My Japan Photo Contest

The Mainichi Daily News is into the 3rd week of its My Japan photo competition. Here are some of the more interesting ones I’ve seen.

Before and After: Train accidents necessitated the uglification of this area in Saitama.

This was taken in Mother Bokujo in Chiba prefecture. The place was awesome, it is antithesis of everything that is Tokyo megalopolitan. I just love seeing vast, open space in this place. The weather was also beautiful thatday! (Wisnu Tejasukmana)

“Even the dead can view the cherry blossoms!” This photo was taken last year at a cemetery (in Toda Kinen Park) in Atsuta, Hokkaido. Walking though this lane during “sakura-fubuki” was breath-taking. We (and the graves on the left of the photo) were showered with blossom petals! (Corazon Niwase)

This one reminds me of the matsuri race level in Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, which I’m taking a break from on account of its extreme difficulty.

Google Calendar is Live! (beta, of course)

It’s fast, it’s beautiful, it’s amazing. Just last week, after starting work, I was wishing for this to be released and looked around for alternatives. Eventually I decided that I could live on paper and Kinkless until Google shipped, because really I want integration with Gmail and everything. And this week it’s out! Who would have thunk it.

Try it out. It’s got keyboard shortcuts, instant-loading javascript overlays, and can SMS reminders to you (probably US users only). It allows you to send appointments to your friends, synchronize them, and share your schedule with people who need to know.

Also, Google has implemented the coolest pseudo-intelligent productivity solution since the now-defunct Black Jesus Algorithm from Synapse AI!

What’s the Quick Add feature?

Don’t like filling out complicated forms? The Quick Add box can (almost) read your mind. If you type in something like “Brunch with Mom at Java 11am Sunday,” Quick Add can figure out what you mean and pop the new event right into your calendar.

More ICQ unpleasantries

I even get messages from China while I’m at work.

(10:51:52) 190403526: Are you on line?
(10:51:59) brandon: yes and who are you?
(10:52:49) 190403526: i am a chinese girl.
(10:53:07) brandon: i am a chinese boy. it must be fate.
(10:53:40) 190403526: really?
(10:53:55) brandon: really.
(10:54:04) brandon: i think you should give me your credit card number for safekeeping.
(10:54:35) brandon: now that we are a pair, i must protect our shared interests in the event of an accident.
(10:54:35) 190403526: why?
(10:55:00) 190403526: no
(10:55:08) brandon: well then the wedding is off!
(10:55:14) brandon: i’ve never been so hurt in my life
(10:55:19) brandon: how could you do this to me?
(10:55:47) 190403526: you are not friendly,i think.
(10:55:52) 190403526: bye
(10:56:00) brandon: you think wrong!!
(10:56:43) brandon: come back! i’ll settle for a pre-nup!
(10:57:11) 190403526: can you speak chinese
(10:57:37) brandon: i can say “gei wo ni de credit card hao ma”
(10:58:10) 190403526: something else?
(10:58:51) brandon: “shui shi ni de ba ba? wo! wo shi ni de ba ba!”
(10:59:05) brandon: that’s all for now.
(10:59:09) brandon: i’m still learning.
(10:59:49) 190403526: 过分,不是什么好鸟!
(11:00:39) brandon: wo de niao? how dare you speak about my bird with such familiarity!
(11:03:06) brandon: hello?
(11:04:51) brandon: [aside] it’s ok mr chuckles. she didn’t mean what she said, you’re a beautiful parakeet. who loves you? i do. who loves you? i do! *squawk!*

The Rare Personality Test

After talking to Ci’en and dfe about it, I’ve decided to take the LONG Scientific Personality Test. I believe I got an INFJ before. Let’s see! I’m taking it after a few drinks, by the way.

Result: ISTJ – “The Inspector”
18% I to E, 57% N to S, 61% F to T, and 36% J to P

I’m surprised.

Birmingham: It’s Not Shit

That’s really the name of the site there, Birmingham: It’s Not Shit.

I’m still looking for reasons, but already I’ve found a great discussion over what the ‘ardest pub in Brum is. Also, the secret of whether or not there really is a beach under Spaghetti Junction. I lived right next to it for 2 years but I couldn’t tell you if there was. Exploring the area was the equivalent of running through Central Park at night with a laptop and sausages.

Here’s some fine comedy writing for you:

People underestimate Birmingham as a holiday destination, those looking for ‘sex, sand and surf’ especially – but anyone who’s seen the sunrise over Acocks Green on bin day can understand that Birmingham is God’s chosen holiday destination.

Found a great comment on a cNet Australia opinion piece about why it’s not enough that Macs can now boot into Windows. The writer believed that few Windows users would be enticed to move over. Why trouble yourself with dual-booting when you already had Windows XP on a PC?

Of course, his point was ridiculous and he’s obviously never used a mac for any extended period of time. Some readers took the time to educate him and make a great analogy:

i love pc users. they always miss the main reason to use a mac is because it is a STABLE operating system where microweenie QXY is a farce of an operating system. viruses, spyware, blah-blah, reinstalls, OH, what fun!

get a mac. you will still have a life.

owning a PC is like having to regulate your own heart beat.

I’ve got c’iensomnia. Have been waking up at 3am for the past few nights, and can’t sleep when I want to. How long can one last on less than 4 hours of sleep a night before falling ill? How long can one blog from work without being caught? How long before short posts make me sound stupid!

Retro Game Night + Nintendo Love

Micro Genius with Super Mario 3

I bought Tetris DS last night, for my Nintendo DS. So far it has been superb entertainment, and I’ve had my ass whooped online and dealt some whoop-ass myself with kids (and many adults, I’m sure) from all over since. It’s a great game and I think I’ll be playing it every morning on the bus to work.

I actually stood in the store awhile, trying to choose between that and Metroid Prime: Hunters, a game with the exact same score on Metacritic (86%). I decided that I would eventually buy them both, but it was Tetris’ pick-up-and-play gaming that I had the most time for these days. Metroid has simple online deathmatches, but the single-player component sounds like it could consume weeks that I don’t have right now (until July). That’s really a key thing about the DS. It straddles both casual and hardcore gamer dichotomies. Outside the store I heard a little girl say to her mother that she wanted to buy a DS game before they left. The DS, and Nintendo as a whole, has the kind of wide appeal Sony and Microsoft would kill for. This recent story linked on digg shows the DS Lite outselling both the PSP and PS2 in Japan last month!

Kim and I got home from dinner and decided to drag my old NES FamiClone out of the closet. It’s called a Micro Genius, model IQ-701, and still worked perfectly! We took some photos. We played Tetris, Super Mario Bros. 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, Batman, Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman, Hogan’s Alley, Street Fighter 2 (a clone by “Yoko Soft”), Yie-Ar Kungfu, and some others. While they could never live up to the memories I have of them, the whole experience was a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t say no to sitting down for a couple of hours again.

An understanding of what makes classic gameplay still viable today is the reason why Nintendo still makes the best games in the world today. It’s the reason they’ve made so much money from their back-catalog, the GBA (70 million sold), and the DS, and will likely make with the upcoming Revolution. As you may have heard, the Revolution will connect to an internet service not unlike the iTunes Music Store, and you will be able to buy/download hundreds of classic games from Nintendo and Sega, and play them on the machine.