NTT Introduces SIM Cards For Visitors To Japan

June 27, 2014

Good news for international travellers, no longer will you have to abandon your mobile phone when you enter Japan. Due to Japan having its own unique 3G mobile phone technology foreign visitors usually find their GSM phones are useless here and are faced with the option of going without mobile phone and internet access or the costly options of renting a phone for the duration of their trip or buying one outright.

However, NTT, Japan’s national telecom company, has announced an affordable solution. On June 25  NTT introduced a mobile phone SIM card for foreign visitors to Japan that will provide up to 100 megabytes of daily data traffic over a two-week period.

By inserting the card into their smartphones, users can gain access to the Internet through NTT Docomo Inc.’s mobile phone communication network, send up to 10,000 text messages and watch YouTube videos for about 45 minutes a day.

The card also enables access to public wireless networks provided by NTT group companies.

Japan Communications Inc. and So-net Corp. earlier developed and provided SIM cards for foreign visitors for the expected increase in tourists ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

NTT Communications said its SIM card sells for 3,500 yen ($34), tax excluded, offering a cheaper price than those of its predecessors.

Before departure from a foreign location, users may purchase their SIM card at http://www.prepaidsim.jp/item_detail. Upon arrival in Japan, the card may be picked up at one of several airport post offices (Narita, Haneda, Kansai, Chubu Centrair, New-Chitose, Fukuoka, Kagoshima or Naha) or certain hotels.

For those already in Japan, the prepaid SIM card may be purchased from a vending machine at Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu (http://www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com/en/TE/TE_NARIT) or at a XCom Global, Inc. (http://www.globaldata.jp/) counter at Narita, Haneda, Kansai or Chubu Centrair airport.

Sales in Hong Kong and Taiwan are planned from this summer. Additional purchase points, including vending machines, travel agents and hotels, are expected to be added.

As a further convenience, including unrestricted data, travelers are encouraged to apply for the Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi service (http://www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html), which provides access to about 18,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots around Japan, including at major airports, stations and shops. Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi is provided by NTT-BP, an NTT Group company.

Telephone inquiries about the SIM card can be made in English, Chinese and Korean. Instructions that come with the card are written in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese and Thai.

Sources: The Asahi Newspaper, Yahoo.co.uk

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Could your smartphone save your life? App designed to give earthquake warning.

December 3, 2013

A minute may not seem like a long time but when an earthquake is about to hit, a few seconds advance warning can be the difference between life and death…

A smartphone app which alerts users of an impending earthquake between one minute and a few seconds in advance of impact could be ready as early as next year, say scientists at the World Science Forum in Rio de Janiero.

The app, presented by researchers from UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, adapts smartphone functions such as the GPS system and accelerometer (which determines the speed at which the phone is moving) to detect P-wave tremors, their direction and the time they are likely to reach the phone’s location. It also uses algorithms and information from seismic networks to determine the location, strength of the earthquake and time it is likely to reach its zenith – using this information to issue alerts to residents in potentially affected areas.

Those located at the epicenter of the quake will not able to receive the warning via their mobile phones, however data will be transmitted in a chain to other receivers so those at a distance of a few kilometers will be able to glean more information on what is happening where and what is likely to happen next.

“All we need is a telephone at the epicenter of the quake which detects it and sends the information (saying) ‘I felt a jolt, I am in this place’ to a server,” explained Richard Allen, head of the research team at Berkeley University, California.

“There are many phones simultaneously doing this to enable the server to determine the site and magnitude of the quake to send people further away a warning. These warnings include (information on) how much time to the start of the tremor and also its intensity.”

This is precious time for people to find shelter and switch off vehicles or halt production, resulting in safer conditions when the earthquake hits and reducing the risk at large.

Currently smartphones are able to detect magnitude 5 earthquakes up to 10km away, however Allen believes it will not be long before accelerometers are improved enough to detect quakes with a 3 magnitude up to 100km away.

Information on the intensity of the quake also allows communities to make informed decisions about what action they need to take to reduce devastation. 

With 1 billion smartphones in use across the globe, it seems this technology really could save lives.

Sources include: Japan Today, The Nation, SciDev.net

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Higgs boson scientists awarded Nobel honour

October 12, 2013

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert, the two scientists famed for their work on the Higgs boson particle, have been jointly awarded the Nobel prize in physics for their work.

Higgs, who is British, and Englert, who is Belgian, were two of the key figures involved in the development of a theory which explains how fundamental particles (i.e. what physicists had formerly believed to be the smallest particles in existence) get their mass. The theory, first developed in 1964, outlined the existence of a ‘missing’ particle that had formerly been omitted from the Standard model of physics. This particle is now known to us as the Higgs boson, and was discovered last year at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. And so it is that half a century after he published a theory with the potential to change the way we perceive our world, Peter Higgs has been rewarded.

Higgs, 84 and Englert, 80 will share the £775,000 prize between them, although Higgs himself has proved to be quite an unreachable figure, opting to take an impromptu holiday – without a phone or any form of contact – without notifying his co-workers or the Nobel committee, in a bid to avoid the inevitable media storm following the announcement of the winners.

Alan Walker, Higgs’ physics colleague at the University of Edinburgh, said that “[Higgs] is taking a break from all of this, taking some time to relax, because he knows when he comes back he’ll have to face up to a media storm.”

As Higgs was unavailable for interview following the announcement, the university released a pre-prepared statement from Higgs:

“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy. I would also like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the discovery of this new particle and to thank my family, friends, and colleagues for their support. I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.”

The discovery of the Higgs boson at the Cern Large Hadron Collider was the culmination of decades of work from a team of thousands, and involved creating a highly sophisticated 17-mile-long circular tunnel over the course of a decade. The collider sought to recreate the immediate aftermath of the big bang from which the universe was formed. Immediately after the big bang, particles were formed which travelled at the speed of light as they carried no mass. But just a billionth of a second later, an invisible field located in the vacuum of space ‘switched on,’ interacting with these elementary particles and giving them mass. These particles include quarks and electrons, which make up atoms, and by recreating this at the Large Hadron Collider, the team was able to prove that the Higgs boson was indeed the reason explaining how fundamental particles get their mass.

Indeed, were it not for the Higgs boson, our universe would look very different, with no planets, stars, or even life at all.


Apple to pay £2.1 million for copying the “Click Wheel” command button on its iPods

October 1, 2013

IpodLast Thursday (26th of September 2013), The Tokyo District Court ordered Apple to pay $ 3.4 million (£2.1 million) to the Japanese engineer who originally created the technology behind its famous iPod “Click Wheel”. The inventor has appealed the judgment believing the amount inadequate.

It seems that once again, the technology giant, Apple, will be forced to pay up for patent infringement. Accused last year of copying the design of the Swiss railway clock for its iOS6 Clock application, the firm came to a reported settlement of 20 million CHF (£13.4 million) with Swiss Federal Railways Roads last October.

This time, however, the American giant has failed to reach an agreement with the plaintiff and must pay $ 3.4 million (£ 2.1 million) to Norihiko Saito, the Japanese engineer who first invented the “click wheel”, the main control button on Apple’s distinctive music player.

On Thursday 26th of September, the Tokyo District Court held that the company had indeed copied the technology from the original inventor, reports the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.

The plaintiff’s lawyer was pleased with the result and its positive impact, he said “It was recognized that the idea of ​​a Japanese inventor had been used in a product which achieved worldwide success. This judgment will encourage all inventors.”

Apple’s only consolation is that it will be able to continue marketing its iPod as the complainant has not asked for it to be withdrawn from sale.

This round touch command controls the iPod by touch, but also has buttons that the user can press. According to his lawyer, the Japanese man created the technology in 1998. Following its invention, the engineer was contacted by Apple who wanted to acquire his license in order to commercialize the device. Despite these negotiations never being successful, Apple went ahead and released the music player in 2004, featuring the unlicensed technology.

The inventor began proceedings against Apple in 2007 and even now the case is not at an end. Believing the amount of compensation ordered inadequate, the inventor has decided to appeal against the court’s recent decision.

(Sources include Nippon Connection)


Facebook to buy voice translation software firm

August 16, 2013

Social media giants Facebook and voice technology specialist firm Mobile Technologies have agreed upon a contract, by which Facebook will acquire and subsume Mobile Technologies in the near future.

No financial details of the contract have been released as yet, although both companies have released statements commenting on the transaction. Tom Stocky, Product Management Director for Facebook wrote today online that he was “excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Mobile Technologies, a company with an amazing team that’s behind some of the world’s leading speech recognition and machine translation technologyVoice technology has become an increasingly important way for people to navigate mobile devices and the web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution.”

Mobile Technologies, which is a significantly smaller company than Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, a social media network with over one billion users, released their own, shorter statement, in which they declared that they were “excited” about the deal, and that “once the deal has closed many of us will be joining the company at their headquarters in Menlo Park, California.”

Mobile Technologies is a Pittsburgh, US-based company, and the creators of Jibbigo, a mobile phone application launched in 2009 which allows the user to access automatic audio or written translations of their text or voice recordings in over 25 languages.

Facebook currently uses Bing, a Microsoft program, for the translation of the site’s comments and newsfeed posts. With the acquisition of Mobile Technologies, Facebook will have access to an in-house translation service, with which it hopes to significantly improve the audio and text translation features of the social networking site, making interlingual communication a more integral feature of the site.

Sources include Japan Today, The Telegraph

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With over twenty five years experience, TJC-Global can provide you with expert telecommunications translation and interpretation in over 180 languages to suit all aspects of the industry. The telecommunications market and industry is truly global, TJC’s network of technical translators have the industry experience and qualifications to prevent any language barrier from impeding your business.

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Chinese ‘e-tail’ revolution

May 9, 2013

Online shopping, almost nonexistent in China as recently as five years ago, has emerged as a major sales channel for retailers, with combined sales of about 1.3 trillion renminbi, or $211 billion, last year, said Carrie Yu, China and Asia Pacific retail and consumer expert at PwC in Hong Kong.

The findings, which are based on a survey of more than 11,000 online shoppers in 11 countries, underline the speed at which China has emerged as one of the world’s most wired retail markets.

In China, 58 percent of respondents in the PwC report said they shopped online at least once a week, for example. That percentage was by far the highest of any of the countries covered in the PwC survey. By comparison, only 42 percent of U.S. respondents, 41 percent of those in Britain, and 29 percent of German respondents said they shopped online at least once a week. The percentage was lowest in France, where only 13 percent said they made online purchases once or more a week.

China now has the world’s largest online population with over 130 million domestic broadband users. Chinese consumers shop online, using gadgets like smartphones and tablets, more frequently than their counterparts elsewhere. One possible reason for the boom in online purchases is that the infrastructure outside the major cities is still developing and access to traditional retail shopping is still limited for many Chinese consumers. Online shopping allows consumers access to all the goods they cannot purchase locally.

“Things are happening very fast here,” Ms. Yu said. “E-tailing has become a major focus for C.E.O.’s across all segments of retailing, whether it’s electrical goods, luxury goods or even groceries.”

The explosive growth of electronic shopping in China has led to the country’s emergence as one of the world’s busiest online shopping markets, both in terms of overall sales volumes and in terms of the frequency with which consumers shop online, Ms. Yu said.

Chinese consumers are also significantly more likely than their counterparts in other parts of the world to use smartphones or tablets, rather than PCs, to make online purchases. More than one third of Chinese online shoppers used such devices, about double the global average, the PwC report found.

The quest for lower prices has been a main driver of online shopping around the world in recent years, especially in the half-decade since the global financial crisis, when consumers in many parts of the world became more eager to save money, Ms. Yu said.

In China, however, the growth of online shopping has been given several extra kicks.The economy has continued to grow rapidly; wages have risen; and the country’s online population has ballooned along with better communications networks and the easy availability of online devices.

“In a nation where many other sectors are rapidly expanding, e-tailing stands out for its astonishing growth,” McKinsey wrote in a report published in March.

According to McKinsey, China was the world’s second-largest e-tailing market, after the United States, in 2011, with sales totaling $120 billion — well above the $107 billion in Japan, and more than twice those recorded in Britain, for example. By 2012, China came “very close to equaling the United States for the top spot” in terms of e-tailing volumes, McKinsey added.

With China‘s broadband penetration still at only 30%, and Chinese online sales projected to reach an annual $650 billion dollars by 2020, the future of e-tailing in China looks rosy for the considerable future.

Sources include: The New York Times, The McKinsey Global Institute

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Conference interpreting explained

May 6, 2013

For a free conference interpreting quote, please visit our website or send us an email.

What is Conference Interpreting/Interpretation?

Conference interpreting is the interpretation of a conference, either simultaneously or consecutively.

Conference interpretation is usually divided between two markets: the institutional and the private. International institutions (EU, UN, EPO, et cetera), holding multi-lingual meetings, often favour interpreting several foreign languages into the interpreters’ mother tongues. Local private markets tend to hold bi-lingual meetings (the local language plus another) and the interpreters work both into and out of their mother tongues; the markets are not mutually exclusive.

The Conference Interpreter’s Point of View

Mr Fahr and Mr Macri are interpreters for UN meetings.

“The rule of thumb is we interpret for half an hour simultaneously,” said Mr Macri in a recent interview with the BBC.

“After that your concentration starts to wane…so we interpret for half an hour and then we take half-an-hour break.”

Often as many as 100 interpreters will be required at events like the UN General Assembly, communicating between delegates from 192 countries. Often these interpreters work on a freelance basis, and are booked by the UN through a specialist interpreting services agency.

According to Mr Fahr, the question he is most often asked by his non-interpreter friends is how can someone listen to a complex argument in one language, process it, and then interpret it in another language in time to understand the speaker’s next argument.

“I always tell them it takes a little bit of neurosis,” he said in the interview. “They have to be addicted to their own adrenaline.”

If a speaker becomes passionate the interpretation should also always reflect that passion and remain faithful to the speaker. In this sense, being a conference interpreter is part acting – and interpreters seem to have the same adrenaline rush during a big conference as an actor does on the big stage.

It is also important for interpreters to be up to date on current global events. They also need to prepare glossaries and read up on UN documents, so that they are prepared for technical matters covering a wide range of topics.

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For more information on organising conference interpreting for an event see TJC Oxford’s 10-Step Multi-Lingual Conference Walkthrough.

We can offer translation and interpreting services at any time of the year, in many locations: London, England, UK (Scotland, Ireland, Wales), Europe, USA, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and other global locations. Please contact us for more information. For Japanese interpreting and translation services, please visit our sister site.

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