Tokyo Game Show 2008 with LightRoom 2

TGS Cosplayer I’ve posted the photos of Tokyo Game Show 2008. I can’t believe another year has come and gone. This time I was in Japan on vacation and, since I didn’t need to be there on a “business” day, I attended on the weekend when the cosplayers are out in force. It was a welcome change of pace, though traveling long distance with a family was new and challenging in its own right. I was on my own that day and took a little bit longer than usual to get going in the morning. By the time I got to Makuhari Messe, I had less than four hours to look around and take pictures before I needed to start heading back to Tokyo.

I’ve been looking at ways to improve my photo workflow. Though I’ve been actively taking digital photos for eight years now, I’m still just a part-time hobbyist and don’t really take time to tweak my photos. My current workflow is Adobe Bridge and PhotoShop CS2. It’s real basic usage: exposure tweaking, leveling, cropping and downsampling / sharpening for posting on the web. Occasionally I’ll need to do something more like try to correct the picture’s temperature or white balancing (typically if the home lights are too strong). I could probably get away with just GraphicConverter but I’ve been using PhotoShop since version 3 in college and it feels more natural. Since the majority of my photoshopping is so photo oriented, I’ve gotten trial versions of LightRoom 2 and Aperture 2 to play with.
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Comic-Con 2008

Avengers Cosplayers It’s been over a week since Comic-Con concluded and I’m still catching up on trying to do a write up. I finished sorting and posting my pics on Tuesday. The galleries are available under the San Diego Comic-Con category on my photo site. There weren’t that many pics this year since my schedule was split between parenting duties and show time. It’s certainly a different experience having a baby in tow this time around. In some ways it reminded me of my first attendance when I had poor time management and everything felt a bit rushed. Lessons (hopefully) learned for next year.

Content-wise, it was a really good year. After blowing most of Saturday last year, I decided to join in on a block of panels this year (with my mom in her first SDCC attendance!) including Futurama, The Simpsons, Dean Koontz, Dollhouse and BSG. Not knowing much about Dean Koontz’s novels, I found him to be the most surprising entertaining. I guess a good storyteller can both write stories as well as talk about them to an audience. Overall, Futurama was my favorite of the set of panels with the voice talents of John DiMaggio, Maurice Lamarche, Billy West and Katey Sagal on hand to liven things up.

In the exhibit hall, Paramount returned with their free t-shirts but added a collection of Star Trek items including posters, construction crew badges by email and drawings for goodies. Warner Bros. beefed up their bag selection, held the usual group autograph sessions and had a lifesize Watchmen Owlship on display. Fox had what was probably the most useful schwag: a poster tube with strap. Everyone was giving away bags but I think Fox had the lock on the popular poster tube. Now if only someone will start giving out art portfolios next year.

More convention notes after the jump…
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Cashless, Touchless Society

For the past few months I’ve been seeing ads for MasterCard PayPass and recently I’ve seen ads for Visa payWave. These are “contactless” IC cards which allow for easy and quick transactions. The only place I’ve seen PayPass at is a local Jack in the Box (yes, I like my junk food) and I don’t think I’ve seen payWave anywhere. Still, Visa claims to have thousands of establishments including big names like McDonalds so maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.

Continuing with my Japan theme (albeit a week late), I can say that like many things, IC cards have been available in Japan for a while. One of the major retail card I’m familiar with is Edy, a rechargeable debit card accepted in everything from retail stores to vending machines. Edy is quick, just touch the card over the pad and wait for the pleasant tones of money going out of your pocket into the retailer’s hands. Much nicer than the single beep demonstrated on MasterCard’s PayPass site.

Suica and Pasmo cards

I’ve actually had more experience with IC cards for train and subway usage. The Suica card has been available for use on JR trains for years, employing the same technology as Edy. At it’s introduction, the Suica card was a new concept and there was a decent ad campaign to just “touch and go”, referring to the ease at which passengers can get through turnstiles. Recently, the Tokyo Metro subways systems have adopted Pasmo. Pasmo, which I found out after picking one up, is completely compatible with the Suica cards. After years of tiny ticket juggling or buying disposable cards, there’s a single system to get around the greater Tokyo area. These cards are really convenient. It’s easy enough to just leave them in the wallet, slide the whole thing over the reader and run on to catch your soon departing train.

While these technologies in some ways make for a more secure transaction since you’re always in control of the card, it seems that once a thief has hold of the card it’s a lot easier to get away with illegal transactions. The major credit card companies offer no liability policies for lost or stolen cards as a means to mitigate cardholder worries but that only helps after the fact.

In Japan, Always Know Where Your Towel Is

I was in Japan last week for the Tokyo Game Show, among other things. There are a kajillion sites with direct coverage of TGS better than what I could offer so I’ll hold off on commentary in that area for now until it all sinks in a bit better. In the meantime, I’m going to make a couple of posts this week about Japan. I’ve been going there for about a decade now and it’s still a pretty fun place to visit even when the days are consumed by business topics.

Today’s lesson: you should always know where your towel is when in Japan. While The Guide says the towel should be big, like a bath or beach towel, in Japan you can get away with something much smaller like a wash cloth. Of course, most people don’t actually carry towels, they carry handkerchiefs. Typically these handkerchiefs serve much the same purpose as a small towel, used for drying hands, wiping sweat off your face and wetting to clean yourself up with. Very versatile!

Why is such an accessory which seems relegated to old men with runny noses or fashion statements in the US essential in Japan? Well, many restrooms still don’t have any means to dry your hands. Of course most even moderately trafficked areas will have paper tower dispensers or some kind of air dry system, but many older public restrooms and restrooms in smaller establishments are traditional and without something to dry your hands. Many restaurants will have paper napkins or provide a wet hand towel to clean your hands before eating and you can continue to use it during the meal, but there’s no shortage of restaurants which at best have only tissues as “napkins” or maybe nothing at all. Again, a small hand wash cloth or handkerchief will come to your rescue.

That’s just a couple of cases where a towel could be handy. Next time you find yourself in Japan without a handkerchief, be sure to bring along a small towel from your hotel room when heading out exploring and your day will go by with one less thing to worry about.