New Camera

Canon Digital Rebel

After using my trusty Canon Powershot S40 (the camera which took almost every single previous image on this site) for over 2 years, I’ve finally upgraded to a more serious piece of equipment, the Canon EOS 300D, aka the Digital Rebel. This review will give you far more information than you would ever want to know about it, unless like me you engage in painstaking research before making a technology purchase. I took the Rebel with me on my recent trip to Florida, but I don’t yet think I have any pictures worth putting up. I’ll be sure to try and take some good ones soon though.

And now that I’ve got a decent digital SLR camera, I can start pining for the gyro-stabilized telephoto lense.

Progress = Pigeon

When reading an article on the progress of 3G and 4G cellular phone networks I noticed this excert-

OFDM networks at close to 1Gbps, while others like Wi-Lan are showing off connections at high speed, up to 100 kilometers per hour.

Data transmission speeds of 100 kilomoters per hour? It seems a bit slow to me, it must be that IP-over-pigeon tech I’ve been reading about.

Gmail Fever Hits China Social Networks

Thousands of Chinese Internet users are queuing for Gmail accounts up on a BlogChina bulletin board called “Googler.” Despite the fact Gmail users have to hang in limbo for a couple of day, the site has seen hundreds of applicants roll in. A group of Chinese Gmail account holders started the forum to spread Gmail invitations on regular basis. Users who receive invitations are then encouraged to send invitations to fellow bloggers. A number of local social networking sites, including UUzone, have also opened Gmail communities to get the ball rolling. Pacific Epoch managed to sign up for a Gmail account but like many China based Gmail users can only sign in to the site – all other actions generate a “Report bug” response.


North Korea offers free email on the Web-new competition for Gmail?

I’ve known for some time that North Korea aka DPRK(Democractic People’s Republic of Korea) had a basic yet wildly entertaining newswire online at, but after visiting the site again today after a long absence I was pleased to see that they now have much more to offer. According to an undated but presumably recent press release, “The Korea Computer Centre (KCC), the nation’s software hub and local network centre, launched home page Naenara from June Juche 93 (2004).” Juche, incidentally is the name of North Korea’s official state philosophy of self-reliance, propagated by the now-dead but still legally head-of state Kim Il Song and now continued by his gluttonous son Kim Jong Il. Similarly to the way that the year in official dates in Japan is based on the reign of the current emperor (2004 is Heisei year 16, meaning the 16th year of the current emperor), Juche is used as the year label in the DPRK, which Juche year 1 being the year of Kim Il Song’s birth. Back to the main topic; North Korea’s new web presence.
According to their FAQ:


WWW.KCCKP.NET is the biggest Internet site in DPRK that operates as a base of information communication.
It provides useful information concerning whole field of politics, economy and culture of DPRK. North-south relationship has opened up a new stage of development after the historical declaration of Jun.15 Joint Statement attracting the world attention to the Korea’s reunification. Multilateral international relationship including Korea-Russian, Korea-America and Korea-Japan relationship is the focus of the world people’s attention. The reality requires that the world people have a quicker and correct understanding of Korea in order to strengthen the solidarity.

What kind of information is available?
The visitors to our site can gather deep and wide information about Korea. First of all it is possible to know the clear and consistent point of view of DPRK on the current international problems. And it will be helpful for you to know the real situation of Korea.
Membership and information service

Do I need to gain membership?
Of course you may not have a membership. You can browse many information without membership. But it is recommended that you gain a membership in order to enjoy advantage in using our website.

What additional information service is available?

You’ll have your own mail account and make a full use of convenient “Naenara” web mail service. Users can be provided with news and information in concern through “Naenara” e-mail.

How is the user information protected?
The security of user information is fully guaranteed. “Naenara” website regards it as its prime mission to protect privacy. Naenara website has built various security environment and is upgrading it continuously. It uses SSL. The 24-hour monitoring system is on alert to protect the site from hacking and viruses.

tive, but didn’t answer the one question I wanted to know: with a new free email service run according to Kim Jong Il’s interpretation of Stalin’s hard-line communist doctrine, do the capitalist imperialists of Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail have any chance of surviving? Obviously I had to try their email service and make my own assessment. The registration is fairly typical for a web site. I asked my girlfriend to look at the registration and compare the Korean and English versions. She said all of the questions are the same, but the Korean version is extraordinarily polite, actually using the Korean version of the Japanese word ‘sensei’ (which everyone should remember from Karate Kid.) They ask for your real name, a user ID and password with optional hint question, sex, birthday, citizenship and language. They also have optional fields for current email address, telephone numbers, occupation and ‘What do you think of our site?’ Now, it’s common for sites that have a password hint question to give you a list of predefined questions to choose from. is no exception. The choices are: ‘The name of your best friend is…’ ‘The scenary I love most is…’ (type in original) ‘My favorite movie star is…’ “How would Korea change after reunification?’ ‘What will you do when Korea is reunified?’ ‘My favorite movie is…’ By allowing people to choose questions either based on the dream of a unified Korea or Kim Jong Il’s Hollywood film obsession, I think all users will be able to find one that will stick in their head well.

Under the language pulldown menu they have choices for English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, French and Arabic which probably does a good job of covering over 95% of the people on this planet who have a computer, but the country field is a bit strange. First of all, the list of nations in the pulldown menu is in an order that I would have to describe as completely random if Korea were not the first entry, and will therefore have to describe as almost random, there are a couple of surprises in the list. Now, there is nothing strange about them listing only a single ‘Korea’ instead of ‘Republic of Korea’ and ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,’ but I was completely astonished to see that Taiwan is a possible country of citizenship! How can little North Korea’s official government site contain such a slap in the face of the closest thing they have to a sympathetic ally? Luckily, even as a ‘US Imperialist,’ to quote from the news section of the site, I was allowed to register with no greater hassle than finding my countries name in a non-alphabetized list.

I was now the proud owner of the email address! I opened my gmail account and fired off a quick message to my new account so I could see how their interface stacks up, but I ran into a bit of a brick wall when I discovered that the menu-bar item for ‘e-Mail’ does not in fact actually link to anything. After checking around a bit, I realized that the site was full of links which do nothing but open a Javascript application pop-up window with the message ‘Please Wait!’ Sadly, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to use my North Korean communist email account today. I sent them an email, and although I have lost some confidence in their ability to compete with gmail, I can at least take comfort in the message on the contact information page, ‘You’ll be answered within 24 hours. Kind service will be waiting for you.

First year middle school student sent to Juvenile Correction for illicit access to online game

Here’s an English translation I made of an article I spotted on the news wire of the Japanese daily paper Asahi. The article is extremely vague about the technical details of the case, only saying that he managed to gather the passwords by ‘correctly matching alphabetic and other characters.’ I assume the extreme vagueness is the result of a reporter with no technical knowledge and no desire to have any who basically just re-typed the police blotter to fill his daily file quota. I find it a little surprising that a 13 year old boy was actually arrested for this crime, even under Japan’s unforgiving legal system. Have there been any similar cases of people actually being arrested and charged with criminal activity for hijacking a game account in the US or other countries?

An announcement from the Saitama Prefectural Juvenile Guidance Center states that a Yokohama city first year middle school student(13) was taken into corrective custody by Saitama Prefectural police on July 12th for illegally using someone else’s ID to access the online internet game “Ragnarok.”

According to the same office, on December 16th of last year, when the boy was still a 6th year elementary school student, he used the ID and password of a male company worker(27) from Fujimi city in Saitama prefecture to connect illegally to Ragnarok Online from his home computer up to 16 times.

The boy is said to have collected about 140 people’s IDs and password by correctly matching alphabetic and other characters. Since August of last year he had repeatedly used these IDs and password to illegally access Ragnarok Online over 400 times.

“Ragnarok” is a game in which players engage in adventures on the net, where they collect weapons and other equipment to increase their own power. It was created in Korea, and according to the management company has over 500,000 players in Japan.

Gramaphone continued

After having this post linked to by BoingBoing a few days ago I decided it was time to get the site together. I just added an xml link in the sidebar. Since Blogger generates Atom-formatted XML I’m using the Feedburner service to convert it to an RSS 2.0 format, which is far more widely readable. I’m planning on reworking the layout later this week if I can find the time, probably switching to one of Blogger’s newer templates and then doing quite a bit more customization on it than I’ve done on the current one.

About a day and a half before I was linked to BoingBoing I installed a site tracker from which allows me to keep detailed track of visitor statistics. I went from having a fairly small number of mostly friends reading it to getting over 1,000 visitors over the previous few days. Since this system also keeps track of referrals-that is to say, you can tell what site a reader comes from if they came by following a link from another site-I’ve found that following the initial link from the popular BoingBoing there was a sort of ripple as people who had found me through that site posted their own links on smaller sites.

Here we can see I was linked to by a Japanese forum. They actually linked to Chinese Snacks. The conversations mostly consist of people trying to decide which animals are on sticks, and whether or not they would eat them. For the record, there are seahorses, scorpions and cicada. Off-screen there were also starfish kebabs, which are horrifying and silly at the same time, much like the monsters from an HP Lovecraft story.

Some Germans linked to my post on the record player toy here.
According to Google Translations, “Für Fremdsprachidioten hier ne Übersetzun
Kostet übrigens so 38 EUR.” Is translated as “For foreign language idiots here ne translation by the way costs so 38 EUR.” I find it very amusing that the poster finds it likely that a ‘foreign language idiot’ (a.k.a. Fremdsprachidioten) can read my English. Is that a statement on the level of my writing or the high operational level of German idiots?

Berliner’s Gramaphone

This new Japanese product allows you to make your own cds records [embarassing typo fixed] out of scrap material such as old CDs. Link courtesy of Boing Boing. Translated text from the product site is below.

Record/Playback sound on thing like a CD-ROM or lid from a container of instant ramen using a needle and a cup.
Berliner-style turntable gramophone

In the 20th century this round record spread throughout the world as media that could both record and play back sound. The turntable gramophone that was invented by Emile Berliner, Edison’s greatest rival in the field of gramophones, is the ancestor of this product. Recording and playing with a paper cup and a cotton needle, anyone can easily make original records.

Recording and playing with a paper cup and a cotton needle, anyone can easily make original records. Recording, playback – a useless CD-ROM or an instant ramen lid are OK!

Setup takes about one hour. No special tools are needed; anyone can construct it with ease.

Experiment Highlights
Even if you construct it in perfect accordance with the instruction book, the sound quality will still vary for some people. This is because if during the course of making a record even a mere 0.5mm of shake occurs, then there will be an effect on the state of the recording. Whether or not the operations of making a hole in the exact center of the cup or setting the angle of the needle are perfectly performed will appear as differences in the sound.

Due to the setting of the mount when recording, differences in those setting may make gaps between the grooves will be large and repair will be difficult. It can be said that proceeding carefully with construction from the beginning is the most important point for picking up clear sound.

Experimenting With Different Materials for Discs
Smooth surfaced materials such as a CD-ROM pick up better sound. Also, things like Ramen lids or soft files (what is that?) have a different textured material on the back. Compare the recording sound quality of both sides and the fact that smooth surfaces make for better sound will probably be confirmed. Also magazine covers-you might worry about the papers texture, but the hard coating picks up sound clearly.

Materials such as thin aluminum foil bags can be used if you insert something like thick paper or a CD-ROM underneath as a mat. The material of the mat will also affect the sound so all sorts of good experiments are possible.

Also, glossy photographs or postcards can also be used. Two people who both own one of these gramophones could exchange audio messages though the mail by recording on postcards and sending them back and forth.

Series name: Adult Science Series
Product Name: Berliner-style turntable gramophone
Material: Plastic
Product Construction: Parts for assembly, Disc, CD-ROM
Target Age: Middle school students and up
Weight: 670 grams
Box Size (in mm): 212d×160w×123h
Assembled Size(in mm): 185d×150w×180h
Construction time: 1.5 hours
Battery: Type 2 (they use numbers instead of letters in Japan. I can’t recall what size this is in the American battery labeling system)
Items needed in construction: Cellophane tape, Phillips-head screwdriver, Scissors
Produced in: China
Instruction manual: Included