Blog - January 2007 Archives

January 2007 Archives


Music Stage .30 Juliana vol.2 photos
Technology .24 Mobile Suica
Technology .23 Ich hasse iCh
Technology .22 New keitai: SO902i
Photo .21 ESOW exhibition
Music .19 Everybody Hz
Fashion .16 JAL suitcase
Photo Tokyo .16 Container yard
Japan .16 It's visa renewal time
Music Stage .13 dahlia "Beautiful, But Noir" release party: report
Technology Tokyo .12 Pasmo
Technology .12 Bounced spam attack on the up
Other .06 Expensive hair
Technology .06 New monitor!
Photo .05 Ocean

January 30, 2007

Music Stage Juliana vol.2 photos

On Sunday evening was the second edition of Tokyo Fun Party's Juliana event at Shibuya Soft. I dropped by to check out Digiki, SoccerBoy and Chimidoro, and had a good time. However the place really was too packed, and our hosts need to figure out how to turn on those fans on the ceiling. :)

Best of all was Home Cut who did an unbelievable DJ set, full of good old tunes blended seamlessly with the right beats, all of that beatmixed perfectly, and he could even find time to dance! Crazy stuff!

SoccerBoyチミドロHOME CUTHOME CUTDigiki

Larger sizes and more photos at Flickr

Posted on January 30, 2007 at 12:22 | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tweet |

January 24, 2007

Technology Mobile Suica

Photo from Keitai Watch
One thing I was looking forward to with my new phone is to be able to use Mobile Suica! This uses an IC chip located in the phone to replace a conventional Suica IC card used to ride JR trains. Like the card, the chip can contain commuter pass and prepaid data.

I had a bit of trouble getting started with the service. I could register to the service with no problem, but when trying to add my Suica commuter pass to it I kept getting an error saying that my member data didn't match the data on the commuter pass card (「会員情報と定期券購入時の情報が一致しないため」). I suspected that it was the order of my name (inverted last name and first name) so I tried switching them, but that didn't work either.

So I ended up calling the customer support (usefully open everyday until 2am!!) which helped me figure out that it's because my name was written in rōmaji (alphabet) on my card, and the system will only match katakana! The next step was to go to a station's みどりの窓口 (midori no madoguchi or "green counter") and get my name corrected to katakana on the card. Then I was able to proceed with no problem at all.

This means that anyone who input their name in rōmaji when buying their commuter pass the first time will have to go through the same procedure. They really should have made their system work for alphabet also to avoid this.

Anyway now I can beep my way through JR gates with my keitai, and it's a lot of fun. :) I can also renew my commuter pass or charge my Suica anywhere right on my phone! No more waiting in line!
What sounds less fun is that, according to JR's FAQs (such as here and here), if your keitai has run out of power you can't use your Mobile Suica! However, according to some reports (like this one), it seems like it should always work as long as your phone's backup battery is not dead (if it is, you'd also lose the date and time and other data on the phone). Either way it's recommended to keep your phone fully charged when planning to use Mobile Suica.

Next time I have time to stop at a JR gate, I'll get back my ¥500 deposit by giving back my now non-functional IC card. Now I'm just looking forward to PASMO!

Posted on January 24, 2007 at 12:11 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (11) | Tweet |

January 23, 2007

Technology Ich hasse iCh

iChannelThe iChannel option that I was forced to join when buying my new mobile phone was sucking out all the battery juice. The problem was with the "telop" (marquee) feature that keeps news scrolling on the wait screen, it prevented the screen from ever going off (screen saver), and since the SO902i has no "closed" state, the screen probably just stayed on in low-power mode scrolling horoscope and weather non-stop.
Actually it's probably a Sony bug that the phone doesn't simply ignore the marquee and go to screen saver mode anyway.

So for now I turned that telop feature off in the wait screen settings. I hope this will let the phone keep its charge for more than half a day.

Another thing that annoys me about iChannel is that the "My Select" shortcut button has been hidden under the "iChannel" button (I have to hold that button about 2 seconds to get to my select, which I use all the time).

Posted on January 23, 2007 at 12:23 | Permalink | Comments (9) | Tweet |

January 22, 2007

Technology New keitai: SO902i

SO901iYesterday, my 2½+ year old SO505iS died. At least its camera did, and with no apparent reason... the day before it worked, and then it didn't. It must have been the Sony time bomb effect (Sony stuff breaks no matter what, after the warranty is over of course). Can you believe I couldn't moblog my lunch!! :)

I didn't wait any longer to go look for a new phone. I had a look at what's available at a low price. I didn't want too many features that I wouldn't use, but I wanted to be able to use Mobile Suica. I was looking for one rather cheap that didn't look too much like a plastic toy, and that's also more compact than my previous. That's how I ended up falling for Sony once again.

I chose the SO902i, from the previous-to-latest series, it's small and non-folding. I found one for only ¥800 since I was upgrading from mova to FOMA and had been using my previous for over two years, and my accumulated points took care of the bill. However I had to sign-up for three months to services iChannel (weather, news and horoscope on the top screen), yūyū Call waribiki (discounted calls to 5 specific numbers), and get a packet pack.

Last night I tried to sign up to Mobile Suica, but I couldn't add my commuter pass to it because of a difference in my personal details from when I first bought my Suica pass (must be a good 5 years ago!). I'll probably have to call up their customer support to get this sorted out, though I'll first try asking at Shinjuku station on my way home.

And so the Sony time bomb is ticking again in my pocket...!

Posted on January 22, 2007 at 12:05 | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 21, 2007

Photo ESOW exhibition

Today we went to Nakameguro to catch street artist ESOW's exhibition at Dyezu Experience. Displayed are ESOW works on all sorts of media including a large mural. Everything was for sale, but all the cheap stuff was gone. I'd have happily picked up that construction warning sign which was only ¥1000!

ESOW stitched

And here's a QP found in Nishi-Shinjuku. It must be new since I've never seen it before despite passing there every other week.


As a bonus, here's a lonely Anzen-tarō taking a pause in a pile of stuff.

安全太郎安全太郎 (zoomed)

Larger sizes, and a few more photos, at Flickr

Posted on January 21, 2007 at 00:56 | Permalink | Trackback (0) | Comments (0) | Tweet |

January 19, 2007

Music Everybody Hz

When people get older they stop hearing high-pitched sounds. I had read before at The Register about the ringtone that adults can't hear, but more interestingly I just learnt of this Japanese site that has a Flash thing to test up to what pitch you can hear (click the white thing to go to the right page, and then click the cat to start).
I was relieved to find out that I can hear up to 15,000Hz, which isn't bad for my age. The page says that people often stop hearing 14,000Hz in their 20's or 30's.

By the way this week I just had my annual health check at work, and in one room where they check height, weight and eyesight, there's also some capsule-like device for checking your hearing! Every year I'm intrigued by it, but unfortunately it's not part of the plan our company gets. Last year I even told the nurse "I really want to try this!!" but she said "No, you can't.", damn...

Being that I used to play drums, and never used earplugs (while my bandmates did), I'm a bit concerned whether my hearing might be lower than average. At least now I know that I can hear high-pitched sounds that some others can't. :)

So, what's your score?

Posted on January 19, 2007 at 20:30 | Permalink | Comments (13) | Tweet |

January 16, 2007

Fashion JAL suitcase

Last weekend I was lucky to find this small JAL vintage suitcase at Yeye in Ogikubo. I have yet to decide what to put in it. :)

JAL suitcase
JAL suitcase (inside)
Larger sizes at Flickr

Now I'm tempted to get this JAL Design Collection book I saw about a week earlier, it's full of photos of JAL items, mostly old ones. I wonder if I can find my suitcase in there.

Posted on January 16, 2007 at 22:36 | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tweet |

Photo Tokyo Container yard

On my way back from the immigration, I went shutter happy with these colorful containers at this "container yard" of Sumitomo Sōkō (Sumitomo Warehouse), located on Ten'nōzu Isle.

ContainersContainersContainersContainersContainersContainersContainersContainersAttack of the containers

Larger sizes, and a few more, at Flickr

Posted on January 16, 2007 at 22:27 | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tweet |

Japan It's visa renewal time

Today I went to the Tokyo Immigration Bureau to apply for the renewal of my visa. It went pretty well, pretty much along the same lines as 3 years ago. I was there first thing in the morning at 9:00, my number was 76, and I was out in about an hour.

I first went to the application place on the 2nd floor and got my numbered ticket. I figured out that I needed some forms to fill out, and I was sent to the 1st floor to get them. It seems that a lot of people arrive there with their forms already filled. Either they get them somewhere else, or they also came the day before.
I need to remember next time to look-up in advance my company's capital, yearly sales and number of employees, to avoid having to call around while filling the forms, and also my own college graduation date and employment history.

There was a small surprise as the person asked me for a document I didn't have (and I don't even know what it was she was asking for) but then she said it's ok...! I sure hope it is. :)

Now begins the impatient wait for the postcard that will hold no more information than a "we're done". I should hopefully get it in about a week.

Posted on January 16, 2007 at 20:34 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (14) | Tweet |

January 13, 2007

Music Stage dahlia "Beautiful, But Noir" release party: report

Last night I went to Shimokitazawa 440 with friend Tsugumi to see dahlia, performing with a full band for the first time in 4 years. The event celebrated the release of her latest album "Beautiful, But Noir". The event's DJ was Groove Unchant, who produced the album.

First on stage was a unit called Sozoro, a guy singing while playing guitar, together with a girl who alternated between piano, flute, accordion and "thunder" (some sound effect toy). They were good, though not very my style, but anyway I enjoyed their performance.

the fascinationsNext was the fascinations, an instrumental band where vibraphone player Watanabe Masami is the center of attention. I have the second, self-titled album, which I love, so I had very high expectations. They sure didn't disappoint, turns out Masami is truly an impressive live player with a good sense of entertainment (he'd walk aside and dance during the piano solos). The other band members (piano, wood bass and drums) were also great, I especially liked the drummer who, despite his long hair looks, played the best jazz and breakbeats. They closed with fascinated groove, song which on the album is sung by Pierre Barouh.

While dahlia's band was setting up, there was a presentation by Kino Iglu of the French short film "Le Baiser de Judas" (1963, 15 min.) with a groovy soundtrack.

dahlia's set featured a full band of five musicians: keyboards, wood bass, drums, flute, guitar... plus of course singer Kaori (lately dahlia=Kaori). The first song played was I think Eta Karinae, the opening track from the album, and it had a strong backing track, so I was a bit afraid that the show might lack some 100% live music, but I was glad to later find out that most of the songs were played completely live. Most songs from the new album were played, along a few from older albums, such as a new arrangement of Flower (from "Le mode d'emploi"). They closed with the dance track Beautiful, But Noir, and there was no encore.
When the show ended, I felt I could easily have stayed there one more hour listening to Kaori's soft voice.

Photos of larger sizes at Flickr

On the way out I had a chance to talk briefly with Kaori who somehow remembered me from some event many years ago at Aoi Heya (I still have to remember what that might have been), and also Masami who was very friendly and kept speaking to me in English.

A great evening!

dahlia will perform at Kichijoji Manda-La2 on February 18
the fascinations will perform two sets at Shibuya JZ Brat on February 17

Posted on January 13, 2007 at 10:34 | Permalink | Trackback (1) | Comments (2) | Tweet |

January 12, 2007

Technology Tokyo Pasmo

Pasmo IC cardOn March 18 will be introduced a new IC card for paying public transportation fares. The name is Pasmo (from the existing "Passnet" plus a mix of the words "motto" (more) and "mo" (also)), but more than the card itself this is about the network of lines it can be used on.

While the existing Suica worked only for JR trains and buses (and a select few others), Pasmo will let you touch-and-go on most of the other train, subway and bus lines in and around Tokyo: Tokyo Metro, Toei, Tōkyū, Keiō, Odakyū, Tōbu, Seibu, Keisei, Yurikamome, you name it (some minor or non-central lines are scheduled for later).

Now, most of the Pasmo advertising links the service to its card with the cute logo, but really the service is all linked with Suica, so that Suica cards can be used on the Pasmo network and the other way around. It's even not allowed to have both a Suica and a Pasmo, I think probably because of the trouble that would arise from people placing two IC cards near the sensor at the same time.

The best new feature concerns the commuter pass. It's only very clear on the Japanese Wikipedia entry, but while the cards only allow holding one commuter pass, you can make it link through both networks! Until now I had to carry my Suica for JR, and two more magnetic commuter passes for other lines (yes, my workplace is a bit far away), but in March I should be able to put all three in my Suica card!
Pretty much the only usage difference between Suica and Pasmo cards is that you can't get a Pasmo-network-only commuter pass on a Suica card, or vice-versa.

Can't wait for Pasmo!

Update (2007/1/15): There's a good English press release on JR's site.

Posted on January 12, 2007 at 12:59 | Permalink | Comments (14) | Tweet |

Technology Bounced spam attack on the up

Since a while I've always been getting batches of bounced spam every now and then. Lately it had been stable at a few hundreds per day, which I've come to call "normal". But yesterday I got 2000 emails! I'd check email after just a few seconds and there'd be a dozen.

I had to do something a bit more drastic to stop this mess, so I looked at what most of these emails had in common. This time I targeted the "To" field, which has most of the time been using very long aliases, and I used CPanel's mail filtering to blackhole anything too long.

Filter: $header_to: matches "[a-zA-Z0-9]{17,}@"
Destination: Discard

So I'm now back to a peaceful, low level of spam (by my standards).

Posted on January 12, 2007 at 12:16 | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tweet |

January 6, 2007

Other Expensive hair

This morning I went to a doctor to get my left foot checked. It had been hurting in one spot for a few days, and yesterday I noticed a black dot there. I figured I had stepped on some piece of wood or something, but it was completely located under the skin and I couldn't remove it myself.

Well, turns out it was a sturdy hair a bit longer than a centimeter! Under my foot sure is a strange place to grow. What sucks though is that to remove it required a 5-minute surgery that set me back ¥13000 (that's the 30% I have to pay after insurance)!! Ouch. I might have been happy with that if they told me it was some unknown foreign piece of metal or an alien chip.

Now it still hurts, but hopefully within a few days it will be back to normal.

Posted on January 6, 2007 at 11:30 | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tweet |

Technology New monitor!

Mitsubishi Diamondcrysta RDT1710SAfter a few months of screen shaking (my 5 year old 15" that came with an IBM Aptiva was showing its age), I finally went and got a new monitor! I bought a used Mitsubishi Diamondcrysta RDT1710S, a slick black 17" with a thin frame. Turns out it's designed by Fukasawa Naoto (±0) and even won a Good Design Award in 2004!

I had to clean my desk, that was quite a challenge. Now there's still a pile of stuff on the floor I have to find a new place for.

To see more of Fukasawa Naoto's works, try searching Jean Snow's blog. He's a big fan!

Posted on January 6, 2007 at 11:17 | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tweet |

January 5, 2007

Photo Ocean

Happy New Year 2007! I just got back from a few days outside of the big city. Here are a few ocean photos. I did try to stitch them in vain.

Larger sizes at Flickr

Posted on January 5, 2007 at 00:47 | Permalink | Comments (2) | Tweet |

« December 2006 | Back to main page | February 2007 »