Tech Review: 3-D TV

June 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm (Assignments, Tech Review)

The whole world seems to be obsessed with 3-D movies and TV shows.  Half of the movies coming out nowadays are in 3-D.  This move towards 3-D in theatres has sparked an interest in getting the same 3-D experience at home.  And that brought about the dawn of the 3-D television.

3-D ready televisions are very reliant on the glasses that must be worn when viewing a 3-D program.  The glasses use LCD technology and infrared sensors to connect with your TV and produce the 3-D image.  What happens is the picture from the TV will alternate between two images that are slightly offset from each other.  The images are alternating so fast that your eyes think that two images are being displayed at the same time.  It’s the same concept used to create the “moving” images we’ve been watching for over a century.  While the TV is producing these alternating images, the glasses are alternating which eye is able to see the TV right in time with the images.  This, along with the offset images, tricks your brain into thinking the image has depth.

Unfortunately, this technology isn’t usable on just any TV.  You have to have a 3-D ready TV, which has a special port, in order to use it.  By hooking up a stereoscopic sync signal connector to your TV and an IR emitter, the TV will be able to synchronize with the LCD glasses.

Of course, the majority of content is not 3-D ready yet.  Since most movies were made long before this technology existed, it will take a long time for them to be converted.  When we visited Lucent Pictures, we were able to see the content they are working on changing to 3-D.  They were able to show us clips from 300, Earth, and the Bruce Lee movie Game of Death, as well as both pictures and clips from a couple of anime shows. It is much easier if the content is created with 3-D in mind in the first place, but over time, companies like Lucent Pictures will be able to convert most of the well-known movie titles and TV shows to 3-D.

As of right now there is no industry wide standard for 3-D TV.  It is expected that there will be a standard created soon, but for now everyone is on their own.  This can be a little bit of a problem, as differing formats could be problematic for the consumer.  That there are two different types of 3-D glasses can also be a problem, as they aren’t compatible with one another.  This means that if the consumer has an issue with either the glasses or the IR emitter, they have to be careful what they purchase as a replacement, as it may not work if they buy the wrong type.

Whether 3-D TV is just a trend or the new standard for motion pictures, there are some people who are not too keen on this technology.  I find myself in this category somewhat, as I’m not very fond of having to wear the glasses in order to see 3-D movies, even though the images are amazing.  There are other options, such as lasers or lenticules (tiny lenses on the base side of a special film), but the technology has not yet been perfected.  In the mean time, I guess we will just have to put up with those goofy glasses.

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One last post

June 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm (Assignments, Culture)

This trip was absolutely amazing.  I am so happy I went on it and know I will remember it for the rest of my life (or at least until I get Alzheimer’s disease haha).  I think the big thing I took away from this trip, other than the academic stuff, was that I know now that I would never want to live in Japan long term.  I would be very sad if I never made it back to Japan in my lifetime, as it is truly a wonderful place and there is so much I still need to see.  But the culture is so different there that I don’t think I could live there for more than a few months.  There are the obvious reasons, like I don’t know the language, but there are some other reasons that are not so obvious.  I love Japanese food, but I missed American food so much while I was there (my first meal back in the States was buffalo chicken, mashed potatoes, and garlic bread), and I’m not sure how I would deal with having to pay an arm and a leg for everything.  Plus Japan is a warmer climate, which I could deal with, but when you’re go-go-go all the time, you sweat all the time which is annoying.

Also, I’m not sure I could deal with working in Japan.  The work atmosphere is so different over there that I would have to wholeheartedly love my job to even consider having that sort of work ethic.  They expect your work to come before your family, which I don’t think I could do.  And the hours they work are crazy!

So I shall leave Japan on my list of places I want to return to and keep it off my list of places I would be willing to live in.  Thanks Dr. C for taking us on this amazing trip!

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Baaaaassssseeeebaaaaallllllll

June 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm (Assignments, Culture)

I’ve never been a huge fan of baseball, though I don’t mind going to games.  Baseball games in Japan are crazy compared to ones in the US.  The fans have set cheers they will do and there’s a place on the scoreboard that lets the stadium know which cheer will be next.  They can unfurl a flag that covers about 15 rows or so in a matter of half a minute, wave it around for the duration of the cheer, and then it will be gone by the time you’ve blinked.  If someone scores a hit, the stadium goes wild.  If someone scores a run, the stadium goes wild for 5 minutes straight.  And they are so courteous to the other team.  When it’s the visitor’s turn up to bat, the home fans will allow the visiting fans to do their cheers without trying to overpower them or anything like that (something American fans love to do).  But if the home team makes an incredible out, once again the stadium goes wild.  Overall, it was a lot of fun, even though I have no idea who the opposing team was other than “B”.

Cheerleaders at the Tokyo Giants game

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Religiousness

June 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm (Assignments, Culture)

Coming from a country where religion is rather big, especially Christianity, it’s noticeably different, once you think about it, coming to a country like Japan, where religion isn’t a big part of society.  Buddhism is definitely the most prominent religion in Japan, though I think it’s more a philosophy than a religion.  In all the times walking around the cities, I don’t really remember seeing any churches and definitely didn’t see any Jewish temples or Islamic mosques, though at the same point, maybe I wasn’t looking.  This made it hard sometimes on our two Muslim students as they tried to explain that they couldn’t have any pork whatsoever (the Japanese-English barrier didn’t help).

It’s amazing how different the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples were from churches and cathedrals.  They are meant to be both historical places and places for prayer, so it was common to see locals praying while tourists were milling around.  I feel like that wouldn’t really happen in the cathedrals of Europe, though I must confess that even though I’ve been to some of them, I was of an age where things like that didn’t matter to me.  There’s a different mentality over there and I didn’t really notice it until I was thinking about religion and how it’s treated differently there.

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Talking about toilets

June 7, 2010 at 5:21 pm (Assignments, Culture, Technology)

I just read the delightful tech review on Japanese toilets by fellow study abroad participant Joanna Darby and thought I’d mention them on my own blog, because really they are quite interesting.  The traditional Japanese toilet is not much more than a hole in the ground with a lever to flush with.  You have to squat in order to even use it, which can be interesting for the first time user.  But the really neat stuff comes with the Western style toilets.  I never knew a toilet in such everyday places as the subway, a restaurant, or a hotel room could have so much technology.  The one thing that made a regular appearance was a button to activate the sounds of flushing, and in some cases other options, so that one can do their business with a little more privacy.  Other amenities we came across were a button to activate a spray or bidet for one’s backside and a heated toilet seat.  I don’t know if any of these things will catch on in the rest of the world, but props to the Japanese for thinking of it first.

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Gaming differences

June 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm (Assignments, Culture, Games)

One huge difference between Japanese and Americans is the type of games we like to play.  Americans love action games where we get to do crazy stuff and blow stuff up.  The Japanese are much less inclined towards that high-thrill sort of game.  They like the role-playing games and simulation games where it’s way more about the story than anything else.  I doubt a game like Dream C Club, which we saw at D3 Publisher, would be very popular in America because it is basically “a Japanese hostess game where the player gets drunk with the hostess while trying to gain her favor” (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Granted, there are some Americans who would fall in love with Dream C Club, just like there are plenty of American gamers who play role-playing or simulation games.  But overall, I think that sort of game is just too Japanese for us thrill-seeking Americans.  And I won’t even get into the more erotic ones…

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Order and chaos

June 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm (Assignments, Culture)

It amazes me how orderly the Japanese can be sometimes and so disorganized at others.  On escalators, it is an unwritten rule that people stand on the left side and walk on the right.  That’s something most Americans probably wouldn’t think about since we don’t use near as many escalators and when we do, it usually isn’t full of people like in a Japanese train station.  Speaking of train stations, those places are just crazy.  When people are in a hurry, it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you get where you need to go.  There really isn’t any order in the train stations (minus the escalators previously mentioned).  People will be coming from every direction and going in every direction, so you kind of just have to find your little niche to go through and wing it.

When we were at temples, all the little school kids would be neatly in their rows walking along.  There was even a time where we passed by a bunch of kids’ backpacks, and they were all in their rows as if the kids themselves were there.  Although young American students would walk in the rows for the most part, I guarantee the rows of backpacks wouldn’t have been anywhere near as neat.

Lastly, there are the streets.  For crossing at a cross walk, hardly anyone will just cross whenever traffic is clear.  Most people wait for the walk sign.  But on the side streets, where there are no crosswalks, there are no rules.  Often times the sidewalks were so small, that we’d spend half the time walking in the street and just move to the side whenever a car came along.  Sometimes it was a little crazy, but somehow we managed.

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Oink oink

June 7, 2010 at 12:51 pm (Assignments, Culture)

Something I noticed while in Japan is that they eat a lot of pork.  I expected it at the Korean barbeque and shabu shabu because they tend to offer multiple meats at those sorts of things.  But in the convenience stores, the only non-breaded meat sandwich they had were ham sandwiches.  I did not see one turkey or roast beef sandwich the entire time, both of which are fairly common in America.  One ramen shop I went to only seemed to offer ramen in a pork-based broth.  One meal I had was a couple of balls of rice wrapped in cooked pork and the okonomiyaki (not really a pancake, but that’s the easiest way to describe its general look) was topped with slices of bacon.  Ton katsu (breaded pork cutlet) is much more popular than its chicken or beef version.  It surprises me that pork is so popular in Japan because it’s not nearly as popular in America.  I didn’t mind it though because I love pork!

Pork ramen

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Sharing is good! (…most of the time)

June 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm (Assignments, Culture)

One thing that I’ve really liked about Japan is the idea of cooking and sharing a meal together.  We had two group dinners, Korean barbeque and shabu shabu, where we would cook the food ourselves in small groups.  I had done both the last time I was in Japan as well, so I knew what to expect.  It’s a lot better than cooking at home because the food was cut up and ready to be cooked, so we literally just had to cook it.  It’s great because we basically just threw a bunch of stuff on the grill (BBQ) or in the pot (shabu shabu) and grabbed what we wanted as it was done cooking.  The Japanese often will slice their meat very thin so it cooks very quickly, which was nice for these dinners because we only had to wait about a minute for our food to be done.  Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun with it and I would definitely do it again!

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Sugary goodness

June 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm (Assignments, Culture)

Cola flavor Mentos

I love candy. Candy is one of the most amazing things on Earth, I think anyway. There are so many different flavors and textures, all of which have some form of sugar in them. One of my favorite parts of traveling outside the US is getting to try out the different candies. So of course, it only took about a day for me to enter a convenience store and peruse their candy aisle. One of the things I love about Japanese candy is that it’s so true to the flavor it is trying to represent. Melon candies are one of my favorite Japanese candies for two reasons: it’s not a flavor we really see in US and it tastes just like I’m eating a piece of melon. I’m also a big fan of Japanese chocolates. They aren’t significantly different from American chocolate, but the Japanese have a fondness for pairing chocolate with either graham cracker or wafer crisp. This is wonderful for someone who really likes Kit Kats, such as me. Before leaving the country I even picked up a green tea Kit Kat, but I have yet to try it. I don’t really like green tea, so we’ll see how that goes!

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