Monday, September 29, 2008

Japan Times article

A step-by-step guide to owning a home in Japan

The Japan Times Online:
Online Advertising:
Copyright(C) 2006 The Japan Times Online

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey! This site has moved!! It moved to a hosted domain powered by WordPress. It's not as pretty or cool looking, but that will change over time.

See you there!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Adobe SoundBooth

SoundBooth, a slight knockoff name of Apple's PhotoBooth? Regardless, it isn't what you think. Long ago, in the late 90's, there was a company called Macromedia and they had a splendid app called SoundEdit-16. It was easy to use, powerful, small, and could have had longer legs. It never did get the .mp3 file support it needed. Macromedia had a much loved app that many swore by, and they let it die, like many of their apps, a slow death of neglect.
Fast forward to almost a decade later... Adobe bought Macromedia out of fear of Microsoft. Adobe is also looking for new ways to compete. They've kind of decided to be the Apple software of the Windows market, but release most of their apps for Mac OS as well.
Well, Sound Edit-16 lives! Adobe has rebranded it and updated it and will include it free with future suites of its apps. That makes sense, because back in the late '99-2000 era, Macromedia did the same thing. But if anyone was wondering where this app came from, now you know.
Still, for the money, you can't beat Freeverse's Sound Studio 3. It more than does what it needs to do. And Freeverse makes very good software. (and supports it well, ADOBE!)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

FireFox 2: part 2

Hmm... there seem to be some very cool things in here. Under the Tools menu there is a DOM inspector. It is actually very very very cool for web developers. Want to see the document tree? There it is in a pretty good DOM browser. As you highlight a visual element in the DOM browser, FireFox 2 will flash a red border around that element in the web browser window. Very cool and very useful. The Mozilla cats are definitely trying to solidify their web developer user base. And this will go a long way towards that.
For a different view of the content of the document in the browser window, there is the Page Info tool, also under the tools menu. Also very cool and useful.
I still prefer Safari for my regular web browsing at this time, but maybe that is my habit rather than sense talking. I used to use FireFox exclusively until OS X 10.4 came out with a better Safari and seemed to throttle FireFox. Under OS X 10.3.x it was FireFox all the way, and I loved it. Maybe things will change, but I can't say yet. I will give FireFox 2 more time, but I still have to say that Safari launches so quickly and that makes all the difference in the world when you want to access something right away. That said, I am on an iBook G4 (ppc) but FireFox 2 apparently has more issues with Intel Macs at this time than with PPC Macs, so we shall see what happens over time.


Lou Dobbs vs. San Antonio

Wow, Lou Dobbs has balls, big ones. He held a live "town hall" meeting in San Antonio, Texas talking about the border problem, the problems of drugs and immigration from Mexico and more. What he may not have been aware of is that San Antonio is mostly sympathetic to Mexican migrants. Nobody there wants to use the words "illegal alien" because they say it sounds like space beings. Well, that's true, but the word is older than that. San Antonio folks on the show were pretty pissed off. Understandably, so. But it is indeed a sign of the coming culture war.
Dobbs comes off like a racist white snob. Lulac members came off as angry people with a different agenda. The whole thing turned into a high school debate.
The thing nobody wants to say is that there are mixed loyalties along the border. (not necessarily close to the border itself) This not new and not unique to the US borders. People living in border areas around the world have mixed loyalties and different identities than. I can understand and empathize with the various views on this issue, and I can not take a side. I do believe that there is a much bigger conflict brewing on this subject and it has been brewing for a century or more. On the hispanic side there is a lot of anger at a century of repression and racism. There is even an undercurrent of the idea of a "greater Mexico" nation, though nobody has phrased it as such. The fact of history is that the US and people from the US did usurp half the territory of Mexico. This too is relevant and part of the situation.
It is pretty easy to say that rich white Americans are also trying to apply their personal values and beliefs to a whole different population and even another country.
Another dynamic of this is the linguistic roots of cultural differences. English has dominated the US forever. But many communities have existed throughout the US with other languages used in daily life. Those language communities have been tolerated as much as they've been antagonized. Curiously, it appears to me that most northern European language communities have been more tolerated. Logically, this is due to a more similar culture. The Latin versus Germanic cultural divide is big, even in Europe. This bias is clearly evident today in the US. It is as much due, however, to the size of the Spanish language community. There has never been such a large language group in the US before.
Naturally, people feel threatened by linguistic and cultural differences. This is evident throughout history and throughout the world. The solutions are never easy, never simple, and never perfect.
Belgium has 2 major language communities that divide the tiny country into two nations that still do not mix much and do not feel connected or one. Canada has a similar situation. India has dozens of languages. The UK even has multiple languages.
Dialect of language is even a dividing line.
It's a mess. A mess that has been blindly ignored for a century or more and is not going to be fixed or solved by a simple fence or a single generation. It is not one simple problem, but many will and do try to oversimplify things and this fuels the fires.
Downloaded, installed and tried FireFox 2 on OS X today. Let me say, it is a little rough around the edges. Still can't render type at small sizes well. It seems to be picky as hell about rendering right floated elements in CSS. If there isn't a LOT OF ROOM, it will just push the right floated element off the screen. I mean it noticeably wastes available space. Oh well. It also still loads slow as a glacier. Safari beats it in all of these: page rendering, loading (app), page loading. One thing Firefox 2 did well was open my crowded bookmark menu quickly. Safari starts to slow down if my main bookmark menu is too long of a list. Clearly they still are trying to make this thing look the same on all platforms too much too. It isn't nearly as mac-like as a mac app should be and easily could be. I'm guessing they shoe-horned a lot of C++ into an Xcode project again. For now, the guys at Apple are wearing the mac browser crown! Shiira is the second to safari, but go figure, it's a lot of the same core code base. Next Camino...?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Inquisition: Good TV

Finally, some good junk! For those who still don't know, Battlestar Galactica (the new series) and Lost are both excellent. Definitely classics in the making. Both are in their 3rd seasons and things are really rolling. BG has only suffered 1 or 2 crap episodes of cliche character mushiness that were unrelated to the story arc. Lost has not done this. Both require seeing from the beginning to understand and appreciate them fully. They share a lot in terms of style. Rent them or buy them at iTunes, but when you do, plan to do nothing else for a while.

And there is a new show that is equally hot and surprisingly comes from a major network. Surprisingly, because it is the kind of show you'd expect from SciFi Channel, and it really takes old casting central cliches and adds a nice new spin on them. Heroes is the title. 5 episodes, great story arc, in line with the styles of Lost and BG, it is dark and mysterious and strings you along well, all the while with no extraneous crap. The Japanese characters are actually real Japanese guys speaking real Japanese. ( I know, I can understand them and tell the difference. ) Their background is the only iffy part of the whole show. The office they work in and the streets and backgrounds they are shown in when they are in Japan are close to the real thing but are obviously (to anyone who is living in or has lived in Japan) filmed in the USA, or at best, in some far flung part of Japan. It's not Tokyo. Close, but the devil is in the details and the studios fudged this. As much money as is being spent on this show, they could've easily done these scenes in Tokyo for real. Oh, well, it doesn't detract from the overall show.

So if you are looking for good entertainment, these 3 shows are it. Good writing and production makes their genres irrelevant.

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