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Nornir: A translation

I've been listening to the one of Mawaru Penguindrum's title tracks, Nornir, lately. The lyrics are quite interesting, so I've attempted a (literal) translation.

(As an aside, the meaning of "nornir" from Wikipedia: "The Norns (Old Norse: norn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, a kind of dísir comparable to the Fates in classical mythology.")

Your eyes spinning
Searching the platform
Echoing fanfare
The clattering sound of the city
Lies that tell about the place of the beginning
Now, too, we don't pay attention

"Why, what" wailing silhouette
Ignored, the ringing of the departure bell
A secret tunnel
Calming down the raging heart
For now, I gave my ears
To the soon-disappearing world

I'm sorry
I feel like we won't be able to meet again
Destiny laughs

I'm breaking through the critical point1
The boundaries are already past
Absolute domination, destroyed
The theory of the end is nothing but a useless speculation
I scream from the end of the worldline2 of 0 and 1

My gears spinning, going to pieces
Where is the key to wind them
"Watch out for the gap"
While exchanging words of mischief
The door of the ordinary inordinary
Opens into the world that should soon appear3

Without making it to the end of the thread passed from hand to hand
I get tangled and fall

Expecting a great unfolding
Breaking the zero survival rate
The last stand arrives quietly
The theory of the end is nothing but a reverie of yesterday
Now, too, from the end of tangling worldlines
I'm just praying for you
I'm just praying for you

Alarm bells in the night before the revolution
The love troubles of a pure maiden
The first and the last great prediction
Soon the last train will pass by4
To the ark without forgetting your luggage
The causality of a breaking point
to be continued
to be continued

The apocalypse of the boy and the girl
Living delight of the Ragnarok
The final battle Armageddon
You'll disclose a secret of the world
You'll disclose a secret of the world

Always watching from the final station
Biting the forbidden fruit
Always, always bored
Predestination can't be more than a delusion
Taking the last chance at the breaking world

I'm breaking through the critical point
The boundaries are already past
Absolute domination, destroyed
The theory of the end is nothing but a useless speculation
I scream from the end of the worldline of 0 and 1

I wonder why I'm here
Not a single one still moves, but
I feel like soon you'll be coming to meet me
I close my eyes

[1] Critical point/temperature here has the specific meaning of a physics term, meaning a transition point, i.e. from solid to liquid.
[2] A worldline is the path of an object through spacetime, i.e. the history (movement, events) of an object. In the context of the theory of relativity, the point of "present" on a worldline divides the past and the future; notably, only events within the light-cone of the "past" can be known to the point of the present.
[3] This seems like a wordplay on two readings of 開く, ひらく meaning figurative opening or unfolding and あく meaning concrete opening (i.e. of a door). It is sung ひらく.
[4] Phrased like a typical announcement on a train station.

Having been recently subjected to Japanese cell phones and this being a subject frequently discussed on various traveller forums, I thought I'd post a short rant on using/getting a phone in Japan.

Back in the 90s and the early 2000s, Japan used to be known as the poster child of advanced cell phone technology. Countless Powerpoint presentations written about and an entire failed industry, WAP, was based on the idea of NTT Docomo's i-mode data service. However, thanks to what appears to be entirely ineffective competition and an iron-fisted carrier bundling regime, these days are long gone; until a while ago, the offerings were dominated by complex, bureaucratic and expensive long-term feature-phone oriented plans based on fixed voice minute/mail[1] bundles. If you wanted data for anything besides i-mode-ish things, it was cheaper to take a long cable along (with the possible exception of PHS?).

The appearance of the iPhone and other smartphone vendors who have not been willing to dilute their brands to gain favor with carriers have wrought some change. The grey import of smartphones appears to have brought the idea of unbundled phones into the country and caused actual slight competition between the major operators[2,5]. Softbank seems to have recently simplified their offerings significantly, while NTT's site is still a maze of near-identical plans. Neither has the use of random billing units such as "6 seconds" or "packet" (128 bytes) disappeared.

Unfortunately this progress won't help the tourist, as the US/European style cheap & cheerful few-questions-asked prepaid service remains nearly unknown, thanks to high prices and anti-foreigner ("anti-terror") laws requiring registration of prepaid SIMs.

For those not able to take on a postpaid contract, the following options are available.
  1. Roaming: A 3G W-CDMA/UMTS phone (supporting AT&T/European frequencies) works on Softbank/Docomo networks. I hear some cdma2000 phones (Verizon?) work on KDDI's network, but I don't have any experience with this. GSM is nonexistent. However, roaming prices count in dollars per minute, not minutes per dollar.
  2. Local prepaid: Softbank and KDDI have prepaid offerings, but purchase requires proof of citizenship or an Alien Registration Card (available to long-term visa holders)[3]. Only crappy (but cheap) feature phones are available. Minimum recharge 3000 yen (valid for 60 days before your balance evaporates unless you charge more, card is valid for a year after that), calls 90 yen/minute. The only upside is unlimited mail at 300 yen/month. You can make and receive international calls and receive international SMS/MMS messages. However, you can't send SMS/MMS messages to foreign numbers and there is absolutely no data service available (including all Yahoo! mobile services etc. normally available to Softbank subscribers). A year ago KDDI's prepaid service was similarly crappy.
  3. SIM/phone rental: At least Softbank offers a SIM rental service at Narita airport (yes, Japan loves loopholes). Prices seem to have gone down a bit and this is only slightly more expensive (~15% for calls) than prepaid service. There's also (expensive) data at 1575 yen/day. You can rent a phone too if you feel like you have too much money.
If you are planning the order things from Amazon, auction sites (see also [4]) and whatnot  you will usually need to enter a domestic phone number and the delivery company may well call you on it about bringing your package. If you're in Japan for shopping, this makes a local number rather useful.

While hotels often have fairly good Internet service, don't count on being able to find an "Internet cafe" easily. While connectivity is available in manga cafes and such, they tend to require registration paperwork and may also require an Alien Registration Card. Japan loves bureaucracy.


[1] Cell phone "mail", which for feature phones is actually MMS (or its CDMA equivalent) with interoperability for normal e-mail, is one of the lasting successes of Japanese telcos (this is actually a default feature of MMS, but most operators disable it for "added value"). SMS is practically unknown, though supported on Softbank phones.
[2] Major operators being Softbank, KDDI/au and NTT Docomo. There are some MVNOs but I think they're mostly more of the same, with the exception of [5].
[3] You can have someone else buy a phone for you. However, this is technically illegal and the person will be signing their name on your behalf on the registration. Rumor has it that some outlets may also sell prepaids with a foreign passport. This seems to involve some "face control".
[4] Registration to certain social networking and auction sites requires opening a link sent to a cell phone mail address in the phone's browser. These sorts of services tend to work only with feature phone browsers (ie. not iPhones and such) which sprinkle some magic dust on your HTTP. This sort of registration is not possible on prepaids since there's no data service.
[5] b-mobile is an MVNO on Docomo's network which seems to be offering 6-month prepaid no-questions-asked data plans for reasonable rates and few other options. These are data-only, voice/SMS/MMS is not available (though they have a voice plan, but that requires the usual paperwork). I understand this is based on a loophole in the law (registration is only required for voice service).
UPDATE: 3.0.1 should support GF1 officially (haven't tested it, since I'll probably be switching to Lightroom)

Apple released Aperture 3 a few days ago with official support for the G1 and GH1, but for some unknown reason not for the GF1.

User helloniklas has posted instructions that allow using GF1 RW2 files directly in Aperture 3 on the Apple forum here. Note that this will break support for GH1 in your copy of Aperture and this will also need to be done with ever new RAW Compatibility Update until Apple gets around to adding official support (there is also a risk that a later update without official GF1 support will make this hack non-functional, leaving you with temporarily unusable raw files in your library).

It seems that modifying the RW2 file's exif tag to a supported model will also work. For example, "exiftool -Model=DMC-G1 foo.RW2" seems to make Aperture like the file. Setting the model to something dummy like DMC-GX1 makes Aperture reject the file. Make sure you have exiftool 8.08 or later; old versions lacking proper RW2 support may break your files. If you have MacPorts installed, you can install it with "port install p5-image-exiftool".

DNG files with lens correction metadata are still completely rejected by Aperture.

DNG files processed with my dngsanitize tool still work ok.

It's a bit of a close call whether to use straight RW2 files with the patch or dngsanitized DNG files. RW2 is more convenient and supports the lens correction stuff, but the risk of sudden breakage makes me a bit leery. Of course if the worst happens, the RW2 files can be dngsanitized afterwards.

Here is a picture processed by SilkyPix (default settings);


And by Aperture 3.0 (default settings):

Aperture 3

Results are quite similar. Aperture output is a bit more saturated and has noticeably more sharpening applied by default. The picture is totally random and underexposed so shadow/highlight handling etc. remain to be seen.
 Well, that was terrible. Getting Vista Internet Connection Sharing running was painful, but the as of 2.6.30, the Linux rt2860 driver is a real Cthulhu-esque monster. Mostly as a note to self, getting it to talk to an ad-hoc WEP-"protected" network doesn't work with iwconfig (commands are silently ignored or semi-ignored); procedure is something like

iwpriv ra0 set NetworkType=Adhoc
iwpriv ra0 set EncrypType=WEP
iwpriv ra0 set Key1=12345 # either 40-bit or 128-bit key as ASCII
iwpriv ra0 set Channel=11 # or whereever Vista decided to stick the adhoc network, check the scan
iwpriv ra0 set SSID=foobar # maybe not necessary
iwconfig ra0 essid foobar mode ad-hoc

At this point Vista should show that a client has joined the ad-hoc network.

Using Panasonic GF1 raws in Aperture

UPDATE: see this post for information about Aperture 3 and the GF1.

A while ago I got a Panasonic GF1. Unfortunately neither the native raw format nor normally converted DNG files are accepted by Apple's raw processing framework. The reason why DNG files aren't accepted is apparently the included lens correction data. Why Apple's library won't just ignore the parts it doesn't understand is unclear.

Anyway, to get the DNG files working, I wrote a simple tool to remove the offending bits from the file.

The binary is available here: www.notcom.org/forum/dngsanitize-1.0.zip

You need to install Adobe DNG Converter 5.5 or later in /Applications. You can get it from www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp.
After you have installed the converter, unpack the zip file and run the dngsanitize command in the Terminal. For example, go to the directory where the zip was extracted, copy a G1/GH1/GF1 raw there with the name test.rw2 and enter:

./dngsanitize test.rw2

This will produce a file called testn.dng in the current directory. This file should be viewable in Finder's preview window. See the included README.txt for more information.

I have only tested this with GF1 and the Panasonic 20/1.7. It should work for other cameras and lenses too.

This image is exported from Aperture:

And this is from Silkypix:

White point has been adjusted, otherwise both are exported with default settings. Note how geometric corrections have been applied in the Silkypix image.

Here is the source for dngsanitize if you want to tinker with it: www.notcom.org/forum/dngsanitize-1.0-src.zip