Brian is a researcher, technologist, and futurist working in Kyoto, Japan as a programmer, web developer, and software engineer. He has a CS degree from VT in VA plus several years experience and a wide interest in many topics. Oportunities and Interest Always Welcome.
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Thursday, February 24, 2005 permanent link
  I'm BACK! I forgot about my blog. However I shall now resume. I'll start with a recent and rather surprising discovery... at least to me. Few other people in this world will give a damn. Someone is competing against a former employer of mine and offering website application service to used Japanese car exporters. My previous job was developing a site very similar to this for an exporter of second-hand vehicles in Japan. When I developed it for them it was a cutting edge advantage over the other used Japanese vehicle exporters. Now however, the technology of creating these English versions of the online Japanese auctions is widespread. It was just a matter of time before some savvy information technology person decided to make a living providing the service to all the smaller players. If only it had been me...
Wednesday, March 17, 2004 permanent link
  Here are a whole LOT of paper craft links that I am going to utilize some day. Most were culled from Boing Boing (the website I hate to love). Star Wars, Aliens, Miscelaneous lame ones, Victorian Sub, Nasa Toys, Yamaha, Functional Dirkon Camera
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  I LOVE THIS PICTURE. I found it here. The episodes of the Simpsons that it is take from is a great one also.
Friday, January 30, 2004 permanent link
  More hypnotic-ally cool visualization

Ben Fry is doctoral candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory. This guy impresses me and he's doing stuff I would love to have the time or patience for. I particularly like the maps of machine language and his maps of code revisions.

Monday, January 12, 2004 permanent link
  Stop Motion Studies of Japan Subways

Not all of these "hypnotic-ally cool" images are of Japan, but a good many are. I'm not sure if they accomplish what the author wants. Personally I enjoy them for their resolution, clarity, and sense of depth. Kind of like living photos, moving, void of the tyranny of actual motion. I don't know... I just like them. Don't be surprised to find me creating some of my own.

Sunday, January 11, 2004 permanent link
  Anti-Customer Coporations

Miramax is an example of how unbelievably clueless corporation's can be. Hear is an open letter from an Asian film fan sight explaining their errors. Miramax should thank them profusely for the clue and mend their faults. I personally have seen Shaolin Soccer and liked it quite a bit. I watched a pirated copy purchased in Asia however. It just goes to show that Miramax can't stop control the way people watch their movies, they can only loose money by not being the ones to serve their customers.

Friday, January 09, 2004 permanent link
  Bad Bush

I used to only slightly and passively dislike President George W. Bush's administration, but lately I'm starting to actively dislike it. Just one of the reasons is its complete disregard for rights of privacy. Another reason is it's right wing and religios spins on science, discussed in the article "Bush vs. Science: Is the White House Credible?" (synopsis) in the print version of Discover magazine.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004 permanent link
  Ancient Geek

I read about the CURTA in the most recent issue of Scientific American. Its darn cool, but also surprisingly simple.

Monday, January 05, 2004 permanent link
  An obvious solution

There is no reason that outsourcing software has to be the only way to save cost. With all the out-of-work programmers, you can simply save costs by hiring them in the USA for a lower wage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003 permanent link
  Sexual Evolution

I have shortened a fascinating and enlightening article, A Review of Sexual Selection and Human Evolution, by G. F. Miller. This is the core of the information that I found the most compelling.

Darwin (1859, 1871) realized that his theory of natural selection through differential survival could not explain extravagant male traits such as the peacock's tail, because such traits actually decrease survival ability. Rather, he reasoned that in a sexually-reproducing species, any heritable traits that help in competing for sexual mates will tend to spread through the species, even if they compromise survival somewhat. This process of sexual selection may favor, for example, better sensory and motor abilities for finding mates, gifts and ornaments to attract them, weapons and bluffs for repelling same-sex competitors, endurance for lasting through the breeding season, and genitals and gametes that maximize fertilization rates...

R. A. Fisher (1915, 1930) was one of the few biologists to take sexual selection seriously. He viewed mate preferences as legitimate biological traits subject to heritable variation, and this insight led him to postulate a process he called runaway sexual selection.. In runaway, an evolutionary positive-feedback loop gets established between female preferences for certain male traits, and the male traits themselves. Given a nudge in the right direction (e.g. an initial bias in female preferences), Fisher's model could account for the wildly exaggerated male traits seen in many species, such as the peacock's plumage...

Even chance fluctuations in mate preferences, combined with a strange kind of evolutionary positive-feedback loop, could produce quite extreme mate preferences and quite exaggerated courtship traits...

"Females that prefer to mate with long-tailed males will mate with such males more often than females that prefer short-tailed males. Following mating and genetic recombination, the genes for long-tail preference and the genes for the long tail itself will become correlated: an individual carrying a gene for long tails will tend to carry a gene for the corresponding preference."(Kirkpatrick, 1987, pp. 74-75).

But why bother with sexual selection? What's wrong with the traditional story that natural selection just generally favored intelligence, learning, tool-making, and culture? The problem is that the evolution of big brains is so rare, so recent, so capricious, and seemingly so unrelated to the demands of habitat or econiche (Miller, 1993). Brain size in our lineage has tripled over the last two million years, reflecting the evolution of unprecedented mental and behavioral capacities. Over three million years ago, our ancestors were already successful, social, fairly bipedal, tool-making hunter-gatherers on the African savanna — and they had brains only slightly larger than the chimpanzee's. Then, two million years ago, for no apparent reason, brain size started growing exponentially in our lineage but not in other closely-related hominid species who shared the same habitat, such as Paranthropus boisei and robustus. Encephalization then stopped about 100, 000 years ago, again for no apparent reason, long before the Neolithic revolution in technology and art 40, 000 years ago. Extreme encephalization also happened in some species of cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and proboscids (elephants) living in quite different environments, but has not occurred in other primates living in quite similar environments (e.g. baboons, chimpanzees, Paranthropus hominids).

The speed, uniqueness, and capriciousness of this encephalization process has prompted many theorists to accept that human mental evolution must have been driven by some sort of positive-feedback process that is sensitive to initial conditions. There have been two traditional contenders. In the runaway social competition model (Byrne & Whiten, 1988; Humphrey, 1976; Whiten, 1991; also see Miller, in press), hominids got smarter to predict and manipulate each others' behavior, leading to a social-intelligence arms race between mind-reading and deception. In the runaway gene-culture co-evolution model, hominids got smarter to learn and use material culture (e.g. tools and survival techniques), which was itself evolving (Durham, 1991; Lumsden & Wilson, 1982; Wills, 1993). Yet these theories overlook the clearest and best-established case of positive-feedback evolution in nature: runaway sexual selection. The runaway process is a good fit to the human evolution data because it begins and ends unpredictably, without much relation to the external environment, but it is extremely powerful and directional once underway (Miller, 1993; Miller & Todd, 1993).

If the brain evolved through runaway sexual selection, what were the relevant traits and preferences? Two uniquely elaborated aspects of the human brain are its creativity (Boden, 1991, 1994; D. Campbell, 1960; Freyd, 1994) and its neophilia, or love of novelty (Zuckerman, 1984). Perhaps creativity itself became a trait subject to sexual selection by neophilia as a mate preference. More technically, mental capacities for generating `protean' (adaptively unpredictable) courtship displays may have been subject to `neophilic' mate preferences in both sexes (on proteanism see Driver & Humphries, 1988).

The gradual evolution of language was especially important, because it allowed hominids to display complex ideas and images to one another using an increasingly complex, structured, open-ended, combinatorial system (Pinker, 1994). Language gave potential mates a unique window into each other's minds, so allowed much more direct sexual selection on the mind itself. Also, language permits gossip, which can transform mate choice from an individual decision to a social decision that integrates information from family and friends. With language and gossip, courtship displays need not be observed directly; they need only be witnessed by someone who can talk later to potential mates. The feedback loop between sexual selection, language complexity, and mental complexity was probably the mainspring of human mental evolution.

Friday, November 21, 2003 permanent link
  Very cool examle of recursion, the coolest concept computer science ever introduced me to, formally.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 permanent link
  Some very cool art, no doubt inspired by the Road Runner ;-)
Tuesday, November 04, 2003 permanent link
  Here are some some really cool watches from Japan. If you are a lunatic committing amazingly unnecessary and completely senseless acts of generosity... then donate that cash to charity... but if you are just determined to do something utterly random and without reason, then concider getting me the pimp watch :-)
Saturday, October 11, 2003 permanent link
  A letter to the Government of the Unitied States of America

Please, I beg of you, review the following two articles from well-respected magazines and websites regarding the future of technology in the USA and take appropriate action for the sake of Virginia and the USA. I honestly believe that we are facing perhaps the single greatest threat to the economy of the USA in recent history and the root cause it is from within. Outsourcing of technology and white-collar jobs is going to slowly erode our economy. This is very different than the movement of manufacturing jobs overseas in the past. We cannot expect white-collar industry people to re-train for different jobs nearly as easily. First, it takes greater effort, time, and money to retrain for such jobs. Second, the new job that a person may retrain for could also face outsourcing. The most worrisome of the outsourcing is the outsourcing of technology related jobs; particularly the higher end and R&D work. The USA’s main advantage in the economy is our advanced technology, just like Japan, the world’s second largest economy after the USA. Perhaps even more importantly in these times of terrorism and wars abroad is the fact that our main military advantage has also always been our technology. China has much more manpower than the USA and one has to seriously question the stability of the future if China’s communist controlled military catches up with the USA in technology. The USA invented or perfected the car, telephone, radio, television, computer, and Internet. Don’t give the next millennium of innovation to India and China by allowing companies to continue practices that are a disincentive against American’s entering the technology industry. If we continue to shift our technology industry overseas we are not only hurting the middle class of the USA, the bedrock of our democratic society, we are eroding the bedrock of our technological prowess. With each company that decides to begin outsourcing, the need for all others to remain competitive by doing so also increases. The only solution to this problem is regulation from the government to reduce the competitive advantage of outsourcing. The choices are difficult and the issues are complex but we can no longer afford to ignore the issue and choose to do nothing. We do nothing at the peril of letting America lose its place as the number one force in technology and economy.

I quote from these articles:

"One of the founding fathers of the nation's high-technology industry warned in dire terms yesterday that U.S. dominance in key tech sectors is in jeopardy, threatening the country's economic recovery and growth."

"Speaking via satellite to a global technology summit in Washington, Intel co-founder and chairman Andrew S. Grove said that the software and technology service businesses are under siege by countries taking advantage of cheap labor costs and strong incentives for new financial investment."

"Grove said he is torn between his responsibility to shareholders to cut costs and improve profits, and to U.S. workers who helped build the nation's technology industry but who are now being replaced by cheaper labor. Grove did not offer a solution, saying only that the government needs to help decide the proper balance between the two. Otherwise, he said, companies will revert to their obligation to increasing shareholder value."

"Grove chided U.S. policymakers for all but ignoring the problem."

“By the end of 2004, research company Gartner estimates, one in 10 IT jobs at U.S. IT companies and one in 20 at non-IT companies will move offshore”

“As the bulk of technology work moves offshore, the deep, experiential knowledge that comes from coding applications and solving technology problems—the soil of technology innovation—could move offshore with it.”

“Drouin wonders where he will find his next rising stars in IT… "It isn't clear what the new entry-level job in IT will be," he says. "We haven't eliminated all our developer jobs, but a good portion is gone. So where do you look for that superstar who is doing a great job and has a rapport with the customer and understands your business?”

“As more jobs move offshore, the work will move higher on the IT food chain. Indeed, it already has. The CIO survey found that 11 percent of the companies had outsourced system and architecture planning offshore, and 14 percent had outsourced research and development—two categories that analysts and chief information officers have predicted would never leave these shores. "When people say there is IT work that can't be done offshore, I disagree; it just takes longer to move the more complex work offshore.”

“Other high-skilled fields are also under pressure from international competition—accounting, engineering and architecture are already feeling the same kind of pressure as IT. As competition for skilled service jobs in the United States increases and low-cost options increase offshore, white-collar wages could begin to drop across the board.“

“He says Indian contractors consistently abuse the requirement that they first look for a suitable American to fill the job before bringing in an Indian on a visa.”

“I don't want to wake up one day and find that American IT has disappeared.”

Thursday, October 09, 2003 permanent link
  A link of some videos about Japan and North Korea. I would not say the vidoes are fair indicators of life in Japan, they dwell on the odd and the "fun", but they are mildly entertaining. Some more reserved videos of Japan can be found here.
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  Coppied from Slashdot:

"A couple of weeks ago BMG released an audio CD with a new type of DRM. Earlier this week, a computer science graduate student at Princeton wrote a report showing the DRM was ineffective - it could easily be defeated by use of the 'shift' key. The stock of the DRM company (SunnComm) has since fallen by 20%. Now, SunnComm plans to sue the student under the DMCA and claim that SunnComm's reputation has been falsely damaged. According to SunnComm's CEO, 'No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property.'"

Can I saw OMFG!!!! This is absolute BULLSHIT. I can not believe thost stupid fuckers would possibly try to pass off such amazingly week technology! Just how stupid do they think people are? I was dumbfounded to hear that they even tried that. But I am apalled and physically angry that they are going to try and use the DMCA. I don't nomally swear on this page so you can understand how angry this makes me. It just goes to show that the DMCA as a horrible piece of legistlation. Chant it with me, "Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA! Down with the DMCA!..."
Tuesday, October 07, 2003 permanent link
  More freaky Japanese fetish gadgets. File it under, WTF. This is taking technology too far. Tech can attempt to replace or augment a partner, but some things a person can just do better himself! Trust me. Perhaps it could be use for a paralyzed person, but it doesn't seem at all erotic, IMHO. Warning, link is sexual, but no real nudity.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 permanent link
  Admire Japan's Technology

My friend messaged me saying, to the best of my recollection, "Hey Panasonic just released a new cell phone. Check this out, it is amazing technolgy", and then sent me this link. He is right, Japan does have some interesting products.

Sunday, September 14, 2003 permanent link

A new way of looking at grandma's old vacuum cleaner.

The past was so much more futuristic!

Saturday, September 13, 2003 permanent link
  My thoughts in progress

Campaign finance: we must decouple businesses from the government.
Finance: the stock market places too much emphasis on short term gains over stable growth. (prevent the movement of shares to keep riding crests).
Media: Free speach is costly. Media is how businesses control the minds of the people and thus the govement. We must keep diversity. Diversity of opinion is competition of the better idea and viewpoint, valuable in same way that capitalisim is supposet to be. Media must educate, to valuable to be given entirely over to profit.

The political process in america encourages short term gains with long term consequences.

Darwinism is competition of biological organisms for survival.
Democracy should be Darwinism of political ideas competing for morality.
Capitalism should be Darwinism of technolgy and skill competing for material gain.
In nature biology evolves jointly with other biology, must strike a balance or perish.
Capitalism is overtaking Democracy.

The benefit of capitalism is that competition pushes people to make improvements in technology, science, and education, processes, quality, safety. Gains made through any other improvement are not enherently good. Like playing a sport, we must regulate with rules. Otherwise it becomes an arms race that is ultimately destructive with each player doing whatever it can just to stay alive for the moment without regards for the future.

Outsourcing of IT and service industry jobs can be viewed as polution, damaging the environment. If we didn't regulate the car manufacturers, they would never have added polution control to the cars. We still need greater protection against polution and real economic damage.

Outsourcing is poluting the economic environment of the USA. When there were layoffs in the manufacturing sector years ago, everyone re-trained for the service sector. Now the service sector is going overseas? What jobs will be left for US workers? With regulation against it we allow competition without destruction. It is defeatist to simply say it is impossible to stop and it sipmly isn't true. In the very least we can at least stem the tide.

American CIOs and CTOs are under pressure from shareholders/Wall Street/Nasdaq to ALWAYS cut costs and increase profits. If it wasn't for this pressure they would be more mindful of the future. Who are the shareholders of the big US companies that outsource work to India? Mostly Americans. So if you want outsourcing to stop, target the real "culprits", the shareholder who wants higher profits all the time.

We have become focussed purely on monetary gain and distraction instead of on growth and improvement and evolution. The single most powerful way for people to make a difference is to buy stocks and then use their voting power to hirer responsible presidents and to back responsible initiatives.

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