October 23rd, 2011 | Categories: Life, Misc, Murmur

Yesterday was the day of TEDxVienna 2011. It was more than 12 hours conference in total. While my memory is still fresh and while I’m feeling my excitement, I’ll try to write down what I thought.

As stated in the previous post, this was my first face-to-face TED conference. Unlike watching individual movies on digital media, I could feel the “atmosphere” while watching the speakers. You could think of it as watching a live orchestra (not more than 10m distance), rather than listening to a recorded CD.

There were very interesting talks, if I’d have to pick up one, I’d like to name “Europe’s border syndrome” given by Corinna Milborn. Europe is probably one of the most, if not the most, highly democratic places in the World. But how are the people trying to come into this region from outside treated? Where is the equity? Most importantly, do we really know about what’s going on on the border?

I never actually knew about “undocumented workers”, which is, as she explained, categorized as lowest of 7 different levels of foreign workers. I knew what undocumented workers are by reading books, but never actually “felt” that it was that close to my life, although I myself am a foreigner working in Austria.

In the past, I’ve read that the contradiction of the system, which is a nation state in this context, appears at the border to the other system, not the central part. When I go back to Okinawa, which is located at southwestern border of Japan, I could feel a contradiction between what’s spoken and what I see (twice unemployment, U.S. military bases, average income, educational level, etc..). It was a shame that I didn’t think the schema is (or should be) the same in Europe.

I personally think that human is the last social element to change among goods, money, and information. I would not be surprised if people eventually “decide” (as collective opinion) to decline their living standard, rather than having to change their way of traditions and thinking (i.e., culture). But this is merely my opinion and simply being pessimistic doesn’t help much.

Looking at myself, I could instantly realize how fortunate I am; I could always go back to Japan. But would I be feeling “okay” next time I cross the border? One of my wishes of my life is to feel content and say “my life was a good one” shortly before I die (if I would be able to realize that my death was coming close). Would I be able to feel that way, after realizing what the World is actually like and simply being pessimistic? I don’t think I’d turn myself into some sort of a political or social activist just by realizing one another fact. But where would be a happy middle ground? What could I do to make myself feel happy?

# Yes, I consider myself to be an egoistic person. In order to be truly egoistic, however, you need to be very honest to yourself. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with being content with my life while deceiving myself and pretend to be ignorant.

The subtitle of this TEDx was “the domino effect”. I certainly learn something from that day, and I hope that would have some sort of impact on my life.

October 14th, 2011 | Categories: Tech

I’ve been using a Bluetooth keyboard, provided by the Apple, for my iPad. Its been a while since I started typing with it, and I’ve been happy with this device, except one of its aspect : CapsLock.

I don’t quite remember when I started hating the CapsLock key. It must have been ever since I started using US layout keyboard (so sometime during my undergraduate time). Remapping (or assigning) the Ctrl key to CapsLock position, which is located next to “A”, is one of the first things I do, when I setup my own environment. For this Bluetooth keyboard, connected to an iOS device, however, I haven’t found a way to do so.

I first thought it could be modified on iOS layer. So far, I haven’t found a setting to do so (even in recently launched iOS5). Someone told me this could be achieved on application layer. The application I use the most with my keyboard is by far the Blogsy, which is an offline blog entry writing application, so I wrote a question to developer.

They replied me by next morning. But the answer was a bit disappointing (though it is nothing against the developers); they don’t know how the keys could be remapped either.

It seems to me that I’d have to live with this rather inconvenient situation. comparing to default software keyboard on iPad, shown on the screen, this Bluetooth keyboard is far easier and faster to type. Hope the Apple would soon decide to add “kill the CapsLock” feature on iOS.

October 12th, 2011 | Categories: Life

Partially because I first arrived in Vienna in late November, my image about its climate is simply cold (or at least it could get really cold). In the summer time, I usually feel very alive, while many people around me complain that it’s too hot.

Things were fine for me until last week. The temperature was amazingly high for early October. I only had to wear one jacket, if I felt cold. Over the weekend, things got a bit worse, and I made a mistake in choosing my cloths on Monday. I started feeling cold even inside the building.

It could simply be lacking of cloths I brought, or I may just need to wait for some time for my body to get used to it. A sudden temperature drop, it’s already enough for one to catch a cold with.

For next few weeks, I’ll simply wear warm cloths. Hopefully the temperature moves upwards (which is highly unlikely, for another several months), and/or my body would get used to low temperature (which is very likely the case).

It feels like the easiest time for you to catch a cold is when sudden change(s) takes place in climate. Hopefully my health condition stays the same as usual.

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October 10th, 2011 | Categories: Murmur, Tech

It’s been a while since I got to know about TED, Technology, Entertainment, Design. While I was working in Japan, a friend of mine introduced me one translation project in the TED, called TED Open Translation Project. I started taking part as a translator, and by creating a www-based service for translation.

Having seen the available videos in the TED, I couldn’t help myself thinking about actually participating in one of those talks, either as an audience or as a speaker. Prices of those TED talks are usually rather expensive and it seemed to be a bit difficult to take time, flying to different places in the World while you’re working in full-time (yes, this is one of those typical Japanese corporate cultures).

This friend, who introduced me, started organizing a localized version of TED by himself in Okinawa. With the name “TEDxRyukyu“, the event seemed to be very successful. I wish I was there, but way to Okinawa seemed to be a bit too far away (though I must admit I tend to be lazy when flying to another place is required..). So I’ve been involved in TED for almost 3 years, and I still haven’t seen a single talk with my own eyes.

Suddenly I thought about a local TED talk event in Vienna. The city is much larger than Okinawa, and I remember they’re hosting TEDxTokyo (and many other places in the World). There is indeed an TED local conference in Vienna as well, and it was less than 2 weeks ahead!

About 2 hours later, I finished registering my ticket to TEDxVienna, hoping that I wasn’t too late and they’d accept my registry. I remember that it was “you’ll have to reserve your seat before others” in TEDxRyukyu, and there was no profile-checking process involved. Perhaps it’s up to the organizer to decide. Luckily, I could register with as a student, so going to MBA wasn’t such a bad idea ;-)

About 3 horus later, I got a confirmation from TEDxVienna and I instantly paid for my ticket. I’m already feeling a bit excited to see the talks in (less than) 2 weeks. It’d be a very long Saturday with practically about 12 hours of talks.

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October 7th, 2011 | Categories: Murmur

It was a breaking news in an early morning, shortly after I woke up and checked my RSS. The god of the Apple Inc. has pasted away.

On logical layer, I understood what happened. He’s been ill for quite a while, and as he told us himself, every one of us has to die. It was actually no surprise.

Yet on emotional layer, after more than 24 hours, I find myself still trying to deny this fact. The World has lost yet another giant.

When I was in the undergraduate, I was introduced his speech at Stanford by one of my friends. After more than 5 years, I don’t know how many times I’ve watched (and listened to) this clip. “Have the courage to follow your heart”, I remember; I had to ask myself what my heart would like to go..

I hope we’ll be kept excited and I moreover hope that I would be one of those to excite people one day. His thoughts shall be carried over to next generations.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs.

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October 6th, 2011 | Categories: Life, Tech

My latest toy is something I thought about buying more than a year ago, and I eventually decided to go for an iPad; a device called “Kindle” from Amazon. I was sure they would release something before the Christmas, and when I heard the news (or rumor) that newest Kindle would be Android-based and full-color (meaning it’d not be an e-ink based), I thought I could live with the current version (widely known as Kindle 3), rather than waiting for a new version which I would most likely not use.

The tragedy happened shortly after it arrived in my apartment. Amazon announced yet another e-ink based model called “Kindle Touch” one day after it got to my table. It was smaller and lighter than the one in my hand, and I would most likely have decided to take this one if I had a choice.

Soon the sorrow was replaced by disappointment. Those new models were not available outside the United States. I had to contrast with the path Apple is taking; offering newest model, iPhone 4G, in many countries at the same date as in U.S (although it would be available slightly later in Austria). Is Amazon seriously thinking about opening the “Japanese” Kindle store? Given the number of people who read Japanese and (sort of) craze for those people in reading, I always thought potential market was huge (and yes, I am one of those who are waiting so much for the day when Amazon announces Kindle store for Japanese market). Unfortunately, the path they’re taking seems to be pointing completely opposite direction.

As for the Kindle 3, which is now called “Kindle Keyboard”, I feel happy on hardware level, perhaps except that there is only one font available for Japanese text by default. The UI is very limited, compared to iPad, but it would be better-off, given that the device itself is designed for reading, not surfing.

I don’t think many people would complain about the number of available contents in Amazon. Although some (English) titles are still not on the Kindle store, I see no reason Amazon is not making effort to enlarge this number. Last year, I thought it would take few years for them to open Kindle store for Japanese readers, and I’m still hoping I was right, or even wishing I was wrong in estimated too long for them to set it up.

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October 4th, 2011 | Categories: Life

A while ago, I read about a knife, which does not need to be sharpened for a long time. A Japanese company called IHI, which is famous for producing aerospace related products (such as rocket), developed a technology that could be applied to daily life, such as in the kitchen.

Of course, I became interested. Maintenance-free knife? But as I read the article further, I realized the user would still have to sharpen the knife once in a while, it’s only the TBTF (or Time Between the Maintenance?) would be much longer than normal knives.

There are also other (semi-) professional knifes available in the market. But what I was interested more was the knife sharpener. I do have a knife, which I brought from Japan. I am happy with its size and shape, but it beca,e less and less sharpened, as I kept using without any sort of maintenance. Rather than purchasing a new knife, I thought I should go for a knife sharpener (at least it seemed to be more necessary than yet another knife).

A couple of weeks later, a stone-shaped sharpener has arrived. It’s more traditional one, compared to the easy-to-use knife sharpener. Since I’d be using it only once in a while (once a month, maximum), I told myself having something simple (though it may take more effort to use) would be worth-off. This stone-shape sharpener was something I saw in my parents’ house, so I might have had a sympathy as well.

Reading the instructions came with the stone, it took me about 15 minutes in total to sharpen my knife. The surprise came to me when I cut a tomato. It was much easier to cut! Living in Vienna, people sometimes tell me that they’re interested in Japanese cultures, such as “Samurai” or “Ninja” (yes, it’s arguable what “culture” actually is..). When I cut those tomatoes, the first word came to my mind was “Samurai Sword” (although I’m aware how funny it sounds in Japanese).

The stone is in my kitchen, waiting for next sharpening occasion.

September 28th, 2011 | Categories: Tech

In the past few months, I’ve been either working (on my full-time job) or working on my MBA assignments. I think things are (gradually) getting frustrating for me, as I wasn’t doing a lot of activities, of which the primary goal is to simply have fun.

When I was browsing my RSS feeds, I read about an USB-interfaced (and MIDI featured) musical keyboard, with which you can connect to a Mac and use it on Garageband. Playing a musical instrument was one of the things I wanted to do, especially after my study. I had to ask myself whether it was good time for me to really go for an instrument or I should simply wait until the end of my study program. After a while, I decided to go for one, instead of keep asking myself when would be the best time to do so.

Fortunately, the one I wanted to have was still available on the market. A couple of weeks later, it was on my table. After a while, I found myself not having enough time for (literally) playing with this new toy, but the fact that I have a musical instrument on my hand and I could play it whenever I want to, already made me feel happy enough (at least for the time being).

Another toy I had in mind was yet another keyboard. But this one is a computer-based keyboard (meaning you’d type with it). The one I was thinking was a Bluetooth featured wireless keyboard from the Apple. I already have several few (external) keyboards on my office desk, and I thought this could be my next one, partially because I’m using the same type of the keyboard in my apartment.

As it turned out, this keyboard could be paired with both my iPhone and iPad, as well as my MacBook Pro. Although my original intention was to use it in my office, I slowly start thinking about using it somewhere else, such as in the subway (U-Bahn, in German) while I commute to the office and back to my apartment (in fact, this post is written in the train).

It actually takes some courage for me to open my bowser and start typing my story on my blog. Perhaps my blog-posting frequency would be increased as I start writing in my “sliced” time(s).

..And after I started my new keyboard in my office, it sadly turned out that the (functional) layout was quite different from a normal Windows keyboards (namely, the positions of Alt and Command keys), and that there is no way to switch those keys with other keyboards in use. I’ll probably keep using this new toy as an extra input device on my iPad (or iPhone, if needed).

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September 27th, 2011 | Categories: Life, Misc

Just like last year, we had a public chakai (tea ceremony) in Vienna. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as prepared as previous year; the week before this tea ceremony was an absolute zoo, and I was constantly rushed by my assignments from the MBA program.

Shortly after I submitted my 6-weeks assignment, I got a call from my tea ceremony teacher that there would be a public tea ceremony in upcoming weekend. From the previous year, I thought that would be sometime at the end of September. I guess I’ve learned that I should always expect something unexpected.

Looking at my calendar, it was clear I could only have one or two lessons before the ceremony. I could have one lesson 2 days before the ceremony. Of course, more lessons would be better and would have made things easier. Life is not that perfect all the time.

But there I was, arriving at the public tea ceremony place shortly after the midday, I wore my kimono (a Japanese traditional cloths) and served the tea as a host. Mostly because of this rather rare occasion to wear kimono, I informed some of my colleagues who might be interested. It was a pleasure to serve a tea in front of them. There were some mistakes I made during my session, but I’d consider this to be much better than how things could be for me (especially after how much practice I’ve been doing before that).

When I finished this year’s public tea ceremony, I was so relieved with all the things I had to do (at least for that day) and felt so relaxed. As we did previous year, we went to the Chinese restaurant (the one my teacher told the best Chinese restaurant in Vienna) and gave ourselves pad on the back.

This time, it was very hectic compared to previous year. But I must admit I certainly did enjoy it for this year as well. Hopefully, I’d be able to do (slightly, at least) better next year.

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July 22nd, 2011 | Categories: Life

About few weeks ago, my sister told me, it made her feel really great to have done cleaning her room. Before that, I used to sweep once a week and cleaned the kitchen once in a while. There seemed to be some room for improvements.

When I was in Japan, I used to use something called “クイックルワイパー (Kuikkuru-waipaa)”, which consists of a skelton stick and a sheet of special paper. Not having found something similar in Europe, I’ve been using good-old broom to sweep my room. I once (well, actually more than once) thought about buying a roomba, but thought it’d also make my life more complicated.

When I was going for shopping in supermarket, I found something called Swiffer broom, of which the concept was very similar to クイックルワイパー. You use the paper and replace it with new paper once it’s caught enough dust. I thought sweeping every day (shortly before going to office) and replacing the paper once in 2 days would be enough (so far, it seems to be enough).

Once I started sweeping my room regularly, my cleaning interest spread around. My next interest was the kitchen, which I started to clean more often, and then the bathroom got targeted (which is cleaned once every weekend). I then went to the couch (where it got many hairs, if you have a very close look at it) and using adhesive tape, which was originally designed for cloths, to take off the dust and hairs.

While doing this, my life has changed as well. I now know more what I have in the fridge. So I haven’t bought something I already had in the fridge, or having something in the fridge, which went bad or out of date. It feels like I have more control over my life, although I’m not sure if there is a logical relationship in between.

# I also took the frost in the fridge. Unfortunately, I could see a new frost already next day! I should probably carefully select things that won’t go bad in normal temperature, and let the frost naturally melt for the next time. Perhaps it won’t be so long.

The remaining target I see now is the book shelves. Because I usually do not move around the books, I’m expecting to see some dust behind those books. On the other hand, however, it’d be one full-day work if I’d take off all the books and sweep the whole shelves. Perhaps I should first decide which books to digitalize (and throw away).

While sweeping the floor everyday, I thought having a shoe-shelf with the wheels would be very practical. It is not a rocket-science (actually it should be very simple), so I might just make one for my own by going to DIY shop (it’d be probably cheaper, but could also be faster).

I do have bought new cleaning equipments and those cost some money. But I don’t feel reluctant to spend for them at all. It could be one of the most useful ways I’ve spent my money.

Perhaps I should have been aware of the joy of the cleaning and started to look for something similar to “クイックルワイパー” in Austria. I could certainly say that cleaning my room is a new (and very practical) hobby of mine!

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