Monday, November 09, 2009

Trip to Seoul

Arrived in Seoul for BarCamp Seoul 4, which is taking place tomorrow. Flying from Tokyo Haneda airport was so much more pleasant than flying from Tokyo Narita airport. Partly this was because Haneda airport is actually in Tokyo, unlike Narita airport which is in Chiba.

I took the subway from Gimpo airport to Seoul station and then walked to the Millennium Hilton hotel. The subway in Seoul is cheap, clean and not very crowded. The announcements are in Korean, English and Japanese, as are many of the signs.

The Millennium Hilton hotel is as expensive as it is cheap. Expensive hotels often look cheap because they are full of cheap, crappy people. My room was on the executive floor, because I'm an executive. I was dressed as a tramp, but I was still allowed in. The girl working at the executive reception swiped my credit card many times when I checked in. In the end it either worked or she gave up, so I was able to check in and go to my room.

As I was unpacking my stuff there was as knock on the door of my hotel room. It was a guy bringing me some chocolates and grapes. Very strange. I ate the chocolates, threw away the grapes, and proceeded to the executive lounge in order to use the Net and get some free drinks. As one might have expected, there was nothing "executive" about the people in the executive lounge. Scum.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Most Dismal Of Sciences

Computer Science (sic) is utterly pathetic. Alan Kay once said something like "If a physicist was unaware of the work of Newton, he/she would be beaten to death with an apple". I wish the same could be said of ignorant computer scientists.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adrian Cheok's Mixed Reality Lab at Keio

This morning I visited the Mixed Reality Lab at Keio university, run by professor Adrian Cheok. I was invited along by David Sonntag, who was making the visit with Kenneth Boff, principle scientist at the Georgia Tech Tennenbaum Institute. Paul Cohen from and Jonathan Coopersmith, Fulbright lecturer from the Tokyo Institute of Technology also joined the visit.

We were given demonstrations of a variety of projects involving augmented reality including:

Human Pacman
A pacman game played outside by people wearing AR HUDs.

Babbage Cabbage
A living display capable of showing slow changes in data trends though the medium of color-changing plants.

A tactile device for augmenting children's social networks, while providing parental supervision and control.

Kitchen Media
A research project aiming at developing augmentation devices for use in the kitchen.

Wiz Qubes
A augmented story book system in which the child interacts with a computerized book using physical blocks.

Age Invaders
A space invaders game resembling Dance-Dance-Revolution in which elderly people can play with their family from a remote location.

I was very impressed by Adrian's team, it was clear that the lab is made up of a very wide rage of people from a variety of backgrounds, it's not just a bunch of techies. I plan to visit the lab in the near future to give a presentation on some the of the tech stuff I'm involved with, such at the Tokyo Hackerspace.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tokyo BarCamp Happened...

Tokyo BarCamp 2006 "As We May Think" still seems like a dream, but there are quite a few photos online that seem to suggest it really did take place:

I'm trying not to think too much about what went well and what could have been better at BarCamp. I just think we need to do loads more stuff. There should be worth-while something happening every day of the week in Tokyo. Tokyo is big, and there are plenty of cool people in and around Tokyo who are doing cool things so there's really no excuse for slackness.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tokyo BarCamp: Location And Date Confirmed!

I'm exceedingly pleased to announce that Sun Microsystems will be hosting Tokyo BarCamp on Saturday, 16th May. Places are very limited so please sign up here: Tokyo BarCamp When you sign up please include a link so we can contact you directly. Alternatively you can email me daac2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

Many thanks to Jim Grisanzio and Shoji Haraguchi who will be our hosts are Sun. Also thanks to all our other sponsors who are helping to make Tokyo BarCamp 2009 a reality.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tokyo Barcamp 2009: As We May Think

The theme for Tokyo Barcamp is "As We May Think". Participate in Tokyo BarCamp, exploring the future of technology and how we might use it to augment every aspect of our lives.

"As We May Think" is a seminal essay by Vannevar Bush written in 1945. You can read it here: As We May Think I strongly suggest you do. Here are some more resources:

Videos you probably ought to watch
The Web That Wasn't Google Tech Talk by Alex Wright
Hyperland 1990 BBC programme by Douglas Adams about emerging Internet
The Demo The mother of all demos by Doug Engelbart
Transclusion: Fixing Electronic Literature Google Tech Talk by Ted Nelson
Starfire 1994 Sun Mircrosystems concept video.
Douglas Engelbart Doug Engelbart interviewed at Google.
The Politics of Internet Software Ted Nelson talk at the Oxford Internet Institute

Books you probably ought to read:
Geeks Bearing Gifts by Ted Nelson
Tools For Thought by Howard Reingold
Literary Machines by Ted Nelson
Virtual Communities by Howard Reingold
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy
Glut: The Deep History of Information Science by Alex Wright
From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine by James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Four Principles and The One Law

Are you still struggling to understand the concept of Barcamp? Maybe understanding Open Space Technology will help:

The four principles of Open Space Technology:
  1. Whoever comes is the right people: this alerts the participants that attendees of a session class as "right" simply because they care to attend
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have: this tells the attendees to pay attention to events of the moment, instead of worrying about what could possibly happen
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time: clarifies the lack of any given schedule or structure and emphasizes creativity and innovation
  4. When it's over, it's over: encourages the participants not to waste time, but to move on to something else when the fruitful discussion ends
The one law:
If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go to some other place where you may learn and contribute.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You Are Standing In A Wiki. What Now?

There's been a great deal of interest in Tokyo barcamp but some people still seem to be confused about what it exactly is and how it differs from regular tech events.

One way of thinking about barcamp is to imagine yourself standing inside a wiki. You want to learn, teach and discuss. Barcamp provides you with a small amount of structure in order to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, skills, opinions and ideas. What makes barcamp so different though is that you can "edit" barcamp in the same way that you can edit a wiki. Think about that for a while...

When a group of enthusiastic, open-minded and knowledgeable people are in a small space together for an extended period of time, amazing things tend to happen. Difficult problems are solved, projects are born, minds are expanded. The whole is far, far greater than the sum of the parts. This is the real-world manifestation of Web 2.0. This is self-organization. This is emergence. This is the most intense thing you will ever experience.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bar Camp Tokyo 2009

I've decided to organize a Bar Camp in Tokyo for late May. (See the entry Wikipedia for background on Bar Camp).

Please sign up here if you want to attend: Tokyo BarCamp

You can follow Tokyo Barcamp on Twatter:

Bar Camp differs from other tech conferences in that everyone must participate. There are no presentations/workshops/discussions scheduled in advance, instead attendees sign up to do events on the day, usually by writing their events on huge pieces of paper on the walls. Also, Bar Camp is free.

At Tokyo Bar Camp expect presentations/workshops/discussions on blogging, podcasting, Perl, AJAX, the theory of hypertext, web spidering, smart mobs, wiki, Ruby-On-Rails, wearable computers, augmented reality, startups, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web 4.0, the maker revolution and maybe even teledildonics.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Change Of Focus

Although I will still follow infosec, my main focus from this point on will be building Web 4.0. Somebody has to. The Web is too important to leave to a bunch of dickheads who think Starbucks is cool...

I aim to start with a Web 4.0 Intranet, possibly something running over a Bluetooth PAN. Anyone want to give me some startup money?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tame Goes Wild

For no particular reason I found myself revisiting Tame Goes Wild, one of the best websites I've ever seen. It is simply huge. And very well written. And full of practical information. And it contains 15,825 photos that Joseph Tame has taken over the past 20 years. And it makes me feel very jealous. If I can turn this jealousy into action I might be able to turn Tokyo Robotnik into something decent. (although I'll make sure it doesn't lose its harshness)

Someone (that British twat from Wired and the EFF, I think) once said that you should never look at the Web when trying to do something constructive because you will always find thousands of people who have done it already, and much better than you could ever hope to. Another way of putting it is that the Web is so big that it makes everyone feel small. Thanks a lot, Joseph Tame...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Twattering

I seem to be spending more time on Twitter. This is clearly a bad thing. AFAIK, there is no way to receive SMS on Japanese mobile phones. Does anyone know of a gateway that I can use?

Follow me on Twitter, if you really have nothing better to do:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Staying Safe On And Off Line

The EFF have built a great website about how to be more secure when using computers. The best thing is that it's aimed at beginners.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Reading List

Seven books I intend to read soon. I don't own any of them so if you have them and are in Japan please lend them to me!

The Laurie Lee Trilogy
"Cider With Rosie", "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" and "A Moment Of War"
I always think of Laurie Lee as being someone you read at school for GCSE/O-Level English Literature. Cider With Rosie is also a favourite of English Language schools, in fact, I first heard of it when a Spanish home-stay student living with my family was reading it as part of her summer English course. Having said that, My friend Damon Coulter swears by Lee so I think I'll probably like his stuff a lot. Lee seems to have lived quite an incredible life, although not quite as incredible as my own.

"The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom"
by T. E. Lawrence
Laurence Of Arabia's autobiography. This is probably the book I am most looking forward to reading at the moment. I'm also looking forward to dragging my family into the desert in a few years time to ride on camels, navigate by the stars, look at mirages and generally pretend we are in a Tintin story.

"A Murder Of Quality" by John le Carré
This is le Carré's second novel. I've recently re-read his first: "Call For The Dead". His early stuff is simply amazing. It's a pity his recent novels are junk.

"The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp" by William Henry Davies
I remember hearing extracts of this being read on the Mark And Lard Show on BBC Radio One in the late 1990's. One extract I remember very clearly is when the author got his foot crushed while jumping onto the back of a freight train in the USA.

The Human Cougar by Lloyd Morain
Morain's hard-to-find book on drifters, hobos and wanderers. I've heard it's a real gem.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Thank Fuck It's Not Friday

Between my two Japanese lessons I had lunch at T.G.I. Friday's. Fuck. Very, very, very grim indeed. I feel so sorry for the staff, they are forced to dress and act like simpletons. I took lunch with a Korean friend called Jasmine and Li, her Chinese friend. I struggled to keep up with the conversation as the two of them speak much better Japanese than me. Jasmine spent several years living in Hong Kong and mainland China so Jasmine and Li's lingua franca is Mandarin, not English. Our conversation was thus a mixture of Japanese and Mandarin, with very little English. I had to think so hard that my brain bled.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goodbye Windows

This evening I read an article entitled "10 Things Windows 7 Must Do To Succeed". I find it amazing that people still talk about Windows. The only thing Windows needs to do is fuck-off-and-die, as soon as possible.

While Windows is probably one of the worst pieces of software ever created, I strongly believe that all other popular OSes are also pretty crappy, although Mac OS X and Linux are certainly the worst. I just wish Windows would go away so we can focus on everything that's wrong with current OS architecture and UI.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reverend Billy on Off The Hook

Listened to the Reverend Billy being interviewed on Off The Hook. A few months ago I watched his documentary "What Would Jesus Buy?" on Google Video Great stuff.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Second Life, Second Wife

As a result of listening to Scott Lockman's fascinating podcast "Meet Scottlo Scorbal" I've been thinking about Second Life a lot recently.
I don't have a computer that can run the SL client, but I hope to buy or build one soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me Needs Meades

Taught all day. One of my lessons consisted of watching a Jonathan Meades program "Absentee Landlord" with one of my students. I sometimes think I'm the luckiest person alive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tokyo Calling, Over And Out

Just got the rather shocking news that Scott Lockman has decided not to continue his podcast "Tokyo Calling":

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to bring you this little audio thing for the past four years. I've decided to finally end the wonderful ride to pursue other interests.

It saddens me deeply to think that there will be no more episodes of Tokyo Calling. It has had a huge influence on me over the past few years. On the other hand, it's great the Scott has ended on such a high note.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I, Robert

Started reading Asimov's "I, Robot", probably for the sixth time. It is my sincere hope that Asimov will be remembered as a clumsy and dull writer.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

First Day Of Spring

The weather was lovely today, about 20 degrees centigrade. In such good weather it seemed appropriate to stay indoors so I watched several episodes of "The Computer Chronicles" on Google Video. In the afternoon I took a walk into the "real" Japan to meet a couple of friends. We chatted for several hours about the technology industry, focusing on the concepts of built-in obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tuck My Life

I spent several hours this evening reading It made me feel quite a bit better about myself.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Forensics Can Be Fun

My experiences with technology tend to be negative, so I'm usually overjoyed when something actually works. Today I was able recover my photos of Thailand from a corrupted memory card using some straightforward forensics software. I am as surprised as I am happy...

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I've finally joined Twitter, mainly so that nobody else take the user name "karamoon".

Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bullet In The Head

Taught kids this morning. Had lunch with my friend and her lovely 3-year-old daughter. Afterwards I felt happy, so I watched some stuff about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes:
The incident was investigated by the Independent(sic) Police Complaints Commission, which is rather odd as de Menzezes was shot by special forces, not police. Needless to say, I no longer feel happy and probably never will again.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Cuckoo's Egg

Started reading "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Cliff Stoll. I tend to agree with everyone else, it really is one of the most exciting books on computer security ever written...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Don't Be Afraid Of The Light

We are told that it is darkness, and that entering it will result in unspeakable woe. The nature of the woe is not even hinted at, I guess this is why it is "unspeakable woe".

To go as far as to say that the darkness is actually light, and that what we are living in is darkness, to say that we should all plunge into the light and find salvation within it... Talk of these ideas in forbidden.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Resorting To The Resort

For some reason I was compelled to telnet to "The Resort", a virtual community from the days before the web.

If you've never telnetted to anything before, now is the time to start:

In Windoze: Hit Start, click "Run" then type "cmd" and hit return. This will open a command prompt. Type "telnet"

In Mac OS X: Open a terminal window and type "telnet"

In Linux open a text shell such as bash and type "telnet"


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Cheshire Catalyst Makes Me Want To Die

Well, it's not really Richard Cheshire who makes me want to die, it's actually his writing. Cheshire's writing is evil. There's no other word for it. Read his articles in 2600, read his website, and you too will want to die.

I particularly recommend his coffee stories. They take you beyond death.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hackers: Bystanders Of The Computer Revolution

Currently reading "Hackers: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution" by Steven Levy. It's not very good.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rogue Trader 88888

Watched "Rogue Trader", the true story of Nick Leeson, a Singapore trader for Barings Bank. Leeson started to secretly trade for the bank in an effort to cover up a mistake that one of his colleagues had made. Needless to say, the consequences were as disastrous as they were hilarious...

Rogue Trader is a very cheap film with a made-for-tv feel, but the story is engrossing and the lead is played by Ewan McGregor who manages to add a little quality to the film. Watch it now.

Nick Leeson now tours the UK, telling people how to crash the banking system. You can book him at