New House

Sep. 2nd, 2015 03:25 pm
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Last weekend we moved house. Our new place is a house rather than an apartment, just 1km north of our previous apartment. If you need my new address then please drop me an email.


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: The Two Towers OST


a_cubed: (Peace)

Ugh, two obituary posts in a row. I’m not blogging enough and too many people I admire are dying.


I can’t now remember when I first met Caspar Bowden. I think it was in London at perhaps a Scrambling for Safety event organised at UCL by Ian Brown and Ross Anderson. The most recent time was this year’s CPDP in Brussels where Caspar, a regular speaker at the event in recent years, was continuing his long crusade for privacy as an internationally recognised human right, in particular for the digital privacy of ordinary people (i.e. those of whom there is no serious evidence of criminal activity) to be recognised by all governments, whether or not that person happens to be a citizen or resident of the country or not. Snowden’s revelations bore out may of Caspar’s most pessimistic estimates of what the US (and their junior UK partners) were doing with the authority granted them by FISA.


Tragically Cassandra-like his pronouncements may have been  in some ways, yet his tireless work on behalf of the rights of ordinary people should inspire us all to continue his efforts.


BBC obituary: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33473105


Current Mood: (grumpy) grumpy


a_cubed: (Peace)

Almost a year since my last blog post. Very bad of me. The last one was a report that I’d finished Kiki’s Delivery Service Book 2. It’s taken me ten months to finish books 3 and 4, but I’ve now done so. I’m just over half-way through Book 5 (which I’m racing through, having read the first 150 pages of 280 in just over two weeks). I’ve also now seen the recent live action Kiki movie. This is definitely derived from the first book, rather than from the Ghibli animation. In some ways it sticks closer to the book. For instance Kiki cannot accept money in return for her magic services. It’s never quite explicit in the book, and the “economics” of this are somewhat glossed over in terms of how she manages daily existence if she can’t earn money (or possibly can’t even deal with money directly). There’s something of an implication of receiving services in “barter” for her own and she can certainly accept gifts in kind in exchange for her services. Although this bit is closer to the book, and some of the scenes/sequences in the movie are heavily inspired by chapters in the book, it’s still quite a departure from the book in many terms. In the book there’s a sequence with a girl asking her to deliver a black envelope to another girl, which it turns out is an old tale of witches cursing people. In the book this is dealt with on the small scale of the girls involved only, whereas in the movie it’s part of the plot whereby after this incident people start distrusting Kiki and even returning things she’s delivered to them, back to Kiki instead of back to the sender.


I watched the movie in Japanese (no choice – there doesn’t seem to be an English subtitle version available – but I wanted to do that anyway). Since I know the story pretty well and it’s a kids/teen movie, I was able to follow much of the dialogue well enough, but I certainly wasn’t understanding every sentence in detail. Harder than the book, of course, since spoken word is harder to follow because of speed and difficulty to re-tread (I was watching it with $DAUGHTER so could hardly stop every thirty seconds and re-play to get the dialogue, though I may do some of this later to try to improve my Japanese listening).


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished


Typhoon 26

Oct. 15th, 2013 05:49 pm
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2013 Typhoon No. 26 will make move through Tokyo area in the next 12-18 hours. It is not seriously dangerous, though will disrupt transport. Luckily for me I have no appointments tomorrow so will just work at home. $WIFE has to go to the office (but has rearranged a meeting outside since her interviewee is not sure of being able to make it in) but she uses the subway to get there, so should be fine.


Current Mood: (crushed) crushed
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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The first week this month, I was in LA. A few days after getting back from that I flew the other direction to Denmark. After a week of me being jetlagged at home $WIFE headed off to Canada leaving me to do my part of taking care of $DAUGHTER as a lone working parent (I am NOT complaining about this – I do it too often to her and she doesn’t complain). She arrived back in Tokyo yesterday and less than 24 hours later (just fourteen hours after she arrived home I left home) I flew out on the trip I’m currently in transit on. I’m in the Senator Lounge at Munich airport in transit to Lisbon (there are no direct flights from Tokyo to Lisbon that I can see, so I’m on Lufthansa via Munich on the way out and Frankfurt on the way back). Two days after I get back to Tokyo I head off to Hong Kong. At least that’s a medium haul flight, daytime flight both ways and only one hour time difference. I get a break from travel then until late August and Worldcon.


Unfortunately my talk is the first one in the first session after the opening plenary tomorrow morning, and because of the connection I’mnot even scheduled to land in Lisbon until 21:50. Still, I’ve no hold luggage and Lisbon airport isn’t far out so I hope to get to the hotel and fall over by around 23:00.


Current Mood: (tired) tired
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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So, I arrived at Narita airport this morning expecting to get on a plane at 10:30 to fly to Kuala Lumpur on business. I should learn to check flights before leaving home as the departure time was listed as delayed until 19:25. Having checked in (it took 90 minutes, because I’m not flying with the airline alliance I have status with) so at 10:15 I headed home. THey later delayed the flight departure expectation to 22:10 and this has now been confirmed. So, I’m still at home for another half hour before heading back to Narita again (but this time having to take awkward trains since the Keisei Skyliner doesn’t run this late :-( ). Instead of a nice daytime flight I’ll now have an overnight flight to arrive in KL about 6am. In fact, the further delay may well have been so that we can arrive amongst the first landings allowed at KLIA in the morning (I’m not sure if they have an overnight shutdown there).


Current Mood: (jealous) jealous
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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As part of my research I need to look into Amazon.com’s Kindle account offerings. Because of their setup with geographic rights restrictions it’s difficult to set up such an account without a US-registered credit card. Does anyone reading this have an Amazon.com Kindle account who is also available to help us get information about their practices? It’s nothing bad, it’s that we’ve been told Amazon.com provide a “Family Account” with features we’re recommending more service providers should give, but which aren’t available on Amazon.co.uk (and Amazon.co.jp’s account information is mostly in formal Japanese which is a bit beyond me).


Current Mood: Interested
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

Happy 2013

Dec. 31st, 2012 11:08 pm
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Te year just turned in Tokyo. Despite some illness this year my life is generally pretty good and I’m happy with it. I hope you are with yours, or at least that 2013 gets better for you.


Current Mood: (happy) happy
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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A collection of the various shorter pieces Jim Butcher has written in his urban fantasy series. These are quite a varied set of stories, a couple of which I’ve read before, but most of which were new to me. There are two stories written from the points of view of other characters (Thomas and Murphy) which is somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure they work as well as the Harry-viewpoint ones, probably because Butcher hasn’t had time to really develop their “voices” are narrators. There’s definitely more than a hint of unreliable narrator in the Thomas story.  It’s nice to see the background story that’s mentioned in one of the novels (what Maeve did to Billy and Georgia’s wedding). It’s also interesting to see his first story written about Harry, though as he acknowledges his writing skills at that point were much more limited. Some of these are clearly written (as he more or less admits in the introduction to them) on specific commission and not springing from his own imagination directly, so something of a mixed bag. Worthwhile for fans of the series, though. Better value than the standalone publication of Backup (the Thomas story) that was well overpriced.


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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The HP Lovecraft Historical Society seems to have missed this one, so I’ve filled it in for them.


Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (lyrics)


You better watch out

You better keep an eye

Better not doubt

I’m telling you why

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s is coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town


He’s making no list

I’ve checked this out twice;

Gonna find out Who’s tasty and nice

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town


He sees you in your safe place

He knows if you’re alive

He doesn’t care if you’ve been bad or good

Just to stay sane you must strive!

O! You better watch out

You better keep an eye

Better not doubt

I’m telling you why

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Great Cthulhu’s coming to town


Creative Commons Licence

Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (Lyrics) by Andrew Alexander Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at http://blog.a-cubed.info/?p=637.


Current Mood: (amused) amused
Current Music: Star Wars Episode III OST


a_cubed: (Default)

So for only the second time since late August I managed to swim today. Travel, colds, Colitis and diarrhea have interfered with all my efforts to get back to swimming since Worldcon except for one day (I came down ill the following day and haven’t been up to it until today). Having been out of it for so long I took it easy and only did 30 lengths, with a break after each ten. Excluding the breaks I was just over 18 minutes for the 30 lengths, though, which is a pretty good time considering I’m still not feeling like I’m 100% and that it’s been close on four months since I last swam. I wasn’t exhausted afterwards, either, which is good. It means I didn’t overdo it.


I think I’m not going to try to get back to every day from this point, but I would like to make it three times a week for the long haul.


Current Mood: (tired) tired
Current Music: The Mummy OST


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Despite their own advertising claims and hype, Apple did not invent the personal media player, the smartphone or the tablet computer. However, their second or third generation mass-market devices in these areas have clearly captured the market at a crucial time becoming the single largest provider of such devices and relgating their competitors to mostly fighting amongst themselves for second place. While Android devices outsell iPhones by more than 3:1 no single manufacturer was able to beat Apple for sales until Samsung pulled out of the Android pack in 2012. By this time, however, the name of the game was iSomething. Ask a teenager what type of mobile they have and they’ll often say an iPhone, even if it’s Android device. Similarly iPod and iPad have become the standard term for media players and tablets. With the release of the iPad mini, even mid-sized tablets no longer seem distinct from the fruity products.


This all seems good for the Cupertino mothership, with brand recognition supporting their product with much higher product margins than anyone else (Samsung sells more but makes less), while their tied-in software and content distribution system also buoys up their profits more than in the more open Android marketplaces.


But this is a double-edged sword as at least two companies have learned before: Kleenex and Hoover. They became so ubiquitous and their products so associated with the product class that they effectively lost much of their trademark protection due to genericisation. Google made a strong effort to prevent this, although both the OED and Miriam-Websters include the verb “to google” as a synonym for searching the Web, particularly but not solely with the Google search engine.


I am hearing a lot of usage of iPhone, iPod and iPad to refer to smartphones, media players and tablets, particularly at places like airports where we’re told to take our iPads out of bags and iPods/iPhones out of pockets for security screening, and on planes where we’re told to switch off our iPods/iPhones and iPads for take-off and landing, and only use our iPhones in airplane mode while in-flight.


While it may seem a boon to their current business model to be the poster-child of the current generation, becoming too generic can lose your edge in law and undermine your position in the market as the brand people will pay more for (which seems to be and remain the core of Apple’s approach [pun intended]).


Current Mood: Jetlagged
Current Music: Dune (2001) OST


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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So, for once I’m moved to do a non-book review blog.


The week before last I cut my finger. About a 1cm long shallow slash just below the last joint of my right index finger. So, this kind of things happens all the time, and why am I blogging it? Well, because I gut it on some cheese. Wow, that was some sharp cheese!


I made soup last night with some kabocha (Japanes squash variety with inside flesh pretty much like a pumpkin but with a green skin) and with some satoimo (also called taro, under which name you might have seen it outside Japan in restaurants, particularly in slices for tempura). This is a relatively common dish for me these days. The recipe is based on a leek and potato base (which can be used for all sorts of other flavourings like asparagus). I just substitute some kabocha and satoimo for the  potato. The particular satoimo I had in is one with a purple flesh as well as purple skin (most of the ones available in Japan are purple-skinned but have pale yellow flesh). Combined with the orange kabocha flesh this usually makes for a yellow/orange soup. However, the purple flesh meant that, like mixing all the colours of plasticine together, the result was pretty much brown. A slight purple-tinged brown in this case, but definitely brown. Very tasty, though.


I’m now mostly back to my normal diet now. At least I’m able to eat high residue foods like Weetabix and brown bread again. I’m still being quite careful with spices, working my way back up to chili, via increaing amounts of pepper and ginger in things. I’m still avoiding Indian (I had an Indian the evening before my colitis attack and while I’m fairly sure it wasn’t the direct cause, I am pretty sure the spices did not help) and Thai so far, and only using tiny amounts of (fake)wasabi in soba dipping sauce and sashimi soy dipping sauce.


I had one of those odd coincidences last night. I bumped my little side table with my leg as I sat down and spilled some coffee. A very small amount got onto the TV remote controller, though I was fairly sure it was only on the surface and didnt get inside at all. We were watching an episode of Once Upon a Time at that point, so I didn ‘t need the TV controller, only the media player controller, until after the episode. It didn’t work. So, figuring it was a coincidence I swapped out the batteries for a pair in my laptop bag, as they were the closest to hand. Still no joy. I left it until this morning to see if it was moisture inside, but still no joy. Before trying to replace the unit, I tried with a fresh set of batteries from the cupboard and it worked. The batteries in my latop bag must have been there too long or were used ones I’d put in there while travelling at some point and not taken out. Ho hum, at least I didn’t find this out after buying a replacement controller.


Current Mood: (numb) numb
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Japanese has a lot of homophones. This is at least partly due to their importing of Chinese characters and their pronunciation. Japanese has a much more limited set of phonemes than Chinese and so symbols which have different sounds in Chinese get imported into the same sound in Japanese. These collisions or near collisions make Japanese a great language for puns, as are Chinese and English for both related and different reasons. My flashcard system Anki is set to give me 15 new cards a day from (currently) the JLPT 1 set of vocabulary, which some kind other user have entered (I alter them to my needs and preferences as they come up). Today, the word 幹部 pronounced “kanbu” meaning executive, senior manager or officer came up. I often double-check words for extra meanings (and particularly for use as adjectives – many Japanese nouns can be used as adjectives with the particle な or the adjectival phrase 的な added). The electronic dictionary I use does lookup by phonetic entry (using roman letters though it has a kana entry option as well, though most Japanese people seem to use the roman letters, too). The first entry for “kanbu” is not the word I was looking for, but the homophone 患部 meaning “diseased part”. Great fun for puns, methinks.


Apologies if the Japanese characters don’t get transferred to LJ properly.




Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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I hit another personal best in the pool today. Not bad for a guy with a hole in his leg. I did 50 lengths of a 25m pool using two lanes in 25 minutes and 45 seconds. My previous best was 26 minutes 38 seconds in a single lane. I’m pretty sure that changing lanes slows me down a tad (over 50 lengths even half a second per length adds 25 seconds) so I’m interested what I can manage when I’m next in one lane. This is also a best at the Ryogoku pool. The previous best was in the Kinshicho pool. In the Ryogoku pool they usually have two lanes set up for serious swimming, each one being fo an inner (quick) and outer (slow) half-lane. When there’s a class (they do young kids swimming classes, adult/elder exercise and swimming classes) or a school swimming club in, they restrict it to one lan. Kinshicho alwyas have at least two lanes allocated to serious swimming, sometimes up to four. In general these are all back and forth half lanes, though sometimes one side of the pool is set for one pair marked for “outer overtaking” (the Ryogoku concept is better for that one, I think). When I first started using the Kinshicho pool when it opened I always seemed to be slowed in there. I’m not sure if it was the extra walk and stairs (at the station and in the gym building) though I suspect it’s that the water/air temperature in that pool was a touch higher. They seem to have dropped the air and water temperature in there and that seems to help with my swimming speed. Or maybe I was just levelling up anyway and it’s coincidence that I seem to be faster at Kinshicho than even in one lane at Ryogoku. If it’s two lanes tomorrow at Ryogoku, then it will be one lane in Kinshicho on Tuesday anyway. I’ve had a dream of getting down to 25 minutes for fifty lengths, but wasn’t sure i could do it. It’s down to technique as much as anything at this point. I noticed that I had a “hitch” in my crawl style just after my hand enters the water and worked yesterday and today to kep a smoother action. It seem to have worked. I do alternate lengths crawl and breaststroke to work out different muscles.


Current Mood: (uncomfortable) uncomfortable
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Yesterday I took $DAUGHTER to Kinshicho Park. She reall enjoys the fountain (with sideshows) and the playground in there. It’s all new, rebuilt in the last two years. On the pedestrian way in nearest the train station there are 15 inch high removable bollards. I know exactly how high they are because there’s a hole in the skin on my shin 15 inches up where I walked into one of them. It’s hard to see down there them when carrying a toddler on your front and you’re paying attention to elders with walking frames, kids and adults on bikes and other parents with pushchairs.


Ouch.


Current Mood: (uncomfortable) uncomfortable
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Fascinating article in the Atlantic magazine showing pictures from the only official photographer in the Manhattan Project’s secret city.


Current Mood: artistic
Current Music: Battlestar Galactica (2003) Miniseries Soundtrack


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

*Thwump*

Jun. 27th, 2012 01:39 pm
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It’s somewhat ironic that Japan’s National Institute of Informatics requires paper submission of job applications. So, ten page application form, three copies of three papers (ranging from eight to 23 pages), covering letter and trwo references hand-submitted (their offices are five minutes walk from my current workplace, so I figured it was better to drop it of in person than run any risk with the post. I’m told they get 150 applicants per year for the one or two posts they appoint, so this is a long shot.


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: Avatar Soundtrack


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

Airports

Jun. 21st, 2012 07:44 am
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So, here I am again in the lounge at Narita airport. I spend far too much of my life in places like this and in this lounge particularly. Still, at least I’ve got access to the lounge. The thing I find about having to fly economy but having status is that access to the business lounge does reduce the stress of travel. It’s not the free drinks and snacks (my diet goes out of the window when I fly anyway so the snacks aren’t good for me) but the more comfortable chairs are nice. What’s nicest though is that they’re much quieter than waiting in the general concourse. Plus they usually have free WiFi. The one here wants my name and email address, but doesn’t check it so they get a fake one.


I was up about ten minutes before my alarm this morning so made an earlier train. The first Skyliner of the day, actually. That is only about fifteen minutes before the second one. I found out why when I got to Narita and had to wait in a queue for Security. Not unusual, but this queue was for the security check to open at all (it opened at 07:30 and I was in the queue at 07:25). I must remember that for future early flights. Not much point getting here before 07:20 at the earliest.


Security and immigration (sic – it’s really emigration but they still call it immigration) were as easy as they ever are in these days of security theatre and then I headed here to the lounge. There were only a couple of people here ahead of me and they were already ensconced in their seats with coffees or whatever. Just as I had dropped my bags by a seat with power nearby and was heading towards the coffee machines, one of them starting spurting water onto the floor from two nozzles in a steady stream. I was nowhere near. There were no staff in sight so I popped out to the reception desk to let them know about this. Unfortunately the English of the woman on the desk wasn’t good enough to understand, nor was my Japanese good enough at this time of the morning, so I just had to tell her there was a serious problem and to please come and see.


They got it sorted out without too much trouble. I’m just glad I wasn’t standing in front of the machine when it started spurting out.


Next stop, Frankfurt, then Tuebingen via Stuttgart on the train.


Current Mood: (tired) tired
Current Music: Airport Lounge Muzak - not too bad, something quiet with lots of strings


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

Typhoon

Jun. 19th, 2012 10:38 pm
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There’s a typhoon comng through Tokyo just now. It’s 23:30 and the wind is really picking up. It’s going to be tough to get to sleep with this noise which is a shame because I wanted to get an earlier night than before. Oh well, coming through overnight means les disruption to things like trains. I just hope it sticks to timetable and is really gone by tomorrow morning. I have an early flight out to Germany on Thursday and if there’s significant disruption to schedules on Wednesday there may be knock-on effects on Thursday. I got delayed by 16 hours (luckily at home nt at the airport) last year due to a typhoon and have twice been caught on Shinkansen trains (each time for about 5 hours) by them.


The people I fel sorriest for are those in the Tohoku area still in temporary accomodations from last year’s earthquake. Yes, there are still significant numbers in that kind of situation. While not as bad as last year’s season when a couple made direct landfall in Tohoku (this one mad landfall just south of Nagoya so will have spent the worst of its Fury on Shizuoka, Tokyo and Chiba before hitting Tohoku) it must still be adding more misery on top of a hard life up there.


Current Mood: Hiccoughing
Current Music: Dr Who Season 6 Soundtrack, plus Typhoon WInd Accompaniment


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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