October 24, 2003

Y! Japan Days #4 and #5

More good talks, good food, good drinks, and good people. Lots of fun. I don't have time to write up much more at the moment, but I've updated the pictures with the latest.

Tomorrow (Saturday) morning, some folks are heading to the Tokyo Auto Show, some to the fish market, and a few of us go to Akihabara to go gadget shopping.

Guess which group I'm in... :-)

Useful stuff:

That's all for now. Oh, here's a picture of my last post form the Zaurus. How cool is that?

On Sunday we fly to Korea and will be staying at The Oakwood. Then on Tuesday we head to Taiwan.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:56 AM

Posting from Zaurus

I am posting this from a Sharp Zaurus in the Living Bar in Japan.

This thing is attracting a lot of attention. I really really really want me one of these!!!

I will ppost a pic later.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:08 AM

October 23, 2003

Amazon Full-Text Book Searching

Well, this is rather cool, wouldn't you say?

A significant extension of our groundbreaking Look Inside the Book feature, Search Inside the Book allows you to search millions of pages to find exactly the book you want to buy. Now instead of just displaying books whose title, author, or publisher-provided keywords match your search terms, your search results will surface titles based on every word inside the book. Using Search Inside the Book is as simple as running an Amazon.com search.

How it works.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:50 PM

October 22, 2003

Y! Japan Day #3

Lots of good talks today. From the point of view of a US engineer, it was an especially interesting day. Why? Because most of the day was taken up by representatives from each of the non-US properties talking about what they've been up to, problems they're having, and so on.

We got to hear from:

  • Australia
  • China
  • Europe
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Latin America
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan (Kimo)

After the formal presentations were over, a group of us headed out in the rain to search for dinner. We found excellent food. And then managed to wind up in a British pub. Don't ask.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:42 PM

26Mbit DSL in Japan

If I lived in Japan, I could have have a 26Mbit DSL connection via Yahoo! BroadBand (Y! BB). Holy crap!

What's it cost, you wonder? A bit less than my 1.5Mbit DSL or 3Mbit Cable in the US.

Think about it this way. In the 20-30 seconds it normally takes to establish a dial-up connection and get an IP address, you could have downloaded 60MB worth of data.

If you don't live close to the central office, you have to suffer with the slower DSL connections: 12Mbit, 10Mbit, or 6Mbit.

Oh, the pain...

Posted by jzawodn at 12:22 AM

October 21, 2003

What the heck was that? A USB wristwatch?

I just saw an engineer take his watch off, untuck a small USB cable, and pass it to another. The second guy plugged the watch into his notebook.

I'm a little stunned and puzzled by this. I suddenly feel like I've been living in an electronics junk yard. What are these USB watches? Do they just store data (like a keychain "disk")? Contact lists? Porn?

I need to look into this. I also need to get out and around here to see what other cool miniature toys people are playing with. Japan always has amazingly cool and small toys.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:30 PM

Bad Google, No Biscuit

The network connection we're using during the development conference in Japan is provided by Y! Japan BroadBand. No surprise there. The real surprise came when I switched over to a terminal and typed:

$ lynx http://google.com/

Google "helpfully" noticed that I'm in Japan and sent me to their Japanese site. The problem with this, of course, is that I neither read or speak Japanese.

The solution is quite simple:

$ lynx http://search.yahoo.com/

Using Yahoo! Search gives me an English with a Google back-end. Remarkably, that's what I was expecting Google to provide for me.

The lesson here is that IP-based geo-targeting doesn't always do what you expect. Is it really intended to be a substitute for proper branding and marketing of www.google.co.jp? Beats me. Are the Japanese too dumb to try visiting a native language site on their own? I think not. Maybe Google does?

Update: Retarded. If I accept Google's cookies it works. But when I block them I end up on the Japanese site. Why on earth are cookies necessary when a simple redirect will do? I dunno.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:09 PM

Y! Japan Day #2

Day #2 went well. I did my ~1.5 hours of MySQL presentations in the afternoon. (Rasmus did PHP in the morning.) Initial feedback is good except for the fact that I spoke too quickly during the first talk. Luckily someone reminded me to slow down for the second one.

In the evening, we headed downstairs to celebrate the Y! Japan earnings announcement (they kicked some ass). All the non-Japan folks got to stand up on stage to get recognized. However, the food ran out quickly, so a group of us headed out to a local bar called the Cavern Club which had a Beatles cover/tribute band called the Silver Beats performing. Read more about them here. They were pretty entertaining.

One of the locals at a table next to us was amusing as hell. He was really getting into the show. The picture at the left is Arturo and the crazy guy.

More pics are in the gallery.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:47 PM

Y! News RSS is Big in Austrailia?

I've not been checking referer logs much this week (duh), but Tara Calishain and Anna Featherstone pinged me to say that the Sydney Morning Herald recently picked up on the announcement.


Posted by jzawodn at 07:18 PM

October 20, 2003

Y! Japan Day #1 is Over

The first day of stuff at Y! Japan is over. We ended the day with a nice welcome reception/party that just ended a bit ago. And I had a few Japanese beers, which is always a good thing.

The day went well. The network flaked out once, but it was fixed pretty quickly. I'm getting a chance to meet people that I've only known by name (if at all) from various other offices, including Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and even London.

Very cool.

And food is good too. I really had forgotten how much flavor there is in Japanese food.

Oh, and the funniest thing that happened today--I was chatting with one of our international engineers and he told me that he'd been reading my blog since before he started at Yahoo. I don't know why that surprised me (I know of a good number of folks at work who read this junk), but it probably had something to do with the fact that it was happening half way around the world.

Okay, so it's not "ha ha" funny. Sue me.

I've begun posting pictures from the trip here. I'll add to them as the week progresses. Some of them suck, 'cause I haven't had chance to filter or rotate them quite yet. One of the best so far is this one. From the Y! Japan offices, you get to look down on the Excite billboard. Heh. That's fitting.

Oh, Rasmus has posted some pics too.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:19 AM

October 19, 2003

Ugh. Time zones.

I just woke up. It's 4:45am. I don't get this at all. I went to bed at 11pm very tired.


Maybe I'll get back to sleep after checking mail and stuff?

Update: It worked. I slept until 6:30 or so. That's a bit more reasonable.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:57 PM

Made it to Japan

We made it. There was a long line at Customs and then an even longer ride to the hotel from the airport. But we made it. I stayed awake the whole time. It's now 10:30pm here but my body thinks it is 6:30am. We just got back from dinner a bit ago and I've done minimal unpacking. I'm way tired and heading to bed.

This hotel room kicks ass. In-room internet access works flawlessly. Notice the flood of blog postings, have you? The TV is amazing. It's so nice, new, and fancy. I really ought to take some pictures, except that my crap is already all over the room.

Oh, well. The bed is calling.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:32 AM

The Great INBOX Cleanup (again)

For some reason I'm completely incapable of managing my e-mail. Most of the time it's not an issue, but every once in a while I end up missing something important.

Stranger yet, the only time I seem to ever do a really good job of cleaning up my INBOX is when I'm suck on a plane for several hours (thankfully with laptop power at the seat--yeay American Airlines). So now I'm replying to 2-3 month old messages to explain that I'm lame and sorry for taking so long to reply.


Perhaps the solution to my problem is that I simply need to fly places (as a passenger) more often.

... 3.5 hours pass ...

I've managed to delete 744 of the 1,247 messages my INBOX. I've also sent 28 that exim has queued up, awaiting a network connection. Perhaps this ratio tells me that I need to better utilize the D" key on my keyboard.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:23 AM

Vixie cron's @reboot

I'm always amazed when I learn something new about a tool that I've been using for a rather long time. Take for example, cron. Not your run of the mill, everyday cron. I'm talking about the smarter cron that comes with most Linux distributions nowadays: Vixie cron.

(Vixie cron is named after Paul Vixie, the creator of BIND and other Unix goodness.)

While looking at the manual page for the crontab file format, I discovered a chunk that I'd never seen before:

  Instead of the first five fields, one of eight special strings may

    string         meaning
    ------         -------
    @reboot        Run once, at startup.
    @yearly        Run once a year, "0 0 1 1 *".
    @annually      (same as @yearly)
    @monthly       Run once a month, "0 0 1 * *".
    @weekly        Run once a week, "0 0 * * 0".
    @daily         Run once a day, "0 0 * * *".
    @midnight      (same as @daily)
    @hourly        Run once an hour, "0 * * * *".

Hmm. @reboot. Isn't that handy. There's an easy way to give users the ability to run something at boot time without root access.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:19 AM

Stubborn iPod Backlight

Well, I'm about 4 of the 11 hours to Japan. And I finally busted out the iPod. But it did something that I've seen once or twice before. The backlight decided to just stay on until I actually turned it off. The weird thing is that since the first day I bought it, I've had it configured to automatically shut off after 5 minutes.

Every once in a while, though, it does this.

Anyone else have this problem?

FWIW, I'm running the latest software and it's a 20GB model that's about 10 months old.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:17 AM

Bummer. No WiFi at SJC/AA

Damn. I get to San Jose airport at 9:30am for my 12:15pm flight to Tokyo. I'm thru security and checked in at 10am. But there's no WiFi signal down here near gates A1-A, A1-B, and A1-c.

Oh, well. I'll just post this really late.

I don't have a seat on the plan either. They oversold business class so I have to wait for a ticket/gate agent to see if they can either bump me up or knock me down.

On the plus side, there's nobody here yet, so I had no trouble getting a seat near power.

Update: Oh, the ticket agent showed up way early. I now have seat 14H (isle). Excellent.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:14 AM