Liven Up Electronic Communications With Japanese Emoticons

Japanese emoticons are used by both children and adults alike in Japan, and few mails are spared a sprinkling of smilies. This article will look at some interesting matters regarding how Japanese emoticons, or kaomoji, face characters as they are known in Japanese, are employed in communication.

First, where did they come from? When the Western smiley turned 25 there was quite a bit of coverage in the press, but what about Japanese emoticons? The story goes that around about May 1986 (compared to 19th September 1982 for 🙂 ) one of the first horizontal emoticon appeared in Japan, the now classic (^_^), but it was invented by a Korean named Kim Tong Ho, but he claims that he saw an earlier Japanese emoticon (~_~) in a post by a nuclear scientist! The true origin of Japanese kaomoji seems to be still shrouded in mystery.

Regardless of the history, for many adults, Japanese emoticons are an important part of communication. On a cell phone, about two in five use at least one on average, and around 14% use three or more. Due to such frequent usage, almost everyone is used to seeing them, and just 1.3% of the cell phone-using population get turned off by their presence in received mail. Although cell phones come with myriad inbuilt smileys (even after 10 years I still have problems understanding Japanese emoticons!), 36.5% choose to use their own personalised emoticon set to either enhance or completely replace the inbuilt cell phone emoticons.

In the computer world, these Asian emoticons are as popular (if not more popular) due to a full-sized screen allowing much more real estate to let one’s imagination run wild, with some coming close to morphing into ASCII art. ASCII art is probably a misnomer, however, as these Japanese emoticons also use non-ASCII double-byte characters. The spiritual home of the Japanese emoticon is perhaps the biggest bulletin board site in the world, 2 channel, whose unofficial mascot is Mona, a cat emoticon thing that sadly cannot be properly reproduced here in ASCII text!

Not just on the mobile phone, but when writing standard computer email, Japanese emoticons get used and abused. A survey on the top thirty Japanese emoticons showed that the top five were, in reverse order, as follows: At number 5, m(_ _), an apologising emoticon; number 4, (ToT) a crying emoticon; number 3, (^_^;) a troubled emoticon – the semi-colon indicates sweat; at number 2, (>_ another troubled emoticon, but this one more angry than the embarressed number 3; and at number 1, (^_^) or (^_^)v laughing or happy emoticons.

As you can see, for both children and adults, emoticons are a key part of expression, not just on mobile phones and electronic mail, but these Japanese emoticons may be found in instant messengers, bulletin boards, and now with it becoming popular in Japan, emoticons for Twitter can be frequently seen. Try spicing up your communications too with Japanese emoticons!

Radio Communications in Emergency Situtaions

Types of radio

There are a few choices when it comes to two way radios. Having one does you no good if there isn’t someone on the other end to talk to. If you have someone in mind you want to keep in touch with in an emergency, you can simply get one for each of you. If you don’ t have anyone in particular to keep in touch with, you can check your local city and/or county authorities for disaster preparedness guidelines. Sometimes they will suggest a type of radio for your area. Here is a rundown of the more common types.

CB

CB radios were once widely used by truck drivers and other motorists to communicate on the highway. Cell phones have reduced the use of these radios, but not eliminated them. CB radios are still widely used for professional and recreational communications across the country. In an emergency, it is possible to contact help on CB channels 9 and 19. A hand held CB will only get 1-2 miles range. A good mobile CB radio (installed in a vehicle) with a 4 foot antenna will get about 4-5 miles. This range limitation is due to the 4 watt power limit put on CB radios by the FCC. It is possible to get more range by adjusting or modifying the CB.

FRS/GMRS

Family radio service or FRS frequencies are commonly used in ‘walkie talkie’ type radios. These radios are used a lot for family activities like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, etc. GMRS frequencies are usually included on these radios. GMRS frequencies legally require a license, but only something like.02 percent of the people operating on these frequencies actually carry one. The range on these radios is limited to 1-2 antennas. FRS and GMRS radios have a fixed antenna, so you cannot extend the range.

10 meter

10 meter radios (also known as amateur or ham radios) have long been in use by hobbyists and various organizations. The biggest drawback to a 10 meter is they require a license. This is greatly offset by the power and range they provide. I would suggest if you are going to get one to just get the license, but in an emergency, I doubt anyone is going to complain. The range on a 10 meter radio depends on the power output and antenna setup for the radio. The Magnum 1012 hand held 10 meter will get upwards of 10 miles on USB. A Galaxy DX94HP mobile 10 meter radio with a 4 foot antenna can get a 100 miles range. Many 10 meter radios can also be modified to get the same range on CB frequencies, though this technically isn’t legal.

Listening

Even if you have a good two way radio, it isn’t bad to have some kind of receive only radio to get information on. While you can’t send out a signal with them, these radios can receive information from sources hundreds of miles away, possibly guiding you to evacuation area or warning of dangerous areas and situation.

AM/FM

If you haven’t heard of AM/FM radio, you may want to get out more. AM/FM, more commonly FM, radio is a daily part of most American’s lives. They’re used in almost every vehicle, portable radios are used by joggers, alarm clocks, etc. You’ve probably heard a test of the emergency broadcast system on the radio. It comes across as an irritating buzzing noise followed by a message stating something to the effect of “This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system”. In an emergency situation, you will most likely be hearing important information on most FM stations.

Weather/alert

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) operates a collection of transmitters across the country that continually broadcast weather information and also broadcast alerts and emergency information related to various situations. A special kind of radio is required to pick up these broadcasts. A good weather/alert radio with SAME technology can be programmed for your local county so that you receive alerts whenever there is an emergency situation close by.

Scanner

If you don’t have an AM/FM radio or a weather/alert radio available a radio scanner (also known as a police scanner or race scanner) can be a good alternative to get information. Depending on the scanner’s capabilities, they can pick up a wide range of frequencies, including the NOAA frequencies. Like the AM/FM radios and weather/alert radios, they cannot transmit a signal.

So what should you get?

  • For communicating, I would recommend getting a good 10 meter radio that can be converted for CB easily. The DX94HP is a great 100 watt radio. Converting for CB frequencies is as easy as switching on solder point.
  • It would also be a good idea to have a decent set of FRS/GMRS radios for portable short range communications. The GXT1000VP4 and GXT1050VP4 are great options.
  • Finally, get a good AM/FM-weather/alert combination radio. The Midland WR300 is one of the more popular.

Keep Official Communications Private

There are several occasions when your entire team needs to communicate with each other simultaneously. One way out is using a VOIP or the voice over internet protocol. However, this implies that each one is at his/her desk and has access to the computer and broadband. This is not always feasible as most people in the construction business know. Whether it is security personnel in a multi-storied building or mall; or in businesses like transportation, interior decoration or construction, you might have several people at different locations that need to communicate what is going on. This issue is better resolved using walkie-talkies.

Professional Usage Requires Professional Gear

The idea is to ensure that you or your personnel are not at the mercy of cell phone service providers. When you opt for professional Walkie talkies you know that the frequency has been fixed by computer and the users can’t change it, thus ensuring confidentiality. Amateurs desirous of listening in can be thwarted by the fact that only channels ¾ not the frequency ¾ are displayed. Such a radio system for communication is reliable and efficient to use due to voice clarity and long battery life. You don’t want the battery to die on you just when somebody has some critical information to convey.

In fact, the Motorola Talkabout EM 1000 R has some advanced features, which makes it ideal for professional usage, including a range of twenty miles and emergency alert mechanisms. However, you will need other products like portable, plug and play ready cameras disguised as eyeglasses or sunglasses or even a pen or a wristwatch. Spyglasses are the tools that drive investigative journalism, crime investigation, and espionage.

Whatever may be the kind of undercover camera which you use, make sure that it has night vision and can make clear recordings even in the dark or in uncertain lighting. Try looking for the kind of video cameras which use the progressive scanning method to produce razor sharp images even with fast moving objects like passing cars. You will also need a DVR for recording, retrieving, storing, transferring and saving digitally recorded files. In the latest models of DVRs the basic operations like start, stop, pause, search and tracking saved files are simple and easy to operate. Just ensure that both the camera and the DVR have a hard drive size that matches the time frame while recording at the highest possible resolution and frame rate.