:: Weblog ::

Daily Grind

:: 17 February 2015 ::

It's been almost 4 years since I moved to Tokyo. Not a day goes by where I don't miss coding and creating digital products, but the days of translating aren't so bad either.

It's not hard to understand why i've stayed so long, but it's also not hard to imagine myself moving on. I got my first passport a few months after my 20th birthday, and its 10 year validity period made it a perfect and terse diary for my 20s. My current passport, which I got a few months before turning 30, just doesn't reflect the same wanderlust and curiosity I see from my 20s. It's hard to tell if it's because I stopped traveling, or if i've found something better. I suppose only time will tell. In the meantime, I need to figure out a way to assuage my fiending for computer programming without actually spending all that time programming. Further bulletins as events warrant, as Calvin would say.


:: 6 June 2013 ::
It's the rainy season in Japan right now, even though it's not raining any more than it does any other time of the year, but the rainy season means that it's about to be insanely hot and muggy. Japanese summer is brutal. Hopefully I'll have a chance to get to the beach, or maybe take a short vacation to a tropical locale to make the summer a little more bearable.

Returning Home

:: 4 February 2013 ::
I just bought my plane ticket, so i'll be back in Michigan for 2 weeks in mid-March. It's my first time home in 2 years. There's been a lot of good stuff going on in Tokyo, but every once in a while you wnat to eat a home-cooked meal.


:: 28 January 2013 ::
I recently returned from a 2 week vacation in Thailand with a few buddies that flew over from Chicago. I can't recommend Thailand enough. It has been quite a while since I saw blue water and sandstone islands. It's good to be back in Tokyo though, although after a breakup with my girlfriend I spend my time playing basketball and studying chemistry for some reason. I can't think of a single reason I need to know chemistry for work, but it's certainly interesting nonetheless. If I weren't so lazy, I would spend some time studying Japanese, but i'll save that for another day.

I'm heading back to the states in March for the first time in 2 years, which reminds me, I should really buy that ticket.

Year 2

:: 22 October 2012 ::
I've made it to the second year since my move to Japan. Actually, it's closer to a year and a half at this point. I've finally gotten settled in, as far as i'm concerned. I have an apartment that I like after moving out of my previous setup. I have several bottles of scotch, a little wine fridge, and barely enough space to fit a bed, computer, and a body, but i'm happy with it.
Next I need to stop eating so well and save up some money. I have no plans for travel for the next 6 months other than a few weekend excursions around Japan, yet just being abroad seems to satisfy my need to be uncomfortably away from home. Lately the only things that keep me motivated each day are food, basketball, and books. I can't even remember the last time I had the luxury of being able to sit down and read a book for a few hours in a row. The excitement of working for an established company over a startup may leave something to be desired, but the vast amounts of free time are great for the soul. I've been playing basketball a few times a week and have made some great friends, and I still have time to cook for myself and otherwise bathe in the warmth of free-time.
Everything is good here, folks. Feel free to come visit. I'm looking for a good reason to take days off from work.


:: 17 August 2012 ::
I was eating an ice cream sandwich today and looking out the window at the office overlooking downtown Tokyo and I smiled as The Sea and Cake came over my headphones. I've been listening to this same song for practically a decade now, and it reminds me that I really haven't changed that much in 10 years. I certainly haven't matured. In any case, i'm glad my musical tastes stopped developing while I was in a soft rock and opera music phase.
It's certainly not every helpful in the land of j-pop where I live, however.


:: 27 July 2012 ::
The latest challenge on my plate right now is trying to find a new apartment. I found a place I thought was perfect and when I tried to move in the landlord turned me down because i'm a foreigner.

Japan is god damn racist.

I say that half jokingly, but really, it is. I just want a place to live, and and the (Japanese) man is keeping me down.

Time to drink an Asahi and think about how far I haven't come in my 31 years on earth.

Back to Tokyo

:: 12 July 2012 ::
My trip to Bali was fantastic. A week drinking fruity alcoholic beverages, riding sailboats, and snorkeling with neon colored oceanic wildlife has never been bad for the spirit.
I'm back in Tokyo now, considering moving apartments and trying to deal with the daily heat. I'm hoping to move from Sasazuka to Koenji, but I haven't quite found a place to rent. Ideally I want something new and cheap, but in Japan that means it will be absolutely tiny.
Further updates as events warrant.

Disaster in Hong Kong

:: 1 July 2012 ::
I'm currently sitting next to the loudest Chinese people in the history of the world. It's almost unbelievable, but I guess i'm just not used to Chinese culture. Did I mention that i've been at the airport since 4am and it's 6pm? Yeah, it's miserable. My flight has been delayed about a hundred times.

Leave it to airports to ruin the first day of my vacation.

My flight from Hong Kong to Bali was delayed, and we were already on a ridiculously long layover which means that i've been at the Hong Kong airport for almost 24 hours straight now, except for a few hours where we left the airport and went into Kowloon in the middle of the night.

We're supposed to be compensated for our wait (of 7 hours) but I think it's some paltry gift card to some shit-box Chinese business that i'll very likely never be able to use.

I'm adding Hong Kong air to my list (which currently only contains american airlines) of airlines that I will never, ever, use again.

Layover in Hong Kong

:: 25 June 2012 ::
Due to some curious planning choices, I have a 15 hour layover in Hong Kong this Friday when I fly to Bali, Indonesia. Normally this would piss me off to no end, but I haven't been on a plane in so long i'm actually looking forward to loafing around Hong Kong for half a day and then shuffling back to the airport to move on to Indonesia.

If anybody knows of anything interesting relatively close to the Hong Kong airport, please shoot me an email post haste.

Tokyo Immigration Bureau

:: 29 May 2012 ::
I'm planning a trip to Bali in about a month, which means I have to make the dreaded trip to the Tokyo Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa to get a re-entry permit so that I don't lose my visa. For those who aren't aware, the Immigration Bureau is a place the government made in as invonvenient a location as possible to make foreigners hate Japan.
Shinagawa station is busy and big, the bus is busy and slow, the building is busy and devoid of any character, and it's an overall miserable experience, no doubt intended to discourage foreigners from staying in Tokyo for any extended periods of time.
In 2012, one should really be able to buy a re-entry permit from a vending machine with little more than a suica card and a smile. Instead I'll have to go get my semi-regular taste of the bizarre bureaucracy enshrined in this building.
Assuming I make it out alive, more updates shall follow as events warrant.

On a positive note, i'm going to be in Indonesia for the first time after a short stop in Hong Kong, staying in a 2-story suite at the Melia Bali for a week, throwing back umbrella decorated libations and trying to keep the salt water out of my mouth after a life of Lake Michigan fresh water swimming. Things are looking up!


:: 21 May 2012 ::
There was a pretty amazing eclipse today. I had a chance to check it out while at the office, which meant I had a view from the Gran Tokyo South Tower through some special glasses somebody in the chemistry department brought.
Supposedly there won't be another event like this for several hundred years, but it definitely made me understand why less civilised cultures of yesteryear might have thought that (g)(G)od(s) was(were) sending them messages.
More updates as events warrant.

One year, gone

:: 11 May 2012 ::
Now that Golden Week is over in Japan, I've been in Tokyo for one full year, and have almost finished a year at my job. Translation is going well, although I regret living so far away from work since wasting two hours a day on trains is an insufferable pain in the ass.
I can't say i've been keeping up with computers, but it's been a good year.

I'm on a Bullet train..

:: 10 January, 2012 ::
In what is surely one of the most technologically awesome things i've done in quite a while, i'm currently writing this from my macbook air, tethered to my jailbroken iphone 4, while zipping along the Japanese coast at a ridiculous speed on the Shinkansen (bullet train).
I spent the 3 day weekend in Nagoya hanging out with some old expo friends. There was a ridiculous amount of food consumed in a very short period of time. Some things just never change about Fujigaoka, no matter how many years pass. I can always call up my japanese friends that I haven't seen in years and enjoy a drink.
I'm starting to really appreciate the fact that these days I value my days by who I spend them with, and not much else.
Further updates as events warrant.

New Computers

:: 4 December, 2011 ::
This holiday season has inspired me to save money. Part of my money saving investment was a new computer with kind of ridiculous specs. Being my first computer to ever have double digits of RAM available (and more than 20, for that matter) i'm constantly amazed that "there's so much space for activities."

This saves me money because i've been glued to my desk for the last 2 days. The macbook air is a great machine, but sometimes I just want to be able to play video games and waste a weekend.

Coincidentally, first things first, I installed linux and a full development toolchain. Old habits die hard.

Life in Sasazuka

:: 8 October, 2011 ::
After living in Sasazuka for the last few months, i'm finally starting to get accustomed to Tokyo.
It's been a random mix of enjoyable experiences. There's been a great mix of new and old, including meeting up with Hideaki Omuro for the first time since Defcon in Las Vegas back in 2002.
Getting old is a strange thing.
All in all, the strong yen has been great for sending money back home, and the ability to walk down to Shimokitazawa in 5 minutes and hang out at a random coffee shop or cafe is a god-send.
Further updates in .. another 6 months.

I moved to Tokyo

:: 19 April, 2011 ::
I've finally arrived in Tokyo. Burger King sells a "meat monster" here. If immigration would do my paperwork, I would feel a lot better about the world. However, there is ample supply of sake to lubricate my wait.

Smashing stacks

:: 14 January, 2011 ::
It amazes me that you can search for jmp esp and get lists upon lists of address locations of 0xff4e in windows that will always be in the same location. It's nice to know that you can exploit a commercial product with little more than duckduckgo and a shit-load of time.

Note to self, ./msfencode -l.

Shit hanging on Fedora 14, EC2

:: 13 December, 2010 ::
I ran into a problem installing mysql on Fedora 14 on EC2 at work. It turned out to be a problem with Xen manifesting itself on certain i386 machines at Amazon. It was quite tricky to track down, but the comments on the bugzilla post is an extremely easy tutorial for anybody trying to track down exactly why a program is crashing or hanging.
Check it out.

Install Go with homebrew

:: 13 September, 2010 ::
Go is a systems oriented programming language developed by Google with help from Ken Thompson of UNIX fame. If you want to install it on OS X with Homebrew as your package manager you may need to follow these steps:
brew update
brew install pip && pip install mercurial
export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/Cellar/python/2.7/bin
brew install go
cat >> .bash_profile
  export GOROOT=`brew --cellar`/go/HEAD
  export GOBIN=/usr/local/bin
  export GOARCH=amd64
  export GOOS=darwin
I suppose it's the dev nature of both of these tools that makes the install such a pain in the ass, but i'm sure it will be streamlined soon.

Git branch database dump hook

:: 13 August, 2010 ::
This post-check hook gist I wrote is a solution to an annoying problem. If you're using branches in git and change a DB schema, your development database will have changes from one branch even after you git checkout a new branch. I wrote this hook to dump your database after you switch branches and load up a database appropriate to your git branch to keep them in sync. It's off by default, but if you `export PCD_ENABLE=1` in your bash session, your git checkouts will start dumping the database as well.

Just save this code as .git/hooks/post-check and chmod +x it.

MySQL note to self
:: 26 July, 2010 ::
Note to self, if mysql is broken after installing brew, it's probably because brew requires the huge cludge of changing permissions on /usr/local/. Fix with `cd /usr/local && sudo chown -R mysql:_mysql mysql mysql-5.1.40-osx10.5-x86_64/`

Android Phone
:: 12 July, 2010 ::
I finally got a real phone. I bit the bullet and bought an HTC Incredible. It's quite amazing, really. I can read and write in Japanese and it's pushed me directly into the modern era of tweeting and facebook with its many apps. I haven't found a very good tethering solution yet, and the email client chocked on my self signed SSL certs on my POP3 server, but other than that I don't have many complaints.

Here's a question though, between using the wifi and using the dataplan from my phone company, which takes less battery power? The speed is really irrelevant considering I'm just checking email, updating widgets and pulling down the weather and what-not.

:: 01 June, 2010 ::
I just went to Japan for a friend's wedding, but his fiance backed out at the last moment. We decided instead to celebrate his renewed bachelorhood with 10 days of heavy drinking and copius amounts of sushi.
Among the festivities, we threw a big graffiti t-shirt party, white shirts and markers, and the next day I hopped on the bullet train and headed to Tokyo in hopes of making my flight out of Narita back to the states. I arrived at Narita 50 minutes before my flight, and with the aid of some airline workers I skipped the check-in and security lines finding myself moments later 37,000 feet in the air.

Computers are great, but boy do I love trips abroad. Miraculously, i've made it out of the country once every year for 10 years in a row now. One of these days i'll have to update my travel maps.

:: 29 April, 2010 ::
I cleaned out a vim configuration that i've been using for years and started from scratch. It has none of my unit testing code, and it's basically just basic syntaxes with ruby on rails extensions to make things like 'gf' and '%' work. If you're interested, I uploaded it to
Github but let's be honest, if you're a vimmer, you probably set up your own.

This may be my last post for a while. I'm heading to Japan in a few days, and apparently blogger is shutting down FTP support on May 1, which is going to make updating my weblog more than it's worth... c'est la vie!

Blogger FTP
:: 11 March, 2010 ::
I've been using blogger for 10 years, almost exactly, to update this weblog and now the FTP functionality is being taken away! It's a shame.

:: ::
Well, puppet caused me some headaches at work. Updating from puppet-0.24.8-4.el5.noarch.rpm causes many a thing to break. Now i'm stuck with puppet-0.25.4-1.el5 and that's just rubbish.

:: 09 March, 2010 ::
It's finally decent weather here in Connecticut, thank (g)(G)od(s).
Maybe this will motivate me to abandon my sedentary lifestyle and go outside once in a while.

Back to Assembly
:: 10 February, 2010 ::
I've decided, during my lunch break, to go back to the basics and teach myself more x86 assembly particularly for linux. I started out coding z80 assembly and it's just not right to have the most exciting programming you've ever done happen 10 years ago.
Interestingly, this all happened because I was trying to smash the stack in a vm and couldn't even understand the shellcode I was using. That's completely unacceptable, so i've decided to take the next logical step--fanaticism. Programming something really hard for fun is one of those pleasures very few people ever understand, or have the luxury to experience.

:: 29 January, 2010 ::
This might be the most interesting video i've ever seen online--assuming you're intrigued by buffer overflows and writing exploits.

:: 19 January, 2010 ::
I'm thinking that I might really like the ruby community, as well as github. I normally only code embedded systems so I like c and assembly; I've avoided the ruby world for ages because I don't enjoy high level coding. I think I might have gotten over that.

I've decided to write a z80 assembler in c for fun, and i've posted the code. You can grab it with git.

I haven't started any ruby projects yet, but I have enjoyed Why?'s poignant Guide To Ruby -- The ruby world really is a very interesting community.

:: 08 January, 2010 ::
I love my job. I get to do things most sys admins don't, and i'm never bored. Somehow, however, I got stuck with the project of dumping out data from ActiveDirectory servers on windows and sending it to our webservers. This is fine, except for the fact that to create a windows MSI file, one must use Wix. This is such a needlessly complicated and ambiguous program that it's extremely difficult to deal with as a linux/os x user. There are several fields and parameters that are either unnecessary, or completely ignored. It's painful, I tell you, painful.

I miss the good ol' days of
./configure && make && make test && make install

:: 30 November, 2009 ::
I'm not much of a coder these days, but I thought I would sign up for an account over at Github anyway. Good times.

:: 18 September, 2009 ::
My latest headache is trying to get Nagios to automatically create hosts and services via information from puppetd. Interestingly enough, it would be working fine if the version of nagios I have installed didn't want to instantly swap out pages as soon as I start the service. Even so, at least I don't have to make all the entries by hand.

Japan and Korea
:: 22 July, 2009 ::
I'm not sure how many of you speak Japanese, but I was watching this "news" clip and was appalled at the ridiculous racist jokes. The title basically says "collection of jokes from around the world about Chinese people" and the content is as bad as you would guess.
It's almost as bad as the racism in Korea, which is basically Japan 20 years ago in almost every way.
I'm so glad to be back in the States. You never know what you have until you go without.

Eiko and Pitchfork
:: 20 July, 2009 ::
Eiko came to visit from Japan for a few days over the 4th of July weekend which turned into a quite enjoyable change. We went back and forth between Grand Rapids and Chicago a few times, visited the beach and walked around.
This past weekend I went to the Pitchfork Music Festival which was absolutely amazing. I can completely understand why people in the midwest tend to gravitate to Chicago and all the trappings of the big city.
I shouldn't have much more going on for a while, so i'm going to kick back read some good books and refresh the soul.

:: 14 May, 2009 ::
Thanks to a bit of a friendly push from my friend Jon i'm going to be going to Nicaragua for a week or so at the end of the month. It's been almost a half a year since I got back from Korea so i'm looking forward to having a GOOD foreign trip experience to make up for that year in the armpit of asia. Corn Islands, here I come.

Ruby on Rails
:: 06 April, 2009 ::
I'm not the biggest fan of ruby and i'm not sure why. I guess in reality my assembly programmer history makes me automatically reluctant to try out any extremely high level programming language. It just doesn't interest me as much as something like c.

Anyway, i'm finally jumping on the bandwagon and with my Asus EEE PC 1000HA in hand, i'm delving into the world of Ruby on Rails. Puppet and iClassify, you were just too much for me to pass up on.

My passat sucks
:: 18 February, 2009 ::
Today I made the huge mistake of purchasing a 2001½ Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 4motion, which is in theory a very tasty car, but in practice a piece of complete shit. It has amazing features like heated windshield wipers that sense water drops on the windshield and turn themselves on, to heated leather seats that warm your rump like you've sat on a fire ant colony.

This is all fine and dandy, except for the fact that this is apparently the most unreliable car on earth. I'm seriously hoping that my first round of repairs on this car will be the last for a while.. I can't afford to throw my money down the drain.

More photos
:: 18 January, 2009 ::
Nostalgia is kicking in, and i've uploaded more photos using Google's free Picasa software. I've got a few albums, so feel free to take a peek.

:: 17 December, 2008 ::
I woke up this morning from a bit of left over jet lag, and I installed Syllable OS in Parallels. Pretty neat screenshot. I've also tried out Menuet which is an OS written entirely in x86 assembly. That looks like this on the surface, but it's what's underneath that makes it so amazing.

:: ::
After my marathon flying session a week ago, Philippines to Hong Kong to Seoul To Daegu to Seoul to Tokyo to Detroit to Grand Rapids Michigan, i'm heading back to the airport again tomorrow. This time it's work related, as i've gotten a new gig at Continuity Engine doing various linux related madness. I'm flying out to Connecticut to work a bit, have a work holiday party, and look for an apartment. Yes, wrive.com will be relocating to the east coast in the next couple of months. I'm extremely excited, regardless of the fact that I've got cold weather and outrageously high costs of living to look forward to. More updates as events warrant.

Travel stuff
:: 10 December, 2008 ::
I've had a couple days to just relax and get over my jet lag, so i've thrown together some photos and maps. Enjoy!

Oh dear
:: 24 April, 2008 ::
I've been lurking, waiting in the surreal polluted fumes of my Daegu studio apartment tempting fate by convalescing with chicken based dishes and soju. Two new teachers have finally arrived to fill the capacious void left by Cyndi's abrupt departure to Busan, so my hours have finally been reduced from the third-world horror I was enduring for months earlier.
I actually considered accepting a job offer to teach English in Japan for far less money, but I eventually declined and am now considering Seoul for the remainder of my stint in Korea.
I've found Korea quite interesting both for reasons of leisure and maternal curiosity, but I definitely need to find a new school. Andover has been less than enjoyable, and tomorrow marks my 6 month anniversary of arriving. It also marks the date in which I can quit my job without having to reimburse my plane ticket.
In any case, i've spent the last few nights updating my kubuntu packages in Parallels and adding arbitrary code to my z80 assembler from a terminal to give myself some semblance of a connection to the computer world.
My shoulders hurt from walking down the street and being inevitably bumped by Koreans who apparently never learned how to walk, and my soul hurts from intellectual stagnancy. Somebody needs to come correct with a egregiously glamorous job offer, or I might just end up grabbing an F-4 visa and spending the rest of my days living on the streets of Seoul, unemployed.

:: 19 January, 2008 ::
All this talk of basketball started the ball rolling (I kill me) on a weekly basketball session in Camp Walker, the US Army base in Daegu. It's an indoor gym, it's free, and damn it feels good to play basketball again after all these years.
The scariest part is that with my sedentary lifestyle, and excessive drinking I can still manage to play pretty well. I'm a freak of nature.

:: 30 November, 2007 ::
Watching basketball in Korea is a curious event. Player's names, and the vast majority of moves and adjectives are still in English, but all that pesky grammar; Korean.

I'm here
:: 28 October, 2007 ::
I write this update from an uncomfortable chair in an overheated internet cafe in South Korea. I made it to Daegu, my new place of employment for the next year, but I don't have the internet in my room so i have to come to an internet cafe every time I want to write something. Anyway, tomorrow is my first day of training, so we'll see how it goes!

:: 24 October, 2007 ::
Well, i've made a triumphant return to Michigan after a great month in Brazil. I posted some of the rated PG photos in my photos directory. All in all, it was a fantastic trip. It sure wasn't as cheap as I thought it would be, but you only live once right?

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for South Korea, I should be updating my Korea blog regularly. For some reason I thought I should make a separate blog for Korea. In any case, wish me luck. Preferably "luck" in the form of cash-money.

:: 01 October, 2007 ::
Well, i've finally arrived in Brazil. It's an incomprehensibly pleasant day, roughly 70 degrees and sunny. I've effectively taken over my friend Suzana's couch, dumping my backpack in the corner and staking out portion of the table for my macbook pro. At a point, I was even compelled to write something; perhaps a novel, short story or just a memoir. I finally settled on a blog entry since I clearly lack the resolve to follow through with anything of real substance at this point.

After 13 hours on a Continental Airlines 767 it's comforting to look out the 5th story window here at the gritty skyline of South America's largest city. I'm currently in Vila Madalena, what appears to be the Paulistas' version of an affluent hipster neighborhood. My first Brazilian meal cost me a small fortune, but the quality was a pleasant departure from my diet of the last 10 months.

All in all, i'm looking forward to spending the next 3 and a half weeks here and hope it proves a good spiritual recharger before I start my new work in Korea. I love the smell of plans coming to fruition in the morning.

:: 23 September, 2007 ::
This time i've returned from a brief sojourn to Chicago, specifically the Korean consulate general of Chicago. I received my Korean visa and am now finished with my preparations for my upcoming trips. Delightful.

:: 08 September, 2007 ::
I just returned from a brief sojourn to Toronto Canada. Delightful.

Korea Blog
:: 01 September, 2007 ::
I've created a blog specifically for Korea which you can peruse at your leisure. I'm hoping to document my trip in a specialized forum to keep my wrive.com site slightly more general. In any case, wish me luck! There's a good chance my visas won't come back in time and i'll be stuck in Grand Rapids!

:: 27 August, 2007 ::
I've been trying to determine a course of action with some semblance of efficacy regarding computer use in South Korea. I'm planning on selling my G5 iMac for a fist full of bills which combined with my profits from passing on my PS2 should assist me in purchasing a beautiful new Macbook Pro. Toss in my new Canon SD800 IS and I'm a veritable mobile media machine. I imagine with this sort of absurdly expensive mobile technology, this trip to Korea could quite possibly be the most thoroughly documented 12 months of my life.

This is of course assuming that my recruiter, bless her little Korean heart, can find me a job. I've been reluctant to switch to a new recruiter because of how nice she seems, but if I can't find a job all of my new computer hardware will go to waste; That's simply unacceptable. Technology wants to be used, wants to explore.

Delta sucks
:: 05 June, 2007 ::
Delta airlines is quite possibly the crappiest airline on earth. If it ever pops up in an online flight search, I highly recommend spending the extra $2-3 to utilize a real airline company.

I just got back from North Carolina, 2 hours away by plane, and it took roughly 20 hours to do so. My first flight was delayed, presumably because of Delta's ineptitude for their craft, by an hour and a half so I missed my connection flight. As my connection flight did not leave until the next morning, they told me "you're shit out of luck" and shipped me off to a hotel where I had to pay my own fee. Mind you, this is because Delta apparently feels that it's okay to abandon their passengers at random places during your trip.

When I got home I tried to send in a complaint email, and the contact page on their website doesn't even work.

DO NOT USE DELTA. Don't even think about it, unless you're a glutton for poor service and even worse customer care.