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Totoro's rants

PSP Cradle

Gadgets Posted on Wed, April 30, 2008 09:31:36

I missed this news first time around on Kotaku, but just saw it on one of the Japanese blogs I am following, My English is Engrish.

It is the Sony PSP-S360 cradle for the PSP-2000, and it seems, at least for the time being, only available in Japan.

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More info (in Japanese) on Sony’s site, pricing is 4800 Yen for the cradle and remote alone.

Ah, now I need a PSP-2000 so I can buy this cradle.

I would be nice if they had this kind of craddle for wall-mount as well. I could have one for the kitchen, one for the bathroom, one beside the front door – for the moment where one is checking if one has all the keys, and so forth.

Rolly does colours

Gadgets Posted on Mon, April 21, 2008 14:21:10

At least as long as the other colour on the main unit is black. Coming this month, April, in Japan. Also 3 different colour of ‘ears’ sets are now available seperately in red, blue, or silver.

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Click on the image to go to Sony’s Japanese site with more product info.

It is kind of cute in black and with the option of different colours for ears – read, reserve ears for when the cats have molested the old ones – it has become interesting – again. I was not too impressed with the sound when I heard it (anyway the conditions were not that good, so…), but I think the Rolly is back on the buy list again – in black.

Motion Portrait

Gadgets Posted on Sat, April 05, 2008 21:40:44

Found on Danny Choo:

Interesting new way of generating 3D ‘moving’ pictures from 2D images from a Japanese company called Motion Portrait.

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And another and bigger picture can be found here.

It is of course not so interesting using a mouse cursor, but e.g. finding the user positioning via a camera will probably give some new possibilites, like you can have some looking at you while you are trying to find out how to use the Japanese ticket machine, and give you advice. Giving a ‘human’ (although slightly zombied) touch to technology. There are other usage suggestions on their site.

Foot massaging socks

Gadgets Posted on Tue, March 11, 2008 23:16:39

Found on Trends in Japan:

Socks that apply pressure points to the underside of your feet while you walk/stand. Sound like an interesting idea, might be a problem getting the right sizes though.

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More can be read about this at Trends in Japan (in English), and at the sellers website Akaishi (in Japanese), but I do not think they ship them outside Japan.

USB Powered Face Mask

Gadgets Posted on Sun, March 09, 2008 13:30:47

I have never used a Japanese-style face mask, although I have used painters face masks, but they are a bit different (and much more rigid). But it seems there is a problem using the face masks in combination with being seated, as there is much less airflow around it compared to when one is moving around. So probably making it more difficult to breathe.

But, there seems to be a solution to that from Thanko (Japanese), here is the before picture:

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Although she seems a bit unhappy in the before picture, when she gets the USB powered mask, which does not replace the ordinary face mask but goes on top of it, she looks a bit scary (although I think the idea is that she is happier with the powered mask, as it becomes much easier to breathe):

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The small black cable (180 cm long) in front goes to an USB connector. There is an on/off switch on the cable, to turn on and off the 2 fans in the mask (one on each side as can be seen in the picture above).

It does not seem that Thanko sends world-wide though, so I will have to wait to buy one of these until I get to Japan. The powered mask costs 2480 Yen and there is also a USB power supply if no PC or laptop is close by, available for 1270 Yen.

Sumoh TinyAmp S30

Gadgets Posted on Sat, February 09, 2008 01:02:37

This is not a review of the Sumoh TinyAmp S30 digital stereo amplifier (2 x 30W / 4Ω), I simply do not have loudspeakers that are good enough for that at the moment. Well I have, but not in the living room where the amplifier currently is. Consider this more of a little story about my initial experience with the amplifier. You can read more about the amplifier here at Sumoh.

The Sumoh TinyAmp S30 arrived by mail in a fairly small box, nice and compact and not much larger than the amp itself. On unpacking the amp gave of an impression of a good build quality, and I really liked the assorted cables and connectors that were part of the package. The manual was a slim affair, but contained all the neccessary information.

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I bought the Sumoh to replace a somewhat dated (running on its 17th year) Sony Mini Receiver with a set of Sony SS-H2500 bookshelf speakers of the same age, so I sort of expected at least some kind of improvement. The Sony had been connected to my somewhat dated (running on its 3rd year) Windows XP based PC via the analog output on the Abit AV-8 3rd Eye motherboard. The Sumoh has a coaxial digital input and unfortunately the Abit has an optical digital output, so I had to buy a couple of cables, an optical and a coaxial cable (I had not noticed that the Sumoh actually included a coaxial digital cable, otherwise I could have skipped buying that) and a optical-in-to-coaxial-out converter box, all from AV-Connection.

My signal path is from the Abit AV-8 3rd Eye optical SPDIF output via an optical cable to an optical-in-to-coaxial-out converter (powered) box and then via a coaxial cable to the TinyAmp. I connected all the stuff and ran into the first problem, I am always using the volume up/down and mute button on the Logitech cordless keyboard I have. Unfortunately the volume buttons are ‘hard-coded’ to the master volume and not the wave output or the SPDIF output, both of which regulate the digital output level. After blowing out my ears (due to the little volume issue), but luckily not literally – otherwise the new amplifier would have been a bit of a waste, I found a little tool called Volume Tracker, which can link the master volume to any output, in this case I chose wave output (there is still an issue with the two lowest on this tool, as it seems to be momentarily reset to medium level, when it is moved there, but once you know it is sufficient for now. I can always code something myself later on.

First impression after connecting the Sumoh: Hey, these old speakers actually can deliver bass output. Well it was an improvement all around, more control of the bass and much cleaner sound, gone was the chaos and mud sound. The limitation are the speakers so I cannot really give a description of the audio quality of this little amplifier, other than it was a vast improvement on my previous Sony.

There are a couple of things that I believe need to be taken into consideration with this amplifier though, first the sensitivity of the speakers that are attached. There is no analog gain which means the volume level is regulated on the digital input. So there is a range from where the sound-to-noise level is acceptable to it is so high that clipping occurs. I see no problem though for my purpose, which is for background and reasonable listening levels (I live in an appartment) in a room of less than 20m2. When I play loud it seems to be the speakers that give up first and become slightly harsh in their sound. So the first day ended all in roses.

Getting down from the inital new gadget high on the second day I noticed an occasional little scratch noise (a fraction of a second). It seemed to occur randomly and then again it seemed to occur more often on ALE, when playing from iTunes, than on MP3. Testing with a couple of MP3 coded songs seemed to confirm that, but as MP3 has muddied the water anyway, it could be nothing. Switching between 44.1kHz and 48kHz seemed to give a slight difference with a small favour towards 48kHz. After a couple of retries, I found a couple of songs where it always occurred around certain points: AIR – ‘Alone in Kyoto’, Allison Statton & Spike – ‘Where to Start’, chatmonchy – ‘Make Up! Make Up!’. I was getting convinced that it was USB (all the songs are on a Iomega external Harddisk) or CPU related (iTunes is a hog), so I tried VLC, WinAMP all with the somewhat same result.

My HP laptop has a SPDIF output and after some rather lengthy investigation it turned out to be a coaxial one (why do they not write this anywhere). So with a bit of recabling I connected the laptop directly to the TinyAmp, unfortunately it did not work, and I have no clue why. so onward to the next test, my Mac mini (as a media center) is connected to my Yamaha RX-V1500 AV Receiver in another room via its optical digital output, so a quick recabling and some moving things a bit around and the Mac mini was now the source using iTunes and accessing the shared library on the PC over the network. So the only difference between the 2 setups for the amplifier was now the source: The AV-8 3rd Eye SPDIF output and its optical cable. It became quickly clear that the dropouts were gone, sigh of relief, and it sounded as good as it could get with the bookshelf speakers. In the long run the Sumoh is going to be used with the Mac mini, so it was nice to know that there are no problems in this regard.

So what was wrong with the AV-8 3rd Eye PC. Drivers, I had not checked for any new Realtek Audio drivers. It turned out there was a new (newer than the one I had) which updated my version 5780 of the driver to 5900 and gone were the dropouts.

The only small annoyance there is left is that it seems to take a couple of minutes (I have not timed it yet) before the amplifier detects that there is no digital input and it shuts itself down. So I end up powering it down via the switch on its back, but unfortunately it still seems to be powered (as so many devices are) and actually feels warmer than if it is not shutdown. But there is an easy work-around for that, so not really a problem.

Of course I expect to do some more intensive listening and get the SS-H2500 speakers replaced, but for now I am very satified with the TinyAmp, it provided exactly what I had hoped for.

Note: Yes, it is a Kokeshi style doll as key chain beside the Sumoh amplifier. It seemed … appropriate.

Toyota Land Walker

Gadgets Posted on Sat, December 15, 2007 11:01:26

Having a 4-wheel drive is so much old style. Now, if you are really in the need for something that is mobile, then you need the 2-feet drive Toyota Mobiro.

Found on Akihabara News and Danny Choo

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Toyota Mobiro picture is from Akihabara News. More Toyota robotics information can be found here.

And no, you can not buy it yet.

Rolly does Algorithm Exercise

Gadgets Posted on Fri, October 26, 2007 22:15:54

Hm, I need two of them then…

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Click on the picture to see the YouTube video.

Here is a video from a children’s show with more human performers, this time bus guides.

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Click on the picture to see the YouTube video. You also get to see the gate at Asakusa, Tokyo Tower, the Metropolitan Towers in Shinjuku and the Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba from about the same point of view as the pictures in the 14 days to go post, although a bit to the left.

As a bonus feature, here is a Rolly with a cat – I wonder how long this one is going to last.

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Click on the picture to see the YouTube video. A note of warning, gadget geeks might find parts of this video slightly painful to watch. The ending is so typical for a cat.smiley

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