NOTE: Yes, I know that Netflix is now available in Japan. However, the services I explain below have proven extremely valuable to me for viewing streaming services from other countries, such as the USA. Since Netflix Japan doesn't have nearly the content library that Netflix USA has, I am most definitely keeping my Smart DNS subscription.
Living abroad in Japan I often miss out on cool stuff that my home country comes up with. Netflix USA and Pandora are prime examples. On one trip back to the States, my friends demonstrated the infinite advantages of an all-you-can-watch flat-rate streaming service. I wiped the drool from my lips. I too wanted this magic boom stick; however, for various legal reasons various streaming services do not work in various countries. My next home IT project was clear...
I've been a hard-core Untangle fan for several years now, but I recently wanted to explore other firewall options. Being wrapped around a commercial product, Untangle charges money for its high-end features. However, I figured since most all those features are covered by the open source community, there must be non-commercial options out there. I began my hunt for the best free firewall. I scoured the internet, downloading any and all offerings from 2 principal types of entities: 1. companies with an open source community branch or free non-trial version, and 2. open source community projects ("free as in speech" or free software / paid support biz models).
I tried just about every ISO I could get my hands on. I thought I had my work cut out for me since I found far more of them than I had expected. But I did notice some common themes--several of them seemed to share common ancestors / packages (e.g. Squid, Debian, FreeBSD, etc). Here's a list of what I found along with my impressions.
Apps I Like
Japanese LS Touch
by Jan Bogner
This app is on a short list of those that enable you to study by writing kanji with a finger or iPhone stylus. I'm attracted to this study method because one of the best Japanese study apps I've ever owned utilized this approach--King Kanji for the old-school Windows mobile pocket PC platform (e.g. iPaq). Japanese LS unfortunately suffers from a fatal flaw. Although it's teaching you words (not single kanji characters), it only tests 1 character on the screen at once, which really interrupts my study groove. I find studying full words far more effective than single characters, and this app defeats that benefit by forcing you to pause after each character and go to the next screen.
Japanese My Way
Another app on a short list that tests kanji handwriting is JMW. Like Japanese LS, this one only allows you to write one character of a word at a time on the screen. I suppose what King Kanji achieved on stylus-based Windows mobile isn't easily implemented on finger-based iPhone. A cool feature is how it can give you hints (like what radicals are in the kanji); but I find navigating the app's convoluted menus rather confusing. Not bad, but not one of my favs. It might be cool if there was a handwriting app like this that required you to use a stylus. That way you might be able to study whole words at once.
by Unknown Genius Software
KanjiBox is a well-built flashcard-type app with optional add-on kanji writing features, but I just find Japanese Sensei Deluxe better. Lacking features like engaging sample sentences, studying with this app gets a bit dull after a while. Plus, how many flashcard apps do you really need? This app does get better and better after each update, so while it may not yet be my top fav, it certainly deserves an honorable mention.
Apps I Don't Like
by ThinkMac Software
This app is so frustrating to use it makes me want to throw my iPhone out the window. Maybe I'm not a typical student of Japanese, but I'm not the type of person to sit down and study single kanji characters along with all their pronunciations. That approach is so dry and monotonous, it leeches any and all fun out of Japanese for me. If you like studying in the most unimaginative possible way, then this app is for you.
MyWords - Learn Japanese Vocabulary
by Innovative Learning, LLC
Here are some words, now let's test you! Yeah, good luck with that. This app taught me 1 thing--I wasted my money.
Further Reading Here: Japanese Study
I hate spam. I detest it. And I'm not talking about the scrumptious processed meat product. I think you all know the spam I'm referring to—the kind peddling cheap viagra, phony rolexes, and desperate but gorgeous Russian girls pining for your love.
Most people I know pack up and leave an email address after it starts getting loads of spam, but being a dedicated IT nerd I didn't want to throw in the towel that easily. I made it my life's mission to stop all spam from getting into my inbox. Well, maybe not my life's mission, but my primary home IT project for the next few months or so. This was my mission, and this is my story. Maybe you'll see this in theaters next summer.
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