Haruka's Diary
Chasing After Rainbows: January 2013

30 January 2013

642nd post: Kindle - 3 weeks later

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It has been 25 days since the kindle arrived (Seemed longer to me) and in that time, I have finished reading 2 Harry Potter books, plus quite a number of manga volumes. These, however, form quite a small number of the amount I had already loaded on to it.

Since then, I had figured out how to take screenshots on my kindle.  How to take the screenshot varies on which version it is (press and hold the keyboard and menu buttons for mine). If you do it correctly, the screen would flash and the screenshot would appear in the documents folder when you connect it to the PC.

Of course, the Kindle has a hidden feature where you could view images: just create a "pictures" folder in the root directory. To make sure it is optimal for the screen, make sure the image is as close to 600*800 (3:4) as possible in monochrome, though images could still open if you didn't do that. The loaded images would appear on the main menu in the same way as a normal ebook, but using the folder name as the title and, obviously, lacking the author area.

I recommend that you create collections if you are going to load a lot of books and images, especially if a group belong to the same series. Makes your life easier scrolling through the long list of books you have loaded.

When you delete a book or text files (you can download .txt files via the browser and would appear as a book), it would be removed from the device memory. But, if you remove a folder of images, it would disappear from the list, but still resides in the device memory. It would remain the the memory until you delete it via the PC in the same way you loaded it. A 150-page book rendered as image takes up about 20MB of space, versus just 4MB for a 800-page text-only (plus a few images) book. Quickly takes up memory if you have several of it. 20MB is after optimization for the device, so it would be more if you just put images as they were without any modifications.

When I said you could load images, I don't mean that you could only put in photos from your camera (though you could if you want to), but being able to load comics onto this. I recommend Mangle to create a version that is the most suitable for reading on the Kindle 1-4 and the DX. The page where you last read would appear when you open it again.

American visual novels are usually in colour and you would feel strange seeing it in black and white. As Japanese comics are usually printed with just one tone of black ink, the technique of dithering is used to give the illusion of shades, and unprinted regions of the paper (which is usually white) for the light colours. This is where manga shines at, becuase the e-ink display is basically just white or black. Grey is achieved by alternating white and black in a region, with spacing depending on the shade of grey.

The image viewer is, however, not without its some odd problems:
  • You would need to exit the image viewer before putting it on standby mode or you would be stuck at a blank screen on resuming and would need to close and reopen again anyway.
  • If you enabled full-screen mode, you would need to disable it before you close the image viewer or the full screen mode would mysteriously be disabled (with the option in the menu assuming as if you are still in full screen mode) when you open another image folder. You need to "disable" and "enable" again to view it in full screen.
  • When you kept viewing previous images, part of the image you previously viewed is still clearly visible with the image you are supposed to be viewing overlapping that may be cut off (blank areas especially) by the said previous image. Switch to neighbouring pages to fix this. The same odd problem might happen when you just enabled full screen mode.

This image has been zoomed in
The Kindle comes with an "experimental" web browser that does support images and cookies. Though the keyboard isn't really nice to type with, you could actually access twitter on this thing. (Redirects you to the mobile version if you try to visit the main site.) You can use the previous/next page buttons to scroll the pages, and he directional keys to select links and such.

Trying to visit sites like Neowin, or even this very blog, would cause the Kindle to crash and would have to restart it to get it working again. Too much things the Kindle couldn't handle? Except when using for the first time, or just recovered from a crash, the last page you viewed would automatically load.

Crashes seem to only happen when I visit certain sites with the browser, but don't make me talk about recovering from crashes.

I had brought it out and about for some days. The size is about the same as the iPad Mini. While reading on the train, I found no disruption reading it while the train enters and leaves tunnels during the day. On a backlit LCD screen, I found myself needing to adjust the brightness to comfortable see anything. Sometimes, the problem with these LCDs are the screen is too dim to see anything, when viewing in a bright place, but adjusted for a dark place and vice versa. On-screen brightness controls (as opposed to a physical one) that may be burred somewhere in the settings means that this is a pain to adjust.

If I had not discovered ebook and the e-ink display, I might had gotten the more expensive iPad just to read books since my iPod Touch is too small for it. Also, reading off a computer screen, even if it's not a CRT screen, isn't a comfortable way to read.

21 January 2013

Alternate Dimension (Part 89)

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After briefing the measures that Powell Research should be doing with the current situation, I had to rush to where Kotomi is: her parent's place. It's not urgent, but it isn't something I should be taking my time to get around to doing either. Kotomi has this curse where she needs to see Itsuki as a male regularly to keep her sanity for years now, but as I head to her place, the severity of what happened earlier becomes clearer, but still filled with unknowns.

Judging from Kotomi's call earlier, she doesn't sound like her usual self. However, she did mention that she is aware of it, but unable to do anything about it. She was too shocked to mention where she was, but since her parents and siblings were mentioned, I assume she is with them. The likely place they would be is at her parent's house, though it is possible that they went out.

Ever since it happened, I never ever saw anyone being aggressive, though I did hear people whining on why they are unable to do things the masculine way, and leaning more towards the feminine way. It's odd to hear people complaining about their own behaviour, but in this case, femininity is kind of forced onto everyone while still retaining the mindset from before it happened. It's the awareness that they are behaving differently from before that lead to the complaining. However, once you have been doing things in a particular way for a while, it slowly become used to it and becomes a part of your behavior without you being aware of it.

When I arrived at Kotomi's place, I encountered a large group of teenage girls who are all wearing different school uniforms. Except for Kotomi's dad and son, I can't identify who the others are, or what schools they belong to. What they are doing at the Miyazawa household? Is there a party going on? I don't think anyone has their wedding anniversary or birthday today.

One of them spotted me and ran towards me, smiling, with her clenched hands around the height of her shoulder. What she is about to say threw me off my guard with her total mismatch of her expression.

Girl: "Saeko-chan... Help me! I don't know what happened me. Out of the blue, everyone transformed at the same time. I don't even look like myself!"

The tone and voice sounded exactly the same from the call with Kotomi earlier.

Me: "Kotomi?"

Girl: "Yes, it's me. I don't know what's going on... Everyone around me transformed into what we are now with no warning. I don't like this girly behaviour that me and everyone else has, but it's no use; we can't behave any other way even if we are able to think of it. It also seems that men has been completely wiped out from existence..."

She paused for a moment before she screamed in horror. Believe me, that scream was loud.

Kotomi: "What am I going to do? I don't want to go insane from not seeing my husband as a man. He might look completely different from you now. This body is weak and gets scared easily. What am I to do..."

Can you worry about this later?

Me: "So those identically dressed girls you were with are..."

With everyone having new faces at an age range where the difference between the maximum and minimum is not that great, they could be anyone. I don't even know if Kotomi has brought over some friends earlier.

Kotomi: "Those are my parents, siblings, and children... ARGH! I don't even know who is who with their completely different faces and identical looking ages!"

Seriously?! That is her whole family there? The number of girls there do add up to the number in Kotomi's family, but there are no boys there. Kotomi's dad had already been turned into a girl not too long ago, and still looks like he's the daughter of Kotomi's mother and oldest brother. Those two has been transformed into young girls that now bare no resemblance to their former selves. Before I could say anything, Kotomi added:

Kotomi: "My son and my brothers had been turned into some of these girls. Dad has already been turned into a girl before all the remaining males transformed at the same time, as I told you before. Kousei's behaviour is quite recognizable since his usual behaviour is quite feminine to begin with and scarily looks quite matching now that he's a girl. The only one who hasn't changed at all is my son. Not sure if he would turn back into a guy if he manages to take off the uniform, but he was already behaving like a girl that he would be better off as a girl instead of as a boy, despite contrary to what I wanted. I guess it's hopeless now that everyone is a girl and forced to behave like one. What is happening at your place?"

Come to think of it, anyone who is currently working or enrolled into Mizuho seem to be largely unaffected, as if it's the same thing, but more stricter. In fact, who is affected by this new phenomenon, and what they had been turned into, is similar to that of Mizuho, but relaxed on what you can and can't do, affects a much larger area, and permanent. By permanent, I mean you can't turn back; it's forced onto everyone without warning or choice.

Me: "Somebody called for a major urgent mass meeting right after the change happened. At the meeting hall, I could see that everyone is a young female, with no males or anyone with grey hair in sight. There are reports that anyone who was below 15, including newly born babies, instantly became a teenage girl too. People are also getting worried about humans becoming extinct since females can't produce a child without a male involved."

One of the other girls came up to me and stood next to Kotomi.

Girl 2: "I'm sure my brother would come up with something, like how this girl was born, or her third and fourth child."

Kotomi: "Mom!"

That girl was Kotomi's mother? It's creepy that they look of the same age with no resemblance to each other with their new body unlike before. Why is this? Would children born from now on resemble their parents, but with the parent's new look, or no resemblance at all?

Girl 2: "Seriously speaking, this change could completely change how we live our lives. The concept of marriage and family has reduced just a group of girls who are closely affectionate with each other. Since the newborns instantly become teenagers on being born with reasonable amount of knowledge and developed behaviour already there. Things that usually cater to young kids, the elderly, or the disabled, could disappear since there are no such people now. I don't know if newborns from now on would even understand what those things are when the generation from before this happened has passed on."

Kotomi: "I don't even know if the way our bodies work are different now, or my body's genes can't be biologically linked to any of my family members here."

Kotomi's mother: "It's strange that my husband and sons could reproduce themselves as a girl now..."

Voice of 3 girls: "Hey!"

The voice came from three of the girls Kotomi and her mother were with before I came, with one of them being Kotomi's father. They looked scared on that idea, so I guess the other two are Kotomi's two eldest younger brothers, though not sure who exactly. Kousei and Kotomi's son did not respond to that remark despite appearing to have heard it.

I think this is was the final phase of men and the elderly being turned into young women that started years ago, because I don't see any man or old people at all. Not sometimes, but never. I never thought it would actually happen since the previous phase was a long time ago, and long enough to think that there won't be any more.

****

It has been two months since something turned every single human into a young female. Kotomi has been brought in to study her body, particularly relating to studying her sanity levels from not seeing Itsuki as a male. We weren't sure if it had weakened over the length of time or disappeared with her complete body change (her DNA says she is a completely different person that doesn't match with anyone in their database), but her sanity level remained unchanged despite having not seen the male Itsuki, or any pictures of him, for a long time. It seems that the curse Kotomi has had since High school has disappeared now.

We still have no idea what is causing the mysterious transformations to everyone, but we did find out on what effects the transformations did to people.

As two months has already passed, more people noticed that they did not have their monthly period since then, long overdue as a mater of fact. A period is where unfertilized eggs inside a female gets discharged monthly during the ages between puberty and menopause, which is about 30-40 years. To the female herself, this process is beyond her control and painful, but until menopause, it only temporarily stops when she actually gets pregnant. As that is also a sign that she can bare babies, everyone was worried, though the issue of being able to reproduce babies with the now-extinct males becomes more of an issue.

With what we found out, the female reproductive system has been completely changed: the vulva has been relocated so that it points directly downwards, and reshaped to look like a tiny air valve commonly found on balls. It is almost as if it's specifically designed for a syringe as it fits in perfectly inside, and you will know it can go no further as the only organ there that can make a girl aroused is triggered only when the needle is fully inserted. As if self-aware that the needle is dangerous, this needle cannot fall off by accident, or be removed by the person it is inserted into while in an aroused state. Funny how the female reproductive system has redesigned itself to only be able to get pregnant via a man-made method. The female desire for wanting sex still lingers, but that is physically and pratically impossible now: men are extinct, and the woman's reproductive system has been completely redesigned in a way that they can't simulate sex either.

Using a similar reproduction method used to produce Kotomi's third and forth child (it's complicated to explain in detail), women could actually still produce children endlessly, albeit only one at a time. The offspring would resemble the mother and whosoever gene was used to create the fertilizer. The technology has improved so that it is possible to produce a male child through this method, but one of the parent has to be male, and the success rate is only 12% - 25%. As men are extinct now, this method still works by using a woman in the man's place, but the child would have 0% of being born male, and instead as a female. With males turned into females, and the reproductive system of females completely redesigned, this seems to be the only way humans could ever reproduce themselves at all, though them unable to get old has greatly reduces deaths from medical problems relating to old age.


All babies born today already have a body and mind of a teenager with clothes already on. Since this newborn already has a teenager's body, she could, in theory, be able to produce children of her own already, which, to people from before the change happened, is very surprising.

People now have two different ages: their actual age, and their biological age.
  • Actual age: Number of years they had lived through (including time travel) since birth. Anyone who was transformed at the very first batch of men being turned into girls years ago do not remember who they were previously, so their "actual age" is based on the age they think they were back then, plus the time since then. This also applies to those who have a body that is older than their actual age.
  • Biological age: Based on how long since birth to reach their current body development before the era of transformation happened. Nobody could become younger than 12 or older than 30, though 15 is a common age for someone to be transformed into.
People who had been transformed since the phenomenon started years ago, which is practically everyone except those who were really born 12 to 30 years ago, adopted the way of thinking of what their biological age is. This means that, even though they may know their actual age, they would only state their biological age. Besides, who would want to list their age as 80 if they have a body of a healthy 15 year old? Due to overcrowding at schools and hardly anyone in the working as, if you follow the biological age, are underaged, the laws have to be written since everyone has been changed overnight. It's a tricky mess to clear.

Since even the youngest in actual age are already having the knowledge as if they had already attended primary school, primary schools, kindergarten, and related services, has been closed down. However, since primary school accommodates 6 years worth of classes, they can be easily be converted into a middle/high school that could accommodate double the number of classrooms than the average. Of course, things like small tables has to be changed first. People who have already attended schools at least once in their life are no longer required to attend schools. They may be allowed to attend school again for college courses. For levels lower than that, they have to meet one of the following criteria: unable to complete or attend (drop out, hospitalized), had major disruptions to studies (family issues, transfer to different schools many times, natural disasters), or had been transformed with their current biological age be below 19 and had not attended school since being transformed. Priority to the places in the school goes to those who has never ever attended school before and whose ages (either actual or biological) would turn 13 (for middle school) or 16 (for high school) during the school year. Transformed people are allowed to keep the jobs they had before the transformation, but jobs that require people to be strong or fearless are difficult to do: the forced transformation into feminine women has turned workers of these jobs to be weak and easily scared. They can't dismiss these people for under-performing because there is no one who could do the job properly.

As everyone is also forced to wear short skirts (or a dress with the same hem line) that can't be worn over and either have the rest of the legs exposed or covered (partially or completely) by socks or stockings of specific colours, tasks that require the legs to be fully covered, like radiation suits or fire-fighting,  have to be redesigned just to be able to wear these safety clothes. The redesigned outfits makes them look silly, but I guess that is what one could come up with at such short notice. Designing an outfit that protects against dangerous elements, and yet feminine in design, is not easy. It has to be feminine design or else they would be unable to wear it at all. I can hear people complaining about the problems directly related to the forced transformation, but nobody is able to do anything about it besides making it "more comfortable".

The good thing about this change is that, except in a harmless way, be able to become evil or cruel to others: the body could manipulate the mind in a way that the person would not be even be able to think of saying or doing evil things that would negatively affect another party. Unlike me, they can express anger too, but it's mixed together with crying. You can cry without being angry, but you can't get angry without crying, though the crying while angry is not noticeable unless the anger level is high. As evident by the sharp drop in bullying, fighting (along with injuries from it) and people being cheated, this does seem effective. It's hard to differentiate between not thinking of being evil on their own, and the body forcing the person to not be evil as nobody could tell if their mind has been manipulated.

What everyone is afraid of is how anyone who has not experienced what life was like before the phenomenon started would grow up to be, or if humanity would even exist. Since a newborn starts of as a 15 year old girl that is capable of bearing her own children already, people are worried about population explosion. Would they even know what being a baby, a man, or an elderly person is like? Would the new generation even know what family is? The Miyazawa household now looks like a group of close friends that makes up of nothing but teenage girls that don't even look alike.

This is a completely different world now. So different that a lot of familiar concepts don't work with the new world. Somehow, I have this odd feeling that I caused all of this to happen, but at the same time, it wasn't me.

10 January 2013

640th post: Kindle 4 (2012 version) arrived

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Back in 21 December 2012, I ordered an Amazon Kindle from the US store, along with other problems that followed involving the delay of delivery due the holidays.

Anyway, it arrived at the delivery center closest to my home on Friday, 4 January 2013. I knew Saturday deliveries are only by appointment. The day it was delivered (6 January 2013) being a Sunday, I wasn't sure if I should be expecting it to arrive since it's the weekend until I saw on the courier's tracking page earlier that day that I saw it being delivered. It was a good thing that I wasn't planning to head out that day, though I did on Saturday.

The Kindle is packaged in a "fustration-free" packaging that uses minimal resources. The only things inside was the kindle itself, a microUSB (or was it mini?), and a card containing some basic information. (Why include a very long printed legal information anyway?)

I opened it up and was presented with several languages to choose from. (Japanese was not included, and is not sold at Amazon Japan either.)

Since the day I ordered, I have been preparing the things to load onto the kindle, like ebooks and such. Even before ordering, I had already accumulated quite a number of PDF files. I tried reading those, but reading it in an uncomfortable position or a display that hurts my eyes or on a tiny display (iPod Touch) isn't an ideal way to read these things. I could print, of course, but onto a sheet of paper that I would look at only once isn't exactly pratical or saving money.

This Kindle is the first device I own that uses the Eletronic Ink (e-ink) technology, though not the first to not have any built-in light. E-ink displays consumes energy only to change what is being displayed and, unlike other display technologies, not requireing energy to maintain what is being displayed. The slow refresh rate makes it impratical for use for displaying rapidly-changing images, and colour versions are still in the development stage, which is why its applications of use are limited to reading text or still images.

Reading on the Kindle is as sharp and crisp. Despite no backlight, it is still readable as long as there is light at where you are reading. I read this thing while on the train during the day, and it didn't bother me when the train entered or leaves a tunnel while reading. This is usually a problem when I use other devices where I found myself having to adjust the screen brightness that is a hassle to get to since the controls aren't hardware-based.

So how big is this thing? I could give you all the specific measurements, but even I found myself wondering how big the measurements provided is in actual terms. You would understand it better as "the size of a CD player"; larger than an iPhone, smaller than an iPad. The size of the screen is 6 inches.

I had considered getting an iPad just to read PDF files, but as I was searching about, I discovered eBooks, eBook reader, and the eInk display. Might have heard of those before, but never really thought much about it; partly because I don't see these things in the eletronic store. What further prompted me to buy it is that the cost was at US$99, and the add-supported version added a US$20 discount. Then as I ordered, I noticed that I was looking at prices for the 2011 edition: the 2012 edition was US$10 cheaper. This meant that the final price was US$69 (not including tax and shipping). A few dolars cheaper does make a difference when the amount is converted to a different currency, with some of the amount going to the banks and MasterCard/Visa as fees. The lower the cost, the less I pay to them.

Reading the information of other ebook readers by other brands, they do not support displaying Japanese characters as text, despite saying that they have "support for multiple languages". (It was hard finding out what those specific languages were.) Also, I know that the ad-supported version is targeted for the US market only, but since I already heard that the ads are non-intrusive, and the screensaver of the ad-free version is always the same and can't be changed, I thought: "why not?"

Since I received this Kindle, I find myself reading more often than with actual physical books.

03 January 2013

638th post: Update on Kindle Shipment

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The Kindle I mentioned earlier has been delivered to forwarding service with US address at 5am on the 27th of December 2012 (JST).

The forwarding service took two "business days" to process it (sort it out from other people's packages that arrives at the same time), and then another two "business days" to prepare to ship it to me.

In between these two events, it is held at their warehouse for up to 30 days (for free) so that I could wait for other shipments to arrive and ship everything from the US address together, which I didn't have any. The state it is located in, Oregon, has a 0% state tax at the moment.

Unless the shipment comes with information regarding its value, you would have to declare its value (in USD) before you are allowed to ship it out. Then they charge US$11 (international shipping) + cost of fuel (based on actual weight or volumetric weight, whichever is higher) + "mandatory" insurance (based on some percentage of the total declared value of items you selected for shipping) - discounts. New users would receive a US$10 discount (which expires by the end of the month and redeemed manually) and, depending on the payment or the bank that issues your debit/credit card, you might have an additional discount that is applied automatically.

What is the problem I faced since the last post? I still have yet to receive it, and it's still in Portland! Further delays is the weekend and New Year in between. Apparently, those days are not counted as "business days" I mentioned earlier! Adding to the confusion is that the US is in a timezone that is more than half a day behind mine. I finally see real progress when it's finally being shipped via DHL now, though still in Portland at the moment. Scheduled date of arrival is 7 January 2013.


Will I use this forwarding service again? Maybe: for things not found at where I live where they don't ship out of the US for some odd reason, but not illegal to import/export it. Otherwise, try to have it to ship directly whenever possible. Avoid using at the time where it's known to have a lot of people using it, and with so many non-working days.

PS: Another separate order I ordered the day before I ordered the Kindle to be delivered via SAL has yet to arrive. It would be funny if I receive this before the Kindle as courier mail is supposed to be faster than normal mail.

(I didn't count the numbering of this post wrongly: previous post is actually the 636th.)

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中野区, 東京都, Japan
帰国子女 英語能力は堪能。趣味はアニメや漫画やプログラムコードを編集。通常、あたしの小説を英語で書いてです。Grew up abroad &travelled to different countries. I write my own fictional novel on my blog.