I will be gone for the next two weeks. I hate to leave Mfop in a state of "lot's of improvements needed". I'm worried about work (mainly because of the "incident" when I went on vacation two years ago). I have slept 3 hours / night for the past 3 days, and I don't like how it feels. Jason, who seems to have been living off 2 hours / night for the past year is amazing.)
Rode my bike to work today for the first time in year and feel like I'm going to have a heart-attack. (I'm almost 30 you know).
Tomoe isn't meeting her friend who just flew in fom Hong Kong.
To create the illusion that things are happening with Mfop while I am gone, I created a blog for people to add complaints and suggestions to make it better. I hope nothing happens to the system it while I am gone. If for some reason everything stops working. Know that I will return.
Maybe I'll find an Internet cafe while I am gone.
(thanks again to Kristen at Media Tinker for the great logo design.)
My roommate, who works at the Japanese version of NASA did me a favor today, and printed out a ferry schedule I was wondering about. When I looked at the back of the printout, I found some cool looking secret rocket plans. I had the pictures all ready to put on the web when she saw and freaked out. They were papers from a presentation some scientists are going to give in a big once-every-two-years conference in May. Knowing that makes the pictures look even cooler. Maybe I'll post them in the end of May.
As always there are more on the next page...Continue reading "Secret Rocket Plans"
(An email to the bitflux moblog mailing list )
I just read about the list on Margin Walker
Just a self intro, I don't have a mobile, don't plan on getting one until
absolutely needed. But I know that everyone else does, and all those young
whippersnappers are pretty crazy about this moblogging thing, (and I do
enjoy looking at other peoples photos) so I made Mfop...
To tell the truth, I made it because I thought it was a good idea and would
be fun. What drives me most is that it is fun. Upon further reflection as
to *why* I liked the idea, I come this reason why I think it is "good".
Most of the people who read my site would never even *think* of trying to
install a moblog script. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to
I really like the idea of blogging, but I don't think it is anywhere near as
"influential" as many like to believe. I also don't really think it ever
will be. But... the easier it is to make various types of blogging
available to non-techies, the more blogging will influence the next
technology, which will influence the next technology after that... and so
on, each step having the effect of moving closer to not just sharing of
knowledge and information, but sharing of ideas and ideals, and doubts and
fears, and glimpses of lifestyles.
I'm waiting for the wireless connection with a chip in the brain allowing
ESP like communication. I think the more we know about our neighbors
secrets, and the more they know about ours, the better off we all are.
Moblogging is a step in that direction, allowing me to see snapshots of
people's lives in real time (or at least we can look back at the exact
moment they saw it). The grass is always greener when we compare ourselves
to people on TV and in movies (and everyone does), but more we can see real
people's lives without speculation the more it brings us back down to earth,
and lets us examine ourselves in a little more realistic light.
But mostly I think it's cool and fun :-)
As for technical aspects. Since I have been working alone (with the help of
some very patient beta users) in my spare time, it has taken a couple weeks
to get everything (interface and backend) up to speed. The back end is so
very simple. Most of the problems my users have are a result of poor
usability, and poor instructions on the registration page. Once this is
cleared, I would like to begin thinking about how mfop can grow. It'd make
it a whole lot easier if we can work together.
I don't see mfop as being a centralized service on one system. People
should be able to choose their moblog gateway, which means mfop should be
available for download and install to anyone who has the know-how and access
to install on their server. This would hopefully allow or a wide variety of
uses to develop in different places, and hopefully, if it gets widespread
enough, other relevent software makers will add any needed APIs or support
for it. For example, some of my users have asked for gallery support. It
is an almost trivial matter to adapt it for Gallery, but it would be a lot
easier if Gallery offered an API for Mfop.
Then there are the other fun goodies... I know there is "facerolling" now,
but if I visit too many sites that have it, I get sick of seeing the same
photos of the same people ;-) What about Moblogrolling? Instead of showing
faces of the people whose Blogs you link to, show something more dynamic...
their last moblog photo!
There are a few sites out there that accept moblog images and display it for
the user, and that is cool, but it is centralized. What if there was a page
that read some feed and displayed the 50 or 100 or whatever latest moblog
photos from other peoples sites? If Mfop is on one server it is easy, but
if it is on servers around the world, it takes a little planning to make it
Add location to that, and the viewer would be able to view other recently
updated moblogs from within xx km of another photo. This would really be
great for breaking news. I mentioned on my site about Fuji erupting. If it
did, and there where hundreds or thousands of people moblogging it, it would
most likely take over the "most recently updated moblog" section, and even
if there was some competing news, say a war in Syria, the viewer could click
on either "Fuji" or "Syria" image and see hundreds more shots from all
different perspectives of whichever news they are looking for. As technology
advances, this would be like having hundreds of CNNs.
People who aren't interested in that, but would rather see what is going on
that moment in their own home town could restrict their distance setting to
100 km and only show moblogs from 100 km away.
I'm getting carried away though...
Anyway. I hope this list gets big, and I hope I can help.
BTW as I send this mail to your list, I am also CCing it to mfop for posting
on my site which explains anything you might think is odd... such as the
formatting around Margin Walker
Tomoe called last night. Durnig the day she recieved a phone call from her
old roommate in England. Apparently the roommate was on the airplane on her
way to Osaka for some sight-seeing and wanted to know if she could stay with
Tomoe in her one-room apartment. Now, I'm all for opening your home to
someone, and I have a friend staying with me in my one-room, one-kitchen
apartment for two months... but...
Oh did I forget to mention the friend was on a plane from Hong Kong?
Is it still legal to leave Hong-Kong for pleasure? Maybe this is the start
of a flow of refugees, people who don't already have SARS getting the heck
out when they can.
I'm ofiicially and mfopper now!
Since I don't have a mobile, I didn't think I had need for mfop other than it's fun to build and I have been able to "meet" a lot of cool people on/offline.
Today I wanted to post something from my desk at work, but it's hard to pretend that I am working when I have the browser open to some form that everyone knows is not on any of our client's websites.
Mfop to the rescue. Since I spend so much time writing emails anyway, it's natural to have Outlook open. No one will know I'm slacking unless they get close enough to read the email text!
I don't usually care to post anything about politicians or famous people, but I just received an email that had the pictures found here attached. I couldn't help laughing because I remember my brother being taunted on the school bus (sorry Tim) and being called "Timmy Booger Eater". Unfortunately my sister Kelly was too young to be on the bus at that time.
I didn't want to post the photos, because I don't know who owns them, but a quick search on google turned up this site with the same photos.
I saw on Joi Ito's site that Hirata-san from dh's memoranda had the same idea as mfop. It's amazing there aren't more. Maybe his is a little more stable than mine :-). (It sure has a much less error filled registration page!... But I think I win the logo category.)
I'll contact him and see if we can't get together to make both ours better. It looks like his only supports MT for now. And Paul still wants that Gallery support, so I think there's more than enough work to go around.
I was just in the process of making my own code a little less embarasing to my programming ego so I could let other people host it on their servers as well, and people can register to moblog via someone they know and trust's server. And the only reason I can think of to have it "centralized" into one system, is to have a cool page that shows the latest moblog updates (like blogrolling). But that can be accomplished other ways.
I'm thinking about the day that Fuji erupts, and when you look at the mfop page it will be filled with thousands of mobloged photos of people running in terror from all parts of Tokyo. If the moblogs had the location with it, we could all know where NOT to run to. Of course when that happens I probably wont be looking at my computer anyway.
Since I have started taking LOTS more photos, I have reached a dilemma regarding displaying them on my site. For a few days there, amidst the euphoria of having a new camera, I was interested in getting cool looking shots, and then displaying the coolest of the cool on my site.
Today however, I spent the day walking through a park nearby my apartment.
When I got home, I went through the photos and left out all the ones that didn't look "cool". There would be none left to put on the site. I started to realize then that was getting carried away. My site is not supposed to be a photography site, so I don't have to have good photos. What I noticed when I started leaving photos out, was that the story was missing big parts. Even if the photo is kind of blurry, I took it for a reason, because I thought it was interesting... and each photo I took lead to me taking the next photo. They are all connected in a timeline of my walk through the park, and they all follow a certain thread. If I leave too many out, the story of my day had huge gaps. There are so many poor quality photos that I still want to add because I was excited about the subject, or found it interesting (obviously or I wouldn't have taken the photo)
So then maybe I should just put them all up... but that's like if I write about the fact that my shoelace broke today. Too much crap will dilute the non-crap. (then there's the problem of uploading 100 MB / day to the site)
I haven't figured it out yet, and I am not uploading every photo I took today, but I may be uploading too many. For me the story is incomplete, for the viewer (especially on a 24k modem like my mom) the story may be too detailed. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon.
In the mean time, please enjoy the photos from today. If your sharp you may notice the same old themes... birds, and people painting. This time I have a little more time so I have added some commentary.
Once again, click on "more".Continue reading "The Park By My Apartment"
Another walk through the park. That goes without explenation, except that I got up early today and instead of getting off at Kichijyouji Station, I got off one stop before at Iinokashira Park Station and walked throught the park to work. It is a small station, and I was very impressed that they have a greeter. An old man who stands in front of the station and says "good morning" to the people on their way to work. Obviously everyone recognized him, and they all replied with their own cheery "Good morning!" Some stopped and chatted a bit. What a WOW! idea.
It reminds me a bit of the laughing meeting I helped implement at Arbor Brewing Company when I was a waiter there as a student. Apparently many companies in India take a couple minutes each morning to laugh. No jokes, no tickling, they just force themselves to laugh. When I was a waiter, one particularly crazy night, there was a waitress who was about to have a nervous breakdown so I took her in the back and forced her to laugh with me for 60 seconds. Of course she had a hard time laughing with nothing funny, but apparently me laughing with nothing funny was funny enough to make her laugh. It helped make the night liveable, and the two of us started to do this often. After a while a few others noticed and joined in. It got to the point that we would end some of the shift meetings by lauging for 60 seconds. This was right out in the middle of a dining room crowded with customers from the lunch shift, so naturally they wonder whats going on, and many start to laugh just seeing us laughing. Maybe it was just my imagination, but the whole mood of the reseraunt seemed to change when we did this.
Not too long after the owner of the pub heard about it and made it "policy" to laugh after every meeting. Nothing could have killed it faster. The policy was dead within a week and noone ever laughed again.
The point is that I often forget how small things like that can really change a whole day. As I grow more and more discontent with my current job and daily life, I forget to do the things that made me feel better in the past, such as laugh on the train (I always have a book in a book cover so people think I am laughing at something in the book, and I'm not just a freak), or a few years ago when I used to open my window, which faces popular walking path, and dance alone to a steel-drum cd in the morning for all the people who pass by and look in my window to see. I should really start up again, but I'll have to be careful about making it "policy".
Anyway, check out the photos, and click on "more" for more.Continue reading "A Laughing Matter"
Went to nudie sketch club last night, and afterwords out to eat and drink to a nice little bar with some of the artists. No matter how far off the beaten path I try to go by myself, I never find anyplace with such great atmosphere as I do when I am with some old Japanese locals!
As for the nights sketching, nothing to write home about... Zooming in with my new camera seems to help my photos, so I tried zooming in with my drawing too... it just makes it
harder more difficult.
This certainly is frustrating. I have 75MB worth of photos I took around my neighborhood today, and I don't have enough room on my computer to save them, let alone spruce them up with Photoshop. I tried to save all my photos from the past few years to CD so I can erase them from my hard-drive, but the CD writer appears to make a copy of the files I select in RAM and then saves that to the CD. Again, I don't have 750MB of RAM, so it obviously uses the harddisk... but like I say, there's no space left there to even create and image to save to CD.
I try to save (very slowly) one directory of photos at a time, and it seems to be working, but when I try to check the CD afterwords just to make sure there all there before I erase them from my hard drive, I can't open the CD. Is my CD ok and only my computer is fricked up? or did nothing get written to the CD?
I guess it's times like these (and like when I am making Mfop) that I should be glad to have full access to the company web-server and don't have to worry about bandwidth and file size... my website is by far has grown to be the biggest on the server with all my photos. One of our clients is even a stock-photo company, yet my site is bigger.
I think that's something I am going to have to start worrying about though. Maybe I will have to stop uploading all my photos in their full multi-megabyte glory and start "optimizing" them for the web.
More people are using the mfop system than I expected (at least this early).
It's making me all glad 'n stuff.
So far there are between 13 and 18 active moblogers using it and every day someone experiences a problem :-)
Some of these problems are because of poor instructions on the registrations page... I'll fix that up as soon as possible. Other problems are quickly solvable as soon as I notice it... for example I didn't have it set up to handle Japanese until someone tried to post Japanese, and I didn't have it set up top do text only (no image) posts until a few people tried that. Next I have to make it able to upload multiple images to one post... because someone tried that yesterday. Now that I know people are using it, I'll try my best to get it working for as many people.
Paul from IN-duce has written a very nice little blurb about Mfop at his own site and over at MarginWalker, and has requested support for Gallery. It shouldn't be a problem at all. I'll download Gallery soon as I get a chance and set it up. Or if Paul can give me access to post photos to his gallery in a test account, I can forgoe the trouble of setting it up on my server. (although it looks like something I might want to use anyway).
Seeing as I will be on vacation for two weeks from Friday, I'll try to get as much done before that so as many people as possible can moblog without problems, and without waiting 2 weeks for me to get home and fix whatever bugs I programmed in in the beginning.
Carsten, The first mfop Guineapig, is also one of the planners for the First International Moblog Conference happening in Tokyo in July. He asked me to talk about mfop a bit and I said it sounds like fun... I didn't realize the conference was such a big deal at the time... I guess now it sounds like more fun.
On my to do list in no particular order:
I guess the most important photography skill I will have to learn is recognizing what to leave out. I'm used to being able to just upload all the photos I take without paying much attention, but now that I am taking 70+ everyday I should start to use some restraint with what I put on the site... for now, just bare with me.
Hey! Lucky you! There's a lot more waiting.. just click the "more" link.Continue reading "Iinokashira Lunch"
Looks like I could have used an anti-blur-when-it's-dark filter last night. Most of the photos were too bad to even put up. i.e. they were even worse than these! (don't miss the "more" button!)Continue reading "Blogger People Photos"
I hopped on the last train home with only about 30 seconds to spare.Continue reading "Last Train"
Had another meeting tonight with geeks and non-geeks who have websites like mine. It was better than ever. Lots of people and I met some of the peopl whos web sites I comment on frequently. (somtimes I spend more time commenting than writing on my own site)
I got some feed back about my site (some people actually look at the photos... and they are photo-geeks themselves. GREAT!) It seems to me that more Tokyo bloggers are photo freaks than can be called average. good for me I guess... but bad in the sence that it makes me feel like my new camera is inadequate. (I need a polarizing filter to go along with my "I'm a cool pro photographer with a long camera" attachemnt)
I also found that I am now known as the "budgie guy" (Budgie means parakeet for those who don't know) This means I can never change my design again, as I have already established my brand... I gess I don't have to feel guilty about posting pictures of crows anymore.
I have lots to write, but my new roomate is getting resltess, so I should stop with my loud typing. Instead just check out the photos.
On second thought... why don't you check out my photos tomorrow... but all you really need to see is right here
I visitedt he bike graveyard today in hopes of finding a replacement wheel for my bike so I can use it in May.
I recieved this email today.
Dear Sir or Madame:Continue reading "My Spam"
My name is Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein, the rightful leader of the
Iraqi people. Though we have not met before I hope that reports of your
personal integrity, reliability and respect for the power of money prove
As you are probably aware, imperial forces of the United States and their
British lackey's have taken control of certain sections of my country
against the express will of all freedom-loving peoples and the United
Nation. This temporary setback will be remedied in due course, but until
that time I have urgent need of a trusted partner for the transshipment of
certain wholly legal funds totaling US $78,500,000.00 (Seventy-eight
million, five hundred thousand dollars).
Tomoe and I have decided on a itinerary for the holiday. I went out and splurged on the Touring Mapple 5 -Kansai (Mapple is the king of maps... I was addicted to them a while back and bought a bunch just to look at) Saturday, and have found that there are nice looking mountains and countryside around the west side of Lake Biwa (BTW, my sister used to live near Lake Biwa in Otsu). We'll probably ride from her place in Osaka (click on the link and look for the little red crosshairs) up through Kyoto where we will spend a day or two, then around the west coast of Lake Biwa and up to the coast of the Japan Sea. Wherever we happen to be on Saturday is where we will hop on a train to Nagoya, where her parents live. Gotta get more memory for my camera. If I take as many pictures each day of the trip as I took today in the park, I will need at least 600MB.
I don't know if it is bad news or good news yet, but I have to buy a new bike. No one has parts for my bike anymore. They have to order them, and there is no way to get them in time. Even if they did, I could buy half a new bike with the same money. My bike is still usable as long as I don't go far, and we have been talking about moving offices, which would take me further from the park, so I can take my old bike to work, and use it to ride around short distances at lunch time.
Plus I'm on a spending roll.
You knew what was coming today didn't you? (these are huge thumbnails, you can click on them to make them even bigger) I spent my luch hour taking photos in the park again. The "battery Low" light didn't come on once! I'm in love. It's also easier to take pictures because it actually looks like a camera, and I don't feel like such a weenie walking around with it!
Check out the voyer power on this thing!
A farewell to my old Digital camera. At least some of the last photos turned out OK (if I would take some time to crop them...)
Just playing with my new camera, trying out all the features as I read the instructions. Again, these photos don't look like much compared to some earlier photos I have taken, but I was at least 8 feet from Awii for most of these.
The digital zoom doesn't look that great (image #3), but I guess in some cases it could be better than not using it... it also might do better in sunlight.
#10 turned out great, and check out the detail on my jeans in #11. I also liked #29, #30, and #31 for now. I would have gone outside, but I didn't realize that the battery wasn't charging so long as I had the camera plugged in also, so I was waiting all day for a b
I just spent a hellish day in Shinjuku. In order to keep myself from trying to smuggle a gun into Japan and shoot someone, I'm going to have to find some way to justify the wasted time... there must be something good that came of it.
1. I did get a great new camera even though I had decided against it only two days ago. The battries aren't charged yet, so i can only take photos from my window, but I'm already 50,000 yen happy with it. It has 12x zoom... heh heh heeh ehheeeh ehheh eheeh!
It is only 2 megapixel, but I have never printed a photo yet, so I don't think that matters. What really ticked me off about my old camera was that it had only one zoom setting... "far away". This has 12x natural zoom, and 36x digital zoom... heh heh heeh ehheeeh ehheh eheeh!
Another thing I love about this one, is that I never have to use that dang screen that kills the battries in 30 seconds. In my old camera, in order to change any of the settings (long shutter, timer, erase photo, etc...) I had to turn on the screen, and withing 30 seconds of doing so, I was done unless I had spare battries. This camera has most of the functionality I need on a physical dial or button on the camera (as opposed to on a menu screen) and besides that, the view finder also has the ability to review and erase photos without using the screen. I know this takes more power than having a non-eloctronic view finder, but it is still miles ahead of forcing me to turn on that screen to do anything.
I love it so far. Awii loves chewing on all the new cords and cables that came with it too. Check out these samples. They're nothing special photography wise, but I was just playing. The main point is that the first photo in each set is what my old camera would have taken. To take the rest of the fotos, I would have had to move closer and closer to the subject. To take these, I just sat in my masage chair in my window and zoomed in... 12x heh heh heeh ehheeeh ehheh eheeh!
That is one good thing that came from going to Shinjuku today... but that only took 10 minutes because I had already made up my mind to buy it. After that I wandered around to various bike shops looking for wither an affordable bike to replace mine, or a new rear wheel to replace mine. If the wheel cost more than 15,000 yen I buy a new bike, no questions asked.
Unfortunatly, it was just over 10,000 yen to replace the wheel, but most stores didn't have all the parts in stock. This caused me to spend two hours looking for a shop that did. This in itself is not bad. I learned some good stuff about bikes I didn't know before, and got some good tips about where to meet other sea kayakers, but all that value is ofset by the salesmen who would not give me a straigt answer to my questions.
"I know this part is rare. Do you have this part in stock?" they reply, "Ahhhhh I see what you mean... Well, as a matter of fact... this part is very rare." again, "I know this part is rare. Do you have this part in stock?" they reply. "Ahhhh it is rare. I would have to check our stock..." They don't move. "Do you have this part in stock?" they reply, "Hmmm... if you like, I can check for you." I say, "Yes please do. 1,000 pardons for taking your time." They say, "I expect that we don't have it but I can check." I say, "I expect so too, but please do check." They say, "Hmmmm... I will check." They go talk to someone else, without ever checking their stock (aparently I should have been talking to the other clerk) they return to me ans say "This part is very rare." I say "So you don't have it, right?" They say. "It is rare."
I know that I should be able to pick up wether thay have it or not from their first reply, but I'm too American I guess. and they piss me off more than you can know. It was even worse when I was trying to find out if a certain part that was not exactly what I wanted could be used anyway, or if it was physically impossible. Imageine the same conversation, only instead of me asking "do you have it?" I am saying "I don't care which is best, I only care if it is compatible or not".
In order to save myself from the stress and violent urges that come from going into town, I have attached a price tag on it. From now on, if I need anything, and think that I should go to Shibua or Shinjuku to shop around, I am going to place a "5,000 yen per trip", plus an extra "5,000 yen per hour wasted shopping" price tag on going into town. Looking at it from that perpective, buying the new wheel, (which I didn't buy yet because I couldn't get a straight answer about if it would work or not with my bike) would have cost me 11,000 yen for the parts, 5,000 yen for the trip to Shinjuku, and 15,000 yen for the time spent walking through crowds of slow moving people. that's 31,000 yen! Almost a new bike! I think it's obvious that I would have been much better off buying a new bike at the bike shop down the street...
Oh well, ya live and learn.
Huge fight on the phone last night with Tomoe about what to do for our vacation in two weeks. I'm heading down to Kagawa for the wedding of a friend, and figured to stop by Osaka after (when Tomoe is still working). I'll take my bike and the plan until now had been to hop down to Kyusyu to see my sister and ride in the mountains and visit some great onsens, and end up back in Nagoya at her parents house. (actually the original plan was to go to a friend's wedding in Spain, but Tomoe couldn't get a long enough vacation, nor on the right days to make it)
It's pretty unrealistic though, since Kyusyu is so dang far... and I would like to see a little of where Tomoe is living... (although I have seen Osaka many times and am not impressed... it's just another city).
Since we have more than 2 days off in a row, I would prefer to do something that we never have a chance to do on a weekend. Z.B. take a several day bike trip from A to Z. It was great fun riding from Tokyo to her house in Nagoya two years ago, and it's been a long tiem since we did anything like that.
She is excited to do sight seeing in Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, which is understandable, but the idea of doing a colloection of day trips to see different versions of dirty urban cesspools that can also be done on weekeds doesn't hold much appeal to me.
Next we started thinking about Shikoku (where I used to live in '95) and it was sounding pretty good, since there are nice non-crowded rural areas, yet it's a 4 hour ferry ride from Osaka. But even that seems a little straining on the time if we want to get to Nagoya afterwords (probably a good idea since i have only met her parents once, and they still aren't too thrilled about me)
Anyway, I'm off to the bike shop to either fix my piece-of-crap bike, or buy a new one. I'll make a stop at the map shop to pick up a map of the Kansai area and see if there isn't anyplace nice to take a three day bike trip around there.
Oh yeah... we didn't really figth either... but it's more dramatic to say so.
Two years ago before I had the Bastishnet (which incidently started just over a year ago on April 21), Tomoe and I took a bike ride from Tokyo to Nagoya, following the Tokaido Gojyusantsugi, the same walking path that people used to take from Tokyo to Kansai in the old days of Japan. , It was only four days of riding, and one of those days was pouring rain through the factory fields neaby Fuji, but it was still a lot of fun. Finally the photos make it onto the Bastishnet!
Actually we cheated a bit and took the train out of Tokyo, since there is no need to waste half a day in the city. We started from someplace in Isehara-shi and headed to Hakone, famous for it's onsens (hot baths). A pretty lazy start, but it's ok because the next day we had to ride over Hakone Mountain. The great part was looking at all the people staying in their expensive hotels, when we actually had the best view from our little tent in the riverbed. English info about Hakone here.
Riding over Hakone Mountain. We were out of shape so it was a challenge, and except for a few smaller trails, we had to spend a lot of time on the busy expressway, but we knew once we made it over we had a great downhill ride to look forward to on the other side.
It was a great one hour of downhill cruising on a busy expressway where we actually were faster than the cars, and the little bit of rain and slick roads didn't scare us in the least.
The rain got worse, and the other side of the mountain put us in Fuji factory land (we didn't see Mt Fuji once on the whole trip), where there is really one one road for all trafic with the ocean on the left, and mountains on the right. It added to our sence of adventure to ride against driving rain, especially when it got dark and we found ourselves trapped on a high-way with big (for Japan) trucks and literally NO shoulder on the road. Withuot the rain, that section of road would have been totally boring.
We finally found a way off and found ourselves in a the small villiage of Kanbara about 1 km wide, between the ocean and the mountains. Had we been an hour earlier, we could have taken a rice-bath (where you lie in a big pile of warm rice skins) at the only public bath in town, but as it was, they were nice enough to just let us use their shower... only after I strategically asked "Is there anyplace dry we can set up our tent and stash our bikes which we rode all the way from Tokyo?"
We wound up staying under and overpass, which was perfect!
Woke up under the overpass with soaking wet clothes from yesterday's rain, but today was much nicer, and the boring section of raod was past. I'm a little foggy on the specifics, but I know we stopped in the fishing town of Shimizu for some fish at the huge fish co-op, and sat by the port watching the fishing boats go in and out, listening to one of the captains tell us about hos they catch giant tuna.
Most of the ride that day was through semi-urban areas, but it was possible to find smaller roads to take us away from the trafic, so it was nice. Finally, we found a really nice grave yard to stay in for the night on top of a little hill over looking the small town of .... you know what? I can't even remember, but it was in the tea fields of Shizuoka.
I later sent my parents there when they visited, to take a tram ride up into the tea fields in the mountains.
Probably the best day, as we had some nice hills and minor mountians to roll over. In an attempt to find a less-worn road, we got lost and wandered deeper into the tea fields, where we met an old tea farmer and listened to his stories. After a while his wive drove up in a pick-up truck and offered us some tea. Amazingly, they always have a hot pot of tea with them, no matter where they go!
The camera battries were running low, and we wanted to make it to Nagoya by nightfall, so the photos stopped here. Sorry about that.
We wound up taking a train into Nagoya from somewhere around Araichyo, near lake Hamana. because my knee was making almost impossible for me to walk, let alone ride, and we didn't see any reason to waste hours riding through the urban sprall of Nagoya.
I tell ya... Up until now I have always wondered what is such a big deal about jumping on the "I love Mac (computers) and Windows is evil!" bandwagon. It never made sense to be so moral and passionate about something to silly as software when there are so many issues that are far more detrimental to citizens of the world.
In the programming / web-development world, it is pretty much decided that you have to love mac or you just ain't cool. I've known this since I started working with computers, and never saw any good reasoning behind it... but then I use Windows at home and work... not by choice mind you... at work, when I started everyone else was using Mac so they wanted to add a Windows machine and I just happened to be the guy who needed a computer. At home, Windows happened to be on my computer because it happened to be on the only affordable lap-top that I liked (although I didn't know what I was looking for).
Over the past 2 /12 years, I use Windows 98% of the time, and once in a while use a Mac. Over the same 2 /12 years I have slowly developed an aversion to using those Macs. I'm sure it is simply because I am used to the ease of doing things on my own Windows machine, and if I used Mac as much as I did Windows I would feel the same way about Windows.
But wait... even the Mac users in my office are much more efficient when they use Windows. I constantly hear people swearing and complaining about their computers freezing up, or not being able to open some application when they are using Mac. I watch them fumble around the unintuitive windowing system... But still I am sure that it is not the fault of the computer, but rather that the user is inept.
Yesterday, we had a 6 hour meeting with a client in which four of us revised a simple 15 page document that was due today. We had it perfect.. every word thought out and with reason behind it. The computer we were using (a Mac OS-x) crashed several times during the 6 hours, forcing us to reboot but we had been saving the file after ever minor change so all is well... and the owner of the computer assured us with a sheepish grin that "this always happens". I do remember thinking that this has only happened to me on my computer five times at most in the last 2 1/2 years... but again, it must be because the user is inept.
Today, I had him send me the file so I could make the final 3 adjustments and send the file off in the morning. What's this? I can't open the file? Hmmmm.... must have been corrupted by me evil Microsoft Outlook Express email software... I'll just go ask him to resend it.
Your all smart... I guess you know how this story ended. The file was totally wasted on his own computer... I assume as a result of the consistent crashing. 6 hours of work for 4 people gone. Again I recall how this has never happened to me on my computer... oh wait, no that's not true... once I lost some of my personal email inexplicably on my home computer... but I don't really treat that one with respect, so I'm greatly pleased and amazed that it has only happened once.
What's the point?
Until now, I have always just assumed that the people using the Macs that mess up life in the office are just bad users. After all, how could so many computer geeks love Mac so much if the only reason was that it is cool to do so? I still wonder, though I am ever more biased toward the computer that lets me get my work done with no problems. I guess though the biggest point, is that I am happy that I am not officially a geek. I know that I am not, because to be one seems to mean that I pledge blind allegiance to what would appears to my young, 2 1/2 year-old computer-using-eye to be an inferior product.
The other point... That crap sucks when 6 hours of four people's work due the next day is wiped out by a crappy computer!
The last point... I wish someone would give me a practical reason I can understand for choosing a Mac over Windows... leaving out all the bull crap about Microsoft being evil... Sometimes, to battle more meaningful evil in the world, people need to be more efficient in their work, and I think they probably benefit from a computer that does what you expect when you expect it to.
I was just looking at Jason's site, and commenting on how America is really great at beer and burritos, and i stumbled on the site of Bell's, my favorite brewer. And although I just happened to be wearing a shirt with the logo of their Oberon beer today (a gift from my Brother and Sister-in-law) I can't help but feel longing when I see the logo for Two Hearted Ale, by far one of the finest brews I have ever tasted.
Too bad they don't sell it where I will be going in May. I'm sure they have other micro-brews though, and I'm gonna stock up before I come home!
Why is it that the days when things happen that are worth writing about, I don't have any time left to write? To sum it up, had a 7 hour meeting today to decide strategy to fight with the American home office of our client. It actually is really turning into more of a plan on ho to make the situation better though. I was really worried there for a few weeks when everyone was focusing on blaming and who is at fault than on really tryingto imrpove the situation. I guess it is just a step people have to go through before getting down to the matter at hand.
Anyway, went out to dinner with the client too. Here are the photos of the famous-for-being-cheap-and-dirty resteraunt that we went to (Iseya). For some time now I have been wondering if "class" is something that people grow into... maybe when I am older eating in Iseya will be below me. But tonight I realiezd it isn't related to age. The client (only slightly older than me) suggested that we leave and go someplace nicer after ony 30 minutes in Iseya. Did I mention it is a famous Kichijyouji land-mark?
Oh yeah... I'll be coming to america in the middle of May to help the client in their battle, but only for three days.
Nothing to comment about on the photos today... althoug if I had had the new camera I could have gottn a great shot of some baby ducks swimming around a couple of turtles sunbathing on a rock...
I think there are only a few more days left of cherry blossoms. Then I can go back to the lunch hours spent in front of my monitor with an onigiri and cup of coffee. I miss the good old days.
It seems as though most people are blossomed out as the park is as empty today as it usually is all year round. It's funny how viewing the blossoms seems to be seen more as a responsibility than a pleasure. The park is crazy until everyone has done their obligatory hanami, and then it clears out, even though the trees are just as beautiful. The nights in Iinokashira are still happening. Still lots of students out, but that will change too in a week. I have no idea why anyone would rather pay to sit in a resteraunt to drink and eat than sit outside in the park... is it something to do with Japanese people? (I'm not sure if it's related, but the foreigner-to-Japanese seems to be much higher in parks around Tokyo than it is just walking down the streets.)
Someone else braved Iinokashira Park on Sunday so I wouldn't have to.
Check out the three photos at Ore no Buloggu, and you'll see why I wasn't there!
Not much time tonight. I just got back from work, which I had to return to after a bye bye party for a friend going back to France. It's still quite early (12:00) but I have to clean because I have a two-month house guest coming from tomorrow. It's the French guy's fiancee and they have to be out of the apartment tomorrow (the same day he leaves for France). After two monthes her job ends and she will be off to France herself. Kind of a fairy-tail I guess, since both she and her sister swore they would never get married, and now all of a sudden she is moving to France... the dream of many a Japanese girl I'm sure.
Oh yeah.. about her staying with me for two months... Let's just keep this our little secret. No need to tell her fiancee or Tomoe.
Actually, the only reason I know the French guy is because of her, and the only reason I know her is because of her sister who Troy and I spent every night with for 6 months when I first came to Japan (Sakaide City, Kagawa-ken... 1995) We had some great times then. It's hard to believe it was 8 years ago. Anyway, I'll be going to her wedding in the first week of June. Some time in the future I suppose I will go to Kazuyo and Dr. JJ's wedding in France. They offered to make it a double wedding, with me and Tomoe. I'll have to ask her about that...
For now, I better get cleaning. I told her to choose which room she wanted to be cleaned before she came, bathroom, living, or kitchen... she chose bathroom.
Bye the way... those two photos of hunks of meat are raw whale meat. I know, I know... I am evil, but I ate it.
It is so much more beautiful when it rains. Today it was pouring in Iinokashira park. The pictures don't do it justice.
In #5 and #6 you can see all the blossoms that have fallen into the pond... #11 turned out pretty nicely.
Just goes to show how smart Awii is (or isn't). We just had the earthquake she predicted... only it was barely noticable (arround 4:30 and level 3 according to NHK). I barely felt it, but would have never gotten oout of bed if Awii hadn't gone crazy and started flying around her cage in the dark banging into the walls. She could have beeen the only fatality.
Went out for the company hanami tonight. It was supposed to be on a weekend, but then it got pushed to a weekday at 5:00 then today, around 5:30, the president comes and says "Are you reay? let's start at 7:00 tonight!" Didn't see many blossoms, and most people left pretty quickly so they could get home. The highlight of the evening was the president's daughter... (much more fun than a bird... I gotta get me one!), but even she had to leave early.
Oh yeah... some drunk bastish walked off with my shoes. I guess now I have an excuse not to go to the gym or exersize since I no longer have running shoes.
My site must be getting pretty hard to open with all the photos. Sorry about that. Once hanami is over, the amount of photos will return to a noraml level.
Until then... today was beautiful again. THe blossoms have just started to snow down. Only a few more days?
Bright and sunny. I thought about going to Iinokashira park to show you what a madhouse it is, but I really didn't want to ruin my day. Instead I walked around my neighborhood looking for somplace nice to sit down and paint. In the end I found that until I get a protable massage chair, the one in my apartment window is the best place. (actually, I wanted to paint the scene from the first photo, but there was no place to sit).
Once again people stopped by to peek in and see what a gaijin's apartment looks like. Two ladies who passed by are trying o fix me up with their daughters. One of which was in school in Texas, where she won the miss-whatever-her-universtiy-was contest. Her mom lamented, "despite that she didn't even come home with a husband".
Hmmm... when I met Tomoe in Michigan, she was talking about me to her parents on the phone, and they decided that she had to come back to Japan immediatly.
I would really like to get out and do some painting from someplace other than my window, but I figured today wasn't the best day. Probably the only place I would be able to find that isn't crowded would also not have any cherry blossoms. I guess I can go paint that any time. In fact, next week (or the week after?) I am going to plan to go someplace nice (Fujino?) to hike and paint a little. Hopefully I can get some more experienced painters to tag along. If anyone else has ever wanted to give it a try, anyone is welcome... I have the basic tools (oil and water) so no need to buy painting gear, just canvas and / or paper.
I think I'm the first to blog about this. I win!!!! I'm pretty sure an earthquake is on it's way. Awii is acting pretty strage... restless and wont shut-up. I've never seen her like this before.
Just remember, I called it at 14:46 April 5 2003.
(when I say on the way I mean sometime in the next six months).
(When I say earthquake, I make no claim as to the size)
Sketch night tonight. Finally I'm not the new guy anymore. Tonight one of the ladies who usualy models showed up to be on the drawing side for a change. It means of course I will never get to see her naked agian... but oh well...
By chance I had cure little baby squid again tonight. This time they were raw, and much better.
Kind of interesting:
The third photo shows how they try to keep people out of a certain area... I wonder why it isn't cralling with kids. When I was a kid i used to sting fishing line all around my room just like that and pretend it was lasers alarm triggers. As the master spy I had to use my agility to slither through it to the other side. I don't was on the other side, but it didn't really matter since I never made it anyway.. I would always trip the alarm and wind op having to shoot my way out to safety.
There are lots of photos of place-holders saving a place for their company / club / whatever. I don't know how they have the self control to sit there for hours with cases of beer and not crack one open. If my company made me sit out there alone for hours, there would be no beer left, and I wouldn't feel the least bit sorry.
Image number 10 shows a bunch of guys sorting burnable from recycleable. I don7t know why, but it always amazes me to see people throw them in the same garbage. Japan is supposed to be preety advanced in it's recycle policy (compared to US), and it seems like common sence, but just the other day a co-worker stared at me blankly with his mouth open slightly when I told him that I didn't throw away the empty juice cartons on my desk because I was drying them for recycle. He acted as if he had never even heard that it was possible. And just when I was trying to have a more positive opinion of him and his limited mental capacity.
Now Blogger users can moblog too without having to worry about any messy perl scripts, or configuring their mail servers (yuck!)
How id this possible you ask? It is a wonder of modern science called mfop (moblog for other people).
How much does it cost?
It's FREE BABY!
The rain stopped. The children were fascinated by the naked man.
Just so no one worries that I don't get a balanced diet eating only natto every day, today I stopped by my favorite fish dealer to get some cute little baby octopi.
I have been listening to the Connection tonight about SARS they have mentioned a lot about the face masks that people in Asia are wearing. I'm sure you in America are seeing a lot of this on the new too. What they didn't mention on The Connection, and I'm sure don't mention on other news programs, is that white masks are somewhat of a fashion statement in Japan at least. Every year people don them in hopes of gaining sympathy instead of retribution for their slaking at work and school. Not to make light of the SARS virus, because I really don't think my sister should be flying home now, but wearing those masks is accepted enough, that seeing a lot of people wearing them is not as extraordinary as it may seem to people in the US.
That being said... I didn't realize it was so scary... Especially since Michigan (and Bay City) is so close to Toronto. I guess the limit that I would set as being "far enough away" is "wherever they stop accepting a Canadian quarter as being worth 25 us cents". Last time I was in Michigan, Canadian quarters were worth just as much as US quarters.
If any readers out there happen to work in airport security... be carefull.
Dang! I had hoped to finish setting up mfop support for Blogger tonight with the help of some info Ian gave me earlier today. Unfortunately, I use a cheapo web-hosting company to host my kevincameron.net domain and email, and although I was able to access all the mail earlier at work, I can't download the mail at home. I had (half) promised him that he would be able to moblog by tomorrow. I hope he doesn't hate me now.
If the situation gets better later on, there is still a chance Ian... hang in there!
Today was the most beautiful day at iinogashira Park yet. It was calm, quiet, I could hear the pigeons cooing, and the occasional interruption of a duck calling from across the pond... The cherry blossoms looked more beautiful than ever against a dreary backdrop... provoking feelings of melancholy. That is what the beauty of cherry blossoms is all about of course. The fact that it is so transitory leads us to lament the passing of life. Every year, be it cherry blossoms, Christmas, or just fall or winter in general, I find myself thinking "one more gone... only 30 more (give or take) left in my life."
I just wasted a winter. I didn't go skiing once, not downhill, not cross-country, not once. I remember my junior / senior year in high-school, in winter I worked Saturdays at Burger King just to make enough to go skiing all day Sunday. Whatever happened to those dreams of moving to Aspen, and with the superior skiing skills I was able to learn on the 500ft drops in Michigan, becoming one of the top ski-instructors, quickly excelling at my job and being elevated to a level of celebrity among the rich and famous. This good life would soon makes me restless and I would long to pursue my dreams of something more substantial.
Anyway, it rained today, and will rain until Sunday. So much for everyone's cherry blossom plans. Another chance gone... some people a little older than I will only get to see cherry blossoms 10 (give or take) more times in their life...
Until now I have been seeing people do their "mobloging" where they post a tiny photo that we can barely see on their website and praise technology for the wonderful power that has now been bestowed upon them. I always thought they were crazy. I still do. I don't see it as having any "power" for sure no more than a regular sit-down-and-type-what-you-think personal web-site.
Despite my not seeing any special value in moblogging, I made mfop (gotta change that name!) because I saw that people have fun mobblogging. I have to admit though, I am now pretty much addicted to Carston's (who helped me test the program) life. I still get a notice everytime he uploads a photo, and I can't wait to check... because he does it so much. It is the ultimate in voyarism. I have seen web-cams before, and the problem with them is that 98% of most people's lives is boring, and there is no way to know exactly when something worthy of looking at will happen. With Carston's moblog though, he only takes a photo when it is interesting (or at least when he think's it is interesting). This means I only have to look when it's worth it, and he doesn't have to take the time to sit down and write it up, or make a note to write about it later... it feels even more candid.
I am thinking of things I can do with mfop, and this has really got me thinking... blogrolling has a page with the last updated blogs, what if mfop had a page that showd that last 100 moblog photos, with links to their owners sites of course... This sounds cool to me... I almost feel like to do that before setting up support for Blogger... but dont worry Ian, I am pragmatic and see even more value if Blogger's bloggers are involved in the "latest 100 moblogs" too.
It's still pretty nice in Iinogashi park. Not too crowded yet and the blossoms are nearing full force. There were a lot of people out there painting, and I really wish I could have joined them, but I would barely be set up before I have to go back to work. Sometimes the urge to quit is just... so.... strong.... can't.... resist....
Today was half wasted on preparing materials for out clients on building war with their US tech team. One thing that may come out of this however, is I trip back to the US for me. The client's chief tech guy was supposed to be visiting along with the chief marketing person regarding another matter in April (which is why there is a sudden rush to build the weapons of mass destruction... err.. I mean gather information about how the situation can be improved) However, because of the SARS virus, the tech division is not allowing any of their people to travel to Asia. (the marketing division doesn't seem to mind).
I got word from the client today that if they wont send one person here to see us, we'll take SARS right into their office and infect them all. There may be a trip next month.
Here's the daily pics. Please note the poor punk dog, and how everyone is taking photos of the blossoms with their mobile phones. I bet their posting them to their blogs with mfop
I looked at cameras again, and the one I really want, because it has 12X zoom and I can fiddle with the menu without turning on the screen, which runs the batteries down in a matter of minutes, costs only 53,000 yen. If I get it at Yodobashi Camera, I can get the 10% off too. Unfortunately, the batteries is a different type than mine, and it costs 8,000 yen. Part of the reason I want it is because it has a higher quality photo from far away, more little thingies per millipede or something technical like that... of course that takes more memory so I will need a bigger memory stick (again a different kind than I use now) it will be another 8,000 yen. The PC card I have for my flash memory card now wont work either... means buy a new pc card... 4,000(?). It wont fit in the case I have now... in the end I will be spending over 70,000 yen. It's still tempting, but I think I need a bike more... or else I cant go anywhere to take pictures.
Although, I have been saving a lot of money lately. Not on purpose, but just because I have been living on natto and rice for the past few weeks. Once I get hooked on a certain food, I tend to eat it every day for months. It generally fluctuates between sandwiches, fish and rice, and now natto and rice. (I have eaten the same cheese-France bread from the nearby bread store 3 out of 5 days every week for the last 2 1/2 years. Just can't get enough)
I'm turning into a pretty helpful guy to local gaijin (foreigners) in the video store. A few nights ago, I was looking for a video, when I overheard one gaijin ask the other if they had ever heard of Novocain with Steve Martin. He other said "No, but it must be funny". Lucky I was there to save their night. I dove across the room knocking the video out of her hands screaming "Noooooooooo!". I guess Steve Martin is hurting feeling the pinch of the economy, cause he sure chose the suckiest roll in that one.
Anyway, that's not the main point. The next night, as I was returning the video, there was an Australian woman having trouble with the video-store-guy who was trying to charge her 2,000 yen for a late fee. She was saying things like "Eiga.... yesterday.... hire (that's Australian for "rent")... wakarimasen!". At first I didn't know if I should get involved as it looked like she was trying to pull the old "can't speak Japanese so I'm untouchable" routine. Who am I to mess things up for her? But after awhile it became apparent that she was being sincere, and so I helped her talk to the video store guy.
Her story was that she had returned the video a week earlier, but the video store computer said it was returned that morning. The toughest part was pretending that I believed her. I actually don't think she was "lying" simply that she returned the wrong video a week ago, and returned this one today without realizing. Anyway, after a while of neither side budging, and me being stuck in the middle, I asked the video guy if there is any chance the computer is wrong? "No." What do they usually do in this situation? "This has never happened before." It only took another 3 minutes of standing around and the Australian girl almost in tears before the video store guy told me in Japanese "OK she doesn't have to pay this time... but next time we wont allow it!". I translated.... "Please wait here while they call the police. If you refuse to pay they will have you arrested."
I wonder if she ever stopped crying...
I was just talking about trying to get a list together of things that a web-developer should know, so I can train some new people, and today I find this in my Webreference Update Newsletter.
It looks like about 70% of what I wanted to do already done! Great! Less work for me. It looks like it gives more information that I want, since I would want the people I train to learn how to find the info themselves, but the outline is nice.