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Amazon Japan's Manga-Ready Kindle Has 8 Times the Storage ( 82

Amazon Japan has an unusual challenge with the Kindle: it not only has to cater to your typical bookworm, but to a local fondness for image-heavy (and thus storage-intensive) manga books. What it's going to do? Release a special model just for those readers, apparently. Engadget reports: The company has introduced a manga version of the Kindle Paperwhite with 32GB of storage, or eight times as much space as the run-of-the-mill 4GB model. You could cram every single volume of Asari-chan, Kochikame and Naruto into this e-reader, Amazon says. The manga Kindle is available for pre-order now, with pricing commanding a slight premium over the usual Paperwhite. You're spending about $157 or $118.

Cyber Attackers Have Successfully Hit A Nuclear Power Plant And A Lab ( 55

Slashdot reader zootsewt1 quotes a rundown by Security Taco of two unrelated breaches at nuclear-related facilities that were recently disclosed -- one "disruptive" and the other involving the remote theft of documents: Director Yukiya Amano from the IAEA disclosed that a nuclear power generation facility came under cyber attack within the last few years. He declined to state which specific nuclear facility was involved. Mr. Amano advised that "This issue of cyber attacks on nuclear-related facilities or activities should be taken very seriously. We never know if we know everything or if it's the tip of the iceberg."

In a separate incident, a nuclear lab in the University of Toyama in Japan conducting research on tritium (used in nuclear power plants), also came under cyber attack earlier this year. The attacker appears to have been able to exfiltrate large large amounts of data, some of which was related to the Fukushima clean-up.

The Reuters article lists other data breaches and malware infections at nuclear sites over the years, and notes that the IAEA director "also cited a case in which an individual tried to smuggle a small amount of highly enriched uranium about four years ago that could have been used to build a so-called 'dirty bomb'." At the isotope research center at the University of Toyama, the attacker reportedly compressed more than 1,000 files to make them easier to transmit.

Apple To Obsolete iPhone 4 and Late 2010 MacBook Air On October 31 ( 114

Apple will make all iPhone 4 models, the late 2010 13-inch MacBook Air, third-generation AirPort Extreme, and mid-2009 AirPort Time Capsule obsolete come October 31, MacRumor claims, citing a different report. From the report: Apple products on the vintage and obsolete list are no longer eligible for hardware service, beyond a few exceptions. Apple defines vintage products as those that have not been manufactured for more than five years but less than seven years ago, while obsolete products are those that were discontinued more than seven years ago. Each of the products added were released between 2009 and 2010. The report specifically pertains to Apple's vintage and obsolete products list in Japan, but the new additions will more than likely extend to the United States, Australia, Canada, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions.

Foreign Investors Sue Toshiba Over Accounting Scandal ( 17

A group of investors, mostly foreign institutions, are suing Toshiba in a Tokyo court for 16.7 billion yen ($162.3 million) in damages, over a $1.3 billion accounting scandal uncovered last year. Reuters adds: Toshiba said in a statement on Thursday that the 45 unnamed shareholders were seeking compensation for damages caused by its "inappropriate accounting". It will take an unspecified provision to cover any eventual payout, Toshiba said. The laptops-to-nuclear conglomerate has been sued by 15 groups and individuals since it first admitted to reporting inflated profits going back to 2008, including Japan's public pension fund. GPIF, the world's biggest pension fund, has been shifting into shares to attempt to boost returns. Thursday's case, however, is the largest - the remaining suits are seeking a combined 15.3 billion yen in compensation. Toshiba is still overcoming the reputational and share price hit of an investigation last year that found widespread accounting errors throughout its sprawling business, blaming a corporate culture in which employees found it difficult to question their superiors.

Sony To Return Image Sensors To Full Capacity On Smartphone Pickup ( 9

Sony's image sensor production will return to full capacity in the October-March half-year due to a pickup in smartphone demand, having spent part of the past year running just under full strength, the head of its chip-making subsidiary said. From a Reuters report: "The business environment for our customers is improving," President Yasuhiro Ueda of Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp said at a news conference on Friday, at Sony's sensor factory in the Kumamoto region of southern Japan. Sony commands about 40 percent of the market for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, a type of chip that converts light into electronic signals. The sensors were central to Sony's recovery from years of losses stemming mainly from price competition in consumer electronics. A slowdown in the global smartphone market prompted Sony to cut sensor production in the October-March half of the last business year, but demand has since picked up. Ueda said combined monthly production would rise in the second half of this business year from 70,000 wafers at present to 73,000 wafers -- full capacity at Sony's five image sensor plants. The figure excludes outsourced production.

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Is a Victim of Its Success in Japan ( 48

You really need to understand the market before you start operating there. Take Amazon's case for instance, which has found itself in the middle of a backlash with publishers in Japan. When Amazon launched its "all-you-can-read-subscription" Kindle Unlimited service in Japan, the company didn't know it would become such a big success. And yet it did. So much so that Amazon had to sharply scale back within weeks of its introduction in the country. Before Amazon introduced the feature in Japan, it partnered with Japanese publishers to offer their popular content, committing to pay them a premium through the end of this year when a customer reads at least 10 percent of a book or other content. It worked -- too well, WSJ reports. From an article: Since it's easy for readers to get through the first 10% of a magazine or photo book in just a few minutes, Amazon quickly found itself on the hook for large payments (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), a person at one publisher said. A person at another publisher said Amazon made an overture for talks in September saying it had hit its budget limit for the payments to publishers and wanted revisions to its contract with the publisher."

Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan Wins Nobel Prize In Medicine For Study of Cell Recycling ( 15

Dave Knott writes from a report via The Guardian: The 2016 Nobel prize in medicine has been awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries on how cells break down and recycle their own components. Ohsumi uncovered "mechanisms for autophagy," a fundamental process in cells that scientists believe can be harnessed to fight cancer and dementia. Autophagy is the body's internal recycling program -- scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, warding off infection and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, it helps protect against conditions like diabetes. The report adds: "[Ohsumi] said he chose to focus on the cell's waste disposal system, an unfashionable subject at the time, because he wanted to work on something different. By studying the process in yeast cells, Ohsumi identified the main genes involved in autophagy and showed how the proteins they code for come together to build the autophagosome membrane. He later showed that a similar cellular recycling process occurs in human cells -- and that our cells would not survive without it."

Toyota's Kirobo Mini Companion Robot To Sell For $400 ( 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Three years ago a small robot called Kirobo blasted into space, headed for the International Space Station. When it arrived, the 34-cm-tall, Toyota-made android became best buddies with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, accompanying him around the station, engaging in polite conversation, and even showing emotion according to the subject matter. Following Kirobo's successful space jaunt, the car company decided to back the development of a smaller version of the already small robot, calling it -- rather appropriately -- Kirobo Mini. It unveiled the diminutive droid at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota announced on Monday that Kirobo Mini will go on sale in Japan next year for 39,800 yen (about $390), though a 300-yen (about $2.95) monthly subscription fee will also be necessary. Besides the robot itself, you'll also receive a "cradle" that's designed to fit inside a car's cup holder, ensuring that the robot travels in style wherever you take it. An ad (video) released by Toyota over the weekend shows Kirobo Mini hanging out with families, couples, the elderly, singletons, and students, with everyone visibly enthralled by its ability to say the right thing at the right time. However, Kirobo Mini's specific functionality, and the extent to which it'll be able to interact with humans, is yet to be revealed.

Chinese Media, Government Confirm Apple Research Center in Beijing Tech Corridor ( 19

An anonymous reader writes:According to Chinese media, Apple is launching its first research and development center in the country, located in long-time technology incubation area Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing. While Apple has yet to comment on the matter, a statement issued by the Zhongguancun Park Management Committee to several Chinese media outlets has identified Apple's presence in the area. According to reports collated by Digitimes, the center has a budget of about $15 million, with a long-term expenditure goal of $45 million over the next few years. The center is allegedly seeking to hire around 500 workers, with no particular focus beyond Apple products and software. The move mirrors similar setups in Japan, and Israel.

Nissan Debuts 'ProPILOT' Self-Driving Chair ( 48

jasonbrown writes from a report via PC Magazine: The Japanese automaker Nissan this week debuted what it's calling the ProPILOT Chair -- an autonomous chair that automatically queues for you while you sit back and relax. With its built-in cameras, the high-tech chair "detects and automatically follows the chair ahead of it, maintaining a fixed distance and traveling along a set path." Standing (or sitting) in line has never been so much fun. "Nissan drew inspiration for this new chair from its ProPILOT autonomous driving technology, which has been available in the company's Serena minivan in Japan since August," the report adds. "The ProPILOT technology allows the vehicle to maintain a safe distance between the car ahead, and ensures that it stays in the center of its lane." While the product appears to be a marketing stunt, Nissan is actively looking for restaurant partners in Japan who want to offer this technology to their customers. Japanese restaurants can tweet their name and website along with the hashtags #NissanProPilotChair #Wanted in an effort to be outfitted with the technology. You can watch the joyful and jazzy launch video here.

Japanese To Pay Utility Bills Using Bitcoin ( 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Japanese citizens will soon be able to pay their utility bills using bitcoin. The facility is being provided by Coincheck Denki, a new service offered by the Japanese bitcoin company, which will be available to users in November. Coincheck outlined the new plan on its website. Also called 'Coincheck Electricity,' it will allow users to pay their electricity bills directly from their Coincheck bitcoin wallet. It also offers a discount plan for heavy users of electricity, with 4-6% of the total bill discounted for heavy users of electricity who pay in bitcoin. Coincheck's parent company, Reju Press, initially partnered with Mitsuwa Inc., to create the bitcoin payment system. Coincheck now works with Mitsuwa subsidiary E-Net Inc., and has formed a partnership with Marubeni Power Retail Corporation, which operates power plants in 17 locations in central Japan. Marubeni has offices in 66 countries worldwide, although no plans have been announced to take the bitcoin payment option outside of Japan. While the initial bitcoin payment rollout is for electricity bills, Coincheck plans to expand its offerings to bitcoin payment for 'life infrastructure,' to include payment of gas, water and mobile phone bills. It may even partner with landlords to allow customers of Coincheck to pay rent using bitcoin. The bitcoin payment plan will be rolled out in Chubu, Kanto (including Tokyo) and Kansai regions to start, with additional areas to be added sequentially. The company hopes to offer bitcoin payment options to one million electric customers within the first year.

The Ig Nobel Awards Celebrate Their 26th First Annual Awards Ceremony ( 37

Thursday Harvard's Sanders Theatre hosted the 26th edition of the humorous research awards "that make people laugh, then think...intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." One of this year's winners actually lived as a goat, wearing prosthetic extensions on his arms and legs so he could travel the countryside with other goats. Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath writes: The Journal of Improbable announced these winners:

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] -- The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] -- Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective...

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] -- Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'...

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] -- Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

The Improable Research site lists the rest of this year's 10 winners, as well as every winner for the previous 25 years.

Microsoft Weaponizes Minecraft In the War Over Classrooms ( 55

Minecraft: Education Edition offers lesson plans like "City Planning for Population Growth" and "Effects of Deforestation," and a June preview attracted more than 25,000 students and teachers from 40 different countries. Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes: In the two years since Microsoft acquired Minecraft's parent company, it's discovered a brilliant new direction to take the game: it's turning it into a tool for education, creating both an innovative approach to classroom technology and an inspired strategy for competing with Google and Apple in the ed-tech market. 'I actually never believed there would be a game that would really cross over between the commercial entertainment market and education in a mainstream way,' says cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito—but Minecraft has managed to do just that.
In 2015 Chromebooks represented over 50% of PC sales for U.S. schools, while Windows PC accounted for just 22%, the article reports. But Minecraft is the second best-selling game of all time, behind only Tetris, and in the two years since Microsoft acquired it, "Sales have doubled to almost 107 million copies sold... If you were to count each copy sold as representing one person, the resulting population would be the world's 12th largest country (after Japan)." And as the article points out, "wherever Minecraft goes, Microsoft is there."

Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income ( 45

Apple's unit in Japan was ordered to pay 12 billion yen, or $118 million tax by local authorities after they determined it had underreported income. Apple has since reportedly paid the sum. From a Reuters report: The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by Japan subscribers to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK. Apple and other multinational companies have come under much tax scrutiny from governments around the world. The European Union has ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in back taxes after ruling it had received illegal state aid. Apple and Dublin plan to appeal the ruling, arguing the tax treatment was in line with EU law.

The Moon's Gravitational Pull Can Trigger Major Earthquakes, Says Study ( 130

schwit1 writes: A careful statistical analysis of when major earthquakes occur has suggested they are more likely to be more powerful if they occur around the full and new moons when tidal forces are at their peak. reports: "Satoshi Ide, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues investigated three separate earthquake records covering Japan, California and the entire globe. For the 15 days leading up to each quake, the scientists assigned a number representing the relative tidal stress on that day, with 15 representing the highest. They found that large quakes such as those that hit Chile and Tohoku-Oki occurred near the time of maximum tidal strain -- or during new and full moons when the Sun, Moon and Earth align. For more than 10,000 earthquakes of around magnitude 5.5, the researchers found, an earthquake that began during a time of high tidal stress was more likely to grow to magnitude 8 or above." As these results are based entirely on statistical evidence, not on any direct link between tidal forces and actual quakes, they are quite uncertain and unproven.

NASA Launches OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft To Intercept Asteroid ( 36

NASA has successfully launched the OSIRIS-REx space probe on Thursday, which aims to take a sample of asteroid Bennu and return to Earth. CNN reports: "The probe is scheduled to arrive at Bennu in August 2018. For months it will hang out -- take pictures, make scans of the asteroid's surface and create a map. Then in July 2020, OSIRIS-REx wil unfurl its 11-foot-long (3.35-meter) robot arm called TAGSAM and make contact with Bennu's surface for about five seconds. During those seconds, the arm will use a blast of nitrogen gas to kick up rocks and dust and then try to snag a sample of the dust and store it. NASA hopes to get at least 2 ounces (60 grams) and maybe as much as 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of asteroid dust and small rocks. OSIRIS-REx heads home in March 2021 and arrives back at Earth on September 24, 2023, but it won't land. In a bit of Hollywood-style drama, it will fly over Utah and drop off the capsule holding the asteroid sample. A parachute will guide the capsule to the ground at the Utah Test and Training Range in Tooele County." OSIRIS-REx is an acronym for the objectives of the mission: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer. It spells the name of the Egyptian god Osiris. The report adds that while the mission is a first for NASA, it is not a first for mankind. "Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft brought back a small sample of asteroid Itokawa dust in 2010."

China Plans To Build A Deep-Sea 'Space Station' In South China Sea ( 73

China is ramping up its space efforts, it appears. A Chinese company named KuangChi Science plans to launch balloons from Hangzhou, in eastern China. HuffingtonPost reports: China is stepping up efforts to build a deep-sea underwater 'space station' in the South China Sea. If the plans go ahead, the station would be located 3000 metres below the surface, inhabited by humans, and would be used to hunt for minerals. There are also concerns that it would be used for military purposes in territories that are hotly contested between China and other nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. The news comes from a Science Ministry presentation that revealed China's current five-year economic plan (till 2020). Despite no further details or blueprints being made public, the presentation ranked this project as second in a list of 100 science and technology priorities according to Bloomberg.

Japan To Develop 3D Maps For Self-Driving Cars ( 25

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Nikkei: A joint venture in Japan will begin creating high-definition 3D maps for self-driving cars in September as part of a government effort to have such vehicles on the road by 2020, when the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be held. Tokyo-based Dynamic Map Planning, set up by Mitsubishi Electric, mapmaker Zenrin and nine automakers, will digitally chart the country's key expressways by driving a vehicle loaded with special surveying equipment. The data will be processed using computers designed for the creation of maps, which will be provided to automakers that invest in the startup. As a first step, Dynamic Map Planning will make maps covering 300km of the country's main expressways. The combination of high-resolution 3D maps and sensors will enable the accurate detection of which lane a car is in and the distance to junctions. High-precision surveying technology is required to make the maps, so Mitsubishi Electric developed equipment that will be installed on a canvassing vehicle. GPS will track the location of the car on the map, and sensors designed to detect the inclination of the car will measure the road grades. At the same time, data including the locations of road signs and traffic lights, as well as right- and left-turns and pedestrian crossings, will be collected using lasers. The survey data will be displayed as a collection of dots. Lines on the road, such as lanes, noise barriers and road signage, will be plotted on that image to faithfully re-create road conditions for 3D maps.

Japan Goes Public With Brexit Demands, Says Data Flow Deals Must Be Protected ( 315

Kelly Fiveash, writing for ArsTechnica:UK Prime minister Theresa May said at the weekend that she wanted to take her time to secure the best trade deals for a post-Brexit Britain, and reiterated -- in her trademark vague terms -- that the so-called Article 50 won't be triggered this year. But political pressure from governments as far away as Japan continues to mount. On Sunday, in a bold move, the Japanese government published a 15-page memo setting out a number of demands it wants the UK to adhere to, once it leaves the European Union. It underscored that Britain faces a torrid time of negotiations -- not just with member states in the EU, but further afield, too. Japan, which has close economic ties with the UK, listed its demands based on requests from businesses in the country. It said; "It is of great importance that the UK and the EU maintain market integrity and remain attractive destinations for businesses where free trade, unfettered investment, and smooth financial transactions are ensured." It's brutal stuff from Japan, and could well lead to other countries making similarly robust demands. On tech specifically, the Japanese government called on the UK and EU, post-Brexit, to maintain cloud agreements between businesses at an international level, by safeguarding the "free transfer of data."

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