Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jogging Tokyo's streets

Do you miss pounding the pavements of Omotesando? Haven't had a chance to get out of the house. The video is in Japanese (you don't need the verbal queues) but Tokyo Jogging is the combination of Google Street View and Nintendo's Wii remote.
I haven't personally downloaded the app -- Jogging ain't my thing -- but the video is, well, a hoot.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Retro the new modern for boss of gloss | The Australian

Retro the new modern for boss of gloss The Australian:
"We knew we wanted to place a value on print and try to
demand people treat print with a level of respect that I think has slightly

Tyler Brule on his new magazine etc. concept.

"Demanding people trint print with respect." Another strikingly obvious move.

News Corporation

News Corporation:
"News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch announced
today the formation of a new portal that will allow its worldwide editorial
properties to share content and resources across the entire company."

This is such an obvious move, I cannot believe it has taken any major news organisation this long to take it.

In the future, there will only be a handful of fiercely competitive, viable news organisations, catering to the global audience. The rest of the news, and there will be plenty of it, will be local and niche based. There is no need for dozens and dozens of news organisations all chasing the same basic facts of a basic news story. There are only so many ways you can tell the story of say, for example, a plane crash.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Japan’s Lost Decade: Lessons for the U.S

There may be some interest in this transcript of Brookings Institute / Nikkei discussion on Japan’s lost decade with opening remarks from Heizo Takenaka, Former Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications and Minister of State for Privatization of Postal Services, Japan.

Personally, I never drank the Koizumi cool-aid, although clearly Takenaka is an enormous fan. But I thought Takenaka’s claim that they STOPPED the Lost Decade was, well amusing, on the back of Japan’s recent announcement of yet another, allegedly at least, massive stimulus plan.

Japan’s Lost Decade: Lessons for the U.S. 4 March 26, 2009

“Eight years ago we had a very special Prime Minister named Junichiro Koizumi. Under his leadership, we terminated -- stopped Lost Decade. As was mentioned by Richard, I worked in the government from 2001 to 2006 to support former Prime Minister Koizumi. Koizumi was a very special and unique prime minister in the history of Japan's politics. How unique and how special he was. First, he nominated me as a minister. He's very unique actually. Second, he continuously supported my policy for more than five years, though many influential politicians were against my policy. He's very special in that sense. Anyway, owing the leadership by Prime Minister Koizumi, the Japanese economy has come back -- financial crisis was over.
So let me quickly review the trend of the Japanese economy and the economic policy responses. Then I will discuss some lessons from our experience to stop financial crisis and the lost decade. It is needless to say that U.S. financial trouble and Japanese trouble.”

The transcript of the proceedings can be found here.

Japan’s biggest problem has been, in my view, that it has had no idea what kind of country it wants to be post-industrialisation. Another way of putting that, perhaps, is that it has no clue where to find the kind of continued growth developed nations have been accustomed to.

The answer may well be that there is no where TO go. That in fact, that kind of economic growth is finite. And indeed unsustainable. (Clearly not a view Takenaka would subscribe to, since he apparently solved the problem earlier this decade.)

This view was somewhat outrĂ© in an era when the US and UK where “seemingly” finding new and better ways to grow, harness productivity and keep their populations employed. Now that myth has been blown away (despite the glaring cobwebs), (and with the Schumpeterian impact of the Internet becoming even more obvious each day) perhaps, there is more chance of our societies undertaking some fundamental reviews of what kind of societies we CAN be in the 2020s and 2030s and beyond.

It may be that more considered, fundamental changes are needed.

One venture that has caught my attention in recent months is the move by Lawrence Lessig (of Creative Commons fame) to create a program of study at the Safra Center at Harvard to examine the impact of money on decision making, or as he puts it in his blog, “to focus on the many institutions in public life that depend upon trust to succeed, but which are jeopardizing that trust through an improper dependence on money”. (See here.)

Lessig’s views are far from mainstream in the US, although they stand a greater climate of becoming so in the current political climate, I l believe. But, with Japan’s lost decade turning into a lost generation, the pronouncement by Takenaka quoted above struck me as sad. The whole buy-in to Koizumi’s ‘greatness’ seemed to rest too much on the impact of Japan’s exports growing as a result of excessive consumption throughout the world taking on a fevered drumbeat of acceptability.

There does seem to be a belief in Japan that all is needed is another Koizumi (and perhaps Takenaka…). I doubt this is true. But an examination of the impact of money on decision making in Japan – now that is something that could bear fruit.

Some useful reading, for some....

A licensee must not broadcast a program which... is
likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on
the basis of age, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference,
religion or physical or mental disability.

— Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice

You can read more here.

Plastic Logic

Given I seem to be creating a list of potential new readers on the market, I feel I should be thorough and mention the potential offering from Plastic Logic. You can see more here. Although, to be honest, this one hasn't really caught my enthusiasm. It seems to be developing more slowly and on a somewhat restricted model. But anyway....
Their site also led me to some Youtube video of the Sony flexible OLED screen under development taken at CES 2009. This is still along way off in the future, but you can see a clip here.
Plastic Logic also has some videos on Youtube. You can see one here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

In an Age of Austerity, the Miserly Thrive -

In an Age of Austerity, the Miserly Thrive -

"Austere Times? Perfect". I giggled when I read this one and wondered if I should catalogue it in the "Americans are strange" department, right along side the "Japanese are strange" articles that have been the rage for so many years, [not with me, I should add]. At least it is not as extreme as another NY Times article I stumbled across the other month about reacquiring the skills of growing your own grain etc, processing it and then making/baking your own food (link lost, I will add it as soon as I stumble across it again).

The strange bit [and do I need to add, of course?] was the belief that excessive consumption was ever, somehow, appropriate.

Some classic quotes:

“I’m enjoying this,” said Becky Martin, 52, who has cut up her 10 credit
cards, borrows movies from the library instead of renting them, and grows her
own fruits and vegetables — even though her family is comfortable.

Kellee Sikes, 37, a consultant in Kirkwood, Mo., no
longer uses paper napkins. Ms. Sikes uses organic cloth ones until they get
threadbare and then uses them as cleaning rags. When they are no longer useful,
she puts them in the in-ground waste composter in the backyard.

Friday, April 10, 2009

TechCrunch Tablet makes an early debut

This reader etc., looks very interesting: TechCrunch Tablet makes an early debut. Few details as yet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Glam Media Scores $10 Million; moves into Japan media space

Glam Media Scores $10 Million: "Glam Media" -- an interesting item from The Inquisitor today suggesting Glam Media has some interesting ties with Japan.

Including a move into the Japan publishing internet space with:
"Shogagukan, publisher of Pokemon comics; and Syeuisya, which runs one of the
country’s biggest women’s networks, Several advertising agencies
are also involved in the deal."

In addition, it says:
"Mizuho Venture Capital, a subsidiary of Japan-based Mizuho Bank, is
leading the $10 million investment".

Not quite sure what it is all about, and what Glam Media thinks it offers that is not already delivered in Japan [and that is a serious question, not a snarky jibe]....


There was another reason for all this time researching new file management tools -- a desperate need for a better way to handle bibliographies. MS Word has a nice, very formal bibliographical database built in, but it has some key drawbacks -- namely you can't link the bibliographical record to the actual data (if it is digitalised) and the process is far from automatic. Every piece of bibliographic data needs to be typed in.

There seems to be a fair amount of recognition and discussion of the problem. But, the need to double dip -- to create two sets of bibliographic records, one for cataloguing and referencing web pages, pdfs, downloaded word files, digital books etc and the master list you create on Word is frustrating, not to mention time consuming.

Even OneNote falls down on this one, although I noted others have been asking MS to introduce this to the application, so fingers crossed. (And 'Endnote' does not interest me.)

For now, I have settled on a Firefox browser extension, Zotero. I don't use Firefox on a regular basis, so I almost view it as a "Zotero program", rather than a Firefox add-on but it almost nearly does the job.

The brilliant aspect of Zotero is that, via a Word plug in, I can send bibliographic information from Zotero to word. There is still a degree of double dipping and redundancy here (especially as I have to travel via Firefox (why can't I just do this from OneNote!), but it is so much better than before.

There seem to be some flaws still, although it is early days, so I may not have worked out the right 'fix'. But, I am having trouble entering the 'accessed' time for webpages etc that I have accessed in the past and now want to enter into Zotero to link to/ create a bibliographic record. The time of access is important, and while I can get the date in correctly, the time constantly revers to 12:00:00. Annoying.

Plus, Zotero tantalisingly promises to try to automatically fill in pdf bibliographic information from the web (much as iTunes tries to fill in the data for your own music). The example it offers seems to cover a lot of Shakespeare. Not my area of research and to date most of Zotero's efforts in this department have come back with the WRONG bibliographic data. Which, of course, only reinforces the need to triple check everything.

Still, fingers crossed, there are moves afoot to overcome these headaches, especially the double dipping needed, and more developments are in the works.

Monday, April 6, 2009

To-do list management

So, I've spent way too much of the last week or so trying to find a better way to make my to-do lists work for me (and a few other data management goals I have on the back burner). I have numerous projects / ideas etc that are on the boil to one degree or another. And the method I had been using was no longer doing the deed.

While the technique had been extremely useful for making sure I created tasks / to do items on the fly or as the need cropped up it was no longer adequate. I was simply overwhelmed by too many tasks not properly connected in ways that allowed my mind to pull them together to the next stages and, hopefully, completion.

The to-do list had become a reminder list -- when it could be so much more.

After all, so many of the pieces where there, in digital form. Ready to be chopped and churned, sorted and catalogued.

But, what was the best way to do it? And how could I automate as much of the process as possible. After all, if, as it should be, the main goal is to get things done, the less time I spend getting stuff done -- so I could get stuff done -- the better. Obviously.

And, as always, of course, was there a best practice method for doing this with the tools I already had or via new tools online that had minimal cost?

So, off I ventured into the online wilderness. And, as a result, I spent way too much of a Saturday testing out a trial version of Filepro V.10.

I feel it is time wasted because the conclusion of the testing was that I didn't need it. Or at least, that introducing it into my work life was going to take more time than it saved.

Acquiring that knowledge, in and of itself, is, a good thing, but it led me to a new rave about Microsoft's OneNote. I have done this before here, I know. But, seriously, it is the most useful gem of software I have used in years -- ever since email came along, to be honest. It isn't perfect yet, and I can't wait until it's next release, 'cause I strongly suspect MS is going to use it as a core part of Windows 7 and 'multi-input' touchable screens on desktops. (See here for more on that.) More specifically, though, in relation to databases, OneNote beats them hands down because it eliminates so much of the work, so much of the handholding.

The benefits from databases come once there is a significant amount of data entered, the information can then be organised and related and diced and sliced and reported on in a number of key ways. Filepro definitely makes it easier to feed in data with an almost drag and drop method for inputting Excel files into one of a number pre-formatted databases. But, you still have to fiddle around with the details. It could certainly be useful for small retailers, but for me, for managing information on a more complicated level, no, it didn't fit the bill. Or at least, it didn't provide anywhere near enough bells and whistles that saved me time and effort that I can't find elsewhere. Which is sad really. I was kind of hoping to find something that would be a whole new level of information management! [And yes, this sounds like there must have been dozens, hundreds of better things I could have been doing on a Saturday, and there were, but getting this to-do list under control had become a vital necessity.]

Online searching really hasn't shown me anything -- yet -- that will work as an alternative. So, I went back to MS (yes, I know, Microsoft is bad, bad, bad). But, it isn't really. Especially, if you allow MS to have its way and integrate everything. The most trouble I have had with computers is when I have tried to fight the system, literally, and have too many disparate programs trying to do their own thing. The advantage of allowing MS to have its way is that so many of your programs will work together. I don't have the time or the inclination to waste on dealing with yet more computer downtime (and on that note, I am finding IE8 a distinct, stable pleasure).

Anyway, so I have found my solution for the moment. And it was tables in Word, with hyperlinks to the right parts of OneNote as appropriate. Rows are allocated to each relevant goal / project. Simple yes, but the gem comes from the ease of linking to so many disparate document, image and sound types embedded into the OneNote system.

Here's hoping that is all I will need to do to keep the to-do list under control.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The John Elliott Report

Well worth the quick laugh (watch the video here). An Australian larrikan of the old school (big in footy, beer and corporate shiite), John Elliot seems to have created a portal dedicated to his self...