Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

first sighted on BoingBoing posted by Cory

Reuters on MSNBC

Happy Meals, Pentiums coming to video game world

Detailed terms of EA’s multimillion-dollar deal were not available but it will allow Intel’s familiar jingle, its product logo, and computers using its Pentium 4 processor to appear in the game.

Players in the game also will be able to buy a McDonald’s kiosk and sell the company’s branded food products, earning ”simoleans,” the game’s currency. Eating that food will also improve their standing within the game.


I remember when I was on the Sega "dream team" to think about how to set up the network for the Dreamcast, (I guess that was a bad dream...) I was pushing very hard to get product placement inside of the games. We tested things like sending objects such as a Christmas tree into Sonic the Hedgehog. Everyone always comes up with the idea of product placement in games in the desire to get advertising revenues, but this Sims Online deal seems to have been executed elegantly and it sounds just great. Hats off to the EA team for this. The integration into the game sounds cool too.

Product placement in movies has been going on for a long time and movies like Wayne's World did a great job of making fun of it...

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Martin is a fellow World Economic Forum Global Leaders For Tomorrow member, but I didn't talk to talk to him face to face first. We hit up an email conversation after he made some interesting comments on my speech for the Trilarteral Commission. Martin is a serial entprepreneur who is more excited about starting new companies than running them after they are set up. He is on his 4th successful company. I guess you could call PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, Infoseek Japan and now Neoteny 3 successes and working on the next one for me too. We talked about how similar we were. When I realized that he a billionaire at one time and now a multi-hundred millionaire, I decided we weren't THAT similar. ;-p He also spends more time on public service (he is the only foreign board member of the Clinton Foundation among other things...) and spends a lot more time flying and sailing around having fun than me, but has managed to be much more successful than me. Go figure. We discussed hard work. He said that he knows many people who work hard and make a lot of money, but he doesn't work THAT hard, but has managed to make a lot of money. If I could choose, I would choose his style.

I had asked him for a good place to visit in Europe between my speech at Ars Electronica in Linz and the GLT summit in Geneva. He said that I should stay at his place in Menorca. Little did I realize what he was offering me.

Well, you've read my report on Menorca. I didn't want to disclose too much about Martin until I asked his permission to blog about him. He bought the Menorcan farm a year ago and hired Manolo who worked on the farm before the last owner let it fall apart. Manolo is working very hard to restore the orchards, houses, etc. The main house overlooking the sea should all be done in April and should be totally amazing. We stayed in the first house to be restored.

Martin decided to pop down to Menorca from Geneva to have lunch with us on one of his 4 planes. It was a Lear Jet... He took us out on his boat which is the dingy for the BIG boat he has. We cruised around the bay in Mahon. We jumped into the sea and swam around a bit. I didn't have a swim suit so I jumped in in my underwear. It was amazing weather and felt SOO good.

We showered and had a great lunch. We decided to join Martin in his jet and fly to Madrid with him today and leave with him to the GLT summit in Geneva on Friday. Sounded much better than the Lufthansa HUB-a-thon. Walking through the Menorcan airport with a nylon bag with wet clothes in it wearing shorts and getting onto a private plane was a bit weird, but we landed at a military base near Madrid with his bodyguard/driver, Felix, waiting for us who zipped us away to his house and later to a hotel. So, here I am. A few hours ago, I was combating catapillars and now I am sitting in the Inter-Continental. (room service just arrived.) And there is an E-E-E-thernet port in front of me but I have NO ETHERNET CABLE. HOW STUPID of me! I dialed Earthlink, but I couldn't log in. Luckily, GPRS is now working and it is a bit faster than on Menorca, but I want my 56K. I chatted with Earthlink support on the Net, which was VERY cool until they couldn't figure out my problem. Then it wasn't so cool anymore...

So anyway... there is definitely the prestige of having boats and planes and farms, but the geek factor of owning 4 planes and piloting yourself, the freedom cruising around in your own boats and planes, the geek factor of restoring a 200+ year old farm and the lifestyle of doing public service while being a serial entrepreneur and still being free was a true inspiration for me...

John Markoff quoted me in his New York Times article (thanks John!) on the lawsuit between Shuji Nakamura and the company he was working for when he did the research on and filed the patents for the blue LED. This is a landmark suit for Japan and should have some interesting reprecussions in the relationship between Japanese corporations and its researchers.

The New York Times
A Rebel in Japan Is Hailed as an Innovator in U.S. By JOHN MARKOFF

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Ordered to stop the scientific research he thought extremely promising, Shuji Nakamura hid the work from his superiors at a Japanese chemical company. He secretly obtained patents in the company's name.

Dr. Nakamura's mission paid off: his inventions revolutionized the world of consumer electronics. One helped make possible an array of products, from flat-panel computer screens to video billboards to long-lasting, efficient flashlights. Another will make it possible to store 5 to 10 movies on a single DVD-like disk.

Dr. Nakamura has been celebrated in the United States as an innovative pioneer. But in Japan he is more controversial. After it was clear his inventions would make a lot of money, his bosses took them to market without additional compensation for him. So Dr. Nakamura sued the company, claiming that the patents were a result of his efforts and he should receive royalties.


Joi's quote in the NYT

"This will teach researchers and companies alike to negotiate and make explicit rights and compensation in advance," said Joichi Ito, president and chief executive of Neoteny Company, a Japanese investment firm. "This is great because it will help force technical people to think about business and companies to think about incentives."

Generally researchers in Japan think that business (some call it the "money game") is dirty and I think the thought of suing a company or fighting for compensation is a bit beneath some researchers... Many researchers feel that the lack of compensation is a tradeoff for getting to do what they want without having to worry about business. This is changing. Companies are pushing researchers to think about returns and many there is general support to spin ventures out of universities and corporate research labs. The rights and the compensation are very unclear at this point and this case should push the debate forward...

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The weather is very interesting here. It is SO hot in the sun today, but SO cool in the shade. There is a nice breeze, it is dry and the sky is blue.

There is also a lot of TIME today. (On the old English language MacOS, when you rolled over the QuickTime icon in the control panels folder, the balloon help would say something like, "Time: a dimension which moves constantly from the past to the future." or something like that.) When you have a lot of time and a lot of sun, it is amazing how interesting and fun it is to do laundry and dry it in the sun.

I wonder if it is the combination of the heat and the time, but the caterpillars move REALLY fast here. Caterpillars are the only thing in the world I am really afraid of. The white cat (the one sitting in the shade in the picture) is playing with a big fat caterpillar and has lots of green caterpillar puss on its face and is now walking towards me. Ack!
Menorcan physics and Menorcan psychology. I am confronted with a combination of some of the most pleasant sensations as well as confronted with some of my most horrid childhood (caterpillars) and adulthood (connectivity deprivation) fears.
(The cat is licking the puss off of its paws and face.)

Earlier, I was talking on my "handy phone" (They call cell phones "handy phones" in Europe. They used to call them that in Japan, but recently they refer to them by their Japanese name keitai denwa.) on the roof of one of the buildings staring over the rolling hills under the blazing sun talking to Jun who is in Tokyo. We were talking about an investment opportunity. We were doing business. I wonder if there is a way to spend more time sitting on roofs under the sun in the breeze instead of sitting in muggy offices with neckties on.

I am wondering about a lot of things sitting here in Menorca. I wonder if it is like a dream and I will forget it all or it will be irrelevant when I return to Japan. I wonder if blogging it will help me remember like the people with Alzheimer's who blog.

Mizuka just swatted a pair of mating flies and they are now sitting on the floor nearly-dead, locked in a deadly love position. The ants quickly surround the half-dead lovers and begin to drag them away...

I'm going to write about setting up GPRS in Menorca because:

1) The line is so slow I can't read other people's blogs or my mail easily for new things.

2) I have nothing else to write about really...

3) This MAY come in handy for someone who is struggling like me.

First, a disclaimer. I still don't understand GPRS and my conclusions below are based on trial and error and deduction. I may be complete wrong about some things.

First of all, GPRS roaming basically doesn't work in most places. Also, most support people don't know what you are talking about.

Second... Most phones act like they know what they are talking about or that they work properly, but they don't.

GPRS is different from using a GSM phone as a modem. It is a separate data network. Each carrier has their own "APN" which I guess stands for "Access Point Number" or something. The APN format is something like "airtelnet.es" for the Vodafone network in Spain. Now the APN in the APN field on the phone will be set for its WAP connection. IE airtelwap.es. This is the wrong APN. So just copying the fields from the phone settings to the computer DOESN'T WORK.

In addition to the APN, you will probably need an ID/PASSWORD. T-MOBILE told me that I didn't need one, but it didn't work without one so far. I had to call Vodafone to get one. I got one, but it didn't work. I called John who gave me his. He said that he had tested mutiple people using it at the same time and it was OK and that the SIM card holder was billed anyway so it wasn't any skin off his back. So... WHY THE HELL TO THEY HAVE THESE ID/PASSWORDS? Anyway, they will probably start blocking multiple log ins just like we did in the ISP business. So... you should probably get your own ID/PASSWORD if you need one and can figure out how to get once, it is totally NON-OBVIOUS. I had to call 3 support people before someone even told me they could give me one and that I needed one.

Also, default setting for my Nokia was "*99#" to access the GPRS network. Well in Spain, it is "*99***1#" Don't get that wrong. Since "*99#" is the default, I have to change the dialup settings for GPRS EVERY TIME I start up the computer. But that's OK. Since at least IT WORKS.

I am using a Nokia D211 which is a nifty little PCMCIA card. It does 802.11b, GSM SMS, GSM Modem and GPRS. It was a pain to set up and is a bit funky because the drivers run deeper than your user login so you get asked for the PIN before you log in and sometimes have trouble shutting it down, but it is generally OK.

I also have a Sony-Ericsson T68i which should do bluetooth with my Viao, but I couldn't get the settings on the unit set up correctly either in Austria or Spain. The bluetooth interface program on the C1MRX Viao called "blue space" also sucks. It looks nice, but I have NO IDEA what is going on with all the little sounds and icons. If you want to see an example of a completely "I thought cool design meant cool user experience" interface, buy a Viao and try to get bluetooth working.

I have a Siemens MT50 from Austria and a Seimens S45 from Spain. They both work fine in WAP GPRS mode with their original SIM cards in them. In fact, the Austrian one even roams properly in Spain. It is just impossible for me to figure out how to get the settings OUT OF these little things and into my computer. Also, I have yet to find any way to connect them to a computer other than IR or serial. Unfortunately, my Viao has neither.

I have a Swisscom SIM that Zai got me that I couldn't figure out how to get support for. I have a T-Mobile Austrian SIM which Thomas got me. It seems to have great roaming rates and the phone is content to roam automatically, but the support people had no idea how to get the thing working in another device.

I have a Vodafone Spain SIM Eva/Martin got me and came inside of the Siemens S45. Other than the fact that the only English speaking support person goes on Siesta on Saturdays and for some reason didn't get my id/password registered properly, she was the most knowledgable support person I talked to. It was the only SIM card that ended up working, but maybe that's because I'm in Spain...

You must also beware of phones that are locked in to a specific network. You need to buy one that is open if you want to move sim chips around different phones. My Austrian Siemens phone was open, the Spanish Vodafone Siemens seems closed and the Sony-Ericsson is supposed to be open...

So, blow by blow, here is what happens.

0) You turn on computer
1) Nokia D211 asks for PIN (for your SIM card)
2) Nokia D211 asks for Profile. (The Austrian T-Mobile support person tried to convince us that the name of the settings profile was relevant. Probably total bullshit.) Profile includes "GPRS ONLY" and settings including mainly the APN or Access Point Number. "airtelnet.es" in my case. (Extracted from Vodafone support)
3) Log into Windows XP
4) Nokia D211 says "Searching for Network" then "Ready for GPRS Activation"
5) Go to (again, this is at least true in Spain) network connections and you will find that Nokia has installed a "GPRS" dialup settings entry. Go in there and change the "*99#" to a "*99***1#" Also, if this is your first time, put in an id/password that you get from Vodafone support or from a friend.
6) Turn off anything that conflicts with your serial port for your Nokia Card. (My blue space program hogs serial ports and conflicted, so "see you later blue space...")
7) Open the Nokia D211 Manager program and click on Activate.
8) The familiar dialup connection dialog box opens. Click dial. It should dial, log in, and you should be online.
9) The manager program is very cool. It graphs GPRS strength and Data Rate.

I have found that Even with a GRPS Strength at 100% I can only get to a max of 30% of the data rate with an average data rate of less than 10kbits/s. So maybe it is the IP Network and not the GPRS network that is to blame...

Also, all of the settings that I talked about configuring in the computer have to be set in the AT commands on a phone that does the talking for you like the other Nokia phones. So, for instance, to set up a Nokia phone for talking on the Spanish Vodafone network, you would tell it something like:
t+cgdcont=1,"IP","airtelnet.es","",00
Also, you will have to set DNS manually, which is 212.73.32.3 and 212.73.32.67

Something like that... ;-p