Monday, December 20, 2010

Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

I should probably save this comment for the end but can't help about this one. 

This book was one of those books which makes you go through sleepless nights because you just can't stop reading.

Each chapter in this book is account of thrilling experience by Jake in his reporting years. The most intriguing part is that at the end of the book, you get the feeling that there is more on which the author has not written anything yet. Although the chapters are in chronological order except for the first one, you feel the sudden huge time gap between some chapters and can't help but think "what happened there?", "where are those details?", "is it something he cannot write?"

Also the fact that all of the contents are author's real experiences makes you wonder about how Yakuza has become part of Japanese society. Yakuza is unwanted by most of the citizens yes, yet it has penetrated so deep into the society that it is has become extremely difficult to eliminate completely and the law itself is not on the side of cops.

For the foreigners who live in Japan, Yakuza mostly exists in rare news and sometimes in background politics. You think that they just can't touch your daily lives. But Jake's stories make you realize about lives of ordinary Japanese citizens; that the shadows of threats by loan sharks (aka Yakuza), land lords, night club owners are all around you.

Even if you don't know anything about Japan, Jake's capturing style and fascinating details will give you a new outlook towards Japanese society.

A very good..err..exceptionally good read on Japan's crime world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Galaxy S with Android - Part 1

NTT Docomo started offering Samsung Galaxy S with Android 2.3 from this October in Japan. I recently got mine as a company phone. Here are some of the features to make a decision on this phone.

Design: 3.5 out of 5
First impression you get is that of bigger screen. You may feel little awkward if your previous phone is smaller, but soon will get used to it.

Galaxy S - Front
Galaxy S - Back

Galaxy S - Side

Speed: 4.5 out of 5
I was quite satisfied with the speed. Mails, application, response of the touch screen is quite smooth.

Battery: 1 out of 5
It was the real disappointment. Many times, the phone would run out of battery and shut off. Charging time is too high but discharge is quite fast too. There are few tips and tricks to extend your battery up time but why does a end user of a smartphone has to think about his own power usage plan? I hope Samsung comes up with something smart on this.

Common features: 3.5 out of 5

  • Outlook : For outlook mails, there is nothing much to offer than usual.
  • Keyboard : Compared to other smart phones, keyboard switching (especially between multilingual) is time consuming and you need to tap many keys before you can find the exact sign or special characters you want to type. It took me a while to figure out how can I enter an exclamation into password field.
  • Camera : It scores good in my opinion.5 megapixels and fast even for higher resolution with sufficient features.
  • Wireless : Scores good where the connection is strong. But when I compared this with my iPhone 3G S, I observed that it takes lot of time to connect where signal is weaker.
  • Default audio and video players: Are primitive at best. No further comments. You better get third party applications.
Touch Screen input: 4 out of 5
It's very fast that I must admit. Sometimes way to fast. Especially while writing mails, it will sense the touch even if your finger is still few mm away from the screen.
All in all, for all the default functions offered there is nothing eye-catching.

File Management : --
Its completely your responsibility how you manage your photos, songs, movies, documents etc. There is no baseline. That is why I won't rate this. Which in my opinion get's out of hand soon if you don't have some discipline to start with.

Call usability : 4 out of 5
It adds a new record to the call log unnecessary each time you call; even if call the same person again and again. If you own an iPhone, you will know what I mean. Frequent caller list feature is a good utility.

So overall, for basic functions I would rate this phone not more than 3.5 out of 5

Look forward to my next post on same subject (more on usability).