Reviews by pizzaiolo

5 stars
Dumb-proof way to virtualize

This program is very easy to use for anyone, even those who don’t understand much about virtualization, which is honestly great. Other virtualization apps can look complex and daunting to beginners, so it’s very good that GNOME Boxes exists.

For simple use cases, there are no reasons I can think of to not use it. Works out of the box, as intended.

3 stars
Great deck, could be even better

This collection of Anki decks for Japanese learners, spread over 10 parts, is an absolute must for beginners. It includes standalone expressions as well as phrases with said expressions. It also contains images and, most importantly, audio produced by native speakers. This is where it really shines and makes it all worthwhile.

Having said that, the lack of linear progression throughout the decks is pretty bad. You learn the common expression 素晴らしい (subarashii) only by the time you get to deck 7! This happens often and feels like a wasted opportunity to make progression more meaningful.

Also I take issue with the fact that there are so many lent expressions from English (the so-called garaigo). Those are often nearly identical to the English words and don’t really need to be memorized with flashcards since they are so easy.

All in all, it’s a fun deck to churn through and I can recommend it!

1 star
A useless relic and a testament to anti-user behaviour

This little Ubuntu package used to be tied to the Unity desktop. Ubuntu has since switched to GNOME, but 18.04 LTS still ships with it.

It’s essentially manifested as a tiny ad in your dock that directs you to Amazon when you click on it. You can remove it by typing:

sudo apt-get remove unity-webapps-common

3 stars
Could be better

Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk TV series on Netflix. The story revolves around a man who is brought back from the dead to solve a multimillionaire’s murder case. In terms of cyberpunk tropes, it’s got it all: high tech and low life, neon signs, a super-rich caste, a failed state whose only purpose is to serve the ruling class, drugs, violence, cynicism and grime everywhere.

There are a number of small things that bother me about it. As a fan of cyberpunk, I wished the show was a little more subtle in its exploration of themes, like poverty or religion. Also, the whole jaded muscular military guy trope feels tired at this point. Often, the show presents itself like yet another police procedural drama. Many reviewers have also correctly complained about the pace, which is uneven.

The motivations for some of the characters and groups are never convincing. The only thing that seems to drive the villain is nihilism and a pathological obsession for family, which just makes the character look undeveloped. The Uprising wants to make people mortal again, but why? Something about “it’s not human nature”. Then they explain that the problem actually is that only the super-rich have access to immortality, which… okay, but wouldn’t it be best to just fight overthrow the system that distributes benefits unfairly in the first place?

Having said that, it still has a watchable quality to it and you do want to know how the plot is resolved. Despite my grievances, it’s still more good than bad, hence the three star rating. If you’re into the genre, I can recommend it, but don’t go into it expecting something like Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell. It really isn’t.

4 stars
How did early humans learn languages without Anki?

AnkiDroid is the best spaced repetition flashcard software for mobile. Period.

It’s more customizable than others out there, free as in freedom and as in cash (at least the Android version), and, most importantly, it works wonders for learning and memorization.

One thing that could be improved is allowing plug-ins to extend functionality of the app, like the desktop version does. Also, some actions can only be done via the desktop program, which makes it a second-class citizen for me. The fact that it can sync seamlessly across devices makes it a smaller problem, however.

4 stars
Fast-food vegetariano  pt

Em geral bem gostoso e com boas ideias. Só não recomendo o hamburguer de shiitake, que tem um gosto enjoado, mas o Quinoa Solar Vegano é delicioso! O bolinhos de feijoada e o quibe também são uma boa recomendação.

Cuidado porque nem tudo é vegano (mas tudo é ovo-lacto), então é sempre bom perguntar antes.

O preço é um pouco alto (mas talvez esperado pra um lugar vegetariano de frente pra praia da Barra). As porções, a primeira vista, parecem pequenas mas de alguma forma te deixam bem cheio e satisfeito.

Recomendo fortemente, principalmente pra apresentar o vegetarianismo pro seu amigo omnívoro que acha que você só come alface.

Vegetable Kitchen Bar Aju
4 stars
Try the okonomiyaki

Seriously. I can’t stress just how delicious the okonomiyaki is! I went with a non-vegan Japanese family and they all enjoyed it as well and seemed surprised with how it is similar to the original. I can’t say for myself since I have not tried the original okonomiyaki recipe.

We also tried the fake meat skewers, which were delicious. The food is a bit on the oily side, but if you don’t mind that, you’ll love it like I did.

Be aware that the establishment is not fully vegan so, when in doubt, ask. Vegan restaurants in Japan are visited by foreigners en masse, which means there’s a good chance the waiter will speak English. If not, well, better work on that vegan-survival-Japanese.

5 stars
Great atmosphere

This coffee shop, near Waseda University in Tokyo, has a unique atmosphere, centered around veganism and the constructed language Esperanto. Its intended goal is to introduce veganism to Esperanto-speakers, Esperanto to vegans and both ideas to everyone else!

It’s not crowded at all, probably because neither veganism or Esperanto are well-known in Japan. The good thing is that means you’ll likely have a more intimate vibe.

The food is pretty delicious, cheap (!) and it comes in pretty sizeable portions (Japanese portions are notoriously small). Also, the owner is very kind and loves to chat, if you feel like it.

One of the available meals at SOJO (Own work. License: CC-BY-SA.)

The one thing that could improve is the menu: there aren’t many options, and since it’s a tiny shop run by only one man, that might continue to be the case for the time being.

Disclaimer: I’m both a vegan and an Esperanto-speaker, so my take is probably somewhat biased, but if you look around, other reviewers share similar opinions.

Tobira: Gateway to Advanced Japanese  pt
4 stars
No handholding past this point

Tobira is one of the most often recommended Japanese textbooks for pre-intermediate learners in communities like /r/LearnJapanese for good reason. It is a great book with very useful grammar explanations and examples which themselves use grammar points previously learned. The essays contained in the book are interesting and not overly difficult.

Also, the accompanying official website offers extra resources like audio and even pre-made Anki decks! It’s very convenient, and it would be even better if the decks contained example sentences as well instead of isolated words.

This book definitely does not hold your hand with English translations and it feels like a shock to many students who recently finished Genki II, and rightly so. But if you bear with the initial discomfort, you’ll see your Japanese visibly improving.

I have only two main problems with it: the grammar notes section is way too far away from the reading material, which is a nuisance. Also, the vocabulary list sometimes contains words that are too basic and some more complex expressions used in the texts don’t make it into these lists for some reason. Apart from that, it’s a great book and I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon it. Don’t let the lack of English scare you, embrace it!

4 stars
Great idea, but the implementation could be better

Here’s a great add-on for Firefox, which brings you amazing, little-known artwork from the Europeana collection right to your browser, whenever you open up a new tab. It’s gorgeous and the minimal design also heightens the beauty of it all. This is unmissable for art-lovers. The cherry on top is that all images are freely licensed, which means you can reuse them for whatever purpose!

However, there are several points in which it could improve. Since this is a review of the initial public version (1.0.9), it can kinda be forgiven for some of these mistakes. Firstly, it makes you give up your data to the Googleborg, with no opt-out mechanism (fortunately I’ve blacklisted Google Analytics from my hosts file, and so should you). Come on folks, it’s 2017 and Piwik is here, there’s no need to mistreat your users under the excuse of “we need user metrics”, there are better ways of getting statistics.

The second sin is retrieving the images over an insecure https connection. Let’s Encrypt is here and can be set up fairly simply, so this one is easy to fix. Thirdly, it claims to have its source code under the MIT/X11 License, but the actual source is nowhere to be seen. It’s a little perplexing since they have so many freely licensed projects on the web, so I think they probably forgot to upload it.

Final, and minor points: the image loading times should ideally be faster. How long do we normally spend on newly opened tabs? Only as long as it takes to get us to our destination, so images need to load faster to grip out attention before we resume browsing. Also, the images shown are a little repetitive; maybe the list of curated artworks is too short?

Overall, this is a promising add-on, and even with these issues, I’ll still give it a great rating due to the novelty and design approach taken here. Here’s hoping the next iterations will be even better!