Tuesday, December 21, 2004
I was shocked to discover today that a well repsected and admired member of the music community, Dimebag Darrell, was killed recently during a performance with his band Damageplan.
I met Dimebag at a music Expo in Darling Harbour, Syndey during my guitaring days and despite his intensity found him quite approachable. On the first day of the show he was promoting some guitars he had helped produce and causing so much raucous that he could easily be heard from the other side of the large auditorium. Phil, Matt and I returned on the second day, guitars in hand, and took a classic photo with Dimebag, flanking him on either side with our freshly autographed guitars, and struck classic heavy metal poses, while Dimebag grabbed the nearest axe and shoved the trademark Dimebag V of it's head under his beard.
I would like to remember him for the life and energy he shared with us all through his music and his own interesting life, and I give my deepest condolences to his friends and family, and to the friends and family of the other victims of the night's tragedy.
May I also take this opportunity to raise the issue of gun control in America - how many more lives must we suffer the loss of?
Rest in peace.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
The largest christmas tree in Japan, at Universal Studios Japan
I was recently asked by the Principle of Tyler's Pre-school to act as this year's Santa Claus, and of course I gladly volunteered. Arrangements were made for me to meet with him this morning after dropping Tyler off to discuss the day's schedule, and so after getting Tyler settled we got together and I discovered that he speaks quite good English.
I followed his car in mine to his Kindergarten, which in Japan is comprised of childen aged 3-5, or by this stage of the year many are in the range of 4-6 years old. We went inside and entered the warmth of the staff room, where I met their part time English teacher, Hellen. The Principal then took me upstairs to a large hall, where some of the children's mothers were working as volunteer Santa's helpers by packing christmas gifts into bags which were then placed into large white sacks for distribution by yours truly.
Archway in a temple's grounds.
At this stage I was introduced to the Kindergarten's principle, who supplied us with schedules for the day, and we sat down on the steps leading up to the hall's stage to go over them. (yes, I know this is all very dull I did this, and I did that kinda thing, but it's leading up to something...). They day's events had been planned out to an accuracy of 5 minutes in true Japanese efficiency, and included were diagrams outlining Santa's entrance to the stage, which was to be executed by no less than a professional magician!
We took to the stage and walked through Santa's magic entrance before returning to the Principle's office to try on the Santa costume which they were providing, complete with new rubber wellies bought to spec (27.5cm). After the successful fitting we reclined in his leather sofas to watch a short video demonstrating the magician himself performing the magic entrance, follwed by some Japanese green tea and a few minutes light conversation.
The Principle putting his cup down was the sign that the proceedings had drawn to an end, and so I followed suit and then went to stand up. While I was still in a half-squat he stopped and said:
"Oh... your zipper is open."
I looked down and observed that this was very true. For a brief moment I took the time to wonder when exactly it had come undone?
Was it while trying on the Santa costume? No, I just pulled it on over my jeans...
While we were sitting on the steps in the hall or practicing the magic entrance? Not likely...
Was it open while I introduced myself to Hellen? um...
Maybe Tyler's teachers had failed to notice it when I had dropped him off all of an hour or so ago...
Most likely, after waking, grabbing the closest bundle of clothes to the bed and making the brave dash across the fozen floor to the heater, I had in fact in my haste to don a warm woollen jumper simply pulled on my jeans and in my haste forgotten to... um, oh dear.
Well, I've never been known to show an aversion to public expositionism - I said "Oh, excuse me!", turned around and then showed them a little magic of my own... tada! Zipper up! After some brief, awkard chuckling we left the moment behind us.
Monday, December 06, 2004
The intrepid explorers arrange themselves around their impressive display of outdoor BBQ equipment, complete with table and chair. Impressive because we carried it into the middle of the river and set up amongst the huge bolders laying strewn around like so many toast crumbs.
The BBQ is immediately put to use with a plethora of gourmet food stuffs.
A Japanese BBQ is much like any other, with the exception perhaps of containing more green-matter and vegetables and a multitude of various thinly sliced meats in place the usual plate-sized steaks and bulging sausages seen slowly carbonising on Aussy BBQ's.
Nana and Beet converse on the topic of confucian vs. western educational systems before a sample backdrop of the multi-coloured leaves of autumn which covered the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The Japanese language has a single word to describe the beautiful phenomenon, but if there's an equivalent in English it either never entered my vocabulary or the brain cell containing it perished from one of the many cold bottles of Bass ale enjoyed throughout the day.
Ashton was there to make his own photographic record of the day's events. This image was captured before he misteriously took a plunge beneath the chilly waters and had to return home for a change of clothes, but his trusty camera survived unscathed.
Satomi and Meiki discover the secret of successfull child care - bribe them with snacks. Meiki is allways worried that Tyler doesn't like him, but just look at that happy face! I'm sure he loves you man.
As testament to the abilities of our new camera, I managed to snap this shot of Tyler and Misaki playing with a dog while perched atop a boulder from the other side of the river using a good 300mm or so of zoom. It's a bit blurry, but not too bad for a hand-held job.
Masko and Misaki bask in the warmth of Satomi and Meiki's appartement after having invited ourselves over to continue the festivities. Thanks for having us over guys, and sorry for getting a bit roundy and disturbing your landlord...
Ashton, Tyer and Satomi quickly remind themselves of the comforts of home as they sit in appreciation of the cartoon channel. You'd think Tyler would be the most excited at this stage, but I'm not so sure....
Meiki broke out a bottle of his Chinese wicked strength sake equivalent, called moutaijiu (as best I can recall), which at 53% is more like vodka than rice wine. This jubilant picture is an accurate representation of the general mood after a happy day's eating, drinking, and merriment.
Cheers guys, thanks for a great day!
Sunday, November 21, 2004
(Click on the images to enlarge them in another window)
Upon arriving we discovered that the temple was absolutely beautiful. As per tradition, we first washed our hands with water supplied by several handy aquatic dragons.
Misaki and Tyler radiating cleanliness from behind the washing area.
Of course, Tyler found it necessary to stick his arm into the sacred waters, suit and all, but shortly after a priest, resplendant in his ceremonial robes, emerged from the temple for the commencement of his holy lunch break.
We arranged ourselves in front of the temple's entrance for another group shot before heading inside for a little hichigosan ceremony.
It was consise, but impressive - the priest and his attendants were dressed in full traditional kimonos and there was serene music playing which seemed to eminate from the temple itself.
The temple grounds had the ability to transport your imagination back to ancient Japan with it's beautiful gardens and ideal location on top of a hill. Outside the main temple were several smaller shrines like this one.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Spam and eggs, spam bacon spam and beans, spam spam eggs spam sausages spam spam...
SPAM is a problem which plagues the internet and is a constant source of daily frustration for many people. When we think of spam, we usually think of unsolicited email recieved by our email clients, which do have an increasing ability to filter it out of our inbox, but what would you do if you started recieving just as many emails to your handheld or mobile device, or even worse, to your mobile phone?
Mobile phones too
It is mobile phones which are the very victims of a plague of email spam here in Japan. It's mostly being sent by dubious advertisers of porn sites and the occasional money scam like insurance sales . I just upgraded my mobile phone, which I recieved for free on the conditional that I accept a completely new phone number and email address, so this time I chose a nice sensible address based on my name. Stupid! I recieve typically 5-10 junk emails a day to my phone. Or at least I used to...
I got fed up with it and decided to fight back. This is how:
I started keeping a record of all the emails I recieved, making note of the date, time, and the URL contained within the message. The email address of the sender is irrelevant, as it can easily be faked, but the URL gives us what we need to track the senders down. There's a wealth of information available on how to track the source of an email using it's header information, but unfortunately mobile phones don't store the headers for obvious memory space reasons.
Tools of the trade
From the URL it is possible to contact the company hosting the offending website, as well as the company used to register the site's domain name. There are some simple tools available to users of UNIX variants to achieve this, and becuase I'm a linux user myself I'd recommend downloading a MEPIS live cd if you're a windoze user for quick, easy access to these tools. MEPIS is a complete Linux operating system, with a beautiful user interface, which is downloaded as an ISO image, burned to a CD, and used to boot straight to Linux from the CD with automatic hardware detection without affecting the operating system you chose to afflict your hard disk with. Get MEPIS and then we can make war against the spam senders.
The machine that goes "ping"...
From the URL of the link to the website in question we need to optain the IP address of the computer hosting it in the search for the site's webhost. To the front line we send the ping command. Ping will send a packet of data to the url, time how long it takes to come back, and display the result with the computer's IP address.
:~$ ping www.love-shot.info
PING www.love-shot.info (220.127.116.11) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 18.104.22.168: icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=17.0 ms
64 bytes from 22.214.171.124: icmp_seq=2 ttl=51 time=17.3 ms
64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=3 ttl=51 time=17.0 ms
--- www.love-shot.info ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2002ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 17.013/17.126/17.336/0.211 ms
Gotcha! Hello 188.8.131.52...
The route to victory
To find the most likely company hosting the website we use the traceroute command. Traceroute displays a list of all the computers on the internet forming the connection from our computer to the website itself. One of the last in the list will obviously be the webhost itself. With the IP address obtained from our ping skirmish we send traceroute on a reconnaissance mission:
:~$ traceroute 184.108.40.206
traceroute to 220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 YahooBB218125049254.bbtec.net (22.214.171.124) 6.166 ms 5.696 ms 5.313 ms
2 10.36.253.49 (10.36.253.49) 6.357 ms 6.258 ms 6.289 ms
3 10.36.0.123 (10.36.0.123) 6.107 ms 5.737 ms 6.141 ms
4 10.36.0.105 (10.36.0.105) 6.538 ms 6.089 ms 6.362 ms
5 10.2.4.161 (10.2.4.161) 7.102 ms 7.025 ms 7.532 ms
6 10.2.3.162 (10.2.3.162) 7.910 ms 10.2.3.166 (10.2.3.166) 7.332 ms 10.2.3.194 (10.2.3.194) 24.458 ms
7 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 7.331 ms 7.242 ms 7.390 ms
8 184.108.40.206 (220.127.116.11) 7.841 ms 7.892 ms 7.693 ms
9 18.104.22.168 (22.214.171.124) 7.919 ms 7.470 ms 8.175 ms
10 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 14.995 ms 15.313 ms 15.516 ms
11 184.108.40.206 (220.127.116.11) 15.714 ms 15.429 ms 14.912 ms
12 18.104.22.168 (22.214.171.124) 16.274 ms 15.919 ms 15.954 ms
13 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 14.994 ms 15.367 ms 15.234 ms
14 ge-0-2-0.tokdcbr01.idc.ad.jp (184.108.40.206) 15.769 ms 15.495 ms 16.696 ms
15 Giga1-1.tokdcas08.idc.ad.jp (220.127.116.11) 15.469 ms 15.598 ms15.507 ms
16 18.104.22.168 (22.214.171.124) 16.194 ms 15.895 ms 15.739 ms
17 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 16.774 ms 18.600 ms 17.730 ms
18 184.108.40.206 (220.127.116.11) 16.240 ms 21.210 ms 15.734 ms
In the last few lines we see ge-0-2-0.tokdcbr01.idc.ad.jp and Giga1-1.tokdcas08.idc.ad.jp. We ignore the subdomains ge-0-2-0.tokdcbr01 and Giga1-1.tokdcas08, and instead verify the results of our search by sending our browser to www.idc.ad.jp... Hello Japan-based Cable & Wireless IDC.
A friendly reminder
From here I decided to email the company, referring them to the spam I had recieved and the URL of the site they were hosting, and ask them nicely to please remind the owner of the site that sending unsolicited email advertising is illegal. Webhosts take spam very seriously, as it is a gross missuse of their bandwidth, so they replied thusly:
We will communicate the complaint to the sender and strongly
request them to respond adequately.
In order for you to obtain an effective result, we would
like to have your messages and e-mail headers that you have
Cable & Wireless IDC
Ah yes, the email headers... As I mentioned earlier, mobile phones don't store the headers, but mine allows me to store the email as a VML file and transfer it to my PC via infra-red, which I did and then passed it on in reply. A few days later I was pleasantly surpised to recieve this email:
We asked our contractor to take care of this issue.
They committed they'll warn their customer to refrain
from sending spam.
If you are still getting the email regarding the site,
please let us know that.
Cable & Wireless IDC Inc.
Wow! I wasn't getting any more email advertising the same site, but from the records I was keeping I was able to determine that the majority of spam I was recieving was advertising sites which were all being hosting by the same company, so I sent them the entire list asking that they check their billing information for correlations in the contact information of the sites in question. So far I'm still spam free!
The war might be over, but not every battle was won
I was very impressed with the success of approaching the site's webhost, and I thank C&W IDC for their co-operation. There's more in a domain name than just an IP address, and with it we can also find the comapny used to actually register the domain name itself and the apparent conatact information of it's owner, but I found this approach much less effective.
Whois that domain name?
The whois command searches the Internic whois database for information related to a domain name. The whois database is where the information needed to direct a browser looking for a domain name like love-shot.info to the computer hosting it is stored. Each domain name is asociated with a Domain Name Server (DNS) which converts the domain name to an IP address.
:~$ whois love-shot.info
NOTICE: Access to .INFO WHOIS information is provided to assist persons in
determining the contents of a domain name registration record in the Afilias
registry database. The data in this record is provided by Afilias Limited
for informational purposes only, and Afilias does not guarantee its
accuracy. This service is intended only for query-based access. You agree
that you will use this data only for lawful purposes and that, under no
circumstances will you use this data to: (a) allow, enable, or otherwise
support the transmission by e-mail, telephone, or facsimile of mass
unsolicited, commercial advertising or solicitations to entities other than
the data recipient's own existing customers; or (b) enable high volume,
automated, electronic processes that send queries or data to the systemsof
Registry Operator or any ICANN-Accredited Registrar, except as reasonably
necessary to register domain names or modify existing registrations. All
rights reserved. Afilias reserves the right to modify these terms at any
time. By submitting this query, you agree to abide by this policy.
Created On:19-Sep-2003 10:00:24 UTC
Expiration Date:19-Sep-2005 10:00:24 UTC
Registrant Name:Aihara Kousuke
Registrant Postal Code:1020071
Admin Name:Aihara Kousuke
Admin Postal Code:1020071
Billing Name:Speednames Billing
Billing Organization:Speednames A/S
Billing Street1:Rejsbygade 8A
Billing City:Copenhagen V
Billing Postal Code:1759
Tech Name:Technical Hostmaster
Tech Street1:Rejsbygade 8a
Tech Postal Code:1759
love-shot.info would appear to be registered to an Aihara Kousuke of Tokyo, but this information is not likely to be correct. What we can rely on is that the name server (DNS) is correct - ASCIO.NET
The Tech Email refers to the company or individual which actually entered the domain name into the whois database, and in this case it is listed as firstname.lastname@example.org. Checking the Internic's list of domain name registrars reveals that speednames.com and ascio.net are in fact one and the same: InterNIC Registrar List
Yeah, but it's not our problem...
Contacting the domain name registrar and asking them to discourage the owner from sending spam was less successfull than the same approach when applied to the site's webhost. The responsibility of the registrar is simply to register the domain name, collect a small periodical-fee to keep the name active, and that's it. What the site itself is used for is really none of their business, and they have no right or power to do anything about it. I was hoping they might sypathise with my cause and at least send the owner a friendly reminder, but no.
Don't suffer in silence!
If you have the means at your disposal, taking the same kind of non-confrontational action may well have similar positive results. The more individuals who stand up to spammers the less able they may become to continue operating, so please do what you can. If you're recieving email to your PC you have even more resources available from the information contained in the email headers which may well lead to the originating email address or computer itself.
In the meantime, on my to-do list of future projects is a site which allows most of this process to be automated and offered to anyone for free.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Here's a link to some animated sattelite images of the weather in Japan: Japan Meteorological Agency
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Otherwise I have no comment. Come over and find out - some of the best things you'll discover are beer vending machines on train stations, and $2 cigarette packet dispensers on every street corner. Yes, it's true, grab a couple of 500mL monster cans of Asahi super dry for the trip home. You'll like that at least.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
So my other projects got put aside, and in the meantime the domain name for the server hosting this site's images and also AutoLinkback expired. It was generously donated by a friend who runs his own hosting company, DataFly. Things are winding down a bit now, so I might get it together and get AutoLinkback set up again.
Got a new phone with a half decent camera in it so there may well be more Tyler pics in store. In the meantime while we survive earthquakes and typhoons Japan isn't being too bad to this man, not too shabby at all.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
It's just cool to see what kinds of things people have been searching for that brought them here. It also gives a feel for what the search engines think your site is about.
I can see privacy issues being raised by people who don't particularly want their search queries immortalised on every search result they visit, which is why members will easily be able to configure how many hits to display, or not to display them at all. Loging into the main site will give complete detailed stats anyway. Besides, the queries are completely anonymous. Fun for the whole family!
Saturday, June 12, 2004
I was running the stable "potato" distribution of Debian. At least I think it was potato. Anyway, I use Firefox, Thunderbird, Bluefish, Quanta and a bunch of stuff that doesn't have up to date packages in the stable branch, so I was just forcing them in from the testing branch, and in the process I killed kdelibs4 which took quanta down with it. I decided it was time to upgrade to the testing branch.
I just followed the debian upgrade guide using dselect and while it took my a day and a night, all said and done it wasn't that hard. I first had to add testing repositories to my /etc/apt/sources.list and then run apt-get update. That was a mission actually becuase my sources list was all messed up, but I got an updated list in the end. Then just did dselect update, dselect select, dselect install. And then dselect install again... and again... and again... in the end I ran dselect install 6 times before it finally decided it was finished and offered to clean off all the .deb files. Reason being that there were some minor errors along the way. The first being that sawfish-gnome wouldn't uninstall. I had to find it's pre-remove script and comment out some guff to get rid of it. Then it was just the occasional dependency problem which all got sorted out in the end.
I then had to go back into dselect select to get back all the stuff I was using from testing, becasue for some reason it all got removed in the update process, but it was totally painless getting it all back, was I found and selected them. I found it easier to search debians packeges which tells you where the package your looking is located, like utils, graphics whatever. I few more runs of dselect install later and I was back in action. After setting everything up and being quite impressed that kde apps were back, and anti-aliased, and decided to try a reboot. (I'd been basically upgrading the entire system all day, but that's no reason to reboot linux...)
Reboot, bios check, LI...
Strange, reboot, bios, LI...
For some reason lilo had been shafted. I have windoze on a partition and linux on some others, but lilo was dead. I booted from a linux rescue disk which then booted from the hard disk automagically. I then just checked my lilo.conf file to make sure it was ok. Lilo itself had been updated in the process, so it needed to be run again to update the mbr. Ran lilo, rebooted, and all's well.
I'm now a firm proponet of dselect, which calculated all the dependencies and instead of just telling you about it goes and downloads and installs them for you. All I have to do now is geat UTF-8 working with Quanta and I'm away...
Friday, June 04, 2004
I noticed from my referral logs that someone stumbled across this site looking for pics from Larks in the Park. Well I stumbled across the Porkers web site and who's melon did I spot in their very own crowd shot? Well, I don't remember that guy waving his shoes around in front of me, but the guy in his undies is unmistakable, especially after having jumped up on stage at one point and going the full monty. Porkers!!!
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Dr. Tada's great. He's a rugby fanatic and named his clinic the Wallabies after the Australian team. A while back he brought the Wahroonga Tigers to Japan for an exchange with the local team. So he takes one look at Tyler and says, yep - he's better... can I see his bcak too?... yeah he's better. (that's my translation anyway). Ok, so he's fully recovered apparently and back to the kindergarten tomorrow.
No wonder I can't remember having it, it was nothing for Tyler. Not itchy at all, just some spots mainly on his back and tummy, and a few on his arms and legs. Nothing on his face at all really. I've heard of some kids getting them in their throat and horrible stuff like that.
Monday, May 31, 2004
Monday, May 24, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
More than that, there are only about 250 pages in Google's database that match. Guess the majority of people these days are looking ahead. That's something positive.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Monday, April 19, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004
Thursday, April 01, 2004
The weekend has finally caught up with me. Sleepy. Must... keep... typing... urghf... zzz
Hey wait, it wasn't the weekend at all, just a middle of the week all-nighter to celebrate my last day at work.
Ok, so it was the weekend. It still is the weekend by definition, as I intend to continue weekending until May.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Not much else to say, other than that I'm soon to be free of the shackles of the suit and tie, liberated from the rigours of daily commutation on over crowded trains, and also relieved of my salary but that's not the point, the point is that I am no longer a salary man!
Monday, March 15, 2004
Thursday, March 11, 2004
The pants I put on him this morning had really loose elastic around the waist, but I thought I'd chance it anyway. While I was getting his things ready at the kindergarten, he was doing his usual thing, running around and being funny, but I noticed he was being a little crazier than usual today. When I looked I discovered that his pants had fallen off, so he had taken off his underpants too and was running around in circles half naked and giggling hysterically. Funny guy.
Put a little soul in your pocket
Put a little soul in the street
Put a little soul in your rhythm
Put a little soul in me
Put a little soul in your lover
Put a little soul in those sheets
Put a little soul in something
Put a little soul in me
Just a little bit, just a little bit
A little bit of soul
Put a little soul in your music
Put a little soul in your groove
Put a little soul in your vision
Put a little soul in you
Put a little soul in your living
Put a little soul in your time
Put a little soul in your religion
Put a little soul in mine
Just a little bit, just a little bit
A little bit of soul
Put a little soul in the things
That you love to do
Let it all go if you want to
It'll come back to you
Just a little bit, just a little bit
A little bit of soul
Friday, March 05, 2004
Friday, February 20, 2004
Note: this blog in no way condones random acts of drunken vandalism, even in the name of environmental protection
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Everything else is cool. Actually it's still really cold here, but this has been a really mild winter for japan. It's only really snowed once!
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
QRIO - it's great
I think they're planning to release a version early next year that can open beers and make toast. I've allready pre-ordered a couple.
Oh yeah - they're tiny! About 2 feet tall.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Monday, January 05, 2004
Many special thanks to all who sent messages and gifts to us! We've sent over some cards and photo's and stuff, which will be arriving soon. A little late for christmas, but anyway. We bought a new printer, so photo's may, or may not arrive more frequently from now. I'm still working on convincing Misaki of the importance of upgrading our video card to a model which includes firewire so we can edit some of our video archives and send some of that over too.
So, how was new year's eve in the rest of the world? Dave and I were graciously allowed to rock into Osaka for a few hours which we spent at a friends place enjoying good food and good company before missioning back to Sanda in an attempt to ring in the new year with the family. Well, just like the best laid plans of mice and men... we arrived in Sanda just in time to hear the temple bells sounding the arrival of 2004, after terrorising the unfortunate occupants of the train we took home for half an hour or so with our raucus and jubilant celebrations. We were a little dissapointed by being unable to purchase any fireworks for the occasion, but it was a good night all said and done.
So, I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone some time this year. Stay in touch. I've found a free web host, so should be able to get some gfx on this page soon. Meantime, enjoy the festive season and have a happy new year!