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Shinjyuku
Computer Shopping

We took a walk to Shinjyuku Sunday. I had a wallet full of cash, thinking that I would come home with a new computer. Instead the only thing I came home with was a full memory chip and a dead camera battery.

Legs
To Mac or not to Mac (again)

I have an amazing headache after spending the afternoon looking for a new computer. I had pretty much decided to go with a cheap pc and install Linux / Windows XP. The Mac Powerbooks are just too expensive.

I found a little Sotec with a 12.1 inch screen weighing in at 1.9 kg for around 100,000 yen. I would have to buy a second battery (8,000 yen) because it only lasts 2-3 hours.

Then I decided to just check the macs to make sure. The Powerbooks are still just too expensive. The iBook, with G4 / 800 was 124,000 yen, and light enough, with a 6 hour battery. I am very tempted once again to get the Mac. I was warned that the G4 iBook was a consumer computer, and too slow, but checking it out in the store with the new OS, it was fast. Maybe it's enough. Probably it's enough. I think I want it... ?

Anyone know where I can get it cheaper?

This time the biggest minus was that if I want to use it with my bigger monitor at home, I have to keep the iBook open. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but my birds will just love the chance to poop all over it if it's open. I also wonder how much a keyboard costs... I hate notebook keyboards. I have a nice full-sized keyboard that I use with my current notebook, and I really don't want to have to use the iBook keyboard while I am working on it at home.

I really should just quit worrying about all this, buy a computer, and spend the time doing something that will make me the same about of money I didn't save by not shopping around.

What's In A Name

I saw this website (via How to Save the World) that "simply explains how your name creates your mind", and what you name your child will create his/her future. If you go there in type in your name, it will give you a brief anaylses of who you are. Be forwarned however,

Do not choose a baby name based on the short analysis given [at the site].

For that you should buy a full report from the site.

How accurate is it? Let's find out...

I have made two little quizes for the readers. See if you can match up the analysis with the appropriate Japan(mostly Tokyo) blogger...

Continue reading "What's In A Name"
Meaty
Little League
Comments back

So a plugin I started using yesterday, SafeHref, started messing with my comment cop. Comments were down for a while (even though I mentioned turning comments off for the Photoshop Tennis post, it was not intentional). Comments are turned back on and i suspect someone will have some comments about who really "won" the tennis match...

Photoshop Tennis

A while back I wrote that one of the items on my to-do list was "Master Photoshop". Rudolf, from tawawa.org (The Big Tree), also of Mfop2 site-designer fame, A.K.A SpamBot (who has been bugging me for months to get rid of the blue bird in the corner of my site!), decided to get his European butt kicked at Photoshop Tennis.

Unfortunately, I didn't do much butt-kicking, as Rudolf's design skills kept me and my weak Photoshop knowledge on the run. Until he made that fatal move that sealed his own doom... adding a bird into the design... he was destined to fall as I called on the spirit of Guri to see me through. (also because I get to do the write-up, and I guess that means I decide the winner... maybe I should turn comments of for this post.)

Below are thumbnails, but I really think this deserves being watched in the gallery slideshow. The first image is from my site, the second is Rudolf's edited version, and from there we alternate, Kevin, Rudolf, Kevin, Rudolf, etc...

Original (kevin)RudolfKevinRudolfKevinRudolfKevinRudolfKevinRudolfKevin
Construction

More photos of constructions workers in Tokyo

The Slump Continues

My photography slump is showing. Today I only have one photo from the past three days to put on the site.

I do however have some photos with absolutly no artistic value, but are interesting for me. These were taken Sunday, the day of the great flood. The first picture is from my archives, showing the normal level of the river. The pictures after that show what the river reached after less than an hour of rains. Of course, for all I know, they just opened up a damn upriver in the pond in Iinogashira Park. It was probably under control the whole time.

I Want to Believe... but...

Again, I'm looking for someone to give me a good reason to buy a Mac. Last night at the blog-geek meetup, people were showing off their toys, and an ibook started looking nice. The main feature that looked nice was that it was unix. I would love to be able to have Apache, MySql, PHP, etc... all running on my lap-top so I can do development work locally and only have to connect to upload everything to a server when it is done. This is a big deal since I will probably be trading in my broad-band connection for 128k.

The ibook was looking nice, people had the new Jaguar (or whatever it's called) OS, it wasn't too heavy, and the prices they were quoting were under 100,000 yen.

I went to an electronics shop today to check it out, convinced that I'd try a Mac this time. They were not under 100,000 yen. The cheapest was 160,000 (no new OS), and it was Slooooow. I don't know if that is a feature on all macs, I hope not, but it took several seconds to open applications. I'll chalk it up to the fact that it only had 128k of memory, and the CPU was only in the megahertz range (so why is it so dang expensive?). Right now, even with my four-year old pc it only takes that long to open a huge application like Photoshop.

To make matters worse, there was a nice little pc for 110,000 with more storage space, double the memory, double the CPU, and half the weight. Now I don't know what to do again. The price difference alone negates the benefits of having a development environment on my local computer. With the money I save from buying the cheaper, higher spec, lighter pc, I could afford to keep my broadband connection at home, and STILL get the 128k Air-H for mobility.

I would really like to try the mac, seeing as how so many people swear by it, but I need a reason... help me. Tell me you know where I can get a decent spec ibook for 110,000 or less.

UPDATE: After writing this I checked out the Apple web page, and find that there is basically not much variation between models, and the highest CPU is 900MHz. If some of the things I say up there sound stupid, just realize I could care less about hardware, so long as it gets the job done, but the least I want is for the computer to react when I click on an icon. It seemed slow, but I guess it was just my imagination, since it must be the same for everyone.

Another thing I noticed on the Mac site is that the cheapest one, which is indeed $999, doesn't have CD R/W. What's up with that?

I also found that the Jaguar is the old OS, and Panther is the new one. Why don't they just call it something like "Version 1"? I'm not going to be fooled by a snazy name anyway... it just makes their marketing department look silly to me, or extremely insulting.

Every Little Boy's Dream

Last week I was walking by the local fire-house, as I do four times every day, and this time I noticed some pictures of kids dressed in the fireman suit, so stopped to take a couple photos. The fire chief saw me and quickly called an underling over telling him to give me a tour of the fire house.

I met all the firemen, saw the bunks, the office, the fire engines, and asked a ton of questions. It was fun and interesting for me, but not near as fun as it was for them. They got the biggest kick out of dressing me up in their fire gear.

Ladies at night with chains and constructions workers
Anti-comment-spam

I've been living in fear since yesterday when I saw a post on jeansnow.net saying

It started the other day with 2 new comments that appeared in really old posts, and linked to porn sites .... I deleted the comments, only to have them reappear the next day at the exact same places. Today there was a whopping dozen or more,

I also received two little porn-related comments Friday, and was not looking forward to dozens more.

So, I began work on comment-cop, my little anti-comment-spam plugin (which also required a little editing of the main MT code). It displays an image with a secret key that must be entered when you post a comment. I'm assuming that the spammers aren't spamming by hand, so this should stop any robot spamming.

Please leave a comment on this post to try it out. I guess some people will be interested in having this for themselves also, so once I have racked up a few comments, and see that it works correctly, I'll post the plug-in and instructions about where to edit your Moveable Type source-code.

UPDATE:
I just did a quick google to find stuff about anti-blog-spamming, and Joi-ito's site popped up. There are a couple people who mention the image verification there as well. Boris points out that it is not good for screen readers and text-only browsing. Didn't think of that. Dang.

But then does it really need to be an image? Just in case, if anyone happens to be reading this with a text only browser or screen-reader, and has the urge to start commenting after a year of silence, let me know. I'm sure there is no need to have it an image. The reason MT is so spamable is that all MT bogs are the same behind the scenes. It makes it too easy to make one script that can automate spam to all/any MT blogs. Throw in a little variation, and it's no longer worth the spammer's time to figure out how to spam most blogs unless your getting mega-hits.

Thinking about that makes me wish I didn't waste my whole day working on this when adding a simple, random, hidden value to my form would probably stop any spammer unless they are directly targeting my blog.

The Flood

Recently I have been trying to decide what to do about my apartment. Get rid of it and crash at Tomoe's, or Tomoe move in here becuase it's cheaper and basically nicer...

Looks like I may not have to worry that much anymore. It has been pouring rain for the past hour or so, and the water level of the river next to my house has risen to within a meter of the top (about 3 meters in the past hour). Once it overflows it will attack my aparment.

I'm trying to decide what to take... obviously my passport, and i have the small cage ready to evacuate the birds. I was considering setting up my kayak and putting as much in it as I could (along with the birds) and just sitting in the street and wait for the water... kind of like my little Ark.

I have decided however that the kayak can stay in the apartment, since it wont be damaged even if it gets wet. So far, all I have is my passport. I suppose if the siren goes off, I will cary as much as I can to the upstairs hallway, then head out with my camera.

Cool.

Moving Day

Three day weekend here in Japan. I have time to move my huge (2GB) web site over to the new server.

There may be a day or two where some people are still looking at the "old" website, but hopefully there will always be at least *something* for you to look at.

The same goes for my sister's site. If you haven't checked it out yet, give it a try. Until a few months ago she was living in Kyushyu Japan, now she's in Sweden studying asian studies. She took my old digi-cam with her, and is equiped with the latest version of Gallery, so there are lots of photos of meatballs and stuff.

Saturday Afternoon in Medaimae


Last Saturday I went for a walk in a nearby neighborhood looking for a photo of a door for the Japan Photography mailing lists "Door in Japan" photo scrim. I didn't get any good door shots, but I found some other things of interest.

It's a lot of photos to put on one page, and the other day someone noted how heavy my site was getting. I just can't help it. I can't trust my users to go into the gallery, so I gotta put everything I want to show on the top page :-)

But, should you have a little extra time, you can find more:

Photos of fruit stand in Kichijyoji
Photos of senbei shop in Medaimai
Photos of dang cute dogs

Back By Popular Demand

Inspired by a comment from a Cockatiel keeper in Germany, whose site has lots of great cockatiel stuff...(I'm suprised that I was able to read more than I thought I could).

More photos of cockatiels here

This last shot is the piece of paper Tomoe and I used to plan Guri's cage a few years ago (before Awii & Klee were even born.). I didn't use this when I built the cage, but it must have been in my mind...

Spam Pays!

Last night I sent spam to everyone who has ever registered for Mfop, asking for some donations to pay for the new hosting arrangement. I learned that spam pays. It makes me happy. What doesn't make me happy though, is the fact that since I singed up for the new hosting deal a month ago, I have been watching the server and testing the support, and everything seemed to be on the up and up, so I figured it's OK to move Mfop over there.

This morning I was horrified to find that within a half hour of spamming everyone, I wasn't able to connect to the server or use Mfop. I was able to fix it in about twenty minutes by hitting the refresh button on my browser again and again while I attempting to connect with SSH every minute or so.

I noticed that some other unrelated sites were unreachable in the US around the same time, and am hoping it was just a cyber terrorist attack, not a regular occurrence. I don't want to have to keep moving around all the time.

Anyway, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who donated! It has releaved a lot of stress to not having to worry about paying everything... now I just have to worry about that dang server.

I wish I was in Frangipani-land

i turned around and woh! sugoi! fujisan had emerged from the clouds where she has been hiding for the past few days, to show off her new cap of snow....

Japan Photographer

It looks like I've been outted (here,here, here, and here), so I guess there's not use trying to keep the secret.

Japanphotographer is a site I've been working on that is showcasing the photography of members of the great Japan Photography Mailing List set up by Lil and Juergen a few months ago. It's one of the first mailing list I ever belonged to and actively participated in, and have since learned tons about photography and cameras.

I hope the site can be a place where members of the list can showcase their work via various projects. So far, it's where we are putting the photos that come out of our monthly field trips (two times now). around the Tokyo area, where members get together for a couple hours of wandering and shooting, then drinks and camera talk afterword.

There is also a burgeoning photo-contest (though there is no real winner or looser) starting up there. It hasn't been integrated with the design yet, but Contest #1 had a theme of "Doors in Japan", and drew a wide range of four entries. There is a second contest in the works with a theme of "Fall Colors in Japan". If you live here, or have photos laying around from when you were here, and you would like to participate, join the list to find out more details.

I have a bad habit of starting something, and never going public with it because I never feel it's ready. Until I am forced to by a deadline, or somebody linking to me, a project will usually just rot and fester in some unadvertised directory. So if you haven't received a Christmas card form me for a while, it's probably sitting here in the re-write pile. Same goes for email.

Of course, once I do make a site live, I soon forget about all the bugs and mispleings that I fully intended to "take care of over the weekend". As you look at the site, you may see why I resisted the urge to make it public... there are probably some little mistakes, and I'm still waiting on contributions from everyone else who was at last month's outing. But since some others already made it open for me...

Want One

One thing I have been thinking I have to post for the last week now is that everyone should check out Rufus Wainwright's new album, Want one. I'm not a professional music critic, so I don't have the flaky words to describe how good it is... All I know is that it leaves me wanting two.

Want One [due Sept. 23, 2003, on DreamWorks Records] is a presentable, accessible entity, Wainwright explains. "Want Two will have some of the more daunting tracks, the operatic, weird stuff, some heavy numbers that relate to my classical sensibilities." Not that the initial volume eschews the daunting, the weird or the heavy, all of which have emerged as distinctive arrows in Wainwright's ambitious, gloriously stylish musical quiver.

Can't wait for the operatic weird stuff, and I am imagining what it will be like now. Since I bought his first two albums, Rufus Wainwright (1998) and Poses (2001), last year, he has joined the ranks of one of the musicians I get genuinely excited about and wait for the next album. ( Joining the ranks of Olu Dara )

Kelly, if your reading this, I recommend making your way to Stockholm this weekend for his concert.

You can listen to two full tracks from his new album here, and see some videos from previous albums here.

For some reason I feel like I don't have time to update my site as often as I'd like. This is despite the fact that I am staring at a computer 90% of my time each day. I remember how I used to write long posts a year ago, and now it has somehow turned into just a bunch of photos. I often see, hear, and do things that make me think "Hey! I gotta post that on my site!". Somehow nothing ever makes it.

I try to tell myself "Hey, I'm busy" but when I really look at it, I'm working on things that made me busy a month or two or three ago, then, every time I think about that, I get depressed that I am not moving. I hate feeling like nothing is changing. I suppose it's my parents fault for making me watch too much TV when I was a kid. It must have totally destroyed my attention span.

In actuality though, much is happening and much is changing. It's all stuff I can't really write about on the site yet, cause I don't know who might be looking. I am putzing around on too many projects, and always find that I am daydreaming about some new project, which I can't possible even start if I don't finish what I have now... Luckily one of the "projects" I am working on now is officially called "Master Photoshop". It could fit in with posting lots of photos to my site... but manipulating an image takes way too long. If I play with an image or two, I only have time left for incoherent babbling for the rest of my post...


More photos of Tokyo in October

Fujino

Two weekends ago, as a follow-up to our trip, Tomoe and I took our bikes to Fujino, where I almost moved to a year ago. I came back disappointed, thinking I didn't see much to take a picture of, but looking through my photos today, two weeks later, I am a little happier.

As for Fujino, I'm a little glad I didn't move there. It's nice, nicer than Tokyo for sure, but after Nagano, Fujino seemed somewhat empty. Not of people, but of life. Nagano had a low population density, same as Fujino, but the difference is that in Nagano, the people lived there. In Fujino, people sleep there, and they live in their offices in Tokyo. Both Tomoe and I sensed the difference, having the benefit of comparing it with a fresh impression of Nagano.

More photos from Fujino
Pictures I took in Fujino back in June

Monk Checks Chick Out
Nagano By Bike - Finale

I'm falling way behind on posting my recent photos, so I'm going to cut the trip short with this post. These are the photographic highlights after day IV.

The only one I want to comment on, is really one of my favorite photos from the trip. Artistically, I guess it's not much. It doesn't compare with some others, but as far as subjects go, I really love this one.

In all the photos, the woman feeding the calves looks deceptively young, but when she turned toward us, we could see that she was actually quite old. I guess that's part of why I love this photo. Here's an old woman, probably been a farmer her whole life, milked hundreds of calves with a heavy bucket of milk, maybe every day of her life... but look at the smile on her face. It's obvious the calves have not become just another crop... to me the smile looks as though she knows this calf on a personal basis. This calf is an individual, a familiar friend. I love the fact that she look like that after a lifetime of back-breaking work, and I would feel extremely confident drinking milk from her farm, as I trust that she treats her cows as sources of life and health, rather than a "cash cow".



Birthday Special?

Tomoe was able to get out of work earlier than she expected so we met up in Simokitazawa to look for someplace with a good birthday special.

After thirty minutes or so of wandering around,we could not even find a restaurant we liked enough to bother asking about a birthday special (we can never find anyplace to eat out because generally most restaurants server what we can make ourselves -just a little worse- and they charge four times what it would cost us). Finally we decided to just pick one, and so we did. I think is was called "Goo" or something like that.

I asked about the birthday special, and they said that for 1,000 yen ($10) they would give us a piece of cake (about $1 worth) and a bottle of wine. The bottle of wine sounds like a good deal, since two drinks would come to 1,000 yen anyway, but wait... there's a catch! We can't drink the wine there! So now as we understand it, the birthday "special" is that we pay them 1,000 yen for a 100 yen piece of cake, and a 300 yen bottle of wine that we can get at the corner 7-11 on the way home. Yipee!

We were hungry and tired of looking around, so we decided to stay there anyway, and Tomoe ordered one birthday wine... if we can drink the wine there. The waiter agreed under the condition we both order one other drink, and he told us he would go to the store to buy an extra nice wine. No problem. Thanks. They even brought out two pieces of cake!

So we paid the bill and left. When we looked at the receipt though, we noticed they had charged us for two birthday specials! What craziness is this! Not only is the birthday special designed to be a rip-off (if we had not insisted on drinking the wine there), it is also a mandatory fee if you happen to eat there on your birthday!

We went back to complain.

Him: But it was both of your birthdays.
Us: Yes, but we only ordered one birthday special...
Him: So I gave you an extra special bottle of wine.
Us: But we didn't want an extra special bottle of wine. We only ordered one birthday special.
Him: But it was both of your birthdays.
Me: So it's a rule that if it's your birthday you have to get the birthday special?
Him (changing his story): But I told you I would use both of your birthday special money to get an extra special bottle of wine.
Us: Bull-unko! (unko means poop)

In the end, once he realized we are not going to leave, he refunded the thousand yen. Crappy "special" aside, I'm sure it was an honest misunderstanding on his part. He wasn't trying to rip us off (any more than the special is designed to). But what amazes me is how long he argued about it. Sure he's young, but that kind of basic sense that tells him that 1,000 is big deal to us, and we have nothing to loose, that it will not have a negative impact to never eat there again (and we wont after that), shouldn't be so hard for him to grasp.

This may sound like a bad story, but actually it turned out very nicely. We need some kind of drama like that to enjoy our night. There's nothing like arguing with the manager in a crowded restaurant. Seriously.

Happy Birthday To Us

Happy birthday to us.
Happy birthday to us.
Happy birthday to uuussss.
Happy birthday to us.

photo from Christmas of 2001

recent galleries

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