I blame it all on Portishead

I placed a down payment on a theremin yesterday. I have no idea what it will end up looking like, but this is for the best, I feel. For this particular instrument (which I have never played before BTW), not knowing how it will turn out creates a certain excitement I could never attain by simply ordering online or through a music catalog. This was only made possible by hiring an otaku to do the job. Kasama-san is a nice guy, a most skilled bassist, Taro’s business partner (they sell antique condensers, specialized mic shields, and other maniac music shit), and one of the most functional denki-otakus I have ever met.
When I found a loose circuit board connection to input RCA connector jacks inside my 500 watt amp, I used what tricks I could to keep it working temporarily. Unwilling to be without decent sound in my car for even a short time, I never even considered having it fixed at a professional shop since they generally take forever just to tell you (approximately) how badly you will get raped for repairs. I looked around for a decent replacement instead, but couldn’t find a good deal before the connection got a lot worse and basically made my amp unuseable. So I turned to Kasama-san, who I knew at the time as a tinkerer of guitar amps, and he replaced the part I needed on the board for a pittance – so I tipped him well. The skills he possesses are very special in our modern world of cheap throwaway electronics. Like some of the engineers at work, he can read the circuits on a PCB like a roadmap, and tell you where you can find shortcuts, bypasses, and hidden paths, among other things. This is a very valuable skill.
Anyways. Theremin of unknown specification and design will be mine in a couple of weeks, and I take great comfort in knowing that the creator has spent countless hours worrying about each subcomponent, optimizing it as a whole system, and tweaking it to perfection with the cold twisted love of electronica.

BB King

Look at what they’re finally confirming:

Japan Offers by Far Fastest, Cheapest Broadband Services: OECD
April 21, 2004 (PARIS) — Japanese firms are offering by far the cheapest and fastest broadband services of companies operating in 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the first such report compiled by the international organization.
The survey, which was conducted in October 2003, shows Japanese companies leading the pack with KDDI Corp, NTT East Corp. and usen Corp offering throughput of over 100Mbps with their fiber-optic networks.

This really trickles my bits. My pal and I talked about this happening over three years ago, when Korea was still the place to be for broadband, and I was paying about 18,000 yen per month for dual channel ISDN (including both ISP and telco charges) service out here on Awaji Island. Since then my upgrade path went from 1.5 Mbps ADSL to 8Mbps ADSL, and finally to what I use now, 100Mbps FTTH. I am really sad because now there is nowhere to move up from here (maybe I can hope for that laser-based transmission technology next). In fact, I am planning on moving down, as far down as I can possibly go: dial-up. That’s right, the shrill screeching of analog modem handshakes will keep me company once again. I wrote about it in this post around when I started this blog, and Thailand still has no viable plans for broadband in sight. Things move slower there.
This passage was very interesting:

It has been difficult to conduct a comparison of telecom services offered in various countries, since there is no fixed worldwide definition for broadband. The OECD report defines a broadband service as one offering round-the-clock Internet connectivity and a download speed of at least 250kbps.

If this 250kbps standard was adopted worldwide, I think a lot of people in the US would be angry that the ADSL service they pay for isn’t even considered broadband. I was really shocked by the number of regular computer users in the states who say they don’t need broadband or can’t afford it. That’s a crying shame. It really should be made a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot faster than it is now.
Then again, why am I worried about you guys back home? When I’m checking line polarity before jacking in somewhere along the Mekong in a year or so, I will envy all of you. I do not relish the thought of reverting from the instant gratification of always-connected mode to a dial-up frame of mind: No downloads. No multiplayer games. No mindless clickfests. Oh, well. I guess I’ll spend my time finding other things to do. Maybe I’ll get my laughs by training an army of pocket monkeys to fling feces at passing water buffalo riders, or something.
Gecko racing, anyone?

Apple IIc

I recall the scrolling text adventures from my childhood with much fondness. My dad bought an Apple IIc for us when I was ten or so (without the standard 8-inch monitor luckily) and I basically wore out the keys typing in-game commands like “go west”, “kill goblin”, and “get dagger of fire”. The key action, by the way, was used as a selling point by the egghead at the store, but more on this later.
That IIc was way ahead of its time – I consider it the first truly portable Apple because of its relatively compact size for the time and the fact that it came with a padded carrying case. It had an optional LCD, but I carried that box all over because it had a video

1MB/second

1MBsec20040321.jpg
My Hikari rocks. This is the fastest browser download I have ever experienced.
Question: Why does IE express download speed in bytes/second? According to numion:

In data communications only the Metric definition of a kilobyte (1000 bytes per kilobyte) is correct. The binary definition of a kilobyte (1024 bytes per kilobyte) is used in areas such as data storage (harddisk, memory), but not for expressing bandwidth and throughput.

So is this usage in IE correct or not? Somehow, I think it is not. Anyhow, this speed of 1.00 MBps is also equivalent to:
8000000 bps (bits per second)
1000000 Bps (bytes per second)
8000 kbps (kilobits per second)
1000 KBps (kilobytes per second)
8 mbps (megabits per second)
It is near the maximum speed of a 10Base-T LAN (10 mbps). The speed tests that I sometimes use show that my max download (and upload) speed on an average day is actually more than three times this, but I have never connected to an HTTP server that could keep up with this during actual net use, even in Japan. It’s like buying a Ferrari – 99% unused potential, and you just know the girls be all over my ride (Can you take me for a ride on your fiber, baby?). Smokin!

One reason why digital cameras suck

I wanted to take photos this weekend but I somehow managed to lose BOTH chargers for the rechargeable Li-Ion batteries. I invested in a second unit since I thought it would be nice to always have one in the car for trips. How I lost both of them is a complete mystery and makes me want to buy a whole new camera.
Gadgets can be clever and evil, and conspire to either sate you only temporarily or completely consume you; toys beget toys.

Jayzus, my comp just scared the hell out of me…

I’m blogging from a slightly worn but surprisingly comfortable lounge chair I happened upon in the foyer of a wedding hall, located in a once-was-ritzyish hotel in Ibaraki, a lackluster suburb steadily infesting the area between Osaka and Kyoto. I staked my claim on this cluster of chairs and their centerpiece hardwood coffee table about half an hour ago…
As I type, people are staring at me and my baby U3 as they walk by; I can discern the suspicious technophobe-types from those who are just curious by their furtive glances and hurried gait. In all fairness, the ‘phobes are relatively open-minded toward tech, compared to just five or ten years ago. I suspect my open flaunting of it just disturbs them on some primal level; it touches raw nerves to see that the machines are steadily taking over the world.
I believe that the Japanese telecom industry’s advertising efforts to push broadband on the masses – a great percentage of whom are probably not even sure where to affix virtual postage stamps on e-mail – have a marked effect. Like I said, these ‘phobes are relatively in the know. Whereas 10 years ago my comp might conceivably have been derided as a tool of [entity of choice] without even the possibility of identifying it’s particular function, I imagine the unspoken sentiment of the modern day ‘phobes as: Why would you use a computer in public, when the whole purpose of going outside is to interact with real, live, emoting people?
To which I reply:
I gave up on people like you a long time ago.
Now shut up.
I am tweaking my blog again.
In Haiku form:
Waste no time on you,
Dumb ox, shut your gaping maw.
Typeface: Sans-serif.

Oh neighbor, forgive me…

Oh, I took off from work early on Friday because I couldn’t stand the excitement. Rushed home and saw a telephone line crane-truck parked next to my parking lot (on a street close to my house). Got a sick feeling in my stomach because I somehow knew this was used to bring the princess Hikari to my home, and remembered asking for my landlord’s permission a month ago, before going to Thailand. I passed on the explanation I got from the NTT rep, that FTTH installation is not a big deal, and existing holes in the walls are used so that there is a minimum of impact. Well, it was not exactly a lie, as the fiber optic cable enters the house via a hole made for the air conditioning unit hose (fixed in place with white silly putty-like stuff), but the sun glinted off the newly attached mounting plate screwed to the outside wall (used to protect the fiber optic line) as I realized there must have been a five man work crew stringing lines from the power poles, drilling holes in my wall, and annoying the neighbor’s neurotic pomeranian (redundant, I know – i had a Pom). I am so glad my landlord wasn’t there, I’ll have to paint the cables and mounting plate outside to match the house.

happyhappyjoyjoy

First of all, the Hikari works. It rocks. Last night I heard the lonely scream of a 56k on some lame hackeresque TV movie, and it made me cringe. I watched the green LINK lamp on the ONU (FTTH “modem”) flicker as I downloaded files off some puny T1 server in Sweden, and was reminded about the Salaryman post I wrote a few years ago about hacking into the company LAN. About bandwidth: Out of the box, I have measured 23 Mbps in both directions. Average speed for this type of Hikari (B Flets Family 100 plan) is around 17, so I have a decent connection to begin with, which makes me happy. What makes me unhappy is that I have to find all the registry hacks I made to accomodate ADSL on all four of my windoze boxes in order to optimize for FTTH. For 8M ADSL, I managed to bring average speed up double where I started at and at the end, the speed measurement site I was using throughout started claiming I was breaking theoretical speeds, spiking up to 8.1M. Average speed was around 4.5M for DL/750K for UL.

Just Chill, foo!

Twenty-seven full minutes have passed since my last mail update from Nam. What is that girl thinking? I give her the benefit of the doubt and check for new mail actively instead of letting the system update my phone – it’s faster that way and the auto update is spotty in these concrete buidings sometimes. Goddamn it, why do factories have to be so utilitarian? I’d trade the third story metal doors (for moving big equipment directly in by crane) for wide-open (packet-friendly) gaping holes any day.
Thirty-one minutes now. I could really piss her off by calling for an update again, but before I get home she will be there all alone with the Precious so I’d better be a nice little hobittses until I can wring her filthy lying little neckses, Smeagol. (Raving sicko alert!) ………… Can’t wait… Must call… Must have Preeeeeeeeciouuuuuus…
(Doctor’s note: No more cookies for this patient until further notice.)
OK. Must Call. Must Find Out. Stay Tuned.