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Check out this little nugget at the bottom of Timeout Tokyo:

Suntory vending machines have emergency levers beneath a sticker on the upper-right corners. Pull the sticker off, pull the lever firmly and you'll get free drinks.

They built a backdoor into their own vending machines for emergencies and have followed up and gotten the information out there. Free juice for the weary! It was sleeping there the whole time, very japanese.


Suntory Holdings Limited サントリーホールディングス株式会社, Established in 1899

That's the definition of cool.

There exists a particular Japanese megacorp in Nagoya. Like many megacorps, it has a long list of acceptance tests for any systems it ships internally or externally. Two tests on that list:

1) If it would normally exchange money-for-X, we have to be able to tell it to disburse X-for-nothing.

2) If it would normally exchange money-for-X, failure modes of our ability to tell it to disburse X-for-nothing must cause the system to fail into X-for-nothing.

e.g. If it were hypothetically a vending machine, a network connection that let you send it a message to turn off needing money would meet #1, and a heartbeat hourly where failure to receive the heartbeat would turn off needing money would meet #2.

Anyhow, those two rules are in the strictest category in the SOP: if you fudge one in an acceptance test, the system does not ship. If a system which has somehow made it into production is discovered to not be in compliance, several somebodies will not be going home until it is either in compliance or removed for service.

I agree, Suntory's machines are an excellently engineered. I want to emphasize that this level of commitment to engineering excellence is not anomalous here.

Japanese megacorps: woe unto thee who has to use our web applications, but for this sort of consideration, we seriously know our stuff.

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