First-hand Look at the 2010 Boston Career Forum

Sam the Newbie attended the 2010 Boston Career Forum to find a job in Japan. He put together this writeup of his experience, so I’m posting it here so that everyone can benefit!

Feel free to post any questions that you may have in the comments and Sam will come back to answer them!

From the CRUSH of 9,000 suits, a solitary photo survives...

About the Boston Career Forum

Boston Career Forum (CFN) is run by Disco International, a Japanese HR company. They hold a few different job fairs throughout the year in LA, London, and Tokyo. But the Boston event is by far the largest (I met a few students who flew from Tokyo to attend the event!!). For anyone who’s been following this thread, it’s extremely difficult to get work in Japan when you’re in the US. CFN is definitely the best way to do it! The Boston event is targeted mostly at undergraduates, but there are all kinds of positions for mid-career, MBAs, and other grads.

Getting Prepared

I started preparing for Boston Career Forum through their website probably 3 months before the event. It’s free to register with Disco and free to register for each of the events. After registering, the first thing you do is fill out your resume in English and Japanese using their form. You can’t upload your own resume in DOC or PDF format, so this can be a little time-consuming.

Basically, how it works is each company will post their information on the website: their company profile, what positions they’re hiring for, what majors they’re looking for, what Japanese/English levels they require, etc. So search for the companies to which you want to apply and start doing research. Each company will have a few screening questions, either in English or Japanese or both, that you are required to fill out. These are questions like: “why are you choosing this company? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Describe a difficult situation?” Standard interview questions basically. So you’ll submit your resume and the answers to these questions. This should be viewed as the first step of the application; so be sure to put your effort into this step.

Depending on the company, they might acknowledge your application with a response through the CFN email system or to your personal email address listed on your resume. Some companies won’t reply at all, so it really is a case-by-case sort of thing. Other companies will ask you to apply through their own internal application system, where you’ll be invited to complete online assessment tests and other screening questions. So again, it depends. Just to be sure to stay on top of your email, and check the CFN website often. In my case, a few companies contacted me for phone/Skype interviews prior to the actual event. But from talking to other applicants, this is pretty rare.

About one month before the event, companies will start contacting you to set up interviews for the actual event. Based on previous year’s statistics, most people are able to schedule a few interviews before the event. I was in this group. Again, I think it depends on the company. So if you’re not contacted for interviews, don’t be discouraged! The vast majority of companies accept walk-in candidates at the event. But, of course, if you do get an interview scheduled, that’s a good sign!

So the strategy that I took was to apply to all companies that I was interested in, or that I met the requirements for, get a few interviews scheduled and focus heavily on preparing for those interviews. Other people will focus on one sector (finance, IT, retail) and do research on all of those companies and try to walk-in interview with all of them. I think it depends on how much time you have and what your personality is like.

Navigating the Career Forum Battleground

The actual event takes place on the third weekend in October at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Friday and Saturday are the busiest days, with Sunday being a bit slower because a lot of companies leave on Sunday. So, if you’re doing walk-ins, try to do them as soon as possible. That being said, I didn’t find it necessary to arrive as soon as registration opens (9AM) and wait in line with the other 9000 people (true!) to be the first one into the venue. It’s fine to get there at 9:45, 10:00 AM and just walk in on your own pace.

The venue can be a bit overwhelming. It’s held in a large open room, with thousands of people running around in suits. One on side of the room, there will be all the company booths, registration tables, office supplies desks, computers and copiers for printing out resumes, etc. On the other side of the room are individual interview booths that are enclosed with white curtains. You’ll get a map and other information when you arrive for registration.

Overall, the event is, in traditional Japanese fashion, very well-run and efficiently organized. There is free Wi-Fi in the building, a lot of eating options, and plenty of room to sit and prepare for your interviews. The only issue that I observed was the dearth of power outlets. So if you’re bringing a laptop, be sure to charge it before you go.

Once you get in there, you are free to walk around and do walk in interviews with any company you want. The vast majority of companies will accept walk in interviews. It works like this: the company will have a person greeting applicants. Go up to him/her and introduce yourself, explain that you’d like to do a walk-in interview. They’ll probably ask you to submit a resume, likely the English version. Then you’ll probably have to wait for a chair to open up in front of the interviewers at the booths. Some of the more popular companies, you’ll have to wait 30 minutes to get to the front of the line. But that should give you more time to rehearse your answers! Other lines will move more quickly.

Handling the Interviews

The first interview takes place at the company booth, in the open, in full view of your fellow applicants. This can be a bit intimidating; but it’s the only way for the companies to get through so many applicants in a single day. After you’ve left the booth after the first interview, the company might contact you (most likely via your cell phone) to schedule a second interview with a more senior employee. They’ll set up a time and ask you to come back to their booth. At this point, the two processes (walk-ins and pre-scheduled interviews) look the same. When you go back to the company booth, check-in with the greeter and tell him/her your name and interview time. They’ll escort you back to the individual interview area where you’ll sit in a chair outside the booth and wait for the interviewer to call you in. The same call back process will take place if the interview goes well. I personally was called back twice (3 interviews total) by a few companies all on the same day. So your schedule can fill up pretty quickly. Pace yourself!

In my case, the interviews were about 50/50 English and Japanese. Again, it depends on the type of position/company/location you’re interviewing for. In one case, an interviewer gave me a Japanese newspaper and told me to read out loud. Other interviews were all in English. So it depends.

Wine and Dine

If all the interviews go well, (some) companies will invite you to attend dinner with the employees and other applicants at night. From my point of view, these dinners are an opportunity for the interviewers to observe you in a more casual environment and see how you interact with other people. So you should be on your game for these dinners, even if it’s very casual. That being said, you don’t need to be in total interview mode. It’s ok to have a couple of drinks and get relaxed a bit. Just make sure you don’t drink too much!

That’s a Wrap, or, The Big Wait

So that’s a basic rundown of the pre-event and event details. I can’t tell you too much about the post-event situation, because I am still living it! It’s been about 5 days since the event finished and I am waiting to hear back from the companies with which I interviewed. I didn’t receive a timeline (i.e. “we’ll let you know within one week”) from any of the companies, so I am keeping my hopes up. Of the applicants that I spoke to, only one received an offer of employment at the actual event. So I think this is a very rare case (look at the statistics, only 16% get offers in Boston). So to any participants who are reading this now, let’s keep our hopes up for good news!!

Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments.

– Sam the Newbie

Related Links:

Photo Tour of the Career Forum on their official site.

Help a newbie get Work in Japan! – the original Sam the Newbie Post

From JapanNewbie Of Centuries Past:
Career Forum FAQ
Career Forum Opinions

From around the Web:
What I learned from the Boston Career Forum
Boston Career Forum Report

Live from Tokyo Movie in NYC Oct 29th

Looks good! If you’re in NYC on Oct 29th you should clear your schedule and go check it out.

Live From Tokyo Trailer from Lewis Rapkin on Vimeo.

Got this email the other day through the JapanNewbie contact form. Good info, passing it along.

LIVE FROM TOKYO – a documentary about indie music in Tokyo

We are thrilled to invite you to the world premiere of “Live From Tokyo” at the Asia Society Museum – Friday October 29, 2010 at 6:45pm in New York City. The event is being presented by New York-Tokyo as part of the Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool exhibition event program.

The film is about underground music in Tokyo

We will also be having a screening and a simulcast performance from Tokyo in San Francisco on November 12th at New People World Cinema.

Link back to video and more info on vimeo.

Man. This video makes me want to move back to Tokyo. I’m sure the super smokey live venues would change my mind again real quick though! We need some 禁煙 up in here!

– Harvey

Japanese Bands are Unique

Interview with @jyemenai

@jyemenai and his Pepsi bottle

Hello JapanNewbies! We’ve got another interview for you. This time, with @jyemenai, who has recently returned from his first trip to Japan, which also happens to be his first trip overseas!

Let’s get right into it.

Could you tell us briefly what the KCP program is all about, and why
you decided to participate in it?

KCP International is a school in Shinjuku Tokyo that uses total immersion to teach Japanese to its students. The class is taught entirely in Japanese, with English-support available after classes if needed. It’s for people from all over the world. There are Americans, but each class normally doesn’t have more than five or so, some with only one. The rest of the student body is comprised of Chinese and Koreans, meaning you can’t always rely on English to get through the class.

It was pretty random as to why I decided to participate. My university offered basic-level Japanese courses and I decided to take them, even though I already knew 80% or so of the content. This was a good thing, as in order to qualify for the special program I was a part of, I needed to take the language for two semesters. During the beginning of my second semester taking Japanese, a few of my classmates and I got an email from an office at my school and they told us that we had been offered a chance to study abroad. I jumped at the chance, not really sure of what or how it was going to happen. A friend of mine and I were accepted, and that’s when we were told about KCP and given details of the school.

So how long were you in Japan on KCP? What places did you visit? How many others were you traveling with?

I was in Japan for about 7 weeks, from late June until the middle of August (2010) — KCP’s “Summer Short Term,” which is only available for Americans. I stayed in a male-dormitory-like building with other Americans who were attending KCP, as well as native Japanese college students at other universities, and even a few older males. The female friend from my university I came with stayed in a female dorm not too far away from us.

We went all over Tokyo: Shinjuku, Harajuku, Roppongi, Akihabara, etc. You name it, we probably went. The only place outside of Tokyo that I went to was Aizu, which was a part of a school trip we had. It was beautiful there. We got to experience a lot of things, like seeing “Japan” being made (it’s similar to the Chinese ceramics called “china”), as well as eating negisoba and locust (the actual name for this escapes me right now)!

A pic @jyemenai took in Aizu
Another Aizu pic

Was this your first time to Japan? What was your Japanese level like when you left?

Yup, first time in Japan. Not to mention, it was my first time out of the country as well (I think I know how to handle my next 13+ hour flight now, too!).

After learning basic Japanese I never had actual classes. In high school I slacked off until the end (then realized I actually liked Japanese), so I only retained the ability to read hiragana and katakana, as well as some vocabulary and grammar points.

My university didn’t offer Japanese until recently, so I was “self studying” and learned a bit more. I would assume my level at the time of arrival in Japan was simply “basic.” I could understand bits and pieces However, after having been to KCP and living in Japan, I’d say I learned a lot more.

They shove kanji down your throat there, but since it’s all around you, it becomes a lot easier to learn. The grammar I picked up was useful, some of which I already knew and got a refresher on, and other parts were totally knew. We had a lot of opportunity to speak, in and out of class, so I feel a bit more comfortable with that. I could go on and on about what we did and learned. Lol.

How has this opportunity immediately impacted your life in relation to your Japan studies?

Studying abroad with KCP has changed my life. I’m pretty lazy, so a part of me thinks I’ll never actually be able to become fluent. But after returning, I know that I’m going to keep trying, lazy or not. I have a drive now that won’t let me quit.

Soon, I’m going to start studying hard so when I do return to Japan and KCP, I’ll hopefully be able to skip a level (out of the 6 or so levels, I tested in to Level 2). I also want to try to take the JLPT next year; I’m shooting for N3, but I’ll take N4 if I don’t feel ready. I want to become fluent even more now than ever before.

Was it expensive to participate in this program? And, was it worth it? Many people put off going to Japan because it’s costly. Any advice for them?

Not at all, actually. The office that sent out the invitations to study abroad — the IC-CAE — paid for EVERYTHING. The plane tickets, the schooling, the housing, and even gave us a stipend. The only thing I had to pay for was my passport and shipping a few papers overseas, which is nothing compared to what it could have been. I got extremely lucky with that opportunity. My advice for anyone looking to study abroad is to research different venues that might enable them to go cheaper, if not free.

You mentioned “when I do return to Japan and KCP.” Is this a given already? You’re certain to be heading back to Japan?

It’s a given in the sense that there’s no way I just can’t go back. I’m going to see if the program that sent me before can send me again. I’ll do whatever it takes.

Many other people may feel “stuck” at the basic level. Do you have any advice that might help people get out of that rut?

Hmm… The only advice I can think of is to just enjoy it. The more you actually enjoy studying, the more you will grasp the things they’re trying to learn. When I had to self-study, I didn’t really know what to do. I knew I shouldn’t cram too much down my throat at once, because I knew I would just give up if it got too tough, since I didn’t have anyone forcing me to keep going. So instead I simply watched anything that interested me in Japanese, making sure to pay attention to the words they were saying and not just reading the subtitles; listened and tried to translate Japanese songs, where a lot of vocabulary and even some grammar can be found; and recently began playing some Japanese games.

Kanji Sonomama for DS

That sounds like AJATT techniques to me! Good stuff. Any specific textbooks or websites that you have encountered in your Japanese studying that you consider essential?

Essential… Hmm, well it’s not exactly a textbook but it is a dictionary, Kanji Sonomama. If you have a DS, it’s a godsend.

For actual books, though, I’m not sure. When I was self-studying, I pretty much picked up anything that could’ve been useful.

I really liked “501
Essential Japanese Verbs
,” even though it doesn’t have any kana in it. It’s pretty much a dictionary that provides (pretty much) ALL the different forms of those 501 verbs. It really helped when I was starting out and didn’t know what a particular form a verb meant.

Another book, “Basic Japanese Idioms,” is also pretty interesting. Like in any language, we have phrases we say that don’t exactly mean what we’re saying; this book goes into the Japanese ones. And of course, “Remembering the Kanji.” And, I loooove Tae Kim’s grammar guide.

A pic @jyemenai took in Akihabara

Your first time overseas! So tell us, your #1 positive and #1 negative surprise upon arrival in Japan. Also, what will you never forget about Japan in general…

I guess my most negative surprise would be that everything seems more expensive when compared to America. This might have been because I was constantly taking out money from my American saving accounts, so I always encountered the ever-changing exchange rate. But things just tended to cost more. And the with the fact that 100 yen was a coin and not a paper dollar, I continued to equate them to American quarters and spend them as such (those capsule machines got a looot of my money!).

The #1 positive surprise… Probably the food. I’m used to eating a lot of normal American foods, and I’m pretty picky even with those. So, when I initially got to Japan, I stayed away from certain things. Somehow, in my 21 years of life, I had never eaten curry before, so I had my first taste in Japan. I believe curry (from Japan) has officially made my top five favorite foods list; it’s just that amazing. Not to mention Japan made me overcome my dislike for most seafood.

I’ll never forget the constant walking I did in Japan. For a good reason, that sticks out in my mind the most. I wasn’t used to walking that much, so when I got there I had to get accustomed to the lengths I would be taking to simply get to a vending machine that served a soda I liked (from my dorm, the Pepsi machine was about five minutes away). Not to mention the walk to the train station, then to the connecting station, then the walk to the school in Shinjuku. Needless to say, when I weighed myself back in America, I found out I lost 15 pounds. :)

So what do you want to do with your Japanese in the future? I see in your twitter profile that you are a future profile. Could you elaborate a bit on that and what you’re doing to prepare for that now?

I really want to be a translator. I’m not exactly sure of what I want to translate yet, but I know I want it to be interesting (like maybe games, manga, anime). To help prepare for that, since I’m still in school with a lot of things to do, I’m just attempting to translate songs I listen to and things I find on the internet to help me get used to the entire process, which is tedious! But I know with enough time, I’ll get used to it and love everything about it.

OK That’s a wrap! Thanks so much for sharing all of that @jyemenai. I’m sure it will inspire JapanNewbies around the world. If anyone would like to subject @jyemenai to further questioning, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to drag him back over here to answer it. Until next time!

– Harvey

Related Links:
Interview with @Durf!
Interview with @sandkatt!
Interview with a new JET!

A Musical Afternoon with Shakuhachi and Koto

So as you may have heard from my twitter feed, @maryag came down from NYC and we spent some quality Japan-geek time together.

On Sunday we went down to a local university and watched an excellent shakuhachi and koto performance by Akikazu Nakamura and Toshiko Kuto. Here’s a clip that I recorded of the encore by shakuhachi master Mr. Nakamura.

As you can see, the show was great. We sat right in front so had a great view of the performance and I got to take some photos and video. They played a good mix of modern and traditional pieces. After the show there was a question and answer session. The koto they were using had 13 strings, but the pamphlet mentioned that Kuto-san also performs on 20 and 25-string kotos. I asked what the deal was with all the different koto types, and they answered that about 50 years ago the 17-string koto was introduced in Japan, and now that is considered to be the “standard” number of strings on a koto. Learn something new everyday!

Anyway, here are some pics, and enjoy the music!

Toshiko Kuto and Akikazu Nakamura

– Harvey

Movie: Manji

So I just saw Manji, a 1964 movie by director Yasuzo Masumura, and based on a book by Junichiro Tanizaki.

This movie had my attention from the very beginning all the way to the end. Loved it!

First of all, Manji is all in Kansai-ben. If you’ve been reading this blog at all and paying attention, you know I love Kansai-ben, so that earned it points right off the bat.

Manji’s plot is also genius, and I imagine it must have been shocking back in 1960s Japan. It involves a strange love triangle initiated by Kakiuchi-san, a married house wife, who falls hopelessly in love with a beautiful model named Michiko who is played by Ayako Wakao. Unfortunately Michiko has a manipulating fiance… and Kakiuchi-san’s husband eventually gets suspicious about his wife’s fling with this model. Things go downhill from here. This is a movie of obsession. love. lust. jealousy. betrayal. treachery… Yup. That’s how I would tag it. It’s intense. It’s also very Japanese – with the exception of perhaps the music. The musical score for this film is a lot of moody Western classical, and it really fits the tense dark scenes of the film nicely.

I really really enjoyed this film. Please find it and give it a watch.

SPOILER ALERT
SPOILER ALERT
SPOILER ALERT

This clip is a huge spoiler, so if you plan to watch Manji sometime in the near future, best not to watch this. If you think you won’t be able to get your hands on it for sometime though, go ahead!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPuLXC4MCWc

– Harvey

Metropolis – Anime Worth Watching!

Continuing my Japanese movie binge I’m moving on to a classic Japanese Animated movie – Metropolis.

Metropolis was made in 2002, but is based on a 1949 manga by Tezuka Osamu of AstroBoy fame, and it really shows – in a good way. This is a great movie with slick animation and surprisingly awesome music. Let me describe the music by simply saying, it’s got Ray Charles. Okay I’ll say more. The music is all classy New Orleans style Jazz, which really has an out of place, yet extremely refreshing feel when set against the film’s futuristic backdrop.

The plot for this Anime really reminded me of one of the stories in Animatrix if I’m remembering correctly… Anyway, without giving too much away, Metropolis is set in a future where humans and robots work side by side… but tensions rise and there is an underground movement of humans bent on destroying the robots who have been taking jobs away from the humans. Sound familiar? Well, Tezuka Osamu put this story together in 1949, so he probably got there first.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this already it’s definitely worth a look.

Enjoy!

– Harvey

Movie Time: A Scene at the Sea

あの夏、いちばん静かな海

So this time I watched A Scene at the Sea by the famous Japanese director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano. This is one of his earlier movies, done in 1991. The Japanese title is あの夏、いちばん静かな海, which directly translated would be more like, “The most quiet sea that summer.” Unlike most of his other films, this one isn’t bloody. I learned about this movie from a Japanese friend at my university.

I really enjoyed the simple yet touching story, the late 80s Japanese fashion, and the summer scenes of Japan. The main characters in this movie are both deaf, so there actually isn’t that much traditional dialog. There are many other characters who interact with the main character, and those extra characters interact with each other while referring to the main character, but there isn’t any dialog between the main character and his girlfriend.

The basic plot is something like this…The main character has a 9-5 job as a trash collector, and one day he finds a busted surf board someone has discarded. He brings it home, fixes it, and suddenly he has a new hobby and starts ditching work to go surf. He is a total beginner with crappy gear and little ability at first, so everyone but his girlfriend ridicules him for trying to learn to surf. He never gives up though and he slowly wins the respect of the other surfers. Later his infatuation with surfing causes some problems, but brings some new opportunities as well. This film has a good mix of drama, comedy, and a light touch of romance. It all works well, and nothing is over done to the point of being cheesy. It all feels very natural.

This is a good feel good movie and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Japanese cinema!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3LOdpcCwIU

If you’re looking for other Japanese film ideas, check out these other Japanese movies that I have watched.

– Harvey

How I use my Kindle

Hey everyone, I was lucky enough to get a new Kindle as a birthday present, but since have been getting a lot of questions asking how I am using it. So, blog post time!

Converted from Aozora Bunko to Kindle PDF using A2K
Converted from Aozora Bunko to Kindle PDF using A2K

Reading Aozora Bunko texts

Aozora Bunko is basically Gutenberg Project for Japanese texts. This means that on Aozora Bunko you can get a ton of Japanese stories, books, and essays for which the copyright has expired.

I love flexing my muscles with Japanese short stories, especially slightly older short stories. The language is smart and uses a literary vocabulary that you won’t get from listening to news podcasts or other sources. I have been reading a lot of Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Dazai Osamu recently.

By the way, check out my Japanese podcast recommendation posts here, here, here, and here, and here if you haven’t already.

[UPDATE 11/05/2010] Chris pointed me to this blog post over at Asiajin that shows an awesome way to convert Aozora Bunko texts to a sexy optimized-for-Kindle-reading PDF format. Getting Aozora Bunko texts on your Kindle using this method is easy.

  1. Find the Aozora text you want to read on your Kindle, and copy the URL path to the RUBY Zip File. For example:

    トロッコ by Akutagawa Ryunosuke is here, and the link to the RUBY Zip File is down at the bottom of the page here: http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000879/files/43016_ruby_16663.zip

  2. Go to the a2k site (Aozora to Kindle)
  3. Copy the URL to the Ruby Zip File into the blank, and push the PDF化 button. The PDF download will start automatically.
  4. Put the downloaded PDF onto your Kindle (copy it over USB or email it to your @free.kindle.com email address).

You can see what the PDF looks like on a Kindle in this video created by @kengo.

It seems the bestANOTHER way for me to get Aozora Bunko stories onto my Kindle is to download the .txt file from Aozora, save it as .rtf, and then email it to my Kindle using the @free.kindle.com address that Amazon gives you in order to upload stuff to your Kindle. I could also transfer the files by plugging the Kindle into the computer via USB and uploading it, but even when I’m sitting at home I find the email method more convenient.

UPDATE (10/20/2010)
Some stories on Aozora are in HTML format and have Furigana above the Kanji. This is great when reading the HTML… but Kindle can’t read the HTML. Even if you copy everything and paste back to a text document the furigana goes all over the place. Not useful. To handle these files I usually go back to the 図書カード in Aozora Bunko and see if they have the same story in a different format, like a zipped txt file in that “ruby” format. Then I open that in a word processor (I usually use BEAN for Mac, but anything will work) and save as .rtf to my Kindle.
The method using the a2k site mentioned above preserves the Furigana!

Reading Japanese news loaded via Instapaper

I started using Instapaper on my iPod Touch a while back, but I like it for the Kindle even more.

Basically with Instapaper, you install a “ReadLater Button” onto your web browser. Then when you are surfing and find something you want to read later, you press the button and Instapaper saves the webpage to your Instapaper.com account. Then, you can go to Instapaper.com and download a .mobi file that is formatted for the Kindle that includes all of the articles that you saved.

Instapaper on the Kindle - click for larger pic

My personal routine includes going to this aggregate Japanese news website… opening the top headlines in tabs, and then going through and saving them all to Instapaper by clicking my ReadLater Button. Then I go to Instapaper.com, download the .mobi file by clicking on the Kindle icon, save it to my Kindle by emailing it, and off I go.

I only wish that while reading on the Kindle I could easily grab vocab items I don’t know and look them into a dictionary. If there is some way to do this let me know!

Reading Gutenberg Project texts
Gutenberg is like Aozora Bunko for everything else. They have mostly English texts, but they also have Chinese and other languages as well. A lot of their stuff is available in formats already formatted for Kindle, so you can just download and go!

Reading random PDFs, mostly for school
The Kindle kinda fails in the random PDF department. The problem is that when displayed at 100% the text is usually too small, depending on how the PDF is constructed. Then, if you zoom in, the smallest zoom option is 150%, and that goes too far forcing you to scroll left and right down the page, cutting sentences in two. That is more annoying than… anything.

[UPDATE 11/05/2010]
However, some PDFs can look great if you use this awesome convert trick that chris mentioned in the comments.

Send an email to [your account][at]free.kindle.com, attach your PDF file, and make the subject line “convert”. Within a few minutes, a nice, text version should appear on your Kindle which you can resize like any other ebook.

So far I have had good luck with this method. It doesn’t work for all PDFs, but for a great many it does! Give it a shot!

PDF at 100% view. Too small to read.
150%, and nudged to the right a bit. Sentence clipping on right.

To make matters worse, from the 150% zoom after nudging, if I go the the next page or press down to view the bottom part, I have to re-nudge over to the right again. Lame!

Something needs to be done about this… Or people need to start making 6-inch Kindle friendly PDFs.

Reading random texts
I also just create .rtf files and load them on to my Kindle. For example, I have lyrics to songs by my favorite Japanese artists on there, so if I’m sitting in a plane or bus or something and listening to some music I can pull out the Kindle and read a long. This is especially useful with Japanese rap… like the stuff from Shing02! His lyrics are like short stories.

Lyrics to 星の王子様 by Shing02.

You can also add lyrics to the songs in your iPod Touch and read them on the iPod Touch screen, and I do sometimes. However, if I have some elbow room I would much rather read on the Kindle than on my iPod Touch screen. Also, you can even play MP3s on the Kindle. I haven’t tried this yet, but that could be very interesting… I could put the songs on there and read along with only one device. Will experiment with that later.

Great things about the Kindle

  • Battery life is amazing.
  • It’s so small I don’t mind carrying it around. Fits into my camera bag nicely.
  • Reading on it is easy on the eyes.
  • Plenty of free content available via Gutenberg, Aozora, and Amazon free books.
  • There are a lot of them in the wild here in Boston now. Makes me less fearful of being targeted for theft!

Things that I wish were better

  • Handles most PDFs like crap. Often text is too small, and zoom navigation is clunky.
  • I can’t buy Japanese books for the Kindle yet it seems…
  • Not every book I would like to read is available for Kindle.

Would I recommend buying the Kindle? If you’re someone who reads and travels a lot, and also, values the ability to travel light, then yes. If you mainly want it to read PDFs, then no… but I suspect the Kindle DX would be awesome in this regard.

That’s all!

– Harvey

Related Links:
Yearlyglot reviews his Kindle. Also follow him on Twitter!

Using Your E-Reader for Evil (And a Little Japanese)

[UPDATE 07/24/2012]
My buddy @lenawash mentioned that you can also get a lot of texts from the Internet Archive as well.

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