Ahh, what a cute Yamanote train. Taken and (poorly) tilt-shifted on the iPhone.

Been a good day today. Finally updated www.iphoningjapan.com with a re-write of the Tokyo Metro app, now includes my take on using the Augmented Reality function. It’s very cool.

For those of you who don’t know what augmented reality is – it’s what they have in fighter jets and very high-end cars, whereby additional information is somehow projected onto the windshield, so you can keep on looking where you’re going without taking your eyes off the road / sky ahead.

This technology is now available for iPhone users (and on other Japanese handsets) – you hold the phone up and it will use the built in GPS and compass to figure out what you’re looking at, then overlay info from its database (cafes / stations / shops etc). Read more on iPhoning Japan.

There’s another app called Sekai Camera which uses the same technology, but also allows you to add your own ‘airtags’ – for example, I took a photo of a friend and placed it outside a shop in Shibuya (where we were), so from now on whenever you go there, they’ll be floating around. It’s still a kind of game at the moment, but the potential of these apps to majorly impact upon our lives (especially in places like Tokyo) is very exciting.

I’ll be posting about Sekai Camera later this week.

I also blogged about Koetan! – a fantastic voice-recognition Tokyo train route app.

Finally got Anki and iAnki (spaced repetition software for learning ANYTHING!) up and running – very excited about learning Japanese again.

Oh, had a meeting too about a dream like production studio myself and a friend would like to rent. It is a dream though.

Oh oh oh, and I watched TV for an hour too! First time in forever that I’ve done that. Used my dictionary throughout picking out unknown words – very beneficial.

Mind you, Japanese TV is absolutely terrible on the whole, and I can’t believe people actually pay so much for such limited choice, and such drivvle. It’s like paying US$200 (or whatever it is) per year for the privilege of watching 10 of the most mindless YouTube channels on Earth, whilst stabbing yourself in the eyes with red hot needles. I seriously wonder what people are thinking when they come up with some of the extraordinarily bizarre things you see.

Basically, I don’t really want to watch TV as I think it’s a complete waste of time (for me). It strikes me as being like pouring your life down the loo, but I do want to use it in my Japanese studies (thus my asking for recommendations earlier). You know, the average time spent in front of the TV in the UK is about 25 hours per week (and far more in Japan). Yes, I sit in front of my computer, but on the whole that’s productive time. I rarely find myself procrastinating these days as there’s just too much I want to do in the short time I have. I’m grateful in a way that Japanese TV is so awful as it means I’m unlikely to voluntarily indulge, instead only watching one of two things a week that are well-produced and help my studies.

Anyway, best go to bed. Don’t forget that we’re giving away free credit for use on www.hearjapan.com (Japanese music download site aimed at people outside of japan) to all listeners of the latest episode of Japanpodshow.com!


5 Responses

  1. I know I’m probably wasting my typing here, but I think you might want to consider viewing television (and other similar activities) with a broader perspective. T.V., like oral sharing of stories in the past, provides a cultural touchstone for the masses. It gives people a chance to form an instant relationship and to bond culturally. The content also reflects the values, mores, and zeitgeist of the time in which it’s created and is quite educational. The smallest thing in an inconsequential T.V. show can often reveal volumes about the culture it was made in or the people it was made by.

    One thing I’ve noticed about you, Joseph, and this is not a criticism at all, but merely an observation, is that you appear to view life as something you have to fill with achievements that you have to tick off in your mental notebook to prove that you are advancing yourself. In the process, you don’t seem to be doing much actual living. Life is more expansive than that for most people. If you focus so much on putting check marks next to boxes, you limit your growth in other ways. Sometimes, it’s about the ebb and flow of reality and you can’t see it is you’re only thinking about content creation and concrete skill advancement.

    To each their own though. As long as you’re happy, keep checking off the items on your “do do” list.

    1. @orchid64 I agree that TV does have its uses. I agree that it reflects the times its made in and provides cultural cornerstones. But in Japan’s case they should just make one 30 minute program per year for the Archive of the Times and then turn the transmitters off.

      Basically, in the above I’m referring to the vast majority of programs on japanese terrestrial analogue TV which are absolute pants. The kind of programs that will just be left on in the background in a ‘typical’ family home in Japan. Mindless ‘humour’. Endless shows with geinoujin expressing surprise at the story of the parrot that likes to go shopping etc.

      Good TV though (like BBC or NHK documentaries / high quality dramas) are an absolut pleasure to watch and can be life changing.

      But I feel that their role as providing cultural cornerstones is coming to an end, replaced by social media trends and viral videos.

      I could be completely wrong though.

      Re. tick boxes, I wouldn’t really agree, although I appreciate that based on what I put out online it must seem like that.

      Yes, there are tick boxes, but these are specific to certain projects and I believe are necessary for me to complete them. They are contained, and do not represent my life as a whole. Japan Podshow is one such example. It’s not an ongoing thing, it’s a series of shows being produced so as to create a portfolio, with a front cover and a back cover. It doesn’t go beyond that.

      Concrete skill enhancement (such as video editing) is something I do put effort into, but at the end of the day I appreciate that it is totally unimportant.

      What is of fundamental importance to me is who I am, how I treat others and whether or not the world is a better place for my being here.

      This is what I’m working on, and all the little things I do on a daily basis are supporting my cause. I won’t do anything if it is not in line with my ultimate goal of leaving this place having made a postive impact upon the world and lives of others.

      But I’m not sacrificing the present. I feel that I am fortunate because I believe that not living today in order to pursue some future ideal lifestyle / achievement is just daft. Whilst I am very busy I make time to enjoy the present, and experience many happy, emotional moments. This morning I experienced one such moment, when I woke up in internal tears. I don’t know if it was a dream or what, but I was immensley sad.

      Rather than just push that aside and get on with replying to emails, I went and sat on a bench in the morning sun in the park, stretching, listening to the birds and the fountain, and enjoying the morning light. I didn’t tweet about that.

      Whilst in the past I have lived for the past and for the future, now I try to remain in the present. I may come across as being some place else, but really, I’m not.

      I appreciate your comment as it provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my situation and see that things are as I would wish them to be, given the circumstances.

  2. Hi Joseph,

    Long time, no see. Believe it or not I was actually going to ask you a couple of questions about two things you are quite a fan of: Anki and Heisig. However, I will come to that in minute as Orchid64 has made a couple of points I’d like to pick up on…

    The TV thing. I am very skeptical of people who don’t watch TV and write all of it off as inconsequential drivel. It’s hard to really put my finger on the vague sense of annoyance and suspicion I have about people, like yourself, who make sweeping generalisations about the uselessness of TV – dismissing it as opiate for the masses, googlebox for the plebs, not worth of YOUR time. That kind of attitude. Don’t like it. But anyway, think I’ve aired my views about this a while back (possibly related to TV news…). It comes down to this – you are too young to be developing a middle aged mind-set about these things. Next thing you know you’ll be bemoaning the fact that no good music has been made since 1973 or something.

    On the second point, about to-do lists. I think Orchid64’s comments were a bit harsh (and that’s coming from me!) – it seems you do have a rich and varied life, even if your posts do seem a bit heavy on goals, timetables and targets. I would like to make a broader point about your posts – I was reading through some of your posts from a few years back (ah, good times…) and they were just SO much more interesting. Post these days usually go something like this…

    “The weather is sunny/hot/cold recently. I’m excited about life.

    There’s a new iPhone app for <>. I’m going to set a goal of <>. I’m going to make a podcast about this <>. I’m excited about life.

    Japan podshow plug.

    I’m going to meet <> to talk about <>. I’ve also decided to start making <> out of hemp that I’m growing on our balcony. Organic and cheap. Probably going to take some tiltshift pictures of it too. Running is fun. I’m excited about life.”

    Repeat ad infinitum.

    Very little insight into your thoughts, feelings, family life, personal life, social life…basically, anything which made your blog interesting to read in the first place. I can’t help but wonder whether this shift has happened because you have decided to be more “open” about this website. Pointing all your friends to it via Facebook/Twitter etc. There was a time when even the venerable *twinkle* was not aware of it’s existence. I think now you are subconsciously aware that EVERYONE you know can read this site, you’ve started posting about things which are detached from you, seperate, never getting too close to revealing anything about you’re deep thoughts or emotions. It’s a pretty dull read these days…unless you have a fetish for iPhones or silly podcasts. Sorry.

    Anyway, rant over, down to my questions:

    (1) Does Anki work on the iPhone? Can you transfer your deck from your computer to the iPhone?

    (2) When using Heisig how did you address the following issues:
    (a) with Heisig you learn the meanings of individual characters, when they are in “compound” characters, with a completely unrelated meaning, isn’t that a major stumbling block?
    (b) how did you go about going back over all the characters you learnt to learn the readings? How long did it take?

    1. Anon, great to hear from you again.

      1) Yes, anki works on the iPhone, as it tells you on the Anki website.

      2) Heisig provided great foundations for learning kanji, and I use what it taught me every day. It cannont be used alone though so I reccomend using other materials to ensure that you undertand how the kanji you are leanring are used in real life.

      re. the other point – The Daily Mumble is not serving the same purpose it was several years ago. It’s raison d’etre changes in line with my personal needs at any one time. As I have said before, I don’t write it for others, I write it for myself.

    2. p.s. anon – check out my personal podcast (embedded in right coloumn of daily mumble, available on iTunes here: itpc://audioboo.fm/users/21603/boos.atom) which sometimes has more personal stuff.

      Incidentally, it seems that a lot of people do have a ‘fetish for silly podcasts’…