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Thursday, June 20, 2002


Making the right computer choice is no big struggle

In answer to Stephen Harris, who's seeking to finally enter the computer age and is looking for the right machine for him, this is a huge subject, and largely a matter of personal preference.

To buy a machine, most people head for Akihabara, as Ken wrote last week.

Choosing a make and model comes down to the buyer's taste -- I won't be parted from my (by now dinosaur-like) LC630 Wordperfect Mac, my husband is newly attached to his Microsoft-loaded Mebius.

Steve mentions being attracted to Apple's titanium G4 Powerbook.

In which case, Anthony Walter, managing director of Caliburn, which promotes Apple in Japan, suggests you get in touch.

Caliburn is the only company in Japan selling English system i-Books, Powerbooks, i-Macs and G4s. There is a small conversion charge, otherwise prices are the same as at the Apple Web site store. Allow 7-10 days for delivery.

You can contact Caliburn on 03-3263 3177, fax 03-3263 0393, or E-mail: sales@caliburn.com. They also provide support in English.

Computer doctor Yoichiro Kuwano is another useful contact. Based in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, he will travel anywhere in the Kanto region (maybe further if the need is there) to troubleshoot users out of problems.

His rate is 5,000 yen an hour, whether for small businesses or home visits.

The price drops to 3,500 yen for block bookings of five hours for phone support. His company Studio KK offers reliable PC services to foreigners.

As a recommendation, Yoichiro acts as a computer consultant to the Tokyo American Club in Kamiyacho. Phone 090-1506 8921; or E-mail: studiokkyo@hotmail.com. Their Web site is at www.studiokk.com/home

We are waiting for computer clubs and courses to come to light; watch this space.

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In our continuing search to assist the reader seeking native English-speaking doctors, we were delighted to hear from Virginia Peters.

As a licensed nursing practitioner, Ginny can see patients just as a physician can. In this capacity she has been working at Saint Luke's International Hospital in Tsukiji, Tokyo, since 1992.

She is there two days a week -- Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. in the walk-in clinic.

Patients must register before 11 a.m. to receive attention that day. She regards her work as separate to that of a doctor, but complimentary: "As a care provider, I'm interested in the dissemination of correct, up-to-date medical information. People surfing the Internet can often misinterpret symptoms and follow the wrong forms of advice for their complaint." Contact her on 043-294 9321.

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Jan Gorgol -- he's English, his wife is Japanese -- is enquiring about English for toddlers.

Their son, aged 5, and daughter 3, get few chances to expand their level of English, so he is seeking an English-using playgroup anywhere between Yokohama and Odawara, in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Sally Matsura, who raised four children in Kamakura, says he has two options: find an existing group or start from scratch.

Though she has moved on personally, the Kamakura Junior Playgroup that she helped found 14 years ago is still operating, meetings once a month on Sundays.

"People take turns in organizing events and activities." The KJP Web site is at www.homepage.mac.com/bluyckx

If Jan is looking for something more educationally-based, he could talk to Regina Stlees (with children aged 6, 4 and 1) who runs a Montessori-based playgroup in Fujigaoka, Fujisawa. You can call them on 0466-28 6915, or E-mail: reginastlees@hotmail.com

Regina started a playgroup four years ago; it became a full-time one last year and she is currently applying for NPO (nonprofit organization) status.

She currently has 17 children enrolled ranging in age from 2 1/2 to 6.

The open play group at Yokohama Union Church is also an option. It is run by two pastors, American-born Linda Smidt and her Japanese husband, Ken Saito.

Phone 045-651 5177 for info.

The play group, which meets from 9.30 a.m. on Thursdays, is conducted mainly in English.

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Three recent questions: "Where can I learn how to wear a kimono?" (Chofu, Tokyo); "I have seen magic mushrooms for sale on the street in Tokyo. Are they legal and safe?" (Chiba); "Can I drive in Japan without an international license." (Machida, Kanagawa-ken).

We would like to hear from you on any of these topics -- and of course, keep the questions coming.

E-mail: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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