Ciarán “David Copperfield” O’Riordan

I went to meet Ciarán this evening.  He was staying at the Annex Katsutaro Ryokan, where I stayed a few times before.  We had some noodles and then headed for Akihabara to meet Niibe Yutaka, RMS, and other Free Software hackers.

On the train Ciarán held up his ticket and asked “What happens if you lose this?”, and the ticket vanished.  There wasn’t a flash of light or a puff of smoke, but that was the last we ever saw of the ticket.  When we arrived at Akihabara Ciarán searched his bag and all his pockets, but no ticket was found.  We then discovered what does happen if you lose your ticket: you go to the guy at the ticket gate and tell him you don’t have a ticket.  He asks where you came from then sells you a new ticket.  Not a big surprise.

Then Ciarán tried to phone Niibe.  Niibe’s phone number was on a card that Ciarán was carrying.  Ciarán dialed the number, but nothing happened: the phone seemed to be broken.  Then the card vanished, just like the ticket!

So, if you meet Ciarán, don’t ever give him anything important :)

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I’m starting a new job on Monday that is a bit further away than normal: Tokyo.  That’s one reason why you need a Japanese font to read the title and some other parts of this post.

Karen and I have just arrived at our temporary apartment in 六本木ヒルス where we’ll be staying until we find our own place.  This apartment is very close to my new office, but I don’t think I want to live in this area for the long term.  I don’t really know where we want to live yet.  The last time I lived in Japan I stayed in a company dormitory, so I’ve never had to find an apartment.  Sometime over the next few days we will start looking around.

For the rest of today, though, I think we’ll do nothing.

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Non-free software is evil, but that’s good.

Following a suggestion from Richard Stallman, today I met Niibe Yutaka (新部 裕) from The Free Software Initiative of Japan at his office in Akihabara.

During our conversations Niibe-san mentioned something that I had almost forgotten: Debian has a non-free section in their distribution.  A lot of people don’t like that, or they are at least surprised to see what looks like a compromise from such devoted Free Software advocates.

But Niibe-san had a different perspective inspired by his Buddist faith: he can accept the existance of evil, and it can be used to highlight goodness. Evil (or non-free software) exists to remind us that more good needs to be done.  If we didn’t have a non-free section we would not notice the programs that need to be liberated.

Live Dog anyone?

I’ve been trying to persuade Karen that Japanese food isn’t really that strange, but seeing this shop has convinced her otherwise :)

Live Dog

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YAPC::Asia in Tokyo

I gave two talks today in YAPC::Asia in Tokyo. Surprisingly I finished both talks in a lot less time than planned; usually I need to rush at the end to stay on schedule. I really should work out why these talks finished quickly when I spoke more slowly.

One of the talks was 混合語 (“Kongougo”) (yes, the title will look strange if you don’t have a Japanese font installed). When I gave this talk in Europe I spend some time explaining Japanese to the Europeans, and I obviously didn’t need to do that in Japan. So instead I rewrote the slides to use more Japanese. It seemed to work: the audience laughed a lot, which is really the only important thing.

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Bacterial Colitis

I hadn’t been feeling well for the last few days, so I decided that a visit to the doctor would be a good idea. Conveniently there is a clinic just 2 minutes walk from the ryokan, so I called in and registered. I wasn’t sure if my Japanese language ability would be sufficient for the task, but 90% of the conversation was simple enough as it concerned:

Doctors will continue to poke your tummy harder until it hurts. I suspect that they are trying to check both that light pressure doesn’t hurt, and that intense presure does actually produce the correct feeling of pain.
Dark brown poo is good, especially if it floats. Other colours of poo are bad.
The doctor laughed loudly when I mentioned I had eaten an ekiben (a lunchbox sold in trains). This seemed to be the most important factor in my diagnosis.

The final 10% of the conversation contained an explanation of the 3 different drugs that he was prescribing.

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Dear Nara

We went to see Todaiji temple. They (the people who run the temple) claim that it is the largest wooden building in the world, and I believe them. The big buddha inside is not small.

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