Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Good and The Bad

What are the best things about the internet? What are the worst things about the internet?
It's impossible to pinpoint one thing because it is all a matter of perspective. Some people may say that the worst thing is social networks that steal your information, but others may say social networks are the best thing because it allows you to connect to anyone in the world. While I am not going to discuss that, I am going to bring up what I think is the best and the worst part of the internet. I think the best thing about the internet is torrents and the worst thing about the internet is torrents. Also Google is probably one of the worst and best things about the internet.

For those of you know don't know a torrent is a file that allows you to gain access (through a torrent client) to access a network of computers that have portions of the file you want to download. For example, someone may want to download a movie or a song. By downloading the torrent file, their computer is given directions on where to download portions of the file from torrenting community. Then the file is put together and becomes playable.

In short this is, in many cases, pirating but many companies also use this for legitimate use. Because there is not one uploader and it is impossible to track where the files are being sent, it has become impossible for governments, or companies to find who is downloading what. In any digital media market this has become a major problem because people are torrenting programs, movies, and songs rather then buying them at the store. Many have tried to write their software to not work if not bought with a product key but with the wealth of knowledge from so many hackers in the world, the safe guards by companies are easily bypassed.

For some industries this is obviously one of the worst things that can happen to them.

Not to mention the insanely high risk of virus and malware infection from downloading a random file. Unless you get a torrent from a known and respected site or a closed torrent community, you most likely will invite a Trojan into you digital life.

On the other hand, torrenting is one of the best things on the internet. It allows for quick spreading of documents within international companies, freeware, free songs and many other things. As a student sometimes buying Microsoft office is too expensive and searching the web for freeware can become difficult with all the shady sites that want you to enter some personal info before you can download. By getting a torrent for a Microsoft office like program, within minutes you can have all the tools you need to do your assignments.

One thing that I love torrents for is the sharing of my own videos,not not DVDs I burned on my computer, but the videos I take when I ride my bike. Because I film in HD, my videos can be upwards of 30 gigs in its raw format. The only way to be able to transfer that much data is through a torrent client. I live in Tokyo and have many videos of my bike rides to beautiful mountains, urban hot spots and tourist area. On average, a compressed edited video is still about 7 gigs of information. Unless I send a few DVDs with parts of the video on it, there is no other way for my parents to download the video unless it is from a torrent that I sent them.

Torrenting can connect families, communities, companies and even countries. With the wealth of information in the world, being connected and sharing will help us all grown. If kept within legal boundaries, Torrenting is like the Big Think Project. It is a way for humans to connect and expand our thoughts.

Unfortunately when people think of torrenting they instantly think of media pirates and the 12 year old girl who was being targeted for a  $150,000  lawsuit for downloading music from a torrenting site. But besides all the bad press, torrenting is one of the most useful tools that has been introduced to the internet.

On to talking about Google. Google is the largest and most widely know search engine in the digital world. They have mapped the earth, can find anything, do anything and allow people to share documents. As a matter of fact our class is connected by Google. Using google documents we could see what was going on in our class without really having to be there. By using shared documents we could detail anything and everything about our class and see editing in real time.

Google started out as just a regular search engine but has grown to be an empire of its own. Street view allows people to walk the cities of the world from their desktop. People have even been able to find themselves on street view. All major cites have been mapped and slowly but surely the great wilderness in the world are also being mapped. Google has made it's business to know everything. But what if it knows too much?

Like all social networks, the start up of Google+ has been a way to connect people but also a way to collect information. If you go to facebook, youtube or just about any social site you can link things from google with a click of a button. Google is able to tell your location at anytime with you have a smart phone. For example when you search for a cafe from your smart phone using the google application, it will know exactly where you are and send you results. Creepy right?

In an article by Ian Paul, Does Google Know Too Much About You, he discusses how google may have more dirt on you than you think. Your daily activities, you email address book, shopping habits, search habits, everything..... It put Google into perspective, not as the know all resource for college students, but as any other slimy corporation trying to find new ways to control information and use it for possible profit. What is worse is that it is not regulated by the government to keep top secrets under wraps. Does this remind you of the Wikileaks incident?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Share the Wealth, Creative commons

With the invention of the internet, the ability to copy or protect an item has become really easy or really difficult. Some people or companies the put copyrights on their work and upload it to the internet, naively thinking that it is safe. Well they are completely wrong. It is so easy to copy anything from the internet and use it for personal use. videos, photos, documents, programs, anything is free game on the internet as far as I am concerned. If your web designer and IT guy can properly protect it before its uploaded, then it is too late. It will be downloaded and it will be used.

The creative commons license however is something that I respect and I would hope all other net explorers would respect as well. Creative commons licenses generally allow one to download legally a document from the internet and use it for personal or non-commercial use. Because there is no rule saying that you can't download it, that takes away 90% of the people who would normally only try to pirate something because they want to "fight the system", "stick it to the man" and call them self a hacker (though I doubt copying an image from a Google search counts as being a hacker).

Looking at the creative commons license from a student point of view, I find that it is awesome that people are selfless enough to upload their books or photos to allow students and schools to use them for educational purposes. As you may not find any school in Japan suffering from a lack of funding, you will most definitely find that school in America or any 3rd world country. There are schools that stress over how to get enough money for text books and supplies to last that school year. Letting the internet be a free source of knowledge is probably the best thing that we can do for mankind. The more knowledge we share the more innovations and advancements we can make as a species. If Memes can become a new international method of communication, then creative commons can be a new international method of education.

Here's a question. On Flickr, what does the creative commons license allow for someone to be able to do with someone else's photo?

Oh Noriko

Noriko is one of my friends girlfriends. She is a Japanese girl that was raised in the States for a bit before being moved back to Japan. She is unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy and lies all the time, but she is the funniest, most relaxed, and real person on earth that I know. She like weed and isn't afraid to tell anyone that she does. One day when she was visiting her boyfriend's family in California she put a picture up of herself when she was really tired. I thought she looked high and decided to make a new picture for her to post.

Basically that face is her morning face.... try not to be alarmed!

Once again I used Adobe Photoshop for this!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My First JCRC Tour of Japan race!

November 13th I participated in my first JCRC race. Located at the foot of Mt. Fuji, there was beautiful scenery with the changing leaf colors and the snow capped Mt. Fuji. It was very cold in the morning, but the sun was out and as the morning progressed it got to a very decent temperature. 11月13日に僕は初めてのJCRC自転車大会参加しました! 富士山の西湖でJCRCステージ5に走りました!観光はとてもきれい! 紅葉がきれいで、雪が富士山の上にあった! 朝はちょっと寒いですけど天気は晴れだった。 少したつと暖かくなって良いレーシング日和だった! I raced in the X-Class, an open class for first time riders. Depending on how an X-class rider finishes, they get placed into ranked classes (SS-S-A-B-C-D-E-F). In an X-class race you don't really know what to expect. There are riders with no expirience and riders with a lot of expirience. I have been told by many riders that the X-class is full of crashes because people don't know how to ride in a peleton (large group of riders). Riding with other cyclists 2 centimeters away from you at high speeds is very scary for the first time and because of that many people panic and cause a crash. 僕はX-クラスに出ました。X-クラスはビギナークラスです。 レースの結果によってランキングもらいます(SS-S-A-B-C-D-E-F)。 X-クラスは皆、ビギナーだから、何が起こるか分からないです。 X-クラスで事故がいぱいあると聞いた。 経験がないですから、みんなとラインを合わせられなくて、ぶつかって事故が起こります。 My race went very fast. The race was 20 km long and I finished just over 29 minutes, placing 14th overall. As you will see in the video I was at the front for most of the race until the last 2 kilometers. The race ended in a bunch sprint, which I am not strong at. I am more suited for long stages where endurance is important. But with a 14th out of 120 finish, I was very happy with the results for my first race! 僕のレースはとても速かった。 20キロで29分過ぎ終わりました! 120人で14番目に完了しました! とても嬉しかった! 最後でスプリントがあった。僕は強くないスプリンターですけどよく出来ましたと思う! また、来年やりたい!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Malicious Malware

Anyone who has been on the internet has probably been infected. No, not you body but your computer. Malware is everywhere and it spreads faster than germs at a McDonald's play place. You could be downloading an innocent email from a friend and all of a sudden you get infected. You may not know it at first but maybe days or months later you will realize your computer is running a bit weird. Your anti-virus picks up the scent of Malware and tries to delete it but its too late. Not only have files been corrupted or stolen, the virus has learned how to defend itself from anti-virus attempts at deleting it. One that I have personally fought with was a Trojan that I received when downloading from Steam, an online video game store that allows you to download full games and save your game data at their site. The Trojan was easily detected but the anti-virus could not delete it because it was appearing as a system critical process. I found out that when I located the file manually, it had blocked the Administrator (me) from doing anything to the file but reading it. The only way to get rid of it was to change owners of the file and then delete it.

Malware has now spread from computers to your cell phones and GPS units taking all your personal data. I use GPS and an iPhone to navigate the countryside of Japan but now I am afraid that one day my gadgets will fail me when I am lost. I found that my GPS had a virus similar to the one infecting Tom Tom where when I plugged into my computer, a back door was trying to be opened by some tiny bit of code. Thankfully it wasn't too complex and was quickly deleted.

Now I am just wondering, who the hell are these jerk offs that want to steal my info or destroy my PC files. Do they not realize how many hours it takes to get all items and challenges beat on Call of Duty?! This blog will seem more like a rant rather then informational but how do these dusche bags even justify what they are doing? Have they just been bullied at school too much and are retaliating? Are they getting their influence from movies and video games? Most of these people watch the movies Hackers and want to be cool like it's 1995 again? All I want is to be able to surf the web, play online games, and use my GPS with out fear of having it get hacked and infected... what's wrong with that?

Bike love

Bike Love Haiku

"Lindy in the Rain" by Bruce Turner

The rain now has come.
Wear a swimsuit and ride.
Road bike love.
I wrote this Haiku because I ride in any weather. Unless there is a snow storm and it's -10 degrees,
you will probably find me on my bike. One day, while getting ready to ride to work, I realized that my clothes would be soaked before I even got 2 blocks down the street. So on that day I decided to try something new. It was a relatively warm day for a Japanese November so I put on my swimsuit and rode to work. Everyone I passed on the road thought I was crazy. It was raining like a typhoon and here I am cruizing down the road in a helmet and swimsuit. When I got to work my messenger bag was still dry on the inside thankfully and my work clothes were all dry and warm. My manager was not to pleased when I strolled into work with my soaking wet attire. He thought I had planned to work that day in my swimsuit, dripping wet. He was really relieved when I told him I had more clothes but I got a laugh out of his reaction to seeing me first walk in the store.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Speeding up my Commute

So as part of the DS106 storytelling project, I have completed one of the assignments which had me tape my work day and speed up the video. Well I don't think my job would have liked me walking around with a camera strapped to my head, so instead I recorded my commute to work.

I ride my bike where ever I go. You will never see me on a train unless it's raining really hard or if I have a cold. Everyday on my commute to work I have countless close calls with cars and pedestrians. Mainly because these cars change lanes with out sufficient warning and people just step into busy roads thinking they are invincible. As a forewarning to this video I will tell you do not copy how I ride. In some cases I am being very aggressive by riding between cars and drafting behind trucks at high speed. I do this because after a year of riding Tokyo streets I have found that the faster I go the safer it is for me.

I made this video using Adobe Premier 5. I have never used this program before so it took me a long time just to make a simple video. Overall it was a fun experience, it never really occurred to me that recording my rides on camera could lead to some interesting things. When I ride, everything seems normal but when I re-watch my rides on camera, I think "how the hell did I ride there" or "a few more centimeters and I would have been hit by a car".

I hope you will all enjoy watching this video!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DS106 Spubble

So trying to get into the DS106 project. I have just finished my first attempt at a spubble. It kind of seems like a Meme. Using Picnik it was pretty easy. It took only a few minutes but it was kinda of fun. Probably most of my posts will be bike related and have bike humor so maybe not everyone will get it but I hope everyone will enjoy it.

Touring the countryside

Ever since I first began riding road bikes, I have been obsesssed with touring Japan's countryside. After living and working in Tokyo for nearly 2 years, getting out of this urban jungle has always been my favorite thing to do. On my road bike I have traveled through Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and the mountains of west Tokyo. Sometimes I ride alone but there is nothing better than to ride with a group of friends. Between my friends and I we have thousands of kilometers of expirience and infinite stories to tell!


This is a picture my friends and I (on right) during a 150km tour of Boso, Chiba

I try to copy my gps data from my iPhone to post online. My favorite rides have to be in Chiba, and West Tokyo.

It may seem really long on a map but when you actually ride the ride with a group of people it is a lot easier. Having conversations and drafting behind other riders really helps conserve energy.

There is just so much more that you can see from a bike rather then the seat of a car or train. There honestly isn't anything better than riding with your friends. If you ever feel like joining me for a ride, or want to talk to people about riding, go to my bike club's website. We are The Tokyo Cycling Club. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Logo's and its appeal

Logo's are a big part of our life. It can advertizes who we are and what we associate with, as well as be an indicator of our standing within a certain niche. I am heavily into the cycling scene in Tokyo and the most important thing next to being a good cyclist is your image. At the bike shop that I work at many customers spend hours looking for items that "fit" their image, wether they are a hard core roadie, time trialist, fixie, or BMXer. People may find a brand that they like and begin to associate with this brand, buying up logos and wearing them like badges to show others who they ride for.
This is a short trailer for how Scott bicycles tries to put an image on it's brand.

 Another popular thing here is to be part of a team and sport your team name proudly. My company has a team, I am part of a team and most local bike shops will sponsor a team. Riding on the roads and cycling paths along the rivers, it is very common to see an individual or a group flying their team logos to show who they are. More well known teams carry a reputaion and sometimes wearing that logo will gain you more respect from other riders or an unofficial challenge depending on who you happen to meet on your ride.

Lance Armstrong -2009 Tour of California by puliarf -cc licensed

If you are in the cycling scene, Lance Armstrong is a name found everywhere. Many people know of him and his amazing story. 7 time Tour de France winner and a cancer survivor. After every one of his tour wins, you could see his team jerseys being sold at stores world wide. Who wouldn't want to be on the same team of their hero? A well know logo to cyclists and non-cyclists is Lance's "Livestrong". That logo has been put everywhere and people buy it not only to support cancer research but to show that they too live strong.

Besides the cycling world, logos are very important in all business. Bill Hanagan writes in his blog about the importance of logos for a webiste. He says it takes less then 1 second for people to deterime whether they will like something or not. Unfortunately that also how long it takes people to judge each other too sometimes. TinTin writes about how having a good team name can really improve the team morale as well as build a reputation for your team. A guy from my bike club "Tokyo Cycling Club" named Lawrence just loves to blog about anything and everything. He write what ever he feels and although he doesn't write about logos, he write about his rides. Recently I went on a ride with him and after a long hard ride with much more expirienced riders. He felt glad to be part of our club because he could learn so much. He talks about getting his team jersey soon so he can really feel like part of the club. A logo is so much more then just a name. It can be a symbol of the pride that we carry (or ride with). 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Corporations and Blogging

The internet was created for people to share their ideas. In the beginning it was for the military and universities to communicate with themselves. Since then, the internet has come a long way to where, now, individual people can become internet authors and youtube stars. Corporations and business have jumped on the internet bandwagon with websites and online catalogs.

Recently with the burst in popularity with blogging and social network, business too have joined the craze. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and blogs have become standard, if not necessary for companies. Not only is this free marketing for companies but it allows them to build closer relationships with their customers. They can get the word out on new evets, product releases and get customer feed back in real time. It's as quick as seeing how many likes you get on a facebook status or tweet.

I work for Y's Road Shibuya, a bicycle company in Japan. It has become necessary for us to write blogs everyday. On our blog we write about anything and everything from new bikes that come to our store, custom builds we did, as well as how our weekend went. This blog is meant for customers to feel like they can get to know us (the employees). We already have a website that shows all our products and what not, so there is no real need to write too much about that stuff on our blog. I have written about my own bike, rides I've been on and where I want to go.

Customers come in to my store and talk to me about what I write. Sometimes they want to hear more about a blog post, recieve some more info about a ride I did or a bike I built. All in all it just helps build a relationship with our customers. A happy customer always comes back.

As a customer myself, when I go online to look for things, I like to read blogs of employees and see customers comments. See a person behind a company makes the company feel more down to earth and a friend. For example, my favorite bike company is Felt. I ride their bikes, and at more store I can sell them pretty easily. Felt has really jumped on the social media bandwagon. They have their own facebook, twitter and Youtube.

The more I get to know Felt the more loyal I become to their company. It makes me feel like they have nothing to hide and I like that transparency.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


So I thought I would practice my Japanese, so this next blog will be in Japanese!
MASIのSPECIALE FIXEDのきれいな色のフレーム買った!!








Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Building my new bike!

Today I just bought my first Fixie.
For those who don't understand bike terminology a fixie is a fixed gear bicycle or a bike with only one speed. Mainly meant to be raced on tracks, they recently have become very popular to ride around town on.

 Although I am definitely a roadie(a road bike rider), I got curious as to what riding a fixie would be like. Also being that I work at a Y's road fixed gear shop, I see fixed gears all day and have access to unlimited Fixie goods. I bought a Masi Speciale naked frame and will be making my own custom rims to go with it. I will be using a rear hub that only allows for fixed gears so I cant put a free wheel on it. I'm a little nervous about riding it at first so I will probably practice riding a fixed gear in a near by park where they have a wide open black top.
The image I have in mind is to keep the bike looking classy and classic. Many people that ride fixed gears in Tokyo have outlandish neon colors and color schemes that not even a color blind person would make. I will keep the colors pretty neutral but the bike will have an old Italian style to it but with a hint of modernism to it.
I'll post pics as soon as I complete the build! 

Pop Culture and me

So what exactly is pop culture? How do you know what it is?

Well let me tell you. Pop culture is anything and everything that is popular with a group. Pop culture is not something that only "the cool kids" in high school were a part of. If you like something and a group of people like it too then it is pop culture. I love bicycles and things related to that. It may not be popular with you but it's popular with me and the thousands of other cyclists in the world. That means I am part of pop culture!!!

What do you like? If its something other people like as well then it is popular!

There are many popular cultures in the world. Mine is bikes, whats yours?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ted Nelson and Cyberwars

I've been reading around on the internet about Ted Nelson and his attempts at revolutionizing the way we use computers and internet. Aparrently people thought he was crazy and after reading his biography he might seem like a shrewd crazy guy who was ignored by his parents and the world but I think he is a genius. Mainly I was interested in his Xanadu project. Basically it is like a new way to view things in 3D on you computer screen. This really interested me because it seems like a cool idea and if you think about it, Hollywood has adopted his idea when in the 90's, Computer hacker movies were all the rage and moving through a 3D space in a cyber world was like the most awesome thing. If anyone reading this remembers Jurassic Park, there is a scene where to find the files for the auto door locks, to find the file they had to actually navigate a 3d world to find it. I thought that was kinda what Ted Nelson is getting at with his idea and personally I think its a cool idea. Why bother looking through files, pages and links with addresses so long and complicated that you can't remember where your stuff is unless you run a search. People navigate their neighborhoods, cities and country based on physical land marks that they can remember. We can find our friends house because addresses are easy to understand. If we want to meet our friends at "the bar", we can all find it no matter how piss drunk we already are because we can remember locations associated with a physical land mark. Well this is all a little past Ted Nelsons idea but MMORPG's like World of Warcraft or any other online game is like a 3D space the Ted Nelson wanted to create. However in WoW you can't really share word documents or Photos, they are kinda on the right path. Last year an anime movie called Summer Wars came out. The main setting of this movie was in a cyber world in which through a 3d virtual space you could do anything from playing games, run governments and communicate with people. Of course we have that now, but its all 2D and as boring as this flat web page you are looking at. Something 3D that we can travel through is, in my opinion, how we should evolve the use of computers. Ted Nelson, just a little bit ahead of his time, got it right.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The good and the bad about my job...

If you know who I am you know I am an avid cyclist. Outside of school, my life is nothing but bicycles. I ride everywhere I go whether it be sun, rain, wind or snow. I ride about 300 KM every week and eat about 4,000 Calories a day. On a student budget eating that much is impossible to sustain and still have money for school books, so I got a part time job in the beginning of last summer.

Unsurprisingly I got a job at a bike shop. Located in Shibuya, I get to see all the different exotic and interesting sub cultures of Japan walk through my shop. People who customize their bike to fit their outfits, others to fit their personalities, some who wish to buy the most expensive bike to look good on the cycling roads and a few serious people that taking biking to heart as much as I do.

 Sometimes I don't even consider it a job because truth be told, I used to spend hours browsing the goodies in the shop before I worked there. Now I just get paid to do the same thing and talk to others about bicycles. For me, it's kinda like a dream part time job.

A downside to this job however is that I am the only foreigner in the entire company, all 50 plus stores included. So a week after I started working there, all the company workers knew who I was even though I don't know any of their names. Also if I make a mistake when selling a part or ordering something for a customer, it sticks out big time. The customer just has to say they were helped by a foreigner, no need to remember my name. I can't hide like other employees can. I feel like everything I do is scrutinized by the customer because they don't trust me. My ability in working with bikes is unquestionable! It's my Japanese language ability that puts them at unease. I can't explain things in Japanese as well as I want to so my broken and sometimes vague explanations make it sound like I don't know what I am doing even though I am 100% right.

My co-workers on the other hand are amazing!!! They help me out when ever they can, they try to teach me more Japanese and they just love to chat about anything. When being a foreigner in Japan you have to be outgoing to get anywhere. The reclusive, shy, me back in America would never be able to do what I do here but if I don't put my fears and shyness behind me, I won't get anywhere. Because I seem so out going I become good friends with all my co-workers within minutes. When I started working at the Shibuya store, I was calling a co-worker I met for the first time by a nick name within 5 minutes. Something that doesn't normally happen in Japanese companies.

There are 2 things I really like in the Shibuya store. One is this $5,000 carbon fiber racing bike that sits pretty on the shelf waiting to be ridden. I fiddle around with that bike, keeping it clean, show casing it in the store blog and taking pictures of it so much, sometimes customers ask if it's my bike.

The second thing I like in that store is a co-worker of mine. It might be somewhat cliche to have a crush on your co-worker but whatever, I have one. She's cute, funny and down to earth. Best of all she likes bikes as much as I do and love outdoor activities.

 Somewhat rare to find in Shibuya among all the materialistic girls. I hate to generalize but Tokyo girls seem to be all about shopping and looking cute. When I was an English teacher, all my female students would say their hobby was shopping... Kind of an instant deal breaker for me when I hear that. I guess I should mention that my co-worker is not originally from Tokyo but from the Shikoku area country side. She only moved to Tokyo for University.

Recently I found the courage to ask her out and we have a date set! Hopefully things will go well!