Individual@home: Videos
My Complete Video Blog

Dec
03

In my late teenage years and early twenties I used to practice Karate in a group named Fujiyama. It was a non-profit group of friends so we didn’t have any place of our own to use as a Dojo. Thus, we used this helicopter landing facility in Gan Saker park in Jerusalem, just a few minutes walk from the Israel parliament, which was just the perfect place when it was not too hot or too cold. I find those days hard to believe myself so here is a Google Earth kml link for the exact Fujiyama Dojo location and below you can see a picture of me practicing when I was about 20, even though this one was taken in another park in Jerusalem rather than our usual Dojo.

Anyways, my point is that (other than having this crazy looking beard) I was in a very good physical shape in those days. A 5-10 Kilometer run, for example, was a common fun afternoon pastime but unfortunately we are talking history here and things have changed tremendously since then. I am on my way to be 39 next June and have been working almost entirely in front of computer screens for the past 12 years. Managing the development of the new Conceptis website in the past 4 years didn’t make things any better either. I do walk around the neighborhood from time to time but it’s obviously not enough. So, realizing I need to do something about it quite urgently I followed this link from my wife today to the website of the Poleg Karate Center, the central Dojo of ITKF in Israel. It’s not much of a website and no, I don’t think this would solve my problems but I still like to share a few in my opinion interesting facts:

Karate is not a game or a sport but a form of martial art with a few sub-methods. I used to practice Shotokan which was invented in the arly 20th century by a cool fellow named Gichin Funakoshi (seen in the above picture courtesy of fski.licomnet.com) and fits thin (58kg) and, mmm, not very high (169 cm) people like myself. I have visited a few Karate clubs in the past years looking for a place to practice Shotokan Karate with practice routines that will fit the way I would like to train this particular form of martial art. Except for a certain club I visited in Tokyo during my visit there with Dave Green in 2004, I have always been disappointed from what I saw and was tuned off.

The Fujiyama group was disassembled soon after both of our Senseis and a few of our team-members made a move to live in Los Angeles in the early nineties so they can practice in Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama’s studio, a legendary Karateka seen in the above video from 1955. To the best of my knowledge at least one of my Fujiyama mates, a fellow named Eran Shine who used to be a very good friend of mine and is also an actor who played the SS officer in Timecop 2 AKA Timecop: The Berlin Decision and has a page on IMDB) still is an active member in Nishiyama’s club. Unfortunately I have not been in touch with Eran for a few years. Perhaps this would be one of those things that will somehow change things with that respect. You can see Eran in the above B&W photo, shown behind me on the left side of the photo.

The world is small and reading his website I believe that other than being the coach of the Israeli team representing Israel in international championships, Sensei Moshe Rokah (in the above picture) is also the brother of or otherwise related to Sensei Avi Rokah, who was in some point of time a close friend of a few members in out group and practiced the same methods. It says on the site that the Dojo was established “more than ten years ago, by Sensei Moshe Rokah, after his return from LA, where he studied the art of the empty hand for ten years from Sensei Hidetaka Nishiyama, 9th Dan, chief instructor and founder of ITKF”.

Thanks wife. What a link! I told myself many times I will change things in my life after we launch the new site. Now I know that one of them will be getting back to practicing Karate. Sensei Rokah’s Dojo is open 6 days a week, morning and evening (fantastic!) and all classes are thought by himself. In addition, there are beginner classes in the evenings which is perfect for this individual at home… I plan to contact Moshe Rokah (972-50-268-61-65 or 972-9-8350163) visit and experience one of his beginner classes as soon as I can. The Poleg karate Center in Natanya is located approximately 3 minuets driving from where I write this post.

More about what Karate is in this great Wikipedia article, and here is a beautiful video of the Heian Godan kata. A Kata is a set of 20 to 70 moves simulating a combat between the performer and various number of imaginary opponents in a given space.

Dec
02

Titles are important and every blogger knows the feeling of hitting the “publish” button just about two seconds before an unfortunate change of opinion regarding the chosen one. That’s what they invented the “edit post button”, even though your RSS and email subscribers are likely to get the one before the change. When it comes to print publishing business, however, there is usually no way back so you might want to make sure your title is what you think it is. It’s always a good idea to reconsider your title before hitting the road with it.

Take this children cooking book for example. Though currently unavailable on Amazon (“don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock”) this cute publication made its way up to Digg’s Health homepage following this submit by Allsuxmonkey who just bookmarked this thread on Flickr. Not necessarily a very good PR campaign. As I said, titles are important. Always reconsider your title before hitting the road with your masterpiece… 🙂

Dec
02

What can be better than reading this with your Sunday morning coffee? My favorite urban culturist was just dressed up with a new cleaner look design and some very interesting layout mods such as the Recent Entries, Recent Comments and Most Commented elements at the bottom. A new design is always refreshing when done properly and this one gets my thumbs up for sure, even before I read on to the last paragraph saying:

There are some folks who have helped build WebUrbanist in a variety of ways – too many, really, to count. Here are just a few of the people who have had a role in shaping what the site is today. Mike, Jeff, Kurt and Kris are critical to producing content and maintaining WebUrbanist. Avi, Alex and Shane have continued to inspire the site’s progress. Without technical assistance from John and moral support from people like John, Gil, Skipp, Halil, and K. Stone the site would not be what it is today. Thank you all, and thank you dear readers.

I could hardly believe my own eyes, but there seems to be no mistake here as based on the link this Gil must be me. I guess I must have done some good somehow.

While we are on the subject of doing good it might be a good place to remind you that keeping up a website of a magnitude like weburbanist.com takes a lot of $$, so if you wish to help my friends there with the ever-growing costs of maintaining and hosting their venture consider using this particular link (or just click and follow the above picture) to purchase the Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents hardcover title this holiday season from Amazon.com.

http://weburbanist.com

Nov
30

Yes, Finland once again took the lead in OECD’s three-yearly PISA test of 15-year old secondary-school students, followed by Hong Kong (China) and Canada in second and third place. The tests we focused on science but also examined math and reading orientation. I happen to know one of the great teachers they have there and I can tell why. Other than solving Conceptis puzzles, being an avid puzzle blogger and community fan AND a great friend, Leena also teaches math in the past 20 years and must have a real part in Finland being where it is on this list. For further background reading, see Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy, A Framework for PISA 2006.

I would offer the Israeli education ministry to consider a massive import of Leenas from Finland to Israel, no wonderly ranked by the OECD tests as number 39. That is of a total of 57 countries. With an average math grade of 56.9 within 10 years olds (Hebrew news from Haaretz) and after ranked 31 of 45 countries in recent international reading orientation tests I wouldn’t expect Israel for any better. Every Israeli citizen knows we have no functioning education system in this country any more and that the future of our children is only up to our personal budget and status. Finland might be leading but Israel has a serious problem.

Official OECD announcement
OECD test results (pdf)

Nov
30

We all got used to the vast difference between the kind of future Hollywood has been promising us for years and what this future looks like today. Can any of us have a fun ride on one of those cool personal flying vehicles we seen so many times? Has any of us beamed himself from work to the gym lately? I don’t think so. Most of us are still driving fuel engine highly polluting wheels and the future is not really here, but still, it seems to be getting at least a bit closer. In contrast to most robots any of us ever saw and even to the extravagant showcase they put up in 2005, the 2007 International Robot Exhibition opened this Wednesday in Tokyo Japan emphasizes real usage options of robots and features quite a few of them designed to be used in everyday life.

Tatsuo Matsuzaki, an official at Kokoro Company Ltd., showing off a dental patient robot named Simroid that mumbles a Humanoidic “ouch” when the drill hits a nerve (see video below), says we can already “see the light in the practical use of robots”. Shoichi Hamada, a senior official at the Japan Robot Association said that two years after the 2005 Expo which showed “the future of life with robots” we have no came to a point where it’s time to see how we can actually use them. “Now practical application of robots is in sight,” Hamada told AFP. “Many companies here are in a position to let people see what the robots can actually do at this stage of technology.”

Approximately 200 companies and more than 50 future looking organizations from across the world are taking part in the four days event, practically the most interesting robot show anyone can offer nowadays. According to a recent report by Macquarie Bank quoted in TechnologyReview Japan is an industrial robot powerhouse, with over 370,000 in use in 2005 about 40 percent of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees.

Soon coming robots according to timesonline.uk:

  • Steps: Honda has a humanoid that can run up stairs
  • Exercise: The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has designed a robot that can demonstrate exercises
  • Guide: Hitachi has a robot that uses sophisticated radar to lead visitors through crowds to their destination
  • Safety: Taisei has a robot that will enter a building and remove asbestos by remote control
  • Nurse: The University of Shiga is close to perfecting a robot that lifts people from beds into wheelchairs. The Riken Research Institute is developing an endoscopic surgery robot that follows voice commands to pass instruments to the human surgeon
  • Words: The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has a robot capable of learning sign language. Tokyo University of Science has built one capable of reproducing mouth movements and should, researchers say, soon be able to mimic human speech
Nov
29

I have always been fascinated by robots and even more by Cyborgs so this fellow got my attention in just about two seconds. Living and working in Tahoe City, California in USA, Jeremy Mayer disassembles typewriters and then puts them back together as those amazing full size cyborg robotic figures. He also does that using no soldering, welding or gluing or – for that matter – any formal education and training.

Mayer is actually a rare case of autodidact who in our formal-education driven culture managed to become a “recognized” artist. Thus, his art is constantly exhibited in various solo and group shows, corporate collections and other public spaces. His larger sculptures can take up to 1,200 hours to complete. I met Jeremy through StumbleUpon where he keeps the following stetment on his profile. I thought you should read that too:

“People keep telling me to find a way to make things that take less time and that I can sell more of. Your planet is still so strange to me. What you do IS who you are. Do things because you love to. Share it with your friends. Everything else is waste.”

They don’t get much cooler than you, Jeremy. Cheers on that!

http://jeremymayer.com
http://mayerific.stumbleupon.com

Nov
28

Could it be that this time, the who know which time, some real good will grow out of the current global penguin politicians parade? Looking at what is still going on in the West Bank and listening to what the Israeli settlers and right-wingers have to say, watching the way the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are divided over the meeting, allow your humble servant to share his skeptic doubts with you on the subject.

This said, lack of vision has always been one of the worst problems of my country so, with everyone spilling his skeptic doubts all over I know I should do the opposite: According to a statement published at the Annapolis conference today Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed on launching a new round of peace talks with the goal of “reaching an agreement by the end of next year.” I think that is very good. lets all cross our fingers see where this is heading to.

Meanwhile, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli TV that the “Annapolis conference is a continuation of one-sided concessions by Israel” the Associated Press reported, and earlier today Israeli officials said they will “begin reducing electric power to Gaza next week in response to rocket attacks launched against Israel from Gaza”.

“Begin reducing electric power to Gaza”…? Providing the Israeli government has serious intentions towards Annapolis, this must be a way to educate the Palestinian people for something but I am not sure for what. Perhaps for how to continue manufacturing bombs using less electricity and lower carbon footprint. Perhaps this is why baltimoresun.com says all eyes are on the Annapolis summit. Low-power consumption manufacturing is a hot subject nowadays.

Images courtesy of baltimoresun.com

Nov
27

According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study titled The end of advertising as we know it, and based on IBM global surveys of more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts, it seems the Advertising industry is about to be changed completely in the near future when: “spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats” will surpass traditional, one-to-many advertising channels and a “significant share of ad space will be sold through auctions and exchanges”.

Furthermore: according to the study, Advertising will be viewed and acted on an “ad, and pay based on real impact” rather than “estimated impressions”. Consumers will “self-select” their advertising and “share preferred ads with peers”. User-generated advertising is also expected to gain more attention becoming “prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots.”

Thanks to Greg Verdino for his useful lead.

Download complete IBM Institute for Business Value study (302KB)
Download executive summary (104KB)

Nov
27

Seven years ago when I started collaborating with Dave Green and Conceptis, the company had just this one picture logic puzzle type they called Pic-a-Pix and it only came with black and white pictures. It was year 2000 but in the west no one had a clue what we were talking about when we showed him our samples. It was a long way from that point to nowadays when eleven puzzle families, dozens of variants and hundreds of different puzzle models are published in more than 30 countries across the world. This includes Japan, where Pic-a-Pix and other other picture logics as Link-a-Pix and Fill-a-Pix are published by G-Mode (Japan’s leading mobile phone game provider).

As opposed to Japan, In the west picture logic puzzles are still a rare product when it comes to mobile but, along with Sudoku becoming the world’s most popular puzzle, even this is starting to change and people become much more familiar with other language independent puzzle types. It seems that the way for the world to realize Sudoku is a very boring game comparing to some other logic puzzles is getting shorter every day. Take Hands-On Mobile, for example, a developer of connected games and applications that released a mobile game package earlier this week dedicated to what they refer to as “Japanese Puzzles”.

Following-up on their claimed to be successful Sudoku Garden game from 2006, the new mobile puzzle package includes both Sudoku and Kakuro puzzles as well as some Paint-by-Number puzzles, also known as Pic-a-Pix, Nonograms, Griddlers and in this case referred to as “Tenpenki”.

Hands-On Mobile’s Japanese Puzzles seem to be a feature rich application and claimed to support:

  • Multi-player puzzling of up to four players competing against each other wirelessly.
  • Up to nine pencil marks
  • Hint lookup
  • Beginner tutorial mode
  • Back statistics for skill improvement monitoring
  • Save solution status and reload later
  • Voyage mode allows players to take on all three games and unlock more content
  • Access to additional content by downloading new puzzles every day and by competing for the fastest time against other puzzle fans from around the world.

According to Eric Hobson, President and General Manager EMEA, Hands-On Mobile “the puzzle sector is a vast market, and one where demand still exceeds supply.” I agree with that claim and, even though you might say Mr. Hobson and myself are in a way competitors in the market, I would like to wish him success with his new game. Picture logic puzzles as his Japanese Puzzles Tenpenki are on their way to consensus and mainstream entertainment and there will be enough business for everyone.

Hands-On Mobile

Nov
26


Wow… yakki