Wine Tasting Party

It was a great night. We tested six bottles by five persons, wine addicts
As usual, a blind tasting game was set; the participants were requested to tell correct pairs of wines and those descriptions.

The picture shows seven bottles
Givry Clos De Lasevosine -1er Cru- Domaine Joblot 2005
Les Forts de Latour 1995, 2003 (http://www.chateau-latour.fr/)
Casamatta Igt.Toscana Rosso 2007
Gevrey Chambertin 1er Petite Chapelle 2004
Tursan Kalecik Karasi 2005
Klikun Crni 2007

Two Larour were excluded from the blind tasting, since it was so easy to tell the difference from the rest of wines.The game was so tough that all of us could tell just one out of the five. I could shoot Domaine Joblot and failed to tell the rest.
There were several reasons, where Klikun Crni (Croat wine), and Tursan (Turkish wine) put us out in unknown wine tasting, and Chambertin was of Pino Noir. Those tasted similar light flavor.

After having those light-bodied wines, we enjoyed Les Forts de Latour 1995. The other Latour 2003 was stocked for a next occasion). Can’t wait to get our next party started.


10km Challenge

Since my high-school age, I've never tried a mid-distance running around 10km. The high-school from which I graduated compelled male students to run 16km (called "10 mile race") as a part of physical education though, after the graduation I have been enjoying a short-distance running typically of 5km. My typical running pace is 4 min 30-45 sec/km.
According to Wikipedia, it is said that the distinction between jogging and running is the speed 6 mph (10 minute per mile pace, 10 km/h, 6 min/km). Thus I'm a runner so far.

This morning I felt a slight hungover due to drinking a bit heavily last night, but I wanted to switch on my body and mind with vigor. Then I took 10km run. It took 48'43" for 10.02 km. Here is my nike+ipod record. Not so fast but no so bad. My wish is to run a half-marathon faster than 2 hours/20km. It seems doable, doesn't it?
See below for my record and 10km course.


No perfect universal cell-phone so far to my own life

Using cell-phones is my profession. To understand how the cutting-edge of user interfaces and application technologies is evolving, I’m using three types of cell-phones: Apple’s i-phone, Google Android phone, and FOMA (i.e., docomo’s standard 3G cell-phones, developed by various manufacturers, branded by NTT docomo). Here is my personal summary.

i-phone (left in the picture)
Pros: fancy user interfaces, good integration with i-tunes, synchronization with Apple’s cloud service (http://www.me.com/), maturity of localized open application store
Cons: short battery durability (it cannot last one single day and not replaceable!), heavy weight (133g), no strap

Google Android phone (HTC’s phone, middle in the picture)
Pros: light weight(123g), wide variety of applications, battery charge thru a standard mini-USB, synchronization with Google’s applications(mail, calendar, address, etc.), good software architecture that allows background processes
Cons: no i-tunes, poor localization, small key-touch screen.

Docomo standard 3G phone (Panasonic phone, right in the picture)
Pros: light weight(122g), NFC(near field communication) for e-commerce, network-integrated services such as “earthquake and tsunami early warning system” , localized contents, carrier-operated quick mail system (not SMS), digital TV, long battery durability
Cons: poor integration with the Internet cloud applications (such as Apple’s mobileme, Google’s apps), small open application market

What I really need are 1. i-tunes, 2. Gmail, 3. Scheduler and address book synchronized with my assistant’s outlook, 4. Networked NFC for e-money , e-ticketing and security applications, 5. Earthquake warning system to survive, and 6. carrier-operated mail system that is not SMS but Internet-equivalent real-time one.

So far none of those can solely give the perfect answer. Thus I have been carrying the docomo standard phone and i-phone both.
This week I started to use Google phone. It is unexpectedly good. I’d rather like to use it in stead of i-phone. I found http://www.beyondpod.mobi/android/ for podcast services with my Google phone. It is working well without connecting to my PC. All the scheduled podcast (including video) self updated during midnight.

Buddy Runner (http://www.buddyrunner.com/ ) gives me a fun of running. It provides the capabilities of an expensive GPS enabled personal trainer on my Android phone. Bad news is that my andoroid phone is heavier than my ipod+Nike though, exact GPS measuring and automatic update is quite useful. The track record can be exported to FaceBook. I’m enjoying the combination of bluetooth connected audio and an armband cell-phone holder.

Velox provides me another fun of workout. See http://www.veloxgps.de/. The experience is marvelous. It shows biking statistics in realtime, which includes altitude, heading direction, pace in various durations, and Google map.

Localization (i.e., adaptation to Japanese) of Android phones is pre-mature, while English software stuffs are commodities and general population in Japan are behind the world. Android users at this moment must speak English.
Nevertheless, my Android phone (manufactured by HTC) is fitting to my life.


The Earthquake Early Warning System worked

It was a scary morning.
A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 hit Shizuoka Prefecture, south west of Tokyo, at 5:07 a.m. on August 11 (Japan Time). So far one was killed and more than 100 were injured mainly in Shizuoka Prefecture. I’m living in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, which is next to Shizuoka.
Just before the time 5:07am, to be exact, 15 seconds before I felt the earth quake, I had been awakened by my phone. My phone was beeping and showed early earth quake warning, “Now you are going to be hit by earthquake soon.” That was the time at which I felt a strong fear for an unknown upcoming event. Could you imagine the situation in which you were sentenced to have a big earthquake hit 10 or 20 second beforehand? I experienced such a terrible but valuable occasion.

Then, let me explain how I came to know the event.
The prediction is owed to the Earthquake Early Warning system which provides advance announcement of the estimated seismic intensities and expected arrival time of principal motion. These estimations are based on prompt analysis of the focus and magnitude of the earthquake using wave form data observed by seismographs near the epicenter.
Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) developed the core system in 20005 and deployed it in 2007 for a general use with communication systems. The core system is connected to not only broadcasters but also cellular phone companies. (see the above picture: source http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/Activities/eew1.html).

My colleagues developed well-integrated warning system called “Area Mail.” The emergency information “Area Mail” is a message based on the earthquake early warning distributed by the JMA via a local information distribution system developed by NTT DoCoMo. The distribution architecture is depicted in the next figure.
The location of the epicenter and the magnitude of an earthquake are immediately detected at observation points near the earthquake epicenter, and estimated from the difference in arrival times of the Primary (P) wave (about 7 km/s) which is produced by the initial tremor of the earthquake, and the Secondary (S) wave (about 4 km/s) which is produced by the principal motion. A prediction of the magnitude and arrival time of the earthquake can then be sent out as a warning. Emergency information “Area Mail” converts the earthquake early warning distributed by the JMA in an emergency information “Area Mail” message and broadcasts the message to mobile terminal users who are in the affected region.
For further information on the warning system see

At this time, the epicenter was located almost 200km south west of Yokohama, and the distance gave me 15-second long chance to worry about my next move.
Fortunately, I was not injured and my home was not damaged either. The technology is so advanced and told me a near future. Thanks God, It’s Free.


D'où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ?

One of benefits from living in Tokyo and its vicinity is to access various works of art.
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo now holds an exhibition of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) , through July 3rd to Sept. 23rd this year.

This morning, I went to the museum to see his works , especially for his great masterpiece which was painted in Tahiti, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897-98), which represents the consolidation of what he was attempting to achieve through his art. His works have been collected from other museums, as on loan, which includes the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston which houses that master piece.
He inscribed the title in French in the left upper corner. The title was influenced by his mentor, the Bishop of Orléans, Félix-Antoine-Philibert, where the three fundamental questions in this catechism were: "Where does humanity come from?" "Where is it going to?", "How does humanity proceed?"
I was fortunate enough in this chance, since without going to Boston, I saw his soul there.

The soul is on an oil painted canvas of 139.1 cm × 374.6 cm (54.8 in × 147.5 in).

The soul is depicted by enhanced colors as other symbolists did.
The soul is with people who lived from their birth to death with the original sin.
The soul is also symbolized by iconography of a god, a bird, etc.
The soul is full of unspoiled nature which the painter believed to exist.
That French painter moved restlessly from France to Tahiti in Southern Pacific Ocean.
It is said that he searched for the essentials of humanity whilst being torn apart by the extremities between civilized and savage, sacred and profane, life and death, man and woman, spiritual and materialistic. Gauguin was not trying to become uncivilized but more civilized by being more modem by understanding (at least superficially) primitive culture – he saw himself as more sophisticated, more modern and more avant-garde and he was exploiting their culture by getting food and sex from a local marriage that was permitted despite his real marriage in France.

All the story was new to me, and very impressed.
Behind the painting, the man made the history.


Champagne lunch at Chinois Shibuya

If you are interested in wine restaurants of Tokyo, you might take a look at http://www.chinois.jp/

Chinois is well-known of Tokyoite wine lovers with high reputation. It has two wine restaurants in Ginza and Shibuya. They serve dinners with luxurious wines. Usually, open hours are 18:00PM-2:00AM or 0:00AM. Chinois Shibuya, in addition, has a special lunch menu named “Champagne lunch” only on Saturday, Sunday, and National holidays, where open hours are 12:00-16:30 .The lunch costs JPY5,500 (USD58 or so), including sale tax, and it offers appetizer, main dish, dessert, coffee, starting Champagne, and unlimited wines. It seems that that is for promotion, by which the restaurant is attracting potential dinner customers with affordable wines and good foods.It is a best buy in Tokyo wine restaurants, I think. I visited Chinois Shibuya on May 5th around noon. 65-70 seats became full at 1:00PM. In case of your visit, thus, reservation is strongly recommended.
Wines are not pricy (affordable :) ) though, the variation was well-designed from light to heavy, from thin to thick, and from fruity to dry. The glasses vary from white wine glasses, Burgundy glass, Bordeaux glass and so on. If my memory is correct, the order was as follows.

  • Champagne: Jose Michel et Fils, Rose Brut
  • 1st white: Gatão Vinho Verde (Portuguese light and thin)
  • 2nd white: Sileni Sauvignon Blanc (NewZealander’s fruity one)
  • 3rd white: VINUS Chardonnay Vin de Pays d’Oc (Yummy Chardonnay)
  • 1st red: De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2007 (Auzee’s gift, served as well-chilled)
  • 2nd red: Recorba Duero Cosecha 2006 (from Spain)

I asked several extra glasses of the above wines.

One thing noteworthy is that the food was also marvelous. The selection of appetizer and main dishes is very flexible. I’ll recommend “foie gras rice served in a bowl” for main dish.

It's a perfect day, isn't it?


Running around the Imperial Palace

Mecca, a place which an activity or interest is centered, for Tokyoite casual runners (joggers) is the Imperial Palace. Of course, we, general populations, are not allowed to get into the palace. I mean it a round run around the palace.
The run distance is about 5km, that is 3.1 miles, and theoretically no traffic signals which force runners to stop over.

Its scenery is very nice as depicted below.

I and my friend, Tam, tried to get there on April 28th. That was my first run around the palace. I jumped out from Tameike-sannoh office at 5:20M as soon as the last business meeting was finished. There are two runner's stations.
One is near Jimbo-cho station and the other is located at Koujimachi station.
See http://runsta.jp/ for further information, unfortunately in Japanese.

We joined at Jimbo-cho runner's station (3-11-1-1F Kanda Jimbo-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. TEL: 03-3264-0089), and payed JPY700, with which we used a dressing and shower room and a locker.
Runners’ Station hours of operation will remain:
Monday: not available (Koujimachi station is open)
Tuesday-Thursday: 7am-20pm
Sunday: 8am-18pm

Note that we might have an alternative, which is to chose a public bath which costs JPY400. I heard beforehand that the bath is always busy and clouded by runners because of its high cost performance.

We started running at 18:07pm (according my nike+ipod system) from Kitano-maru park. The course was counter-clockwise as most of runners take.
Nice cool April weather welcomed us and that beautiful experience lasted 25 minutes or so.
Here is my record from the nike+ipod logging system.

According to Wikipedia, the distinction between running and jogging is the speed, where it is defining jogging as running slower than 6 mph (10 minute per mile pace, 10 km/h, 6 min/km). My run was slightly faster than 5min/km, and thus I was a runner on that day.


Phony QR Codes Everywhere

2D barcodes are everywhere in Japan as introduced by my previous blog article. (above picures are from http://www.atpress.ne.jp/view/5401 and http://blog.goo.ne.jp/qr_quel/e/f109124f6ee13baf0bb9c065ceb4e0a5) Real objects are linked to related information sources. The observation, linkage between the real world and the cyberspace, reminds us two key concepts: digital signage and crossmedia communication. You may see digital signs with flat displays in downtowns. That emobies the concept of digital signage. If a 2D barcode appears at the display, you can switch the storyline from that display media to your cell-phone. In general, signs (including digital ones) can be found everywhere, and those invite you to another medium, in this context, mobile communication. Insight found here is that such crossmedia communication gains coarse-to-fine information retrieval, in other words, public-to-personal level shift in communication. Shifting communication from public to dedicated medium exposes a risk of privacy violation and resulting a phishing crime, which attempts to acquire usernames, passwords, credit card numbers etc. In 2007, Prof. Sakamura and his research team of University Tokyo conducted a interesting experiment at Shinjuku district, a downtown of Tokyo. In thier experiment, 2D barcodes were attached onto 300 telegraph poles. They tried to prove vulnarability of 2D barcodes for phishing, in comparison with their trusted code schemes. That intent was proved successfully. Three hundred 2D barcodes were maliciously replaced by someone with phony barcodes which invited potential customers to adult content providers. Here is an example which I and my colleagues demonstrated.

Prof. Sakamura’s paper “Verifying Identifier-Authenticity in Ubiquitous Computing Environment(2007) ” proposes an authentication mechanism of 2D barcodes. We need more bits for authentication of barcodes, supposing PKI based technologies are adopted. Microsoft’s High Capacity Color Barcode(HCCB) is a typical technology. (see my article Minoru Etoh, "Cellular Phones as Information Hubs," Proc ACM SIGIR Workshop on Mobile Information Retrieval, Singapore, July, 2008.) On one hand, we can add an authentication mechanism to a code system as proposed by University of Tokyo and Microsoft, on the other hand it’s hard to see “conjunction integrity” of the code and the real object. We can paste verified codes to any objects. The code itself is not phony though, the integrity where the right code is attached to the right object is not guaranteed. Verifying the integrity of code attachment, in other word, indivisible authentication of integral objects: code and object is the key technical issue.


SNS enabled by Broadband Mobile Network

Broadband Mobile Network Outlook in Japan

2001 is the first year in which NTT docomo launched its W-CDMA service in Japan firstly of the world. In the following several years, mobile broadband networks (i.e., services offering a minimum speed equal to, or greater than, 256kbit/s in one or both direction) were deployed over the world. The next figure shows top 10 economies by the number of mobile broadband subscribers, in millions, as of the end of 2005.

The two far east countries have been leading on the cutting edge of mobile broadband. Note that those countries have well-established mobile multimedia ecosystems which are independent from PCs’. As i-phone differentiates itself from PC not only in its innovative user interface but also in its mobile application ecosystem, broadband cell-phones in the far east countries have been a kind of premature i-phones for general population from the aspect of the mobile application uniqueness.
In 2009, the commercial deployment of the W-CDMA system is still progressing steadily not only in Europe but in North America and Asia as well, and at present, more than 180 mobile network operators have commenced 3rd Generation technologies. For example in Japan, the maximum downlink transmission data rate provided by NTT docomo in its packet services via High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is 7.2 Mbit/s, but the technical specifications of HSDPA and High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) support maximum transmission data rates between a base station and mobile terminal of 14 Mbit/s in the downlink and 5.7 Mbit/s in the uplink.

Fig. Top ten mobile broadband economics (source: ITU Internet Report 2006)

Those HSPA and EVDO technologies are categorized into “3.5G” mobile broadband. Roughly speaking, at this point, Japan’s market has 100miilion subscribers, of which 90% are using 3G cell-phones , and half of them are taking benefits of 3.5G technologies. Mega-bps cell-phones are now majority there. That is the key killer application enabler in the mobile application space. The music and video clip download is quite common among younger generations, and web accesses to a wide variety of services are common practice of 70% of our general population.
What we can see beyond the HSPA technologies is 3G-LTE (Long Term Evolution) that is planned to be launched late 2010 in Japan. 3G-LTE will be required to provide short delays in addition to a dramatic leap in data rates and improved spectrum efficiency. Achieving short delays means that the time required for call setup (connection delay) and the time involved in data transfer during a call (transmission delay) will be reduced enabling the high-speed data transmission by a protocol like TCP/IP.
LTE’s downlink uses the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) radio access providing high resistance to multipath interference and flexible support for a wide range of frequency bandwidths by changing the number of subcarriers. That highlights 3G LTE from the existing 3G technologies. The uplink, meanwhile, uses Single Carrier - Frequency Division Multiple Access (SC-FDMA) that can achieve low power consumption by decreasing the Peak-to-Average Power Ratio (PAPR) of cell-phones and reduce interference from other users. It is said 3G-LTE will be provided, at the beginning, to lap-top PCs as the cellular correspondent to WiMAX. Eventually, however, we will see 10~100 Mbps applications for ordinarily people with popular cell-phones in five years. The point is not the bandwidth, but the improved user experience, by the fact that the fairly improved low-latency and high-capacity mobile broadband environment will emerge soon, and it will accommodate new killer application environments in the sense of mobile Internet beyond the cellular networks.

Mobile Social Network Services in Japan
As the far east has very unique mobile ecosystems based on mobile broadband networks, VGA size display cell-phones, mobile contents (i.e., exclusive to PC users) and “smart mob” culture, SNS is also different from the other regions. Let us see its uniqueness in two SNSs: mixi and mobage-town in Japan. Those use only one language, Japanese and therefore don’t have a global reach to the rest of the world, unlike MySpace and FaceBook. Those business models are similar mainly in on-line advertisement (banner and click), and slightly different in several side businesses such as job-brokering, e-commerce, auction, and so on.
Mixi launched their business in early 2004, and has reached at having 16 million subscribes as of early 2009. A half of the age group early 20s are using this SNS, and around 15% of the nation at ages from 18 to late 50s have subscribed. The active visit rate within three days is about 52%. That is the king of SNS in Japan. Unlike MySpace, most of mixi users are using nicknames and meeting in a small group space, so as to get community entertainments, for which they write diary, read and comment each other in their daily lives. It seems that mixi provides semi-real communities that overlay real ones. Nicknames are used to keep them anonymous though, they know each other in real names within a community to which they belong.
A very interesting observation is that mixi users are becoming mobile. In late 2006, a survey on mixi access method among respondents said that it was 78.6% mainly from PC, mobile supplemental, 15.4% mainly from mobile, PC supplemental, and 6.0% solely from mobile.

Fig. mixi’s growth (source: mixi’s IR report)

The above figure summarizes the current growth of subscribers and page views. The figure shows that the number of page views from PCs is declining. On the other hand, the number of page views from mobile is getting significant. The page sizes of mobile contents is almost 1/10 of PC contents though, it seems the communication structure of mixi is changing from PC-oriented to mobile-oriented. There are several implications: 1. new subscribers are mainly from mobile users, 2. 3G mobile broadband has technically fostered the transition from PC to mobile, and 3. A way of community entertainment by its nature is required to be casual, instant, and personal.
Mobage-town is the queen of SNS in Japan. The name comes from a Japanese abbreviation of English term “mobile game town.” That has 12.3 Million subscribers and 15 billion page views per month as of late 2008. They started the SNS in 2006, and have sharply attracted teens to join them. This SNS can be conceptually summarized as an extension of Second Life in a mobile space plus their unique attractive services. The SNS has similarity with Korean game-site “Han game.” There must be nonlinear synergy effects in combination of games, SNS, content share, and e-commerce. Especially, gaming is so poplar enough to lure the teens that they have attains more than 50% penetration to Japanese teens. Interestingly, mobage-town only allows cell-phones to access. That is mobile-only SNS and requires their subscribers to use high-end cell-phones equipped with adobe flash players, since all the contents are provided in the flash format, and thus (on-line) gaming has become possible for millions of cell-phone users. We can summarize the technical enablers. Those are always-on-anywhere, flat rate pricing broadband networks, VGA-size display, graphic processors tolerant to manipulate adobe flash contents. Without those enablers, mobage-town has not emerged.

Recent five years, the term “convergence” has been a buzz word in communication industries. Especially, the convergence between fixed and mobile networks is getting attracted in a wide range of mobile services that utilize fixed communications infrastructure to complement the mobile service. That convergence remains just at network economics in providing less-redundant functionality and less-payment. What we see here, on the other hand, is mobile unique evolution of multimedia applications, where application-layer convergence has occurred as “mainly mobile, complementary PC.” As mobile broadband technologies evolve, a higher layer convergence will be essential. Mixi shows a good example, which is not from the single invention.


Bridging the two spaces (prep. for ICASSP 2009)

I was invited by Berna Erol to a panel discussion at ICASSP 2009 which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan in April 19th-24th 2009. (further information at: http://icassp09.com/)
My main topic will be related to “bridging the real space and the information space” as depicted in the picture below.

The point is clear and crisp where many mobile phones are now being equipped with various I/O devices and sensors, such as accelerometers, GPS, microphones, and cameras. These allow applications to be context-aware and enable easy integration of user's real environment wit applications. Mobile device's peripheral and sensor enhancement will be an extremely fertile incubation environment for new and innovative killer applications in our daily life. That definitely differentiates mobile Internet from fixed-line Internet of PCs. That is already happening in far-east countries, where mobile devices are evolving not as miniaturized mobile PCs but as devices with unprecedented capabilities.
2D barcode, called QR code, and its related applications are good instances in discussing the difference. A QR Code is a 2D matrix code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. Let’s see one video shot which I shot two weeks ago.

Now you saw how the real object (i.e., a magazine page) is connected to the related portal site through the phone. The usage of the 2D barcode is not limited to magazines or published documents. Such a code can be attached with any real objects as far as those have a printable room. Here is another good example:when I was walking around Ginza (corresponding to the fifth street in N.Y.) in Tokyo. I found a big 2D bar code which introduced a company’s home page.
That was readable with my cell-phone!

Apart form the barcode approaches, connecting real objects with the internet by capturing a natural scene is on the way. Evolution Robotics, a US-based company, commercialized a visual search engine called “ER Search” on a line of camera phones. Here is another video which I shot two weeks ago.

That technology can search only a set of registered image patterns like CD jackets, magazine cover pages, etc. For my wine labels, the engine couldn’t retrieve my favorite California wine descriptions, although the technology was developed in California!

Now, we have a technical progress in bridging the two worlds: real and virtual on one hand. On the other hand, we are confront with a big technical challenge, which is authentication of visual tags such as the 2D barcodes or the registered images. You can imagine that malicious QR codes can be pasted over original QR codes. Those phony codes can lead phone users to wrong malicious sites. Phishing with phony QR codes now is going to be a big threat to our mobile society. The world is not simple.


This is it! for Sake lovers.

Sake means “liquor“ in Japanese, made from rice. That is the rice wine that represents Japanese spirit of the culture. For further information on the spirit, please refer to this web site. http://www.japansake.or.jp/sake/english/index.html

Nowadays, Japanese rice wine (hereafter “sake”) is loosing popularity in Japanese diners. That consumption has declined 40% over the recent decade. Can you guess why? Sake and Japanese original cuisine had a good marriage like cognac meets chocolate. As French cuisine got influence Japanese “light and lean” taste and very sophisticated presentation in dishes, Japanese cuisine, on the other hand, got a westernized a bit heavy and fat meet to some extent. (but it is still lighter than other cuisines). As a result, thus, we needed another marriage for new westernized Japanese cuisine. The new partner to that marriage is 'shochu' (white distilled liquor) made from potato, rice, or other various materials, which is growing in this decade.

I still love sake and I’d like to introduce a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo downtown, who devotes all the foods to appetizers for sake drink. The owner, Mr. Ohno, designed everything just for Sake lovers at affordable prices. Very unique restaurant it is and thus I’ love it. The reservation is strongly recommended, while Friday is first-come first served basis ( 5:30PM or after 9:00PM you may have a chance to get a few seats if you are very lucky).

According to http://www.att-japan.net/modules/tinyd1/rewrite/tc_37.html
it is described as:
Shimbashi Koju
Shimojima Bldg. B1, 1-2-17, Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
5 minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station
Tel 03-3575-0939
(If you want to really master sake, you should visit Shimbashi Koju. Its range includes many kinds of sake from the more famous brands to those much harder to come by. The food here is relatively cheap but delicious making it a popular spot for sake fans. So much so that reservations are again recommended.)

Here is a day story of my life.
Feb 16th was my special day. I had a very important presentation to the CEO, CFO, COO and other board executives form 8:30 AM in Tokyo. After having 30minutes discussion, fortunately I made it, and got through their approval for my project. Thanks friends and colleagues. To memorize this morning, I took two pictures from my Tokyo office. Tokyo Bay was shining and beautiful.
In the evening, I went to Shimbashi Koju, very casual, inexpensive and affordable Japanese sake restaurant as mentioned above, so as to celebrate the progress of my and colleagues’ achievements. At 6:30PM, unoccupied seats welcomed me. Toast to ours! Let’s call it a day!


Lectures at Graduate School, Osaka University

I am teaching a technical course at the graduate school of computer science of Osaka University. The course details are described by my lecture notes http://micketoh.web.fc2.com/lecture_notes.htm (English lectures will be available upon your request.)
Jan. 29th was the last day of the class. That means I completed three-day lectures for FY2008 program. As you can see at the notes, my lectures consist of 1. technology and application trends in mobile communication, 2. mobile network architecture, 3. mobile internet, 4. servers in light of Google platform, 5. energy consumption issues in green IT development, 6. multimedia coding technologies including audio and video coding standards,7. international standardization organization inside and outside, 8. handset architecture, 9. AAA (Authentication, Authorization, Accounting)in mobile communication, 10. near field communication for e-commerce, 11. location oriented services, and 12. search technologies. The amount of the contents might go longer than 12-day-long lectures.
For example, my lecture of “multimedia coding technologies including audio and video coding standards” originally requires three days, while AAA in mobile communication may require also more than three days since it needs students to understand cipher technologies, PKI(public key infrastructure), challenge-and-response, etc. I squeezed the total contents into 1/10, which is a huge compression ratio in lectures. My students had a tough time in cramming the contents, where a new topic was discussed every single hour.

Here is a few parting thoughts.
I focused on explicitly teaching how to get onto real and real practical research topics by taking good examples in mobile communication area, and tried to attract the needs of the advanced students. “Research for research” in other words “artificially created research activity just for academic papers” has been completely out of scope of my lectures. So far, I am not sure how it worked.

The other thing is to realize the students importance of predicting the future. That is not an easy job or a task doable through the Google search engine which explores the world-wide archives. This is because future prediction has not been written yet. And only experts who are knowledgeable with insights in market demands and technology trends can do that.
In 2006, I predicted, together with my colleagues, the ways of news papers and CD deliveries would be replaced by another way with mobile communication in 2012.

The technology enablers are 3G Long Term Evolution(3G LTE) broadband wireless and display technologies. Here is a sign of that trend. An ipod software shows me a nation-wide news paper every morning with no charge. At this moment, that content delivery has been enabled by WiFi and ipod-touch though, the future eventually come around us (see also http://en.j-cast.com/2008/12/29032905.html).
The future is at the next corner.


High School Class Reunion Party

My new year started with a high-school class reunion party on January 3rd at Himeji Castle Hotel. Thirty years have passed since we left Tatsuno High School, where it had 10 classes at each grade, and 450 students, of which I was one. One hundred fifty old boys and girls out of 450 (which is 1/3 participation ratio) plus our former teachers got together and enjoyed the party. The details are posted on a blog site (unfortunately in Japanese) by party organizers at http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/tatsuno_31s.

Thirty years have carved out several figures:
1. Our teachers have retired or are getting retired soon in a few years. They were younger, at that time, than the old boys and girls in 2009. That reminds me to think about that our days are being counted.
2. Generally speaking, it seems boys have got older in their appearance (say, spare tire, lower belly, or losing hairs) than girls. Boys’ fatal disadvantage is that they (including myself) can’t use cosmetics! Let me point out that girls cannot decorate their tone of voices. The tone of voices in 1979 was of high-keys!
3. I forgot many old girls who were next-door neighbors. It was a shame on my memories.

I really enjoyed chatting with my old friends, by recalling back episodes in my high-teen period. It was a fun and also a kind of bitter chocolate taste.

Apart from that main topic, I’ve got one observation on our communication structure.
Here in Japan, we don’t have a nation wide social network system (SNS) like Facebook in spirit of “connecting and networking the people in general.” In Tokyo area, around 30 (out of 450) high-school graduates are registered to a mailing list and using it for communication in our daily life. The entire connections of our old boys and girls, however, have not been well-organized yet so far. Of course, we are connected by high-speed optical wired networks and broadband wireless networks with cellular phones. The issue is a lack of application-layer communication organizing system. SNSs are very popular for younger generation, say generations X and Y. The coverage is limited for elders. The communication structure can be improved further by introducing a facebook-like communication organizer. Here is a good research topic to tackle.
Related to this topic, I had an interview from a tech writer last year. The interview was well summarized into the communications of the ACM 2008 December issue.
See, for your information, http://mags.acm.org/communications/200812/?pg=20


Nara in December

Before getting started with my New Year’s post, let me summarize my favorite places which I visited in 2008.

One of favorite places is Nara, which doesn’t mean “United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)” but stands for “the City” in ancient Japanese, and that was the ancient capital of Japan around the 8th century.

Most of us know “Kyoto” as for the Japan’s ancient capital and that 2nd oldest capital is very popular amongst Tokyoite and foreigners. My spirit of perversity, however, makes me prefer Nara to Kyoto. I love “Nara-machi” (old downtown of Nara) very much.

Thanks to US Air Force decision on indiscriminate bombing over Japan’s cities, Nara as well as Kyoto were off-sighted. Those cities haven’t been bombed and those were allowed to preserve over-1000 years heritage.

Evening around Koufuku-temple complex was quiet and peaceful. None could make

break that silence. The full-moon casted the shadow of the temple on the famous pond, “Sarusawano-Ike.”

Here are a couple of Japanese restaurants. One is “Mangyoku”, a Restaurant near Sarusawa Pond and the other is “Kura.” When I was working at ATR, I did bar-hopping so often in Nara-machi. Believe me that those serve traditional Japanese cuisine with good Sake.

(above, Mangyoku outlook)

(above, Kura)

Sake reminds me another restaurant located in Fushimi (just between Nara and Kyoto).

Torisei, that is a kind of tied-house which serves fresh Sake pumped directly from sake brewery tanks and Chicken BBQ.


Nara is not only the city of so-called big temples but also the city of restaurants in the old historic town ,Nara-machi. See also http://www.eonet.ne.jp/~naramachiwalk/

The city was not so commercialized nor popularlized like Kyoto. Thus, the city preserves their uniqueness in terms of peaceful atmosphere.