Archive: April 2017

Japan Has the Coolest Train Ever!

Since When Was Freight Cool?

The Japanese have designed the most amazing train ever. It’s a freight train, yet it is just pure genius for the network out there.

The Problem

Japan has two railway gauges in use. For the ‘standard’ railway, they use a 3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge railway, due to the mountains terrain. Their high speed lines use the standard 4ft 8 1/2 in (1435mm) gauge for speed and stability. Between the northernmost island and mainland, there is the Seikan Tunnel, a mixed gauge tunnel. Freight uses the smaller 1067mm track and the heigh speed trains use the standard 1435mm track. However, freight cannot be transported as quickly through the tunnel due to the gauge.

The Genius Solution

To solve this issue, JR Hokkaido have designed the Train on Train. This is a freight train that the narrow gauge trains can be driven on to, ferried through the tunnel on the faster standard gauge track, and then can be unloaded on to the regular narrow gauge lines. It is a work of genius. However, it is still in development. I hope it gets exported round the world, just for the cool factor.

A demonstration of the Train on Train. Used under Creative Commons Licence from Wikipedia.

Unity is Dead.

Unity is dead. This is an end of an era for Ubuntu. I remember, back when Ubuntu 10.10 was released, the excitement I had for Unity. It looked cool and was. And if i’m honest, I like the layout. I used to use it as my daily driver. However, it started to be too ridged for me and eventually I swapped to MATE and KDE with Unity styles.

A couple of days ago, Mark Shuttleworth announced that Canonical will be killing Unity, Mir and Convergence. What a shame! For people like my parents and grandparents, Unity is excellent. It’s simple and clean. It’s also semi-touch friendly, so works well with a touchscreen laptop. However, I don’t see the killing off of Unity as such a big deal as I see the killing off of Mir.

Mir was meant to replace XOrg. And to be honest, it looked like it would for a few months. However, as it’s now dead, what do we have left? X11 and Wayland. Now there has been (as far as I know) no word on what Ubuntu will run as the desktop engine as Mir is dead. If it’s X11, that’s depressing. It’s old and antiquated. If it’s Wayland, it had better work!

Let’s hope it works out fine. It’s also a shame they are going to GNOME. Why not MATE with the Mutiny style from Ubuntu Mate?

Why I Prefer Anime & Manga to the Western Alternative

There are many things about western media that I do like. The BBC is one of the biggest things. News service is good. Doctor Who and Sherlock are excellent shows too, but are only on every so often. The reading material here is good to. However, I have never enjoyed comic books and their related cartoons, yet have always liked Manga and Anime.

Comic books in the west generally tend to be about superheros. Very boring superheros. How are they boring? Superheros for some, inexplicable reason are fighting crime in one particular city or part of the world. This makes them a bit like potatoes. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. As all superheros seem to fight crime, it gets rather boring after the first few chapters. Manga, and by extent anime, have crazy amounts of depth when it comes to subjects. The genres include, but are not limited to:

  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Romance
  • Supernatural/Magic
  • Military
  • Many, many, MANY more… I got too lazy to type them out

I can almost guarantee that somewhere in amongst that list there is a manga about a superhero fighting crime in a city (probably Tokyo), however that’s not my point. Of the various amounts of manga I have read, I have read about girls doing tank warfare as a sport, a group of friends making a video game and large Goliath type things attacking humans. I think that’s a bit more diverse than just city + crime = story.

Another reason is the animations that come of this. The anime’s that find their roots in manga generally tend to be well done, interesting and generally more true to the original books. A good example is the seriesĀ Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend. Each episode of this anime roughly equates to a chapter in the books (by the way, get them. They are good books). Western media has this nasty tendency to drop bits of the story deemed ‘insignificant’. It bugs me. Show me the whole thing even if it means I have to watch 12 episodes!

Finally, I prefer the artwork. Not sure why, I just do.