Saturday, January 31, 2009

Too hot

Sydney is having an incredibly pleasant summer, hitting peaks of around 29 degrees Celsius daily. It is not even particularly humid. Still, after so many Tokyo summers of burning, dripping heat, I think my tolerance levels are forever lowered. Give me a nice, temperate 23 degrees Celsius any day --- please.
OK, OK, I am spoiled. Childhood summers were spent in Buderim, QLD, with the best beaches in the world at our feet, literally. I have yet to meet a beach that matched up to them, anywhere in the world.
Maybe, it is just that summer in the city, well, sucks. No matter where you are or how close the beaches are.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Amazing creations from John Galliano for Christian Dior - spring/summer 2009 haute couture collection show in Paris. The shoes are divine!

See photo gallery here:

You can see more at Galliano's web site, but it is not an optimum design. (It tends to force you to watch video and requires a super fast internet connection to make it a pleasant experience.) Click on menu to navigate to the women's collection.

There is a blue and white fantasy that I want!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sour Strawberries - Migrant workers in Japan

A topical issue in Japan is the plight of foreign workers, more specifically, migrant workers, generally and more specifically in the wake of the GEC. A new documentary looks at their plight. Their site suggests the full video may be online at some point. Until then, I can't speak to the quality of the whole production. Worthwhile knowing it is doing the rounds though.

SOUR STRAWBERRIES from Cinemabstruso Leipzig on Vimeo.

Peaceful Transition

I am not an American, but the peaceful transition of power in any nation is admirable. Tuesday's transition, from Bush to Obama, seems to be particularly noteworthy. Fittingly, Obama has noted this himself in his weekly radio address, posted Saturday 17 January, 2009.
Our democracy has undergone many changes, and our
people have taken many steps in pursuit of a more perfect union. What has always
endured is this peaceful and orderly transition of power.
For us, it is easy
to take this central aspect of our democracy for granted. But we must remember
that our nation was founded at a time of Kings and Queens, and even today
billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power
without strife or bloodshed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"iTunes News" and 'readers'

Finally read David Carr's article this morning and while it wasn't saying anything new, it was a nice take on the problem. Interestingly, he referred to the Cook's Illustrated operation. I spent some time earlier this month analysing their operation myself.
There is a pay for content model out there. This constant discrediting of the notion is not really helping anyone. Frankly, I would happily pay, say $30 a year, for access to my favoured news source online. It may not be a number in the hundreds of dollars, but it is also worth considering that the online audience pool is substantially larger than the pool available to a regional or even national newspaper.
How those kinds of sums break down for a smaller operation are a part of the 'new' media equations.
As I read his piece though, another interesting parallel cropped up. I would really like a 'reader', a computer-like screen that I can use to read away from the computer; say, lying down, sitting, at the gym, in transit, etc.
There are products available. Amazon's Kindle is getting a lot of good reviews, so I had looked into it. Amazon has tried to make it too proprietary in my view. There is little interaction between the Kindle and a computer and if you want to send something in between the two, say a PDF or word file, you actually have to pay Amazon for the privilege. Even worse, the operation is carried out via email. This can and should be done far more easily, simply by syncing the reader and the PC.
Besides, I like being able to actually use bits and pieces from articles or books I have read. Or I might want to transfer notes I have made after reading something to my computer. Or check important email, if I need to. Not being able to do these things with the Kindle is the reason I won't be getting one for my own personal use.
So, I looked into Sony's new reader. The latest version is almost there, but there are still a few limitations. And again yesterday, I saw an article out the Consumer Electronic Show now underway in the US about another new Sony product, which may well have potential. The price is too high, I suspect. And the keyboard is obviously an issue (they are getting around the key spacing issue (as in the keys are packed too closely together to be able to type comfortably) by deliberately targeting a certain type of woman [really], the kind of woman who maintains long fingernails (all the better for pecking with....). But, it is a very nice looking machine. One I am keen to test drive.
That inspired another quick internet search, which led to another interesting Sony release (made last year), which is along similar lines. A smaller pocket type book sized reader / computer. This is not quite there either. The specs are still a bit too minimal.
Mini computers are a possible alternative. I think they are a short term option in the marketplace, despite their current growing popularity. Technological developments are likely to outpace them sooner rather than later. Sure, their small size is addressing a problem, I just don't think they are a solution that is likely to stick.
They will be seen as too clunky and too heavy in the very near future, I predict.
I guess we are still really waiting for rollable e-paper/keyboards that can be rolled or folded when not in use. A few months ago, I did see an article on some research in Japan that suggested scientists were definitely getting closer to this possibility. Although, it is still some years away.
In the meantime, though, where does this all lead in terms of creating a new paying model for news delivery, a la "iTunes News".
A lot of places, to put it briefly.
I have some ideas I am mulling over, but I may need to copyright them!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"iTunes News"

In a headline that caught my eye this morning David Carr of the New York Times is calling for an iTunes for news. The idea strongly appealed and I saved a copy of the article for later reading. An hour or two later, an RSS feed led me to this Vanity Fair blog post where they tried out a silly idea of how iTunes for news might just look.
Their early take seemed to be that the most popular downloads on "iTunes News" might be celebrity and/or salacious articles of various kinds. Possibly. But, I still don't define news as gossip. So why would gossip be on "iTunes News".
Besides, the idea of a brand new delivery package for news, a la the headline, rather than the precise implementation of iTunes but with news articles, has caught my attention.
As you may know, I created Japan Today as an online news source for Japan when nothing like it existed (of course, it is a poor imitation of itself these days, but that is another story). And I definitely have the bend of mind for this kind of thinking.
Anyway, as I said, Carr's headline got my attention. The VF article got me musing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolution bore

I get it, resolutions, the keeping of them anyway, can be hard. Otherwise, we wouldn't make them. And sure, some people feel making New Year resolutions is a good time to clean house, so to speak. But, what is it with this ever predictable roll out of post resolution, "oh, I made a rash of New Year resolutions I know I won't keep' articles in the Australian media these days. As if being healthy, quitting smoking, taking up yoga, losing weight, drinking less or whatever 'good' thing you chose to do more of, are all things none of us will NEVER, NEVER be able to do. So "here we go, ha, ha, so much for those promises to myself" is the right tone for these articles?
Blech, I say.
OK, yes, someone preaching on from high isn't very nice either. None of us our perfect. And there is a good chance some of those resolutions are unrealistic, but for heavens sake. There is actually some pleasantness to lost weight, cumulative yoga work outs and fewer drunken weekends. Have you experienced the pleasure of a nicotine free life-style? The ease of a clear head and smoothly functioning body?
If not, give it a try. If you have, you know what I mean.
Happy New Year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

America -- the unbelievable (again)

People visiting the US from Australia, Japan and other 'visa waiver program' participant nations have a new set of hoops to jump through. From January 12, apparently, you will need to visit this website to 'pre-register' for entry to the US. A visit to the site brings up the following:

A pile of legalese. Visit to get the full view.