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70 years ago

Here’s a propaganda leaflet that was dropped over Japanese cities following the destruction of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. The original text and a translation are shown below.

Let’s hope this sort of thing never happens again.

Leaflet AB-12

日本國民に告ぐ!!

〝卽刻都市より退避せよ〟

このビラに書いてあることは最も大切なことでありますから良く注意して読んで下さい。

日本國民諸君は今や重大なる秋に直面してしまつたのである。

軍部首脳部の連中が三國共同宣言の十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を以て此の無益な戦争を止めるべく機會を與へられたのであるが軍部は是を無視した。

そのためにソ聯は日本に對して宣戦を布告したのである。

亦米國は今や何人もなし得なかつた恐しい原子爆弾を發明し之を使用するに至つた。之原子爆弾はたゞ一箇だけであの巨大なB-29二千機が一囬に投下する爆弾に匹敵する。この恐るべき事實は諸君が廣島に唯一箇だけ投下された際、如何なる状態を惹起したかはそれを見れば判るはずである。

此の無益な戦争を長引かせてゐる軍事上の凡てをこの恐るべき原子爆弾を以て破壊する。米國はこの原子爆弾が多く使用されないうち諸君が此の戦争を止めるよう天皇陛下に請願される事を望むものである。米國大統領は曩に諸君に對して述べた十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を速やかに承諾し、より良い平和を愛好する新日本の建設をなすよう米國は慫慂するものである。

随つて日本國民諸君は直ちに武力抵抗を中止すべきである。

然らざれば米國は断乎この原子爆弾並に、其他凡ゆる優秀なる武器を使用しこの戦争を迅速且強制的に終結せしむるであらう。

ソツコクより退タイせよ〟

Attention People Of Japan!!

— Evacuate your cities immediately —

The content of this leaflet is of the utmost importance, so please read it carefully.

The Japanese people are facing a grave situation.

Your military leaders were given the opportunity to stop this futile war by accepting the thirteen conditions of the Potsdam Declaration, but have ignored it.

As a result, the Soviet Union has declared war on Japan.

Furthermore, the United States has invented a formidable atomic bomb, which has already been used. Just one atomic bomb carries the destructive force of 2,000 B‑29 Superfortress bombers, as you can see for yourselves by witnessing the destruction caused by a single bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

All military forces involved in prolonging this futile war will be destroyed by these atomic bombs. The United States hopes that you will petition the Emperor to end the war before many more of these weapons are used. The president of the United States urges you to agree immediately with the thirteen generous conditions previously set forth, and to start building a new, more peace-loving Japan.

Accordingly, the Japanese people must surrender immediately.

Otherwise, the United States is resolved to use atomic bombs and other advanced weapons to force this war to a rapid conclusion.

— Evacuate your cities immediately —

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Studio Ghibli

I’m quite a fan of the animations made by Studio Ghibli (スタジオジブリ), but I was unaware that the studio closed down last year following the retirement of director Hayao Miyazaki (宮﨑 駿). They may start making films again some day, but nobody knows when — or even if — this will happen.

Here’s a documentary of the studio’s work over the last 30 years:

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Japanese pancakes

It’s pancake day today. If you want to try something a bit different, here’s a video that shows you how to make Japanese-style pancakes called どら焼き (dorayaki). The voice-over is in Japanese, but the essential points are written in the English captions.

Use L-size eggs, and ordinary plain flour — “weak” flour is a direct translation of 薄力粉, a term used to distinguish ordinary cake flour from the “strong” flour (強力粉) used in breadmaking. It looks like he’s using icing sugar in the video, but caster sugar should work fine.

An authentic dorayaki is made from two of these pancakes with some red bean paste sandwiched between then. Your local Asian shop might have some. Alternatively, try maple syrup and ice cream.

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Name translator issues

arigatoThank you to everyone who emailed in about the issues with the name translation tool. It looks like the problem was caused by an expired SSL certificate. Hopefully things are working properly again now. Please keep me updated if you encounter any more problems.

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Bulk text resizing in PowerPoint 2011

Original Japanese

Original Japanese

In-situ translation

In-situ translation

In-situ translation after bulk resizing

In-situ translation after bulk resizing

When Japanese is translated into English, the translated text generally occupies more space than the original. This can sometimes be a problem. For example, if you use a translation tool like OmegaT to perform an in-situ translation of a Japanese PowerPoint presentation, the English text is probably not going to fit properly. What you need is some sort of bulk text resizing tool.

PowerPoint doesn’t allow you to perform operations on all the slides in a presentation, like scaling down the font size of every text box. (As far as I can tell, it only allows you to select multiple text boxes and set them all to the same font size, one slide at a time.) However, it does support AppleScript, which can do the job for you.

The following script will adjust every text box in the entire presentation. It won’t do a perfect job because text boxes that contain text of different sizes will be resized to a single font size. However, it can save a lot of time when you have a large translated file with broken formatting.

You can run this script direct from the AppleScript Editor application, but if you think you’re going to use it a lot then you would be better off saving it in the PowerPoint scripts folder (~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/PowerPoint Script Menu Items/), from where it can be directly accessed via PowerPoint’s scripting menu.

The script below contains two variables that you can adjust to suit your needs: minFontSize (the font size below which no scaling takes place) and fontScaleFactor (the factor by which font sizes greater than minFontSize are scaled). Don’t forget to save a backup before running this script.

set minFontSize to 7
set fontScaleFactor to 0.65
tell application "Microsoft PowerPoint"
  tell active presentation
    set theSlideCount to count slides
    repeat with a from 1 to theSlideCount
      set numShapes to count shapes in slide a
      repeat with b from 1 to numShapes
        set sz to (font size of font of text range of text frame of shape b of slide a)
        if sz is greater than minFontSize then
          set sz to minFontSize + (szminFontSize) * fontScaleFactor as integer
          tell font of text range of text frame of shape b of slide a
            set font size to sz
          end tell
        end if
      end repeat
    end repeat
  end tell
end tell
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Taking technology too far

There were two stories about Japanese technology in the news yesterday. One was about a remote control toilet. Yes, really.

The 21st century toilet

The 21st century toilet.

The Lixil Satis has a Bluetooth interface that can be accessed by installing an Android app on your smartphone. This allows you to control all sorts of functions, including opening/closing the lid, flushing the toilet, and operating the “wash/dry” system that seems to be a standard feature on Japanese toilets these days.

But yesterday a security advisory for this contraption was published online. It turns out that its designers had cut corners by making it unnecessary to enter a four-digit PIN when pairing an Android device with the toilet. (More precisely, they hard-coded the PIN to ‘0000’.) This means that anyone with an Android smartphone can control your toilet remotely, simply by downloading the free app. Oops.

Kirobo

In space … you don’t actually need legs.

The other story was that of Kirobo (キロボ), the talking robot that was dispatched to the International Space Station, supposedly to act as a companion to astronaut Koichi Wakata (若田 光一) who will be joining the ISS in November. I expect Kirobo will be staying in his box until then, as he only speaks Japanese.

According to Kirobo’s developers, this exercise is part of a study to see how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods. I suspect it’s more of a marketing manoeuvre. After all, Wakata won’t be alone on the ISS. And I’m sure they have Skype up there.

Cute little toy, though. I expect Kirobo will be appearing in the shops any day now.

Posted in inventions, Robotics | Comments Off on Taking technology too far

Domain registration scam

Back in March I mentioned a domain registration scam originating from a Chinese domain called picweb.net. It looks like the scammers have now relocated to ygitech.com, which was re-registered just a few weeks ago.

If you receive any emails that look like the following, then please ignore them. Their claims are completely bogus. Don’t visit their website either; their emails may simply be an enticement to visit their site so they can install malware on your computer.

(Please forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. Thanks)We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China. On July 22, 2013, we received an application from Taisheng Limited requested “japanesetranslator” as their internet keyword and China (CN) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it’s necessary to send email to you and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China?

Kind regards
Kenny Cheng

*********************************************
Kenny Cheng
General Manager
YGITECH (Headquarters)
B06, Yujing Building, No.1 Jihe Road,
Shanghai 201107, China
Tel: +86-21-6191-8696
Mobile: +86-182-2195-1605
Fax: +86-21-6191-8697
Web: www.ygitech.com

This e-mail contains information (including any attachments) intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If the reader of this e-mail is not the intended recipient or the authorized employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, any dissemination, publication or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited and may be illegal. If you have received this communication in error, please notify the sender. Thank you for your cooperation.


Update: 17th October 2013

They’re at it again. I just received a similar email asking me to visit dunic.org:

(Letter to Head of Brand Business or CEO, thanks)

Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a formal email. We are the auditing department of a professional domain name registration and dispute solution organization in China. Here I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on October 17, 2013 that a company claimed “MAX Holdings Ltd” were applying to register “japanesetranslator” as their Brand Name and some “japanesetranslator” Asian countries top-level domain names through our firm.

Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we would finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we could handle this issue better. After the deadline we will unconditionally finish the registration for “MAX Holdings Ltd”. Looking forward to your prompt reply.

Best Regards,
Victor Yang
Tel: +86.7395266069 Fax:+86.7395266169
Address: 124 Changjiang Road Hefei 230001 Anhui, China
Website:Http://www.dunic.org

The URL at the end of this email was actually displayed as a JPEG image instead of being typed at the end of the email. This is an old trick used by spammers to get past spam filters that trap links to blacklisted websites.

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Manhole covers of Japan

This photo collection of 423 manhole covers in Japan is nowhere near as dull as it sounds. No, really. I’m being serious!

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WordPress login failures

Back in January I started noticing a lot of failed attempts to log into this website’s admin section, presumably in an attempt to hijack the website and use it to send spam, host illegal content or join some sort of botnet. It seems that many other websites are being affected in the same way.

I’m not particularly worried about this. All of these attempts have so far used the default WordPress user name of “admin”, which doesn’t exist here, and nobody has yet realised that this website is configured to only accept logins over secure connections (i.e., https, not http). Even if they did get that right, it would still take about a billion years to crack the password by brute force. (Well, OK. Perhaps not quite as long as that. But still…)

Anyway, I wrote a script to monitor these failed logins and disable logins altogether from repeat offenders. Since January it’s caught quite a few. Here’s the list of IP addresses that have tried 10 or more times to log in to the non-existent admin account. (Note: This list is updated live, so it will probably keep growing for a while yet.)

List of rogue IP addresses

5.39.58.6 5.39.98.242 5.101.40.93 5.135.164.43 5.188.87.12 5.188.211.25 5.196.72.102 13.94.33.50 31.210.47.92 37.59.8.84 37.120.204.180 37.252.96.100 41.76.109.20 45.227.253.243 45.227.254.240 45.227.254.241 45.227.254.252 46.3.96.72 46.119.116.151 46.119.120.176 46.148.22.210 51.15.145.148 51.38.51.73 51.83.141.109 52.47.201.74 54.153.50.165 62.4.15.41 62.210.15.96 66.206.231.94 67.222.102.11 67.225.137.227 73.158.31.236 77.39.90.54 77.72.82.15 77.72.83.230 77.245.149.12 81.22.45.136 81.22.45.137 85.204.246.240 88.132.15.90 89.35.39.60 89.35.39.86 89.35.39.180 89.187.164.155 91.197.234.45 91.200.12.2 91.200.12.22 91.200.12.49 91.200.12.52 91.200.12.53 91.200.12.91 91.200.12.113 91.200.12.151 91.210.145.26 91.210.145.252 91.210.146.7 91.211.88.70 91.236.251.178 92.246.76.73 92.246.76.74 94.45.140.186 94.177.238.146 103.14.42.32 103.28.148.202 103.56.115.156 103.221.222.198 108.179.219.114 109.163.234.7 109.163.234.8 112.78.4.176 119.23.200.187 123.206.197.121 123.206.207.134 128.199.133.114 134.249.48.162 139.59.7.1 139.99.124.9 142.4.17.157 142.54.160.154 149.56.16.106 149.56.241.211 157.245.185.98 158.69.225.119 159.0.196.21 160.202.162.45 160.202.162.204 162.144.43.123 163.172.255.16 173.208.169.26 176.31.252.11 178.128.7.71 178.128.146.87 178.137.16.56 183.48.23.139 185.51.247.212 185.68.111.81 185.85.190.132 185.85.191.196 185.85.191.201 185.85.238.244 185.85.239.110 185.85.239.157 185.85.239.195 185.86.5.212 185.86.5.251 185.86.13.213 185.86.164.98 185.86.164.99 185.86.164.100 185.86.164.101 185.86.164.102 185.86.164.103 185.86.164.104 185.86.164.106 185.86.164.107 185.86.164.108 185.86.164.109 185.86.164.110 185.86.164.111 185.86.167.4 185.92.73.31 185.119.81.11 185.119.81.39 185.119.81.50 185.159.36.8 185.211.245.158 185.211.245.166 185.211.245.167 185.211.245.169 185.211.245.197 185.211.245.199 185.222.210.60 185.222.211.40 185.234.216.55 185.234.218.21 185.234.218.33 188.213.49.210 188.240.208.26 192.99.38.186 192.187.98.42 192.187.100.58 192.187.111.146 192.254.207.123 193.201.224.8 193.201.224.17 193.201.224.28 193.201.224.193 193.201.224.207 193.201.224.210 193.201.224.213 193.201.224.215 193.201.224.217 193.201.224.220 193.201.224.225 194.61.24.253 195.154.26.37 195.154.48.192 195.154.52.152 195.154.63.84 195.154.156.211 195.154.223.224 195.154.240.26 195.154.251.162 198.12.152.118 199.36.221.179 204.12.193.74 210.177.143.157 212.83.166.123 212.83.178.35 212.83.178.42 212.83.188.26 213.251.182.115 216.10.245.209 216.158.231.158 217.61.22.139

Total number of failed logins: 28108

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Air hockey robot

Researchers led by Professor Akio Namiki at Chiba University’s Namiki Lab have developed an air-hockey robot that can hold its own against human players. Although it’s not the first robot to play this game, it has the ability to change its strategy based on the playing style of its opponent.

(Previously)

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Header image: Tidal mud flats at Kaburasaki (蕪崎). From Wikimedia Commons.

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