will be a lot more of that in the future.

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Posted in: Lithuanian agency warns against use of Chinese-made phones See in context

All operating systems and software come with cybersecurity risks and the danger of personal data leakage. That is why they are so frequently updated.

The censorship will be standard for domestically-released phones, because China is a censorious dictatorship. For sale abroad, they will do the lazy thing and just turn it off.

This may be the first round of moves by the US to take down another competitor and build a digital Berlin Wall between East and West. That has implications for Japan, which traditionally manages to trade with both.

Chiphones have a reputation for poor battery life and design compromises, but the best Chinese smartphone manufacturers produce excellent tech at decent prices. Personally, I recommend Moto phones for their features/price balance. They are manufactured by Motorola Mobility, now a subsidiary of Lenovo. Lenovo is incorporated in Hong Kong. It has global headquarters in Beijing, operational headquarters in the US, and an operational centre in Singapore.

I think you should always buy tech on tech grounds. But if you run your entire life through a nationalist political filter, that is your choice.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Posted in: Land prices continue to fall in Japan amid pandemic See in context

-It’s normal to put in new roofing after 15 years, replace the windows, improve the heating system etc.

Not in the UK it's not. With lower levels of disposable income and too many cowboy builders, most people only fix their roof when it starts to fall apart. Many homes will have the same roof they were built with, in many cases 50+ years previously. Updated builder's regs also come into play. When a piece of my boiler failed that was no longer readily obtainable, builder's regs for a new boiler would have required the replacement of the gas pipes that ran behind the fitted kitchen with a different size. It would have cost a fortune and been a massive hassle. Instead, a boiler engineer plumbed a replacement part outside the original boiler, rather like having an artificial heart outside your body. It looks Heath-Robinson, but has worked fine for years now. The boiler itself is decades old, regularly maintained and only needs fixing when bits wear out naturally over time. Modern boilers don't last anything like as long.

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Posted in: What's that? See in context

Pointing is considered to be rude in Japan. Genius level briefing from the MoD.

Is he selling used Ajax armoured vehicles? Classic throaty roar. The vibration helps you lose weight. One careful owner.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Posted in: The service will be available only for small dogs and cats. During flights, they will be required to be kept in cages placed on seats at the end of the row, with their owners seated next to them. See in context

Randomly adding a common allergen to flights is a bad idea. Plus pets have wind, poop and pee, especially when stressed, and their first flight might be quite stressful. This isn't nice in a confined space.

I'm quite allergic to pet dander. The unique specifics of a plane - close confinement and aviation air con mean that I couldn't guess how badly it will effect me on a scale from sore throat to A&E admission.

For many, this might be the first time they discover how allergic they are. Some planes may be landing a bit early.

If people are scared of flying without their fur baby, give them a plushie to hug.

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Posted in: Trudeau projected to be re-elected but without majority See in context

'No overall majority' is good for Canada and good for any nation. It offers the possibility of restricting the damage that an unfettered political party can cause.

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Posted in: Chinese property magnate loses $1 billion in Evergrande panic See in context

Stocks lost touch with reality a long time ago. Going up in a pandemic was insane. Evergrande might trigger an adjustment back down to a normal level. Keep your finger hovering above the 'Sell' button, folks. I wonder how this will affect BitCoin - will it be fragged down or be considered a safer harbour?

The financial markets quite like huge swings in the numbers. As long as they were on the ball and sold quickly, they can bank their cash and buy when stocks hit bottom. It keep the artificial profit cycle moving.

Long-term stock holders such as pension funds may just keep holding them, in the expectation they will eventually rise again.

Xi has to decide to what extent he can give the markets a spanking for not being Communist enough. However, he can't let too many people in mainland China lose too much.

HK's wealthy and foreigners are presumably expendable, but too much loss amongst ordinary Chinese citizens (and wealthy members of the CCP) could cause political instability.

He may scare people before intervening and managing the losses.

It's an interesting watch, unless your assets are on the line. This sort of thing can be very tough on ordinary folk caught up in it.

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Posted in: The deletion is another example of a company bending to outside pressure and conforming with the majority opinion. See in context

This sort of thing damages the status of the Japanese education system and devalues historical scholarship conducted in Japanese universities. Nothing ruins the reputation of a nation quite like nationalism.

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Posted in: Soup Stock Tokyo to curb food waste by selling frozen near-expired soup online See in context

SoupStock Tokyo's soup is absolutely delicious. Trips back to my apartment via Omotesandō Station have been known to involve the purchase of a bagel from the bagel store and a large container of soup 'to go'. If you can't speak the language, just point at the photos.

The issue of delivering frozen produce can only really be cracked by partnering with a supermarket that does regular local deliveries, using EV delivery vans with on-board cooling and freezing. It may be simpler to sell it to passers-by (and commuters at their station eateries) on their way home. It can defrost a little on the remainder of their journey and then they can heat it up for their dinner. I doubt they would have any trouble clearing stock.

The alternative is to explore dried soup, which can maintain nutritional value for years and can be sent through the post. In the 1970s, soup cubes were popular in the UK. As a child I was fascinated by them, as by packet cake mixes and Angel Delight. Just add water. It was like magic.

Dried products are a staple of disaster relief and low cost food. This has not helped their gastronomic reputation, although the noodle market is popular. Perhaps more work needs to be done creating dried soup mixes with larger pieces of higher quality ingredients. Less soup cube and more chunky mixture. Drying is a good way of preventing food waste. Given what is coming with climate change, we might need to revisit such technologies.

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Posted in: 5 Japanese dramas for studying Japanese See in context

There are good jdramas out there, just a much smaller percentage than kdrama. Check out 'Attention Please' (the 2006 jdrama that first inspired me to visit Japan, and to fly JAL), 'Akai Ito', 'Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta', the underrated 'Mop Girl', and the crime series 'Absolute Zero'.

Japanese movies often rate higher than jdramas. Check out 'Hanamizuki', 'I Wish', the cult classic 'Linda, Linda, Linda' (which stars Doona Bae), 'One Litre of Tears' (2005 movie version, box of tissues required), 'Sky of Love', the enchanting 'Tennen Kokekko' ['A Gentle Breeze in the Village'] and the feel-good movie, 'Flying Colours'.

Plus, the usual slew of anime from Ghibli and others. The more realistically voiced it is, the better it is for your Japanese studies. You aren't going to get anywhere shouting at the top of your lungs, like so many anime characters.

In a sense, you might get more linguistic benefit if the drama is slow and less interesting, allowing you to concentrate on the speech. Japanese Vloggers may be a better source for accurate contemporary speech, turns of phrase and regional accents.

Kdrama is a major driver of interest in the Korean language, but it is anime that does that for the Japanese language. Jdrama tends to lack complexity and be quite didactic, whilst Japanese movies are often very serious affairs. There are gems, but you have to hunt them out. And of course, everyone likes different ones.

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Posted in: New Zealand’s largest city to remain locked down See in context

Population of UK: 66m.

Population of NZ: Under 5m.

NZ's vaccination rate is inexcusable.

If the NZ government was a football manager, they would have been sacked ages ago.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Posted in: With Australia-UK deal, Biden again shows China is paramount priority See in context

This is a long term project and as anyone who has ordered military kit from the US will know, it doesn't always arrived on time. Sometimes it doesn't arrive at all. And a couple of climate change summers or an election down the line, Australia may have other priorities.

For Japan, America's military pivot to Asia may not be good news. Japan has traditionally been allowed to be both US-facing and China-facing, maintaining a balance that suits it.

What does the US now want? A cold war that may isolate Japan from its neighbours, or something a bit warmer? Is Japan to be an American aircraft carrier, an American shield or an American airbag in a tense military hot spot?

Other areas that America has taken a military interest in, such as Africa during the Cold War, and the Middle East, have not exactly prospered as a result.

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Posted in: Political orientation predicts science denial: What that means for getting vaccinated against COVID See in context

American life has been intensely politicised since Trump became president. Political allegiance seems to have mutated into religious zeal. That is not healthy and both sides need to turn the volume down. They are radicalising their own citizens at the worst possible time.

In general, politicians need to change the habits of a lifetime and become more honest, transparent and trustworthy if they expect people to trust what they say.

They can't just do whatever they can get away with, promise lots, deliver little, and then expect people to trust them.

They also need to be honest about science: Scientists don't always agree. There are legitimate dissenting views in science, something that is seen by all scientists as healthy, but there are also majority views. Be honest about the vaccines. Explain that some people will always have side effects, but that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Be explicit: the world is not a lab. We have to function, but we have to limit some behaviours. Responses to the pandemic cannot simply be based on medicine, but must factor in an awareness of what society needs to cope and function, and how humans behave under pressure.

The lockdowns have been too clumsy - not clinical enough. Some have banned things they did not need to. Others have failed to mandate masks. Be better at this.

Openly address peoples' fears: Make it clear that this is not the beginning of an endless Orwellian despotism. Governments have persistently failed to offer enough hope, underestimating how much it matters.

And don't take advantage of the pandemic to get away with stuff - it just makes you look suspicious and untrustworthy. Put off other, planned social manipulation.

After all that, politicians will have done as much as they can do. Those still refusing vaccinations will always refuse them. They are not alone - there are many who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. So you just have to be honest about their circumstances, expand medical care capacity, and get on with things.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Posted in: What do you think it is going to be like at airports as more international travel starts? Do you think there will be hassles at check-in terminals and departure gates over whether passengers have or haven't got the right vaccination passports or apps, or proof of having tested negative for the coronavirus and so on? See in context

A documentary TV series on Heathrow continued filming during the pandemic. In the blanket testing phase there were a lot of delays as there were so many extra checks, all different, for different countries, the rules kept changing and there were not enough staff. Delays of up to 7 hours were reported. Things are now beginning to ease in Europe.

As the vaccination rate goes up and severe cases are reduced, testing will be reduced or abolished, the costs and delays will go down, and for high vaccination countries, things look likely to return to near normal.

Extra checks can usually be factored into the time you would normally spend waiting for each stage of travel - for check-in to open and for boarding to begin. Turning up at the last minute has never been a sensible idea and will remain unwise.

Tourism won't begin again until quarantine is axed at both ends for 2Vax travellers, so the reopening will be in stages. That may give staff more time to adjust.

The shock-and-awe phase is tailing off. There are crowds at football games in Europe, without masks (IMHO, masks should still be being worn). Rather like the 2 year HIV panic and the 2 year BSE panic, we seem to have a 2 year Covid panic on the cards, before we roll it in with the other jabs and get on with life.

Covid zero countries will have to remain isolated or vaccinate and take the plunge with the rest of us.

Whatever app you use, I would strongly urge you to print off a copy of your vaccinated status and keep it with your passport as you travel. Tech is less reliable than paper, and will always be so. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers Covid care costs.

Get a flu jab and avoid mixing with others before you travel. You are unlikely to be allowed on a plane with mild flu symptoms, even if you don't have Covid. Research the rules at your destination in advance and then check the day before you travel, as they can change without much warning.

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Posted in: Bitcoin mining generates substantial electronic waste: study See in context

BitCoin is a terrible example of a digital currency. It will do real harm to the development of digital currencies if governments regulate them specifically in opposition to BitCoin.

There is no need to 'mine' a digital currency, and it can easily be pegged to a national currency.

Example. You purchase US$100 worth of digital currency from a provider. They charge a small fee and bank your $100 in a US bank. Your digital currency is recorded in an encrypted digital wallet on your device/PC. Some or all of it can be backed up to a memory card, stored in a compatible bank account or moved to another wallet when you buys something, as you wish. It is always worth the same as the amount in banknotes, when you paid for it, allowing individuals in countries with dodgy currency to save and pay in (in this example) USD.

This digital currency circulates via (distributed) wallets. The provider has no knowledge of movement, as with physical coinage. At any point, any amount from your digital currency stash can be converted back into USD, again with a small fee - the provider's profit. This USD is paid to you to your bank, to a PayPal account, or even as a cheque. All the digital currency in circulation is underwritten by the provider's holding account and pegged to a national currency - in this example, USD. Purchases of and cashings-in of the digital currency are recorded and can be examined by LEAs with a court order, but the digital currency can circulate globally like coinage.

Simple. No exchanges, no exchange hacks, no transaction charges, no interest (so it is Islamic-banking compliant), no mining, no impact on the environment, no gambling-level changes in value, no gatekeepers (a role held by MasterCard, Visa and PayPal at the behest of governments) and global.

Can someone just please do this, so we can move on with one or more global digital currencies. The start-up costs would be minimal.

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Posted in: Critics warn of Apple, Google 'chokepoint' repression See in context

The tech companies can distance themselves from content using distributed topologies. They have been too lazy to adopt them but really need to.

Services like social media need to switch to self-censorship, so users can decide what they want to see, and providers are no longer forced to act as pan-/national censors by proxy.

Microsoft also has a certification procedure, so it also acts as a gatekeeper. Google, Apple and Microsoft need to move to a hybrid model where folk can release software for their platforms through their stores (offering official certification), via an alternate platform or directly.

This loosening of control will allow them to obey local laws without being forced to act as censors. Users can make their own decisions should they wish to obtain software from third parties and run it.

Governments need to be careful when legislating here, to ensure they do not break things they are trying to fix, by listening to activists with tunnel vision or the authoritarian desires of their own security services.

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Posted in: 19-year-old woman arrested over theft of ¥13 mil watch on 'papa-katsu' date See in context

Not sure the local Yaks will approve of this sort of amateur freelancing on their turf.

Why would anyone pay £86,000 for a watch? You have that sort of loose change, do something socially beneficial with it, instead of advertising to be conned. I guess rich people like their bling. My watch is a Casio. It cost five quid. I still have it when I leave love hotels.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Posted in: France accuses Australia, U.S. of lying in escalating crisis See in context

Massive overreaction from the French. Macron is throwing his toys out the pram in the style of Trump, probably to pull in votes in the coming election.

France should have taken this on the chin with some Gallic sang-froid. Gratuitously insulting their allies like this in public is embarrassing. Moscow and Beijing must be loving this.

Berlin needs to have a word before this gets any more out of hand.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Posted in: Hundreds arrested, police injured at anti-lockdown protests in Australia See in context

-the rest of the population will go about their business and obey the lockdown laws.

The lockdown laws are designed to stop the rest of the population going about their business.

Lockdown responses have often been overly restrictive. That is what many are concerned about. That concern is legitimate and is not anti-scientific. The world is not a laboratory and a Matrix-style lockdown is often neither required nor justified by the science.

Lockdowns vary. Some rules are sensible, others are not. Imprisoning people in their homes is not universal and often not essential. You will not spread a virus if you keep some distance from others, regardless of the time of day, so curfews are a questionable tactic. In the UK social distancing and mask use was only implemented on transport and in shops, where it worked. Yet transport was limited and 'non-essential' shops were still closed during lockdowns, damaging the economy, wrecking businesses and making it difficult for some to obtain goods. Border blocks, internal and international, have been implemented without just cause as tests are widely available, only healthy people are allowed to fly and the virus was present on both sides of those borders. Government messaging has also been poor, whilst politicians have ignored their own rules. Macron banned his citizens from flying and then turned up at the Olympics, watching his athletes. Hypocrisy like that erases trust in government at a time when it is most needed.

Opposition politicians have been notably silent on these issues. Politicians going into 'war unity' mode has not helped. It makes people nervous and suspicious, and they lose faith in their governance. Lockdowns should have been conducted with a more clinical focus on the specific activities that needed to be curtailed. There is no excuse for poor governance, especially in a pandemic.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Posted in: NTV employee arrested for groping woman on train See in context

Why is his employer in the headline? He was not acting on behalf of his employer. He was not at his workplace. I doubt his employer has a pro-groping policy for staff, or sends them on courses to teach them how to grope women more effectively. It's not really fair to drag them into it. His rank within the company would have been enough.

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Posted in: Americans have little trust in online security: AP-NORC poll See in context

If you punish someone for being hacked, you are blaming the victim.

It should be a legal requirement for personal data to be held in an encrypted form. Because if your data is encrypted, it doesn't matter if it is stolen. The hackers cannot decrypt it.

Personal data trading is more of a problem and could be restricted to data sets that have an adequate degree of anonymisation.

Avoid giving politicians a reason to restrict internet access even more than they already have.

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Posted in: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders wade into Canada election See in context

In terms of diplomatic decorum, politicians don't make statements like this during other nations' election campaigns. It is seen as interference in domestic affairs. This sort of thing backfired badly in the Brexit referendum campaign when foreign leaders weighed in with comments supporting the status quo. It's a better idea to learn from historical failures, than to repeat them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: France recalls ambassadors to U.S., Australia over sub deal See in context

French defence contractors are as closely allied to the state as Chinese ones. But as the Aussies informed the French before the new pact was announced, the withdrawal of ambassadors and associated rhetoric is overly dramatic and rather embarrassing.

It doesn't undermine US/European ties. It was a French deal, not an EU one. And although not in the EU anymore, the UK is still geographically part of Europe and a NATO member.

There is no hidden agenda with regard to the UK's position. If there is a few quid in it, Johnson will give it the nod.

Perhaps someone can make Macron a nice cup of tea. That always helps.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Posted in: Titan trash can to be placed near a Coca-Cola vending machine in Oita to help promote recycling See in context

Japanese people do recycle their plastic bottles and cans. So much so that the vending machine recycling bins are often full. A campaign to crush stuff before putting it in the correct bin may be more use. Or bigger bins. They are a bit small.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Computing pioneer Clive Sinclair dies at 81 See in context


That's how invention works at the cutting edge. You always fail a few times. Tech VC funding expects a failure rate of 75%. In the 1980s in the UK tech VC was almost non-existent and margins were tiny as there were so many machines being produced. Sinclair often funded his own projects. Sugar was a salesman not an innovator. Amstrad could put a transistor radio in a large case, sell it as a rack mounted HiFi at half the cost of a Sony unit and make a lot of cash.

@Para Sitius.

Thanks. I still have my 48K speccy too. I bought a memory card interface recently but don't have the time or space to set it up at the moment. I'd definitely like a Spectrum Next.

It would be possible to surf the net on a Spectrum. Get a Chrome engine working on any cut-down OS on an external unit. Dump the pages to memory rather than the screen and then translate them into a Spectrum capable screen display with input fields and hot zones for links. Move it to the Spectrum via the edge connector or RS232 interface. Move the cursor using the arrow keys or a joystick - Kempston compatible of course. Maybe not UXGA but it would work.

A tidier implementation would create a browser translation layer in a box that could convert from Chrome to any display, removing adverts, virus checking, link policing etc.

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Posted in: U.S. regulators wary of Big Tech swallowing startups See in context

There are limits to opening up tech as platform compatibility tends to see an 80/20 duopoly in many services. This is natural, not a problem that needs fixing. Tech has always tended to this sort of split.

If the USG really want to open GAFA up to competition without breaking everything, ban exclusivity in patents.

Big companies share patents on a quid pro quo basis but use ownership of them and patent rings to lock out smaller competitors. Patents were originally intended to ensure that originators earned from their ideas. Without exclusivity, anyone could use a patent and need only pay dues if their product becomes a success. Patent stashes would still have value, but could not be used as a weapon against smaller competitors.

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Posted in: U.S. regulators wary of Big Tech swallowing startups See in context

Small companies and start-ups want (and sometimes need) to be bought up by big tech to get access to patent rights for their products and services, and to integrate them into larger platforms. If you get eaten by FB, your user base swells to the size of FB's. And it is pay day, for companies that struggle to obtain VC. Large companies have older, less innovative staff and are increasingly lawyer-led. As they get bigger they lose focus and innovation becomes tougher. They need to buy it in.

The down side is that they dominate tech long term, making it difficult for any small company to become a really big player and competitor.

Ironically, after supporting US (and global) growth and US soft power for decades, as the US government targets GAFA and clips their wings, the real beneficiaries will be foreign companies seeking to replace them. Japan, South Korea and India are well-placed for this, with SoftBank funding. The Americans are curtailing their own strength, Brexit-style.

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