Monday, October 29, 2007

The Lab Rat [aka Country-side Mouse] and the Number 23

Today has been a perfectly normal day for me. Already nearing my 2nd month business stay in Nihon, and just getting used to its suburban life. Waiting for 5 days till the next 2-day weekend. Good thing that the rain had stopped, because lately I have been using the pitiful "Super" umbrella. It's an umbrella my lola bought for about 100++ while I'm in Baguio, when I think its actual price should have been somewhat like Php50 to be found on Metro Manila's streets. Now, my umbrella is losing its cover along the edges. I do hope it would no longer rain since I have to take daily long walks towards the train station, and also towards the client company.

Today marks my 23rd. The number eventually gets bigger and scarier. I remember the last 2 birthdays prior to this and I just had spent the whole day doing our project/thesis in IML (my affiliate-laboratory in college), hehe. And now, It's my 3rd time in a lab again, albeit a different one. I really am not used to giving pakain or blowouts because my birthday falls on a convenient date for escaping those responsibilities (sembreak/ halloween break). But of course, I was able to treat those who were with me during those times (i.e. groupmate Eugene).

Now that I am a bit far away from my friends, again I have a reason not to make libre, hahaha. My work mate doesn't even know the exact date, although he knows it's within this month. One time when we had a dinner with our company president around Kita-Senju, my workmate jokingly told them that my bday is fast approaching thus I would be the one in charge of paying our meal. The Japanese was clueless at first until they realized that it was some sort of custom for us. It is common tradition that bday celebrants receive gifts, but for Filipinos, most of the time the bday celebrants are also compelled to sponsor at least a small feast. This is a weird concept for them since they understand that if one would want to hide his birthday to avoid the sponsoring, he won't be able to receive gifts. haha.

Anyway, just as I've said earlier, this day just passed by in the usual manner. But thanks to all the wellwishers, it's the one thing that made the day at least a bit different from the usual and of course I've appreciated it very much. 皆さん、ありがとうございます!Now back to country-side living...

"Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest." -- Larry Lorenzoni"

posted by ScIoN 4:24 PM |

Friday, October 19, 2007

Stuck in the Suburbs

2 Weeks have passed and I think I need to update. Things have been running slow lately. Even though I live in a city (Satte City, Saitama prefecture), it's not the typical one that has dozens of commercial establishments and a bustling lifestyle. Satte and adjacent towns mainly serve as residential areas for those working in Tokyo since it's just an hour away north via local train. (above banner shows Satte City's line of cherry blossom trees. Unfortunately, I still haven't seen that place)

Here I am, living a suburban life which can really be so boring if you don't go out once in a while. For the past weekends, my working partner and I had just locked ourselves up in our rooms, basically glued in front of our laptops. Thank God for the internet! (and to YBB user from whom I sometimes leech)

Not to mention my workmate who is a bore when it comes to "gimmicking". He doesn't want to go out during weekends because it's expensive. I can't blame him much though because he has a wife and a daughter to support. Aside from Akihabara, we don't have any idea on any cool place to go to, anyway. We don't even have a bike yet. sabishii na (how lonesome!)

Survey the scene. That's what I have been doing lately. Searching for maps and other guides in and out of Satte. Searching for this kind of info had been quite challenging since most sites are only written in pure Japanese. I've sent emails to blog owners who had been to Satte, seeking for advice. One Japanese correspondent translated a "Japanized" google map for me. Big thanks. (click map to enlarge view of Satte City map - English)

On weekdays, we go to nearby Sugito town to report and work under our client company. The client company is a major printing company in Japan. Aside from specializing in printing technology, the company is also a major producer of color filters and photomasks for LCDs.

I am quite fortunate to be working in the company's main technical research institute. We're assigned under Tozawa-kachou who leads the Kensa research team. Kensa is the Japanese term for inspection. So far, we don't have anything specific yet to do. Most likely we will be dealing with high speed image processes. Client company personally requested for our HDL background because FPGAs will also be used.

This 3-month long business trip seem to be our immersion stage so I guess that's the reason why we are not yet given specific projects. And since we (2) are the only gaijin (foreigner) in the company, there is no one to talk to. My Nihongo is still elementary. Our Japanese teammates are usually very busy, and since most of them are not good in English, they'd rather not bother talking to us.

Every friday, the whole team converges in one room for the weekly progress report with the presence of Kachou and Buchou (department chief). Of course, all proceedings were in Nihongo so I just usually stare at my electronic dictionary trying hard to decode all the things they are discussing. This week, we were asked by kachou to deliver a 5-minute presentation on whatever we had done in the lab, which was basically about our self-studying. Of course we delivered it in Nihongo, and darn it's hard to explain technical terms when you are only a basic speaker.

Anyway, it's a weekend again, yay! I hope this time I'll find time in going out and embrace the sunshine. But then again, it rained and it's cold outside... damn.

At least by next week (Oct 27) or the next (Nov4), I'm going to hitch in with my "Toshiba batchmates' " DisneySea outing. We are targetting for the Xmas theme.


posted by ScIoN 6:42 PM |

Saturday, October 06, 2007

PHS Internet

At last, now I have my own internet connection. However, the service subscribed for me is different from the usual internet subscriptions we know of.

I am currently connected via PHS (Personal Handy-phone System). PHS is also marketed as PAS(Personal Access System) and/or Xiaolingtong (小灵通 - China). PHS is actually a 2nd Generation (2G) data transfer technology and is gaining back popularity because of recent developments such as faster connection speeds and flat rate services provided by major operators in some Asian countries (like Japan, China, Taiwan, et al). You can check its wiki from here for more info (PHS - wiki).

Together with the company-issued laptop that had just arrived this morning, came the AIR-EDGE PRO which would be inserted into our laptop's PCMCIA slot. Instant internet access! Speaking of mobile connectivity, I can easily connect to the internet within any region in Japan. すごいね!

PHS is still far off from Japan's broadband access speed though. My PHS connection speed is 256Kbps. Testing through speedtest, the best dl/ul speed registered was 59Kbps/50Kbps (so far). PHS is basically a mobile dial-up service.

I don't know why they (boss) gave us PHS instead of broadband since even with the flat rate service, PHS is more expensive because of its mobility features. Maybe because we are going to be relocated to another apartment once we come back. I guess they also have a corporate account with Willcom, Japan's major PHS provider, since our PDAs have been also subscribed to it.

I guess with this current connection, I could only download less than I wanted, but hey at least it's free (for us at this moment)!

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posted by ScIoN 11:23 AM |

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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