pergamond: From xkcd.com ([xkcd] Carebear stare)


Japanese apartments --I was told-- do not have lights.

"You will find this a little strange."

Well, it did sound decidedly peculiar. In a country where the router stuffed in my back pocket gives me a 42 Mbps wifi connection, you'd think I'd be able to read a book at night.

What I had presumed this meant was that Japanese apartments did not have central ceiling lights. This wasn't completely bizarre, since I had seen America apartments which were lit purely by lamps plugged into wall sockets. This gentler 'mood lighting' was sometimes considered preferable to the dazzling illumination of a single main light.

Personally, I wasn't a fan of mood lighting. Either there should be light so I can see what is going on or there should be dark in which everyone disappears and I can get some sleep.

Light. Dark.

Simple binary love. Still, I was sure I would adapt and I went up to my new apartment to check out the possible positions for a set of lamps. Last time I had come up here, I did not have electricity so lights were a rather academic question and I hadn't paid the situation any heed. Now, I discovered two things:

Firstly, I did have normal spot lights in my kitchen, entrance way and bathroom. This was good to know since I saw disaster striking while I fumbled for a lamp to turn on when I came back at night.

Secondly, there were plugs on my ceiling.

Each room had a centrally positioned clip in the centre of its ceiling which was clearly designed to hold something electrical. This suggested it was time for an exploratory visit to a department store. The shop I picked had a wide variety of light fittings but the largest and most common were wide semicircular lights that clearly weren't supposed to stand alone. It was hard to examine the fitting, but it seemed highly likely that it would fit the ceiling plugs in my apartment.

I bought a single one experimentally and zipped back home.

Upon unpacking the light (left image), I found it had a detachable clip that did indeed plug into my ceiling socket (top centre and right images). Balanced slightly precariously on a stool, I plugged it in and then clipped the lamp on around it. There was a single wire to link the central clip to bulb and a smooth plastic shell to slide over the top.

I jumped down from the stool and tried the light switch.

Then I couldn't see anything for about 10 seconds. Probably shouldn't have been looking directly at the light when I did that.

Nevertheless, success! Even if I was now blind. This particular light came with a remote control, so I can turn it off from my bed... when I get a bed. It even has a timer so I tell it to go out in 30 or 60 minutes. Ideal for fooling stalkers who might be hanging outside my 9th floor window.

Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light. Dark. Light....

Back in a bit.

pergamond: (Default)
I asked you all about smart phones. You almost all had BlackBerrys and loved them. I therefore ignored you all and got an iPhone... >_>

In my defence they are shiny! I mean, um, good tools. The web browsing in particular seems to be really fast and easy, which is a feature I especially wanted for role playing reading journals. Yes. It was really this that swung it for the iPhone.

Anyway, since I had only recently joined my network provider in Canada, I couldn't get an iPhone through them without buying it outright at some exorbitant price. So I hunted through online ads to find someone selling the model I wanted (3GS 16 GB). Some of the posts were more suspicious than others. I contacted one guy to ask if he still had the phone he was selling and he replied no, but he could get another by the end of the week. One can only assume he was planning to go out and steal one for me. I was touched by his dedication. I also declined. The person I did buy it from had recently been giving a BlackBerry from work and seemed to have only one handset to sell. Always a good sign.

The hardest part of the purchase turned out to be putting on the protective screen guard. They come in packs of 3 for $20 which was somewhat outrageous and even more so when you consider I managed to screw up applying the first two. These failed attempts made it appear my screen was totally scratched up when in fact it was just the sticker. Not cool. Kinda defies the point of having an undamaged screen too.

Did I mention this phone was shiny?

I did make one mistake, and that was telling my cell phone company I'd switched my sim card to an iPhone. Previously, I had a little LG phone that could do a bit (read: painful and frustrating) mobile browsing. It transpired that during the last few months my plan had changed unbestknown to me (ok, they probably sent me a letter but I never read such missives) and my data pack had morphed to include unlimited browsing. Prior to that, as soon as I stepped away from my network's own pages, they charged me. They don't allow such things for the smart phones (bah! To Canada's cell phone plans) so once I'd confessed they moved me onto a plan with a 500 MB limit. I'm consoling myself that not fessing up would have led to other problems with voice mail and the like ... probably.

So any recommendations for Apps? Shiny shiny apps .... myyyy precioussss.
pergamond: (cunning plan)
So I want an iPhone. I mean, who doesn't? They're shiny, allow you to check email, surf the web, play games and there's even an app to tell you if someone is a cylon. Obviously, I need this. But here's the thing:

Travel rates SUCK.

For the US,  I'm looking at $1-2/MB and for Europe around $5. Given my basic package for use in Canada would include 500 MB/month, you start to see the problem. (The fact some companies put the prices per kB to make the numbers look small says a lot. They tried to fool me. It didn't work >_>).

I understand that when I step away from my cosy home country I'm transmitting waves on someone else's network, but this is a MOBILE phone. I want to be mobile! That doesn't mean a quick trip into town; I need to use it all over the world. After all, while it's a close run thing, I can manage without checking livejournal while I walk to work. (OK, once I went into a coffee shop en-route but ONLY ONCE). While I'm propping up a bus shelter in Rome waiting for a vehicle that may or may not show because timetables are more suggestions in Italy then I need my smart phone and google maps.

One thing I did discover in my harassment of cell phone companies at the mall was that the Blackberry compresses data by 4x the amount the iPhone does. So while the data plan would be identical, in theory I should get considerably more bang per MB on the Blackberry. (The Blackberry bold, since I was told this was better for world travel). A google search of this fact revealed it to be true, but oddly there weren't 800 listings of people saying this was an absolute must for users with ADHD when it comes to countries. Does this compression not make the difference I'd naively think it should?

Blackberrys are supposed to be unrivalled for email. Unsurprising, since this was what they were designed for. I am told though, that web surfing is not nearly as good and there are many less apps than for the iPhones.

Has anyone else hit this dilemma? What did you do and do you regret it? (Confessions limited to phones if reply is public ^.~).

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Pergamond

May 2013

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