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The iPad came out in Japan this weekend, so when I was at Yodobashi near my house earlier today I checked it out. It is nice, but 500 bucks for a 16GB model or like $700 for the 64GB? You’ve got to be kidding me.  Probably not anything I’ll be able to afford in the near future.  I think I’d rather spend $100 on the iPad I blogged about last night.  Of course the real iPad has a nice interface and all, but it’s so pricey!  The store display model was connected to wi-fi to let you try it out, so we checked out how sites like IUSTV.com and SarahJessicaParkerLooksLikeAHorse.com would look.  Pretty much just like on a computer, but with touching and horizontal/vertical flipping.

アイパッド  Kieran Farr interview on the iPad

We also tried YouTube and watched the IES Train Introduction Video and NR7000 doing his anime dance.  Ah technology.

Chinese APad/iPed

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Saw a Japanese news report earlier today on YouTube via TokyoMango about a Chinese iPad knockoff called the APad (or iPed?) that’s been popping up recently.  The reporter goes to the big shopping center in Shenzhen to check out the device at a shop selling it.  To be honest, I think I’d be more likely to buy one of these than a real iPad, especially since I’m thinking of heading over to HK or China sometime before August anyway.

The device’s casing looks almost exactly like the iPad, and it has a camera and full touchscreen.  To make it even better it also runs Android meaning that the thing is probably super customizable and would give you more freedom than a real iPad ever would without maybe jailbreaking it or something.  Sure the specs might not be as good as the real thing, but considering that it costs less than USD$100 I’d say it’s not a bad deal.  I’m not likely to spend 500 bucks on an iPad that I realistically wouldn’t use that much, but if I have a chance to get an APad I think it’d be worth having another toy to play around with.

On a side note it’s funny how often Japanese news has stories on Chinese knockoffs and counterfeits.  I always get the impression that rather than just providing information they’re trying to just point fingers at China for “being bad.”  Knockoffs are an awesome alternative to people who can’t or won’t by the original devices, and it’s hard to believe that the APad is actually going to have any effect on iPad sales.  Especially considering the iPad isn’t even officially available in China  yet.

Games, girls, and the B.O. cloud

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Checked out Tokyo Game Show 2009 at Makuhari Messe twice last week. Thursday was the first business/press only day, and it was so much better than Saturday, where the crowd was like 50 times worse and the smell of B.O. had condensed to a visible gray fog. Luckily I was somewhat expecting this, so I got whatever I wanted to see or play out of the way on Thursday. Final Fantasy XIII was probably the best, since the game was sweet and you got to play for a full 15 minutes on a nice setup consisting of a slim PS3, 32-inch-ish LCD TV, and studio headphones. Since it’s Japan, of course before every person the headphones and controller got a wipe down with alcohol wipes, which is a big plus. Got to play a bunch of other games thanks to the average wait time on business days being maybe 10-15 minutes, compared to the 1 hour or more on public days. I noticed a lot of the booths during public days even gave out tickets to play the demos, meaning that once the tickets were all gone, no one else could even line up to play the games.

The swag level was kind of disappointing this year, with more crappy postcards and stickers than anything else. No good phone straps, keychains, t-shirts, or slap bracelets, at least from what I saw. The Capcom station for Ookamiden was giving out a sweet folding fan, but the line for that even on Thursday was like 45 minutes so I decided not to bother. Other random games I saw or played: First we played Bayonetta just because the line was short and it was the first one we saw. The game looked OK, but it was exactly like Devil May Cry only with a naughty librarian as the main character. Also for some reason her clothes turned into a demon or something, leaving her gratuitously naked. Halo 3: ODST seemed like it had a good deal of add-ons and new weapons and enemies. Tekken 20 or whatever is exactly the same as Tekken always is. MGS Peace Walker was awesome, although I can’t say the characters seemed as interesting as in past games. MGS trailers are always so well done though. Ryu ga Gotoku 4 (Yakuza) also looked way sweet, and I saw the creator guy there in his usual white yakuza-ish jumpsuit.

As with any convention of this type, there were a lot of booth girls all over the place, either handing out flyers or just posing for thousands of dudes to take their pictures. On Saturday when I went there were of course crowds around every single one of these poor women, with the size of the crowd probably in proportion to the hotness of the girl multiplied by how much skin they were showing. Oddly enough I didn’t see anyone using the super nerd stepladders, nor did I happen to see anyone with their camera on the ground trying to get an underwear shot. Maybe that’s just at the auto shows then.

So yeah TGS was pretty awesome, but I don’t know if I’m going to bother going on public days anymore. The crowd and accompanying BO is too much to handle, and you can’t even play any good games without waiting for an hour or more. But hey business days are awesome so if you can get in it’s definitely worth going.

Wish I had the Epoch

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Short yet nerdy post.

The MicroSD card that I’d been using in my R4 died somehow a few nights ago. I was using it just fine one night, and the next day it wouldn’t work. I tried it in both the DS and on my computer several times using different readers, but no luck. The card was corrupted or something. Thus, my Chrono Trigger save file was gone Ugh. I was playing that game for quite a while and had just gotten the Doppel Doll, ready to go get Crono back.

I thought I’d have a chance at recovering the files – I used a bunch of different file recovery programs and finally had some luck with one called Recuva. It was able to scan the SD card following a quick format to make the card accessible, and was seemingly able to recover most of the files. Unfortunately when I actually tried using those files they wouldn’t work. I tried looking for a solution to unscramble those files or something, but didn’t have any luck. I think I might just be totally boned on getting that save file back.

I’m pretty sure the card crapped out on my just because it was a horribly cheap, generic Chinese SD card that I got with the R4 last summer in Beijing. It was a no-namer that I’d been using fairly frequently for almost a year, so I guess it’s not that surprising. Went and bought a SanDisk 2GB card at Yodobashi yesterday for like 1700 yen. (Storage is so dirt cheap these days – I’m always surprised at that.)

So in short, back up your files. Especially if you’re playing on an R4 and have like 30 or 40 hours logged on a sweet RPG.

Nice Partner

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How long do you think you could live without a fridge or a microwave? You’d think it would be pretty tough, right? Well I’d been going for about 8 months since moving into my current apartment without them, and I was doing OK. One of the main reasons I didn’t get them was that I wasn’t sure how long I would be sticking around here in Japan. Now that I know I’ll be here at least a little while longer working, I figured it was time to get them.

I headed to Treasure Factory here in Chiba a few weeks ago, a “recycle shop,” which means a place that buys and sells used stuff. They have all kinds of things: appliances, toys, bikes, furniture, grandmas, and electronics. Blanchard bought a ukulele even. Who knows why. So yeah, I decided to save a little money and get the fridge used, since Japanese people keep everything in amazing condition anyway, allowing me to get an almost brand new unit for cheap. The recycle shop’s second floor had most of the appliances, including about 3 or 4 rows of fridges. A lot of them were really similar, so I based my choice on 4 key factors: age (something less than a few years old), appearance (if there were any marks, dents, etc on the outside or inside), price (something fairly cheap), and most important, smell (if it’s got a rank stank). I’m not even joking on that last one. I was opening fridge doors and taking whiffs for about 20 minutes up there while Blanchard tried to self-teach himself the ukulele. By the way, I’m pretty sure those 4 criteria is the same way NR7000 chooses his dates*.

I got the fridge and microwave delivered to my apartment for really cheap in less than a week. After spending about half a day cleaning and sterilizing them both, I had a new tower of power in my small Japanese apartment. The fridge, which is a blue Sharp SJ14G Nice Partner, a white Sharp 730-watt microwave, and the rice cooker I’m borrowing are all stacked on top of each other in an intimidating fashion like Dr. Wily’s Castle. It’s also taken me some time to get used to having fridge noises in my room. But anyway, I’m glad I finally got around to getting these things. I cooked a little bit at home before, but usually it was restricted to pasta, stuff with rice, etc. Now that I have a fridge and microwave I can cook more stuff, heat up stuff, and in general expand the foods I can eat and prepare. It’s like the 1920’s when people first started getting fridges in their homes. I think people living in Japan eat out a lot more than in the US, but this way I can eat at home more, like when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to leave my apartment.

I’ve thus been playing around with cooking more recently using my awesome gas range, which absolutely destroys the hot-plate-equivalent “electric range” I had in my old apartment in Goi. I can make fairly decent fried rice, made some Mabo Dofu one night, and have also been eating eggs and sausage for breakfast. It’s also awesome to be able to eat cereal and milk again, which I suppose I could have done before by getting a small carton of milk, but having the fridge just makes everything that much more convenient. I think I should hit up Costco sometime and stock up on stuff that I can now refrigerate in my Nice Partner.

Fried Rice チャーハン

*in Kabukicho

Frankendrive

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I had to deal with my laptop’s bum DVD-burner ever since getting this computer a few years ago. While it worked no problem, the biggest pain was that it could only burn certain kinds of DVDs. To be specific, they had to be +R discs that were 8x or less. Yes, 16x discs would not work, even though I thought they could as long as you burned at 8x. But yeah, it was a pain. Since +R is an American disc standard, something I just found out last year, those kinds of discs are much harder to find here in Japan. It had been getting more and more difficult for me to find discs that I could actually use, and when I did they almost always came in packs of 10 or less (no spindles), and were more expensive than if I had been able to use a cheaper package of -R discs. And as many of you know, I like to burn a lot.

But that’s all history now, since I finally got around to buying a new DVD drive for my laptop. I bought it online through Newegg when I was back in St. Louis on Dec 29, but apparently New Years caused even more of a delay problem for Newegg and FedEx, since the 3-day shipping that I had chosen ended up not arriving until Jan 10. And of course I was already back in Japan by then. But, I had my parents send it to me, I received it over the weekend, and I installed it last night. Easy installation, but since I couldn’t replace the faceplate, the drive is now recessed in my computer case. Whatever though.

Philips SPD8005BM/17

The thing worked all right, but it was really slow. Burning took forever, and reading a disc was even worse. Trying to watch a video file ended up with really choppy playback of both video and audio. I figured out through online forums (Google is great for this) that I had the problem of the drive being set to slave rather than master, and that was causing the IDE settings to make the computer communicate with the drive really slowly. Or something like that. There was also the major problem of this drive model having zero support from Philips for some reason. But yeah, there are really smart people out there who have figured out most problems you will ever encounter with computers or technology. Someone posted step-by-step instructions on how to get the drive working properly. It was a bit complicated and I almost made a mistake, but I e-mailed one of the guys and they were really helpful. In summary, I had to change the firmware to another brand of burner, use some shady software to set it to master, then flash the firmware back to Philips. Now my drive is super fast, can burn any kind of disc, and is even quieter than my old one. Mission complete.
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