Monday, June 17 2013
AsoIku book 14, halfway point
This book returns to the main plotline, with the good guys working to advance diplomatic relations between Earth and Catia, the bad guys trying to sabotage them, and the author frantically trying to remember all the stuff he threw into earlier books as well as the things he forgot to mention in them.
In other words, it’s a mess of PoV changes, as-you-know-Bob, and whoops-forgot-about-this-bit, with the honest-to-gosh Pope in the middle of it all. When his interest in meeting the Catians was mentioned at the end of the previous book, I confess I was worried. The handling of Christianity in anime and light novels isn’t known for being particularly… “faithful”.
So far he’s only had one brief appearance in the book, since the whole point is for the bad guys to plot to prevent the meeting, but he was handled surprisingly well, coming across as a gentle, kind, sincerely devout religious leader. Also, when Antonia lectures the others about him and his potential to influence world opinion, it works; in this area, at least, the author has done a bit of homework.
Our Villain is of course Nirumea, evil-angel alien with a sweet tooth, whose failure in book 10 has left her with nothing but a burning desire for revenge and the remnants of former assistant Ryunnu’s super-special operational support and prediction computer. And junk food; the hikikomori lifestyle has turned her into a slobby little blimp, but nothing matters to her except wiping out Cats and Dogs. Some angels just want to watch the world burn.
Officially, both Nirumea and Ryunnu are MIA, with Ryunnu at least presumed dead since Dogs prefer death to captivity. In what will apparently be their last official meeting, the head Dog and Angel warily discuss the recent departure of the Lizards from their little alliance, and on hearing that the Orsonians are waking up, the top Dog starts making plans to abandon Earth as well, remembering what happened the last time the Orsonians caught them being naughty. (short version: their civilization was set back 300+ years in an instant, with ships destroyed and minds scrubbed of advanced knowledge, and “do it again and we’ll wipe your minds completely”)
Nirumea is using her computer to stir up all sorts of violent extremist groups, as well as manipulating at least one “christian” CEO into building a private army that will do her bidding. The good guys have noticed the uptick in anti-alien sentiment, but haven’t identified a specific cause. Ryunnu, however, has spent the last few months attempting to resurrect the core of her special system using primitive Earth technology bought in Akihabara, and has finally gotten it working well enough to spot the clues, and after a late night at their coffee shop, shares her suspicions with big sister Jens.
But none of that is important. If you go by page count, the single most significant thing that’s going on is that Manami is thinking about how much Kio has grown up into a smart cool guy, and how she feels like a fifth wheel, and how the presence of real pros supporting the embassy has her feeling unqualified, has started moping so much that everyone is noticing and wondering about it, and has now confessed to Aoi that as soon as this operation is over, she’s going to quit.
Sunday, June 16 2013
Adobe Swatch Exchange file format
The only things I can really add to this excellent description of the format are:
- the code for grayscale is actually “Gray”, not “GRAY”, although it’s possible some software will accept either.
- all values are stored big-endian.
- numbers are single-precision floating point (in Perl pack() terms, “f>”), strings are UTF-16 with a trailing NUL word.
- LAB colors are in the range 0-1, -128-127, -128-127; no adjustment is necessary.
- Apparently none of the generated files he examined included the end-palette chunk, which has type 0xC0020000 and does not include a name field.
- In actual parsing, Illustrator ignores the end-palette chunk anyway, though; all colors have to be part of some group when imported, so they’re added to the most recently named group.
With those additions, my little Perl script is capable of reading everything that comes with Illustrator or is generated by the current version of the Kuler service. Piping the output of my ase2txt script into txt2ase produces identical files, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything right.
For fun, I even added the ability to sort swatches by lightness in the L*ab space, and merge in color names using the closest match in Aubrey Jaffer’s collection of color dictionaries (using the conversion and distance formulas from EasyRGB).
Combining the NBS/ISCC dictionary with the results of the XKCD color survey produces a quite reasonable set of names (except for the NBS-ISCC definition of “black”, which might be useful for surface colors, but is useless for monitors). The Resene paint colors offer excellent coverage, but the names are just too eccentric for general description (ex: jon, shark, zeus, cello, haiti, nero, merlin, etc).
Friday, June 14 2013
iOS7 UI: designed by 20-year-olds with 20/20 vision
The quick side-by-side images here (note that the third image has the new crap on the left instead of the right) suggest that Apple has thrown out everything they might ever have known about accessibility. Tiny! Gray! Low-saturation! Low-contrast! The weather image is particularly hilarious, with the ever-so-thin white font on a light background.
Not that the old one was any great shakes when it came to font size, contrast, and color-deficiency-awareness, but they thought this was good enough to show off to the world, so it’s unlikely they’re going to make drastic changes before release.
Thursday, June 13 2013
Installing fonts from the DynaFont collection
Let’s say that you have purchased a shovelware disc of Japanese fonts, such as this one from DynaComWare (discontinued, but it turns up occasionally; I bought mine at a going-out-of-business sale).
[Note that when I describe this particular disc as “shovelware”, I’m really referring to the collection of 3,000+ renamed ripoffs of Western fonts (from font pirate Bay Animation) that are thrown in; for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean fonts, DynaComWare is a legitimate foundry.]
The ripoffs (as well as the Korean, Chinese, special-effects, and kana fonts) are just stored on-disc with no protection, but the good stuff is hiding in files with the .t4_ and .t9_ extensions. The only supported way to install them is by running the included Windows program (which might not display correctly on non-Japanese versions of Windows, and of course doesn’t work at all on a Mac), but it turns out that they’re just encrypted ZIP files with a simple 8-digit numeric password, six digits of which can be inferred from the timestamp.
One thing to note is that the disc contains two sets of kanji fonts, in directories labeled JIS90 and JIS2004. The difference between the two is a subtle appearance change in a small number of characters, neatly described in this Adobe PDF file. A small number of fonts are available only in the JIS90 flavor, mostly pseudo-bitmap fonts of little real value; most people won’t notice the difference, and if you do, well, you’ve got both.
I highly recommend the disc, by the way.
Monday, June 10 2013
AsoIku book 13, finished
This one took a while. Not because the story was as baffling and filled with nonsense as book 11, but mostly because a lot of characters talked funny. Lizard-girl Sawori’s accented Japanese is indicated with katakana and the occasional mispronunciation, much like American cowgirl CIA agent JACK, who’s also in this book, with more dialog than she’s had in the last six books put together. Then there are the various international spies and government agents pretending to be exchange students on the Catian ship, whose mostly-fluent Japanese tends toward the official, and the bonus pile of new vocabulary used to explain Gaavuru culture. Add to that the usual fun of figuring out the childlike writing of the assistoroids, and it made for a bit of a slog. There are sections where my comprehension was maybe only in the 60-70% range.
Much is accomplished, however, including the most significant plot development in the entire series: Kio finally stops addressing his junior girlfriend as Futaba-san and starts calling her Aoi-chan.(Continued on Page 4253)
Thursday, June 6 2013
What’s up with the yen?
And by “up”, I mean going from 103 to the dollar to 96.5 in a bit over a week. I was kinda liking the trend before Memorial Day…
Wednesday, June 5 2013
Debito Arudou in a nutshell
“The recipe to an unhappy life in Japan is to want to be Japanese if you are not. “
Wednesday, May 29 2013
Wow, what a bad idea
Katana fast-draw competition timers, modeled on the sort of devices used in pistol competition.
I particularly like the fact that the scoring rules in the manual give a half-second penalty for splitting open your scabbard or bending your sword, but a two-second penalty for missing the target. Actually cutting yourself is a disqualification, at least, but This Will Not End Well.
Friday, May 24 2013
AsoIku book 13 girl-fight revelations
The prologue of the book is a quiet scene of an unnamed male staring out the window of a spaceship as his female companion reflects on what he’s feeling. Spoiler: it’s Aoi’s dad and his alien second wife, Rauva of the lizardlike Gaavuru race. It doesn’t tell their full story, but does reveal that at the end of their epic duel N years ago, he was near death, and she took him away from Earth as much to get him properly healed as to claim him as her mate. She even returned him to Earth five years later to search for his wife and child, and his belief that they were both dead allowed him to move on and accept his role in her society.
Their ship isn’t far from Earth, and he’s not just thinking about the old days; he’s also worried about his second daughter Sawori’s official first hunt. Neither one of them knows that Aoi is alive, or that Sawori has chosen her half-sister as her target.
Aoi needs the full power of her Catian-provided battlesuit to survive the duel, and barely manages to win by outthinking lil’sis just before collapsing from exhaustion. A bit out of sorts, Kio manages to deeply offend the Gaavuru observers, but is rescued by the unexpected arrival of Uncle Yuuichi and a strangely familiar gorgeous blonde catgirl in a red china dress.
Familiar to the Gaavuru, too, since it seems she beat the crap out of a whole team of them 50 years ago. By the way, when the Gaavuru were being explained to Kio and company at the end of the last book, it was casually mentioned that in their last duel against Catians 20 years ago, the targets were Kuune and Chaika, who also wiped the floor with them. Clearly lizardfolk should steer clear of anything with cat ears.
Hot blonde catgirl turns things around, and gets them to explain the whole little sister thing. Sadly, they teleported out with Sawori right after dropping the news about Dad being alive and well.
Hot blonde catgirl is of course Ichika, but all grown up and looking very different. Seems her magic extends to shape-shifting, and this was the body she’d been wearing way back in book 2 when she helped Kio rescue Aoi from Antonia’s ship. He’d been so busy at the time that he’d forgotten about that little mystery. I hadn’t realized there was a mystery, since the description was pretty vague.
In any case, it came as no surprise to the reader in this book, since she’s normal-Ichika when she hitches a ride with Yuuichi, and china-dress-hottie when they reach the scene.
[I don’t know if they’re done with Sawori for this book now, but I do know she comes back soon, having gotten the idea into her head that losing the duel with Aoi means they should marry. This includes the sight of a lizard-girl in a maid costume.]
Thursday, May 23 2013
Nancy Drew, bear-puncher
No, seriously, this is what girl-power comics have come to. Amusingly, the two sidekicks drop into standard gender roles without hesitation.
Monday, May 20 2013
Oh, good, I wasn’t imagining that
Not just the same seiyuu, pretty much the same personality as well.
Saturday, May 18 2013
Catian cultural assimilation
Speaking of hanko, I just reached a scene in AsoIku book 12 where the stress and long hours involved in getting the exchange program started have caused Kio to pass out from exhaustion, with Eris not far behind him. After a scolding by Doctor Dyureru and Melwin, they’re sentenced to a full day of bed rest. The medical assistoroid pulls out a square hanko and stamps them both with the image of a cartoon Dyureru whose speech bubble reads 絶対安静 (“Zettai ansei!” = “absolute rest”).
In typical Catian fashion, the ink actually consists of medical nanomachines that will help restore them, and then fade away when the job’s done.
By the way, Melwin was sleeping over at Kio’s place, wearing one of his white shirts as a nightgown and cuddling her personal assistoroid as a teddy bear. Sadly, they did not choose to illustrate this scene. Fortunately, someone else has illustrated Dyureru in a half-open white shirt, putting even more stress on the fabric than Eris does.
Next chapter, it looks like Aoi’s busty half-alien younger sister finally shows up. (although I don’t think she reveals her identity until the final scene)
[Update: no little sister yet, but just in case there was a shortage of hijinks coming, it was decided that Kio’s replacement on the Catian ship will be Antonia. And she’s bringing Sara along. Chaika will be subbing for Eris, leaving her younger daughters unsupervised… (no, wait, that’s just foreshadowing for book 15; the kids who run off in this book are Aoi’s assistoroids, who end up in Tokyo busing tables at the coffee shop run by Jens and her little sister).
The kidnapping/assassination plot that sets everything in motion doesn’t make much sense, since the perpetrators don’t seem to be working for any of the usual bad guys, but the teenage cyborg goth-loli secret agent (back from the previous book…) somehow knows about it anyway. The book ends on a cliffhanger, with Aoi’s little sister revealing her identity and challenging her to a duel. That should be interesting, since sis is a big, strong, tough, ruthless mercenary lizard-girl, and apparently Aoi’s apporting power runs in the family.]
Interesting that the Golden Ghost Ship makes an appearance in this size comparison (part of announcing the 1/40000-scale model of the ship), right up there with the Enterprise, the Yamato, Laputa, a Star Destroyer, etc.
The way this season’s going, though, I’m surprised it doesn’t include Gargantia. :-)
Friday, May 17 2013
I’m quite happy with the quality of the seals I ordered from Inkan Honpo’s site, and their online preview not only gives you a pretty good idea how things will look in the different fonts, but also lets you set your own line breaks to improve the layout a bit. Their Illustrator templates for custom rubber seals are also simple and clear.
Long version:(Continued on Page 4240)
Thursday, May 16 2013
Google’s new wearable interface…
Burning question: does anyone else wonder if this device will bring back the obsolete tech-slang term “glass ttys”? Judging from the users I’ve seen accidentally taking pictures and accidentally forwarding things to the wrong contacts, I figure it’s just a matter of time.