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    What is the difference between a “version” and a “variant?” Part of the confusion comes in that there are dictionary definitions of the two words and there is a definition that only pertains to collecting “mass produced” collector items. Which one here is the variant and which one here is another version of Acer? In [...]

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    Before I start, I want to ask your forgiveness if I did not choose you for the Mirai Suenaga Nendoroid Free Return Ticket to Japan Giveaway.
    If I had the cash then I'd pay for all of you to come to Japan but I can only afford 1 return ticket right now.

    I'm going to pay for a return ticket to Tokyo (all expenses not paid ^^;) to a FatB astard who posted the above photo to Twitter. Congrats! I'm going to contact you on the email address that you used when you registered for an account here. You need to forward evidence that you pre-ordered Mirai before the 18th of September 2012 and if you cant then the ticket goes to somebody else ^^;
    Then we will discuss when you would like to come over and how I should pay you etc.

    To the rest who didn't win - thank you for supporting Mirai and I hope to make it up to you some other way ><
    Some companies use their marketing money on banner ads or user acquisitions but I'll make sure I'll put some cash aside for more free tickets to Japan in the future - after all this does work out as marketing - I'd just rather a reader gain a ticket to Japan at the same time ^o^

    I do hope that Mirai has become your talisman to egg you on while studying Japanese - she is always with me and hope she will always be with you too.

    About Mascots Subscribe by Email Twitter Facebook

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  • 03/06/13--02:56: LINE Official Accounts

  • Just to let you know that LINE gave me an official account to help me keep in contact with comrades around the world. For those who are not familiar, LINE is a free app that lets you chat and make free calls with anybody else who has the app installed on their iOS, Android or PC/Mac.

    If you have LINE installed on your phone, all you have to do is go to Add Friends > QR Code and scan this code.

    You can also find me under the Official Accounts menu - tap Official Accounts...

    If you live in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore then you will see me near the top of the list - if you dont then scroll down to the bottom of the list and select another country.

    Once you have tapped "+Select another country" select Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore. The reason why I have an official account in these countries is that my TV shows Culture Japan and Japan Mode are broadcast there.

    I'm the only one in TV & Entertainment at the moment ^^

    When I reach 100,000 followers, I was told that LINE will consider making some Mirai Suenaga stickers for all ^o^

    When you start to follow me, you get two free LINE exclusive images of Mirai. I have also been sending out other images since the account has been opened.

    When I'm not online, you will get an auto reply message and I won't be able to see your message >< When I am online however, you won't get an auto reply and I will be able to see your message but I cant reply as the account is setup like a radio station meaning that if I reply to you then everybody listening sees the message ^^;

    I do live broadcasts from time to time and will be able to reply to your messages on air though.


    Read more about Mirai Suenaga >>>

    About Mascots Subscribe by Email Twitter Facebook

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    [Business Wire] - From fire trucks to dinosaurs to police cars in pursuit, Matchbox® has provided kids with unstoppable adventures and the durable vehicles and playsets to tackle them for six-decades of imaginative play.

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    A recent survey shows that nearly 80% of Japanese folks who have used both Android and iPhone would recommend iPhone to others.
    The survey also revealed that 54% of current Android users would recommend the iPhone with the main reason being "Easy to use" (68.8%).

    A few comments from the Japanese community about this survey as follows:-

    iPhone is for the rich
    Android is for the poor

    iPhone is for beginners
    Android is for Japanese

    What do people do with an iphone?

    You can easily customise the hardware and the OS of Android phones which I like

    How about you? If you have used both Android and iPhone, which would you recommend to others?
    There is a poll embedded in this article.

    For many years in Japan, the only phones available were of the Gala-Kei type like this one here. Gala-Kei is short for "Galapagos Type" and refers to Japan's phones which have been tailored for the local market and not usable anywhere else in the world.

    Technology is embedded in my daily workflow and back then I felt that these phones were missing so much - touchable screen, decent camera and a way to easily manage the data on the device.

    Then the iPhone came out in Japan and changed all that - it was the only notable phone on the Japanese market at the time with a touch screen and decent computer connectivity.
    I had used the iPhone since then and upgraded once to the iPhone 4S. Being a Mac user, the iPhone only increased my Apple Fanboi-ism. The iPhone enabled me to increase productivity in my daily workflow.

    But while I still am a Mac user, the Apple magic has started to fade away. One of the reasons was the introduction of the very disappointing MacBook Pro Retina which I bought and returned immediately due to the screen resolution - not good at all for anybody working with web graphics - and no - its nothing to do with apps being Retina ready or not.
    1024px x 768px images look tiny at native resolution - my clients dont want download sizes of images blown up just for Retina users.

    Another reason is that as I became busier, I found myself wasting time getting information onto my iPhone. I work in the TV industry and deal with many file formats - I wasted time converting videos (waiting) and then transferring them to my iPhone via a cable. Everything had to go through iTunes! There were not even apps from Apple which did the converting meaning that one had to use tools like Video Monkey - is it still like this?

    I also deal with sensitive images of unreleased figures, anime titles and wot not but images are all managed through iTunes - they all show up in the photo gallery which is not good either - I would get into heaps of trouble by my clients if somebody saw something they shouldn't - same with all the ecchi images too ^^

    The iPhone started to become very restrictive for my workflow and so I switched to Android. I already reviewed my Samsung Galaxy S3 so today I will be talking about how its been using Android for over half a year and why I'm not one of the 80% who would recommend iPhone.

    I like touch screens as its faster to manipulate information. The screen on the S3 is just gorgeous and much larger than the iPhone which gives me more real estate to digest information quicker.

    To manage getting data to my phone, I use FolderSync. I can setup folder pairs that I want to sync from Dropbox, Amazon S3 etc. The iPhone has a Dropbox app and it is supposed to sync data to the phone for offline use but for some reason its flaky. Even then, data is restricted to viewing in the Dropbox app.
    Goodreader can also sync folders for offline use but photos are not displayed in a grid view which means time wasted tapping a file to preview whats inside.

    I'm on the plane a lot which means I need to ensure that anything that is required for offline access is available for me to do work. FolderSync can be run manually, from the tap on a widget or set to run at intervals.
    Once the data is on my Android, I can view the data how I like and in whatever app I like because unlike iPhone, Android as a folder system to browse.

    Another way I can easily get data onto my Android - I got this Micro SD Card with adapter...

    ...which I can plug into my S3 with the Samsung USB Adapter. I had a similar adapter for the iPhone but all they allowed was the importing of photos into the photo app.

    The USB adapter allows me to do things like preview native MTS files from a video camera attached by USB to my S3. Depending on what video players you have installed, you can view any video file format without conversion.

    I can attach external HDDs (no external power needed) to my S3 too through the USB adapter. With a free app, I can mount drives formatted in exFAT, NTFS & HFS+ which means Mac formatted drives too.

    Example of me previewing data shot for Japan Mode from the HDD. If I wanted to do this on an iPhone back then, I would have to copy the file to the Mac, find software that would convert MTS, drag it to iTunes and then sync.

    The camera on the S3 is quite good (samples here) but not as good as what you would get on a camera with a decent lens. I can attach any of my cameras to my Android and browse the contents too.

    Browsing through the photos on my camera...

    ...which I can just upload to Instagram straight away.

    One thing I found to be a pleasant surprise was that I could look for an app on Google Play and download it to my Android device from there - it would just appear and install on my Android. I could not do this with my iPhone back then - I had to download it in iTunes and then sync via cable or download it on the phone.

    With the Android method I could just browse a recommendation from a blog and literally send it to my Android device - no cables no fuss. It may have become easier to do on an iPhone since then?

    And the app appears on my Android like so with no wires or hassle. Paid apps are dealth with thorough my Google Wallet account.

    I know you can do this on iPhones depending on your carrier but at the time, none of the carriers in Japan allowed tethering. When I was recently in Singapore, the hotel was charging something like 30 SGD for a days worth of Internet access. I said "errrr I dont think so" and got myself some data on a SIM from Seven Eleven and tethered instead.

    At the time I switched, the iPhone didn't have any decent navigation features. The Android has a great nav app and with the large screen it gives standard built in car navigation systems a run for their monies.

    If you are traveling to Japan then rest assured that the nav app works over here too.

    The Bluetooth streaming - not much different from the iPhone here.

    At the time of switching to Android, there was no Streetview which helps when you are heading out somewhere for the first time.

    MiraiClock3 for some reason is much superior on the Android >< The graphics are sharp, clean and responsive.
    We have to get to 50,000 downloads on the Android before we invest time and money for the next upgrade though - its free with no ads too!

    The iOS version lives here and we will upgrade up at the same time as Android.

    Most dont know this as its not documented anywhere but when you choose Mirai Rest Mode, Mirai will fall asleep every 15 mins. The reason why is so that we can reduce the power consumption by dropping the frame rate. When the frame rate drops, Mirai's animation looks terrible but not no so noticeable when she's sleeping.
    Mirai wakes up after 15 mins and then goes back to sleep ^^;

    Another thing great about my Android is that I got the freedom to use it anywhere in the world - my iPhone was locked to softbank and unlocking is such a pain.
    Nabbed this micro SIM cutter from Amazon - most prepaid SIMs are the standards size - needs to be cut down to fit in the S3.

    My pre-paid SIM for Singapore - paid extra to keep it as my permanent number.

    Cutter is simple to use - insert SIM...

    ...and punch out the unwanted areas.

    I have a feeling that the S3 was purposely designed with a micro SIM so that iPhone users could easily try it out without having to use an adapter?
    Since I switched to the S3, I noticed many of my comrades also jumped ship for the S3 too.

    SIM cutters usually come with a Micro SIM adapter like the green one in this photo.

    Roaming on the Japanese Softbank network with SingTel.

    Mentioned this before but Airdroid is another nifty app which I use to manage my Android - I can control many aspects of my Android wirelessly and even write and send SMS messages from the web UI.

    But then, I started to feel that my S3 become really sluggish - speed would not improve no matter what I uninstalled or optimised. Then I saw the speed of the iPhone5 and was contemplating defecting yet again ^^;

    Then I saw that one of my comrades replaced the default operating system of his Samsung Galaxy S3 with something called Cyanogenmod. It looked and felt like a completely different phone! The speed was whippy snappy and fluid.

    Introducing the world of Rooting and Flashing for the Android. One of the great things about the Android is that it really is yours to do what you want. You can even change the operating system.

    Check out the video below to see how Cyanogenmod runs on the Galaxy S3.

    Now, I'm pretty new to all of this but just spending a few hours with Google Sensei opened up a completely new world.
    I previously was planning on walking you through the installation but it would be just re-writing the guides which I used which are at:-
    If you are a Windows user then just ask Google Sensei.

    First the phone needs to be "Rooted" which is the equivalent of "Jailbreaking" on an iPhone.

    Then I get this Super User app which gives me access to everything on the phone including the system files.

    After rebooting the phone, I get access to a special menu which I can use to backup the whole system incase shite hit the fan. From that menu I can install Cyanogenmod.

    About 20 mins later and I'm all done! The flavour I chose was Cyanogenmod 10.1 Nightly. Rooting and installing on the S3 was easy but for some reason doing the same for my Galaxy Note 2 has not been going so well ><

    I used SMS Backup & Restore to backup my SMS messages.
    The rest of my data is all on Google - contacts, save data, apps and wot not. All of that gets installed in the new system automatically after logging in.

    All Android phones require a Google account. Gmail is my mail tool and I love the way that people I reply to just appear in my contacts on my phone. Google calendar schedules also automatically appear without having to do anything.

    I choose Singlish.

    Replacing the stock OS with CM10 (Cyanogenmod10) has completely changed my Android experience - no more contemplating switching back to iPhone just to get a fast phone - the S3 with CM10 is buttery n fluid and I love it!!
    This is the pin unlock screen which looks so much cooler too.

    An example of some of the menus - tapping on each option brings up more menus and you can drill down so deep that the amount of customisation you have is overwhelming at first.

    My current unlock screen with illustration of Mirai Suenaga by none other than Koizumi Amane-sensei! Will release the PSD file soon.

    Not only can you have icons on the homescreen, you can also have widgets that display info or execute a function too. On an iPhone you need to start up an app but on the Android its just a tap on the widget which saves time.

    My default homescreen dedicated to Mirai-chan.

    With CM10, you can even set your homescreen to be in landscape mode - although you cant have separate wallpapers for portrait and landscape - yet.

    The messaging app looks so much better than the stock S3 version. The S3 version made me want to take a screenshot of it > print it out and flush it down the toilet.

    The dailpad looks much better too. As for the contacts, when you tap on one, you can choose to make a standard call or through Skype, Line, Viber or whatever other communication apps you have installed. You can obviously set either one to be the default calling method too.

    Cyanogenmod is not the only OS you can install in your Android device. For those who have rooted and installed another OS - what do you use?
    There is a poll embedded in this article.

    I use Quickpic to manage my images - ultra fast at rendering thumbnails.

    I use Instagram as my default photo sharing app.

    While we are on the subject of the S3, might as well cover other related stuff.
    Been through quite a few cases until I managed to find the perfect one. One of them was this lovely orange Versus brand.

    Really nice presentation.

    The S3 fit nicely inside and the bottom was open meaning that I could still have it rest in a cradle.

    The silver lettering on the front looked great - but pretty much fell off after a couple days use ><

    I keep my phone in my trouser pockets a lot and what would happen is that the orange cover started to turn blue from the color rubbing off from my jeans - looked terrible after a while and ditched it.

    The battery life on the S3 is pretty lousy though. I did find the iPhone performance to be better. I carry around a spare battery for times when I run out of juice.

    Then I discovered the Urban Armor Gear from a user Spark90. They dont sell it anywhere in Japan so got it from - arrived about a week later.

    This case is great! I always drop my phone and have done so with the S3 - the black bits are hard rubber which absorbs the shock of impact. I wish they made this case for my Nexus 7 too - will review that later.

    Dont leave home without it! I always keep spare cash in the cover just incase - and it has saved my bacon many times. I've been out to eat some ramen to discover I left my wallet at home - without this time saving method, I'd probably be washing dishes just like I did when I was a waiter back in the UK.

    Playing around with Firefox OS - this belongs to Gen kanai who is one of the top folks at Mozilla.
    The Firefox OS is HTML based which means that you only need knowledge of HTML to be able to make your very own OS.

    Just some of the mobile phones lying around. The phone with the washed out screen is a development model that I worked on with a few comrades in Singapore. Have improved the quality of the screen since then.

    Two more development models. The company I work with develop the hardware while I figure out what should go on it. I dont have that many resources right now and so this project is a lower priority compared to everything else on my plate.

    One of the great things about these units is that they are dual SIM.

    And thats about it for this post. While there are things that I miss on the iPhone, none of it is enough to make me want to switch back.
    I do feel that the text input system on iOS devices are far superior than Android ones. I use Google IME for my Japanese input method on Android as it predicts a load of place names correctly like Musashi-koyama [武蔵小山] but it does not spell check or predict English.

    The stock UI for the iOS seems much more refined and slick - some Android apps look great - most tend to look terrible ><
    Scrolling for iOS apps are more often that not smooth but Android does get jerky from time to time - less of a problem on the S3 though. I also miss the iOS Keynote app too.
    I also do feel that the build quality of the hardware is generally much better for the iPhone - I feel they look and feel better and the user experience is well thought out.

    Having a pretty phone alone however just does not make the cut for me - I'd rather have a not so good looking phone that does what I need - practicality, functionality and freedom over appearance.

    We all have different workflows and needs - Android enables users to customise their device to do pretty much what they need to improve and automate their workflow. The iPhone however needs to wait for apps to come out to allow for some of that customisation.

    I got sick of the restrictions placed on me for a device (iPhone) that I paid for which ended up wasting my time for doing simple tasks (like playing an MTS file).

    If you want to save time by improving workflows through technology then I recommend Android - but only if you replace the stock OS. The OS that carriers or manufacturers put on the phone tends to be muddy for some reason. There are many different choices of operating system that you can choose from which I'm sure folks will recommend in the comments below.

    This post outlined many things that I could not do with an iPhone over half a year ago but may have changed since then - like attaching a mac formatted drive and reading the files for example? But even if they are now possible, my workflow is now too integrated into Android and I currently dont see any merit of switching back to iPhone.

    But this is all just my 2 cents - both systems have their good and bad points and it just depends on what you want to do with the device and how much time you are willing to invest into integrating it into your daily workflow.
    A mobile phone should be much more than just a communication tool - you carry it around with you everywhere and it makes sense that it should be used to automate daily tasks and improve workflows - and those workflows are different for all of us which means that full customisation is a prerequisite.

    If you have been an iPhone user and have always wondered about the other side then invest sometime in looking at a friends Android device with an open mind - you may be surprised at what you discover - a discovery that has certainly changed my life.

    There is a poll embedded in this article.
    There is a poll embedded in this article.

    While I'm at it, I'm going to plug my official Line account - use it if you want to keep up with my latest ramblings.

    Read more about Mirai Suenaga >>>

    About Mascots Subscribe by Email Twitter Facebook

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    set database: LEGO 42006 excavator
    image courtesy of bricker

    image courtesy of

    set number: 42006
    set name: excavator
    theme: technic
    year: 2013
    pieces: 720
    prices: us$80
    minifigs: none
    large technic set.
    main model is an excavator.
    can be built into a building alternative.
    building alternative included a tracker tractor.
    can be added with 8293 LEGO Power Functions motor set for motorized action.
    the excavator come with an articulated extendable arm, a rotatable superstructure, movable tracks and a 4 prong grabber.
    the tractor come with an openable hood, raisable front and rear tools and detachable plow blades.
    overall design is great.
    must have for technic lovers.
    Bookmark and Share

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    Labyrinth Designs came up with the pallet coasters, now, you can man up yor salt & pepper shakers, traffic cone style! Very cool! I think about 7.5 cm tall – about 3″ tall? In scale for Sally’s Cozy Cone? Who’s up for a diorama build? You can pick one up at DesignBoom in the US. Or [...]

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    This 13-inch long replica of the DeLorean Time Machine based on the 1989 Back to the Future II movie is an Entertainment Earth Exclusive. It features gull wing foors, flight mode and multiple sound effects. It is even compatible with most 3 3/4-inch scale action figures* (not included). Sound effects includes: First time travel Car...

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    Darth Maul – Star Wars – Lego by sir_winger Submit your Flickr photos to Poe Ghostal’s Pic of the Day!

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  • 03/06/13--06:00: eggs? what eggs?
  • So I happen to think matte white porcelain is a beautiful substance, and I would like to see an example of it in every room of my house. I also love love love the simple shape of an egg, what a beautiful example of natural simplicity. So I was pleased as punch to see these [...]

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    Well, after last year’s delay of the upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie, it seems that Hasbro action figures are finally hitting the pegs where I live.

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  • 03/06/13--06:51: Gibsons Puzzle Board
  • If you’re tired of people trying to take over your puzzling table for frivolous activities such as eating, you might want to get hold of the new Puzzle Board from Gibsons.

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    Nearly 1,000 children of military personnel stationed in San Diego, Calif., were treated to a toy giveaway on March 2 by the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and national partner Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services.  Families stationed at Naval Base Coronado were joined by marine families from nearby Camp Pendleton for a [...]

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    Matchbox60logoIconic Toy Brand Motors in Anniversary with 60 Cent Toy Cars at Retail and $60,000 “Hero” Scholarship   EL SEGUNDO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– From fire trucks to dinosaurs to police cars in pursuit, Matchbox® has provided kids with unstoppable adventures and the durable vehicles and playsets to tackle them for six-decades of imaginative play. To commemorate [...]

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    Sid The Science Kid: The Movie, a co-production with The Jim Henson Company and Chinese partners Nine Eyes Stone Pictures and Shanghai Animation Film Studios Group, is making its broadcast premiere on PBS Kids on March 25 (check local listings). Young fans of are in store for more fun when NCircle Entertainment releases Sid the Science Kid: The [...]

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    With the recent release of Peter Pan on Blu-ray, fans of all ages have had the chance to experience the classic animated film for the first time. And now they can act out the adventures they saw in the film using Minimates mini-figures! Two box sets and one vehicle featuring 2-inch Minimates of the famous [...]

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  • 03/06/13--12:27: Photo Contest #12
  • Photo Contest #12 Good job with all of the submissions last week. Congratulations again Jeff. Someone needs to knock Jeff off the top finally, he’s won 3 times now. Hopefully we have a brand...

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    Bullying is often written off as a normal part of childhood—growing up as a boy with a girl’s name, I was an easy target for schoolyard taunts. But it might be fair to say that this current generation of kids has it harder than ever. Consider Lee Hirsch’s recent documentary Bully, the countless news stories [...]

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