Archive for March, 2006

Mar
28

Lightening up the mood a little

Posted by on Tuesday, 28 March, 2006

Well it’s that time of the year (?) when I think one should lighten up the mood of your blog a little… So I decided to throw in a bunch of these LiveJournal-esque blogthings or self-tests:


Your Blog Should Be Blue


Your blog is a peaceful, calming force in the blogosphere.
You tend to avoid conflict – you’re more likely to share than rant.
From your social causes to cute pet photos, your life is a (mostly) open book.

Well, my blog is partially blue, does that count?

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

This is pretty interesting, because I have heard people say I speak in an Upper Midwestern dialect on a number of occasions… Apparantly I don’t, because if Blogthings-test says something, then it’s the truth! 😉


You Failed the US Citizenship Test


Oops, you only got 6 out of 10 right!

Well I was not really thinking of applying anyway, so…. (sour grapes?)


Your 2005 Song Is


Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani

“This shit is bananas B-A-N-A-N-A-S)”

For you, 2005 was the Best Year Ever.

Yeah, that’s my shit! 😀 Seriously though, 2005 was a good year, but Hollaback girl good? Wow, that’s quite a bold statement!

Mar
27

Cherry blossoms are serious business

Posted by on Monday, 27 March, 2006

Cherry Blossom

The Cherry blossom (桜 Sakura) viewing season (花見 Hanami) has started here in Japan will all that it entails. First of all, you can be sure that the popular viewing spots are completely crowded for a week or so, so don’t even bother going there if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your viewing experience with tens of thousands of other people… No but seriously, this must be the most beautiful time of the year here in Japan, with the peak of Fall (with its multicolored leaves) being a close second. Temperatures are slowly but steadily rising in Tokyo (we have around 15-17 degrees daytime now) and it’s pretty darn nice to be outside. Personally I took a little stroll below the cherry blossoms at our local spot, a small street lined with Sakura trees. The usual stands selling everything from noodle to banana crepes were of course set up in a timely fashion, to make sure the local business gets the most out of this year’s Sakura season.

Speaking of big business. The business of predicting when the Sakura season starts is very serious. Last year, the Japan Meteorological Agency predicted that the cherry blossom viewing season would start four (4!) days earlier than it actually did. The outcry from the Japanese population equalled that of the criticism of the American government after last year’s tsunami Katrina. The Japanese take their cherry blossom viewing seriously!

Here is an article about a cherry blossom forecaster working for JMA. It’s an interesting read, and you will get an idea of just how important the timing of the blooming trees are here in Japan. In the article there is a reference to a site with real time cherry blossom information, and that you can find here: Weathernews Sakura 2006

Mar
15

Some small changes

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 March, 2006

If you notice something different about the layout today, that is because I am currently experimenting with what to put in the right sidebar. I am tired of the one-line movie reviews (it doesn’t generate any value-add to my readers, and I am too lazy to update it in a timely manner).

So for now
First I added the Technorati Favorites widget, displaying the latest three posts from blogs that I have tagged as my favorites on Technorati. After putting in the sidebar though, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of customization. My sidebar bar is 200 pixels wide, and that the Technorati favorites block barely fits in it. Further, the colors and layout of it really doesn’t appeal to me.

Secondly, I made a Flickr badge displaying photos tagged with ‘Japan’. It looks kind of nice, don’t you think?I took away the Flickr badge because it was unreliable for some reason – often not displaying any pictures at all, so the Technorati Widget is back until further notice….

Another idea is to put up my Newsvine Watchlist. I will perhaps tinker a bit with that this coming weekend – it’s a piece of Javascript though, and I don’t know how much it can be customized either.

Then there is this list of things to put in your sidebar over at Listible.com to consider as well.

I’m a bit lost here. I need to put something really cool there but I don’t really know what. I will have to retreat into my Web 2.0-approved home and think really hard. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Mar
14

Frustrations in Japan Part 3 – Business Meetings

Posted by on Tuesday, 14 March, 2006

Meeting Room

There was an article a few weeks ago over at 43 Folders on how to make your business meetings more productive. It was a good read, but I realized how different meeting culture is in Japan visavi the Western world. The tips presented would not have had the desired effect over here, and that is why I will give you some pointers on Japanese business meetings.

1. Instead of looking at a meeting as a forum for discussion of certain topics, look at the meeting as a lecture and presentation of results. There will be limited (if any) discussion during the meeting; most people except to be given a presentation by the meeting organizer that requires little active participation.

2. Don’t expect answers to any difficult (or easy for that matter) questions during the meeting. If you ask questions, you will be met with silence or perhaps answers that merely avoid the topic. Ask your questions before the meeting in private with the people involved; preferably communicate your questions to the relevant people a few days in advance so they can think through their answers and give it to you before the meeting.

3. In relation to (2), it is a good idea to always schedule invidiual pre-meetings before a big meeting – that way you will make sure you get to hear everyone’s opinion (because people rarely speak up in big meetings).

4. Don’t be impatient! If you are forced to ask questions during the meeting, and you are met with silence, this is a signal that the respondent needs time. In Japan, people let others take their time to think through the subject/question thoroughly. Do not try to put words in people’s mouths in order to quickly get an answer.

5. If your meeting is with external people, be sure to treat them with utter respect, especially if your meeting clients/customers. Remember the unwritten rules of seating; the visitors should sit as far away from the door as possible. Note the order they sit in, the most senior person will often sit in the middle, with rank going down as you move further out from the center of the table. Always be careful with any business cards you receive – do not shove them in your back pocket or use them as coasters etc., the business card is an extension of one’s person and thus requires the same respect as the person him/herself.

6. In Japan it is accepted to have cell phones turn on during a meeting – if you receive an important phone call, it is OK for you to excuse yourself and take the call.

7. People will sleep in meetings if they think they are not directly connected to the topics of discussion – if the people you are meeting are sleeping, ignore it; if your own people are sleeping, do not make a scene during the meeting, take it up with the person in question in private after the meeting.

Those were some quick pointers that will help you through Japanese meetings; there are many more things to think about, but that will do for now I think. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. Perhaps I will post a follow-up in a while too if I get enough new ideas.

Mar
13

Ericsson wins new customer in Japan

Posted by on Monday, 13 March, 2006

Cell phone radio tower
Ericsson selected as primary 3G and HSDPA vendor for eMobile in Japan

Ericsson will be the prime supplier of WCDMA radio networks in the metropolitan areas of Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka) and a complete nationwide core network. eMobile will roll out the network very quickly and plan to launch commercial services in March 2007. UPDATE: March 2007 is only for Data services; Voice services planned for February 2008.

Finally this was made public since about an hour back. I’ve known about it a while, but for obvious reasons I could not say anything about it earlier. I think this is very good news for Ericsson – picking up one of the two main new players in the 3G market in Japan (the other is Softbank, where nothing is clear yet). It will be interesting to follow what strategy eMobile will have for their cell phone services; will they take the low-cost route, or try to compete on interesting new features? Most people seem to think they will be a traditional vendor, and not do anything more revolutionary than lower prices – but we will see.

UPDATE 3/14:
Some interesting questions that were posed by Japanese media at the press conference; one was, what happened to Lucent? It was announced early 2005 that eMobile were testing Lucent equipment and everyone assumed that they would win the contract, however, now Lucent is nowhere to be seen? In response to this, eMobile said: (translated by me)

First of all, Ericsson is contracted to build an access network in the Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo regions. As far as the other regions go, no decision has been taken yet – we are investigating this intensely. We may go with multiple vendors, 2 or 3, or it may end with only one (Ericsson).

Further, regarding the terminals (the actual phones), a question was posed regarding the likelyhood of Sony-Ericsson getting to supply them, now that Ericsson will supply most of the network.
eMobile Chairman and CEO Semmoto said:

We are discussing with domestic and foreign vendors about supply of terminals. We cannot give any names at this moment. Since we have chosen Ericsson to supply the network, it is obvious that Sony-Ericsson would be a good match. That Sony-Ericsson is a candidate for supplying the phones is rather safe to say.

However, President and COO of eMobile Taneno was quick to add that

We have not yet reached that far in our discussions with Sony-Ericsson.