Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beatiful Kobe

I am back in Japan, enjoying a few days in beautiful Kobe. I discovered some nice hiking in the hills above the city, which I have taken advantage off.

Stay tuned for more Japan pictures the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wonderful Copenhagen

I am one step from posting pictures from the previous trip from a current trip, and trying really hard not to get there. Back in Denmark, I spent an evening walking through Copenhagen and taking these pictures.

The first picture is interesting: my brilliant friend Hans is running Xena Networks out of the yellow building on the right, but I had no idea he was in there when I took the picture.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Computer Issues

I have written about malware issues before. This time it is worse. Some virus killed my main PC, and I spent over two months trying to restore and clean it. Four security packages failed to do it automatically.

It was tedious work. I reinstalled the OS and available upgrades many times, too many to count. I scoured through registry settings, looking for suspicious entries. One evening, I manually copied 176 system DLLs from the XP installation DVD, one by one. I installed security packages and ran updates and scans, little of which proved productive.

Though I harbor little respect, and much disdain, for the malware authors, I have to admit the viruses are getting sophisticated. They morph themselves so that they are difficult to recognize, by programs or humans. They use counter measures, so that if you partially disable one, it will reconstitute itself. (This happened to me many times). They use indirection and one-way references, so that finding the root of each takes effort. They try to limit their system impact so that you might not notice them. Like biological viruses, they try not to kill their hosts, though in both cases, a lossage in the 10-20% range is perfectly acceptable.

I managed to get my system working and clean, and even got ESET Smart Security installed and operating. It is my favorite security program so far, because of its speed and relatively simple design (though the UI could use some work). Even it was not the silver bullet for me, though.

In the end, was it all worth it? I could have scratched the system and started over. (All my data is backed up regularly). That would have taken almost as long, though, and I would have lost a few assets -- some programs I would not have been able to reinstall and relicense. I would also not have learnt as much.

I have concluded that a few system settings and a security software package is not enough to protect you. You need more layers of security. I have become a fan of the limited user account. I have also looked for malware lists, such as the one found on malwaredomains.com. It is a non-profit, which I promptly donated to, because I like his work. Through it, I also found the Unmask Parasites blog, which reveals how some viruses work, security holes, and perhaps most importantly, includes tips and tidbits for end-users and webmasters alike.

I have also concluded that many viruses, especially the commercial ones, are so discreet that many computers and websites are infected, without the owners' awareness.

Browse safely.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

I am home after a trip to the Pacific Northwest and Denmark. Above is a picture of Mt Hood, taken from near the place where I was staying with friends in Portland. Though Mt Hood is much smaller than Rainier, it is much closer to the city, so Portland gets similar images of it as Seattle does of Rainier.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Steven Weinberg on Religion

I have always thought of religion as being a moral lever: it can make good people behave better and bad people behave worse. Since I read this Steven Weinberg quote, I wonder if he has it right instead:

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mt Hamilton Ride

My dad is back in Denmark. We did some fun things while he was here, and I will post as media becomes available.

Here is a video of a ride down from Mt Hamilton. You can watch it on the Youtube clips in two parts, or download the full .wmv file. The download is much better quality in both picture and sound, but may not work if you run some of that alt-ware from Apple.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Japanese Java

I was pleasantly, but thoroughly, surprised to discover that the coffee in Japan is so good. On reflection, it makes sense. Not only is Japan a food culture, they pay attention to the details that makes the difference between a so-so and an excellent cup of joe.

I have been told that Japan receives the best coffee beans. Again, this must be so, since the Japanese are willing to pay the premium for the quality. I have seen many complaints about Starbucks charging $2 for a cup of coffee, but in the high-end Tokyo shops, they think nothing of paying $5-$10 for a much smaller, but much better serving.

In some shops, they use the characteristic bulbs of the siphon brewing method. Another surprise to me was that the best coffee I had, at Cafe de L'Ambre in Tokyo, poured the water with a steady hand. The care and skill they apply to brewing is fascinating. These guys are my new role models.

Special thanks to Mike Kleindl for turning me on to Cafe de L'Ambre.

On the home front, here is a picture of Genevieve and Jenna-Sue, from my favorite coffee shop in the Bay Area, Jenna-Sue's Cafe in Boulder Creek.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Goodby Kobe

I know I am in Tokyo, thanks to the unique high-rise architecture. I enjoyed my last full day yesterday, having lunch with my friend Hiro, who I met at Nishiho-Sanso. We had a Japanese hot-pot type lunch, the first I had of its kind, and it was outstanding. We called the waitress from an antique phone.

Various unrelated pictures attached.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Little Cherry Blossoms

I posted some cherry blossom pictures. Following is a link to the album and some samples. I did not get the full bloom, only the initial budding. It was already spectacular.


Cherry Blossoms

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beware the Osaka Hutong

The term 'hutong' originates in China, but I grokked its meaning in Japan. I think of it as a commercial alley. Oriental cities contain a plethora of such little streets and walk-throughs brimming with close-quarters commercialism. The difference is that in Japan, the concept is upgraded to the 21st century and incorporated into a modern cityscape.

In particular, Osaka, where the shopper's paradise makes New York look like Reykjavik, and even Tokyo cannot compete in sheer density, the alluring retail maze is everywhere. If you spot an entry, be careful. It will suck you up, and if you are low on will-power, it will not spit you back out until you max your credit.

In the following series of pictures, I have included one from Hong Kong and one from Beijing, to round it out.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


As I travel around Japan, I notice many details that are distinctly Scandinavian. Sometimes the illusion is so complete as to be uncanny. Following are some pictures that are not that interesting in themselves, except that they could have been taken in Japan or either Denmark or Sweden. To be sure, a native or an expert might notice a revealing detail, so do not take it in a technical sense.

Often, I will see a building or a tile pattern that looks similar to something I might see in Denmark, but something is a little off. For instance, the brick-sizes and methods used in masonry differs slightly, so that a brick building may only look familiar at a distance. Sometimes I cannot put my finger on it. At other times, I will see a house that looks perfectly Danish, but a mountain in the distance or a sign in Kanji destroys the illusion.

To be honest, I am not certain if I initially saw a couple of these patterns, then started looking for them. I will say that they keep jumping out at me in ways that do not happen in other parts of the world.

Poor Norway gets left out. I do not see the wooden construction particular to Norway and northern Sweden, and the mountains near the cities are not dramatic enough.