One of my colleagues asked me about the timeline for publishing my second book. It looked something like this:

2011.12.15 -> Proposal submitted (cover letter and draft ms)
2012.04.23 <- Reader Reports received from Press
2012.04.30 -> Response to Reader Reports submitted (82,500 words)
-- Proposed deadline of 2012.6.1 for final author's ms
2012.06.04 -> Final author's ms sent to Press
2012.06.04 <- Press Board approves ms
2012.06.13 <- Press approves contract
2012.10.01 <- Press copyeditor sends back copyedited ms
2012.11.05 -> Copyedit approvals changes sent by Karen to Press
2013.01.31 <- Press provides final galley/page proofs (PDF)
2013.02.28 -> Page proof changes and approvals sent by Karen to Press
2013.05.19 <- Press receives first copies of book from printing presses
2013.05.20 <- Karen receives first copy
2013.05.23 <- Official publish date of _A Disability of the Soul_

From first contact to publication was 525 days (1 year 5 months and 8 days)

I have to say this is rather fast for an academic press. In my favor:

  • I had worked with the same Press for my first book and had the same editor, so things went smoothly
  • My editor knew that I was coming up for tenure and expedited things
  • I was also highly motivated to get things going quickly

In contrast, my first book took a bit more time. My initial letter (which included the table of contents and two draft chapters) was sent on November 14, 2003. The book was published on July 27, 2006. That is 2 years, 8 months, and 13 days from first contact to publication. However, a good part of this was the year that I spent working on revisions.

I'm working with the AAA on one of their websites designed for public education. I wanted to figure out what the reading level of the site was. Here's an online calculator that I found:

With deep regret, I've had to implement a filter that block all IP traffic originating from Chinese internet service providers. This affects all of the websites and blogs under my control. The reason for this was that I was getting an inordinate amount of web traffic from those IP ranges. These were likely not legitimate traffic but instead spam and/or hacking attempts.

With 25-50 gigabytes of traffic a day, my website provider was going to charge me over $1000 a month in bandwidth over-usage costs, even after I had upgraded to one of their high-volume contracts. I just couldn't afford this.

Since implementing the block, web traffic has plummeted back to normal levels.

20130522 PairBandwidth

A Color Blindness Simulator (via my pal JL):

Although there's strong interest in open access as the future of anthropological publishing, it isn't free. One of the best models for digital publishing is PLOS One but as their website indicates, they charge authors $1350 for publishing an article, and some of the other journals in their portfolio charge up to $2900. There are waivers available.

PLOS Biology US$2900

PLOS Medicine US$2900

PLOS Computational Biology

PLOS Genetics US$2250

PLOS Pathogens US$2250

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases



A note for Karen: One of the open source programs for open access journals is:

In general, I like the new Mac OS versions but the one thing I don't like is that applications like MS Word open up all my old documents when they start up again. Here's how to stop it:

Type the following in terminal:

defaults write NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false
defaults write NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false
defaults write NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false

Very user unfriendly. Poops.

Don't Feed the Animals

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Seeing such an expensive lens being demolished like this is so painful to bare. According to the article, a woman was "trying to change lenses while standing at the edge of the enclosure, and accidentally let the 70-200mm slip out of her grasp and into Felix's territory."


I've been a fan of the backup service Crashplan ( but the service had been crashing on my Mac Book Pro when I upgraded to Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8). I wasn't sure what was going on and googled around.

Changing the memory buffer size for Java has seemed to fix things. I used the instructions here:

Nothing worse than a backup system that doesn't work! I just had one of my Seagate 700 megabyte drives fail on my desktop at work, crashplan is churning away restoring it. It's having some trouble on some files, which is the subject perhaps of a followup post.


If you have two video cameras running at the same time in the field, syncing the video tracks in FCP can sometimes be a pain. My pal, filmmaker Harjant Gill, turned me onto Plural Eyes - which does this automatically. Cost: $149.

Found this site about applying to grad schools. Could be useful for advisees:

My main machine is an early 2008 Mac Pro. It's hard to believe it's four years old already... In any case, the DVD drives fail about once a year due to dust build-up. I replaced the original one with a PATA drive from a donor, but the new drives are all SATA.

Here's how to install a SATA DVD drive in the 2008:

Useful info.

"Her depression controlled her life for the next 40 years -- until she decided to volunteer for an experimental treatment. A neurosurgeon would drill two holes in Guyton's skull and implant a pair of battery-powered electrodes deep inside her brain.

The procedure -- called deep brain stimulation, or DBS -- targets a small brain structure known as Area 25, the "ringleader" for the brain circuits that control our moods, according to neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg.

Mayberg's groundbreaking research on this part of the brain showed that Area 25 is relatively overactive in depressed patients. So, Mayberg hypothesized that in patients who do not improve with other treatments, Area 25 was somehow stuck in overdrive."

Just a quick note that I'm giving a talk tomorrow afternoon at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Just landed here and it's truly like another planet. Having my own Jane Carter moment….

DISABILITY OF THE SOUL | Thursday, April 12, 2012 2:00 PM BEH S Room 114

[read more]
Event Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2012 2:00 PM MDT


By Karen Nakamura
Associate Professor
of Anthropology and East Asian Studies,
Yale University

For the past several years, Prof. Nakamura has been conducting research within an intentional community of people with severe mental illnesses in northern Japan. Founded in 1984 on Christian principles, Bethel House attempts to create a space where people with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders can live within
the community.

Like other utopias, Bethel is not without its flaws but it also has much to teach us in its approach to mental illness and community life. A visual and cultural anthropologist, Prof. Nakamura's work explores through image and text what it means to live with psychiatric and other disabilities in contemporary Japan.

One of my coworkers wanted a simple audio data recorder to do some interviews. Here was my response to her:

Sorry to take a few days to get back to you on the audio recorders. I think you said you wanted a digital audio recorder that you could use to transfer files back to your computer, that eliminates several of the sub-$50 models and so the cheapest ones are all in the $50-100 range and above.

There are a couple of Sony models in this price range, but I find that Sony usually has complicated user interfaces and really bad software, so unless you're a huge Sony fan, I'd generally avoid:

Sony ICD-PX312 $52

I'd instead recommend Olympus. They tend to have simpler interfaces that are easier to use and harder to mess up:

Olympus VN-8100PC $65

There are models that go on up from there, but unless you want to record live audio (concert performances, etc.) then they are overkill.


I'll be giving a talk at the Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology tomorrow night (Thur March 22; 7pm) with the title: Crooked Nails Standing Tall: Images and Stories of Disability and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan. If you're in the Winston-Salem area, stop in!

I'm often asked by people who have read my articles or my book, Deaf in Japan, if I could introduce them to people who are engaged in disability or deaf studies in Japan. Unfortunately, I cannot do this because introductions in Japan are considerably more fraught than in the United States:

An introduction in Japan has two dimensions:

  • Guarantee: By introducing someone to one of my informants, I am serving as their guarantor and vouching for them. If there are any problems or difficulties, it then becomes my responsibility to resolve any social or financial damage that might be caused by them.
  • Reciprocity: By introducing someone to one of my informants, I am asking my informant to do a favor on my behalf -- to take care of the visitor and to make sure that their needs are met. The assumption is that this favor will be reciprocated by me at a later date.

While I will do introductions for my students and people that I meet and know, I cannot vouch for or ask favors of my informants for people that I have not met and do not know. Instead, I will usually refer people to google or use the white pages and to cold call people (or more appropriately, to use their own letterhead in a formal letter of self-introduction).

This is definitely one of more stuffy and formalistic aspects of doing fieldwork in Japan.

I was at the CP+ convention last month when Fuji unveiled the X-Pro1 and played with the camera a bit. I have to say that I was very disappointed in its lens work. Basically I found both the auto-focus useless as it hunted far too much, even in a well-lit environment. I was never sure of whether the focus was achieved unless I was in EVF mode, which seemed to defeat the purpose of an optical viewfinder.

In manual focus, the stock Fuji lenses seemed to be very "detached" from the focus ring. I didn't have the confidence that I could snap focus like I could with a Leica M rangefinder.

The worst aspect though of manual focusing was that there was only one manual focusing aid -- the magnified view option. This is good but is now a bit dated.


I decided instead to get a Ricoh GXR base camera and plan to get an M-module very soon. I've already tested this setup and I found that the contrast-highlight manual focus option on the GXR is very fast and accurate -- as accurate as my rangefinding focus. Will report on this setup more as I get more experience with it.



Comparison Reviews

Sensor SizeM4/3APS-C
35mm Equiv.2.0x1.5x
Sensor Megapixels1616.312.3
Viewfinder MPix1.44
VF2: 1.44
RearMonitor KPix4606101230920
RearMonitor TouchYesNo
Mic-InYesNoYes (custom)No
Body Weight (g)394272425450370

Note: The GXR is the GXR A12 mount for Leica M

Video: Out of Sight

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Yesung Lee sent me this wonderful short animation, titled Out of Sight, made by three students who graduated from the National Taiwan University of Arts.

out of sight from kynight on Vimeo.

Watch it until the end.

Like the author, I too am in love with the Southern accent:

Yay! Using the info here, I finally liberated myself from that incessant LinkedIn spam:

LinkedIn Customer Support Message

Subject: Add My Email To Do Not Contact List
Hi Karen,

I truly apologize for the delay in my response.

Per your request, I've added your email address to
our "do not contact" list.

You will no longer receive any email from LinkedIn or our members on this
email address. If you decide at a later date that you want to set up a
LinkedIn account, you will need to first contact
us to have your email address removed from the “do not contact” list.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reply to this message.


LinkedIn Customer Service
Original Contact:
Member Comment: Karen Nakamura 01/17/2012 01:33
Please add my e-mail to your do not contact list. I have no wish to ever use linkedin.
Thank you.

Karen Nakamura

My pal Eric sent me this link:

Some links for further cogitation:

I was trying to find a link to the oft-quoted dilemma of TV news crews in disasters -- keep filming the person being swept away by a river, or jump in to save them. But couldn't. Readers?

I've been spending the past couple of months in Tokyo. Worried about the radiation, I brought my DRGB-90 russian geiger counter /dosimeter that I had bought a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, the DRGB is a rather old analogue design and the readings at low (natural background radiation) are rather imprecise. I modified it so that it could hook up directly to an application on iOS called Geigerbot that is a sophisticated click-counter. Set up correctly, it can give you precise microsievert per hour readings. It also interfaces with Pachube which allows historical readings. Now Geigerbot can use the microphone on your iPad/iPhone to detect the geiger counter's audible clicks, but it will of course also pick extraneous external noise.

DRGB90 mod 002

I wanted to directly interface my DRGB-90 with my iPhone so I could have more precise readings. Unfortunately, the DRGB doesn't have an external speaker jack or any other outputs. I wrote up an article (that I've since moved the actual hacking instructions to another blog) that talks about how to hack it. For this blog, here's the data coming out of the DRGB-90 + iPhone + Geigerbot.

It shows that radiation levels -- at least in my apartment in Tokyo -- is around 0.15 uSv/hr. This is actually lower by a full BED than background radiation in many places in the United States, which averages 0.23 uSv/hr. I haven't taken the unit mobile yet to see if there are any hotspots, but for now I feel less worried about the situation at least in terms of background radiation. I'm still concerned about food as a set of recent revelations make it clear that government and corporate monitoring has been less than ideal in this regard. Unfortunately, measuring food contamination is extremely difficult and not something a consumer can do herself. For more info, see

From my mailbox:

Jean Rouch International Film Festival

Please, pass this on to your colleagues, friends and students

Dear Friends,

We are very pleased to announce that the 2012 Jean Rouch International Film Festival is now open for entries. We remind you that the deadline to submit a film is 15th April 2012.
This deadline is for all films completed after 1st January 2011 .
You will find the online entry form on our website via:
We are looking forward to receiving your film submissions.
With our very best regards.

The Organizing Committee
Barberine Feinberg, Françoise Foucault, Laurent Pellé.

The Festival Jean Rouch, previously known as Bilan du FIlm Ethnographique, was created in March 1982 by anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch.
Over the past thirty years, the Festival’s aim has been to showcase the most innovative and relevant trends in ethnographic filmmaking and visual anthropology, and to promote dialogue between cultures.
Organized by the Comité du Film Ethnographique, this international film festival is held in Paris (France). Each year, it brings together filmmakers, academics, students and producers, in an attempt to promote discussions and debates amongst ethnographic film practitioners and their many public, and to favour the diffusion and the distribution of the films.
We welcome documentary films without restriction to theme and length.

Comité du Film Ethnographique
Festival International Jean Rouch
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
36 rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire - CP 22
75005 Paris


As a faculty member of an Ivy league, I get a lot of crazy e-mails. This one seemed legit at first:
Dear Professor,

The Beverly Hills Times Magazine is considering running an article on the hypotheses, biography, and pictures located at [redacted]. We are asking for your assistance because your extensive expertise was brought to our attention. …

Our main goal at this point is to determine whether there is any established scientific evidence that tends either to support or invalidate the hypotheses. We would also consider publishing one of your own articles as trade for your contribution. We are interested in opinions from multiple fields of expertise. If you do not have time please feel free to forward this to a colleague.

but there were too many red flags. I decided to see if there was any legitimacy to it, and it turns out that there isn't:

While not a phishing attack, malware, or a Nigerian prince with the last name of Nakamura, it's still a type of link bait scam. Avoid.

And don't feed the trolls.

While we're on the topic of fictional skits, my pal Nana sent me this one. It's in Japanese only. It depicts some fathers who are having trouble communicating with their teenage daughters using their keitai cell phones.

(Right now, I'm watching the first season of Louie, so it's particularly amusing to me).

I'm not sure how I feel about this mix of static and motion image that Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg are calling cinemagraphs. Some are quite beautiful like this one below, others are a bit more meh.

See more at: Jamie Beck e Kevin Burg – Cinemagraphs

From TheProfessorIsIn, much of the same could be said about PhDs in the social sciences...

And nine years later...

The Sky is a Gradient

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I'm (JCR) exploring web design and a new life lately, and/so these sky pictures touched a nerve. Beautiful, simple, and well designed. Click here to see some of the photographer's other beauties.


Via Minimalissimo.

Careers: The Professor is In

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One of the graduates of our PhD program (hi Nana!) turned me on to Karen Kelsky's blog and website, TheProfessorIsIn. Kelsky used to be a tenured professor in the field of Japan Anthropology, then dropped out to become a paid academic consultant. The advice she gives on her site is cogent and insightful:
My position is, rather: go in not just with “your eyes open” (as so many Ph.D. program apologists insist) but with a strategy and a game plan. Calculate your chances from start to finish, and maximize them with strategic choices about *which* program, *how much* funding, *what* topic, *which* advisor, *how much* TA-ing, *how* to cut corners, *when* to be selfish, *where* to network, *how* to schmooze, *where* and *when* and *how often* to publish. And so on. Find the job ad for the type of position you want and make every decision based on reaching that goal. Get out quickly. Don’t count on your advisor. Don’t fixate on the dissertation. Protect yourself. Collect your own set of transferrable professional skills.
People wanting to go to graduate school as well as those in grad school should definitely check her site out. Here's the direct link to her blog:

Elyn Saks on schizophrenia

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I somehow missed this great article about Elyn Saks' book, The Center Cannot Hold:
In 2007, after years of weighing the possible risks, Elyn R. Saks, a professor of law at the University of Southern California, published a memoir of her struggle with schizophrenia, “The Center Cannot Hold.” It became an overnight sensation in mental health circles and a best seller, and it won Dr. Saks a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award.

Thought the 1/2000 second shutter on your camera was fast? The NY Times reports on a new generation of scientific cameras with shutter speeds in the femtoseconds -- two-trillionths of a second -- fast enough to catch light moving as a wave:

I want to know if I can retrofit it to my Leica III. :-)

Two tips for Microsoft word

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I'm on the cusp of sending the manuscript for A Disability of the Soul to my publisher. I was cleaning up the text and came across tips for two important tasks:
  1. Are you plagued with horizontal rules in Word that won't go away? These horizontal rules are created when you type three dashes --- in a row -- and are almost impossible to get rid of. Deleting them won't work, cutting them won't work. They are immortal. Here's how to get rid of them:
  2. I needed to add line numbers down the left side of the page to make it easier for copyeditors to mark material. Here's how to do it:

In both cases, scroll down as the tips are at the bottom of the pages.

A student who is afraid of flying asked me how to survive the fourteen hour flight to Japan. These were my tips:

  • Shorten. Take a direct flight. Connections suck.
  • Reserve. Make sure to get a seat in the forward half of the cabin. Less turbulence and less claustrophobic.
  • Sleep. Don't drink any caffeine on the day of the flight and try to board the plane slightly sleep deprived. If needed, pharmaceuticals can be your friend. Take a (properly prescribed) chill pill or sleeping pill (not both!) and sleep through the entire thing. Alcohol can dehydrate you and make you wake up with a headache, but if a small glass of beer or wine will send you to lala-land, go for it. (I personally can't take either drugs or alcohol, so these last two are based on the advice of seatmates and other travelers).
  • Nest. Get a window seat and bring your own neck pillow and fluffy blanket.
  • Shutout. Get good earplugs, noise isolating or noise cancelling headphones with a good soundtrack or audiobook on your iPhone, and an eye mask and/or wear a baseball cap (it can shade the cabin light quite well).

Any other tips or suggestions?

I've collected all the tips on successfully applying to graduate school into a single index page:

Dear Karen,

I have been following your site for may many years now and thought I would send you a link to a project I am working on.

Although I am now working in the legal industry, my AB is in Anthropology and I have been a photographer for many years, working closely with the Silverlens Gallery in Manila until now. I have had two shows with them in the past, but this next one really brings in may background as an anthropologist much more than the previous two.

The project can be viewed here:

Just wanted to share that. I have enjoyed your website, and continue to read it over and over. If ever you are in Manila, pleas let me know!



Fascinating! Be sure to look at the flickr feed! - Karen

Reminder – Call for Films – ETHNOCINECA 2012
Deadline: January 15 2012

Dear colleagues and friends,

ETHNOCINECA is a film festival based in Vienna focusing on ethnographic
and documentary films. We would like to invite you to send us your
contribution(s) or to forward our Call for Films to interested filmmakers,
students and scientists.

You can find more information about the submission process in our entry

For further questions please feel free to contact us.

Kind regards,
Nadja Haumberger

Reposted for a colleague:

Funding available for Doctoral Research in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester

Application for a place on a PhD program should be made by mid-February at the latest, in order to be meet further deadlines for funding in March. Applicants are advised to make contact with faculty members who are potential supervisors in advance of formal application. For informal inquiries, please contact: Dr Sharon Kinsella, School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, at

The North West Doctoral Training Centre, jointly run by the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester, is offering 3 PhD studentships in Language-Based Area Studies, in fields which include East Asian Studies and Japanese Studies. These are open to UK and EU students. In addition, the University of Manchester is allocating about 40 President's Doctoral Scholar (PDS) awards to outstanding applicants across the Humanities. Approximately 20 of these PDS awards will top up an AHRC or ESRC award by an additional 1000 pounds, to raise the overall level of funding to 14, 590 pounds. A further 20 awards will be awarded to UK, EU and International applicants without AHRC or ESRC awards and will include tuition fees and an annual allowance of 13, 590 pounds. Successful candidates will be based at the University of Manchester.

The University has wide-ranging expertise in contemporary East Asian Studies with relevant members of staff based across the Faculty of Humanities, particularly in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, and the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures. We will be able to offer supervision on a wide range of topics on modern and contemporary Japan, and in topics involving East Asian societies, media, politics, population, and history.

For description of the North West Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) and of the opportunities for post-graduate studies which it offers, please go to
The deadline for the application for the North West DTC studentships is 25 March, 2011.

For description of the President's Doctoral Scholar (PDS) Awards, please go to
The deadline for applications for the PDS Award is the 1st March 2012.

UK and EU applicants are advised to apply for both awards in order to be eligible for both an ESRC and a PDS award.

Please note that prior to these deadlines you should apply for a place on the PhD programme in one of the two Schools mentioned above. The choice of School will depend on the location of the member of staff you wish to be supervised by and your field of study.

The NYTimes has two great photography related articles:

  • Years Later, Lawsuit Seeks to Recreate a Wedding: A man who married in 2003 is suing a photographer, citing omissions and demanding the re-creation of his wedding, even though the marriage ended in divorce.
  • 15 Years That Changed Photography: Sixty years ago this week, the Photo League fell victim to Cold War witch hunts and blacklists, closing its doors after 15 intense years of trailblazing – and sometimes hell-raising – documentary photography. From unabashedly leftist roots, the group influenced a generation of photographers who transformed the documentary tradition, elevating it to heady aesthetic heights.

Makes me happy to have a digital subscription. Now if they'd only cover more of the OWS protests!

I'm pleased to announce that A Japanese Funeral will be awarded the David Plath Media Award at the upcoming American Anthropological Association annual meeting. The prize committee noted:

This short documentary allows viewers to participate in a Japanese funeral following the unexpected death of a 39 year old man in his sleep. While the film shares no information about how the director came to have such open access to the event and family in question, it is an example of an aspect of ethnographic film often left undiscussed - a richness and intimacy that comes from sustained fieldwork preceding the shooting. Not only is the anthropologist there and given access once the death occurs but there is a sense that she has ties to the community that extent far beyond the three day even the film documents. In other words, the film allows one to see rather than stare at a Japanese funeral. The film should also be commended on its brevity because the disciplined editing contributes to the film being an experiential ethnography rather than an expository documentary.

Thank you!

The official website (with downloadable trailers) of my film is here:

The film itself can be purchased on

My (Jason) photography knowledge is pretty thin, so I was happy to see this article on NPR titled "A Woman Of Photos And Firsts, Ruth Gruber At 100." As the article explains:

At the age of 100, Ruth Gruber is responsible for a lot of firsts. When she was just 20, she became the youngest Ph.D. ever at the University of Cologne in Germany. She was the first photojournalist, much less female journalist, to travel to and cover both the Soviet Arctic and Siberian gulag. She documented Holocaust survivors and the plight of the ship, the Exodus 1947.

In other words, "She was just a badass -- no other way describe it," as Maya Benton is quoted in the article.

The short article also touches very clearly on some of the ethnographic issues of positionality anthropologists often face, for good or for bad. As the article says "being a woman gave her an advantage in getting sources to reveal themselves" and includes this exchange as an example of this advantage in action:

In 1944, she spent two weeks on the Henry Gibbins, a ship of 1,000 Jewish refugees, many of them clad in striped concentration camp uniforms, on a voyage from Italy to America.

She recalls: "Some of the men said, 'We can't tell you what we went through, it's too obscene. You're a young woman!' I said, 'Forget I'm a woman, you are the first witnesses coming to America.' So they talked. Nobody refused to talk."


One of my pals asked me which I thought was better: the Panasonic GH2 or the new GXR A-12 with M-mount. I own the GH2 and tested the GXR / A-12 at a camera show recently.

Here were my thoughts:

GXR or a Panasonic is a hard question, I think....

If you were only to put Leica lenses on it, I think the GXR is better:

+ Lower crop factor (1.6x vs. 2.0x) and bigger sensor
+ Better manual focusing options
+ Ability to code EXIF data to custom lenses
- The eye-level viewfinder was good but not *great*

If you wanted to use the Panasonic / Leica DG lenses as well as others then the Panasonic is better:

+ Much broader supply of auto-focus, auto-aperture Microfourthirds lenses from Panasonic, Olympus, and Leica
+ Ability to mount many more types of lenses (Nikon F, Pentax K, Leica R, C-Mount, original Olympus Pen, etc.)
+ More body options (GH2, G, GF3)
+ GH2 eye-level finder is very good (but not great).

I was also really impressed by the Fuji X100 viewfinder but I want it with an M mount rather than a fixed lens.
I was not so impressed with the Sony NEX but there are many people who like them.
The new Nikon 1 is a failure, I think. The Pentax mini series has some nice 'toy' features.

As for used camera lenses, in USA: KEH camera and B&H camera are the best.

In Japan, my favorites are Camera Alps in Shinjuku and Fujiya in Nakano.


I'm in Japan for the next couple of months and making good use of for many of my purchases, including camera equipment. Many people don't know, but Amazon's foreign subsidiaries have the Amazon Currency Converter feature where you can make the purchase either in the local currency (Japanese yen, in my case) or in US Dollars. This can be handy for credit cards that charge a currency conversion fee -- or for invoicing one's university in US dollars (in my case).

Will buying from using my local currency make my purchase less expensive? When you buy in Japanese Yen (JPY) at with a card denominated in a supported currency other than JPY (for example, a Euro-denominated card), the payment is converted from JPY to your local currency by your card company. In addition to the exchange rate, you may be charged additional foreign conversion charges and fees, which may increase the overall cost of your purchase.

With Amazon Currency Converter, your purchase total will be converted into your local currency while you're placing your order. In many cases, your purchase will be less expensive than using your card to make the purchase in Japanese Yen (JPY), as we offer a competitive exchange rate that includes any charges or fees related to the conversion.

But I was curious just how good of a rate Amazon was giving me. So on a recent JPY8225 purchase, I got the foreign conversion quote and then went ahead and made the purchase anyway using Japanese yen on an American credit card that doesn't charge a foreign conversion fee (CapitalOne):

	Local price: JP Y8225 - foreign conversion into USD: $111.19
CapitalOne credit card: $107.24

Amazon's rate: 73.97247954 y/$
CapitalOne rate: 76.697127937 listed rated: 76.7014

Conclusion: If you have a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card, then it's about 3% cheaper to use your own card than to use Amazon's Currency Converter feature.

p.s. Today's date 2011.09.19 21:24 JST.

I updated my desktop a while ago to 10.7 and tried to fire up Final Cut Pro. I was still running a fairly old version of FCP6 since I hadn't found any good reason to upgrade to FCS 3.0 -- and with the new "unimproved" Final Cut Pro X, decided to stay where I was. Final cut pro x But my FCP wouldn't run. Strange. I decided to try to reinstall it, but the installer wouldn't work. A quick search of the internets revealed:
  • FCP6 and 7 will run under Lion but won't install as the installer is based on PowerPC code.
  • Lion doesn't include Rosetta, the PowerPC emulator
  • You can install Rosetta from a 10.6 install disk
So I scrounged around my archives and found a OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard Disk) and in the Extras folder was an installer for Rosetta. Ran that and it installed without complaint. Then went to my FCP Studio 2 disk and ran the installer, and it worked! It's installing away just fine. Step by step means to install FCP 2 on OSX 10.7 Lion:
  • Find OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard disk)
  • Inside the "Optional Installs" folder is an "Optional Installs.mpkg" file. Click on that and select the "Rosetta" installation option
  • Install Rosetta
  • Install FCP 2 (ignoring the warnings)
  • Bask in glory
Phew! I was worried that I would have to shell out more money for the distinctly inferior new Final Cut Pro X -- which wouldn't be able to even read my previous FCP projects!

Just kidding. Sort of. Apparently you can buy a kit that lets you attach SLR lenses to your iPhone. The "catch" is that the kit is pretty pricey at around $200.

When I first saw the picture I just thought, Why?!, though a small part of me did squeal, FUN! Then I saw the prime bokeh in some of their photos and drooled.

But still...

Via Cult of Mac.

My home network has two wireless access points operating on two frequencies. My main Airport Express which is operating on 802.11n in the 5 gigahertz spectrum and a Linksys WRT54G (dd-wrt) which is operating on 802.11g/b in 2.4 GHz land.

This allows me to have full-speed on my 'n' devices which can operate in the clear airspace of 5 Ghz while still allowing legacy devices on 2.4 Ghz. I wish I had the latest Airports which had dual tuners, allowing for both at the same time, but this is the cheap way to get the same effect.

Recently, I wanted to check on my WRT54G but forgot its static IP address. It's in bridge mode, which means that it's not serving IP addresses itself and is basically invisible to the network. Good for devices connecting through it, not good if you want to update its settings.

I was struggling with remembering its IP addresses and thought I'd have to basically try all the IPs ( ping when I remembered a UNIX hack:

Karens-Neo-MacBoopPro:~ nakamura$ ping
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.069 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=255 time=0.957 ms (DUP!)
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=255 time=1.409 ms (DUP!)
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=5.339 ms (DUP!)

I pinged the network broadcast address ( and all the devices on the network responded. The only device in the list I didn't recognize was that was my router!

My mid-2009 MacBook Pro was starting to feel a bit old around the edges but we're on a multi-year replacement cycle at Yale and I wasn't going to get a new one soon. So I instead opted for an SSD drive upgrade/replacement.

I got a new 750 gigabyte (rotating) hard drive and used the MCE Tech OptiBay to mount an Intel 160 gigabyte SSD. So I have around 900 gigabytes of online data and my system and application boots are around 4x faster.

I used "Trim Enabler" to enable TRIM support for my Intel SSD on Mac OSX 10.6.8 (updated 2011.08: and MacOSX 10.7 Lion).


  Capacity:	160.04 GB (160,041,885,696 bytes)
  Model:	INTEL SSDSA2CW160G3                     
  Revision:	4PC10302
  Serial Number:	CVPR11xxxxHF160xxx  
  Native Command Queuing:	Yes
  Queue Depth:	32
  Removable Media:	No
  Detachable Drive:	No
  BSD Name:	disk0
  Medium Type:	Solid State
  TRIM Support:	Yes
  Partition Map Type:	GPT (GUID Partition Table)
  S.M.A.R.T. status:	Verified

Highly recommended for all MBP owners -- if you're willing to give up your optical drive bay!

I had some trouble configuring denyhost on my Mac OS X 10.6 (user) machine as the instructions on the website @ were wrong. Here is the correct configuration for denyhosts.cfg:


# Mac OS X (v10.4 or greater - 
#   also refer to:
# SECURE_LOG = /private/var/log/asl.log
# SSHD_FORMAT_REGEX=.* \[Sender sshd\] \[PID \d*\] \[Message .* PAM: (?P.*?)\].*?

# Mac OS X (v10.6 or greater - 
#   - reversion to standard log format. No need to do log regex parsing.
SECURE_LOG = /var/log/secure.log

# zip down a bit to the bottom:

#this work_dir worked for me, it's where the python install script added it:

WORK_DIR = /usr/share/denyhosts/data

#this lock_file worked for me although I had to create the directory:

LOCK_FILE = /var/lock/subsys/denyhosts

and then for the file [daemon-control]:

#### Edit these to suit your configuration ####

DENYHOSTS_BIN   = "/usr/local/bin/"
DENYHOSTS_LOCK  = "/var/lock/subsys/denyhosts"
DENYHOSTS_CFG   = "/usr/share/denyhosts/denyhosts.cfg"

PYTHON_BIN      = "/usr/bin/env python"

Hope this helps! This is only really necessary if your Mac is on the internet with a static IP and not behind a firewall or NAT router. 99.9% of home machines are ok because they are hidden behind NAT routers, it's mostly academic machines that are in danger.

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