Category Archives: Photos

Two new toys: Nabaztag and Chumby

As you may know, I’m a bit of a gadget freak. I haven’t gotten around to blogging about my Nokia 770 internet tablet (which I got cheap last year and happily use to check e-mail and listen to internet radio via or my little wifi-enabled Nikon S51c digital camera, but last week I acquired two new friends in my office, a Nabaztag and a Chumby.

The Nabaztag is a wifi enabled “rabbit”, that can read out text and RSS feeds, plays music, displays lights to represent different conditions (e.g. weather, new mail), and it has an RFID reader in its ears which can enable the detection of different objects (e.g. it could read an RFID-enabled book to you if you wave it by the ears of the rabbit). While some aren’t happy, I think it’s a cool device with many applications for those who may not want or need a video interface. My Nabaztag is called Babbitty.

The Chumby has been touted as an Internet alarm clock, but it’s much more than that. It has a touch screen which displays and allows you to interact with a set of multimedia widgets which can be grouped into channels. For example, my default channel shows my Flickr photos, tweets from my Twitter contacts, an NHK-style clock, and news from the BBC and the Onion. There’s even a talking Tim O’Reilly widget in there somewhere! I got it from, and named it after me (Cloud)!

You can see them both above. I haven’t gotten them to talk to each other yet, but many things are now possible…

Day 1 (or at least half of it) at the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo

After much fupping searching of bags, bodies and shoes and confiscating of my soft drinks in Busan Airport, I made it to the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya this afternoon for the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo where I attended some of today’s events. (I missed this morning’s English-language sessions unfortunately; I was looking forward to the ones with Joi Ito and Tim Bray.)

So I began by going to the exhibition demonstrations in the afternoon: after talking to Paul Chapman from Wall Street Associates (whom I met with his colleague Ross Sharrott) about social software and the Semantic Web, Paul recommended that I go see the Springnote exhibition from Korean-based NCsoft. Steve Kim from the company gave me a nice demonstration of their Springnote WYSIWYG wiki system for writing, organising and sharing personal notes. At some of the other stands, I also learned more than I previously knew about the Zimbra mashup-enabled e-mail application and the Lotus Connections enterprise social networking system from IBM.

After that, I met a bunch of cool people at the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo cocktail party: Jennifer Pahlka (the Web 2.0 Expo organiser with CMP Technology, who’s just after recovering from a busy sister event in Berlin), Tim O’Reilly (with whom I had a short but interesting conversation about how the Semantic Web can work with Web 2.0; that it can be about using semantics to create the connections between existing community contributions on various social sites rather than requiring a load of unrewarding manual slogging), Brady Forrest (organising chair for Web 2.0 Expo and a number of other conferences with O’Reilly Media), Evan Williams and Sara Morishige (the co-founder of Pyra Labs / Odeo / Twitter and his wife whom I met very briefly), Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo advisory board members Seiji Sato and Shuji Honjo, venture capital guru Masashi Kobayashi, and also project manager Fumi Yamazaki from Joi Ito’s Lab.

20071115a.jpg Talking with Fumi, we agreed that there’s not enough social media being produced by attendees at the event, so we endeavoured to make up for it tomorrow. To this end, because I left our big FZ7 at home in Ireland and since I only have my camera phone with me, I went exploring in Shibuya and got a nice cheap wi-fi enabled Nikon COOLPIX S51c for $239 (which is a good $50 cheaper than the average price online; my first Blade Runner-like Tokyo skyline picture is shown on the right). I’ll be snapping like mad tomorrow, and I’d also encourage people to use the “web2expotokyo” tag for their event-related content: let’s see if we can gather some stuff from these two days on Flickr, Technorati, SlideShare, etc.

I’m looking forward to these talks tomorrow (I’ve “nativised” the literal translations of the presentation titles given on this page):

  • 10:00 – Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter – “In conversation with Tim O’Reilly”
  • 10:55 – Rie Yamanaka, a director with Yahoo!’s commercial search subsidiary Overture KK – “A paradigm shift in advertisement platforms: the move into a real Web 2.0 implementation phase”
  • 11:50 – Scott Deitzen, president and CTO of Zimbra – “The impact of ‘software as a service’ and Web 2.0 on the software industry”
  • 14:35 – Joe Keller, marketing officer with Kapow – “Understanding and applying the value of enterprise mashups to your business”
  • 16:35 – Håkon Wium Lie, CTO with Opera and the creator of CSS – “The best Web 2.0 experience on any device”
  • 17:30 – Eric Klinker, CTO with BitTorrent Inc. (I met Eric and Vincent Shortino this evening) – “Web 2.0 and content delivery”

Then, tomorrow (Friday) night, the blognation Japan launch party will take place here in Shibuya. Check out the Upcoming or Facebook pages for more details and sign up if you’re interested. (Oh, and on Saturday, since I’m an anime and manga fan, I plan to go to see the talk “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese – And Why Western Kids Love It” that’s on here too!)

Some images from Narita

I snapped these images on my phone this morning; heading to Busan this afternoon.


This is a typical scene on the side of a Japanese street – vending machines, and lots of them, even on less-populated streets. Not only can you get stuff like Coke and water (or the charmingly-named Pocari Sweat), but you get buy coffee in a can (heated), Kirin or Asahi beer for around a euro, and cigarettes galore. Oh, and some sake if you like it!


In a nation where the normal hair colour is black, hair dye is big business. Here’s a picture from a pharmacy showing a few of the options you can choose from (this is the men’s selection BTW).


I was looking for a depato (department store) and accidentally wandered into a full-blown pachinko zone. Pachinko is a Japanese game where you put little metal balls into a machine in the hope of getting more balls out, which you can then re-exchange for cash. (Actually, we had a less-interesting game not unlike that in Ireland where you’d put 2 pence coins into a machine in the hope of knocking one of an ever-growing piles of 2 pences off the edge into the out slot – I don’t think it had a name so I hereby christen it “topplepence”.) In this huge gambling building, there was row after row of people happily connected to their pachinko machines like cigarette-smoking Borgs. Maybe I’ll give it a go if I’m feeling brave next time…


And if a break is needed from pachinko, the same establishment has a relaxation area with massage chairs and a library of manga to read!

SF Weblogger Meetup / Tag Tuesday with Odeo


Originally uploaded by Cloudie.

On Tuesday evening, I met up with the San Francisco weblogger group, where we talked about blogging for business and profitability (lots of topics related to our it@cork Blogging for Business event). Had some interesting discussions with Paul, Chris, and Gavin.

Afterwards, I went along to this month’s Tag Tuesday event, featuring the podcast cataloguers (sp.) Odeo. The photo shows a shot of the tags from their website demonstration, and that decapitated head belongs to Niall who I met at the event. Dia dhuit, Niall! Also talked to Ryan (again), Eran (discussed microformats corresponding to SIOC) and Tantek from Technorati, Amber, Rabble and Blaine from Odeo (chatted about YARS), Evo and Mark from Jedi, Ashton (sp.), and David from USF.

Galway Photo Wins 3rd Prize Singles in World Press Photo

3rd prize singles – World Press Photo

Joe O’Shaughnessy from the Connacht Tribune has won a World Press Photo prize for his picture of Strange Fruit at the Galway Arts Festival last year. Strange Fruit are a visual and physical theatre company from Australia who perform on flexible, four-meter-high poles. It was a spectacular (and free!) performance given beside the Spanish Arch. I must dig out some more photos I have of the event…

Flickr Meetup

So after the MetaFilter event, a bunch of us headed on to the Flickr meetup at the Crossroads cafe. A nice relaxed venue for a meetup, and I can attest to their great hot chocolates and tasty meatloaf with onion marmalade baps!

Met lots of Flickr enthusiasts too, and I’ve made a list of who I met as a reminder to my future selves: striatic, missmobtown, High Fidelity, Kodama, Courtney, Jason, Eddy, Nicole, Kai, Eddie and Nadia. Also met one of the founders, Stewart (co-founder Caterina was also at the meetup). Again, I didn’t really realise who Stewart was, but I remember we were talking about pulling the worst faces for photographs, and I was explaining how my buddy amp turned this into this.

Had a brief but interesting discussion with Ryan King from Technorati about microformats (which is related to my research work on SIOC), and also chatted with Will Luo from Applied Minds about RDF stores. Illustrating the small world phenomenon (in tech circles at least), I met Scott Beale from Laughing Squid who was talking about an employee they had from Galway, who turned out to be none other than someone I knew, John McDonnell!

Edit: There are some photos from the event at the Flickr tags for sflickr and sflickr0707.