Friday, November 29, 2013

Aedict goes paid/unpaid

Recently the author of the superb android Japanese dictionary app announced that future versions of Aedict would require a one-off payment of $5 (The existing version will be available free-of charge).

To be honest, while I was disappointed, the idea of buying a beer for the author isn't one I find objectionable, after all, I've used the software a great deal in the last 4 or so years. Having a family, I can also sympathise with juggling commitments, and I've laid down a number of my own hobbies (including programming, funnily enough) too, for the same reason.

What annoys me is that the payment is under the pretence that his family situation is affecting his ability to work on the project:
"Unfortunately, I have a family now and I can no longer afford to develop Aedict for free"
And yet, later in the announcement:
"I am currently preparing a new version of Aedict"
Finally the announcement terminated with the line:
"but the only other option I had was to abandon Aedict entirely"
Gods no! What about passing it on to someone? It's already open source, and is the most useful Japanese dictionary on the Android platform, someone will pick it up.

That said, if the features are good, will I purchase aedict 3? Yes, I think so. His app is so integral to how I've learned and enjoyed Japanese the last few years that I genuinely feel I owe him it. So sure, Martin, have a drink on me, but drop the pretence, eh?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting a bank account in Japan

I've seen posts for this sort of thing around, but things changed since the article I looked at, so here is the procedure I went through for getting a Japanese bank account:

When I went to register at the city office, I had my address written on the back of my residency card, and stamped. Apparently, this was sufficient proof of address (they sounded a little unsure, so where possible, I'd advise having an insurance card, but even so, I managed to get an account this way).

You'll then have to fill in the forms yourself, in Japanese. Apparently after some incidents or other it is now necessary that the person setting up the account actually do all the writing. Still, if you have brought the proof of address, then you can copy the characters off of that; however, you'll also need to be proficient at writing katakana, both for your name and for the pronunciation of the address.

A handy thing about getting a bank account with the post office is that you can register yourself at your address at the same time as making a bank account. I'm not sure how important this is, as I've sent things addressed to my daughter, and to my knowledge she isn't specifically registered with the post office, and I've never had anything lost in the post...

The other handy thing about a post office account is that they have branches all over the place in Japan, which is great if (like me) you don't know exactly where you'll end up.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book: "Visas for 6000 lives" 「六千人の命のビザ」

It's been a while since I posted. I've spent most of that time writing my PhD thesis, and preparing its defence. In my spare time, I've done a fair amount of reading, my main challenge being "Visas for 6000 lives" (六千人の命のビザ).

Initially, I was quite keen (having been somewhat thrown by what I considered the difficult language in Natsume Souseki's "Bocchan") to read "Visas for 6000 lives" in English; however, I had read on the net that the translation isn't terribly good, and so I decided to get a Japanese copy and read that instead.

As it happens, I'm quite pleased I got the Japanese copy: for the most part the Japanese is not too hard going, and it was interesting enough to keep me going to the end (The most difficult part being a small telegram from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which I had to resort to getting a Japanese friend to read through for me, but besides this, the language was very accessible).

My main interest in the book is the act of humanity performed by Chiune Sugihara through which thousands of Jews were saved during the Second World War; however, the book somehow manages to condense this chapter of Sugihara's life into the first chapter (of seven). Despite this, I feel the scene was set sufficiently well, and there are a wealth of experiences and excitement through the following chapters.

As someone who knows very little of what civilian life was like in Europe during the Second World War, the book was a fascinating, sometimes heart-wrenching, glimpse of that era; albeit from the perspective of the exceptionally well-to-do.

I'd recommend the book to anyone who, like me, has little knowledge of life in Europe during that time, or is interested in finding out more about Chiune Sugihara.