If 'Game of Thrones' took place in feudal Japan

Taking a page from the book of "Ukiyo-e Heroes" -- Jed Henry's series of traditionally crafted woodblock prints of video game characters in the style of ukiyo-e -- artist Seiji has given us a glimpse of what "Game of Thrones" might look like in set in feudal Japan.

He has reimagined eight standout scenes and characters from the series and placed them in context of Japanese traditions and mythology. Hodor, for example, is drawn with oni-like features to indicate that he may not be all human, and the heart tree is hung with a … Read more

Fake Google Play apps scam Japanese porn seekers

Hundreds of Japanese porn apps in the Google Play marketplace are tricking porn seekers into shelling out $1,000 for a fake service, security firm Symantec has found.

The company published a blog post today about the more than 200 fraudulent Android apps published by over 50 developers. Symantec has been tracking these apps since late January.

"From then on, the apps were published by different developers each time and the number of apps steadily grew though many were removed from Google Play at one point for unconfirmed reasons," according to the blog. "We are now seeing … Read more

Japanese Web sites attacked in tense dispute with China

A tense territorial dispute with China has triggered cyberattacks, according to Japan-based reports.

Web sites at 19 Japanese banks and universities, among other institutions, have been hit with attacks in the wake of Japan's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands on September 11, according to Kyodo News Agency and other reports.

The Web site of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry statistics bureau, for example, has come under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, Kyodo said.

Tohoku University, an elite science and engineering university, has also been targeted, Kyodo said.

It's not clear who's behind the attacks. … Read more

Robotic butt a very strange tail

The thrill of verbally abusing Siri had pretty much petered out, and we were really ready to roll up our sleeves and whip some actual robot booty.

Now, thanks to "Shiri" -- and the University of Electro-Comunications in Tokyo -- we can. Shiri, you see, is -- to put it bluntly -- a robutt. Or, perhaps, a robo-butt. The university itself calls it "a buttocks humanoid robot that expresses various emotions with organic movements of the artificial muscles."

And, according to the embedded video, the project's purpose is twofold: to advance the "innovative use of robotics technology and its purpose," and "to raise the argument as to what perceptions will be manifested in the minds of people who communicate with Shiri." … Read more

Soft-serve beer sorbet? Ah, technology

Ah, technology. Thanks to its ever-expanding capabilities, we can chat with monkeys, make Jell-O sing, and even share with the world the site of our latest sexual conquest.

And soon -- O, Lord, yes -- we'll be able to enjoy soft-serve beer sorbet.

Provided, of course, we live in Asia and order up a glass of Kirin that's been subjected to a little "Frozen Agitation."… Read more

Apple tops Japanese smartphone market for first time

As news of Apple's monster holiday season quarter continues to filter in though various lenses, one is particularly striking. Specifically, Apple now sits atop the Japanese cell phone market, shipping more iPhone units than its competitors in Japan.

The steady rise in popularity is attributed to the success of the iPhone 4S, pushing Apple to 26.6 percent of mobile phone shipments, according to research firm IDC (via The Mainichi Daily News). Falling way behind is Fujitsu, at 18.3 percent and Sharp at 15.7 percent.

Smartphones accounted for nearly 65 percent of all cell phones shipped in … Read more

Siri slow to impress in Japan

That feature add, unfortunately, hasn't yet been received with the highest regard. Apple's voice recognition assistant has caught on fairly well here in the U.S. (though a lawsuit claiming Siri isn't what Apple says it is was just filed), but in Japan one video shows Siri struggling on some more-advanced Japanese requests.

The side-by-side comparison below features an iPhone 4S with Siri and what appears to be an Android phone running Japanese wireless carrier DoCoMo's voice recognition feature, Syabette Concier. Reported by Kotaku (via AppleInsider), the video shows Siri's response time being slower than … Read more

The 404 1,004: Where we're pink, peeling, and broken (podcast)

Jeff's back from his trip to the Dominican Republic, so we ask CNET Labs editor Joseph Kaminski into the studio to tell us what it's like to be stranded on an island owned by Walt Disney.

We'll also give our prediction for tomorrow's Apple iPad HD announcement and learn more about weapons from the future that disrupt speech patterns and jam cell phone signals.… Read more

Rumor: Siri to add Japanese, Mandarin, Russian next month

According to a new rumor, Siri may gain support for Japanese, Mandarin, and Russian as early as next month.

The news comes from a Chinese technology news site, DoNews (via Penn Olson), claiming to have spoken to an Apple engineer working on the Chinese-language version of Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant, Siri. The source told DoNews that internal testing has already begun and should result in a public product by next month.

With Apple widely expected to release a new iPad model next month (one that should include Siri functionality), having Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, and Russian in Siri's arsenal … Read more

This Day in Tech: Data leaked from BART police union Web site; Turning toys into medical devices

Too busy to keep up with the tech news? Here are some of the more interesting stories from CNET for Wednesday, August 17.

• It looks like hackers haven't given up on BART. Last week, SF subway officials shut down cell phone service and have since taken the media spotlight as hackers respond to the communication lockdown. Today, data containing full names, passwords, e-mail addresses, and passwords was leaked from the BART Police Officers Association's Web site, making it the second site, affiliated with BART, to be hacked.

• And of course, here's more news on Google's Motorola … Read more