technology

This is your final boarding call for a once-in-a-decade chance to ride Japan’s fastest train

This is your final boarding call for a once-in-a-decade chance to ride Japan’s fastest train

The Superconducting Magnetic Levitation Train (SCMaglev) has been in development by Japan Railways for decades and has already broken various world speed records for railed vehicles during test runs. However, it won’t begin operation in Japan until 2027.

That is unless you are one of the lucky few chosen for a series of test runs being conducted in November and December of this year. If you apply by midnight on 30 September you’ll get a chance to ride the train of the future today! What are you waiting for?! Go!

Actually, wait! There’s some useful information you should probably read here first. Then go!

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Smartphone GPS system lets you bring your favorite anime voices along for the ride

Smartphone GPS system lets you bring your favorite anime voices along for the ride

Almost none of the streets in Japan have names, and even when they do, civil planners are pretty haphazard about putting up signs to let you know what they are. As a result, it’s hard to get anywhere in a car without a GPS system guiding you.

But after enough time behind the wheel, you might find yourself getting bored of the default voice chirping out you to “make a right turn in 30 meters.” So if you’re feeling a little burned out on your navigation system, or nabi as it’s known in Japan, now might be the time to update it with the voice of Evangelion’s Asuka, Attack on Titan’s Arumin, or one of dozens of other available anime characters.

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Sad 3DS user wants Gamecube peripheral for Smash Brothers, genius tinkerer provides

Sad 3DS user wants Gamecube peripheral for Smash Brothers, genius tinkerer provides

There are few things in life more competitive than Super Smash Brothers (and, like, hot dog eating contests with hamsters). So, even though you can now Smash Brothers on the go with the new 3DS version, truly competitive players don’t want to settle for the 3DS’s inferior, cramped D-pad and button layout.

A clever Japanese Twitter user recently openly dreamed of a better way to Smash Brothers on his 3DS by connecting an old-school Gamecube controller to the portable handheld and, shockingly, another even more genius Twitter user responded with a real-life prototype he made with plentiful engineering skills, his own two hands, and what appears to be a bunch of fresh spaghetti.

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People are getting into fights outside Apple stores because no one in China can buy an iPhone 6

People are getting into fights outside Apple stores because no one in China can buy an iPhone 6

Fights have broken out all over the world in the last couple of days in front of Apple Stores as people queued for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

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We road test the new Digital Image Stabilization on the iPhone 6 Plus – with a vibrator

We road test the new Digital Image Stabilization on the iPhone 6 Plus – with a vibrator

Apple iPhone releases have been known to make people do crazy things. Whether it’s dressing as a blue slime and sleeping on the street for days or using your nipple to unlock your phone, there’s a sense of excitement and ceremony surrounding each new model that makes us want to push the boundaries and just have fun.

The latest release on the weekend was no different, and in our excitement to test out the much-anticipated ‘Digital Image Stabilization’ (DIS) on the iPhone 6, it seemed entirely sensible to line up two different models side-by-side and give them both a good shake. And how better to do that than by strapping them onto a vibrator?

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Chinese man cleans up after his countrymen, single-handedly repairs Japan-China relations

Chinese man cleans up after his countrymen, single-handedly repairs Japan-China relations

If you’re an Apple fanboy living in Japan, you may have noticed – while waiting in a ridiculously long line for your latest gadget – that there was a huge number of Chinese nationals waiting in line along with you.

That’s because, for the last couple of years, heading out to other countries to buy up the latest Apple products and sell them for a profit back in China has become a popular pastime for China’s more enterprising scalpers.

But this year, when Apple stores unexpectedly sold out of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 + before lines could dissipate, things got a little out of hand with the remaining Chinese customers, who reportedly stormed at least one Tokyo-based Apple store and wrecked the place – in addition to leaving piles of garbage out on the streets. Which would not have gone down well had it not been for the actions of one man.

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iPhone 6 launch keeps Chinese customs officials busy as they seize hundreds of smuggled units

iPhone 6 launch keeps Chinese customs officials busy as they seize hundreds of smuggled units

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus went on sale last Friday, and we were pretty psyched. In fact, our very own Mr. Sato was so excited about the launch that he was, once again, first in line to get his hands on the latest version of Apple’s smartphone, and we’re sure others in the U.S. and Hong Kong felt just as happy with their new purchases.

Not everyone in the world got to be in on the fun, though. Apple is staggering the launch of the iPhone 6, and while Japan was lucky enough to be in the first batch of territories where it has become available, mainland China wasn’t. This has led to some extra cash for iPhone resellers, as well as customs officials who spent the weekend steadily confiscating smuggled iPhones.

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Why does Japan have so many overhead power lines?

Why does Japan have so many overhead power lines?

Something many visitors to Japan notice is the abundance of overhead power lines. Whether you’re in the suburbs, city center, or even rural communities, it’s rare to look up at the sky or towards the horizon without the view being crisscrossed by thick, black cables.

So why does Japan have so many above-ground power grids when so many other countries have gone subterranean? The easy answer is cost, but there’re also some purported advantages to stringing cables up on poles, and the country hasn’t quite reached a consensus on which is the better option.

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New Japanese battery only needs water to power up smartphones in a disaster

New Japanese battery only needs water to power up smartphones in a disaster

Sitting on several fault lines, Japan is no stranger to natural disasters and the havoc that ensues afterward. While these tragedies can’t be prevented, their effects can be lessened by making a disaster preparedness kit to handle several days without power or access to food and water.

A key item in these kits is usually batteries, and a Japanese company’s recent announcement about a new kind of battery is expected to completely change the way we prepare for disasters. Only needing to be filled with water, the “Mg Box” battery can be used to charge smartphones, and the invention has made the Japanese company’s stock skyrocket as investors rush to back the game-changing technology.

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Japan already has an Apple Watch and it’s even cooler than Tim Cook’s version

Japan already has an Apple Watch and it’s even cooler than Tim Cook’s version

Apple just announced its new generation of gadgets, including a smartwatch called the Apple Watch. Not wanting to wait for its 2015 release, Japanese Twitter user Shoji Hiromichi decided to make his own…out of a real apple.

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7 Reasons the iPhone 6 is a piece of junk (according to Japanese otaku)

7 Reasons the iPhone 6 is a piece of junk (according to Japanese otaku)

Apple has officially announced the iPhone 6, and also its big-screen sibling, the iPhone 6 Plus. This is great news for technophiles who’d already started lining up for the new device before it was officially unveiled, but there’s one slice of the Japanese population that’s completely unimpressed: hard-core fans of idol singer video game and anime franchise Aikatsu! The otaku subset has compiled a list of seven reasons why, compared to one piece of Aikatsu! merchandise, the iPhone 6 is a piece of junk.

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China’s latest military robot looks like a grotesque mutant, attracts the attention of cynical Japanese netizens

China’s latest military robot looks like a grotesque mutant, attracts the attention of cynical Japanese netizens

This mutant robot was featured at the 2014 Beijing International Emergency Rescue Expo and was described by Chinese media as ‘eye-catching’. It certainly is that, but we wouldn’t say it is exactly pleasing to look at. As you can see, the robot looks like a bizarre combination between a mutated four-legged spider and the dried squid I am having with my end-of-summer beer.

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Apple fans so eager for an iPhone 6 they’re lining up before it’s even announced

Apple fans so eager for an iPhone 6 they’re lining up before it’s even announced

About this time last year, we brought the story of a group of fans who spent over a week camped out on the sidewalk, just so they could be first in line to snag an iPhone 5S on launch day at the Apple Store in Tokyo’s Ginza. But while we can understand the appeal of the fun and comradery that comes from braving the elements with your fellow technophiles, we were a little shocked when we recently strolled by the same store in the swanky neighborhood and saw there’s already a line forming for the iPhone 6, which Apple hasn’t even announced yet.

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Japan-made printer briefly impresses the Internet by catching its own paper

Japan-made printer briefly impresses the Internet by catching its own paper

Working hard every day in offices all over the world, the humble printer rarely gets its due. While the flashier (and sometimes more scandalous) 3-D printers tend to capture most of the attention, everyday office printers continue their humdrum existence just under the radar of most of the world.

But that all changed the other week when the Internet caught a glimpse of a printer seemingly catching its own paper as the sheets were about to fall to the ground. The printer, made by the Japanese company Kyocera, awed netizens worldwide and made them wonder if the Kyoto-based electronics manufacturer had other secret printer features.

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China’s Baidu announces high-tech chopsticks that will keep you safe, skinny and healthy

China’s Baidu announces high-tech chopsticks that will keep you safe, skinny and healthy

Ever sit down to eat a meal and wish you knew how many calories or salt were in your food? Ever cooked a piece of meat or fish only to later wonder whether it might have gone bad? Last week, Chinese Internet giant Baidu announced that it has been working on a pair of wi-fi-enabled high-tech chopsticks that will be able to detect the nutritional makeup of the food it touches as well as warning consumers of any safety issues such as contaminants or expired food.

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Long live the Roadster! We attend the world premiere of Mazda’s all-new Miata 【Video】

Long live the Roadster! We attend the world premiere of Mazda’s all-new Miata 【Video】

Mazda’s Roadster, also known as the Miata and MX-5, hit showrooms in 1989 and became an instant hit. In the years since, though, doomsayers have emerged every time a competing automaker releases a would-be rival, with predictions having been made that the BMW Z3, Porsche Boxter, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Toyota MR-S, Honda S2000, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Sky were all going to kill Mazda’s lightweight open sports car.

The three German cars are still around, although now at price points so far above the Roadster’s that they’re really not in competition with the Japanese Mazda. As for those other pretenders to the affordable convertible crown? All dead and buried. The Roadster’s even outlasted some of those companies, as Pontiac and Saturn have both shut down entirely.

With this history of success, it must have been tempting for Mazda to spend all of the Roadster’s 25th anniversary celebration patting itself on the back for a job well done. Instead, the automaker from Hiroshima chose to do fans one better, by unveiling the fourth generation of the world’s best-selling two-seat sports car.

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Tech FAIL – Japanese man uses butter to try and turn his normal TV into a 3-D TV

Tech FAIL – Japanese man uses butter to try and turn his normal TV into a 3-D TV

For those who have never been to Japan, the country seems like a high-tech wonderland. There are constantly reports coming out about new technologies, new robots, and new gadgets; you would think every Japanese person is some sort of tech wunderkind! We hate to shatter your dreams, but Japan is just as full of non-techy people as any other country in the world. No thread shows this better than one that recently popped up on 2channel (2ch). While the rest of the world might be trying to look at leaked photos of celebrities, one 2ch user attempted to turn their normal TV into a 3-D TV by applying…butter. Yeah, we aren’t sure how that’s supposed to work either, nevertheless, we present to you…The Buttering!

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Sony’s new Xperia Z3 compact tablet boasts PlayStation 4 remote play, controller mount

Sony’s new Xperia Z3 compact tablet boasts PlayStation 4 remote play, controller mount

If you’re the kind of person who loves the idea of gaming on the go but just can’t abide touch-screen controls or fiddly portables, Sony may have just unveiled the perfect product for you.

Announced earlier today, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is designed to work seamlessly with PlayStation 4 consoles, allowing remote play via wi-fi – a function previously only available to PlayStation Vita users. Better yet, mobile gamers can attach a DualShock 4 controller to the tablet using a special Game Control Mount, meaning that they can play PS4 games pretty much anywhere while still using their regular controller.

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Awesome Narita Airport beer dispenser gives a perfect pour every time 【Video】

Awesome Narita Airport beer dispenser gives a perfect pour every time 【Video】

Whenever I fly back to L.A., I have a standard ritual I go through. I make sure to get to Narita Airport well ahead of my departure time, check in for my flight, and have a beer or two before take-off. This gets me nice and sleepy, and I usually doze off shortly after we reach our cruising altitude, waking up several hours closer to home.

Since I fly coach, there’s a convenience store inside the terminal where I procure my supplies in canned form. Should I ever find myself with a Qantas business class ticket, though, it’s good to know that the Australian carrier’s business longue not only has draft Asahi, but that it’s perfectly poured by an awesome beer-dispensing machine.

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Kansai scraps “power off” mobile phone ban on trains; Kantō won’t budge

Kansai scraps “power off” mobile phone ban on trains; Kantō won’t budge

There are seemingly endless things one is not allowed to do on Japanese trains: eat or drink, put on makeup, talk on the phone, take up too much room. Most of these are sensible if strict, making life more pleasant for everybody in a jam-packed carriage. There’s one rule that’s a bit more unusual, though, and that’s the requirement that you switch your phone off near the priority seats.

Mobile phones can interfere with pacemakers, ran the conventional wisdom. So to give passengers with medical equipment a safe haven from electronic interference, most train companies asked passengers to switch phones off completely in certain areas. This summer, rail companies in Kansai more or less ditched that policy, saying it’s no longer necessary. Tokyo, meanwhile, shows no signs of changing the rules. Read More

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