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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Random Tokyo Observations [Apr. 5th, 2007|09:18 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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This list is by no means complete, and true to the <ul> tag's name, it's an unordered list. So... random observations on Tokyo:
  • YAPC::Asia was fun.
  • Here are my slides. And in Japanese too! Thanks, translators! (it's less of a regurgitation of previous slides than normal... lot of new stuff at the end, and early stuff is condensed a lot)
  • Cask rocks. Whitaker, you'd have loooooved it. And at only ~$20/drink, what a deal! :P
  • While I'm not one of those people that's all into Asian girls, I'm not against Asian girls... but what I really respect is the whole presentation: fancy clothes, makeup, accessories, tall socks, shiny big boots, skirts, elaborate hair... these girls really get into it. It's actually quite impressive. Makes me feel like a slob, even when I'm what-I-feel-is dressed up.
  • I know maybe a dozen Japanese words now, but my favorite is definitely 出口. I don't know how you say it, but I say "double trident walking box". It means "exit" and I see it everywhere. It got me successfully out of a bathroom that had two matching doors. I think the other one was a maintenance closet.
  • They drive on the left side? They also walk on the left side. Never knew that.
  • Good service.
  • Being surrounded by Japanese writing that I can't even pronounce or recognize or even attempt to understand is somewhat demoralizing. Fortunately the subway is in Rōmaji. Phew.
  • Everything on little trays. Bills, money, passports. Trays, trays, trays.
  • The whole business card exchange formality fanciness.
  • Bowing. (which I thought I'd have trouble adjusting to, but came without even thinking about it... weird.)
  • Everybody in suits & ties.
  • Face masks. If you're sick, you wear a face mask. Otherwise you're just an asshole that should be shunned or something. Because seriously, tons of face masks... at any one time, you can look around and see several of them.
  • Their phones suck. Big, boxy, plastic, not-shiny, large-lines. They look cheap, not sexy/sleek. This place is the future in so many regards (especially timezone!), so why are the phones so crap looking? Mystery.
  • My hotel is the future.
  • Except my hotel's TV turns on everytime I enter the room. So then I have to walk over and turn off the game show or whatever's on. I don't know how to disable this feature of my hotel room. I don't want the TV on whenever I enter.
  • What are all those buttons on the toilet? I'm afraid to press them.
  • The Engrish cracks my shit up. This might deserve its own post, with photos. I'll tease you with one: "Please shut the door when you take a bath. Because hot air of the bathroom makes a fire alarm ring." With a picture of a shower, not a bath. And arguably there are two fire alarm sensors here, so their use of the indefinite article "a" could be construed as correct, but there's just one alarm... or the system is one... or it's just colloquial to treat all fire alarms as singular. Like everybody in my Russian class messed up on a recent test thinking одежда (clothes) is plural, even though we could see the ending and know it's not. But I guess "clothing" is singular. In any case, I find myself over-analyzing all the Engrish.
  • I notice white people. Sometimes we pass on the street and make understanding eye contact with each other. ("What's your story?") Makes me think of this comic kinda. Actually hover your mouse on that comic. That alttext inspired me to start up a conversation recently (in Belize) in which I totally got shot down, but it was oh-so-fun and worth it for the story, so I totally don't regret it. <3 xkcd.
  • Vending machines.
  • Vending machines take $100 bills (10,000 Yen).
  • $5 coins, $1 coins, etc... Coins are worth stuff.
  • Japanese addresses are pure chaos. Craziness. Especially when you can't read Japanese, which would only make it slightly more sane.
  • ......
This post is long enough. I'll stop.

Conference is now done. It's 10 pm... should I go back out? Not sure what I'd do, and I'm already fading pretty quick. I think I'll wake up early and go to the fish market which keeps getting recommended to me.

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[User Picture]From: dossy
2007-04-05 01:44 pm (UTC)
Was this your first trip to Japan? You can now watch Lost In Translation and truly appreciate it's humor. If you'd seen it before and thought it wasn't funny ... watch it again, now that you have actually experienced a bit of Japan. It might make you smile.

re: the toilet buttons--most likely heating controls and/or bidet function.

re: vending machines--did you find any that vend beer? You'd never see that in America.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-05 01:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, first trip. 4.5 more days here.

I loved Lost in Translation.

Toilet: seat temp, bidet, "shower" (how's this differ from bidet?), "stop", and a water control knob. But the buttons don't work unless you're sitting on it, and I haven't wanted to push them when it's "on". (it makes some weird constant noise when you're sitting on it... so it knows somehow via some sensor that you're on it...)

Beer vending machines: oh yes.
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[User Picture]From: larisaka
2007-04-05 01:45 pm (UTC)
It's nice to hear that Japanese mess up on the(?) use of the(?) indefinite article "a" and the(?) definite article "the" just like Russians do.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-05 01:55 pm (UTC)
All your articles with (?) are correct. :-)
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[User Picture]From: blech
2007-04-05 02:20 pm (UTC)


"$5 coins, $1 coins, etc... Coins are worth stuff."

It's like that in Europe (both the UK and the Eurozone) too. £2 coins are worth a shade under $5, for example. Someone I know who moved to the US recently grumbled about "damned 50p notes", and I can see why they were annoyed.

The thing that continually gets me when I'm in the States isn't just the bulging wallet full of paper, but the fact it's almost impossible to get rid of the coins you get as change. What are you meant to do with them? Give them away? Lose them down the back of the sofa?
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[User Picture]From: terrajen
2007-04-05 02:22 pm (UTC)
you need to find an Asian girl and go to a love hotel!
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[User Picture]From: casey
2007-04-05 02:40 pm (UTC)
Bowing. (which I thought I'd have trouble adjusting to, but came without even thinking about it... weird.)

We found ourselves doing it pretty quickly too when we stayed there for a week. My friend who has been living there for three years comes back on holidays and has a hard time not bowing to people everywhere he goes.
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From: evan
2007-04-05 03:02 pm (UTC)
The toilets are good stuff. Definitely experiment from your hotel. If there's a music button avoid it (it's kinda embarrassing and you sometimes(?) can't stop it). The sound is a deodorizing fan.
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2007-04-06 05:04 am (UTC)
Is the music to mask those times when your butt is being really loud?
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[User Picture]From: bulknews
2007-04-05 03:05 pm (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying the Chaos. The reason you can find lots of face masks on this season is to avoid Hay Fever stuff. Not very common in other seasons.
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[User Picture]From: bulknews
2007-04-05 03:10 pm (UTC)
Oh and Ingy and other folks staying at Dan's said they're going to Fish Market tomorrow morning. They should contact some of them if you want to.
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From: evan
2007-04-05 03:19 pm (UTC)
It's interesting to see how much stuff you use in your slides is slangy/dialecty and how it gets translated: "no magic bullet", "hang slaves off floater IP", "overkill redundancy", "coalescing low-latency function call 'router'", "XML-free", "spoon-feed clients", "the meat".
The second time you use "spoon feeding" it's written out as "supuunfiidingu".

Page 46 has "porting to $LANG is be trivial" which I think is a typo.

I don't think I've ever seen anything on gearman. In large systems that merge outputs of multiple workers I read that what ends up killing you is the variance of requests: that is, you only ever go as fast as your slowest worker. Have you run into problems like that?
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-05 11:20 pm (UTC)
In large systems that merge outputs of multiple workers I read that what ends up killing you is the variance of requests: that is, you only ever go as fast as your slowest worker. Have you run into problems like that?

Ah, interesting. I suppose that could happen, yes. I haven't seen it, though. I wonder if the client should declare its expected response rate, and have the gearmand router not attach a request onto an existing outstanding work item if the work has already been outstanding for >= the amount of time the client declared it expected it to be done in.

Or something like that.

I'll keep this in mind.
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[User Picture]From: lisa
2007-04-05 03:44 pm (UTC)
Nice summary of all the things I love about Japan! My hotel had the same sign in the bathroom and I laughed every morning (I also frequently forgot to keep the door closed with "taking a bath")
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-05 11:20 pm (UTC)
Did you make a fire alarm ring?
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[User Picture]From: taral
2007-04-05 03:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I just got back from there. Great stuff.

* 出口 is "deguro".
* The face masks aren't for sick people, they're for people with hayfever -- it's quite common over there.
* Big, boxy cellphones are fashion accessories; they're supposed to be very noticeable items. Softbank (iirc) is advertising a partnership of sorts with PANTONE to produce color-coordinated phones: your phone can now precisely match your clothes!
* You can get much more reasonably shaped cellphones. Most people use those. You clearly spent too much time looking at Japanese fashion girls. :D
* Yes, the toilets are intimidating. Unless you want to end up very wet in strange places, do not push the buttons. Just appreciate the heated seat and deodorizer fan.
* Page 35 says "OPTIONs", you want "OPTIONS" -- the japanese needs fixing too.
* Magic auto-TV: Call the front desk and ask. The hotel exists to serve you. Literally.
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[User Picture]From: pne
2007-04-05 05:45 pm (UTC)


* 出口 is "deguro".

ITYM "deguchi".
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[User Picture]From: kimmi8
2007-04-05 05:27 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good time! I can't wait until I go at the end of the month. You must come back with a few recommendations on er, not so expensive places to eat and drink.
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[User Picture]From: mart
2007-04-05 06:27 pm (UTC)

That Wikipedia article on the Japanese addressing system has an interesting bit at the end about the logic behind it, and how western cultures generally do it the other way around with the local part first.

I'd never really thought much about it before, but I think the “local part first” convention is probably a hold-over from when everyone was much less mobile so most travel and communication was only local. If you do it local-first you can leave off as much as you can get away with in a given context. You could say “house number twelve” to someone who lives in the same road as you, or “12 Kumquat Street” to someone who lives in the same town. When I give people my address, I don't generally write “United Kingdom” at the end of it.

It's interesting — and probably indicative of how much more “global” people tend to be now — that the UK's postcode system actually reverses this and puts the local part at the end, giving things like CO7 7BP, where “CO” is the major postal area. The postal code system only started to appear in the last century.

I wonder if it says anything about Japan and China (which apparently uses a similar system) compared to the US and the UK that they've evolved a big-endian address system while we evolved a little-endian one.

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[User Picture]From: bulknews
2007-04-06 03:22 am (UTC)
We do the same thing as Western only in Sapporo and Kyoto (their address is like "Market and 4th"), and people here think it is very complex.
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[User Picture]From: blythe
2007-04-05 06:45 pm (UTC)
<3 that comic
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[User Picture]From: whitaker
2007-04-05 11:12 pm (UTC)
We still need to go to Bourbon & Branch some weeknight. Totally dope stuff there, also at the low-low price of $20+/glass.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-05 11:22 pm (UTC)
Totally. Ben and I were just talking about that. Have you been yet? I haven't.
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2007-04-06 05:14 am (UTC)


Are they sitty-kind or squatty-kind?

I read an article a few years ago about someone in Japan getting electrocuted by their fancy toilet, and they had some man-on-the-street interviews, and concensus was that "nobody expects any toilet to be 100% safe."


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[User Picture]From: brad
2007-04-06 05:20 am (UTC)

Re: toilets

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