4 Hours in Malaysia / 26 Hours in Tokyo – Part 1

After leaving Bangkok I landed in Kuala Lumpur for a 4 hour layover. Just long enough to get bored to tears in an airport but not long enough to leave said airport.

I wandered around they duty free shops for a bit and decided to get a bite to eat at the Malaysian noodle place called Nööödles. I got the “beef balls and herbs soup” and a coke for what equated to around $7, not half bad. After that I stumbled onto the airport Starbucks which had a free open WiFi connection… Sweet! Only problem though? No way to charge my devices.. Kuala Lumpur is the only stop on my trip that doesn’t use the standard US two prong wall socket and I didn’t bring my adaptor kit with me. Luckily enough there was an electronics store right below where I was able to pick up one of those little adaptor switch boxes for around $10.

I did have a momentary nerd out moment in there however. They had TONS of Japanese video games for sale and all sorts of bizarre bootleg devices. This was the kind of stuff that 10 year old me dreamed of. I got really really excited at the idea of buying something to bring home and play… Then I remembered that this isn’t the days of old where you could get a cartridge adaptor for your NES and just play Japanese games, the whole industry has switched to optical media which simply won’t play without modding your systems, which thanks to the DMCA is illegal in the USA and with companies like Microsoft blocks you from getting online. Damn. Stupid regions. Stupid DMCA. Stupid Microsoft.

After I got over my heartbreak on this I went back to Starbucks, plugged in and I was off and running! (Note: the iPad’s battery would have no doubt made it fine through my flight to Tokyo, but I knew I was going to use it heavily in the next day so I wanted to start off with a fresh full charge.

I arrived at the Narita airport and wandered around a bit, taking a moment to use the bathroom, clean myself up and change into jeans. It’s 84 degrees here, a huge break compared to the sweltering heat and humidity of Thailand, I’m excited to be wearing jeans again.

I took a bus to the downtown Tokyo Train station which took about an hour but I figured would be a good starting point. From there I began to wander some more, I immediately was able to figure out which direction I was walking from the placement of the sun and when I noticed that I laughed out loud. The boy scouts would be proud. I’m extremely grateful for my iPhone right now as none of the streets are obviously labeled, that said I think I’d be doing okay as there are a lot of maps placed throughout the city which denote where you are. Navigation is all based on neighborhoods and landmarks, and it’s surprisingly clear for someone who doesn’t read a word of Japanese.

First thing on my agenda: find the Apple store. I accomplished this very quickly. Now I know you probably laughed at that and might have even muttered “nerd” but there is a method to my madness. Apple is very selective in the placement of their stores, they are usually in upscale, popular/trendy areas so they can immediately give you an idea of a good place to check out, on top of that they offer free wifi, accessible power outlets, clean bathrooms and friendly multi-lingual staff.

That choice paid off big time immediately I was able to find a guy who had moved here from Estonia who was able to give me a brief run-through of Tokyo basics. First thing he told me, enjoy the free WiFi because I won’t find much of it elsewhere. Not even Starbucks offers it apparently and McDonald’s does but only to Nintendo DS users… great. I also found out the post office here doesn’t sell stamps… weird. I’ve yet to mail out my postcards so that is priority #2.

Christine’s father was able to get me a great hotel rate for tonight so I’ll be staying at the Sheraton, this goes against my usual traveling rules, but I could use a clean bed and shower. Unfortunately I can’t check in until 2 so it I’ve got some time to kill.

I’ve heard a few suggestions / requests of things to do for tonight which I’m excited to start tackling as soon as I’ve put my bags down. I’m still open for more though so hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. More later!

"F#¢k Thomas Edison. Seriously." OR Death, Humor and Subism

Lightbulb on Flickr

This got me thinking last night, especially when contrasted with this. Tesla’s letterhead is striking, artistic and thought provoking. Edison however goes for a more distinguished look that I think is boring, unoriginal and uncreative even for the time.

Those who know me will tell you, in additon to being a design nerd, that I’ve got a quirky sense of humor. This is often misinterpreted and rubs people the wrong way because I tend to appear like an opinionated jerk. In reality, I like to challenge people’s ways of thinking, I enjoy arguing strange or absurd points and do so with a passion. I don’t always agree with the point I’m making but I enjoy provoking someone sure of their beliefs out of their comfort zone.

I’ve been known to joke about the concept of death and I am fascinated by people’s seriousness around the topic. Whether you’re religious or not, (I’m not) death to me has always seemed like just another phase of life. I’ve lost people I love and in some pretty tragic ways, and I don’t make light of that. However, when I talk of my own death I want people to chuckle, I don’t want to be mourned, I’d much rather there be a big party in my honor than a grieving. I want my sense of humor to be reflected, normal is boring.

I’m very fortunate to have made some amazing friends who, thankfully, appreciate my antagonistic behavior and sense of humor. In the event of my death I’ve made two of them, Dan and Christine, responsible for certain things.  Dan, I’ve asked to eulogize me but only if he leads off with the following:

“John was not a great man, he wasn’t even a good man, but he did have a really sweet setup for his Sega Dreamcast

Thing is, I’m not kidding, he thinks I am but I’m not. I’ve made him promise to say that under penalty of haunting. IE: If he doesn’t say it, and there is a way for me to do it, I will haunt him from the afterlife. And believe me, I will, he knows it too, and assuming he outlives me, Dan has reluctantly agreed.

The other ritual in the event if my death is my headstone inscription, for which Christine is responsible. To explain that, you need to understand something else.

I hate Thomas Edison.

Yeah, I know, pretty random. That statement has a tendency to piss off or confuse people. Especially coming from someone who works in technology, claims to be a Buddhist (it’s called “practicing” for a reason) and really tries not to use the word “hate” anymore.

But seriously, fuck Thomas Edison.

I’m not discounting his impact on the world at large, I just think the man was an asshole. We grow up being taught a lot of things in elementary school that we accept as truths that later in life we often learn the horrible reality about. Need an example? Christopher Columbus was a brutal murder who discovered nothing, Gandhi beat his wife and Sylvester Stallone is not that tall in person.

People tend not to know the truth about Edison. The more I learn about him, the more respect I have for him as a businessman and the less respect I have for him as an actual human being. It doesn’t take much research to learn that Edison is a thief who ripped off the bulk of the work he is credited for and employed thugs to do his dirty work.

However, when I tell this to people (especially those from New Jersey) they often don’t believe me, “How could you seriously speak ill of ‘The father of invention?!'”

Then I show them this:

They usually get it then.

Yes, Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant in an effort to show the superiority of his direct current vs. Nikola Tesla’s alternating current. Edison’s rivalry with Tesla is extremely well documented and the man went to outlandish lengths to prove himself right, to discredit Tesla and to destroy his life.

In the end, Edison was wrong but he managed to nearly erase Tesla from the popular vernacular. To this day most in our society while most have no clue who Tesla was and think of Edison when they think of electricity.

Learning of this made me rethink much of what I thought I knew. I love occurances like that, stuff that subvert and disrupt the status quo and evoke thought. That, to me, is what subism is about.

It’s because of my beliefs as a subist and these enlightening truths that I want my death to not be taken seriously, I’d rather make someone laugh at society or think than cry for me. This is why I’ve also made Christine responsible inscription on my headstone, which will read exactly as follows:

“Fuck Thomas Edison. Seriously.”

If that offends you, good. If it makes you smile, even better.

‘Surface’ reactions

Eric Meyer NAILED my first thought about Microsoft’s new ‘Surface’ computing device. I watched all the product demos on the site just waiting for this to pop up.

On a serious note… that thing looks REALLY cool, I think for once Microsoft is right on the money, it’s going to change the industry with this technology. I’m not sure this is the right implementation, but it’s years ahead of the curve. Too bad it costs $10,000.

Then again, I thought Sega’s ‘Time Traveler’ was the future of gaming back in 1991. I was 10. Cut me some slack.

So.. how long before someone mods one to do what Eric’s suggesting?

Honoring a commitment to myself

When I was young I really desperately wanted to have an arcade machine in my home. I remember that actually one Christmas I took all the money my family had given me for my birthday and Christmas and invested it in a bank account solely for the purpose of saving up enough money to buy an NBA Jam arcade machine.

Well it’s years later and I still have that dream. My love for NBA Jam has come and gone but something has stayed the same. For years I have put on my Christmas list that I know I will not recieve, but do anyway: A Dodge Viper, a Ms. Pac Man arcade machine and a Guns N’ Roses Pinball machine.

Well, it’s been years and well that money… that account grew a lot, it’s actually enough money to barely cover the purchase of an arcade machine. So I’ve decided, once I’m in and settled in Chicago I’m going to honor this promise I made to myself years and years ago and buy a machine. G N’ R Pinball’s not going to happen, at least not till I’m mega rich… those machines are R A R E. However NAMCO put out something that recently caught my eye:

PAC-MAN 25th Anniversary Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga… all in one machine.

It will be mine.. oh yes, it will be mine. I think younger me would be pleased.

Allegedly this is not a blog…

…unless I update it.

Fair enough I guess I’ll work on that. I’ll try to make this brief. I’ve been busy for the past few months, but things seem to be settling down for the moment which is good.  Work is good, back to school season is just ending so hopefully things might ease up, that’s about all I can say. I’m hoping for new products soon, but have no clue in truth. I plan to pick up a MacBook Pro whenever they put out a new version. My 12″ Powerbook’s AppleCare has just expired, and while it’s still running and treating me well, it’s time to move to something with a little more power, something that can run Aperture or actually interface with a video iPod. (12″ had USB 1.1)

So I’m back playing Halo 2 again, that game will not die for me I still enjoy it every bit as much as I did when I bought it. Oh that reminds me, I officially, after what… 4 months, have decided that my X-Box 360 was a completely worthwhile purchase. 3 reasons:

  1. I finally used it as a DVD player and a messaging center at the same time. I have my old wired Apple Keyboard plugged into it. Being able to voice chat as VoIP or text message while watching a movie is incredible.
  2. X-Box Live Arcade is finally actually worthwhile. I downloaded Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting and have been getting my butt whupped by strangers on the internet, while listening to music streaming from my PowerMac. (Thank you Connect 360)
  3. Dead Rising. Nuff Said.

Other stuff….

So I’ve been keeping busy, not working on any major design projects at the moment, mostly studying new programs and trying to (re?)teach myself how to draw. That said, I have been working at getting MediaRebellion.com back up and running. I’m not sure what we’re going to use it for but I moved all the content over to WordPress and as of yesterday two days ago I installed the Beta of phpBB 3 on the site which actually seems to be running REALLY smoothly, it’s leaps and bounds better than any other free message board system I’ve used.

I’m also now hosting / administrating the official message board for The Epoxies. Incase you havn’t checked them out, they are a new wave / punk band from Portland, Oregon that totally rocks, I highly recommend checking them out.

Canon put out a new version of the Rebel… I want it.