Graphical Abstraction and Political Correctness

When we talk about anime and other graphical medium, both Western and Japanese (I’m not speaking of other cultures, because I simply don’t know well about them) features abstraction when they are drawn.

In Japan, it could be anime, and also chibi characters such as Nendoroid. Though a lot of features on those characters are abstracted drastically to the extent they don’t resemble typical humanoid figures, there is one part Japanese characters that rarely, if not never abstracted.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s number of fingers. Except for cases where fingers are not drawn at all. (e.g. it is too small, or illustrated someone standing very far.)

Let’s go back and take a look at Nendoroid again, take a look at this character. This particular character is 6.5cm high, so it’s still small, yet features 5 fingers. It is also obvious work like Shin-chanclearly shows 5 fingers.

It’s interesting to see some contrast to shows in the US, for example, take a look at Family Guy. You can see Peter’s hand are drawn with four fingers. (three where his thumb is not shown.)

This 4 finger figure seems to be quite popular in animated series in the US. For example though it is not really a illustration of human, humanoid characters in Spongebob Squarepants are shown with same style as well as the Simpsons.

This probably comes from difference in cultural sensitivities and political correctness to people who actually do not have one more fingers between Japanese culture and Western culture. (Perhaps Japanese culture is oversensitive about this.) But it is interesting to see the difference.

On Japanese E-mail Mannarism

One of Japanese “E-mail mannerism” article is causing bit of arguments on twitter. Idea is that the article is saying that one should be suffixed with sama (Japanese Mr./Ms.) to names showing up in “TO” header, which a lot of people claim it is bad know-how.

I actually believe it is very bad idea. Simply because TO headers are not context sensitive. For example, say, someone sends you E-mail with you referred with suffix of sama, among with your colleague in CC, each with same sama suffix. You reply to that E-mail and suddenly, what you see your colleague referred as sama and other person referred without that suffix. It is considered rude that you refer your colleague with sama suffix, when you are talking someone outside of your organization, and further more, it is of course considered rude you don’t put the sama suffix for addressee, if you are appending the suffix at all, it is very inconvenient.

Some other things considered part of E-mail manner in Japan with my take on them:

  • Don’t send things in formatted E-mail (as long as it’s not WINMAIL.DAT, it should be fine these days — but also append text version of the E-mail. Most software do this automatically if you send in formatted mail.)
  • In the body, address recipient with his or her company name, department, and name. (Many people do address someone this way. I don’t do it for few reasons. First it’s redundant, and second, it risks recipient’s personal information when it happened to be delivered to someone else. I even omit this completely for quick responses.)
  • Introduce yourself on the every E-mail. (Not necessary bad idea, but I don’t personally do it unless I’m sending E-mail to someone for very first time, or case it is first E-mail in very long time.)
  • Include your full name, E-mail address, company name, company address, company URL, etc. as a signature (I think name and company is enough. There’s privacy implications as E-mail is not necessary private. I also put in statement that the message may be signed because I do sign E-mail, and to prevent confusion when signature.asc ends up in the E-mail — which is not applicable for everyone.)
  • Put in line break often. (I think this is stupid. Because putting in line break will cause ugly display when someone adjust their window size. I’m not opposing putting in extra line between topics.)

Nanoscale Yagi Antenna

Apparently, nano scale Yagi-Uda antenna can be used to direct optical wave, which makes sense considering light is just high frequency wave, much much higher than radio wave. For those not into radio, antenna optimal for higher frequencies are smaller, so one that can emit or receive optical light would be nanoscale like this.

Naturally, I’d wonder what kind of SWR they were getting. (SWR: Standing Wave Ratio — when you put in energy into antenna from the transmitter, part of energy comes back. 1:1, which means same level of wave coming back to radio is considered optimal, and anything higher than 1.5:1 are generally considered bad. It can potentially destroy the transmitter…)

Wonder if they can make Hentenna version of nano antenna.

How Painful

Argh, this is painful. I don’t go into arguments if the lamp would have a feeling or not. (I don’t personally think so.) But I feel like sentiments of appreciating everyday thing is important.
If people don’t feel bad about throwing working items, we’d be full of garbage really. (which sadly, is what’s happening in many part of the world…)

Fun with Master Documents on OpenOffice.org

Master Documents, such an underutilized part of OpenOffice.org is actually very useful tool when you have to write documents more than few pages.

Master Document is basically special version of OpenOffice.org Writer window that let you combine multiple documents to make one document. It is very nice as you could be editing chunk of each file, then combine them into one large document.

This approach is especially useful when you create documents containing a lot of graphics. Having a lot of graphic can consume quite a bit of memory, and you may find it slow to edit the file. This wouldn’t be too much of problem if you are just editing few pages, but it is when you edit hundreds of pages.

Other benefit of this is that you don’t have to worry about formatting when you are writing. You can apply formatting globally after you have done writing. This way, you can focus on contents, and then you can have consistent formatting of the document when you are ready to create a final document.

JASRAC to Collect Copyright Fee for Singing on Twitter?

There have been some shock in Japanese internet users when Mizuo Sugawara, the director of Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers also known as JASRAC, said posting portion of lyric on Twitter can be subject to copyright fee payment. It seems to be bit ambiguous how this can be enforced, as what constitute singing in twitter can be very difficult to determine. You could be unknowingly using part of lyric without realizing about it.

I think JASRAC will be more likely be seeking for blanked licensing, similar to what they have done for YouTube and Last.fm.

That’s quite interesting, as I’m affiliated with ASCAP, which is in agreement with JASRAC, if someone sings my creation on twitter, do I get a piece of pie, too?

Fun with WINMAIL.DAT (not)

Someone told me of this problem when certain people reply to him, he does not see reply, but rather his own copy of the E-mail. (appears if the E-mail was resent back at him, but with recipient’s E-mail address.)

Investigating problem, I concluded this is bad implementation of Microsoft Outlook and also non-standard behavior of recipient’s E-mail system.

So here’s what happened. When he sent out his E-mail, it sends out winmail.dat, and that particular recipient was sending back original attachment, in this case winmail.dat back at sender when that person replies.

Winmail.dat, for those not familiar with it, is Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format which sounds like some sort of standard, but really is proprietary format used by Microsoft Outlook. When you send E-mail containing any RTF, the text of E-mail and its attachments are encoded into this format, and attached as winmail.dat.

It seems to be Microsoft Outlook reads winmail.dat higher priority than anything on the body of a E-mail, even when contents of these differs. Therefore, receiving original winmail.dat with reply caused Microsoft Outlook to display contents of winmail.dat (the original message) rather than contents of the body. (the reply)

Now, while I don’t think sending attachment with reply is a good thing, this same problem can potentially happen if someone forward E-mail with attachment, so I think Microsoft should be blamed on this case. In fact, this kind of problem is main reason I never use Microsoft Outlook. I had to use it at my work while ago, but I’d be trying to find some work around to not use it if I was forced to use one in future… Really, I never understood reason why they have to send E-mail in RTF at first hand, while there’s clear alternative of HTML for formatted E-mail. (Microsoft Outlook does support HTML E-mail, so why not dropping RTF?) Furthermore, encoding attachment into a proprietary format should be serious crime, really.

Searching for solution, I found out that KB958012 is a solution to this problem. This article explains the way to edit registry to disable Microsoft Outlook’s behavior of attaching winmail.dat. So here’s a question I want ask Microsoft. Why did you not include this option in options screen on the program, rather than forcing users search through your knowledge base to offer registry fix? Also, you should never ever allow winmail.dat on the internet E-mail. (I don’t want receive them either) What you’d be doing between users in your Exchange server is fair game; but at least use of winmail.dat should be whitelist basis.

New Music: Hideki’s Theme

New music, called Hideki’s Theme is now available for listening, and for purchase if you feel like it. (You can listen to full track in various places; but if you are inclined, thank you for your support!)

This song is just as offbeat as my other pieces. I got this idea of making theme music for myself, although I’m not very sure if this reflects myself!

TWYFO and Anti-Otaku Politics

The word Otaku is Japanese word is equivalent to nerd in Japanese.

Although, the word Otaku often carries not negative, and even positive elements in many countries, this word tend to be negative when it is used in Japan. The attempt to laws like Tokyo’s recent audience can be also observed as anti-otaku movement.

It is highly speculated these movements are nothing more than discrimination against Otakus as well as people who are into Akihabara cultures. In fact Governor Ishihara of Tokyo prefecture did openly stated that “it is responsibility of government to regulate Kimo-Ota (Disgusting-Otaku) who are pervert likes non-wholesome works.”

The reason currently proposed regulation like TWYFO is highly controversial as this can be arbitrarily enforced to suppress what they define Kimo-Ota.

While decision of adopting this ordinance has been deferred for mean time, Japan Pen Club, the group of about 100 book publishers joined in a force of opposing this ordinance.

When you die…

Not that I’d care so much once I die, but it seems to be people being able to dig into my Gmail account is somewhat disturbing to think about.

I feel Facebook is taking most progressive approach to it.

I think most problematic ones are ones incur charges. When my father died, he left the Google AdWord account open, and I had to send in his death certificate to cancel it. Same goes for his T-mobile account. They both had clear protocol about what to do when it happens. (like T-mobile did not charge early termination fee (ETF) for it.

These days, dying “clean” seems to be hard thing to do…