Tag: Japan

iPad saves lives and finger strain

The iPad is not just a tablet PC. It’s a humanitarian, a saver of lives, as vital to doctors and surgeons as those gross latex gloves and scalpels. Your iPhone may be able to stop criminals, but the iPad can save lives.

Japanese surgeons working at the hospital run by Kobe Univeristy used an iPad as the display for a surgery. Clearly Apple fanboys are not prevented from getting a medical degree, and while Japan is well known for the weird and wonderful, flaunting your iPad while cutting someone up has to rank high on the list.

The device is covered by some plastic film. Some may think this is to protect the person going under the knife, but it’s more likely that the doctors wanted to keep their Precious sparkly clean. 

We have attached a video of the docs in action and it looks like they spend more time prodding and pressing the touchscreen on the iPad than they do fixing the poor soul who had the misfortune to visit the hospital on Bring Your iPad To Work Day. 

All we can say is: what a combination of fruits and nuts.

If you’re a doctor that flys a lot then you might be interested in getting your hands on an iPad during a flight from low-cost Australian airline Jetstar. The cheapskates who wouldn’t buy some TV screens for its customers are offering the iPad to rent for 10 Australian dollars, which works out at about 50p.

Jetstar will be providing 30 iPads on each plane, clearly anticipating a Japanese doctors’ conference, and is loading them up with all forms of media, including books, movies, and music. Jetstar hasn’t confirmed if they’ll be putting surgery software on them yet, but we expect it’s only a matter of time.

So if you’re a doctor and your plane crashes on a strange island with polar bears and others, at least you’ll have an iPad to perform surgery on the victims of the crash.

A final strange and spectacular use for the iPad is to turn off your other Apple devices. One fruity fanboy found that placing his iPad on top of his Macbook Pro caused the latter to turn off. It could have been a case of the Macbook getting jealous of its little brother’s popularity and switching off in a huff, but clearly it’s just another feature of the amazing iPad. It can save lives and save you from having to push the power off button on other devices, resulting in much less finger strain. Brilliant.

Pornstar assets will push 3D telly

Japanese porn star Mika Kayama’s assets are being used to get punters panting to the new 3D telly.

Kayama and Yuma Asami, who work for the adult-movie maker S1 No.1Style, are about to star in a deep and meaningful 3D flick which will move the Japanese public to throw off its traditional shackles and plastic post-Marshall Plan society. Nah, not really – “3D X Mika Kayama” and “3D X Yuma Asami” is what you can expect from an upcoming 3D Japanese porn double feature.

While the big telly manufacturers are planning a huge thrust for 3D telly which comes on the back of a revolution in the movie industry, there is some reluctance from punters to swallow the new technology.

Content analyst Yuji Fujimori says 3D porn’s arrival could trigger the success of the new sets.

The Japanese can’t get enough porn. Last year they bought $1.2 billion worth of Adult DVDs which is about 30 percent of the overall video market in the nation. However apparently numbers are slipping. Some think this might be because users have been facing hard times, others belief that the internet is to blame.

Now with the thought of “coming at ya” performances it might be enough to kick start 3D TV sales and give porn industry executives much needed, er, relief.

Bloomberg quoted BRICs Research as saying hat “3-D technology is just what the porn industry needed.”

Sony, the world’s third-largest TV maker, plans to offer 3D Bravia TVs in Japan from June 10 and in the U.S. and Europe later this summer, according to Yuki Shima, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. Panasonic became the first major TV maker to sell high-definition 3-D sets in the U.S. in March and in Japan in April. Sharp Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. have said they plan to sell similar products.

S1 No.1Style spent three months making its first 3-D films, triple the time for a normal production.

The directors told Bloomberg that it was a different filming experience using a new camera. Actors had to move more slowly, furniture had to be relocated and lighting rearranged to make it work. 

Opera releases first quarter figures

Norwegian browser maker Opera disclosed its result for the first quarter today. Opera claimed revenues were generally in line with expectations. OEM revenue from device and mobile clients was slightly better, whereas desktop revenue was a bit lower than expected.

The company posted total sales of 151.4 million Norwegian kroner, or approximately 19 million euro. Back last year, Opera had sales worth 163 million kroner (20.4 million euro). Sales were impacted by currency changes, claimed Opera. Had currencies stayed stable, sales would have increased by three percent year over year.

A net loss of 15.6 million kroner (1.9 million euro) was incurred. Opera states the loss was due to one-time charges of 29.1 million kroner (3.6 million euro) for legal costs and for firing employees, or restructuring, if one wishes to use the EUphemism. Without the pink-slipping costs Opera would have posted a net profit of 5.3 million kroner (664,000 euro), compared to a profit of 16.7 million (2.1 million euro) in the same period of last year. The headcount was reduced from 764 to 707 employees.

Revenue from internet devices fell by 14 percent year over year, from 116 million kroner to 99.4 million kroner (12.5 million euro). Orders from mobile operators employing Opera Mini on handsets was weak in the quarter, due to lower handset shipments and development revenue. Around 55 million unique users browsed internet content from their mobile devices using Opera Mini. In total, 59 million subscribers use Opera Mini on their handsets, an additional 3.5 million use an operator-branded version.

Handset makers such as Samsung or OEMs like Mediatek use Opera Mini on their phones to distribute mobile content and to allow subscribers to surf the net. Major operators use Mini as a network-branded, preinstalled browser. Vodafone, for instance, is employing it in its Vodafone 360 push. Opera is also used as a browser on televisions and set-top boxes.

Desktop revenue, coming from the regular Opera browser, grew by 11 percent from 46.9 million kroner to 52 million kroner (6.5 million euro). Opera’s main source of desktop revenue comes from search behemoth Google, which is the global search partner, apart from a few regional markets. In China, for instance, Baidu is the main search partner, or Yahoo! Japan in – guess where? – Japan. Opera currently is the browser of choice for 52 million users.

Opera said it aims to add volume to its operator business this year, and land deals with additional operators and device makers. It also wants to find a way to monetise the fact that 55 million mobile subscribers use Opera Mini to browse the web. The company also hopes more and more people will start using Opera as their default browser – Opera has already profited from the EU browser-choice splash-screen Microsoft had to install.

Opera will mainly have to aim at growing its already large market share in the mobile arena, and finding a way to make money off of it. Google is set to enter the TV arena and competition in the desktop market is fierce.

NEC announces Valuestar N 3D all-in-one

NEC has today announced its new Valuestar N (VN790/BS) 3D all-in-one computer.

The Valuestar N is a 20-inch 3D-capable desktop display with a resolution of 1,600×900 pixels.

It’s set to be powered by an Intel Core mobile processor, has 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB HDD storage, and built-in 3W speakers. Expansion slots are available to upgrade the memory to 8GB. A TV tuner and remote is thrown in for good measure.

The Valuestar N also comes with a built-in Blu-ray player and can support full Blu-ray 3D content.

It comes with three different 3D software packages: Cyberlink PowerDVD 3D for Blu-ray, I-O DATA DigiCame3D Viewer LE for photos, and I-O DATA DigitalVideo3D Player LE for non Blu-ray videos.

To view anything in 3D a special pair of 3D glasses is required. One is included with the package, while others are available for a further $67 each.

It will be released in Japan next month for a cost of $2,450. An international release date has yet to be confirmed.

Asus is also planning a 3D all-in-one computer, set for release some time in August 2010 for an estimated $2,100. Reports have suggested that it will have a 24-inch display and will use Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology to allow your favourite movie characters to crawl out of the screen.


Valuestar N

Valuestar N

Valuestar N

SpeedTest releases global internet speeds

Speedtest.net is publishing speed test results of internet connections from around the world starting today.

Top of the list for download speeds is South Korea at 33.91Mb/s. South Korea also holds the top spot  for upload speeds 17.95Mb/s. This is not unexpected considering its place in the technology world. North Korea did not feature in the 178 country list at all, which is saying something.

A surprise second place on both fronts is Latvia, with 24.07Mb/s download speed and 12.68Mb/s upload speed. The finds make more sense when we realise just how small Latvia is, with a population of just over two million, making internet coverage an easier feat to achieve. It also most likely spent a lot on infrastructure during the boom years and the country has good coverage from Scandinavian telecommunications operators TeliaSonera, Telenor and Tele2.

Another surprise for third place is the Republic of Moldova with 21.32Mb/s download speed. Moldova is a bit like Latvia in terms of country side and population, so the same things apply there. The Republic of Moldova slumped to number 11 for uploads, however, at 7.11Mb/s.

A non-surprising top player is Japan at fourth place for downloads and third place for uploads. Download speed was 20.43Mb/s and upload speed was 11.10Mb/s. Considering how tech heavy Japan is we would have expected it to have been even higher on the list, perhaps even grappling for first place with South Korea.

Most of the next 30 odd countries on the list were European, but the United Kingdom was all the way down at 35 for download speeds at 7.87Mb/s and an abyssmal 62 for uploads at 1.0Mb/s. Considering the United Kingdom has a population of around 60 million the results are probably not that surprising since the population is spread out over a reasonably big area. A lot of countryside areas are simply not cost-effective places to roll out fibre optic lines. That said, the little village of Lyddington managed to get 40Mb/s broadband for 200 homes by doing it themselves.

The UK’s neighbour, Ireland, had an even worse download slot at 42 at 6.09Mb/s, but a slightly better upload position of 60 at 1.07Mb/s. For a population of just over four million, however, that’s a pretty woeful result, but then Ireland has been lagging behind in rolling out broadband, even if it is one of Europe’s big technology hubs.

Zambia got the last letter in the list at 178 with a dire 0.26Mb/s download speed and 0.03Mb/s upload speed.

Speedtest also provides the top speeds by continent, with Europe top of the list with an average of 8.33Mb/s download speed. North America is second with 7.35Mb/s, and Asia is in third place with 5.72Mb/s. Australasia followed closely with  5. 61Mb/s. South America and Africa got the last two positions with  2.43Mb/s and 1.51Mb/s respectively.

These results are probably not 100 percent accurate, given that they will depend greatly on how many people actually use Speedtest to test their internet speeds. That said, over twenty million tests are taken a month, so there’s certainly a lot of data to go on.

The top 50 can be seen below. The full list can be found here.



Russian mobile operators stop WiMAX roll out

Late last week, Russian WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) operator Yota made a surprise move. The company said it will now deploy LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology as it continues its wireless broadband rollout. The operator had been an early WiMAX proponent and recently rolled out WiMAX service in Nicaragua and Peru.

Yota said that instead of moving ahead with its original plans to roll out WiMAX in 15 new markets, it will roll out TD-LTE in five new markets this year. In a press release Yota’s CEO, Denis Sverdlov said, “Yota is a services company; for us technology is an instrument. It’s clear that the LTE standard is becoming the main trend in wireless communications.” TD-LTE is widely used in China, but is relatively rare in North America.

In the US, since it was founded by cell phone entrepreneur Craig McCaw, Clearwire has been the major proponent of WiMAX. During Clearwire’s start up, McCaw convinced Intel to put in $600 million to back his ideas for a worldwide implementation of WiMAX. Intel’s plans were to offer WiMAX chipsets in all of its laptops. Along the way, Clearwire and Sprint had an on-again, off-again relationship. In 2008, that relationship evolved into Sprint’s majority stake in Clearwire. Sprint now resells Clearwire’s WiMAX infrastructure. Sprint recently announced its Android based , HTC Evo 4G WiMAX capable smartphone for shipment later this summer.

Last fall, it was estimated that Clearwire could need up to $3 billion in new funding to complete its current build out plans covering 120 million potential customers by the end of next year. That funding was expected to come from Sprint Nextel, which owns 51 percent of Clearwire, and the rest likely to be from either its cable partners or possibly from T-Mobile USA. Clearwire has WiMAX live in 27 markets while LTE hasn’t launched yet commercially in the US. However, Verizon and AT&T have committed to LTE for 2011.

Last year at Intel’s IDF keynote speech, David Perlmutter, VP of Intel’s mobility group, said in part: “We have (WiMAX) networks being built in North America, in Russia, in Japan … We are building with our partners’ networks in other places like India, Malaysia, Taiwan. And many, many other places have all sorts of mobile and fixed WiMAX all over the globe.”

Just a few weeks ago, Intel and Clearwire revised their WiMAX technology agreement giving Clearwire the option of also adopting LTE. The original Intel agreement required Clearwire to exclusively use WiMAX. Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow said Clearwire had not made any decisions regarding LTE. But, it has an RFP (Request For Proposal) that has many options including how to run both LTE and WiMAX on the same network.

The Indian WiMAX market was, up until recently, looked at as one of the easy prizes for WiMAX to win. Last week after 34 days of 183 rounds of bidding, India concluded the auction of its 3G mobile spectrum. This week, the next phase of India’s BWA (broadband wireless access) is in full swing. The contenders for the 4G spectrum are companies backing either LTE or WiMAX. Earlier this year everybody thought WiMAX would take home most of India’s 4G BWA spectrum. Now, maybe not.

Yota’s decision may have a profound impact on India’s 4G auction. Monday’s RCR Wireless has an excellent analysis of the Indian BWA. They said that, “What looked like a sure thing for WiMAX, suddenly looks anything but …”

Professor Willie Lu, Director of US Center for Wireless Communications in Palo Alto, California, has been a leader in mobile radio theory. Lu has six axioms of wireless communications. The first is “No single Radio Transmission Technology (RTT) can do both Broadband High-speed and Seamless Mobility in a commercial environment.” The background of “Lu’s Laws” will be fully explained at an upcoming conference in San Francisco.  

Yota’s decision can be seen as the next evolutionary step as more and more wireless carriers are moving in the direction of 4G dual-mode topology. However, Intel might see it as poking a hole in its WiMAX life raft.  

Global IT spending recovers, on the up

International Data Corporation (IDC) has shown that IT spending has bounced out of the recession and is continuing to grow globally, though the European market is a weak spot.

The forecast says that worldwide IT spending will increase by just under four percent this year at the constant currency, to $1.47 trillion. Hardware will be the main focus on spending with an overall growth of 6.4 percent globally, though software and service spending will increase by 3.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. China and India have been particularly quick to get investing in new products to support export growth. China can expect to see a growth rate in spending of 13.7 percent, while it is predicted that India will see a 13.8 percent increase.

All is not well everywhere, though. In the EU, the crisis in Greece has sent eyebrows raising about short-term growth. The IT market in Western Europe is recovering, slowly, but IT spending will likely remain flat throughout the year. Japan hasn’t been doing well, either, with IT spending set to decline by 2.2 percent this year.

An economist at IDC, Anna Toncheva, reckons that the risky markets will stay risky. She said in a statement: “There will be a period of intense exchange rate volatility” as money immigrates from Europe to the US.

Fujitsu accuses ex-president of Yakuza ties

Fujitsu has fallen afoul of its ex-president, Kuniaki Nozoe, after he and a couple of mates were accused of ties to Yakuza and Japanese organised crime, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Fujitsu apparently accused Mr. Nozoe of failing to heed a warning about getting involved with an investment fund linked with mobsters. Mr. Nozoe claims Fujitsu bigwigs approached him on the day he resigned, last September, and specifically named two investment bankers of the company Sandringham Private Value KK, pointing out ties to Yakuza.

Sandringham Private Value is now demanding 330 million yen, or about $3.5 million, for compensation to damages against its name. It is also seeking a public apology in the form of an advert.

Fujitsu has refused to comment so far because it has not received official notice of the lawsuit. However, it has strongly denied that it said Sandringham has ever had connections to organised crime. A taped conversation between Fujitsu board members and Mr. Nozoe would disagree, though, say plaintiffs.

Sandringham says that it is feeling the hit from the accusations – claiming that the markets it operates in, at home and abroad, have seen its reputation plummet.

There's gold in them thar Taiwanese hills

A gold rush between 1850 and 1949 fuelled a heap of mines in Taiwan – or as it was then known, Formosa. But the vein was all washed out when we visited Ruifang on our last full day in Old Taipei.

Japan invaded the ROC (Republic of China) in 1904, and intensified efforts to extract the gold before they were cast adrift in the wake of the Second Great War.

The mining area is now a resort for tourists and indeed when we were there on Saturday, the place was milling with people, even though the rain was teeming down. There was serious danger from weapons in the hands of people unable to wield them properly, that is to say umbrellas.

The miners must have had such a gas! The last picture shows the first kinema, sorry cinema opened in Taiwan (ROC).

Tapei Seaside

Seaside Gold Mines

Mike pic

Mike's pic

Gold Mines

The poor bloody miners

Total ban on bluefin tuna considered

A two week meeting began this weekend to determine the fate of endangered species across the world amid a series of bitter international feuds.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) kicked off yesterday in Qatar with 1,500 delegates from 175 nations meeting to discuss proposals aimed at combating the threat of extinction faced by animals such as the bluefin tuna.

The conference, administered by the United Nations, will also focus on other contentious issues including the repeal of the prohibition on trading ivory, which is also the source of much heated debate.  

“2010 is a key year for biological diversity,” said UN under-secretary general and executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner. “By ensuring that the international trade in wildlife is properly regulated, CITES can assist in conserving the planet’s wild fauna and flora from over-exploitation and thus contribute to the improved management of these key natural assets for sustainable development.”

Perhaps the most controversial debate has centred on a move to impose a total ban on the fishing of bluefin tuna.  Numbers of the fish have plummeted in the past decades with 90 percent of Atlantic stocks being lost as the result of over fishing and there are serious fears for the longevity of the species according to conservationists.  The best hope for the bluefin is to be put on the CITES Appendix I list of worldwide trade banning.

“The bluefin tuna crisis is one of the most visible examples of how badly we have abused our oceans in recent years, and a damning indictment on the state of global fisheries management,” claimed Oliver Knowles of Greenpeace International. “An Appendix I listing is perhaps the last hope for this highly impressive and important fish. Governments must vote the right way.”

The move, tabled by international minnows Monaco, is being fiercely contested by Japan, where 80 percent of the world’s bluefin tuna is consumed.  In a small country where fish is traditionally the most plentiful supply of protein due to low numbers of livestock, bluefin tuna has become the most sought after in the world with prices for a single fish able to reach upwards of $100,000.

Japan has declared that even if there is a decision to enforce a ban it will continue with what many Japanese see as part of their culture and proceed to flout any rules, a viable option under legislation from the 1973 convention.  The national reaction to CITES plans has been highly negative, with public demonstrations taking place in Japan against the prospect of being deprived of their highly prized bluefin, which to put in English terms would be roughly similar to the reaction to prohibiting the sale of donner kebabs in Luton town centre.

However it appears as though sashimi lovers across the world will have to prepare to curb their expensive habits as it is likely that a ban will take place.  According to the secretary general of CITES, Willem Wijnstekers there is substantial support for the ban. “I don’t think anyone has an argument against the listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna. There is no scientific argument against that.”