Fixed!

Nothing too interesting here, but I managed to fix my home PC this morning. I guess the C drive is starting to crap out intermittently. It probably got stuck or overheated, and when the machine rebooted the BIOS couldn’t find it and promoted the next drive on the list to startup. All I had to do was designate the correct drive as the boot drive and it worked.

I warned you, not interesting.

Speaking of not interesting, lately I’ve been spending all my weeknights in a Starbucks somewhere, reading the Japanese translation of Catcher in the Rye. Had I not lost my iPod I probably wouldn’t have bought the book. I use my retro-cool Sony Clie as an electronic dictionary (it kicks the Nintendo DS’s ass eight ways into next Thursday) and footnote all the new words and phrases in red pen. On the train home (usually the last one) I re-read everything and try to think of ways I’d use in daily life the phrases that are new to me, so that I’m “owning” them instead of just trying to memorize them.

The company I work for is in negotiations with a major international publisher to produce a podcast for them. One of the biggest publishers in the world by far, but you’ll never guess in a million years which one, and when I can finally tell you you’ll smack yourself in the forehead. I can’t even give you a hint. I won’t be the voice, just the producer, and when you find out who the publisher is you’ll understand why. If all goes well, it’ll start in July.

I need some computer help

Booting my home PC by using an Ubuntu live CD shows that all my drives are OK. The problem is that Windows XP isn’t booting, as if either the C drive’s boot sector is toast or the system directory is somehow corrupted. All I see after the BIOS boots is a black screen with a flashing cursor.

Does anyone know of a utility that might be able to fix the problem?

The latest tool in my video arsenal

SUPER © is a video conversion swiss army knife coded by an extremely long-winded and perhaps slightly insane Frenchman. Pick any two video codecs and SUPER © will convert between them. I’m using it to make the new flash videos you see here. This free utility works better than software I paid good money for. (Flash Video Studio 1.7, $50 wasted.)

The HairCutCast

Wow, youse guys are so lucky! Two and a half podcasts flom Japan in one weekend! Oh how I envy you.

There are photos in the gallery. The truth is they’ve been there for quite a while.

Some of the topics of discussion I had with the woman who cut my hair:

  • I am a podcaster. That’s why I took all those photos while I was waiting, and it’s also why I have microphones in my ears.
  • She never heard of podcasting, but she knows about MP3 players.
  • She said, “So this is kind of like watching a video clip filmed while riding a roller coaster and feeling like you’re there, eh?”
  • She’s still using Windows 98. Needs to upgrade but not looking forward to the pain of transferring all her programs to a new computer. The other day she cut a guy’s hair who said he has three PCs that are still running Windows 95. I said he must really like it.
  • Until 8 years ago, it was illegal to run a shop like QB House because of strict sanitary regulations. Also, the minimum price for a haircut was regulated. ($30-$40 minimum) In fact, the association for hair cutters still requires members to fix their prices. QB House isn’t a member.
  • The 300th QB House in Japan will open soon. There are stores in other countries too. She mentioned Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
  • You get to keep the comb.

QB House links:

  • Business is booming. The number of customers is in orange, the number of stores in blue
  • The “service unit.” Nice and sterile sounding, eh? You can hold your mouse over areas of the image to see explanations most of you won’t be able to read. But it’s cool because it’s in Japanese, right?
  • The next generation cutting station will include a video monitor to bombard customers with advertisements deliver various information to customers.
  • Employment info. Full time employees make about US $22-45,000 a year. Part-timers make $10/hr and up, which means the company is really raking in money, but keep in mind that rent and electricity here are quite expensive.