Blog - February 2005 Archives

February 2005 Archives


Technology .26 MT archives renamed
Music .25 Panikaraqs
Technology .21 Don't click, your comment is last
Music .21 Kojima Mayumi live
Technology .19 Trouble with
Technology .19 Ultimate trackback spam protection? Not.
TV .14 Fugō Keiji
Music .12 MeroMero
Music .11 Québec groove
Photo Travel .08 Day in Yokohama
Art Music Tokyo .07 Panikaraqs at SuperDeluxe
Japan .07 Japanese Language Proficiency Test result
Japan TV .06 TV setup hell
Music .06 higemibo and ISO+NOP
TV .02 saku saku

February 26, 2005

Technology MT archives renamed

Sorry about the amount of technical posts lately...

After having been wanting to do so for a while, yesterday I finally changed my MovableType archives folder/filename pattern.

Individual entry pages

Monthly pages
After: (index.php optional)

I had always been using the MT 2.6x default style, but I had been getting tired of having all the files in the same folder, and also I felt like I didn't need that useless "archives" folder (the whole blog is an archive anyway) which I had initially put in because of the MT example.

A great advantage of the new format is that the site's URLs are now more "hackable" than ever, you can get rid of the filename to see the monthly index, and I've even added a yearly index (not a MT feature) which shows a list of all titles.

This morning I was just telling someone that I'm against link rot (URLs going dead), and indeed I made sure that all old URLs redirect to new ones.

Q. Why not give the day its own folder too? (2005/02/14/001814.php)
A. I don't usually post many times a day, and I don't like folders with just one or two files, so it just wouldn't fit my blogging style. I like having the day in the URL though. I could still make the URLs look that way with .htaccess but that part wouldn't be hackable since I don't have or want daily archives.

Q. Why not put the dirified title in the filename instead of the ID? (2005/02/14_fugo_keiji.php)
A. I tend to like unique IDs, and as I sometimes change titles on an entry a few times, it would probably just make a mess. :)

Posted on February 26, 2005 at 11:21 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

February 25, 2005

Music Panikaraqs

The great Yuka Honda fan site now has info on her current Japan-based project Panikaraqs with some exclusive pictures!

I'm thinking of checking out their on March 4 show at Nakameguro Space Force.

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 10:44 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

February 21, 2005

Technology Don't click, your comment is last

10 minutes ago I was enlightened when looking at my Flickr forum activity page, which showed a useful "You have the last word." for topics where no one has posted after me. It saved me at least one click and a useless page load!

So I went and implemented the same cool feature in my MovableType index templates that save to PHP. It's as easy as:

<MTComments lastn="1" sort_order="descend"><?
if (  $_COOKIE['mtcmtauth'] == '<$MTCommentAuthor encode_php="q"$>'
   && $_COOKIE['mtcmtmail'] == '<$MTCommentEmail encode_php="q"$>')
  echo ' – Yours is last';

Replace the yellow parts to your author and email cookie names. mtcmtauth and mtcmtmail are MT's defaults.

Sample output: Comments (2) – Yours is last

Simple and useful!
Guaranteed to save time, and mouse and finger usage.
(Whether it is good or bad for your finger health is left to your discretion.)

Post a comment with "Remember my info" enabled to see it in effect.

Important: Be careful not to use this in non-PHP templates because it would reveal your comment posters' email addresses.

Posted on February 21, 2005 at 16:42 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (3) | Tweet |

Music Kojima Mayumi live

Marquee #47Last night I went to Marquee Night vol.2, a live event held at Shibuya Club Quattro that was featuring Kojima Mayumi.
The event's DJ was Kaori (Dahlia), and the first part was Shōno Juri, who debuted last year as a major artist, she wasn't bad and reminded me of Orange Pekoe, though sounded a bit too mainstream for my taste.

Just about a week ago I wasn't too familiar with Kojima Mayumi, of who I think I only knew the 1999 single "fūsen" . But after listening to her latest album "Pablo no koibito" (English title "Sweetheart of Pablo") and singles collection "me and my monkey on the moon" , I knew over half of the songs that were played at the show. Mayumi was beautiful in a simple white dress, and her strong and assured singing voice transformed into a cute and shy one when speaking between the songs.

Her very talented support musicians were Tsukamoto Isao (guitar), Emerson Kitamura (Hammond organ) and Asa-chang (drums).

All through the show I was particularly amazed by the powerful bass line present even though no bass player was in sight, until someone from the audience asked who was playing the bass and Mayumi explained that it was Emerson playing it with the Hammond's pedals. I've never really seen a Hammond up close, but I was really impressed at how it took the place of everything else so well.

The show was great!

It was also nice to see Marquee's editor MMMatsumoto for the first time.
On my way back I picked up the latest issue (#47, pictured) which has a big feature on the latest capsule album "NEXUS-2060".

Posted on February 21, 2005 at 13:00 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (9) | Tweet |

February 19, 2005

Technology Trouble with

I'm having a rather bad first experience with, a UK-based service similar with PayPal. It's been about two weeks since I received some money for the first time using this service, and although I requested a withdrawal nothing has happened (a confirmation screen had shown up but I didn't get any confirmation email, my account balance hasn't changed, nothing in my history) and I'm not receiving replies to my emails.

The service seems professional and all, and I'm not worried about whether it is legit or not, but their customer service really sucks so far.

After about 5 emails sent that remain unanswered, I now feel at a loss as how to deal with this. So if you're familiar with moneybookers and think you can help, or, better, if you know how I can get ahold of these guys, let me know. I'd truly appreciate.
I don't really want to try calling because the long distance call would make it senseless to use their "free" service in the first place.

... By the way, I'd like to point out something I found very strange in their procedures...
When adding a credit card to your account, you must "verify" it before making payments. This requires sending them a proof that you own the actual card, which is done like this:

Submit clear and readable copies of the following documents to us:

(i) the front and back of the credit card;
(ii) recent credit card statement signed by the credit card owner (purchase or ATM advice slips cannot be accepted); AND
(iii) valid official identification document with picture (such as ID card, passport or driver's license).

Via email: Send a scan copy to service\at\moneybookers\dot\com (JPEG or GIF file formats only with a maximum size of 364KB per page)

Via fax: ...

Now that's a lot of personal documents to send... "via email"!?? This completely voids their use of SSL in the first place.
Surely there are some missing bolts in their system, but at this point I only care about getting my cash, as their payment receipt email suggests:

Your money is waiting for you in your account.
We hope you enjoy your cash.


Posted on February 19, 2005 at 22:10 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (250) | Tweet |

Technology Ultimate trackback spam protection? Not.

Update (2005/2/19 11:30): Turns out this wasn't such a good idea, as some hosted services have the admin on a different domain than the blog (e.g. uses, and that may be more than I initially thought. Too bad. :( See comments for more thoughts.

Hasn't this been thought of before? If a trackback's URL's host name is different from the client's (ping sender) IP, chances are it's spam. Or am I missing something?

The only disadvantages I see is that it may add a small delay for the trackback URL's host lookup, and also it could give false positives if someone tries to do legit trackback pings from an IP different than their blog's host name's IP, which I believe is probably rare (though I don't know about the hosted services like TypePad, LiveJournal, Blogger, etc.).
Tell me if I'm wrong.

I'd sure like to get some pings (even unrelated) to this entry to see if anyone can ping me without trouble.
Trackback URL:

My MovableType patch follows (tested with MT2.64). It may not be optimal, so any correction is welcome.

/lib/MT/App/ (or /extlib/jayallen/ if you use MT-Blacklist)

At the top, after the other use's.

use Socket;
use Net::hostent;

In sub ping, just after the "Check if this user has been banned from sending TrackBack pings." block.
(In the case of MT-Blacklist, put it in sub ping_post_hdlr after Jay's first "### INSERTED CODE ENDS HERE ###".)

    my $host_url = $url;
    $host_url =~ s!^(https?://)([^/]+)(.*)$!$2!;
    my $host = gethostbyname($host_url);
    my $host_ip = inet_ntoa($host->addr);
    if ($host_ip ne $user_ip) {
      return $app->_response(Error =>
          "Only trackbacks from the linked Web server's own IP are accepted. ".
          "If you were trying to send a legit trackback, please contact me.")) 

That's all.

Posted on February 19, 2005 at 01:36 | Permalink | Trackback (2) | Comments (6) | Tweet |

February 14, 2005

TV Fugō Keiji

Fugoh KeijiI rarely get addicted to TV series, but lately I'm enjoying Fugō Keiji (富豪刑事, translates to "wealthy detective") which started at the beginning of the year. I've been watching it every Thursday since.

The series features Fukada Kyōko (who appeared last year in Shimotsuma monogatari aka "Kamikaze Girls") in the role of Kōbe Miwako, daughter of a rich family but also detective. Because of her private limousine and expensive clothing, her colleagues are always rather cold to her, but only until she comes up with a good idea that seems to have potential to solve the investigated crime. The thing however is that her ideas are always expensive ones that the police just can't afford ("Why not build a fake hotel?", "Let's give the kidnapper so much money he won't be able to run away with it!"), but that's where her rich grandfather comes in with his money, valuables, and network of contacts.
When her efforts appear to have been wasted, she then finds evidence that the other detectives overlooked, and solves the case.

Fugō Keiji has common scenarist and musical coordinator with the popular mystery series Trick that ended last year, so the overall feel is somewhat similar.

The official site contains fun special features such as a collection of expense receipts for each of Miwako's ideas (second menu item), and allowing to browse Miwako's expensive wardrobe.

Posted on February 14, 2005 at 20:51 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

February 12, 2005

Music MeroMero

Jens' latest MeroMero show from February 9 is up! One hour of great music!
This time I did a short review of the Panikaraqs show from last week.

RealAudio (lo-fi)

Previous show

Posted on February 12, 2005 at 10:48 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

February 11, 2005

Music Québec groove

MoblogLately I'm feeling like there's a growing interest in the Tokyo DJ scene for Quebec music of the 50's-70's.

A few examples:

Today, for the first time, I found a "Quebec" section at a record shop, Manual of Errors in Kōenji (now located just below Turbo Sonic since about 2 weeks). The Quebec section contained Les Excentriques, Renée Martel, among many others I remembered listening to from my parents' record collection when I was little.
When I asked if I could take a picture and said that I was surprised to see find that section, the shop's guy got excited telling me that he went record shopping a few times in Montreal and that he likes Conception and such.

In Québec many of these may be considered "quétaine" (the local word for kitsch) nowadays and stored away in the attic, but they may be worth being played again.

Posted on February 11, 2005 at 22:55 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

February 8, 2005

Photo Travel Day in Yokohama

Last weekend we did a small trip to Yokohama where we ate delicious food in chinatown and did a bit of shopping, mainly at Akarenga-sōko (aka Red Brick Warehouse).
Here are some pictures.

Entrance to Yokohama chinatownYokohama viewAkarenga-sōkoOutside Akarenga Sōko
Yokohama Customs mascotJellyfish aquariumSchool classroom installationManekin

1. Entrance to Yokohama chinatown (1024x768)
2. Yokohama view from a bridge, near Akarenga-sōko (1024x768)
3. Akarenga-sōko (1024x768)
4. Akarenga-sōko and Yokohama Baybridge (1024x768)
5. Yokohama Customs mascot (768x1024)
6. Jellyfish aquarium at Café Madu (1024x768)
7. School classroom installation (1024x768)
8. Manekin at a souvenir shop (768x1024)

Posted on February 8, 2005 at 22:02 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (4) | Tweet |

February 7, 2005

Art Music Tokyo Panikaraqs at SuperDeluxe

Last Friday I met my friend Boris. After having eaten in Ebisu at a hawaiian restaurant called Tsunami, we headed for Roppongi SuperDeluxe for the Expo '45 event.
Although SuperDeluxe is a neat place, we both rather despise Roppongi as a whole, and it's not with much enthusiasm that we exit Hibiya line at Roppongi station. Instead of going outside right away, we walk underground through Roppongi Hills to get closer to our destination.

Flowers for SHINOHARA Tomoe from TAKENAKA NaotoArriving at SuperDeluxe, the system isn't too obvious, and there's no one to guide people. There's a long line of 3-4 floors in the stairway so we go to the end, only to later find out that we could go in first because I had reserved by phone.
By the entrance were the pictured flowers for Shinohara Tomoe from Takenaka Naoto (actor/comedian/musician).

We first stood through the punkish metal band Assfort, which wasn't much enjoyable to us. But afterwards things started getting more interesting.
After a while of DJing and stage setup, a live painting show began, featuring Kuroda Seitarō mixing his paints on two large canvases while Kondō Toshinori played trumpet and live electronics which sounded great! While I didn't know who Kondō-san was, Boris surprised himself recognizing his style before even being able to catch a glimpse through the thick crowd.

HONDA Yuka's Roland DJ-70 with a broken keyAfter more DJing that seemed to go on forever (the poor staff had to remove all paint traces from the floor too), during which we were able to sneak up front, finally came a Roland DJ-70 (with a broken key), unmistakably belonging to Honda Yuka, not more than a meter from where we sat!! Soon she also came on stage, wearing Panikaraqs' original pink "T-shirt" (actually a strangely shaped outfit designed by Shinohara Tomoe, shorter at the front and long at the back) and set up her laptop on which she'd lightly sequence pre-recorded tracks during the show. Yuka looked just like I remembered seeing her about 10 years ago when she was with Cibo Matto. She then left the stage.

Then came everyone: Yuka who was now wearing a beautiful dark dress, percussionist Steve Etō, dancer Chikage and singer/dancer/leader Shinohara Tomoe.

Tomoe explained that Panikaraqs is a band made up of dear friends of hers, and that the concept is to make something absolutely new. The band is in fact a sort of visual performance unit, featuring a lot of dancing. Their sound was somewhat Middle Eastern (Indian or something) because of Steve's playing and Tomoe's singing in a style much different from her previous works. Steve most of the time played what seemed to be a sort of electronic tabla drum Roland HandSonic and at other times a portable lighter acoustic drum djembe with which he danced around lightly. Yuka's music didn't sound overly Middle Eastern in itself, actually it sounded like very cool electronic pop, and it mixed perfectly with the drums and vocals.

My overall impression was great, all members were smiling and seemed to be having a lot of fun. The concept was indeed rather unique and refreshing.
Unfortunately pictures weren't allowed during Panikaraqs' show, there was even a warning before it began, and I missed a good chance of taking pictures of Yuka while she was setting up her gear...
I'll just have to go see them again at one of their upcoming shows. Keep an eye on my agenda for details.

Panikaraqs' show ended around 2am, so we were stuck in Roppongi after the last train, er... So we each took a taxi back home (mine cost ¥3540). But just before then, Boris was asked by some guy whether we wanted to go to a strip club. Of course a night in Roppongi isn't complete without... not a visit to a strip club, but rather some moron who wants to drag you to one.

See also: Panikaraqs at Nakameguro Space Force (March 4, 2005)

Disclaimer: This is a fan page. Artwork by SHINOHARA Tomoe. SHINOHARA Tomoe official site.

Posted on February 7, 2005 at 21:54 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (6) | Tweet |

Japan Japanese Language Proficiency Test result

2004 Japanese Language Profiency Test ResultWell, it arrived today... My estimates were quite exact.

"So, adding up my estimates, I'll be either just above the pass mark (60%), or below... I'll know in 3 months."

I failed by 1%. :(

Posted on February 7, 2005 at 20:53 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (14) | Tweet |

February 6, 2005

Japan TV TV setup hell

Disclaimer: This is about my experience about our one TV at home, setting it up to watch a specific channel our cable TV provider offers. It may not be the case with all TVs and/or TV providers in Japan, but I'll generalize a bit for the sake of keeping it short.

Logically, you'd think that cable TV is as easy in Japan as in North America (and I believe elsewhere). Something that should be as easy as pushing one or two buttons on a remote control is however comparable to a radio scanning experience.

At any given time, our TV knows 12 channels (let's call them "positions"), its remote control has 12 position buttons (1 to 12), and there's no cheating combining them (e.g. 3+2 to get channel 32).
Our cable TV provider offers 16 channels on its basic plan our "mansion" is subscribed to. Which means that at any time there are 4 cable TV channels that we can't see without remapping one of the TV's 12 positions. Sounds stupid? That's not all.

Now, mapping one of our TV's positions to one of the cable TV provider's channels really should be as easy as going in a setup menu and selecting channel 14 for position 2. However it's a bit more complicated than that.
The setup menu in question (pictured) shows something ressembling a volume control, but it's in fact a sort of "radio tuner". 99% of it is snow, and in there are the 16 available channels, in mixed-up order. In order to find a channel, you hit one of two arrows and watch the snow while the tuner slowly goes through all the "frequencies", then when it finds a channel you have to figure out if it's the one you want. To make things yet more complicated, there are not one but three of these tuners (UHF, VHF and something else).
The whole experience sums up to scanning through while looking up the TV guide to see what's supposed to be on the channel I want.

I'd love if someone could contradict me telling me that it's only my own TV that's crap, but from what I've heard from a few other people I think it's just the way it is. So how did it ever get this bad?

Posted on February 6, 2005 at 22:29 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (9) | Tweet |

Music higemibo and ISO+NOP

Last Wednesday I went to Aoi Heya once again to see hige no mibōjin.

This time, the show's first part was assured by Hasebe Novko and Isoda Osamu, the funny couple formerly of Modern Choki Chokies. Bun-tarō and Koala-tarō were there too of course. I was sitting up front, so I could see all of NOP-san's cute dancing and ISO-san's skillful guitar playing. They gave a great show!
I've been listening to their radio show Kumazasa Jamboree every week where they play many new and unreleased songs.

It was also great to see higemibo again. I had been to the previous concert in December, and as expected most of the widow's tales were different, though some elements from last time were kept so that it felt continuous. This time she was being a bit more adventurous singing songs not quite memorized, so Kishino You-ichi had his PowerBook on the side of the stage to check lyrics once in a while, and as he looked like a laptop musician for a moment he said something like he wasn't going to play glitch.

The event has a point card that when filled with 15 stamps, and last night for the first time someone had filled-up a card (which requires going to the quasi-monthly show 15 times, meaning over a year of dedication). A full card gets you a doll such as the ones used on the album artwork, and the winning lady who was wearing a kimono for the occasion had to pick between a Kishino-san doll and a widow doll. She chose the widow.

Last night, best of all was that when I first entered the place, Kishino-san was waiting for me with an unexpected surprise... he lent me a video tape of "Keroyon no dai jidōsha Race"!!! I can't quite tell how much happy I am about this. This film is truly rare. Finally I'll be able to watch it completely!

Posted on February 6, 2005 at 21:16 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

February 2, 2005

TV saku saku

saku sakuLast week at work, a colleague hinted me that I should check out saku saku, a weekday TV show that started in 2003. The show is pretty strange, at first sight it looks like a show for kids and it's aired at 7:30am, but the characters' attitude is questionable, to say the least.

First, the most talkative character is Zigorow (right), he makes for most of the show. He speaks using the personal pronoun 俺 (ore, slightly rude). On every show, some costumed guy comes briefly and brings Zigorow's laptop computer on which he reads the anonymous letters from fans. Most of the show actually consists of watcher-submitted content: anecdote letters, discussion topics, purikura, drawings, etc.

Then there's the human MC, Kimura Kaela (blog), who also debuted last year as a rock-ish singer (bits I heard reminded me of Juliana Hatfield) and had a first album released recently. Before then she was model for magazine Seventeen.
You would probably expect her to do most of the talking on the show, but that's Zigorow's job. Most of the time she just listens while looking in the void, commenting once in a while. Nevertheless she's often funny and seems to enjoy hanging out with Zigorow.
By the way, the show seems to be taped a whole week at once, and of what I've seen so far it seems to me that Kaela looks a bit more enthusiast on Monday and quite bored on Friday. The other characters are hyper the whole time.

I think Goigoi (gray guy on the left) may be my favorite, he shows up about only once per show, and he often does outdoor reports. Last week he was experimenting doing a part-time job of giving away 500 tissue packs in front of a keitai shop, and what worked best was to put the pack in his mouth and follow the customers as they were entering the shop.
Even though Zigorow and Goigoi have a mouth that seems able to open/close, it doesn't. Instead the characters keep moving to show that they're talking.

Although there aren't other regular characters to the show, there are several people laughing and speaking from outside the set. Sometimes it feels like they're actually about 10.

All of that makes it a pretty weird show. Plus, most music used on the show is taken from old Famicom games such as Super Mario, Gradius, Wrecking Crew, Spelunker, Excite Bike, Space Invader, etc.
One thing that's not so cool though is that it's sort of a mainstream music show too, and everyday it presents bits of music videos for the latest mainstream J-pop hits, something I could do without. At least that's not the show's focus.

saku saku airs Monday to Friday on TVK (Yokohama) at 7:30am and replays at midnight.
Links: Official site, Fan site, Fan blog "saku sakur tsūshin".

(Animated GIF taken from saku sakur tsūshin.)

Posted on February 2, 2005 at 12:36 | Permalink | Trackback (2) | Comments (7) | Tweet |

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