Rekindling with childhood activities fifteen-some year later… Turns out unlike bicycle, you do forget ice-skating. Couple hours later I was merely happy to stay up and move forward at a reasonable speed without breaking any bones. We’ll leave the figures for next year…

During Winter, Kyoto Aquarena (near Saiin, in the South-West of the city) turns its very large swimming pool into an ice-skating rink. Entrance is ¥1400 and skate rental is ¥600.

Pro-tip: show up after 5 on weekends and you get discount entrance and considerably less kids running into you at every turn (crowd thins out after 4 and they cut the ice again at 5).

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After spending 30 minutes figuring out what needed fixing on a friend’s freshly updated (and no longer working) Softbank iPhone, I figured I would commit the instructions to this blog, for all the hapless gaijin out there, trying to figure out why their iPhone suddenly stopped working.

This post is purely intended for a Google audience, so please skip if you are a regular reader with none of the aforementioned iPhone issues.

The PoS cellphone I use when travelling abroad has the bad habit of accidentally triggering all sorts of functions when I forget to explicitly lock the keyboard (stupid brick-body designs). Instead of staying nicely asleep in my pocket, it will kill time by calling random contacts from my address book or navigate half a dozen menu down to some obscure settings…

Last week, upon glancing at my message logs by chance, I realised it decided to send half a dozen empty messages to the first contact in my address book. It then topped that series with an audio SMS: 30 seconds of muffled sounds from whatever crowded bar I must have been in, that night.

All that while using a throwaway number on a prepaid German SIM card (thus unknown from most of the people in my address book).

Meanwhile in Europe, my friend Abigail is probably ever so slightly worried by that mysterious German caller who sent her all these creepy empty messages.

a.k.a. “We really have no idea how we still are in business, but it shouldn’t last much longer…”

When it comes to services and subscriptions (cellphone, ISP, banks, heroin dealer…), I am a company’s wet dream customer: one that never leaves for a competitor. Not that I develop any particularly fuzzy feeling for whatever nameless corporation happened to have a branch on the right street-corner on the right day, but when it comes to going through endless paperwork again, moving my account data, updating everything: I just. can’t. be. arsed.

Which is why I have been a faithful customer of AU for over 5 years: not because they are great (Docomo is cheaper, Softbank has better phones…) but because I will always endure a sizable share of customer abuse and groundless fees, rather than having to track all my friends and acquaintances to send them my new contact info (and when you think of it: these things have a price too, so I am not doing it all out of pure apathy).

Why won’t I be a customer of theirs for another 5 years, then? Well, read on and learn how a company loses a customer without even noticing it.

As part of an elaborate not-getting-laid-at-all-cost strategy, I spent the best of my Friday night hacking at home on a whim, bravely ignoring 1am drunken phone calls from a lonely ex, I didn’t stop until I basically had a working prototype.

And thus here you go:
Dr Dave’s Keitai Kanji Multiradical Dictionary!

Of course, you can use this dictionary from any browser, but it has been made especially compact, so as to offer convenient browsing on a small keitai screen.

Why bother making yet another multiradical dictionary when Jim Breen (and many others, most likely) already offers a very decent one on his site?

Two reasons:

  1. I wanted one that be easy to use from a keitai. Jim Breen’s is still a bit heavy to load and browse with a small screen.
  2. I wanted a smarter system for radical selection. All the systems I’ve seen so far let you choose your radicals from a checkbox list of all common radicals. Such a list can be quite long. This makes finding each radical quite tedious and particularly cumbersome on a keitai. Mine use a slightly different approach, that requires at least some knowledge of basic kanjis, but make it much faster then.

Instructions

Fairly obvious, really:

  • Screen 1: enter a string of kanjis. Can be any kanjis containing one of the radical you want to match or directly a radical. In practice, this means you should pick kanjis that look similar to the one you are trying to match… Say, you want to figure out [汾], you could enter [分] and [海]…
  • Screen 2: you will get a list of all radicals matching any of the kanjis entered previously (in our example, you’d get: [ハ], [刀], [母] and [汁]). Select the ones that belong to the kanji you are looking for (e.g. [ハ], [刀] and [汁]). Optionally, enter a number of stroke, with a margin of error (if you want to get any stroke count, do not change the ‘all’ value).
  • Screen 3 will give you a list of all kanjis (if any) containing all the radicals selected in the previous screen, ordered by frequency and stroke count (in our example, you’d get only the kanji you were initially looking for: [汾]). Along with the kanji, you are given stroke count and unicode value. Clicking on the kanji will do a word search in WWWJIC (translations). Clicking on the unicode value, will give you WWWJDIC’s Kanjidic entry (kanji pronunciation keys and data).

This script has been successfully tested with AU’s EZweb, but should work on any net-enabled keitai, please let me know if you encounter any problem. Suggestions and general comments most welcome.

Hope you’ll find it useful, I know I will!

Note: As usual, this project uses extensively the amazing amount of data gathered and made available by the EDRG on Jim Breen’s website.

Because we all need an entry filled with pointless acronyms and meaningless technical gibberish every once in a while…

As you may remember, and despite my recent vow never to trust technology again, I recently purchased a brand new keitai.

For those of you without a geeky masochistic streak who do not intend on reading the whole tedious entry, let me give you a quick sum-up: this in-depth report on the merits and shortcomings of AU’s W21T model is split into three main sections: 1) All the features that makes it so great 2) Why you can’t do crap with all these features and that sucks 3) How I intend to break my way through these silly limitations.

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Sunday, I took my roommate Eriko on a record-shopping spree in Shibuya.

The principal goal of our expedition was not for me to pack up on yet more records that I will probably have to leave behind when I move, but rather to help her get started with her career as a world-renowned DJ.

People coming over and asking you to “teach them how to DJ”, is pretty much par for the course whenever you start playing outside of your bedroom. This is how everybody get started, this is how I got started… You pick a DJ you know or that you particularly like and humbly go asking for advice and guidance.

DJ’ing, in that respect, still holds much of that old “master-apprentice” tradition that you get, both in western and Japanese craftsmanship.

But enough with the Mr. Miyagi bullcrap: Eriko didn’t turn to me because she was blinded by my turntablism wizzardry and had a striking revelation in the middle of a dancefloor. Rather because we live under the same roof and she couldn’t help but become increasingly curious about the pleasure I seemed to draw from playing with all these colorful knobs in my bedroom.

Note: If you didn’t grin stupidly upon reading that last sentence, you are way too pure to be reading this blog and have probably lived a very sheltered life so far.

Anyway, after explaining that she probably didn’t need to get the full Midi keyboard and TB-303 kit just right now, I gave her the usual drill. In a nutshell: “Sure, go for it, but not with my records, please”.

Hence the trip to the store, hence the last two days spent enduring the same continuous soundtrack of mismatched beats from the same two records for hours on end…