Panasonic Advanced Technology

I visited the Matsushita (Panasonic) technology center in Osaka today with some friends.  At Matsushita, I got to see a number of new technologies that are either my right now or will soon be released.

Home automation

Quite a few of them work with a 3g cell phone. One example is their intercom system. A person rings the bell at your house and if you do not answer it in a certain amount of time, your phone rings and you can see and hear the person you are talking to. You can also let them into the house if you want to.

Next generation optical media

They also showed is some new optical disk burners using blue lasers. These might replace our current DVD to support greater storage capacity and higher definition video.  Panasonic says that their blue laser technology will eventually hold up to 500GB on a single disk.  They are the same size as a DVD, 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick.

Audio / Video Technology

We saw advanced appliances with network connections and a TV that could interface with everything. You could see the video from various cameras or interface with wireless accessories like karaoke microphones or wireless surround sound. They had a 3d TV but you had to use glasses for it to work.

Bathroom Technology

Naturally, there was a super toilet there which can read body temperature, weight, and body fat as well as do all the things Japanese toilets do now. I was not allowed to take pictures but here is a picture of me in the lobby.

Vanderburg at Panasonic

Sony Minidisc

Will Apple supplant Sony in the Japanese music market?

I see that Apple iPods are getting popular in Japan. It makes me wonder if iPods will eventually supplant the Sony MiniDisc in Japan.  The most popular music device in Japan is still the MiniDisc. I see everyone carrying a MiniDisc and listening to them on the train but following MiniDisc in far second is the iPod.

I went to the Apple store in Osaka over the weekend and it was really nice. It is a large metal building that looks like one of their machines with a large glowing white apple on the side. Like most places here, the building is many levels but it is very classy with glass staircases and nice lighting with plenty of sales associates. They have an area with bean bags where you can try apple machines on the second floor. I found that I could buy Apple software in English too. I really want to upgrade my operating system but everything was very expensive so I did not get the software. I will need to shop on eBay or something if I ever want to upgrade.

I found that I could buy Apple software in English too. I really want to upgrade my operating system but everything was very expensive so I did not get the software. I will need to shop on eBay or something if I ever want to upgrade.

Apple ibook

Disproportionate Apple Mac use from foreigners in Japan

It is really interesting to see how many people have Apple computers here. Apple Macintosh computers are really popular among the foreign ex-patriots, students, and teachers in Japan. I figured after I met the first one that I would not meet many more but there are actually a number of people living in my apartment complex who brought Macs with them rather than PCs. One of my students saw that I had a Mac and asked me if Macs were more popular than PCs in the US because he noticed so many people from the US with Macs. I told him that they only made up about 2-3% of computer sales and that I was just as confused about it as he is.

Apple Browser support

I was sad because Gmail does not support the old version of Safari (the web browser for Mac) and the new version of Safari requires a newer version of the Macintosh operating system. Internet Explorer: Mac is not supported either. I heard that Mozilla Firefox supported Gmail but I wondered if the Mac version did so I downloaded it and tried it last night. Sure enough, it worked just find and now I can check my Gmail account using wireless networks near my building. The latest version of Firefox is rather nice too. It has tabbed browsing. This is where multiple browsing windows can be condensed to a series of tabs at the top of the program. It was a feature that made me use the Opera browser for a while. You can even get mouse gestures another feature I liked in Opera through a downloadable extension. I think I may switch to Firefox on my PC too.

*Justin: you might want to try it out.* Click to download it for PC. DOWNLOAD

If you decide to use Firefox and want to get the RSS for this blog, go to the Bookmarks menu and select ‘Manage Bookmarks’. Under the ‘File Menu’, select ‘New Live Bookmark’. Create a name for the Live Bookmark and add the URL specified in this old blog entry.



Kobata to the Rescue: No more conflicts with the Internet install and the Shinkansen

I talked to Kobata and he was able to get the NTT (Nihon Telephone and Telegraph) installers to come a little earlier. I got out of work at 1:00 and I am going to head back to the apartment soon. I should be able to barely make it in time. This should allow enough time for me to get to Shin-Osaka station in time to catch the Shinkansen.

I can catch one of two trains to Okayama. One is named Nozomi. That is the same name as a friend of mine. I am going to give Mayumi a call when I get to Shin-Osaka so she will know when to pick me up at the Okayama station. After today, I will probably not update the blog till Sunday night because I am not sure if I will use the Internet where I am staying in Okayama.

NTT will only provide Internet access to computers whose manufacturer has a service center in Japan. It was a good thing that I brought both my Mac and PC because my PC does not have a service center here. NTT hooked up my Mac and then I figured I would configure the PC later. I am very glad that I bought the Macintosh and decided to bring it here because otherwise, I would be without an Internet connection at all.

My ADSL connection uses PPPoE (Point to Point over Ethernet) with proprietary software to connect to the Internet. Because of this, I was unable to get my PC hooked up directly.

Instead, I tried to share the connection by using a wireless network. I configured Internet sharing on the Mac and then tried to connect using the PC. However, I am using the first version of Mac OSX and it does not integrate well with PCs. I could not get the PC to connect properly.

This is a problem because I was planning on communicating via voice and video with everyone back home. The MSN Messenger for Mac does not support video and voice. I downloaded a version of Skype for Mac but it requires MacOS 10.3 and I am running the old version. I did find out that the new version of AIM supports video in both Windows XP and for Apple iChat 2.1. I have to check my iChat version but I may be able to communicate that way. Still, there is one more problem. My Creative Webcam Notebook does not have drivers for MacOS so I will probably have to buy another camera that does have support.

Just so everyone knows, I am working on finding a solution to the problem. Hopefully, I will be communicating easily soon after I get back.


Internet in Japan…Finally

NTT will set up my Internet tomorrow at 2:00. I wish they could set it up today. It is going to be tough for me because I have to leave on the Shinkansen tomorrow. If it takes too long, Alexander will watch the rest of it and then lock my room for me. I hope it does not come to that. I will not really be online until Sunday night when I get back from Okayama.


Living without Keitai (Cell Phone)

Did I ever mention how expensive cell phones are here, or Keitai as the Japanese call them?

I had this thought in the back of my mind that I would get a cell phone and then use it back in the United States also. The cell phones here are years ahead of anythings we have in the USA. Keitai have dictionaries, great email service, maps and directions, high-quality cameras, advanced messaging capabilities, and really large LCD screens.

Completely different companies provide keitai in Japan such as Docomo and Vodafone.

The disadvantage is that most people pay between $50 -$60 per month for keitai service and then pay for minutes on top of that.  Also, to get a keitai, you have to sign up for a year. In the United States, I pay $10 a month and I don’t pay for minutes.  I do have a contract though.