Category Archives: SCI-TECH

I had a Japanese virtual assistant for a week and here’s what happened

Source: Gaijin Pot
Kim Kardashian

Assistants — something only available to CEOs, fashion photographers and Kardashians. Or so I thought until I was asked to trial a service called Virtual Assist Japan, an online platform that connects users to a Japanese-English bilingual person who will act as their remote personal assistant. While catering to all types of foreign residents in Japan, from business owners to English-teachers to students, the service is primarily designed to support users with administrative tasks — a gap in the market partly brought about by Japan’s love of form-filling, though assistants are also able to help with personal stuff too.

As someone who is not currently running a company, knows embarrassingly little about fashion and looks constipated attempting to pout, the idea of having my own virtual assistant seemed extravagant. Plus, I’ve been in Japan long enough to be well practiced at gaman-ing through situations despite a shamefully low-level language ability. What could I ask an assistant to even do?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Monday

An email from my virtual assistant for the week arrives in my inbox first thing.

“This is Nagisa and I am an assistant at Virtual Assist Japan. You can simply send tasks to me by replying to this message,” she writes, adding a smiley face.

It’s sweet but sounds like a bot — enough that I feel marginally better about having a slave do my every bidding.

I don’t want to throw either of us in the deep end of servitude, so I ask her for help with booking a restaurant. Although I learnt the formula for making a reservation almost as soon as I arrived in Japan, if there is any deviation from the script, bookings will end up under “Chewbacca” instead of Rebecca.

“So sorry to bother you but please could you book a table at a vegan restaurant …continue reading

    

Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has completely made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers to play those games with. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week.

The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers.

They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the Switch’s sides like Joy-Cons. And they do have shoulder buttons, though, for some reason.

You’ll be able to pre-order a two-pack starting on the 18th for $60, which also happens to be the launch date for Nintendo Switch Online. Yeah, it’s time to fork out for that online play Nintendo has generously given away for so long.

Fortunately, as you may remember from previous announcements, the cost is pretty low. $20 per year, and it gets you online game access and a growing library of NES classics. 10 of those games were confirmed before, but 10 more were added to the list today.

So at launch you’ll be able to play:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr Mario
  • Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Donkey Kong
  • Ice Climber
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Tennis
  • Soccer
  • Baseball
  • Double Dragon
  • Excitebike
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Hockey
  • Pro Wrestling
  • River City Ransom
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Yoshi

The service will also enable cloud backups of saves and possible special …continue reading

    

The 7 most egregious fibs Apple told about the iPhone XS camera today

more iPhone Event 2018 coverage

Apple always drops a few whoppers at its events, and the iPhone XS announcement today was no exception. And nowhere were they more blatant than in the introduction of the devices’ “new” camera features. No one doubts that iPhones take great pictures, so why bother lying about it? My guess is they can’t help themselves.

Now, to fill this article out I had to get a bit pedantic, but honestly, some of these are pretty egregious.

“The world’s most popular camera”

There are a lot of iPhones out there, to be sure. But defining the iPhone as some sort of decade-long continuous camera, which Apple seems to be doing, is sort of a disingenuous way to do it. By that standard, Samsung would almost certainly be ahead, since it would be allowed to count all its Galaxy phones going back a decade as well, and they’ve definitely outsold Apple in that time. Going further, if you were to say that a basic off-the-shelf camera stack and common Sony or Samsung sensor was a “camera,” iPhone would probably be outnumbered 10:1 by Android phones.

Is the iPhone one of the world’s most popular cameras? To be sure. Is it the world’s most popular camera? You’d have to slice it pretty thin and say that this or that year and this or that model was more numerous than any other single model. The point is this is a very squishy metric and one many could lay claim to depending on how they pick or interpret the numbers. As usual, Apple didn’t show their work here, so we may as well coin a term and call this an educated bluff.

“Remarkable new dual camera system”

As Phil would explain later, a lot of the newness comes from improvements to …continue reading

    

Nintendo Switch online service will launch on September 18th

Nintendo has communicated quite a lot on its new online service. And the company just shared the last missing piece of information — the service will launch on September 18th.

For the first time, Nintendo will launch a subscription service to access online services. It’ll cost $20 per year, $3.99 per month or $7.99 for three months.

#NintendoSwitchOnline memberships will start on 9/18. You can sign-up for a 7-day free trial from Nintendo #eShop at launch! We will introduce more information during the Nintendo Direct on 9/13.https://t.co/74Hzxk9spt pic.twitter.com/EJVFJH6F4I

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 12, 2018

Subscribers will be able to play multiplayer online games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms. If you were already playing those games over the internet, you’ll have to start paying.

In order to sweeten the deal, the company is adding new services for subscribers. Your save data will finally be synchronized with Nintendo’s servers. If you break or lose your Switch, you’ll be able to restore your user profiles. Unfortunately, it won’t work with Splatoon 2, Dead Cells, Dark Souls Remastered, Fifa 19, NBA 2K19 and Pokémon Let’s Go.

Subscribers will also be able to play NES games for free. Around 20 games will be part of the library. If you plan on subscribing, Nintendo will offer a 7-day free trial on September 18th.

…continue reading