Instagram owns you

CNet is reporting that Facebook & Instagram have stirred up the Internet on Monday by announcing that they have the right to sell photographs taken with their application. People are in an uproar about this because they are not being compensated for this or being able to opt out of the service.
Come on people…
Instagram/Facebook is providing you with an application, webspace and bandwidth to share your photos with anyone on the Internets. How much did you have to pay for all of this? Oh right, this is a free program. This company is providing you with a free, easy method of sharing your pictures of food, duckface self-portraits and scenery feet pictures with a plethora of photo filters. Add on continued app support for the future and you’ll begin to understand that free apps have to bring in money somehow.
Some people have said that the photographers should get a percentage of the sales. Sure in a perfect situation, that would be great, but Instagram is already offering a free service. They don’t owe the photographers anything else. Sure, the photographer found that ‘perfect’ angle of their strawberry crepes & espresso this morning and published it, but so did hundreds of other people. Secondly, I imagine that Instagram doesn’t want to deal with treating all their millions of users as contract employees. That would be a paperwork nightmare.
Obviously, I am no fan of Instagram, but I think they are in the right to attempt to make revenue somehow. (Whether or not it will be successful, I don’t know) There is an opt-out option though. Simply stop using Instagram and delete the app and ALL of your photos from their servers well before January 16th. That includes your shares on Facebook as well. Unless the photographer is a shareholder, the person has no right or deserves anything back from Instagram and they agreed to such when using their app.
I know the Internet has this long standing feeling that things should be free, but the reality is that there has to be money made somewhere or the ‘free’ stuff will disappear.

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Mini Japanese lesson 2

While using a new app, I found this very helpful tip.

Almost every character has two different readings called 音読み (おんよみ) and 訓読み(くんよみ). 音読み is the original Chinese reading while 訓読み is the Japanese reading. Kanji that appear in a compound or 熟語 is usually read with 音読み while one Kanji by itself is usually read with 訓読み. For example, 「力」(ちから) is read with the 訓読み while the same character in a compound word such as 「能力」 is read with the 音読み (which is 「りょく」 in this case).

No one ever mentioned this to me in my almost two years of studying Japanese… The app is called Tae Kim’s Learning Japanese and it can found in the iTunes Store.

Keeping warm in winter

If I can recommend one thing for aspiring teachers in Japan, when winter comes close, get some HeatTek from your local home center. It’s fairly cheap (mine cost about 780¥ per shirt/pants) and it works really well when you are active. It’s like Spandex, but a little less stretchy and you wear it under your business clothes. If you have a sedentary job, then it doesn’t work as well (but if you’re too hot, then just relax and it lets you cook off). Just casually moving around the teacher’s room gets me nice and warmed up! Love this stuff. If you don’t have access to a home center, then it is also available on Amazon.co.jp.

Open Letter to Gearbox Software

Hopefully, this doesn’t fall on entirely deaf ears…

Good Evening Gearbox crew,
I am writing in concerns to a recent purchase my brother and I made with Borderlands 2. We teamed up and prepurchased the Steam Four-pack with two other friends. I am an English teacher in Japan currently. I was a bit disturbed to find out that Borderlands is getting released in Japan on October 26th, despite most the advertisements for the game that I’ve seen say that the game will release internationally on September 21st. I understand that Borderlands 2 in Japan is a new market and there may be more needed adjustments to the game code for it like language-related things, but I don’t need any of that. I just want to play the English version of the game with my brother in America as soon as it gets released. I know this may come off as a little lame, but my brother and I have really been looking forward to playing this game together since we would consistently play Borderlands CoOp split-screen whenever we had the chance during my college breaks. Also, playing games online with my family has been a great remedy for homesickness (while also quirky, my family has a tendency to come range of my brother’s laptop mic and talk directly to me while in gameplay).
All I’m asking is if there is any possible way that I can get around the October 26th release date and play the game when it gets released in America on September 19th? We bought the American version of the game and if I had bought/preordered the physical copy of the game, I could have legally brought it with me to Japan, so why should the digital distribution of the game be any different? (albeit, there is some flaw with this idea). Please, any advice or suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Please don’t tell me I have to wait over a month to play the game with my brother and the rest of my Internet friends online. Thank you.

New goal…

So this is a bit of a rant, so I’ll apologize in advance.
When I first came to Japan, I really wanted to trust everyone. My first trip to Japan instilled such an awe-inspiring trust in Japan with how helpful everyone was, I had no other expectation.
But after getting here and getting “ripped off” at some snack bars and some surprise charges here and there, I’ve sadly restricted how much trust I’ve been giving people. One person that kind of bothered me lately was my old senpai.

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Takakanuma Greenland is no more…

So my friend messaged me about two weeks ago saying, “How do you feel about abandoned amusement parks?”. I was hooked immediately and inquired about it more. My friend showed me a page on Atlas Obscura for Takakanonuma Greenland, an old Japanese amusement park.
http://atlasobscura.com/place/takakonuma
Per Atlas Obscura’s reference, the park was shut down in 1999 and left behind to rust. Many intrepid urban explorers has dared to venture into this place and see this eerily creepy place in person to take some wonderful pictures. Immediately, plans went into action with my friend to plan a road trip here since we both easily lived close enough to make a small road trip out of it. We knew somewhat about where it was located, but not exactly. In fact, even AO mentions that the park has become so obscure that people don’t know where it is located. So I began the great Internet search to find out where this park is located.

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Using Steam in Japan

My Steam purchasing process:
“Ooo, I want that.” -> Add to cart -> Purchase for Myself -> Steam:Unknown Error!
(Gah! Bullshit, Steam, you know…)
Exit Steam -> Sign into VPN (Are my torrents closed? Crap…) ->Restart Steam -> Open Cart -> Purchase for myself -> Steam purchase: Success.
I hate Steam while I’m in Japan…

So to say the least, I’ve been having difficulties with buying things on Steam.  Luckily, I still have access to my VPN from when I was a student, but who knows how long until that gets shut off.  For those Steam-heads that don’t have a VPN like me, the best way to get around this is to use the web browser and make sure you browse to http://store.steampowered.com/?cc=us and make your purchase.  This was the best answer I could get from Steam Support.

In a world of digital distribution that is permanently tied to one account, why should region-locking even matter.  To some extent, I can understand why region-locking works for physical media, but games on Steam are intangible (Intangir, what have you!)!  It’s not like I can buy a bunch of English copies of the game and sell them to other people in Japan (while I could gift them to other people for an outside/under-the-table agreed priced, such a deal would put both accounts at risk of being terminated by Steam’s TOS).

Bah, Steam, get it together!  Especially since I want to give you my money!

Sticker Shock

Since I’ve came to Japan, I’ve had to get used to buying things in yen instead of dollars. Unfortunately, it’s been a little hard for me adjust. Mostly because I’ll look at a pair of sandals that are 3000¥ and think ‘Ahh, that’s so expensive!’ when they’re really only about $40. Haha