Animanga Nuzu

The roughly mid-90's and earlier (generally pre-Toonami, pre-anime boom) era of anime & manga fandom: early cons, clubs, tape trading, Nth Generation VHS fansubs, old magazines & fanzines, fandubs, ancient merchandise, rec.arts.anime, and more!
gaijinpunch
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by gaijinpunch » Tue Jul 09, 2019 5:45 am

Drew_Sutton wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:22 pm
gaijinpunch wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 5:27 am
Japan was ironically scared of the PC for a developed nation. Personally I blame NTT for the whole thing.
I'd love to hear more about this, sounds so fascinating that NTT could both likewise hold the market (country) hostage and yet themselves not get into the PC business like NEC and Matsushita.
There is frighteningly little information about this available on the internet now (in either Japanese or English). I did actually find a small mention of Tokyo Metallic on Wikipedia, but the full story is not there. I only know because I was a nerd that wanted broadband more than anything. If only I'd have saved those damn emails from back then.

So the shortish version is, NTT invested heavily in ISDN in the late 90's. So much that it planned to skip DSL entirely and go straight to fiber (some time later). (Side note: I had a fiber connection in my house in Shibuya 2002). Remember that NTT is a behemoth, government owned company, that has a monopoloy on land lines, and were notoriously assholes in keeping competition out. Up until about a decade or so ago, you had to pay a one time fee to NTT to have a landline. That was about 75,000 yen. You owned it - it was transferable when you moved, even though extortionist. That was obviously phased out totally since nobody gives a shit about landlines anymore. (The precursor to the phase out was paying about 2000 yen added to your phone bill each month in lieu of the contract.) That's all to illustrate what NTT is: an expensive, bureaucratic company.

People started getting wind of cable internet, even though a lot of homes couldn't be wired for it (usually b/c of crusty old landlords... many of whom now drive taxis and will not use the navigation system if their life depends on it). An executive of NTT quits, forms Tokyo metallic, sues NTT (for something akin to non-compete) and miraculously wins. Almost immediately Japan has DSL (this was late 2000 / early 2001 from memory). However, this is kind of late in the game. Up until now, being on the internet cost you money, and at dial-up speeds (64k DSL if you were fancy or 128k if you were really fancy). At 3 yen a minute or so, that adds up after a month, and Japanese are notoriously frugal despite the high cost of everything. The result is a public that has simply not adopted the internet like the west.

Keep in mind, Japanese may have avoided PCs like the plague, but they were a good 2 years ahead of the west in the mobile phone world. Away from home for far longer hours and already paying for calls by the minute make the mobile phone a pretty good investment. Probably about the same time as DSL came, mobile phones had primitive browsing. You could have then surfed all day long for a flat 4,000 yen a month or so, but you've already got a phone, and not a 200,000 yen computer that you don't know how to use.

You can argue that was a long time ago, and to an extent things have gotten better. But the ripple effect is huge. I remember when I first moved to Japan in 1998 and would talk to young people. A lot of them blamed some of bizarre cultural stuff on sakoku (the closing of the country for 250 years during the Tokugawa era).

davemerrill
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by davemerrill » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:11 am

terrific post, Gaijinpunch, I love this sort of granular consumer-level stuff.

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Drew_Sutton
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by Drew_Sutton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:51 am

Yes, agreed - that was all very fascinating.
Akihabara Renditions: Japanese Animation of the Bubble Economy
Excuse me, I need to evict some juvenile delinquents from my yard.

gaijinpunch
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by gaijinpunch » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:05 am

Glad you enjoyed it. I know a lot of it b/c they actually employed a foreigner (a member of the Tokyo Linux Users Group) to help w/ installs for their English-speaking customers) who was not shy on the dynamics of the issue. I remember leaving my computer online all day every day (what I used to do w/ dialup a few years prior in the states) and it was magical!

Now, to put a modern touch on the narrative, a friend from Tokyo who has created a startup is staying w/ me for a few days. It's a website/app thing. Usual stuff. And they've learned the hard way about the differences in western & japanese UX. He says a Japanese support call would be on the topic "how do I register" and would sound like, "Okay, so you see the button that says register? Click that. Now, see the part where it says enter your name? Please enter your name there". Rinse repeat for every thing. The answer is to have popups everywhere, holding their hand through the whole process.

Another tidbit I learned from him that I can tie in. Remember the part about me moaning incessantly about the high cost of the internet? Well, that nonsense is still around in other forms. They may have unlimited broadband, but the lines are still owned by bureaucratic companies. I forgot how it's all broken up but telecoms but I believe KDDI and NTT own most of it. Anywho, the app obviously needs to use push notifications, which are sub-penny in the US. Guess what they cost per in Japan.... 8 yen! 100x what they cost in the west. Stuff like this totally stifles small businesses (of which Japan has tons of). That's just another example of ridiculous cost stifling innovation.

Okay, off my soap box. Japan does a lot of things well, but it really has no idea how to do anything cheaply (except parcel delivery and alcohol).

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Drew_Sutton
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by Drew_Sutton » Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:50 pm

gaijinpunch wrote:So the shortish version is, NTT invested heavily in ISDN in the late 90's.
I meant to go on a weird ISDN tangent when I last replied, but your follow up ties into this, so now's as good a time as any. ISDN, for whatever reason, seems to have been skipped over in North America. Maybe some parts of the US bought into it, I don't think we ever did around Atlanta. ISDN was popular in Europe though, as I recall. My friend near Stockholm had a 128Kbps ISDN like and I was jealous still with my 56k. In a place like Sweden or elsewhere in Europe and Japan, where the telecom is national dominant (or government subsidized), running multiple services over the same lines makes a lot of sense and you are able to offer a comparatively better service than say, in the US at least.

I think the difference is that, at the residential level, Baby Bells owned the phone infrastructure but everything else was the wild west for any number of providers and Internet service was never regulated the same as telephone service. My area got broadband via cable providers before we had (a)DSL from the phone companies, even though lots of homes subscribed to dial-up Internet service.
gaijinpunch wrote:Well, that nonsense is still around in other forms. They may have unlimited broadband, but the lines are still owned by bureaucratic companies. I forgot how it's all broken up but telecoms but I believe KDDI and NTT own most of it.
Since moving into a network engineering job, I've been working with NTT commercially. I fortunately have not experienced the full bureaucracy of needing to provision new metro fiber or anything like that. I will say though, that some of the per Mbit costs of our Internet transit from the US to JP and elsewhere throughout APAC is much higher than I would expect (but still cheaper than some areas of the globe, like South America or Australia). They're not far and away the most expensive but like I said, it was more expensive than I expected it to be.

The bureaucracy I have dealt with is on said Internet Transit when provisioning new circuits is that NTT will have separate teams for commissioning an IPv4 address and IPv6 address. They're the only telecom I've worked with that does that and it doesn't make a ton of sense (to me) since from a configuration perspective, literally the only thing that is different is the address. It is probably cultural stuff like that which makes Japan very hard for tech start ups, locally founded or international, to function, in addition to the added costs for things like push notifications like you mentioned.

I keep re-reading your last couple of posts and it is all this bizarre, through-the-looking-glass, mind-blowing stuff to me. Thanks again for posting it!
Akihabara Renditions: Japanese Animation of the Bubble Economy
Excuse me, I need to evict some juvenile delinquents from my yard.

Fireminer
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by Fireminer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:32 am

gaijinpunch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:05 am
Japan does a lot of things well, but it really has no idea how to do anything cheaply (except parcel delivery and alcohol).
I know that this is stepping away from the topic, but didn't Japan invented the whole "Just in time" concept (or a major chunk of scientific management" in general) to reduce cost?

(Also, since you guys here are familiar with labor in Japan, can I ask how much of Taloyrism is presented in your average Japanese factory or office?)

Anyway, had anyone here wandered around the Japanese BBS in the early 1990s? I heard that they too had fan newsletter too.

gaijinpunch
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by gaijinpunch » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:08 am

Drew_Sutton wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:50 pm
I meant to go on a weird ISDN tangent when I last replied, but your follow up ties into this, so now's as good a time as any. ISDN, for whatever reason, seems to have been skipped over in North America. Maybe some parts of the US bought into it, I don't think we ever did around Atlanta. ISDN was popular in Europe though, as I recall.
We had it in Texas, although I can't say if it was popular or not. It was out my price range. I do recall a computer lab that my apartments I lived in had an ISDN modem that I used to hit FTP sites. Was blown away at the speed. One of the massive selling points of ISDN is the dual channel aspect which in the US, wasn't that big of a deal. I don't believe multiple phone lines in a house was ever a thing in Japan. At 75,000 yen up front for one, buying a second for your angsty teen seems like money down the tubes. In the US though, I had one in 1990. Anyway, w/ an ISDN line, you can flip your modem to 64k and talk at the same time.

I do believe most of the US got cable internet a bit before they got DSL. At least metropolitan cities. This was most definitely the case in Tokyo, although only handful of buildings would get cable. Japanese landlords are notoriously stubborn, especially when it comes to any type of construction. To this day hanging art on a wall in a Japanese home you rent is a massive ball ache.
Drew_Sutton wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 3:50 pm
The bureaucracy I have dealt with is on said Internet Transit when provisioning new circuits is that NTT will have separate teams for commissioning an IPv4 address and IPv6 address.
Not surprised in the least. Japan is notorious for over-complicating EVERYTHING. A friend had his family vacation in Tokyo while I happened to be there on my vacation. His daughter is into anime so they went to some convention. He texted me from the queue to get in and was like, "I think they've over engineered the line to get in". I LOL'ed.
I keep re-reading your last couple of posts and it is all this bizarre, through-the-looking-glass, mind-blowing stuff to me. Thanks again for posting it!
Glad you enjoyed it! Wish I had saved my emails from the early days. Had some good times back then... many on my crappy 64k ISDN modem. Wish I had saved all my emails from back then.

And something to add new. One thing that always irked me about Japan is that even now, when you move and need a new hookup, it takes them forever to come do it. At least it did last time I switched apartments in Japan 2012. And then I read this thread on reddit yesterday. :| 3 weeks before they'll come flip the switch.
I know that this is stepping away from the topic, but didn't Japan invented the whole "Just in time" concept (or a major chunk of scientific management" in general) to reduce cost?
I'm totally unfamiliar w/ this so had to look it up. Looks like maybe it was developed at Toyota?

Fireminer
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Re: Animanga Nuzu

Post by Fireminer » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:19 pm

gaijinpunch wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:08 am
I'm totally unfamiliar w/ this so had to look it up. Looks like maybe it was developed at Toyota?
Yeah. It basically minimize the cost of inventory. I study finnance, not management or business planning, so I may be wrong about it but Just in time is a good idea. In America though, last I heard they use it to treat employees too and not just items. You could see it in the tech industry, whereas even experienced developers got either shuffled between different branches (which usually means moving to another country), or being hired and then fired on a per-product basic.

No wonder why tech is among the industry with the highest burnout rate.

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