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Taman Observatory is a curious structure located on a small hilltop overlooking a sports park and the town of Tamana beyond. It’s not so high and the views are not particularly impressive.More like an oversized, climbable sculpture than a building, it does have a single room inside the central ovoid shape.As a photographer I found it exciting as I spent a good hour running around taking lots of

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Officials are eager to stop young people from sending salacious images.

We live in unprecedented times, as I’m sure you well know by now. But one of the most striking changes in recent years is how ubiquitous and constant our use of technology is. While some of us remember being in our early twenties by the time we had our own cell phone, now it’s something of a necessity for people at younger and younger ages. This brings its own challenges, of course. How can you help children and teenagers stay safe on the Internet while respecting their privacy?

This issue is further complicated by how many phones nowadays come with cameras, and where there are cameras, there are selfies.

While snapping a cute photograph of yourself isn’t a crime, some younger people might find themselves tempted to take photographs where they’re in a state of undress…or in a worst-case scenario, be directed to do so by an outside party. Once a compromising photograph like this exists it could be sent to other people, uploaded online, or even discovered through hacking, and so the government is expressly encouraging phone carriers to implement technology that can restrict inappropriate selfies.

▼ There are already rules in place for using your phone for upskirt photography and other misdemeanors.

The request comes as part of the government’s most recently declared 5th Basic Plan on Measures for Providing Safe and Secure Internet Use for Young People. This plan includes such initiatives as education programs in schools to help young people acclimatize to the digital world, awareness campaigns regarding harmful content and predatory practices that are present online, and the promotion of ways to deal with uniquely Internet-based problems …continue reading

    

The low-down on directions, instructions, and more.

As many of you know, you can carry the COVID-19 virus without experiencing any symptoms. It has been arguably more difficult in Japan than other countries to get tested for COVID-19, especially if you are asymptomatic. But there are options out there, even if they’re not well-known! That’s why our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa decided to take his seemingly healthy self to Akihabara’s PCR Test Center.

This testing center is organized by a medical group that also has testing booths in areas like Haneda Airport, so you can rest assured that they’re trustworthy. Their goal in setting up booths like this one is to make PCR tests more accessible for people that need a test but not necessarily medical treatment.

“Perfect, that sounds like me!” thought Seiji, and he got ready to go. But wait! If you’re thinking of casually dropping by on your way to mourn the loss of the giant Sega arcade, think again. The first step to visiting the Akihabara PCR Test Center is actually to make an online reservation. When Seiji signed up for a test, there was fairly good availability despite it being a Sunday.

▼ Yep, pretty much all free, as indicated by the circles.

The second step is to arrange payment. It costs 2,300 yen (US$21.01) per test, but they don’t accept cash. That means you’ll have to pay by credit card, your IC card, or another form of electronic payment.

The third step is actually getting there. Seiji admits that he isn’t that great with directions, so he was glad for the giant “PCR Test Center” billboard plastered on the building he was aiming for.

▼ It also helps that it’s bigger than the …continue reading

    

Amidst the number of closed businesses and beleaguered industries, one has made a surprise comeback.

Unsurprisingly, a pandemic is no good time for anyone or anything. From shuttered factory doors to cultural traditions ambling on their last legs, COVID-19 has done its work, in fact, even inspiring a new and now commonly used phrase for the worldwide turmoil it has caused: “koronaka,” or literally in English, “corona damage.” But like all things in life, some silver linings have arisen from this situation, and this is especially the case for the amateur radio community.

▼ Can’t wait to whip out grandmama and grandpapa’s old set!

According to the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL), for the first time in 27 years, an increase in membership was recorded in 2020 with 578 new members, putting the total number of JARL participants at 65,788 individuals.

While 578 new members doesn’t sound like a monumental increase, it’s still rather impressive as given the plethora of smartphones nowadays and every-rising Internet usage, one would expect amateur radio’s popularity to exponentially wane over the years versus encountering any kind of growth in interest, or in the JARL’s case, membership. So why are folks in Japan pursuing amateur radio as their pandemic passion project? It comes down to two reasons: lack of human contact and easing of government restrictions.

▼ Maintaining those radio towers might seem like a lonesome endeavor, but it’s all the better with distant company.

With COVID-19 preventative policies stressing measures like social distancing, it’s no surprise some folks are bunkering down at home and …continue reading

    

Source: Gaijin Pot

The start of tsuyu, or the rainy season, has already started in Japan. I’ve always wondered how the beginning of the rainy season was determined, for no sooner is the season announced than we experience a week of beautiful, sunny weather.

It’s as if mother nature is snubbing her nose at all the meteorologists and saying, “Think ye can pin me down, d’ye? Well, take that!”

The answer to this question lies in first understanding why it rains.

The baiu zensen

The tsuyu weather pattern.

From about May to July, there is a stationary front over Japan known as the baiu zensen (梅雨前線, the seasonal rain front). Check a weather map of Japan at this time of year, and you’ll find a flat front with semi-circles on the northern side and triangles on the southern side.

This indicates a stationary front or a non-moving boundary between two differing air masses. Because of the baiu zensen, long continuous rainy periods can linger in the area affected.

In East Asia, air masses of differing temperatures and humidity from areas of high atmospheric pressure over the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean meet along the baiu zensen, creating clouds and rain. The strength of these two regions bumping up against each other prevents the front from dissipating.

When there have been several days of unsettled weather, and it looks likely to continue to be rainy or cloudy for several successive days, the Japanese Meteorological Agency will announce that a particular region of Japan has entered tsuyu iri (梅雨入り, the rainy season).

Similarly, tsuyu ake (梅雨明け, the end of the rainy …continue reading

    

Source: Tokyo Times
Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Televisions remain an ever-present feature in the home and hotel room, but just like viewing habits, designs have changed enormously, and the TV sets below are a nice reminder of just how dramatic those changes have been. Taken over the space of 10 years or so, they were all shot in a variety of abandoned buildings, and while some are clearly more modern than others, all of them hark back to an era when millions of people sat, at set times, to watch specific programmes.

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

Old and long-abandoned Japanese televisions

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Google は、情報のセキュリティとプライバシーに配慮した製品により、ユーザーの皆さんがご自身のデータを管理できるよう注力しています。今週開催された Google I/O で発表した、の設定をまとめて管理できるページや、自動削除オプション、製品の使用中に状況に応じて表示される設定など、ユーザーが自分にあった設定を簡単に選べるようにしています。そしてこの度、いくつかの新しい設定が加わりました。

検索でのクイック削除 : Google アカウント メニュー上で 1 回タップするだけで、直前 15 分間の検索履歴を削除できる「クイック削除」オプションを新たに追加しました。

  • Google フォトのパスワードロック付きフォルダ : 写真を見せるために人にスマートフォンをわたしたとき、スクロールして、例えばサプライズのプレゼントなど、見られたくない写真が表示されないか心配になったことはありませんか。選択した写真をパスワードで保護されたフォルダに保存できる「ロック付きフォルダ」機能を Google フォトに追加します。グリッドや共有アルバムをスクロールしても、これらの写真は表示されません。本機能は Google Pixel から対応し、年内にはその他複数の Android 端末でもお使いいただけるようになる予定です。

  • Google マップのタイムラインのロケーション履歴リマインダー : Google マップのタイムラインの行ったことのある場所の表示に、ロケーション履歴がオンになっていることを知らせるリマインダーを追加しました。これにより、タイムラインからロケーション履歴を素早くオフにすることができます。

Android 12 に業界トップ水準の透明性と管理機能を導入

次の OS である Android 12 では、プライバシー ダッシュボードが組み込まれ、アプリによるカメラ、マイク、デバイスの位置情報へのアクセスがタイムラインで表示されるようになります。カメラやマイクの使用を示すインジケーターや、デバイス全体でカメラやマイクへのアクセスを無効にする機能も追加します。加えて、正確な場所ではなく、おおよその位置情報をアプリに対して共有するよう設定できるようになります。

デフォルトでセキュリティが保たれる製品の開発

情報のセキュリティが確保されていないということは、すなわちプライバシーも守られていないということです。世界中の数十億人のユーザーを保護する AI 技術により、Google の製品はデフォルトでセキュリティが保護されるよう設計されています。Gmail では、 1 日に約 1 億のフィッシング詐欺や約 150 億のスパムメールをブロックし、Google フォトでは 40 億の写真を暗号化しています。Chrome やその他のほとんどのブラウザで利用可能なセーフ ブラウジングは、インターネット全体の安全を保ち、自動的に 40 億以上のデバイスのセキュリティ保護に役立てられています。

最も大きなセキュリティリスクのひとつに、パスワードに依存していることがあります。パスワードの多くは簡単に予測できるほか、複数のサイトで使い回されていたり、フィッシング詐欺によって盗まれる危険があります。Google アカウントにおいては、より安全な認証方法や保護のレイヤーを何層にもすることで、パスワードの不要な未来に向けた取り組みを行っています。今後、 2 段階認証をデフォルトで設定する取り組み*もその一環です。


とはいえ、ほとんどのオンライン アカウントではパスワードの利用が欠かせません。ChromeAndroid、そして新たに iOS に組み込まれたパスワード マネージャーは、ウェブ全体でパスワードの作成、記憶、保存、自動入力を助けます。Google はパスワード マネージャーを継続的に改善しており、本日新たな機能を発表しました。


  • 新しいツールでは、他のパスワードマネージャーから簡単にパスワードをインポートできるようになります。

  • Chrome と Android がより統合され、デスクトップでもモバイルでも、サイトやアプリ間でパスワードがシームレスに入力されるようになります。

  • 保存されたパスワードが第三者によって侵害されたことを検出した場合に、パスワードアラートで自動的に警告を表示します。

  • 簡単なタップ操作で、漏洩した可能性のあるパスワードをChrome で修正できる機能。サポートされているサイトやアプリの場合、パスワードマネージャーが漏洩した可能性のあるパスワードを見つけると、Google アシスタントが「パスワードの変更」ボタンを表示します。ボタンをタップすると、Google アシスタントがサイトを開き、パスワード変更プロセスをサポートします。この機能は Android 端末ですでに利用可能で、今後より多くのサイトやアプリに展開される予定です。



プライバシーに配慮した製品開発

Google は、2016 年に発表したフェデレーション ラーニングのような新しいコンピューティング技術を開発することで、個人データおよびプライバシーの保護と便利な体験の両立を目指しています。また、COVID-19 コミュニティ モビリティ レポートから Google マップの渋滞予測まで、個々のユーザーデータを明らかにすることなく、最も役に立つ機能や製品の一部を強化する「差分プライバシー」で業界に貢献しています。こうした専門知識は、例えばオープンソースのプライバシー サンドボックスなど、より広範な取り組みにつながっています。

そして同様の取り組みを、AI 技術を活用した機能におけるユーザー情報の安全性とプライバシーを保護する Android の Private Compute Core でも継続して行っています。例えば、音声の字幕を自動的に表示する「自動字幕起こし( Live Caption )」や、付近で流れている音楽を検出し表示する「この曲なに?( Now Playing )」、メッセージやメールへの返答の候補を表示してくれる「スマート リプライ」などの機能があります。これらの AI による音声および言語の処理は、デバイス上でのみ、つまり、端末上に留めたまま行われます。Private Compute Core は Android の他の部分と同じくオープンソース化されており、セキュリティ コミュニティによる検査・検証がされています。

Google は、新しい設定や高度なセキュリティ・プライバシー保護技術により、これからも毎日をより安全にするための取り組みを進めてまいります。


*注釈:2 段階認証のデフォルト設定は、企業および教育機関向けの Google Workspace を利用されているユーザーには影響しません。企業および教育機関向けの Google Workspace の場合、これまでと変わらず管理コンソールを通して 2 段階認証を設定するかを選択することが可能です。

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Luckily, no entry plug is needed.

As we’ve been seeing for the past year, COVID-19 tends to do its worst damage when medical facilities get overwhelmed and run out of essential equipment like ventilators. While larger supplies of this equipment is sorely needed, so are alternatives that can help mitigate the damage caused by shortages.

Now it seems as if a team of scientists from Tokyo Medical and Dental University may have struck upon such a treatment. As is often the case, it all began with the humble loach and ended with an enema named after bio-mechanical giant robots.

▼ Loaches are small eel-like fish, commonly used as food in Japan.

Those familiar with loaches will know that they can be quite durable and can even survive outside of water for relatively long periods. One reason for this is their unique special ability to breathe through their intestines – more specifically their posterior intestine, also known in some scientific circles as the “poop chute.”

It stands to reason, as this body part is often associated with the expulsion of gas for many species, from snakes to my pet dog just now… I swear it was him. And as thoroughly documented in both Jackass and the Howard Stern Show, some humans have mastered the art of inhaling air through the posterior as well, a skill which they use to fart on command.

▼ Sadly our staff has no such skills and need to resort to yams and milk to generate farts.

Loaches have taken this concept one step further and been able to efficiently absorb oxygen through their intestines which can supplement any deficiencies from normal breathing. To put it bluntly, they …continue reading

    

Relaxed regulation may be coupled with new criminalization, though.

Following months of discussion, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is set to approve the use of pharmaceuticals containing cannabis as an ingredient in Japan, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Japanese legal system takes a particularly hardline stance against drugs, and even the possession of a small amount of marijuana is generally treated as a major crime. However, following the approval of cannabis-based medicines in many other nations, at the beginning of the year the ministry formed a committee to discuss whether Japan should follow suit, with the effectiveness of such medications in treating sufferers of refractory epilepsy and as a pain suppressant for cancer patients.

The allowance will require amendments to Japan’s Cannabis Control Law, which currently forbids the use and importation of such medicines. Lifting the prohibition would ostensibly also allow Japanese pharmaceutical makers, with proper licensing, to produce cannabis-based medications of their own.

However, this doesn’t mean that the substance is going to be decriminalized in all forms and applications. It’s likely that the revision will allow for the use of cannabis only for specific medical conditions, and “anxiety” may not qualify, given the Japanese medical system’s comparative aversion to treating mental health issues with medication. Likewise, the lifting of the ban will not allow international travelers to bring as large a supply of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals as they want into Japan, much as how you can’t get through customs with a suitcase (or hot dog) full of any other meds that require a prescription within Japan.

It’s also important to bear in mind that the revision appears to be specifically for cannabis-based medicines, not marijuana leaves, and strictly for legitimate medical purposes. Recreational marijuana use in Japan will still get you in as much trouble as it did before, …continue reading

    

Who knew playing video games could be therapeutic for your body as well as your mind?

Last year, during the beginning of the pandemic, the Nintendo Switch fitness game Ring Fit Adventure proved to be a great way to let your kids blow off some steam when everything else was closed. The combination of physical activity and monster-fighting, fast-paced adventure makes it a fun and challenging activity that both stimulates and wears them out. But as it turns out, Ring Fit Adventure might also be good for adults, since the results of one study indicates that playing Ring Fit Adventure can alleviate chronic low back pain.

▼ Ring Fit Adventure trailer

A team of researchers at the Chiba University School of Medicine conducted the study in the hopes of expanding research on the effects of exergaming (the combination of exercise and video games) on chronic low back pain. The researchers hypothesized that regular play of Ring Fit Adventure can help with symptoms of chronic low back pain, and it seems they were correct.

The study observed 40 participants experiencing chronic low back pain over an eight-week period. 20 randomly selected participants were asked to play Ring Fit Adventure once per week for 40 minutes at a time, and the other twenty patients were only given oral medication as a control group.

All of the patients’ pain and psychological scores, including pain self-efficacy, were measured and analyzed both before the study and at the end, and when eight weeks had passed, patients who had played Ring Fit Adventure reported not only physical improvement but also psychological improvement as well.

They reported less low back pain and buttock pain as well as better pain self-efficacy–the believed …continue reading