Five Things

Another Sunday, another instalment of Five Things. With three major milestones at the day job being completed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I’m seriously looking forward to a slightly slower pace for the next few weeks. This coming Friday I’ll take off to make up for working a national holiday last month, and Monday is another national holiday that I plan on making good use of. Four-day weekends are not something I’m accustomed to.

Now onto the list …

Hard Lessons

Randolph and I seem to be writing a lot about our youth lately and today he shared a story that could have happened to just about anyone in their early teens: a joke gone bad.

I’ve not done anything quite like this, but there’s no doubt that a 14 year old version of me would find playing around with a fax machine an excellent way to get a few laughs.

Restoring an Android

Reiko recently pulled her old Sharp “Superphone”1 out of the “box of abandoned tech” and tossed it into a red garbage bag for proper disposal tomorrow. Me being me, I grabbed a micro-USB cable and started charging it to remember what Android 4.1.4 was like. It took some coaxing but, after the fifth attempt to power the device up, the screen came to life and the phone booted. Interestingly, in my 15 minutes with the unit, I saw why it’s still possible to see people using phones with Android 4.x around this part of the country: it’s not pretty, but it works well enough that spending scads of cash for a newer model seems frivolous.

As one might expect, the only way I could use the device would be if I could flash the phone to use something different. It’s a shame PalmOS isn’t a viable option on relatively modern hardware.

Pinstripes and Barriers

This could probably be a post in itself but, while out for a walk today, I noticed a young man wearing an orange and blue pinstripe suit trying to ask for something from a clerk. He was clearly having a lot of trouble and eventually stopped using words and instead just pointed at a sheet of paper which had what appeared to be scribbles on it. I stepped a little closer and saw that the man was from Vietnam and was trying to pay a bill, but didn’t know enough Japanese to say so. My knowledge of Vietnamese is non-existent outside of a few national dishes, but I asked — in English — if he needed help. Unfortunately, he didn’t speak my language, either.

The person behind the counter was clearly flustered with the flashy dresser but, because he’s just a clerk, couldn’t do anything to extract himself from the problem. Fortunately, the store manager came by at this time to see what was going on and I extracted myself from the situation.

The first couple of months I spent in Japan were pretty rough. I would insist on doing things myself and head into buildings to accomplish things in a foreign tongue while using poorly written, foreign characters. Occasionally I was successful. Occasionally I failed miserably. Each time I learned something new and got better at functioning in this country. Now, almost 12 years after living in the country, I still run into trouble from time to time. I still hit kanji characters that I cannot make any sense of. I still put my foot in my mouth with poor word choices. If the pinstriped Vietnamese man chooses to stay in Japan for a couple of years, things will get easier. The first few months, though, will be confusing and frustrating as hell.

In Search of Silence

The boy is a lot like his mother, which means that from sunrise to sunset there are always three concurrent conversations going on in the house; his, mum’s, and the blasted TV. My ears are absolutely exhausted, but there is no chance in the near future for any respite. I’ve worked from home almost every day since last summer to accommodate the working schedules of some colleagues on other continents. If I were to return to the office on a regular basis for some quiet time and the ability to focus, then I’d be throwing two hours of my day away for public transit and contributing less to the global project at the day job. Lose-lose, despite the opportunity for quiet.

The New TLD Registrars Are No Fun

When thinking about names for projects, I like to see if a suitable domain is available. I really enjoy using .one, but there are a number of others that I’d be happy to pick up as well … if the domain operator didn’t park every dictionary word in the English language in advance.

While I understand that companies will want to earn their investments back many times over, I can’t help but see the pre-reserved name grab as a blatant scam.

That’s it for this week, I think. Despite having only four working days ahead of me, the volume of work will likely far exceed what can be accomplished in that time.

  1. Back in 2013, in a bid to differentiate themselves from the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy lines, Japanese phone companies marketed their Android-powered devices as “superphones”. They cost more than a comparable iPhone by $100, required a subscription to McAffe anti-virus, and shipped with a heavily customized UI designed by the phone carrier. The only thing that was “super” about these devices was the amount of patience a person needed to use the things.