Bits and Pieces: A random update

About that video I posted last Friday. I had an epiphany while watching his God-awful performance. If a guy can stand up in front of a crowd and not only sing the world’s most horrible song (even the lyrics were atrocious) but also revel in the attention and attract at least one fan (the adulator with the uchiwa in the video), then there’s a whole lot more I could be doing with my life if I just let go of my fear. Maria is my new hero. He’s probably completely insane, but he’s living his life with the right attitude.

There are so many things I scare myself out of doing. He accomplished something in that performance that struck a chord with me. (Har har.) I want to be more like him, minus the makeup and the head thrashing.

Next subject. I added gravatars to my blog’s comment pages. If you register your own gravatar, it’ll show up on any other blog plugged into the same system. I like being able to see who I’m interacting with. Thanks to everyone who showed their faces a week or two back. Now every post can be like that!

Next subject. Tony, our 10 year old, is reluctantly learning to read in English. While he sits in my lap and plays Counter Strike on the PC, I make him earn the privilege by having him sound out new words and correcting him when his swears are grammatically incorrect. (BTW, thanks Oliver for teaching him “Aaah shit!” He never said that until he pwned you at Red Steel on the WII.) Yesterday Tony read “Downloading Map” off the screen and really surprised me. Before bedtime we read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish together. It practically killed him to engage his brain that for that long, but he stayed with me through whole book. Barely.

This week I’m going to start learning Java (finally) with the O’Reilly Java Bookin their excellent Head First series. Previously I read the book on HTML and CSSand liked it a lot. I’m also trying to learn JavaScriptthese days. Life is too short, and I feel like I’ve wasted too much of it already.

Last item on the agenda. I posted some photos of Tony and Andy’s undokai, which was last Saturday. It’s the first in a series of “interesting but boring” photos I plan to take of just daily stuff that won’t be good enough to throw up on Flickr. At least take a look at the panorama of the school grounds.

[tags]geek stuff, Tony, fear, Java, JavaScript[/tags]

Sembei with holy frikkin’ WASPS in them!

This is the kind of news from Japan I suspect is the norm. Am I right or wrong? I’ll admit that it’s a fact, as reported a few days ago by the Asahi Shimbun, that that a town called Omachi in Nagano Prefecture is selling rice crackers with wholesome waspy goodness baked right in.


But if you come away with only one new bit of knowledge after reading my blog, I hope it’s the realization that this kind of stuff makes the news because it’s not normal.

All the weird, zany, wacky news from Japan like this you read on blogs? Most of it is considered weird here too. I’ve seen and eaten all kinds of sembei throughout my 18 years of living here, but you could live out your whole life in this country and never come across any kind of food with bugs in it on purpose. The thing is, I bet if I started posting news like this more often, my readership and Google ranking (currently 4, which is pretty darn good) would increase. I refuse to do that. In fact, I try my best to do the opposite: show you what daily life is really like (i.e. kinda boring, really).

But I have to admit, I’d love to try jibachi sembei. If it passes for “food” somewhere in the world, I’ll eat it. Whenever there’s something on a menu that’s outrageous or I don’t know what exactly it is, that’s what I order.

And please, call them “sembei,” not “rice crackers.” It irks me it when people call food by its description instead of its real name.

The HFJ DVD, Vol. 1

I’m putting all the original full-resolution DV video files onto a DVD to send to my family back home. Would anyone else like a copy? (If anyone says yes, I’ll be surprised.) I figure $10 + shipping is fair. If you ever put money into my PayPal tipjar, then to say thank you I’ll charge only $5 + shipping. And if I can figure out a way to let you download the ISO and burn your own copy, then no shipping fee, obviously. Lastly, if you ever did me a huge favor like bring me Kraft Macaroni & Cheese or send me a MacOS 9 CD, if you want one I’ll send it to you for free.

Here’s a list of all the videos I’ve put up and which of them will be on the DVD:

  • Goin’ To Work (The 1st ever video from 2005 June 25) – Low res, too ugly for DVD
  • Tokyo Disney Sea Videoblog – Low res, ditto
  • Meal Ticket – Ditto
  • A Video Tour of Roppongo – Ditto.
  • Conveyor Belt Sushi – Ditto. All these were taking with my Sony Clie PDA.
  • Apple Store Shibuya – If someone really wants it, I’ll recreate it. I didn’t save the full res version.
  • A Walk Through a Supermarket – Same as above. I hate this video (because it makes me motion sick), but it’s popular on YouTube.
  • House Tour: On DVD at full resolution
  • How to Open a Bottle of Lamune: Ditto
  • The Roller Slide at Yu-Land: Ditto
  • The X-Box Lounge: Ditto
  • New Year’s Eve at the Pav’s: Ditto
  • Hatsumode: Ditto
  • Lunch at Grandpa’s on New Year’s: Ditto
  • Swimming at Kusuragi-no-yu: Ditto, and I misspelled Kusurogi. Tough darts.
  • Sleep Clinic Video: Don’t know if I can find the original DV tape. Is it worth looking for?
  • Walking to Work: The Movie: Approx 80% chance I can find the DV tape. I really should try.
  • Herro Flom There: On DVD at full-res
  • The Bug Video: Ditto
  • My First Movie: Not available; re-creating it doesn’t feel right.
  • Andy’s First Vlog: On DVD at full-res
  • Tony’s Turn!: Ditto
  • The Beach is No Place for a Married Man: Ditto

Or, how does this sound? If there are enough people willing to part with $19.95 + shipping, I’ll offer the following:

  • I’ll definitely find all the lost originals mentioned above
  • If they fit, I’ll add the crappy Sony Clie vids at the end.
  • I’ll add subtitles to Tony’s video, without complaining.
  • I’ll finally edit together the other two videos I welched on back in January (Lunch From Hell, Indoor Fishing)
  • I have footage shot long ago that I never used or even mentioned. If there are enough people willing to spend $19.95 to watch it, I’ll finally edit it. There’s probably enough for at least three more videos, maybe more.

Whether or not anyone’s interested in a DVD, I’ll keep making videocasts whenever I can.

“What about podcasts,” you ask? I ought to make a podcast to answer that question. I have a lot of thoughts on it. It’s a bit complicated.

Yet another really nasty security hole

Two serious security holes in two weeks is a very bad thing, especially because the second one sounds a lot like crying wolf. Last week’s hole had security experts saying, “This is pretty bad, but it could be worse.” From the sound of things, this week’s is worse.

A flaw in how Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange handle enriched text can be used to hack computers simply by sending a malformed e-mail message. Apparently all you need to do is receive one of these messages and you’re hacked. The hole hasn’t been exploited yet and Microsoft already released a patch, so visit and install it ASAP.

Lots of people are quite happy with Outlook, but to me it’s a bloated, overly complicated and insecure piece of shit. I use Thunderbird. Eudora is also nice, but it won’t translate my spam mail into Swedish Chef English like Thunderbird.

60gb Video iPod users: don’t upgrade the firmware

The firmware upgrade that was released yesterday causes files encoded with Videora to stutter and lose the audio. You can restart the video to regain the audio, but after a few seconds it happens all over again, making the videos impossible to watch.

Dammit, over vacation I re-encoded all my videos with Videora. The “House Tour” video stutters, as do lot of the TV shows I’ve downloaded. The culprit is probably the x264 open source encoder, which is mush faster than Apple’s, probably because it doesn’t do as much error checking.

I haven’t been able to find a working link to the firmware updater from 11/2005, so your best bet is to dig up the CD-ROM that came with your iPod.

HFJ official memo: Damn, the new iPod doesn’t play widescreen video.

Copy/pasted from Gizmodo:

The new iPod is has a 16×9 4:3 screen, 320×340 320X240 pixels and 260,000 colors. Realtime decoding of MPEG4 and H.264. Video out. The 30GB for $299 and 60GB for $399 will be out next week. The 60GB model is thinner than the current 20GB. They come in white and black.

iTunes 6. The iTunes store will have 2,000 music videos. $1.99 each. Pixar movies will be available as well, for $1.99! No burning allowed, but you can play the flicks on up to five computers and as many iPods as you want. The videos are protected by Fairplay.

Hey, look! There’s a PayPal link over on the right. Donate now and receive a custom video of me singing your name over and over while I frolic naked through a field of wildflowers. (Sorry Anders, the offer isn’t retroactive.)

Update: I guess I need to figure out how to make letterbox widescreen videos. I already paid $50 for the wide angle lens, so I don’t want to go back to fullscreen 4:3.

Need a domain name?

This is a public service announcement. Yahoo is selling domain names for $2.99 a year. Every other dirt cheap registrar charges at least $9.99. Hurry while supplies last!

I might as well make a podcast tonight, since I won’t be able to get to sleep until I find out what Apple is set to announce. If it’s a video iPod, the way I figure, I’m bound for stardom.

Oh, and hello to whoever-you-are in Tbilisi. I seeeee yoooooou.