Sunday, August 05, 2007


...or how the Japanese have misplaced their damned language and replaced it with English.

Chilled Beer and Glass Set
All my Japan-bound readers who are fans of beer should beat a path to your local 7-11 and pick up the titular 「チルドビール3本&グラスセット」, or "Chilled Beer 3 count and Glass Set", from Kirin.

Aside from being a indicator of a sad (to me, lover of Japanese lanugage) linguistic phenomenon, it is a good value at ¥749 for a bottle each of Kirin Ichiban (KIRIN 一番搾り), Kirin Grand Ale (グランドエール), and Kirin Maroyaka Kobo (まろやか酵母)--each of which retail separately for ¥250--and a decent if faux-haute couture beer glass (I assign the faux prefix due to the fact that the glass is basically an attempt to dress up what has assured me is called a "footed Pilsner"--or were they going for the "tulip"?--which is completely unnecessary for any of the beers it ships with; calls for an English pint or Shaker for the Grand, and suggests that either would be appropriate for the Ichiban and the Maroyaka, plus a Dimpled mug, Lager glass, or Stein.

So you save ¥1 outright (what a deal!) and get a free glass that, while it is not as fancy as it pretends to be, can be used to drink beer from. :) That is OK by me!

What is less OK by me is the fact that there exists a perfectly fine Japanese word for all but one word in the title (「ビール」, though I would entertain the argument that there is not a great word for 「グラス」--「水飲み」 is perfectly reasonable, but is not much in common usage anymore, and 「猪口」 is not quite the same thing), yet Kirin has chosen to use katakana loan words instead. This is actually worse than 和製英語 (wasei eigo--"Made in Japan" English); at least the latter is Japanese in origin.

Japanese companies, try using the Japanese language for naming your products. I would not want to see them go as far as the French, who have erected the ediface of the Académie française in a foolish and ultimately doomed attempt to halt linguistic evolution, but I would like Japanese people to have some pride in their language.

Groove to my Flickr set to view more gratuitous pictures of beer.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

SoftwareCompanies.getByName("Fog Creek").getProductByName("Copilot").getUsers().getSatisfiedUsers().increment;

Fog Creek CopilotI have been reading "Joel on Software" for years, but I have not until this week used a Fog Creek product.

Until my sister's laptop crashed right as we were trying to set up a Skype video chat. :(

My wife and I live in Tokyo, and have a three month old baby boy who has not met my parents, my sister, or her nine-month old baby girl, since all of those relatives live in Virginia. So Skype video chats (which are few and far between, unfortunately) are basically the only way we have to connect.

I am a Linux user, and my wife uses a shiny new Mac Book. But I seemed to remember Joel mentioning that Copilot supported Mac OS X, so I grabbed the Mac, browsed on over to, found after a few missed clicks (usability tip: stick the product links *above* the support links, as I would assume the crushing majority of "Joel on Software" readers are not--yet!--Fog Creek customers, so most people want to buy or try before they need support).

I clicked on the "Help Someone" tab (beautiful, functional layout, BTW!), snagged a free trial, and read my sis the code over the phone (well, SkypeOut from my wife's Mac to her phone). After a pause of 20 seconds for the 980K app bundle to download, mount (on my end), and execute, we were connected, and I saw that I had 90 seconds to work! :)

I have not used Windows since 1999 or so, so Windows XP is a little unfamiliar to me, but I blasted over to the Control Panel, then "User Accounts". Created a new user, turned on the "Welcome Screen" so my sister would not be auto-logged into her borked account, and restarted the computer. With 30 seconds left in my free trial. From over 10,865 kilometres away! On a Mac! Without knowing Windows from a hole in the ground, really!

Now *that* is software that Just Works.

And then I look into the purchase options, and see that I can buy a Day Pass, for $5.00 US, that gives me unlimited usage for one day. And I can pay with PayPal! Needless to say (so why am I saying it?), I grabbed one right then and there for the next time somebody in my family needs my help.

And I hate giving free tech support, usually. But Copilot makes it so easy to help on my terms: when I want to, from the comfort of my own home, with "Joel on Software" and other fine blogs loaded up in Firefox, sipping a fine beer.

Thanks, Fog Creek! Now I feel a burning need to purchase the Project Aardvark DVD! :)