1 week until a change of occupation

Frog in a BottleHowdy punks.

I headed on down to the Make: Tokyo Meeting 04 yesterday, held at Tokyo Institute of Technology. It’s a kind of interactive DIY tech fare. I shot a short video (embedded below) – and wrote a little more about it (with links) over at www.japantechshow.com. The frog above was one of a collection that seemed immensely popular with other visitors. Quite why you’d want a frog’s corpse on your mantlepiece I don’t know.

So, as per my previous post, we’re in the midst of change here. I have 5 days left with my current employer, much of which will be spent training those who are going to take over my job, making video tutorials and text guides to what I’ve been doing.

I’m very much looking forward to changing my daily routine, and joining White Rabbit Press. I still can’t quite get over just how well it all seems to be working out.

It will be good to have meaning restored to what I devote a third of my weekday hours to. Whilst the lack of meaning in recent months hasn’t exactly led me to depression, it has left me feeling considerably frustrated and unfulfilled. I need a challenge, and whilst my previous job was challenging, the challenges were not the sort of thing that led to greater skill acquisition etc!

Speaking of challenges, Tom and I ran our first 19km Tokyo Marathon training run yesterday. It wasn’t too bad, although Granny’s hip syndrome did kick in at the end. Today I’m in a bit of pain, but nothing too bad.

We have about 12 weeks to go.

Life with *Twinkle* is wonderful. I feel so fortunate.

Anyways, I have a couple of podcasts I’d like to finish off today, so I’ll leave it here for now.

Here’s that video from Make fair.


My new job

[This entry was first published briefly 1 week ago. I chose to take it down for personal reasons, but can now put it back up]


Let’s have a picture of the moon as seen from our balcony – pre-water discovery.

So, as I mentioned in a post a few days back, I’m moving on from my current day job. It’s been a priceless experience and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work there. It’s given me an insight into what working for a Japanese company can be like, which will certainly inform any decisions I make about work in the future.

Where am I moving on to? White Rabbit Press.

I first had contact with them back in the summer thanks to Japan Podshow – possible collaboration was discussed, although it was decided then that the timing wasn’t right. Fast forward several months and I’m at the Good Ideas Salon event. Things draw to a close, and we’re all loitering in the foyer. I say hello to the interesting-looking guy behind me – he gives me his card – it’s the owner of White Rabbit Press. That night a bunch of us went for a drink at a local izakaya. There was no talk of work that night, but fast forward another few weeks and emails are exchanged, we meet, he kindly offers me a job.

Incidentally, last week I also went for an interview with All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s no.2 airline – this opportunity also arose thanks to personal contacts. The  interview took place in an office overlooking the runway at Haneda Airport. The position: an instructor responsible for testing pilots in an international English test that was introduced last year as a part of new regulations aimed at cutting the number of accidents caused by pilots not speaking good-enough English.

I won’t go into details about the interview as during proceedings two of the pilots shared the fact that they had been reading this website the day before (despite my not mentioning anything about it in my application). Ultimately it turned out though that their having seen TameGoesWild helped my application, they were impressed and entertained, apparently…!

As well as 50% more money than my present salary, I was also offered free flights for myself and my family. Initially this started out at about 3 return flights per year, but as the days progressed and I continued to say no to an offer, so it rose to 8 trips annually.

It was a tough decision to make. On the one side I was being offered a lot of money and free trips anywhere around the world, and on the other side I was being offered the chance to work for a comparatively small company operating in an industry that I’m very much interested in (publishing / audio / video) – but without free holidays!

I think I knew the answer from the start though. By working for White Rabbit Press I’ll be able to push myself further, to acquire new knowledge and skills, to gain an idea of what it’s like to run a business here in Japan.

It’s also a chance to continue to grow up. By being made responsible for key parts of the business the pressure will be on to deliver real results. In my current job there is little chance of my actions having any real impact on the overall profitability of the business (which leads to boredom, stagnation, no need for growth). In my new position if my actions don’t have an impact upon overall profitability I’ll be out of a job!

I really do see it as a golden opportunity to take the next step towards the goals I have for my Tokyo life. The manner in which the chance presented itself (it was an incredible series of ‘coincidences’ only touched upon above) reinforces for me that this is the right thing to do. *Twinkle* is supportive, and happy that I’ll be working a lot closer to home so that the 7.5 hours a week I will no longer be spending commuting can be spent on cleaning the house (which, for the record is nearly all done by me already!)

I have another 10 days in my present job.



The making of Japan Podshow

Hello there. Joseph here. In a cafe in Shibuya, opposite Sakuraya and that bright pink real estate agent on Center-gai. I have an hour to spare before meeting *Twinkle*, so thought I’d pen a few notes on all the stuff that’s been going on. In this blog I’ll be talking about podcasting.

First off then, we’ve finally reached the end of Japan Podshow series 1. It’s been a lot of fun. Through the show I’ve been able to meet a lot of new people, reach out to others whom I respect and admire, explore podcast possibilities that I’ve carried for a number of years in my head, learn a lot more about audio editing, and more recently, learn even more about video editing.

Direct download links for Quicktime / iTunes friendly movie files:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The Japan Podshow experiment was a big success. I achieved what I set out to do, and feel that our total download figure (which doesn’t include YouTube / facebook / embedded media player views&listens) of approximately 20,000 so far (and the listener feedback we’ve received) is proof that we created something of value that gives pleasure to others.

Whilst this show was not (and was never meant to be) monetised, the rewards have been immense, such as enabling me to get my foot in the door with two of Japan’s largest English language media companies, and helping me get my new job (more on that in another post).

By far the biggest benefit has been the network of Tokyo-based people that it’s put me in touch with. It’s been a real lesson in how knowing people can completely change your experience of a place. Prior to starting out with this project, I had lived in Tokyo for a little over two years. In that time I actually made very few friends, choosing to stick with a handful of mates whom I first met during my first year here in Japan. Since then, thanks to the podcast and Twitter, my network has expanded into something I never would have thought possible to achieve in such a short space of time. Having these people around is a key part of my sense of wellbeing. I may not see them on a regular basis (other than on Twitter), but they are all an integral part of my existence here in Tokyo. They help flesh it out, give it more meaning.

The podcast also pushed me to start using Final Cut Express, and then, with episode 12 (which required the blurring of moving faces in public areas of the Ritz-Carlton hotel) Final Cut Pro. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel a lot more confident with video editing now than I did at the beginning of the year. That’s something I always wanted to get my head around, so I’m delighted about that.

Episode 12 was a huge challenge. The arranging for guests to show up, negotiations with the Ritz-Carlton and actual filming were pretty easy – a lot of this was due to the amazing Linda Beltran, marketing manager at the hotel who was so accommodating that we found ourselves able to put most of our ideas intro practice without any problems. She is a star.
It was after than when I came to edit the hours of video from our three HD cameras that the challenge really began. In the end I think it took me about 5 full days. Trial-and-error was the way I proceeded – in hindsight I should have just sat down and watched a bunch of tutorial videos before I began. I’d never done anything like this before, and was still pretty much a novice when it came to Final Cut (as I think shows). Overall I’m pleased with the result – it’s the best I can do with my current limitations (time, editing skill/experience, quality of the original footage).

One disappointment is the sound. I didn’t plan this carefully enough, and it was only when I finally got to the export stage that I really started to appreciate just how dodgy this was in parts. If I was to do this again I’d have everyone wired up with quality radio mics (if someone would lend them to me!). The one radio mic we had was OK, but I should have tested it beforehand in order to appreciate just how it should be used. As it was this was all new to both myself and our fantastic cameraman Steve, and given time constraints on the day we didn’t do any reviews during testing (something else I’d change next time).

Still, given that this project was totally unfunded and done in time remaining outside of a full time job in the space of a couple of weeks, I think it’s OK. I’m proud to have it in my portfolio (daft though the content is).

The timing of the conclusion of this project is perfect – it coincides with the end of the day job that I’ve had for the past 13 months, and thus a big change in all of my routines. Japan Podshow has enabled me to forge ties that will now help me to move on to the next stage of crafting the life in Japan that I want. For that, I’m very grateful.

I don’t know if or when we’ll create a second series. I have an idea that if we do it will be pretty different. I think it was also need to be monetised in some way, as I don’t think I can justify the time a second series would require. We’ll see.

To finish off, I’d just like to say that I’m very thankful that I’ve had the support necessary to make the project a reality. Writing the credits for the final episode I was reminded of just how many people had taken part in it. Musicians, interviewees, advisers, sources of inspiration and emotional support. All played a part. A big thank you to all of them, it’s very much appreciated.

Here’s the youtube versions. The quality is a bit pants compared to the originals downloadable above.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Big changes part 1

Hello. It’s been a while.

With so much going on I’ve not been able to devote any time to blogging round here of late, although I am posting fairly regular audio diaries now in my podcast feed – you can listen to it without leaving the Mumble just by clicking on the play buttons in the right hand column, or subscribe to it in an RSS here, or in iTunes here.

Anyhow, I’ll be starting writing again soon. Currently, all my free time is taken up with editing the video we filmed at the Ritz. I didn’t quite appreciate just how long it would take. So far, about 4 full days plus multiple evenings. I’m learning a lot though. It’s in the final stages now.

So, Big Changes part one hey? Yep. Part two will follow when I can talk about it publicly.

Part one is, I handed in my notice today at the company I’ve worked at since returning to Japan in September 2008.

I can’t really say any more, other than I’ll be leaving on good terms. My last day will be sometime within the next few weeks.

As for my new job, I can’t talk about that yet either!

One thing that today has demonstrated however is it is so much a case of not what you know, but who you know, especially in a fairly close-knit community such as that that exists amongst parts of the non-Japanese population in Tokyo.

Another thing: my online activities have paid off. Without this website, without my podcasts, without my videos, I would not be in the position I’m now in. Whilst I may not have earned a penny from these sites directly, the indirect benefit I’ve felt over the past 6 months (that is, especially since I started podcasting) has been huge.

Anyway, I’ll talk in plain English next time. But I just wanted to share the fact that I’m excited to see these big changes come about.