technology

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

Your turn, Samsung – Mr Sato returns the Ice Bucket Challenge to Korea’s electronics giant【Video】

Your turn, Samsung – Mr Sato returns the Ice Bucket Challenge to Korea’s electronics giant【Video】

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is still going strong, thanks to its mix of suspense, physical comedy, and contributions for a worthy cause. Business and entertainment moguls from around the world have participated, and recently even inanimate objects have started taking part with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone being doused by the Korean conglomerate’s U.K. division.

As per the rules of the challenge, Samsung then exercised its right to pass the dare onto someone else, and it designated rival Apple’s iPhone 5s. A quick comparison of the spec sheets for the two competing phones has some people crying foul at singling out the iPhone 5s, though. Today, we’re offering Samsung a chance to make things right.

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Coca-Cola’s new vending machines don’t need electricity during the day to keep drinks cold

Coca-Cola’s new vending machines don’t need electricity during the day to keep drinks cold

In some ways, the huge amount of vending machines in Japan seems like a win-win situation. In a country that gets incredibly hot and sticky in the summer, it’s nice to never be more than a few minutes’ walk from a cold drink, and for beverage companies like Coca-Cola, the machines are a huge source of income.

That said, all of those vending machines are essentially coin-operated refrigerators, collectively sucking up a huge amount of electricity. In an effort to cut down on their energy consumption, Coca-Cola has developed a new type of unit that spends as much as 16 hours a day not using any electricity at all to keep its products nice and cool.

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Man creates bizarre “HeartCap” helmet to wordlessly convey feelings of love and admiration

Man creates bizarre “HeartCap” helmet to wordlessly convey feelings of love and admiration

I’m sure we’ve all been there: knowing that you’re bound to bump into your crush at some point during the day, you prepare a few witticisms in advance, make sure to brush your teeth extra well and pick out an outfit that strikes the perfect balance between casual and “holy crap I’m sexy”. And then, when the object of your affections comes within a few feet of you, you blurt out some nonsense about having seen a really big pigeon on the way there and manage to spit all over yourself. Oh, just me?

Thankfully, for those who find themselves completely tongue-tied when faced with their dream guy or gal, there’s a new…invention that enables the wearer to express their feelings of admiration without saying a word. And it looks wonderfully ridiculous.

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Sleepy? PC program dispatches anime girl to wake you up with encouragement, angry outbursts

Sleepy? PC program dispatches anime girl to wake you up with encouragement, angry outbursts

I don’t know if it was because of the layout of the surrounding skyscrapers, the beat-up old boom box we had in the lobby, or just a weak signal from the local broadcaster, but at one of my old jobs, we could never get a clear radio signal. This didn’t mean we had no musical accompaniment while we worked though, just that we had to use CDs. Unfortunately, on many days that meant a constant repeat of the Enya CD my boss would stick in the player.

She may be an award-winning artist, but a selection you could describe as “soothing and ethereal” wasn’t exactly the best choice to help power the staff through our shift. Sometimes I’d see one of my coworkers nodding off in front of his PC monitor, and I’d give him a quick, “Hey, wake up dude,” before our boss noticed.

I’m sure he appreciated the favor, but now technology can perform that same service for you, with a program that’ll send a cute anime girl onto your screen to wake you up if you doze off.

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Crazy new port-o-potty design is the most random thing we’ve seen in a long time

Crazy new port-o-potty design is the most random thing we’ve seen in a long time

There are all sorts of unwritten etiquette rules around men’s room urinal use. Don’t talk too much, don’t use a urinal next to someone when there are isolated urinals available, don’t compare size, and never, ever, ever make eye contact.

But this insane new port-o-potty design totally ignores all of that, making your odds of peeing next to someone about a 50/50 chance and all but forcing you to gaze into the eyes of another man while you both urinate simultaneously – a situation so specific, unlikely and repulsive that we’re pretty sure there’s not even niche porn for it. And there is niche porn for frikkin’ everything, people.

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Too hot during the blackout? Cool down with an electric fan, veteran newscaster suggests

Too hot during the blackout? Cool down with an electric fan, veteran newscaster suggests

With more than 25 years of working in broadcast journalism, Japanese newscaster Ichiro Furutachi has turned in plenty of fine on-air performances. Still, each time you go before the cameras you’re spinning that roulette wheel, and it’s only a matter of time until you end up with a flub or two.

Earlier this year, the 59-year-old Furutachi elicited chuckles with his comments that exposed his lack of understanding about PowerPoint. It wasn’t Furutachi’s lack of knowledge regarding the finer points of the ubiquitous presentation software that surprised the public, but rather his admission that he didn’t even know what PowerPoint was.

What’s more, if we take the words of Furutachi’s most recent gaffe literally, it would seem that he’s not just confused about computer programs, but how electricity works, when he suggested using a room fan to stay cool during a blackout…

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Making a “fart cannon” is simple and cheap, says Japanese comedy site

Making a “fart cannon” is simple and cheap, says Japanese comedy site

So, farts are still the pinnacle of physical comedy. I mean, they cover all the comedy bases: They’re smelly, they make a funny noise, and they make people around you feel very uncomfortable. Farts are pure genius. Proof that God loves and hates us equally.

But sometimes you want to fart on someone but they’re just a little too far away to reach with your offensive bodily odors, no matter how hard you try to project your poo gas. That’s where the – obviously – Japanese invention of the Fart Cannon comes in. With this simple device, you can launch your fart gas at unsuspecting targets several meters away.

All you need is a box, some tubing, and a willingness to insert said tubing into your anus.

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