Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anime Becomes Icon of Temple

I found a funny story, which sounds a little prudent for a devout Buddhist, that one Japanese temple went into the world of "Anime" to attract more visitors. Original article is here.
One temple in rural Tokyo is trying to attract young males by "Anime ads."
Recently, original anime characters are becoming a key for the revitalization of suburban area in Japan. Some regional companies have successfully boosted the sales by promoting their local specialities with original anime characters. In this trend, A Nichiren sect temple named "Shoeizan Ryohoji" is attracting young men by "Anime ads." (We call it "Moe ads".)
At the entrance, the temple placed ads with the anime characters inspired by Buddhist images - "Toro Benten" comes from Saraswati (Benzaiten, the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts), "Mama" comes from Hariti (Kishimojin, the goddess for the protection of children) and "Chibi-nen" comes from a priest.
The characters are available at the temples's mobile web site (automatic translation version is here) and you can see the detailed explanation of original Buddhist images and the inspired characters. In addition, you can find how to pray and how to reach the temple. Wall papers of the characters can be downloaded from the web site.
According to Ryohoji temple, the priest's sister asked her "Akihabara-oriented" (softer expression of "otaku (nerd)") friend if the temple can attract more people and the friend created "really attractive" characters for the temple. The creator is a young lady named "Toromi" (it's not a real name but a kind of pen name, though.)
The number of young male visitor has been increasing since it placed the ads, told the temple. Currently it is limited to the virtual space, the ads and the mobile web site, where we can see those anime characters and they don't have a plan to expand it to the real space. Nor do they have a plan to sell related goods. However, it is said to be under discussion whether or not they expand the advertisement more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Digitalize What You Write Immediately - airpenMINI

A famous Japanese news site, "Gigazine" reported how Pentel's new "airpenMINI" was revolutionary device for all who want to pursue mobility, agility and flexibility for a digital media. Here's an extract from the article:
Many people still love to use a pen because it allows you to write a memo and a picture, doesn't require boot time, and resist water and some physical shocks. It's really a mobile media. This new digital gadget, "airpenMINI" has all such features while it's a digital device. Good thing is that it doesn't require any special paper for digital recording.
When you wanted to digitalize a memo on your paper pad, you needed to scan the pad to digitalize what you wrote. It's a kind of burdensome and many tend to give up to do so. However, this "airpenMINI", allows you to store your memo on cyber space without any additional work, by its censor and software. You will never miss what you put on the paper and will immediately find what you want to see.
Thus, "airpenMINI" will be a perfect solution for the people who want to store any information on PC while keeping a pen and paper.
"Gigazine" explains how it works, with a lot of pictures in a real demo. "airpenMINI" does not only record what you write as a digitalized picture, but also recognize the characters on the paper with high accuracy. The article is written in Japanese but you can understand its innovativeness from pictures.

Friday, July 10, 2009

7 Reasons Google OS Won't Be Revolutionary

An author insisted that Google OS is not a revolutionary product as many people buzzed out. When I read the article first, I couldn't agree with him because I thought Google OS, which simply changes a browser into a desktop, would allow more developers to create desktop application easily. However, now I am believing the opinion after I read another article. Here's the extract from the Japanese article.
I believe that Google OS will not be "Revolutionary OS" but be "Revolutionary faster OS", though. I mean, that OS will not cause innovation for users. Here's 7 reasons for that.
  1. Google is not Apple.
  2. Only "top-down" management can make UI revolutionary. Only the company which has a genius management like Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, and Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director of Nintendo, can innovate the UI and the user experience from scratch.
  3. This seems not "20% project".
  4. Google's revolutionary idea always comes from "20% project". An unofficial project run by a few engineers become official, appreciated internally. This is the way Google launches a "revolutionary" project. In such a case, Google discloses many substances such as dynamic demos and technical documents right after the press release. See Google Wave. This time, Google doesn't have any evidences. That's because the project didn't come from "20% project" and started as "80% project" from the beginning.
  5. Linux is already light enough and fast enough.
  6. Some might not agree with my idea, but I believe current linux is already sufficient for Netbook. Slightly lighter is enough, Google could optimize the OS without rebuilding it totally.
  7. No reference to native client.
  8. Google has an ambitious project named native client. If Google really intended to create "revolutionary" OS, it would have referred to the project.
  9. Google's "Revolutionary OS" will harm HTML5 agreement.
  10. One of the most important missions for Google now is to establish HTML5 standard. So far Apple and major cell phone vendors have agreed to it, however, the agreement would collapse if Google released a revolutionary client OS. Google OS can't be more than HTML5.
  11. Few can provide "Revolutionary OS" with the driver software.
  12. Hardware vendors need to provide "revolutionary driver software" for "revolutionary OS" because of the totally different hardware architecture. There's not so many vendors which can develop such driver software.
  13. "Revolutionary OS" that Microsoft can't follow will affect negative to Google.
  14. The best scenario for Google is that Microsoft releases HTML5 compliant web browser. If Google OS is full of proprietary functions which Microsoft can never follow, Microsoft will turn to the different battlefield. As a result, Microsoft would have to go its own way. So, the most important function for Google OS is to be caught up by Microsoft within some years. This means that IE becomes HTML5 compliant and light browser, which reduces the workload of web developers in the world to the half. The lighter the burden becomes, the richer web develops. It's the most desirable future for Google.
Not all the bookmarkers agreed with him and I haven't yet approved the idea entirely, but it's an interesting opinion.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crowded Train Infringes Human Right

As you might know, one of the worst things in Japan is that the excessive congested train almost kills me every morning. Here's the author who has the same feeling.
It's a kind of the infringement of human rights that we need to commute by the extremely croweded train, I believe. It's insane that we have to be kept in a train for a long time, surrounded by strangers, without any room to move. That caused a sexual molester, we need to have a solution for that as soon as possible. My idea is very simple, 1) raise the train fare for rush hour, and, 2) reinforce the transportation.
The former idea is like this, say, triple the train fee for peak time, while decrease the fee for off-peak. Some companies would change its office hours to decrease the cost. The latter idea is just to increase the length of the train or the number of the route.
The biggest challenge is in our mind. Some seem to stop their thinking and just give up the crazy crowded train. As long as we keep silence, we can never expect the solution. The government and the train companies have left the problem for years, just because no one made big noises on that. We have to speak out loud. The people who say nothing might as well infringe the human rights and molest a woman in a train. Now is the time to get them out of here, or we will be kept infringed. NO MORE CROWDED TRAIN!! NO!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Save Poor Sparrow

This is an extract from the web site of a municipal government in Tokyo.
"Please save a poor sparrow" - When we arrived there, the poor sparrow showed her head from a small hole in a manhole cover in the middle of the road. Some residents kept their eyes on her anxiously, the others told passenger vehicles not to hit her.
There's no way to save her except for getting the cover open. However, we, "quick fix" division, didn't have the tools to open the cover. We called the environmental office of Tokyo metropolitan government, but they just replied "the sparrow will go out from somewhere since she came in from somewhere." Then we asked Sewage Management Office of Tokyo metropolitan government to open the cover. They understood the situation and promised to be there within 30 minutes.
However, she was getting weaker as we observed. A resident gave her grains of rice so that she could keep it up until the guys arrived. 20 minutes after, 10 minutes earlier than we expected, the guys from Sewage Management Office arrived. They easily opened the cover and finally saved the sparrow. She flew away to the woods.
Everybody felt comfortable and appreciated the guys. We felt refreshed in a happy atmosphere.
That "quick fix" division in Setagaya city government is famous for taking up and solving any kind of request from the residents quickly. Not always saving animals, though...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why Do We Need An Excuse To Take A Vacation?

20 years ago, Japanese people were well known as a workaholic and criticized as an "economic animal". Actually, Japanese worked too much without any vacation. Since then, Japanese government and social system have worked hard to make the working environment better and now Japan has much more official holidays than the other countries such as the US. However, it's still difficult for workers to take a vacation. I picked up some voices from the internet community. Original article is here.
  • No atmosphere to take a vacation. When I took a day off for a funeral, they asked for holiday work in return.
  • One guy needed to leave the company because the others criticized him for taking a vacation. The company is listed in the first section of Tokyo Stock Exchange, though.
  • If I took a vacation, I  would be regarded as a rebel.
  • "The purpose of a vacation is no concern of the Article 39 of the Labor Standards Act, it's warranted by the law as a freedom of all employees." - extracted from the supreme court's verdict in some labor disputes.
  • When I took a vacation last month, I lost the attendance bonus. Is this normal? (No, it's illegal!)
  • I'd rather work more since I become broken-hearted...
  • I feel weird some guys still insist that no one can take a vacation until he achieve something important for the company (and they never admit one's result) and other guys still believe a vacation is given by the company, not workers' right, though they are also employees. To give up a vacation is the same as to give up a salary.
  • When I rejected to tell the purpose of my vacation, I was laid off. (As the supreme court's verdict clearly mentioned, there's no need to tell the purpose of a vacation.)
  • I asked for a vacation to the manager today, then he lost his temper, saying that he and the senior manager hadn't taken a vacation yet.
  • Someone who doesn't take a vacation just has nothing to do in the vacation.
  • I can freely take a vacation. However, I can't put up with the uneasy atmosphere, the manager's sarcastic remark and the colleagues' critical talkings when I say "I will take a vacation". You may think I shouldn't mind, but I can't do that because I spend half of my time in the company.
  • I asked the manager if I could take a vacation and he told me it's OK, so I officially asked an approval. But he told me he would never approve until right before the vacation because something would happen by that time. It's not a busy week and I would have to do some chores then. It sucks!
  • Every year, I consumed all of my vacation ... I'm truly happy.
  • The manager approved 6-day vacation of the young lady in my division. The purpose of the vacation is a travel with her lover. I really envy her.
  • My company has a very free atmosphere in terms of a vacation. Anybody can take a vacation just by writing the vacation schedule in an internal system as long as he or she finishes the job. I just have put my vacation schedule, which starts from this Monday, into the system on last Friday, so nobody knows I'm on a vacation now :-)
  • I need to have "more important" purpose than the job to take a vacation, but what's "more important"? - Funeral is obviously "more important", kid's school event is sometimes considered as "less important", court action is also "more important", relative's wedding is almost "more important", friend's wedding is "less important" and the leisure is definitely "less important." (Hey, take a look at the supreme court's verdict above! No need to have "purpose"!)
  • The manager never allowed my colleague to take a day-off for his sister's wedding.
  • You say, "No need to have a reason to take a vacation since it's workers' right"? But the ideal and the real is totally different. In my company, we can take a vacation only when the manager determines the reason is sufficient for a vacation.
  • Never call my cell phone in the vacation. Never leave a message like "Call back ASAP!" It's none of my business, I'm on vacation!
  • If you put higher priority on your private life, it's OK to take a vacation freely. I'm a timid person and always prioritize the job, so they regard me as a person with a strong sense of responsibility. But I'm far from happy...
  • Personnel administrator said "We have free paid vacation system formally, but actually the company decides which day to take a paid vacation. In addition, the company replaces past workday with a paid day-off when needed. In such a case, please modify the necessary documents such as meeting minutes. Not to mention, never talk about this outside." "Yes, Sir!"
  • Nobody in my company cares about the others' vacation. The manager approved a vacation just as I asked even it's a whole week. (This is the right way of paid vacation.)
  • I am allowed to take a vacation, but I can't do that because the customer always makes an urgent call. If I missed the call, the customer would call the senior staff, who would get angry at me.
  • The operational system is the problem. Such companies need to establish the system where anyone can equally handle the job. Excellent businessman would design the system to train the others to deal with the job as he do.
  • On the other hand, in the problematic company, there's a lot of "tacit knowing" which is just not systemized. It's a typical way for senior guys to protect their area. Such guys ask young guys to "steal" the way they work without telling the detail.
  • "Hey, do you really need this vacation?", told the manager today. Gee...
  • I had to pay the cancellation fee for a tour last year because the sudden assignment robbed me of the vacation. This year, again...
  • I envy the company which has a paid vacation system. "Your colleagues keep working even in the weekend!" "You're the only guy who doesn't work on weekend!" said the president.
  • I asked for a day-off for the funeral of the person who had been very kind to me, the manager told me "You can take a day-off only after you complete your task. Do you really need to attend the funeral above all?" I can't believe some companies allow employees to take a vacation without any question.
  • Many managers tell that employees need to meet their obligations before they insist on the right. However, if the manager trusts the employee, the manager admits a vacation without emphasizing the obligations.
  • In the previous office, a senior guy always took a vacation without any hesitation. He was so competent and strong, so the manager couldn't complain about him. As a result, it's also easy for us to take a vacation since he made an atmosphere.
  • If you ask for a paid vacation to manager, you can get it as a normal right. If the manager doesn't allow the vacation, just take a lawyer to the office. If the manager isn't insane, you can get it at this point. If the manager is insane, just bring him to the court. If you're not insane, you will undoubtedly win the suit and then take a vacation at this point.
  • The company mandated furlough and I worked 6 days this month. They paid me only 70K yen (US$700). I am a regular employee and didn't use any voluntary vacation, can I appeal to the Labor Standards Bureau? (Actually, he has a right to get monthly payment*(actual working days/standard working days)+0.6*(waiting days/standard working days), according to Wikipedia.)
  • Recently, young guys insist that a paid vacation is workers' right or guaranteed by the law, however, do they really fulfill their duties before complaining about it? They will be disqualified as a member of society, if they just behave selfishly. In my youth, I couldn't take any vacation and often worked through the night. It was natural to learn something for the job even in a holiday and study hard in a commuter train. Now those young guys leave the office before last train, take two day-off a week, and insist on a vacation for a leisure or a travel. It's outrageous thing for me. Never want more because they have taken enough! There are lots of people who work in much tougher environment. You can keep alive, you can work somewhere and you can eat enough. Just appreciate such happiness!!
I have to be proud of working in one of rare companies to take a vacation...

Friday, July 3, 2009

An Experiment to Make Tea Colorless

A Japanese blogger explained an interesting experiment to make your tea transparent and colorless. It looks harmless and you may find new tasty drink. Here's how you can do that.
  1. Prepare "Gogo-no-Kocha(Afternoon tea), straight taste" from Kirin Beverage and "Lemon Water" from House Wellness. If you live in the US, just go to MITSUWA market or NIJIYA market and grab them.
  2. Pour "Gogo-no-Kocha" into a cup.
  3. Pour "Lemon Water" into the same cup.
Now you will see the tea goes colorless. The author explained that's because the pigment of the tea, theaflavins, became colorless when it was acidified. If you pour alkaline material, it reverts to the original color. I guess you can do the same by using the other kind of tea and acid drink. If you don't have enough money to buy tea and lemon, just watch the video below.
Original article is here.