VAIO Wants Merger With Toshiba and Fujitec PC Divisions

After being spun off from Sony two years ago, it looks like VAIO is planning to expand its PC operations. Despite the doom and gloom in the PC market, VAIO is reportedly planning a merger with the PC divisions of Toshiba and Fujitec, two other major Japanese PC OEMs. In fact, Japan Industrial Partners Inc, the owners of VAIO, are expected to hold the largest stake in the new firm and expects the consolidation will streamline the operation. The new company would rival NEC Lenovo in the Japanese market with a third of marketshare.

For Toshiba and Fujitec, this presents a good opportunity for them to get out of a market which has not much for them in the last while. Toshiba, in particular, is already trying to get rid of their less profitable divisions already and focus on NAND. By merging, the new as yet to be named firm has a will be able to leverage it’s now stronger domestic presence and make a bid for the international market as a whole, something VAIO has been trying to do.

In the current race to the bottom, there are only a few major players left like ASUS, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Acer have any significant presence and some of them aren’t doing quite well right now. Windows 10 has largely failed to help spur new growth and there seems to be little relief in sight. If the continued survival of a Japanese PC maker means a merger, it will happen sooner or later.

Smite Skin Sale Ends Soon!

Of all the multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA’s), I will admit that I prefer Smite. The unique 3rd person view brings you closer to the action and means that sneaking up behind your opponent brings them that much closer to defeat. With every character unlockable for just a one off payment of £20.99, including all of their future releases, it isn’t hard to see a reason why people like putting gods like Zeus against Thor and Ra. If you ever felt like a change though their skins are often unique and refreshing, with the Leap Year and Rising Dawn sales ending soon you can get them for even less!

The Rising Dawn event is there to celebrate the release of the Japanese pantheon, with gods like Ameratsu and Raijin tearing through the battle with sword and thunder alike. To celebrate this you can get a set of Japanese inspired skins for your favourite gods, with the loveable Neith dressed in pink with love hearts and fluffy animals, or if you wanted to go Godzilla (or Gojira) on some people Sobek is your god to call. Ymir goes sumo with his new skin and grabbing all of these and the rising dawn bundle gets you a machine based Sol skin. The deal ends on the 1st March so now may be your best chance to grab the deal.

The Leap Year sale brings you a bunch of skins for 50% off, with everything from the mecha forms of Digi-Mir 9000 Ymir and G.E.B.1 GEB to the sneaky Shinobalanque Xbalanque and Infiltrator Loki all going for cheap. With the sale ending on the 29th though you haven’t got long.

Former Xbox One Exclusive Chaos;Child Coming to PC

 

Chaos;Child is a Japanese visual novel game which originally launched as an Xbox One exclusive before arriving on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. It seemed a pretty strange business decision to market the game as an Xbox One exclusive given the terrible performance of the console in Japan. Perhaps, this was Microsoft’s idea to try to cater to Japanese audiences and lure them into other western franchises. Whatever the case, Chaos;Child didn’t make a substantial impact and eventually saw its way onto other platforms. The publisher 5pb recently announced that a PC version is in production although don’t expect an official English translation.

Additionally, an anime is also being created and I’m fascinated to see the final production. As a visual novel, the game is fairly niche and in Japanese. It’s possible for a fan translation to add accurate subtitles, given the PC release which would broaden its appeal. In the past couple of years, Japanese publishers have become more open to the idea of porting games to the PC and received a great deal of enthusiasm. This ranges from obscure JRPGS to mature dating simulators like Hunie Pop. I’m a massive fan of Japanese culture, and adore the notion that you no longer need to buy a console to enjoy many of the unique experiences Japanese developers have created.

What is your favourite Japanese game of all time?

Image courtesy of VG247.com

BBC to Offer Machine Translated TV News in Japanese and Russian

The BBC have announced a pilot run of its “Virtual Voiceover” technology, which will be used to automatically translate TV news reports into other languages. Initially, the service already offers translations in Japanese, with the BBC’s Russian service planning to implement the technology in early 2016. The objective of the virtual voiceover system is to allow news editors to easily and automatically publish news in a variety of languages with a minimal amount of staff and effort required.

The system is simple in theory, it will be fed the script for a news package and use a machine translation to convert the script into the target language. The translated script will then be checked over and polished if necessary by a bilingual journalist. Finally, a voiceover will be recorded using one of a number of synthesized voices available. According to a statement made to Ars Technica by the BBC, the machine translator currently used for the system is Google Translate but “it could just as easily be another translation engine and we’re likely to work with others as the project progress.”

Initially, the pilot testing of the service will run until April 2016, in both Japanese and Russian. Spanish is another language that the broadcaster has identified as useful for the system, and if it is initially successful, could be added to the service. The news packets that make use of these translations will be made available on the BBC’s new Today In Video service and can be accessed through the relevant BBC local website.

While the idea has been criticised due to the idea that it could take jobs from humans, an anonymous source at the BBC stated, “the intention was instead to free up reporters to do more journalism rather than administrative tasks.”

As we drift ever further into the digital in our media intake, could the shift from news read by humans to synthetics take off? Maybe one day all news scripts will be read by synthetic voices, even in their native language. For a taste of that, the BBC made use of their synthetic voice technology in a demonstration video of the technology, revealing the Virtual Voice new service.

Square Enix May Crowdfund Localization Projects

Ever since crowdfunding has come onto the scene, many indie devs and sometimes even major ones have used the power of the crowd to fund their game development. Square Enix is now taking this approach and applying it to the localization of Japanese games. This will address the many popular Japanese titles that western fans have long wanted a local version of but have never had the chance to get it.

While there are many vocal fans that always clamour for a localization, it can be hard for the developer and publisher to determine how many potential customers there really are. Even when fans say they want the game are willing to buy it, many of them might actually not purchase the localization title. Given the costs of translating and hiring voice acting talent, the risks have generally outweighed the potential return on investment.

With crowdfunding, the community is able to prove that they want a localization done by actually paying for it. Depending on how the rewards and crowdfunding are done, the developer is able get a guaranteed return on their investment and fans can get the game they want in their own language. It will be interesting to see if other developers take on this idea and if alternatives like a guaranteed buy-in get explored.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Japanese Man Accidentally Burns Down House During Live Stream

These days there are streams of all kinds, showing off different games and all kinds of other things. Sometimes though, expected things happen during the stream, with swatting having become more common recently. However, it’s not every day that someone burns their house down live for the internet, something a Japanese game streamer accidentally did.

Streaming on Nico Nico Douga, a popular Japanese streaming site, the man stopped gaming for a while to show off his smoking skills. Unfortunately for him, his various mistakes with his match lighter ended up creating a fire around the tool. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he threw his lit match into a wastebasket which subsequently ignited spectacularly. By the time he had dealt with the match lighter, the trash bag had been consumed with flames.

Tossing the burning inferno into a corner, he attempts to put out the fire by piling on cardboard, a pretty bad idea given cardboard is a great fire starter. As the fire grew, his escalating attempts to combat the blaze with a futon and buckets of water proved too little too late. In the end, 30% of his home had burned down and both he and 3 relatives including his parents suffered minor injuries.

Even the help of his viewers did not avail him. Nico Nico allows viewers to send a voice message when they donate to the stream. Unfortunately for the streamer, he didn’t react to the warnings from his viewers about the growing blaze in the trash bag till it was too late, did not heed the advice to smother the flames with a futon (he only fanned it), failed to properly remove the trash bag to a better location in the first place.

This incident goes to show that lighting an open flame in a room full of combustibles is a bad idea. That is especially true if you have no proper plan to put out any flames or proper safety equipment like a fire extinguisher. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder about the dangers of fire, especially if you’re unprepared to deal with it. Luckily no one was seriously injured this time around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_orOT3Prwg&feature=iv&src_vid=82UsZ44AxIA&annotation_id=annotation_1840551877

Japanese Company Wants to Build a Stunning 3D Holographic Display

We’ve been talking about holograms like something out of sci-fi movies, but with today’s technology, it really is possible to make a holographic display. We’ve previously seen this as a DIY project, where a guy showed you how to build your own pyramid-shaped display and use it with your smarphone. Now a Japanese company named ‘SSS’ seems to take it even further and started a crowdfunding project on Indiegogo for a 3D holographic display, dubbed ‘Holo case’.

As with the DYI project, the display is shaped as a pyramid for a full 360 degree holographic effect. The company already has a lot of useful real-world applications for it, from meeting your favourite characters in the ‘real-world’, to displaying expensive jewelery and minimize the risk of it being stolen from the showcase.

“Our mission is realize that thinking about how to interact with the characters. VR is the way we go through the world of character. However, there isn’t the only one answer for it. One of these is studying how to ” invite character into this world ” and we’ve realized it.”

“Here’s the example of exhibiting “authentic” ring in “Holo case”. Although the ring itself is just $10, you can display it just like expensive one by giving effect to the ring. Here’s the mini figure set in Holo case. We can display snowing scene.”

The company says that making an app for the Holo case is easy too. It just takes some animations to display on all sides of the pyramid, and you’re all set! They even say that using a game engine such as Unity3D or Unreal Engine 4 will make life even easier for you. You can find more information about the project over on Indiegogo.

Wargaming Announces the Open Beta for World of Warships With New Trailer

Wargaming has just announced that it pushed its upcoming title, World of Warships, to open beta. This means that everybody can download and enjoy the naval warfare game and if you were already in the closed beta, you can now have your friends join and help you through the PvE or even test your skills in PvP with them.

The open beta is said to have 10 unique maps and over 90 ships, split into two historic naval ship banners, the Americans and Japanese. The tech tree has four ship classes, all with their unique gameplay and tactics. You can either choose to have Destroyers, boasting big torpedoes, extreme manoeuvrability and smoke screen capabilities, or take the helm of Cruisers and intimidate your opponents with big, powerful guns, anti-aircraft guns, and a lot of firepower to support your teammates.

The remaining two classes consist of Battleships, who are goliaths that can pierce through the thickest armoured ships in the game, sustain a lot of damage and act as the “guardians” for your fleet, and the almighty Aircraft Carriers, who can be your fleet’s eyes and firepower support.

Aside from the American and Japanese banners, you can also take the helm of a few Russian and British. So whether you want to try it out or get your friends to help your fleet, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. You can download it from its website here.

The Witcher 3 Comes with Korean Localization? Well, Where Is It?

The Witcher 3 developer, CD Projekt RED, announced that their title will come with a lot of language support, including Korean localization. They even made a video where they thank all South Korean fans for taking an interest in their title.

All fine and dandy, but where’s the language support? I’ll tell you where… not included in the first release! I mean you will find it in the console versions, but the Korean localization is missing from the PC platform. And you want to know the best part? The South Korean market is dominated by the PC platform.

I bet they’ve got a lot of raging customers, especially after releasing a video such as this one:

Word is that not even Korean publisher, Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia, announced that the PC version does not include the Korean localization. They finally released an official statement saying that it will be added through a patch on May 21st. But what happened during the time they released the statement and official release on the market? All hell broke loose.

Korean fans who bought the title started raging on the Internet and with good reason too! Only after everyone knew what was happening, they did something about it. For example, GoG.com changed their page to tell buyers that the Korean and Japanese languages will be delayed, while Steam still indicates that it has support for the latter languages.

Nevertheless, the game has already received its fair share of negative reviews by now. And with good reason. In South Korea, the pre-order copies sold for $65 and the game is still being sold in shops for $59. Who wouldn’t go mad when they were promised the game in their own native language and found out (after they bought it) that they were lied to?

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information

Thecus Releases New Firmware Update for ThecusOS 5.0

Thecus just released a firmware update for the ThecusOS 5.0 software that runs on its NAS servers. The new version 2.05.08 addresses several vulnerabilities and exposures and updates some features.

The new version 2.05.08 is compatible with the following NAS servers:

  • N16000, N12000, N16000PRO, N12000PRO, N16000V, N12000V, N8900V, N8900
  • N6850, N8850, N10850
  • N7710, N7710-G, N8810, N8810-G, N7700PROV2, N8800PROV2
  • N2800, N4510U, N4510UPRO, N4800, N4800ECO, N5550, N7510

Also from the press release:

The newest version, 2.05.08, includes Disk Clone and Wipe for seamless data replication and destruction, enhanced security with VPN server and Kodi (select devices) for optimal media streaming. Also included is support for 4K native HDD, VAAI UNMAP, VPN and PPTPclient/server as well as compatibility with D-Link’s DXE-810S 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ adapter.

Updates for 2efsprogs (1.42.12), Xfsprogs (3.2.2), Thecus ID wording, and Linux kernel (3.10.66) are available along with improvements for the booting process, IE browser and WD60EFRX compatibility, and Japanese UI language.

Several vulnerabilities and exposures are also addressed with the new firmware including email notification password, jumbo frame, Samba Recycle Bin and share folders, as well as several other issues that are described in the release notes included with the download.

The new firmware is now available to download direct from the Thecus website (here). As is always recommended, backup all data before updating to the new firmware to avoid any data loss.

Valve Starts Teasing People with New Half-Life 3 Rumor

Valve has been ridiculously trolling people with various hints of a new equal to its Half-Life title, either through memes or other forms of hilarious trolls. In its latest attempt, the signs might be more obvious than ever before.

RagnarRox has recently added a Facebook post stating that Valve has scheduled a public press-conference on the 3rd of March, at 3pm. Let us stop and think for a second on that. March, which is the 3rd month of the year, the 3rd day of the month and at 3pm. Is it a coincidence?

We can even go deeper into the “conspiracy” here and take into account the place of the conference, which is San Francisco. The word “San” can also be interpreted as “three” in Japanese, further adding to the craze of the 3’s. Could it be that this is the real deal?

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

Japanese Manufacturer ELSA Releases 4GB GTX 980

Japanese graphics card manufacturer Elsa has just announced they will be bringing out another contender into the ever-growing GTX 980 market race.

Named the GTX 980 4GB SAC, Elsa will release their new champion product with a dual-fan cooling design. The card comes with a stock core clock of 1152 MHz, optional boosting to 1253 MHz clock speeds and 256bit GDDR5 memory interface clocked at 7010 MHz. The outputs consist of three display ports, one HDMI and one DVI setup; allowing for easy multiple monitor support.

There’s been no current word of sale pricing or availability in any other countries, but sources point out that this card will likely be available only in Japan at this stage.

Since their founding in 2003 we haven’t really seen Elsa in the headlines, a quick Google search will bring up a few 7 series NVIDIA articles and the odd product page, and comments on various message boards point out the same. Could this be a return to the scene? Because we’re interested to see how the card performs. If you’re reading this Elsa, we’d love to try one out.

Image courtesy of Coolaler

New Research Could Improve Batterypower by Seven at Reduced Costs

Scientists have long tried to find a cheaper and better alternative to lithium batteries and we’ve seen much promising research before. So far not much has come from it, so let us hope it will be different this time. Japanese researchers are developing a new form of batteries, sodium-ion batteries. They are said to have seven times the capacity and thereby last seven as long as traditional lithium batteries, at a fraction of the costs.

One of the biggest benefits of this, is that sodium (salt) is a common element and there isn’t any real chance that we run out of it, unlike for lithium batteries. Many will doubt the reality of this, but the theory on their research is solid and it’s just a matter of time before we see a new type of batteries, sodium or something else.

This new battery type doesn’t just use sodium elements. It also uses carbon to protect the flow of the sodium ions. The role of carbon can be repeatedly charged and discharged. The new sodium ion rechargeable batteries are expected to begin appearing in smart phones within the next 5-10 years, but will also be applied to electric vehicles and other areas.

Thank you CNbeta for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of CNbeta.

Japanese Adult Websites Could Infect Your Computer with Malware

People visiting adult websites is nothing out of the common, having it be a normal occurrence from time to time. However, those of you attempting to visit a Japanese adult website should know that cyber criminals are attempting to infect your computer just by visiting the website.

A report made by ESET reveals that the malware targets Microsoft Internet Explorer users, having users be redirected to an exploit page that will take advantage of a Java vulnerability. Needless to say, other browsers could be affected by the vulnerability as well. Therefore, Japanese adult websites should be avoided even if using a different browser like Google Chrome or Firefox for example.

The website is said to redirect users to a common Error 404 page, which usually indicates that the page does not exist. Users are tempted to close the page and no harm done. At least that’s what everybody thinks. The truth is, the code behind it all is said to trigger a malicious Java applet that will remain in the system even after the page has been closed.

To be noted is that the Java vulnerability in question is said to have been patched by Oracle back in 2013. However, the hackers might be relying on the fact that many users are not patching their software to the latest versions thinking that they are safe and exploits do not affect them. This is not the case, since hackers are always out to find and exploit even the most tricky vulnerability they could find, therefore it is a good idea to keep all your software up to date. Those who have not updated their Java to the latest version should do it by visiting Oracle’s Java web page here.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

Google Voice Search Receives An International Upgrade

Google responds to their users’ requests to add multiple languages to their Google Search engine for other parts of the world. By tapping the microphone icon in the search bar, French, German and Japanese speakers can ask Google any number of questions and have their smartphone respond in their native language.

Google also gives some examples, with asking for some coffee in Munich: “Wo bekomme ich Kaffee in München?” and users will get a list of local options, or the height of the Eiffel tower by saying: “Quelle est la hauteur de la Tour Eiffel?”, as well as who invented the transistor in Japanese: “トランジスタを発明したのはだれ?”, giving you the answer to the latter question.

Given the localization standards, we can see languages such as Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and even Netherlands added to the search engine, give or take. But as Google did not make any official announcements on this matter, it should be taken with a grain of salt. At least German, French and Japanese users can enjoy searching in their native language so far.

The changes will not require a new update, as the feature is to be implemented server-side. Download the application for your iPhone, iPad or Android from their respective stores if not already done so and ask away. Or you could use the traditional way and type your question as well to get you answer. The means is entirely up to you.

Thank you Google for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Google