Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Most recently in the Gadgets Category

I recently visited and had a conversation with Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Phil Torrone of Adafruit. I first met them about ten years ago at SxSW.

Limor is an MIT grad that we're super-proud of and Phil is an amazing pioneer in communications, hacking and many other things. Phil and Limor are two of my most favorite people and I aways get giddy just getting a chance to hang out with them. We discussed making, electronics, business, manufacturing, hacking, live video and more.

They've been doing live video daily for the last 10 years or so and are real pioneers in this medium as well. We used their setup to stream the video to Facebook Live and Periscope and posted the recordings on YouTube and the audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

I got my SwiMP3 a few days ago and have used it three times so far. I had been using Dolphin mp3 player recently.

They are very different devices. Both of them mount as an external drive on my Mac and both only play mp3. (No iTunes music store for you!) The Dolphin has earbuds that double as ear plugs, but the rubber buds tend to fall off and I've almost lost them a few times. The SwiMP3 uses bone conduction. The bone conduction works fairly well, but is weak on the high-end compared to the Dolphin. The SwiMP3 also tends to be audible from the outside when you have it jacked up enough to groove to.

One other problem I've had is that Japanese pools tend to be more crowded and stuffy about things like no-jewelry rules and caps. I have a feeling I'm going to be told that I can use them. So far I've been sneaking them in.

Overall, the experience of listening to music in the pool is relaxing and fun. However, it does sort of distract me when I'm trying to focus on fixing my stroke.

Has anyone tried any of the other under-water music players for swimming?

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Tesla Coil Music at Dorkbot
Leica M8 1/30 ISO640 - Elmarit 135mm

Just saw the Tesla coil music demo at Dorkbot at SXSW. It was amazing. I'm not sure exactly how the technology works, but hey use a computer to control the frequency of a tesla coil so it "plays" music. This image was taken while the coils were playing the theme from Ghost Busters.

If you're thinking already about holiday gifts, I suggest you take a look at the MAKE Magazine Open Source Gift Guide. Lots of very cool stuff that you can REALLY "play with" after you get.

The Sony mylo ships in the US September 15. No plans for distribution in Japan.

The mylo is a nifty little device that does wifi, Skype (you can hold it up to your ear or use a headset), GTalk (no voice), and Yahoo Instant Messenger. It also has a browser (Opera, no flash), has a photo album, plays mp3 and Windows Media Player music, and plays video formatted in the weird mp4 video format that the PSP uses. (I think. I have yet to successfully convert and play a video file.) I used it for Skype on a conference call today and it worked really well with Skype-Out. For some reason I don't see my contacts list on Skype. The other IM clients seem to work fine (GTalk and Yahoo IM).

The audio and video playback is good. The screen is a bit small but very clear. The device has a speaker on the back which is not stereo, but makes up for it in sound quality. In a relatively quiet room, playing music on speaker works well - much better than most cell phones designed for this kind of use.

It is rumored to be running some flavor of Linux inside. It mounts on your system via USB, but doesn't have bluetooth. It has wifi, but no GSM/GPRS. Definitely a downside, but an interesting twist after using the Sidekick for so long that has GPRS but no wifi. It also doesn't have email. It has about a gig of memory, but you can buy a 4 gig memory stick Pro Duo.

Overall I like it so far. The keyboard is a bit hard to use, but maybe it just takes getting used to. I like the way it flips out. The size is great. It is about the size of a largish cell phone, but much more pocketable than a PSP, DS Lite or Sidekick 3. I wish it had AIM and MS Messenger too, but I can live with Gtalk/Skype/Y!. The media playback is nice, but I wish it were more format friendly on the video. The interface is pretty fast and nice. The industrial design is pretty cool. The white bands glow in different colors for different states. When you are peer-to-peer wifi'ing, it glows orange. When you are connected to the Net in infrastructure mode, it is blue.

I'll post more updates after I play for it some more, but thought I should post this before everyone else got one and diminished the amount of envy I could muster with this post. I was able to get ahold of one though a secret source at Sony who I am not allowed to disclose. And before you ask me if I can get you one, I can't. You can pre-order them on for $349.99.


Has MP3 killed the radio star?

A number of youth-oriented radio stations around the world have reported falling listenership.

Ironically, the rising popularity of music through MP3 may be the cause. (Someone told me today that some radio stations have a playlist as short as 25 song that they play in different order, so not surprising if they are losing listeners to an iPod with more songs.)

Will podcasting kill the radio station? How have people seen their radio listening habits change?


Interesting that Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will use so-called mag-lev technology in an elevator for the first time.

Mag-lev allows near frictionless movement by suspending objects in midair through a combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion, but the story's kicker is that while the mag-lev elevators will be quieter and more comfortable, Toshiba said conventional elevators can travel more than three times faster.

Meanwhile, Fujitec has announced a system to organize elevator riders in order to stop bottlenecks and speed the flow of people to the correct floor. I have seen such systems in Hong Kong's municipal buildings. They are annoying at first ("Elevator 3 will now go to the 14th, 17th and 18th floor. Take elevator 4 to the 9th, 11th and 14th floor"), but they are efficient.

Regulating passenger flow is pretty low tech compared with suspending elevators on magnets, but that system seems likely to get you to your floor much more quickly. Are there any other notable low-tech solutions for high-tech situations?

(I cross-posted this conversation on the International Herald Tribune blog)

Yesterday Marko brought me a Nokia 8800. I wrote about this phone when it came out. It has special meaning for me because the sounds were designed by my friend Ryuichi Sakamoto. I'm also proud to have introduced Marko and Nokia to Ryuichi. I had read the reviews, but after playing with the phone I'm extremely excited by how cool it is.

The design is beautiful and the attention to detail is stunning. Everything from the black box with the steel clasp that it comes in to the pulsating blue light at the base of the charging dock to the extra battery and extra battery charger on the dock to the polished steel makes it feel very special. I think it has something to do with the steel, but it doesn't have that cheap plastic feel that most mobile phones have. When you slide the phone open, it is a metal on metal sound/feel, which is a "real" version of the metallic "schwing" sound that some of the Sony phones play when you open them. It's also just the right weight and size for my taste.

Ryuichi did a great job with the sounds and makes this the first phone where I actually enjoy listening to the various ring tones. Congratulations to everyone involved. Excellent job. The only problem is that it doesn't sync with my Mac and doesn't have UMTS so I can't use it in Japan... but when I'm in any country where I can use GSM I'll be using this phone.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Tech editor of the International Herald Tribune seems open to publishing a column of blog-generated ideas.

I need topics of interest our newspaper's readers (wealthy global audience of frequent travelers with diverse interests in politics, economic and culture).

Conversations on this blog that might work have included my postings on Global Sociology of Online Shopping or Joi's post on ideas for new inflight software.

Input welcome on:

Layout - should it be in blog-style or reworked into a newspaper format. I tend to prefer reworking it, but my editor liked the idea of experimenting with a new formatting that might resemble an online chat.

Topics - Ideas for topics that would get the best response and interest our readers. I prefer things that are less about tech-issues than about ideas that may relate to technology.

Writing form - should it be written from a blog or could it be compiled on a wiki-style platform? This would require me to lay out the format and ask for people to help filling it in, but if someone has some appropriate social software platform, it might be fun to test the concept.

Online communities - A futher thought on the above concept is that it may be fun to involve specific online communities in writing guest columns. This would mean asking for the communities - friendster, asmallworld, openbc or another one. The idea would best to use a community with a particular purpose or outlook rather than a generic one. That would allow us to explore how these communities are different. Anyone senior enough at one of these communities should feel free to get in touch.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

In reporting stories in Casablanca this week I have faced a unique problem due to Moroccan mobile phone habits.

More than any other country I have ever visited, Moroccans used caller ID.

It seems to be part of the phone answering process to closely look at the number of the person calling before deciding whether or not to answer. Often they will let it ring if they can't figure out whose number it is. In most places people look at caller ID and then answer.

From my point of view the result has been that my money-saving tactic of using a local pre-paid card does not work.

Three times now (I am a slow learner) people whom I was supposed to meet for an interview simply did not answer their phone until I called using my French mobile phone on costly roaming. It was a fairly good cross section of society: One was a politician, the other a university academic and the other a musician.

Nobody here has so far been able to explain why this habit exists here. I get a similar reaction when I ask about it here: People in Morocco just presume that everyone uses phones in the same way.

(I have previously reported on other national characteristics of mobile phone usage, including the reluctance of Spanish to use voicemail, the reluctance of English to speak on the phone in places where their conversation can be heard and the way in which the French turn off their phones during meals.)

Any other national habits to add to this collection?

I am on the advisory board of and an investor in TelEvolution which has just announced a device called the PhoneGnome. PhoneGnome is the brainchild of David Beckemeyer. He was co-founder of EarthLink, where he was Vice President Engineering and Chief Technology Officer. I first met David on #joiito and got to know him when he built the Hecklebot.

Later, he approached me with his PhoneGnome idea and I was immediately fascinated. The PhoneGnome is box that you connect to your phone line and your Internet connection and attach a phone to. The magic happens when PhoneGnome figures out your phone number and auto-configures everything so that in the future, all calls to other PhoneGnome users go over the Internet instead of the phone line. "Auto-configure" is a non-trivial thing and is the difficulty standing between normal users and SIP/Asterisk goodness and freedom. Under the hood, PhoneGnome is open standards based and is extendable in various ways, but David has kept it EXTREMELY simple so that anyone can use it and doesn't require you to have your computer turned on. You just pick up your phone and call like you normally would.

As you can see from my endeavors with trying to configure Asterisk and pushing the limits of Skype, I'm extremely excited by voice over IP. So far, nothing I had seen had passed the following test:

1 - Easy to use
2 - Open standard
3 - NOT a service model (no monthly fee)

I think that voice should be easy to use. It should be a piece of hardware or an application, not something you have to pay extra for. It should be open standards and allow innovation and interconnection.

Skype passes 1 and maybe 3, but not 2. It is extremely easy to use (yay!) but they are not open standards based.

Asterisk passes 2 and 3, but not 1. Asterisk and other SIP servers are EXTREMELY hard to set up (at least today) and SIP phones generally suck and/or are extremely hard to configure.

Vonage passes 1 and maybe 2, but not 3. Vonage and other so-called VoIP phone companies are still charging you a monthly fee and seem to me to be wannabe phone companies that are trying to lower costs by using VoIP. Now they're having trouble with having to act like a phone company and provide 911 etc.

I think that we can keep the plain old phone system in place as an emergency backup system when other things fail. Let them have 911. All other nifty voice things should go over the Internet and should be open standards based and free. Don't use voice to make "internets" like we have with instant messenger. Don't cheat customers and charge for a service that costs nothing. Let's use VoIP as the killer app to drive further broadband and network service adoption in the same way that email and the web did and not let it become yet another victim of walled gardens and telco FUD.

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I just Skyped from the plane using the Boeing Connextion system. It worked. ;-) It was a bit laggy and I probably should use a better headset, but it works. Yay!

After some begging, Nokia sent me one of their new 6680 phones. (As one of my business partners used to say, "never beg... unless it helps.") Thanks! I'd been trying to get my hands on one because it runs Symbian, is fast, and works on 3G networks. (My old 7600 worked on the Japanese 3G network too, but it wasn't Symbian and was a bit clunky to use.) Since J-Phone/Vodaphone and NTT DoCoMo have rolled out 3G in Japan and have roaming agreements with carriers like T-Mobile, which I use, I've been hoping that I could get a good phone that would finally allow me to have a single phone number everywhere.

So far the phone is great. It's faster than my older Symbian phones, has an application that imports data from your old phone (yay!), has 2 high quality cameras and a logical keypad. (The keypad on my 7610 was a bit too "fashionable".) The main camera has a sliding cover, which I think is a good thing. The only thing I don't like about the design is that it looks a bit like a small Treo.

I just looked at the international coverage information for Japan and it says that the "Voice Rate" is $1.99. I assume this is $1.99 / min. Hmm... Then it says the "Internet Rate" is $1.50. I looked around and haven't been able to figure out what that means. Does that mean $1.50 per packet or something? It's still expensive and I'm not sure if I'll use it much, but at least I know I can. A friend of mine mentioned that if Japan had gone with GSM instead of DoCoMo's funky PDC protocol, Japanese handset manufacturers may have had a better chance competing internationally. As it stands, the foreign markets are dominated by non-Japanese handset companies. Maybe with NTT DoCoMo's announcement that they are going all 3G by the end of the year, we'll see some of the handset guys in Japan start making cooler phones for the global market. On the other hand, I have a feeling that DoCoMo will continue to force the handset guys to cripple their phones. Right now you can't SMS anyone outside of DoCoMo from a DoCoMo phone, even though they are finally using the UMTS standard. According to a friend of mine, this is very difficult to do. You actually have to spend a lot of energy to break the system and limit SMS to your own network.

Here is a matrix comparison of the various Nokia phones. As you can see, only the 6630 and the 6680 do WCDMA 2100 which is the 3G protocol that works in Japan.

The other thing I just noticed is that I was able to navigate bluetooth and the email setup and get all of my data moved over to the new phone in minutes. I thought about how much easier things have gotten, but then I realized that the jargon and the interface were practically the same. I remember only a little while ago when I couldn't make heads or tails of any of this. I was the one who had adapted to the phone. Eek. Lock-in.

I've created a torrent using the Trackerless Auto setting on BitTorrent. It's a 37MB movie of my Roomba having some trouble with cliff detection and my dogs having trouble with the Roomba. It's probably not worth downloading, but if you feel like testing trackerless torrents, give it a try.


UPDATE: I've updated the torrent with the new version of the trackerless client. Can you give it a try?

UPDATE 2: I didn't have port forwarding on. I've turned it on now so it might work. However, I'll be on the road again in a few hours...

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I just got back from a short trip to Yongsan with Dan Gillmor. Yongsan is one of two electronics districts in Seoul. One of the larger buildings full of shops was closed for some reason and there weren't very many shoppers around. This made walking around easier, but probably didn't give us the full effect. In Tokyo, we have an electronics district called Akihabara which many people compare Yongsan to. There were more similarities than I expected, but some differences. I found in Yongsan, and Seoul in general, places are more spacious than the equivalent areas in Japan. Shops generally seemed cleaner and the districts a bit better organized than in Akihabara. Speaking of smells, many of the smells oddly familiar from Tokyo, although there were some different ones. One thing which contributed to the difference in smells was that there were food markets such as fresh vegetables and grilled meats interspersed in the market, which Akihabara doesn't have.

Dan was prowling for cheap memory, but either because we didn't bargain, or because we didn't know where to look, we didn't find any.

It was a lot of fun, but it would probably have been more fruitful with a seasoned guide. I would say that overall, there were maybe more shops than Akihabara, but a bit less diversity. (We didn't see a single Macintosh.) Having said that, I'm not sure we were able to explore the whole thing so my view may not be accurate.

Roomba Discovery Lg
The day before yesterday, I sat next to Colin Angle the co-founder and CEO of iRobot at dinner. I've had been looking for a way to get a Roomba and I asked him how I could get one in Japan. He told me that they are in fact selling them in Japan with a somewhat limited distribution and asked me for my thoughts. I said I'd have to try using one before I could give him good feedback. Japanese houses are a bit different from the US. He said he happened to have a Roomba with him that he could give me. Yay! I happily received the Roomba and today I FedEx'ed it to my house in Japan.

I'll write more about it when I actually get it working. I'm curious about how my dogs will react. I've been fascinated with the Roomba ever since I met Helen Greiner the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of iRobot. I first met her at the World Economic Forum as fellow Global Leader for Tomorrow. Later I watched a presentation she gave at ETech. She talked about military robot applications and it freaked out some of the tree-hugging hacker types there, unfortunately. Apparently, Colin is in charge of robots that scrub floors and she's in charge of robots that blow things up.

Roombas have been out in the US for awhile now and I have many friends who have them, but this doesn't make me any less excited to see one in action in my house. Thanks Colin!

UPDATE: Someone privately noted to me that it sounded like I might have pressured Colin into giving me a Roomba. I think anyone there can assure you that I didn't apply pressure. I didn't even know Colin had one with him. I was sincerely trying to find out where I could get one. I posted this note mainly because it's likely that I will be writing about my Roomba in the future and I wanted to disclose that I got it for free and in what context.

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A special form of "toothing" for Valentine's day. Encode your bluetooth device with your preferences, choose some images and participate in Bluetooth Valentine's Day. See the site for more details.

via Sander

Make Logo3
MAKE is a mook (hybrid magazine/book) and a website for do-it-youself gadgety hacking published by O'Reilly. The team is my favorite do-it-yourself hacker Philip Torrone, Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and Dale Dougherty from O'Reilly. Phillip tells me there will be a lot of audio and video coming, but it looks great already. Looking forward to getting my hands of the first issue and seeing what they have in store for us!

I went to Akihabara last weekend with Gen, Jim and Boris looking for a PSP. There are rumors of production problems in China. In any event, they are in very short supply. I had heard that they could be found in some of the alleyways in Akihabara. We walked around for quite awhile but couldn't find one. Finally, Andrew came to our rescue and emailed me directions to a tiny shop in an alley that said on their web page that they had some in stock. After a bit of wandering around, we found the shop and I got my PSP.

First impressions. Very slick looking like in the ads, but the left buttons squeak on mine, which is unbecoming of such a hyper-designed product. Also, it is very glossy so fingerprints are very noticable. The graphics and sound are fabulous. I reunited with Ridge Racer, which I used to play a lot of the Play Station when it first came out. I can see myself wasting a lot of time again, but now mobile.

The other thing that surprised me was that when I popped the memory stick duo card out of my Sony DSC-M1 which takes mpeg movies and popped it into the PSP, it just worked. The movies played flawlessly. On the other hand, it's a bad sign that being able to move movies between two Sony devices is such a surprise. ;-)

engadget has a more thorough review and more importantly, a HOW-TO on how to get your DVDs to play on the PSP. iPSP allows great interoperability with the Mac.

I stopped playing video games several years ago after I completed BioHazard on the Play Station because I thought gaming was having too much of an impact on my productivity... but I couldn't resist the PSP.

First the Special Edition U2 iPod. Now this. ;-)

via Michael

Boris blogs about his first Sony Walkman.

I remember my first Walkman. It was the Sony TPS-L2 (thanks to the Vintage Walkman Museum). I was in 9th grade. I remember my favorite song was "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. I was living in Tokyo and just started going to discos and nightclubs. I had just moved to Tokyo. The Walkman was part of the "coming of age", becoming independent, asking a girl out for the first time and becoming Japanese part of my life.

I remember the feeling of having music thundering in my head as I walked to school. It made me feel all subversive inside. I also remember the little orange button that turned on a microphone so you could hear what people were saying. These days, we just pull off our headphones. Now with my in-ear earphones, I wish my iPod has a button to turn on a microphone so I don't have to extract the earphones just to listen to someone trying to say something to me.

The Walkman also represented a period in gadget history where companies like Sony could create cool new gadgets based on some great idea by the founder. It seems like Apple is the only company that can really pull that off these days and even then, it's really a redesign of a good idea, not a brand new idea. I miss the feeling that I had when I got my first Walkman.

I think this "meme" started with Nika

I just tried taking my NTT Docomo Foma (3G) SIM out of my F900iC and put it in my unlocked Nokia 7600 which is also a 3G phone. The SIM worked fine, but I couldn't send international SMSs. When I put the US T-Mobile SIM into the F900iC, it said "please insert your Docomo SIM". So obviously, the phone is locked. The question is, is there a way to unlock it? And, is there a way to use it on foreign networks. The Good news for Docomo users is that it appears Docomo now has roaming agreements so you can keep your Japanese phone number overseas, but the big question for gadget freaks is if you foreigners can use the new swanky Docomo phones. ;-) I'll look into it, but if anyone has any info, let me know.

I spilled juice on my phone and had to get a new one. I got a F900iC. It's the first 3G phone with the new FeliCa contactless IC card built in. I just set up my Edy account and downloaded some money to it from my credit card. I think they will let you get money from your bank as well. I can wave it at the garage machine at Tokyo station, or at the cash register at AM/PMs or in a bunch of places inside of the Marunouchi building where I'm hanging out a lot lately. Not sure how nationally rolled out it is. Edy is a e-money system spearheaded by Sony and NTT-Docomo. (Some people joke that "Edy" sounds like a play on "Idei" the Chairman of Sony.) I used to carry an Edy card around with me, but the biggest problem was that I had to go to "charging stations" to put cash into it, and I couldn't check how much money I had left. Now I can see how much money I have and download more money on the phone. Yay! Also, this mobile wallet of mine allows me to create accounts with other systems like Suica. Suica has not yet launched on the phone, but will soon. Suica is run by JR. I currently have a normal plastic Suica that I use for the gate entry/exit and shops inside of JR stations. This Felica system uses a different technology than the contactless IC card that the government was pushing for the national ID system. This is good news to me. The idea of having a bunch of different ID cards in one place but all issued by different commercial vendors sounds better from a privacy perspective that having vendors use your national ID card for digital cash.

My phone also has a nifty fingerprint thing that actually works. It's really fast. To access secure features, instead of punching a pin, I just swipe my finger across a fingerprint pad. It also has the standard 2 screens, 2 cameras, mini SD and a QVGA TFT display.

As a side note, I noticed that when I turned on my Nokia 7600 the other day, both J-Phone and Docomo showed up as available networks. I was able to send and receive SMSs internationally using my US T-Mobile SIM card in my Nokia while in Japan. Some SMSs took days to get to me so it's not perfect yet, but what a change! We have a multi-operator 3G network that allows foreign SIMs and phones! It looks like I have SMS on my Docomo Foma phone, but I can't seem to figure out how I can send international SMSs. Does anyone know how to do or if I can do this?

UPDATE: Reading the manual, it says that I can only send SMSs to other Foma owners only. Which is weird, since my Nokia roaming on the Docomo network using a US T-Mobile SIM lets me send international SMS. Go figure. I wonder what happens if I put the US SIM in this Japanese phone...

Sony's has just announced the pricing for the PSP, the PlayStation®Portable. They will go on sale December 12 for 20,790 yen including tax. Sony did a big back-peddle when Nintendo announced the pricing for their competing product, the DS their hours before Sony's developers meeting where it was rumored that they would announce the price. People had estimated the price would be 29,800 - 40,000 yen. Since the Nintendo price (15,000 yen including tax) was so far below the estimated Sony price and it was announced so close to the beginning of the Sony meeting that Sony could not have had time to react. It was clearly an intentionally aggressive move by Nintendo. Much more crafty than the Nintendo I remember.

Sony delayed the beginning of the meeting announcing that one of their directors was caught in heavy traffic. (right...) Eventually, they got their act together and announced that they would not be announcing the price. ;-)

PDF in Japanese

Ever wanted to take digital pictures from a kite? Phillip Torrone who brought us the Search Engine Belt Buckles shows us how. He makes it sound so easy.

Seth and Xeni write about this new American monster pickup truck, the CXT. According to Xeni it is "about 2 feet taller x 4 feet longer than the honkin' Hummer H2. Which, btw, it could tow along with that yacht, if need be." (MSNBC article and debut site)

I just bought a 10 year old Daihatsu HiJet pickup truck. I got it because it's small enough to drive on the narrow paths between the rice fields. It can carry as much gravel or dirt as I would be willing to move on any given day. Just about every single neighbor has one of these little pickup trucks. And no, I didn't buy it just to fit in... although I think it helps. I think my HiJet is about 130" long and about 45 horsepower. (approximately 1/2 the length and 1/5 the horsepower of the CXT)

That CXT would be completely useless in my village. So you can keep your gas guzzling monstrosity and whatever weird culture that created it. I'm happy with the spartan aesthetics of my little HiJet. (Web page about Kei class Japanese trucks)

I remember when I was Chairman of Infoseek Japan, I would get a weekly list of the top 100 search words. I remember loving this list. You could see watch trends and stuff, but mostly it made you realize just how sick people were. When I was around, the only US search term that beat adult content phrases was "Olympics" and the only Japanese query was "Tamagocchi" when it was all the rage.

Now uber-gadget-hacker Phillip Torrone has brought this experience to the street via the Search Engline Belt Buckle. It uses the SearchSpy service which shows real search queries and is provided by Dogpile, the metasearch engine.

I suppose this is slightly more useful than an RSS feed of my weight, but definitely harder to build.

Wow! A USB weight sensor. Now we can automatically add our weight to the sidebar and make RSS feeds of our weight changes. Who wants to write the mt-weightsensor plugin?

via Daiji

Current Mood: chipper
Current Weight: heavy
Listening to: You Trip Me Up by The Jesus and Mary Chain from the album Psychocandy

Yesterday, I met Douglas Krone the CEO of Dynamism. (I forgot my phone at home so couldn't take his picture.) Dynamism is an awesome company that takes all of the coolest gadgets from around the world, localizes them into English and sells them on the Internet. They provide support for these devices. Most high-end gadget geeks that I know have at one time or another purchased stuff from Dynamism.

Anyway, we talked a lot about gadgets, blogs and Creative Commons. I got him to agree that it would make sense to put a Creative Commons license on his site so that people could use pictures of products and clips of his text to review products. I think that his stuff is PERFECT for blogs.

I ordered one of the low-end, but very popular iducks. ;-)

Last week I got my Sensaphonics ear molds for my E5cs and a set of ProPhonic Soft 2Xs. I just blogged about them on my stuff blog.

Got a new Nokia 7610. Short review on my stuff blog.


Smart Mobs
Wave Messaging

From the company that pioneered text messaging, picture messaging and multimedia messaging, comes new innovation - Wave Messaging, or Light Messaging, according to a Nokia press release

By waving the Nokia 3220 camera phone from side to side, the LED lights of the Nokia Xpress-on FunShell light up to "write" a message that appears to float in mid-air.

Related articles on airtexting-type technologies:

-- In March 2003, the WSJ reported from CeBIT about a phone called Kurv, made by Kyocera Wireless Corp which featured airtexting: "The company believes airtexting will be one of it's most popular features, especialy in night clubs. To airtext, you type in a text like 'call me' then wave it back and forth in the air. As the phone moves, a row of blinking red lights along the top of the phone leaves the phrase trailing behind it."

-- A company called Wildseed actually tested airtexting with teenagers.

If they made an airtexting enabled BlackBerry, I wonder if they would allow them in Congress. With the massive penetration of BlackBerries (NYT - A BlackBerry Throbs, and a Wonk Has a Date), it would be like a chorus of Hecklebots. Anyway, I want one. Forget night clubs, imaging having one in the audience during talks.

Today I met the founder and president of Sensaphonics, Michael Santucci. He is a hearing conservation expert and audiologist. He is one of the few audiologists who work with the music industry. The relationship is interesting. Hearing conservation is about protecting your ears from continued exposure to loud sounds in order to preserve your hearing. He told us that baby boomers have a higher rate of hearing loss than senior citizens, probably because of devices such as portable music devices. He shows us pictures of a healthy inner ear and a damaged inner ear and had the same effect on my as the healthy lung and smoker lung photos we often see.

The traditional logic behind headphones and earphones is to increase the volume of the music reaching your ears for better sound. The brain compensates for background noise so, as most people have experienced, music in your car stereo suddenly sounds loud when you come to a stop and the background noise disappears. The damage to your ear is based on the total amplitude of the sound, whereas the perceived loudness of the signal is based on the amplitude above the background noise.

One way to have great earphones and not lose your hearing is to isolate and block the outside sound. Then you can listen to music at much lower volumes and it will still sound loud and clear. This protects your hearing while providing super high fidelity.

This is the theory behind the Shure E2cs and the E5cs that I've written about before. Michael takes this a step further and replaces the ear plugs that come with the Shures and replaces them with custom silicon molds. Sensaphonics also makes their own earphones.

Today, my second cousin Cornelius and I got molds taken of our ears. They are going to send me their ProPhonic Soft 2X earphones as well as molds that will work with my E5cs. They're also going to send me the TC-1000-totally-overkill ear set and the Elacin/Sensaphonics ER-9/15/25 high fidelity earplugs. I look forward to my future ear-mold-a-rama lifestyle, comparing the E5cs with the Sensaphonics and protecting my hearing.

13.05.2004 Lamborghini have donated one of their Gallardo sportscars, complete with siren & flashing lights, to the State Police on the occasion of their 152nd anniversary

For the first time, Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) will use a Lamborghini Gallardo Police Car.

The supercar, in State Police colours, with a siren and flashing lights on the roof, has been donated by the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese to the State Police on the occasion of its 152nd anniversary, held in the customary setting of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome on the 14th, 15th and 16th May 2004.

The Gallardo Police Car will be used by the traffic police (Polizia Stradale) during emergencies and alarm situations on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway, also under the powers of the special safety operative which is already being employed along this tract of highway.

The Gallardo will also be used in first aid activities – thanks to its special defibrillator equipment, which performs electrocardiograms and automatic diagnoses of arterial pressure and the presence of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, as well as the transportation of plasma and human organs for transplants.

Apart from being fitted with medical equipment, the vehicle will also have advanced technological apparatus’ for receiving and transmitting information and images relating to particularly critical situations, such as road traffic accidents, fires and other disaster situations.

Those Italians... ;-) I'm looking forward to visiting Italy again next month. This articles reminds me of some of the reasons why I love Italy.

via Louis


This robot solves the 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube®.

I started to think about this problem in about August of 2000. In Jan 2001 fellow Mindstorms forums user 'agiecco' announced his intention to work on a robotic solution and, simultaneously, I saw that Rubik's Cubes were on sale at So I bought a couple of cubes and started getting down to business...

I produced a 'late beta' version in mid-April 2001 that was a little clunky. The final version (presented here) is smooth and fairly reliable.


via Brian

"etoy.DAYCARE is operating. A first group has been graduating from our camp in Amsterdam." - etoy.TALK
Unique use of 2D barcodes by etoy. Using them to match parents with their kids at etoy.DAY-CARE in Amsterdam.

etoy is an art group that won the Golden Nica in the net category at Ars Electronica in 1996.

In order to 1) mess around with TypePad more, 2) allow me to indulge my gadget obsession with complete abandonment and 3) experiment with multiple blogs, I've decided to start a blog about Joi Ito's Stuff. It is "a blog about stuff that I have, why I have it, what I'm doing with it and how I feel about it." I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but starting blogs on New Year's Day seems like a good idea to me.

I know this is comparing apples and oranges, but that's what I've got: apples and oranges.

The Nokia 6600 has a 65,536 color 176 x 208 pixel display and a 640 x 480 pixel camera whereas the Sony SO505iS has a 262,144 color 240 x 320 display and a 1280 × 960 pixel camera. Both displays are bright, but the Sony display and camera win.

They're about the same size and weight, but the 6600 feels much more comfortable in my hand. Warm, round and buttons in the right place. The SO505iS is cold and a bit awkward (as if a digital camera and a phone got merged in the machine in "The Fly"). Having said that, the SO505iS is much better than the SO505i that it replaces. It's thinner and generally better designed. (The antenna doesn't stick out of your chin, the camera turns on when you open the camera cover, etc.)

The SO505iS runs J2ME and Flash applications whereas the 6600 runs J2ME and Symbian applications. The UI on the 6600 is utilitarian and simple whereas the Sony sports an animated background and a OS X sort of zooming icon wheel. The Sony has a two speaker stereo system and a stereo mini-plug for headphones where you can listen to music and watch videos from the proprietary memory stick in their proprietary media format. (You can record your favorite TV shows onto your memory stick and watch them on the train.)

The biggest difference is that you have to be a rocket scientist to figure out all of the message and data modes on the 6600. The blessing and the horror of the open system is that 6600 has to deal with all of the carrier inconsistencies and trying to figure out how to get online with the 6600 reminded me of just how screwed up the telco standardization process is. The SO505iS, on the other hand comes from the dictatorship of Docomo so what it lacks in flexibility and openness, it benefits in simplicity. Shoot a photo, click and send. Moblog away. I have yet to be able to send a picture via email from my 6600.

Both phones have lots of applications, but the Symbian applications are impressively Internet aware. There is an IRC client and IM client. Docomo, with it's rather closed architecture regarding networking has some cool applications, but they are really focused on providing content and services.

I would probably have a different opinion if I still used my Vaio, but the SO505iS really doesn't want to have anything to do with my Mac. The 6600 on the other hand, loves my Mac, talking to it in Bluetooth and even happily becoming a gprs modem for it. Zooming in a cab in San Francisco with my 6600 in my pocket and my PowerBook on my lap online was a great feeling. (Thanks for showing me how to do this Rael!)

Having said that, this is a totally useless review because you can't use the 6600 in Japan because we don't have a GSM network and you can't use the SO505iS anywhere outside of Japan because it uses Docomo's proprietary PDC network, or rather Docomo uses the SO505iS. Thus apples and oranges.

OK I've got gadget envy. Dan blogs about his RSS feed on his Treo 600 and says he wants a client that lets him blog easily from it too. Anyone know of anything good? Ado, want to port Kung-Log to PalmOS?

Browsing on my DCR-IP7 Video Camera through Hirata's Docomo PHS 663S via bluetooth
Went looking for a small video camera for my continuing pursuit of stealth disco excellence. I found a Sony DCR-IP7. It uses the tiny micro Cassette Memory, has IP, a browser, bluetooth and a bunch of other stuff you'd never need for a stealth disco camera, but it was released in 2001 and I got it at a discount. It was the smallest video camera I could find.

I haven't used it yet to take video, but we were able to connect it via bluetooth to Hirata's PHS mobile phone and connect to the Net and browse the web. Very cool, but almost completely useless. ;-)

I wish I had a G5 Mac... These guys have 1100...

Thanks Buridan!

I first heard about the Shure earphones from Barak and bought the e2c's. I blogged about it. With the help of Google, people interested in e2c's including Matt, who was the product manager for the e2c's found my blog entry. When the e5c's came out, I blogged about them too. Hundreds of comments later, both of these entries have become discussions including testimonials and lots and lots of answers from Matt replying to questions about the products and distribution. This human voice dialog is why I think blogging is so great for companies with great products.

Last week, I talked to Matt and Susan from Shure on the phone about experimenting with blogs. Matt's started a blog. Hopefully we can set up some combination of a wiki and a blog to help Shure reach out to us and for us to give them feedback.

I got my iSight today and downloaded QuickTime Broadcaster. I've set up streaming from my streaming server. I guess this is sort of a JoiItoTV. ;-P

Pretty boring, but if you want to see a full motion video stream of me sitting on the phone, sitting in meetings or working on my computer, check it out.

Now I've got to figure out something useful to do with this. The cool thing is that I should be able to carry this contraption around wirelessly. "Now, for our on-the-spot broadcast..."

Click more to see the stream. (If I'm broadcasting.)

If there is video here, it is live.

Work Anywhere!

Your life on the road just got a lot easier. With the first and only WiFi detector on the market today, you no longer need to cross your fingers as you wait for your notebook to boot up. Just press a button and the Kensington WiFi Finder lets you know if your location is "hot"...instantly. No software or computer needed. What could be easier

I MUST get one of these.

via Bopuc on IRC

Many conferences have wifi for the audience these days. People blog the conferences or chat during the conferences. There is definitely a back channel and a lot of people who track conferences online. At a recent conference in Helsinki, Kevin Marks, who was in California, wrote a limerick heckling Tom Coates on IRC. The difficulty is feeding some of the good stuff back to the speakers. This is where HeckleBot comes in. HeckleBot is an IRC bot that sits in the IRC channel for a conference. You give it commands like "?heckle Stop pointificating!" on IRC. The bot talks to a linux box connected to an LED display facing the speakers. The LED displays the message to the speakers. This way, the speakers can get immediate feedback from the audience as well people watching a video stream or reading people blogging the event.

I promise to try to get the HeckleBot set up at as many conferences I attend if people will help me build it. There are some links to the various pieces on the wiki page about HeckleBot. Please sign up or contribute on the Wiki.

Mizuka just bought a CellStar SKY-230DL radar detector. It's amazing. It has a GPS receiver built in. It knows where speed traps are and lets you know 2 km before you get there. (In Japan, we have automated speed traps that take your picture and send you the ticket in the mail.) It also lets you program new information. For the tunnel exit based traps, it lets you know before you enter the tunnel, etc. It also detects police radio and figures out whether they are heading towards you in the same direction or on the other side of the road. It has a variety of special warnings for stealth pulse radar detection, etc. These things have come a long way since the last radar detector I bought. This is a good thing since we're going on a road trip today.

The last time I got a speeding ticket, it was on the way back from the airport. I received a picture in the mail and had to go to the police office. The funny thing was, they suspended my license and then the policeman pulled a map out and showed me where the speed trap that got me was located. He warned me to slow down next time I passed it. ;-)

sonypfs.jpgI just got my Sony FSV-PGX1 Portable File Server. It's an interesting device. It a little linux box that can run on batteries. It has nfs, samba, telnet, http and ftp. It has a 20G HD. There is a web interface or you can set it up with the little lcd display and arrow buttons on the box. If you get the cradle, there is an ethernet connector. The box has 802.11b built in. It's basically a file server. It can be set up as a DHCP access point, DHCP client or fixed IP address on both the ethernet and/or the wireless ports. It can be some sort of "bridge" although I haven't figured that out yet. Obviously many uses. Too bad it doesn't do rendezvous.

Story on MobileTechNews

Kids in Japan can't type, but they can thumb. Maybe this will get those kids to use PC's....not.

Thanks for the link Adriaan

Had dinner tonight with Ken Sakamura, the father of TRON, the realtime embedded OS which is a dominant and essential part of most embedded systems in Japan today. He is also the Director of the Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory. He brought a bunch of amazing gadgets to dinner. The most impressive were the 0.2mm 128K RFID chips in a little vial.

SO505i.jpgJust got my SO505i yesterday.

The good news first. It does flash. Hirata pointed out a 6K flash RSS reader written by Yasuhisa which SHOULD work on my phone. This will be very cool. The 1.3 Megapixel camera works and feels like a real digital camera. The screen faces out so that you can use it like a camera without opening the phone.

The bad news. Emailing the 1280 x 960 images is impossible because of the size and because they phone doesn't let you even try making this silly mistake. It uses a new, yes a NEW memory stick format called Memory Stick Duo. I can't find it in stock anywhere and I need a NEW adapter for my Mac. Ugh.

The address book still sucks for English speakers because there is only one tab for english names in the address book.

Things that I MIGHT be able to get used to but are still weird: The antenna sticks out of your chin, the phone opens by twisting, not flipping, there is a little white LED that you can turn on and no flash. I can see how this might be more power efficient than a flash, but I haven't found it to be useful yet to light up subjects. Also, it's a bit big and heavy. It doesn't have GPS and location info so I'm sure I'll have GPS envy.

Now I have to figure out how to thumbnail in python and add it to my moblog...

UPDATE: I just found out that I can call and receive calls and talk without opening the phone. That's cool.

vonage.gifI got my Vonage service going yesterday. Vonage is a serice where you sign up for a phone number in an area code of your choice and they give you a Cisco Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) which you hook up the Internet and attach to a normal analog phone. The phone basically turns into a normal phone with a phone number in the area code that you chose. You get call waiting, voicemail, etc. It's $82.03 setup and $39.99/month for unlimited calls in the US and Canada. (There are other service plans.) They don't sell the service internationally, but Gen Kanai turned me on to Vonage. He had just moved to Japan and was using it from Japan. Frankly, it makes a lot more sense to people living internationally, I think. Anyway, it's great. I was using it today, the caller ID worked fine, call waiting worked fine and the sound quality is fine. Now the only problem is that if I give people my new 415 area code number, they'll be calling me in the middle of the night thinking I'm in San Francisco.

They have this Spotme device at this conference which has a very cool feature. You can see the names of the other participants who are near you and approximately how many meters they are away from you. You can also exchange business cards with people which get emailed to you.

Similar to the Japanese Lovegety but a bit more serious focus. ;-)

My Sony DSC-FX77 is getting flakey. It's creating those artifacts you see in the picture...

So I took my FX77 that I griped about here because my Mac couldn't talk to it. It turns out it's a nice camera. It is fast and take much better photos than any digital camera so far. There are a lot of settings that allowed me to deal with unusual lighting. I tooks lots of pictures of snapping turtles and geisha.

I tried a new method of authoring photo albums. I installed Movable Type on my PowerBook and used Kung-Log, BBEdit and Adobe ImageReady to author. It worked well. ImageReady did a really nice job optimizing and adjusting the balances on the images without all the extra junk that photoshop had. Having MT locally let me put the photos in directories and rebuild the pages so I could see how it would look on my blog. BBEdit was a clean way to edit the tables by hand. Kung-Log let me write everything, save it as a draft, then post it again to my blog once I was on a fast line.

It was a 2.5 hr train ride so I had a lot of time... probably not the most efficient way to post photos, but it was a lot of fun...

bluetoothlogo.jpgI just got my DSC-FX77, the new Sony camera that does bluetooth. I was bracing myself for wirless iLife... then. Suckage. The FX77 uses Bluetooth BIP (Basic Imaging Profile) to talk to the computer. Mac OS X has bluetooth, but of course... it doesn't know what the hell BIP is. A close examination of the Sony web page says it doesn't work with the Mac. I just saw the bluetooth logo on my Mac and on the Sony web page and didn't read the fineprint. Stupid stupid stupid...

So, does anyone know if Apple is thinking of implementing BIP or if there is some software that will let my USELESS Mac bluetooth talk to my useless-to-me new camera?

Mizuka and I went to see the last cherry blossoms last week and I shot some Provia 100 with my Hasselblad. I got sick of the poor quality of the Photo CD's considering the cost and bought a Nikon 8000ED film scanner so I could do my own scans instead. Here's my first attempt. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it right and it does take a lot of time, but you have control and obviously much more tender loving care than the people scanning for you onto Photo CD's. I've posted a few pictures on my .mac site. I can't figure out what the white space is that gets inserted when I publish from iPhoto.

Anyway, my iLife just got better thanks to Nikon.

Went to see President Ando of Sony. He is second in command under Chairman Idei and is more and more in charge of representing Sony in the US. He gave the speech at CES this year and said some some very interesting things. First he pushed open standards.

Ando said Sony will also work to use open standards in future products to make it easier for consumers to more widely access content on devices and urged other companies to help to establish these standards to help the industry progress.
Then he complained about the difficulty of the current record label business.
Steven Levy
After the keynote, Ando unwound at a dinner for a few journalists, where talk turned to the knotty problem of digital rights. He startled everyone by speculating that in the long term, given the nature of Internet copying, record labels may not have a future. "When you have a problem like this," he says, sighing, "I really wish we were a simple hardware company."
My kind of guy. We talked about blogs (of course), open standards and how cool it would be for Sony to really embrace open standards and let the blog tools and services talk to Sony products through open standards that we worked on together.

I finally got my broken 15 inch PowerBook fixed and I've spent the last 2 days, messing with it to get everything installed. I started with a quick and dirty Carbon Copy Cloner copy from my 12 inch PowerBook and that didn't work. Then I did a fresh install and copied all of the libraries and frameworks over and that quickly got screwed up. I spent last night and today installing everything fresh from CD or downloads and moving just my email and key preferences over. Now it seems to be working. I sorted out a lot of stuff while I was at it and even organized my CD's. Phew. That was a lot of work, but I feel like I just moved into a new house with everything sorted out. But... I've let my blog go unattended for a few days and I feel REALLY guilty. BTW, the display on the 15 inch 1GHz is SOO much better than the 12 inch and the extra memory and speed of the CPU make this machine worth the extra weight and size. It feels much better now that I'm back on my 15 inch...

Taiichi Fox brought a Segway over to the office today and let us take it for a spin. It was great. It is one of the two Segways that I know about in Japan. He brought it from the US. I'm still trying to figure out whether to leave mine in the US or have it delivered to Japan. Japan is definitely more suited for Segways but we're not allowed to ride them yet. I'm applying for a regulatory waiver, but the first one was rejected. I'm applying for it again in June. I think I should probably leave mine in Silicon Valley to cruise around when I'm there and bring mine to Japan once we are allowed to cruise freely.

Anyway, it was lots of fun and perfect for people who have to walk 30 minutes to the train station every day.


Bang & Olufsen releases MP3 player for Mac
Bang & Olufsen has responded to requests from Macintosh users and is making the company’s portable mp3 player compatible with Apple’s iTunes.
Yes! I love B&O stuff. I aways buy it and never use it. ;-p I'm so happy with my iPod and my Shure E5c's that I'm not sure where this BeSound2 would fit into my lifestyle, but it just looks sooo cool. Maybe I can use the BeSound2 when the iPod is out of battery power or when I have to wear an mp3 player at a dinner party...

I first met Stewart at the Fortune Magazine's Editors Invitaiton conference in Aspen last year. I knew of him from his column in Fortune Magazine, which I love. I like Stewart because he's a real gadget otaku, a great writer (can explain why things are exciting to non-techies) and is a successful venture capitalist. He is my role model in a sense. He seems to have a great time doing all of the things he is passionate about. Also, I find that he is such a nice guy that I sometime forget he's a venture capitalist. Maybe because I've been an entrepreneur longer than I've been a venture capitalist, or maybe because I don't know all of the best ones, but my stereotype image of venture capitalists is more arrogant... like Hollywood studio execs. Stewart, totally breaks that mold. Maybe that's why he's so busy and in the middle of everything. He doesn't scare everyone away...

We had an interesting discussion of the state of things. I did try to get him to think about blogging personally, but as with many professional journalists, he seemed to like the format that he has now. As we spoke, he introduced us to two companies on his blackberry and within a few hours I had meetings set up with them using my Danger Sidekick from the car. Gadgets rules...

Went to see The Woz. As I reported before, he's working on some cool new technology at Wheels of Zeus. The Woz has a bunch of Segways and he is getting a license to be a Segway trainer. I got notice from Amazon that I should call them and prepare to receive my Segway. The Woz said he would give me my training course.

The Japanese government just turned down my request for a special waiver to allow me to ride my Segway around in certain parts of Japan, even though the Prime Minister said that all of the waivers should be approved. Anyway, we're going to try to file again in the next round of applications in June.

Until then, maybe I'll keep my Segway in the Valley and cruise around with The Woz. ;-)

e5c_leftbar1.jpg I wrote that the Shure E2cs were the best headphone/earphones I've ever had. Well, today I just got my E5cs and they're better. There's this amazing feeling when you think you're in heaven and you find there is something better. I've had similar experiences with wine and Chinese tea. When you taste the good stuff, you can't go back and then you start wondering if there is anything better.

Anyway, the details...

The E5cs main difference is that it has a cross-over circuit and fits 2 drivers in each earphone so you get an amazing dynamic range. The bass reverberates through you head like you're in a disco or something. The E2cs were great on the high ends, but these E5cs do the whole range amazingly well.

The cord is shorter and lighter, not exactly sure why. You can use the triple-flange sleeves which seem to go deeper into your head. They feel a bit weird, but I think I'm going to like them better than the normal flex sleeves.

The only thing is that they're $500 vs. $100 for the E2cs. Are they 5X better than the E2cs? Well, think of the power law and wine. It costs more and more as you get closer and closer to the peak. It's a matter of your priorities I guess. I don't think that they will be worth $500 to some people, but I'm happy. You could get a round trip ticket between SF and Tokyo for $600 or you could go and buy a few expensive Japanese musk melons. it all depends on what makes you happy I guess. ;-)

You can buy them on Shure's site. And, no, they don't pay me to do this. ;-p

UPDATE: Matt from Shure has started a blog. Check it out!

UPDATE: I've started a new gadget blog called Joi Ito's Stuff

The hinge on my 15 inch TiBook broke. The Powerbook display was hanging on from one hinge. I had to write a paper. My 802.11g base station had just arrived. What to do. I always use the opportunity of giving forward as my excuse to buy new stuff. So, I went out and bought a 12 inch PowerBook G4. I copied the system from my 15 inch to my new computer using Carbon Copy Cloner, which is one of my favorite utilities. No go. The new machine didn't recognize the system. I did a fresh re-install and randomly dragged folders to the new machine that looked important. That worked, but took way too much work. Anyway, I'm switched and have set up my 802.11g connection at home and I love it. I just uploaded a 1.7MB QT movie to my blog. zip... Done. ;-) I'm sitting here gloating instead of writing my paper on emergent democracy which is the excuse I gave myself for making such an impulse buy. Better get back to writing.

e2c_leftbar1.jpgThe Shure E2c "in-ear" headphones are the best headphones I've ever used. They come with foam earplug style or rubber sleeves. They fit right inside of your ear like a hearing aid and the wire slips over your ear and down behind your back. There is no electronic noise cancellation, but the earplug-like sleeves shut out all outside sound and give you incredible sound with no outside noise. Absolutely incredible. My ipod experience just got one notch closer to a religious experience.

Thanks Barak!

UPDATE: Matt from Shure has started a blog. Check it out!

UPDATE: I've started a gadget blog called Joi Ito's Stuff

Minister Takenaka talked about the special regulatory zones in Japan to stimulate new business. The Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry created a special law to allow local governments together with companies to file for regulatory waivers to help promote new businesses. We filed for two. One was a waiver to allow us to use higher power 802.11 base stations to try to create community networks.

We also filed for a waiver to permit Segway's to be used on sidewalks in Makuhari, Disneyland area and Narita Airport. Everyone's pretty excited about this. We're talking to Segway, but nothing is decided yet. We're hoping to get them to come to Tokyo to meet Governor Domoto in March...

This may not help Sadaam, but just in case you're put under GPS surveillance house arrest by an oppressive government, you'll need to learn how to build your own GPS jammer.

  A low cost device to temporarily disable the reception of the civilian
course acquisition (C/A) code used for the standard positioning service
(SPS)[1] on the Global Positioning System (GPS/NAVSTAR) L1 frequency of
1575.42 MHz.

This is accomplished by transmitting a narrowband Gaussian noise signal,
with a deviation of +/- 1.023 MHz, on the L1 GPS frequency itself. This
technique is a little more complicated than a simple continuous wave (CW)
jammer, but tends to be more effective (i.e. harder to filter) against
spread spectrum based radio receivers.

The Nikkei has an article about cellphones with cameras being used in enterprise/business. Found this on Gen Kanai's weblog

I switched. I promised myself I would do this before I left for the US on Tuesday. I spend the day today moving stuff and tweaking. The only thing I couldn't get right was the kanji (Japanese character) files in my contact list and my Japanese email moved over. It was much easier than I thought and having switched, I feel euphoric. I'm now listen to music on iTunes (which tell me that I have 3.5 days of music), am syncing my Treo with my contacts, creating a this blog entry with Kung-Log staring at my brand new Dell Latitude trying to figure out what I'm going to do with it. ;-) Windoze now feels so... crass. It reminds me of when I got my first Mac back in 1984 and switched away from my Apple II.

I was talking to Jun Murai the other day and he said that a lot of the IETF folks were switching as well. I think the Unix at the core really makes it easy to get the geeks over...

Anyway, as with blogging, I'm a bit late in figuring it out, but it doesn't look like I'm late for the party.

Now I have to seriously start bothering people to write stuff for and port stuff to the Mac.

I just ordered my Segway Ginger on They say delivery will be 2003. So I have the rest of the year to figure out how to smuggle it into Japan...

I definitely DON'T need one of these. WHAT is palm thinking?

I got my P504iS today. It is the new i-mode phone with a built-in camera. They went on sale last week. Docomo's i-mode council upgrades our phones for us so we can play with the new features. (No wonder people are mad at me. ;-p ) Anyway, the one I got, the Panasonic phone has two cameras! One points at you and one away. There are also two color LCD displays. This is the perfect mobile photo blogging device. Now I have two cameras in my phone, a voice recorder in my digital camera, a camera in my computer and a camera in my Clie Palm. Do I need all of these cameras? Of course...

Found this on IP...

Samsonite's 625 Series Hardlite ICT has bluetooth built in. It supposedly keeps track of your travel info, owner info and has an alarm mechanism for theft control... I wonder if I need one...

Putting The Boots In — Photo Lab Grasses Up Pot Growers found on BBC News written by holgate, edited by John (Plastic)

A house in Leith, near Edinburgh, was raided by police, leading to the arrest of five people, and the seizure of marijuana plants 'valued' at £15,000, after receiving a tip-off from photo-processing staff at the local branch of Boots. It's believed that a lab technician identified the plants when developing a set of prints, and got on the phone to the boys in blue.

"While you can understand photo-labs wishing to protect themselves from obscene images, given that there are specific laws prohibiting the possession and reproduction of such images, it's another thing entirely to call in the police, based solely upon the perception that photographs record something illegal: that is, recognizing a few tell-tale leaves. Undoubtedly, the pot-growers in question weren't the sharpest knives in the box, but is the knowledge that random people may take moral outrage at your photographs another reason to add that digital camera to the Christmas list?"
Yup. Exactly why I first got into digital cameras. I remember one lab which was part of a franchise. I knew the owner fairly well. Anyway, the owner once thanked me for using their service, even though I hadn't told anyone. Also, I had several rolls of film where I had visited the same place several times. The photos of the place were arranged together instead of in the order they appeared on the negatives. It really hit me that someone was "looking" at my pictures... Which makes sense if you think of how a lab works. Now I generally focus on landscape on film. ;-)


Suction cup 7 dBi antenna: Mike from Signull Techologies sent me the URL of a spec sheet for their 7 dBi suction cup antenna pictured deployed on automobiles! Wardriving made easy.
I want one of these...

Walking with my FE 60-120 zoom lens on my Hasselblad 205FCC fixed to my tripod.
Decided to take a stroll in the park with Mizuka instead of blogging a day. It was a beautiful day. I've uploaded some pictures I took with my Sony Cybershot DSC-P5. I wish I had a better photo album online. Does anyone know of a good photo album server I can run on a Apple XServe?

The entrance to Komazawa Park is one of the nicest views in the park. The leaves are just starting to turn yellow.

Yakiimo is the great portable food of the fall/winter in Japan. These little trucks roast the sweet potatoes in ovens billowing smoke with this great tape recorded message going on and on about how nice, sweet and hot the potatoes are.

Another great outdoor food is grilled corn. The corn has soy sauce on it that burns and smells like... burnt soy sauce. All Japanese are conditioned to salivate when they smell burnt soy sauce.

The Japanese made a mistake and Japlish took over on this one. "free market" and "flea market" are generally used interchangeably. Some web sites talk about "free markets" being more "open" "flea markets"... So here is a "free market"...

The local right wing truck showed up to join the festivities with speakers blaring on about the Japan flea market economy...

Komazawa Park has these great bikes for 2 people that you can cruise around in. Mizuka wanted to ride one, but we got turned down and told that they were for kids.

hassyh1.jpgI just LOVE Hasselblad Cameras. I have two of them, a 503CW and a 205FCC. The 503 was my first Hasselblad and I used it for several years before I bought the 205FCC. (I read an article on that said that the 205FCC was great, but that it was a waste for newbies. ;-) )Hasselblad is really the ultimate medium format camera with such a great design that they haven't changed much in over 50 years. The 503CW is requires no electricity. The 205FCC has an amazingly accurate internal spot meter that allows me to do fancy stuff like measure the contrast of the image and adjust the push processing on my B&W to compensate for it. An amazing feature, I rarely use. ;-) Anyway, this new H1 that Hasselblad designed with Fuji Film is fully automatic with everything integrated. Even auto-focus! Is this a blasphemy or a breakthrough? It feels like when Leica came up with their first auto-focus minilux series. If I hadn't just bought my 205FCC I would take a serious look at the H1, but... I've bought too many cameras this year to afford another one.

I'm at Casio right now trying to get them excited about blogs... Casio makes such great digital cameras and digital cameras are SOOO important for blogs... Pleeeze give me a blog-camera.

Neeraj is my only buddy so far...
AOL-Docomo the Japanese joint venture between Docomo and AOL Japan asked Neeraj of imaHima to make a Java aplet for the new Java enabled i-mode phones that allows you to use Aol Instant Messenger on your phone. They launched it last week. It's great! You can have multiple conversations at once and it is integrated with the PC based IM. I think this is a first. (There are many IM for messaging between phones.) The only thing that sucks is that you have to sign up for AOL's service any pay a monthly fee to use it. It took me almost 30 minutes on the phone to sign up...

found this in Marc Canter's Blog

Memories of General Magic
A long time ago I offered to develop for a hot startup called General Magic. I was going to do the work for free. I wanted to explore a new platform. They turned me down, saying they already had enough developers. Yesterday they announced they are shutting down the company. Now no one knows if one developer's software would have made the difference, but it's been known for a long time that exclusive platforms die and inclusive ones have a chance. It's why the Mac worked and Lisa didn't. If you're lucky enough to get a gazillion dollars invested behind your ideas, never say no to a developer. They might have the next VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, PageMaker or Mosaic.

I myself (I was still kind of famous then) was sent to talk to Steve Perlman - who has gone on to prove that he's quite a case unto himself - about Telescript 2.0 and the future of multimedia and General Magic. Basically Steve would have nothing to do with me. He wouldn't even answer my phone calls. Oh well.

I remember when Megan Smith who was working at General Magic took me to see Marc Porat. I was really excited about General Magic and tried to find some way to work with them since they had some licensees in Japan, and I had actually given a high level presentation to NTT about General Magic before their deal with them... Marc seemed very uninterested in seeing me and told me he didn't need any help.

There were so many people who were excited about General Magic and there were really a lot of cool people working there. It's really too bad they weren't more open technically and socially.

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 "" for the Vodafone network in Spain. Now the APN in the APN field on the phone will be set for its WAP connection. IE 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. "" 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:
Also, you will have to set DNS manually, which is and

Something like that... ;-p

Hirata turned me on to the EnvironMission site.


EnviroMission owns the exclusive licence to German designed Solar Tower technology in Australia. Our first project will focus on developing this revolutionary technology into the world’s first large-scale solar thermal power station capable of generating enough electricity to supply 200,000 typical Australian homes.

The technology involves a huge solar heater with a tower that takes the hot air and pulls it up through the tower and spins turbines. This SO sci-fi sexy and SO Australia... The tower will be the, "largest engineered structure ever proposed for construction."

There is a flash animation of how the technology works. The company is already trading on the Australian stock exchange. They have built a prototype.

lmboard_thumb.jpg lmc_thumb.jpg 451_thumb.jpg lmccontrol_thumb.jpg
Mizuka was eating dinner at Yanai-san's house after her MagLev ride so I went there and borrowed their shower to wash away the Kasumigaseki sweat. Then Mizuka and Makiko-san told me about their ride. They got to go 451 km/hr. Aparently the German MagLev only goes 400km/hr. The Japanese MagLev has gone a max 554 km/hr with someone in it. Anyway, it sounds pretty cool to me. They said that there was a boarding plank like boarding an airplane and the door slid open up. They also said it rattled more than they though it would. On the other hand, it was FAST and FUN. I wish I were there...

found on Slashdot
An article in Popular Science about what a national ID would look like and contain. On the issue of social security numbers on ID card, they mention that even though social security numbers on ID cards have been rejected by the federal government, "it's a good guess the Department of Homeland Security would manage it".

On smart card technology, they say:

For example, an ER doctor could view medical information and enter data about treatment (if the card's data storage device is read-write capable), but could not see security-related data (such as a traveler's flight history, or a non-citizen's visa status) that an airport or INS official might require. But how secure are smart cards? Detailed instructional hacking sites can be found on the Web, many focusing on European cards. And the more data on a card, the more valuable the card becomes to an identity thief.
Yup. This is definitely a risk. I wonder how many terrorists would actually use un-forged ID cards when traveling?
Popular Science | Your ID Please, Citizen


A web page about guys who build Tesla Coils.

Spotted on Slashdot

John Williams Tesla Page

antimosquitoes1.jpg - PC-powered mozzie-buster gets upgrade - July 31, 2002

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A Thai computer programmer behind a wildly popular anti-mosquito software package has upgraded his program to also repel cockroaches and rats, the English language Nation newspaper reports.

Interesting. I guess this could be true and Thailand would be a reasonable place to have developed it. Let me know if anyone tries and finds that it works!

Download page for Anti Mosquitoes All OS Collection

Thanks Sen for pointing this one out!

So who owns my living room? I have projectors, displays, satellite tuning boxes, various amplifiers, CD players, DVD players, remotes, universal remotes, a home PBX trying to do VoIP to the office, a plasma display, a home security systems, 802.11, a Sony Airboard, 100MB fiber Internet acccess, a few PC's and Mac's, a cars with a car navigation system that rips CD's and talks to the Internet, a car with GSM built in that doesn't work in Japan... None of this stuff talks to each other. In my basement I have boxes full of firewire, ethernet, power, coaxial, optical fiber, RCA Audio/Video, SCSI, RS-232C cables.

So, it looks like Apple is making a lunge to connect things together with Rendezvous. Stuart Cheshire, Wizard Without Portfolio at Apple Computer & Chairman of IETF ZEROCONF was interviewed by The Idea Basket (found this on Frank's Blog.) In the interview Stuart talks about how although the IETF didn't like the idea of trying to make AppleTalk an IETF standard, they liked the idea of trying to make it easier to connect things to your home network. He set up a working group at IETF to do this.

From the ZeroConf page:

To achieve this small-network functionality in IP, there are four main areas of work:

Allocate addresses without a DHCP server.
Translate between names and IP addresses without a DNS server.
Find services, like printers, without a directory server.
Allocate IP Multicast addresses without a MADCAP server.

From the interview:

I can't comment on specific Apple product plans, but I think you had some very interesting ideas in your "Backstage Pass to the Future" article. Rendezvous is not just about making current networked devices easier to use. It is also about making it viable to put networking (i.e. Ethernet) on devices that today use USB or Firewire, and it is also about making it viable to use networking in areas that you wouldn't have even considered before Rendezvous. Imagine a future world where you connect your television and amplifier and DVD player with just a couple of Ethernet cables, instead of today's spaghetti mess of composite video, S-Video, component video, stereo audio, 5.1 Dolby, Toslink optical audio cables, etc.

So Apple will become a consumer electronics maker and will try to solicit the support of IETF to help get things hooked up. OK. One world view. Too bad TiVo isn't on the ZeroConf mailing list. TiVo is such a great product, but it really doesn't "hook up" with stuff well...

I guess the home server, home router universe is also trying to do this, but maybe less elegantly. Moxi sounded initially like an allstar cast trying to get into this super-set-top-box space, but it looks like it blew up and was picked up for scraps by Paul Allen.

Microsoft is obviously trying to go there too, but not so successfully so far.

Sony is an obvious leader, but it appears that they can't coordinate their architecture and although they take risks and make cool gadgets, they can't seem to orchestrate it all. I heard that they even shut down their design group recently. Having said that, the playstation is a great contender for king of the living room.

Anyway, while we're at it, lets get our phone and IM hooked up in the living room as well. Maybe it's just that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) was last week, but with the VoIP (Voice over IP) IETF standard SIP and the IM standard Jabber, it feels like IETF is on top of most of the important things to enable my dream living room. Could it be that Internet standards will lead the way?

I feel great things happening in this area and the rumble of architecture shifts that can make possible things that have been impossible in the past. Definitely going to steer towards the rumbling to see if there are some opportunities in the space Japan still is competitive in. So my bet is that Apple creates some cool products that prove it can be done and that Taiwan Inc. and China quickly jump in and take over... Hopefully there is some room for us to do something cool.

Bill Tai turned me on to the SliMP3 Ethernet MP3 Player made by Slim Devices Inc. It's $249 device that talks to a server installed on your PC via ethernet. It has a remote control that lets you navigate through the mp3's on your PC and plays them out through RCA cables that connect to your stereo. Pretty cool device which works well. I don't know if $249 is expensive or not, but in my house where my PC is in a room in the basement and my stereo is in my living room, it's a great thing. Setup and installation were easy as cake. The device talks DHCP so you literally just plug and play. I'm all for dedicated devices that make hooking up stuff in the living room easier!


This is Yokoyama-san showing us his new Kyocera PDA. It was recently announced, but they haven't priced it yet. It is fast because there really isn't very much operating system to get in the way of performance. His company, MCT did most of the software inside in Java. He showed us a pretty groovy pinball game and it was FAST. It is running on Tao.

So what it is about embedded systems these days. Except for a very small number of companies, most of them are struggling. I hear they can't get funding in Silicon Valley. (Who can!) There's lot of work to do, but nothing huge and scalable. I think it is because the hardware companies are still in charge of what goes on inside. We need to figure out a new architecture that puts the application guys in charge of the hardware and the semi-conductors.

Yokoyama-san's PDA was definitely cool and impressive, but it probably would have been a lot more impressive if we had been able to design all of the architecture from scratch...

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