Monday, February 28, 2011

Mac & Don-san's 40th

I did some sightseeing for the first time in awhile this weekend, but while I sort through all the pictures I took, here's a little something interesting:

Apparently it's the 40th anniversary of McDonald's... in Japan I guess? I'm pretty sure its been around longer in the US. Or is there anything like this going on there? Anyways, McDonald's is selling Big Macs for 200 yen! I'll have to get one.

And for your viewing pleasure, here's a Japanese CM on the 200 yen big mac. I actually grabbed the video of the McDonald's website since I couldn't find it on youtube. I'm still testing it out though. I'll update when I get it figured out or give up and just upload it to youtube myself.


Holy cow, this worked. Awesome. For those interested, I used JW Player as the flash player. The bigger problem after I figured out how to use JW Player though, was where to host the files I needed to reference. Apparently I've managed a work around of sorts by uploading 'attachments' to my google sites... site, and then grabbed the url link from the link shown in the 'download' button. Finally, since I can edit the html for this blog post, I just pasted references to the javascript, and whala. Embedded flash!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ripping Rentals

I found this out earlier this week and it has blown my mind. Not only can you rent CDs like you can movies in Japan (I already knew this), but it is completely legal to rip music off of the CD for your own personal use. I don't even have to delete the music after I return the CD.

Let me say that again. I can go to Tsutaya (Japanese Blockbuster), rent a CD, and legally copy the music to my computer/mp3 player to listen to whenever I want.

This is made possible by the fact that rental places pay royalties to the artists to offset any revenue loss from copying music. It's been like this since 1985 when the law changed for big electronics companies which sell the blank media and such. In other words, the much larger and more prevalent electronics companies were more influential than any small music company at the time, so they got the copyright laws changed in their favor.

I kind of like the idea. Too bad it doesn't apply to movies though, heh.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Za Ramen

There's a ramen place next to the train station which I pass every time I come home from Atsugi station. I always see this older dude who runs the place chilling inside at or behind the counter with the TV on, often with few or no people there. One of these days I swore I'd get over there and help his business out, and last night I finally got the chance!

One of my coworkers asked if I wanted to grab a bite after work (I was there pretty late) so I suggested we get some ramen. Turns out this place, called Za Ramen, is actually a ramen chain restaurant from Hokkaido I believe. I've been to Hokkaido and loved it (it's basically the Minnesota of Japan), so that works for me. Check out how cool this guy is!

I had some Corn Cream Ramen, but as usual forgot to take a picture before hand. Oh well, next time.

Here's me after thoroughly enjoying my corn cream ramen.

And the rest of the little restaurant, with some Taiwanese guy sitting at the counter.

And a dark shot of the outside.

I'll have to come back with my nicer camera later. This was all taken from my phone.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Every now and then when we face issues with a part we're making, we need to convey this problem in an easily understandable manner to the customer. Often times pictures of problematic areas are the best way to communicate these difficulties, but the dinky camera we had before just wasn't cutting it in the take-good-pictures department. So I did a little shopping around, and found that the Nikon Coolpix P100 is a very good camera. It doesn't look the nicest, but its the best in the super zoom series available.

Anyways, I put together a simple light box, and snapped a few test shots. Oh, since we deal with a lot of prototype parts, I couldn't just grab any random part and start taking shots of it. So I had no choice but to grab a few of the mini Gundam models on my desk and shoot those instead. Really, my hands were tied. Nothing I could do about it.

And here's how I took these pictures:

Finally a slide show for good measure.

Yes I did work today too!

Friday, February 18, 2011


A package arrived from the US this morning. Apparently they've got their own Proto Labs branded packing over there now. Way cool.

Maybe someday we can get our own Proto Labs Japan branded packaging, haha. :D

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Several... Hours of Winter

Seems it did continue snowing through the night, but didn't quite turn out to be what I was hoping for. Plus it all melted before noon. Short lived, but at least we had one day morning of actual winter.

I took a number of shots along my way to work too. Oh and, of course Picasa web albums allows you to embed a slideshow. Why haven't I done this for, well, all my previous pictures?

Actually, since this snow the past couple days have been beautiful out. Did it just get winter out of it's system and now the weather is deciding to play nice? I shouldn't speak too soon though; I've heard forecasts of rain later this week. I don't mind biking home though snow, but rain isn't too fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Slight Flurries

It snowed a bit on my bike ride home.

Good thing I've undergone thorough training in the frigid winters of Minnesota. For those unawares, I biked to the U of M all year round. I only lived 10 min away by bike, preferred to bike, and didn't want to purchase a bus pass since I had a car too. So I continued biking through the fall, into winter to see how long I could last. Before I know it, it's February, I'm wearing a double socks, long underwear, several layers of clothing, a face mask and ski goggles in -30F weather. Good times...

Actually, believe it or not the freezing cold bike ride home I just made through the snow was... fun? Does this mean I've spent too much time in Minnesota? Oh well, it's supposedly going to be snowing through the night. Looking forward to the new paint job we're getting outside! :D

Friday, February 04, 2011

Almost There...

If you haven't, read this guy first: Auto Mapping!

Success! I cut my time down to the 10 min mark! ...Unfortunately it was because I was rushing to work late this morning, sigh. But hey, getting to work at 9:18 after getting out of bed at 8:54 is pretty quick I guess.

Anyways, I increased the accuracy of the GPS readings on My Tracker down to 65 ft, and got some pretty interesting results. I hug the sidewalk much better this time, not straying into the buildings in the adjacent neighborhood. Again you can see exactly where I crossed the street, but this time with even more accuracy.

Here I got stopped by a light, but since it was a T intersection, I could cross to the other side, travel the top of the T, and then cross back over. This couldn't have taken more than 15-20 seconds, yet it registered the whole thing. Very cool.

Unfortunately it seemed to lose my signal when I biked under the tollway. I'll have to loosen the minimum accuracy to 165 ft for next time. In comparison, the default was 650 ft, so the jump from 650 to 65 while still maintaining the signal fairly well was pretty impressive.


Total Distance 2.2 mi    Max Speed 19.0 mph
Total Time 10:22    Average Speed 12.8 mph
Moving Time 9:16    Average Moving Speed 14.3 mph
Elevation --    Elevation Gain 34 ft
Min Elevation 151 ft    Max Elevation 182 ft
Min Grade -3%    Max Grade 5%

Interesting to see the elevation statistics have changed a bit, probably on account of the more accurate GPS readings. Also I stood up on my bike at one point, but if I recognized that, I'd be super impressed.

Auto Mapping!

I love technology.

I've been exploring the different features and available apps for my smart phone and came across an app called My Tracks. This application basically lets you 'record' any route that you travel with your phone, weather it be by bike, car, train, or even walking. It's quite simple really, as it just takes a snap shot of your GPS position at given intervals, plotting the locations on Google maps. When you're all said and done, it creates a map, or 'track' of the route you took which you can upload directly into your My Maps on your Google account. Unfortunately the direct upload didn't work, probably because the Maps Data API was depreciated as of the 31st (2 days ago) in lieu of the newer APIv3 using Fusion Tables. But I was able to export the information and manually import it into a map.

So here's my bike route home.

I traveled north to go home. It took me less than 15 min to travel the 2.5 miles home, so not bad (I guess?). Google maps directions seems to suggest it would take 11 min by car, so apparently traveling by bike isn't a bad idea. I especially love that the GPS readings were accurate enough that you can see exactly where I crossed the street. It did stray a bit at times (no I didn't bike through the elementary school grounds), but at one point it has me cleanly following the sidewalk. I'll have to play with the settings to see if I can get it a bit more accurate.

And for those who want a peak under the hood, here's all the data points it grabbed from my 13 min trip home. In fact, it uses all those data points, which track not only my position, but also my altitude and bearing, to put together plenty of statistics, like these:

Total Distance 2.36 mi    Max Speed 14.99 mi/hr
Total Time 13:19    Average Speed 10.64 mi/hr
Moving Time 12:10    Average Moving Speed 11.65 mi/hr
Elevation --    Elevation Gain 54 ft
Min Elevation 177 ft    Max Elevation 200 ft
Min Grade -1.7%    Max Grade 2.3%

The application also makes a graph of your elevation and speed over distance or time, but I wasn't quite able to export that from my phone. So I just made a table with that handy excel data myself. :D

You can see the dips in speed where I stopped at a traffic light. Cool stuff.

Now, I bet I can make this run in 10 if I tried...