Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Japanese ship naming has more to do with poop than circles

This post, that I found via Japan Soc, and subsequent discussion inspired me to look more into why Japanese ship names tend to end in "maru" (丸), which means circle or circular.

Years ago, I too thought it related to the (hopefully) circular nature of ship's journey and was symbolic of a ship's return to port.  However, I had never read or heard this explanation in Japanese.  While the reason that many modern ship names are appended with maru is quite clearly due to a Meji-era law (船舶ノ名称ニハ成ルベク其ノ末尾ニ丸ノ字ヲ附セシムベシ - Whenever possible, ship names should be ended with the character "maru"), nobody knows the exact origin of maru.

So I started searching in Japanese for explanations and kept track of the frequency that a particular explanation was cited.  Finally, after wasting much time that could have been better spent whining about softbank, I came up with my own theory, the Poop Hypothesis.

According to the Poop Hypothesis, the original Japanese for poop, maro, was changed to maru in the year 1187 due the spherical nature of "the floater."  Ship builders in ancient Japan, a superstitious lot who were notoriously bad at their jobs, were absolutely incapable of accepting the fact that their ships simply did not float.  Rather, they chose to believe that the nefarious yet relatively foolish Demons of Sinking (沈没鬼) were responsible for their misfortune.  Thus, they determined the best way to ward off the Demons of Sinking was to name each ship poop, thereby embodying the spirit of the floater into each of their creations.  Because the Demons of Sinking are not only stupid, but also well known to despise foul smells, it was also believed this would trick the demons into thinking that Japanese ships were, in fact, sh*t.  Japanese shipbuilding skill coincidentally increased markedly, and one, perhaps two, ships actually made it to the Korean peninsula (and back), where they learned that the term for government office was maru.  Because the corresponding term in Japanese, kancho (官庁), has the same sound as both the Japanese name for ship's captain (艦長) and the common practice of samurai children (who are typically nicknamed maru) to stick their fingers in places they really shouldn't, this ultimately resulted in the proclamation in the year 1900 that all ships, henceforth, be called poop, when at all possible.  This explains the modern term for bedpan, omaru (御虎子), and the Japanese fascination, in general, with poop. 

More seriously, I found eleven distinct explanations that I grouped into four categories: ship personification, ship structure, shipping/invasion, and superstition.  Below is a brief explanation of each theory.  According to many explanations, maru is derived from maro.

Personification of prized personal possessions (愛称/人格/幼名)
In the Heian Era, "maro" (麻呂 or 麿) was used to refer to oneself, like "watashi" (私).  According to many explanations, maro was eventually changed to maru.  Prized possessions, such as a beloved dog, one's sword, etc., were often personified with maru.  In addition, childhood names of samurai were often also suffixed with maru, such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豐臣 秀吉), who was known as Hiyoshi-maru (日吉丸) as a child.

Castles (城)
This explanation stems from a similarity in structure with castles.  The inner and outer citadels were referred to a hon-maru (本丸) and ni-no-maru (二の丸).

Spherical (球形)
Something with a spherical shape is unlikely to sink (assuming it's hollow), so this explanation maintains that maru was used to ward off sinking.

Timber (丸太)
Ships were typically constructed from timber sill in "log form" (There has to be a better translation of 丸太), hence the maru suffix.

Toi-maru (問丸)
Toi-maru is the name of what would probably best be translated as wholesalers, but the word seems to have a wider meaning.  In modern Japanese, wholesalers are toi-ya or ton-ya/don-ya (問屋).  Obviously, wholesalers are connected with shipping.

Nippon-maru (日本丸)
Toyotomi Hideyoshi renamed the Kishuku-maru (鬼宿丸) to Nippon-maru and invaded the Korean peninsula in 1592.  It is said that this popularized maru in ship naming.  However, the Bando-maru (坂東丸) from the Heian Era is the first ship known to have used this type of name.

Korean (朝鮮語)
Apparently the word for government office (役所 or 官庁) in Korean is/was "maro" or perhaps "maru", which is where the maru ending comes from.

Poop (御虎子)
Omaru is the word for bedpan or child's potty.  To ward off evil spirits, maru was appended to children's names, as well as prized possessions.  Several explanations also claim that maro meant poop.

Hakudo-maru (白童丸)
According to Chinese legend, the diety Hakudo-maru descended to Earth and taught Emperor Huangdi (黄帝) to build ships.  Ships are named with maru in tribute.

Luck (幸運)
This made me lol and is clearly a joke.
丸は幸運のキーワード。船だと大漁、他だと商売繁盛、人気アップ、成績アップなどがあります。 ゴルフの丸山、巨人のマルティネス、モーニング娘(?)。などがその例です。 なお、副作用としてモー娘。の安倍なつみのように丸々と太ってくるといった現象も起きます。ダイエットが必要です。
Circles (丸 ◯)
I actually found one explanation in Japanese about the safe return of a ship, but the person who wrote it doesn't seem to think it is true.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Docomo suspends sales of T-01A due to problems connecting to emergency services
NTT docomo announced on the 18th that it is temporarily suspending sales of the Toshiba T-01A handset. Due to a software problem, it may not be able to connect to emergency service numbers such as 110 and 119.  29,000 of the 50,000 handsets sold are affected.  Those who have purchased this handset should contact docomo for a fix.  Docomo has not determined when to resume sales.  Toll free contact number 0120-456-090.

The problem seems to be limited to handsets running Windows Mobile 6.1, though it does not seem to be a problem with Windows Mobile.  Another phone was similarly affected.

Xperia display at Docomo shop in Tokyo

A friend just sent me these photos from his cell phone.  I was hoping this means it will be available sooner, but that doesn't seem to be the case, so all of you looking for a new phone will still have to wait until April.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

AU gets Android

AU announced an Android phone today.  Details are virtually nonexistent, but from June, a new Android and WinMo phone will be on sale. Also, like Docomo, AU will be offering an application market.

Thanks to Matteo for the heads up about the Engadget article, from which I stole the above image ;-)

press release pasted below.
KDDI、沖縄セルラーは、個人のお客さま向けに初めてAndroid OS搭載スマートフォン「Androidスマートフォン」およびWindows Mobile OS搭載スマートフォン「Windows phone」を、2010年6月以降発売します。また、「Androidスマートフォン」の導入にあわせ、KDDIがおすすめするアプリケーションなどを集めた新たなアプリマーケットの提供も、同時に開始します。
KDDIの「Androidスマートフォン」では、Google社が提供する、世界中のアプリケーションをダウンロードできる「Android マーケット」に加え、KDDIが開設するアプリマーケットもご利用いただけます。
KDDIが開設するアプリマーケットでは、お客さまのお好みに合わせたアプリケーションの提案や、ジャンルごとにおすすめアプリケーションを紹介します。それにより、お客さまはご自身の使い方に合わせた適切なアプリケーションを簡単に見つけることが可能です。また、KDDIが情報料の回収を代行することで、お客さまは気に入ったアプリケーションを安心して気軽に購入することができます (注)。さらに、安全性の高いアプリケーションをお客さまに提供するため、コンテンツプロバイダ向けにセキュリティチェック機能を用意します (注)。

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New comment system

I decided to try out a new comment system because, honestly, blogger's comment system sucks.  I first tried to use intense debate, but that didn't go so well.  I couldn't find any way to import the old comments, even though it is supposed to be possible.  The FAQ says to go to "blog tools" to do it.  There is no "blog tools" that I could find.  I did find "tools" but there was no option for importing comments, only reinstalling, unistalling, and exporting comments.

Not to mention that, even if I tried to add the intense debate system to only new posts, it was added to all posts, which hid all the comments that I couldn't import.

I gave intense debate about 30 minutes.  That was enough.

So, we'll see how disqus works.

It doesn't seem that people can log in with their blogger account, though.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't upgrade to Google map v. 4 新しいgoogleマップアプリが「マイマップ」を読み込みなくなった。

EDIT: I just read somewhere that I can't find anymore that joining latitude will fix the problem.  And it did for me.  You don't have to actually join latitude - just click the join button and then decline the terms of service.  This fixed Maps v 4.0 for me.

If you use my maps, don't upgrade to the new Google map app (v 4.0) for android. I updated yesterday and I lost the ability to load "my maps." Today, a new update was available, and I was hoping that it fixed the problem with loading my maps, but it didn't. 昨日、マーケットにアプデートがありましたが、4.0版が「マイマップ」を読み込めなくなったため、アプデートをしばらくしない方がいい。今日、またアプデートがありましたが、問題を解決していない。

If you don't use My Maps, this update apparently adds Google buzz support, but I haven't tried it out yet. According to the google home page for buzz, it only works on Android 2.0 and higher, so I am not sure if it will really work on v 1.6 that most of you are probably running. Perhaps this is for the standalone buzz application. マイマップを使っていない方は、アプデートをすると「バズ」が使えると書いています。まだ、試していない。しかし、googleのホームページによると、バズに、アンドロイド2.0以上しか対応していないと書いているので、ht-03aの1.6版に使えるか確認出来ていない。

There are recent comments in the Japanese market saying that my maps can finally be loaded, but other comments saying they still want to be able to use layers. I dunno - I was using them fine until yesterday. マーケットの口コミによると、「マイマップ読み込み可能になりました」などとかいていますが、「早くマイマップと同期させて欲しい」とも書いているので、微妙。昨日まで、私はマイマップを読み込めた。

Monday, February 8, 2010

Apple iPad’s Tiny SIM Is Just There to Mess With You

It appears increasingly likely that this decision was driven not by space considerations (after all, the iPad is much larger than the iPhone), but rather by AT&T’s business strategy. This way, they can charge customers twice for 3G wireless data: Once for the iPhone, and once for the iPad.

This really makes one scratch the head.  From another wired story:
That iPad owners will likely consider taking a razor to the plastic SIM cards inside their iPhones, just so they can use the same portable data plan they’re already paying for, should tell you everything you need to know about the wireless data industry.

I guess I can see why Docomo is "studying the business model" of offering SIMs for unlocked devices.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yomiuri: Docomo may start selling SIMs

UPDATE: I just found some comments made by Docomo CEO Yamada during their 3rd quarter report.
山田社長は「iPadは通信モジュールを内蔵した洗練されたPC、高級Netbookのようなもの。SIMロックフリーと聞いており、たいへん興味を持っている」とコメント。「昨日知ったばかりでまだ決めてはいないが、(ドコモの)micro SIMを入れて使ってもらうことになると思う。ビジネスモデルはこれから検討する」と話した。
CEO Yamada commented that "the iPad is very much like a refined PC or high-end netbook with a cellular radio.  We've heard that it will be SIM lock free, and I am very interested in it.  I just heard about this (the iPad) yesterday, so I haven't yet made a decision, but I think it will be useable with a docomo micro SIM.  We are evaluating the business model." 

I've pasted in the whole article in English and Japanese.  Bullet points:
  • Docomo may sell micro-SIMs for the iPad
  • Docomo may sell SIMs for unlocked phones, specifically the N1, which is coming to Japan.
Looks like that random employee may have been right.

Thanks: Tokyo Pete
Docomo considers selling SIM cards for Apple's iPad

The Yomiuri Shimbun

NTT Docomo Inc. is considering selling SIM cards for Apple Inc.'s new iPad tablet computer, sources said Saturday, taking a step toward a Japan in which such cards can be switched freely between different carriers' cell phones.

A subscriber identity module card, commonly known as a SIM card, is a small electronic card that records a cell phone subscriber's phone number and the details of their subscription. A cell phone will not work until a SIM card is inserted, and cell phones in Japan are SIM-locked, which means their SIM cards cannot be used in handsets sold by different carriers.

Docomo's SIM card can be used in all of the company's various handsets, for example, but will not function in cell phones sold by SoftBank or KDDI.

Apple unveiled its much-anticipated iPad on Wednesday. Users will be able to download electronic books, video games and other digital content via Wi-Fi or the 3G wireless network on cell phones.

The iPad model with wireless capability will be introduced in Japan in late March, and the one with 3G capability as early as June.

The 3G model will be SIM-lock free, and if Docomo proceeds with its plan to sell SIM cards for the iPad, it would be the first major domestic telecommunications company to sell SIM cards that are not bundled with handsets. Docomo aims to tap into the telecom needs of iPad users, the sources said.

Cell phones in other countries are mostly free from SIM-related restrictions. Cell phones that can use SIM cards sold by different carriers are called SIM-lock free or SIM-free.

A SIM card for the iPad will be about half the size of a typical SIM card for cell phones used in Japan. They will not be compatible with each other.

Meanwhile, Google Inc. plans to introduce the Nexus One cell phone in Japan in the near future. Its users will be able to freely switch carriers by inserting different SIM cards.

Therefore Docomo also is considering selling SIM cards that can be used in different cell phones.

If such foreign-made devices become common in this country, Japan may become more SIM-lock free.

(Jan. 31, 2010)








(2010年1月31日  読売新聞) 

Softbank to stream 3rd quarter earning report live today

UPDATE: I haven't watched the earnings report, but apparently no android announcement was made.  Mr. Son did mention that he thinks the iPad is an excellent product but also said he wasn't in a position to comment on whether softbank would release a micro SIM for the iPad.

At least one blogger seems certain that this will coincide with some sort of announcement, though he doesn't say specifically about what.  Well, the title of his post is "Android softbank earnings report February 2nd," so I guess he thinks softbank will announce the specifics of their upcoming android handset.

You can watch it here, or here if you are running windows and MS IE and want to install some random video app.

Thanks: Matteo

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why do we not get the latest and greatest android phones in Japan?

Was another question from a reader.
As usual in Japan they choose the most crap android phone......the magic (when there was the hero already available) and the x10 when there is the acer liquid and especially the motorola droid that are much better.
The Real Deal With Hardware has a nice comparison of some of these phones, and it seems that the X10 is the clear winner in many categories, especially when compared to the Acer Liquid.

Using the Google's Nexus One in Japan

We just received another question from a reader, this time regarding Google's Nexus One phone.  Specifically, the reader asks if we know whether this phone will be available in Japan and when.  The short answer is we have no idea.  Yes, softbank has announced they will release an Android phone this year, but no details have been released.  Given the timing of softbank's announcement, I doubt they had the N1 in mind, since it was not even a rumor at the time.

For now, the N1 can be used in Japan, but only on softbank.  Unless someone absolutely needs to purchase a new phone now, I would wait a few months to see if Docomo does indeed allow foreign phones to be registered and used on its 3G network.  Commenters report getting much slower data transfer rates on a docomo HT-03a when switching it to softbank.

An xda member and sometime commenter on this blog had this to say on the subject of using the N1 in Japan.
I can confirm the Nexus works fine on Softbank, for people with black Softbank sims with unlimited iphone data. The black sim APN details are easily google-able. One comparison I made though, Softbank browsing and internet speed was so terrible it did cramp the Nexus a little. Browsing and data felt slower on the Nexus on Softbank than the 03a on Docomo, despite the Nexus being a much faster handset.
Other commenters on this blog have mentioned that SIM cards for the X-series softbank smart phones will also work with Android phones and that it is possible to walk into a store and apply for a plan, but no one has commented directly on using these SIMs with the N1.

Also, keep in mind that the APN for the X-series gray/silver SIM cards is different from the APN for the iPhone with the black SIM cards.  Both require a subscription to the packet flat-rate full plan for the iPhone and X-series phones. DO NOT, under any circumstances whatsoever try to use a softbank SIM if you are subscribed to the regular, unlimited packet discount plan for non-smartphones because very unpleasant things will happen.

One last thing, not that I should be pointing out typos and grammar mistakes as this blog is littered with them, but anyone else notice the that on the English flat-rate plan page at softbank, iPhone is misspelled?