Daily Marauder


THIS WEEK: LOST IN TRANSLATION IN JAPAN by Marauder

THIS WEEK: LOST IN TRANSLATION IN JAPAN

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For the past week, I’ve been darting across Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto attempting to soak in as much as possible within only several days. I came to Japan in hopes of seeing family, a mission which became complicated by the challenges which only family can bring. I left Japan with a deep respect for the tradition and rules which make every day tick along to the second. Here’s a download from my maraudering…

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Nothing Says Japan Like a 6A Sushi Breakfast

Tsukiji Market, Tokyo

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Tsukiji Market is the renowned fish auction market where most of the fish in Tokyo is purchased on a daily basis. A few suggestions if you plan to go. Get there EARLY! I don’t mean 5A early. I mean 4A early. To get there this early, you can only take a taxi as the trains don’t run until around 5 in the morning. Friends recommended that we head there on our first morning in Tokyo. Being that time is misaligned from the many hours of time difference from LA, this was the perfect plan. Sushi Dai is the famous sushi restaurant in Tsukiji but with 2 hour lines and the crowds to match, we settled for a more random spot along the market. I would name it but unfortunately, the sign was in Japanese and well, there you have it. As you can see from the toro, salmon and roe in the bowl above, it did not disappoint.

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Pretense as an Iron Chef

Knives in Tsukiji Market

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In Tsukiji, you can buy many things from fish obviously to souvenirs. I suggest playing tourist fools like we did and walking thru the prohibited areas until you get ‘caught.’ Japanese knives are world -renowned and clearly a shop stop was necessary. The knives with the blue labels are the ones with the carbon steel. The others usually come crafted with stainless steel. You can find many knife vendors in the market and for a full download on the many attributes of Japanese knives and where to go in Tsukiji, click here. In general, Japanese steel is considered much harder than Western steel. In addition, carbon sharpens more easily than stainless steel.

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THIS is as Close as You Get to the Imperial Palace

Water Fountaining, Tokyo

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It turns out you need a reservation to visit the Imperial Palace, a fact completely lost on two most spontaneous of travelers. In short, the water fountain outside the stone walls was as close as we got. In a city where the trains run down to the second, order is imperative.

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THAT’s Not a PEARL. THIS…is a PEARL.

Asahi Pearls in the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo

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My father has worked in Japan at Toshiba since I was a little girl and ever since then, he has returned home with pearl earrings from his friend in Tokyo. I first met the shop owner on my trip to Tokyo last year, which was cut short after the wreckage from the tsunami. This year, I decided to return and say hello to the man who has been working in this store since 1949. He knows my entire family and has been selling my father jewelry since 1976. It’s a funny thing finding a piece of home in a foreign country.

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Nothing Says Tokyo like Cell Phones for Babies

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It seems necessary to make a stop in a cell phone store and check out all the gleaming technology. Here you have cell phones with only a few simple buttons, so the wee kiddies can use them. I’m constantly affronted by the challenge of technology approaching a destructive quality in peoples’ lives rather than a beneficial one. Being in Tokyo was filled with technology pornography but reaffirmed my assertion that we’re all running precariously close to being addicted to smart phones and the connections they bring.

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Tampons are like Porn

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The Japanese art of being demur translates to even the simple task of buying tampons. Not only were they protected from prying eyes in this fine brown paper bag, they were tapped shut, for security of course.

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Organized Chaos

Shibuya Crossing

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After 8 years of living in New York City, I thought there could not possibly be a place of more chaos. Color me corrected. Pedestrians cross in all directions including on a diagonal. Only in Tokyo could this chaos seem strangely organized.

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Harder. Faster. Stronger. Tokyo.

Shinkansen, the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto

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The bullet train maxes out at around 180 mph clearly giving it speed-advantage to anything we have in the US. That said, Amtrak has free Wi-Fi on several trains now and sincerely, I’d take free Wi-Fi over speed. I’m sure that says something about me but I hardly care. I expected to come to Tokyo and find Wi-Fi in abundance. While it is in fact everywhere, it’s heavily restricted, locked behind a series of passwords or payment gates. Free love otherwise equated to free Wi-Fi certainly doesn’t exist here. Perhaps the Japanese know where to look, but open Wi-Fi equals innovation, giving all access to the open educational system which is the internet.

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One Bad Ass Shogun

Nijo Castle, Kyoto

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Tokugawa was one bad ass shogun and here lies his castle. While he typically spent most of his time in Tokyo, here’s where he came to rest while in Kyoto. Tokugawa is a prime example of a smart leader. He imposed taxes on all the feudal lords so that he could keep their wealth under control. Pimp. Money brings power and heavy defense systems. Pimp. By keeping their purse strings tight, he kept them under his control. And yes, this makes him one badass shogun. PIMP.

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Back to the Knives

Aritsugu in the Nishiki Market, Kyoto

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Aritsugu has been making knives for over 450 years, originally favored by the Imperial Palace. I picked out a carbon steel blade based on some excellent recommendations from Shogo Minami, who spoke incredible English I may add. Aritsugu will etch whatever you like in your blade. Choosing “Marauder” on a carbon blade felt like I was having a Kill Bill moment.

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Lost in Translation

Park Hyatt, Tokyo

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This hotel may be the finest hotel I will ever experience. Selected due to its Lost in Translation moment, this hotel did not disappoint on any end. Even checking in was far superior to anything I have ever experienced. Upon arrival, you are whisked away to a lounge-like seating area and welcomed like royalty. Our room was on the 49th floor and showcased the most expansive urban view I imagine I will ever have of Tokyo. Swimming in the pool and reading Shakespeare’s love sonnets seemed incredibly surreal. In short, stay here for whatever time possible. You will never forget it.

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Japan taught me a respect for order but a LOVE for passion.

I came away from my experience in Tokyo wishing that certain things in the US ran along the order the Japanese maintain so carefully but secretly longing for the crazy train of emotions that I had come to expect from home. I was hyper-aware of the mess I seemed to be making as I simply walked along the street and that awareness brought me nothing but an additional layer of stress. I loved Tokyo and would return in a heartbeat, but a little mess…aint that bad.

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Facebook Camera

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In other news, Salesforce acquired BuddyMedia, Instagram puts the nail in the PicPlz coffin, Facebook’s stock price continues to see decline, flirts with getting into the smartphone business (BAD idea), and launches a camera app clearly in direct competition with Instagram. Frankly, the Facebook camera application is a bad user experience with the exception to the News Feed which streamlines your Facebook feed simply to the pictures. To this end, I think the better user proposition would have simply been to allow for a visual picture-based-only-view to the News feed in the original Facebook mobile app rather than to launch an additional application.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Street Art to Animated Gifs



THIS WEEK: THE DESCENT OF SXSW by Marauder

THIS WEEK: THE DESCENT OF SXSW

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This week, SXSW descends over Austin. If you’re unfamiliar, SXSW is a three-in-one conference encompassing interactive, film, and music. SXSW has launched a few innovative companies in its midst including Foursquare and the now-acquired Gowalla. In my opinion, it’s a nerd fest reunion with some music folks on the back end. Once a year, all of my digital nerd friends from all across the US get together to drink, party and possibly hit a panel or two. This week, I had a conversation with an ad agency executive in NYC about the merits of SXSW.

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While this particular person had never attended SXSW, he felt that the information which returned was never of value. The thought was that SXSW was simply a drunken booze fest without value.

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I thought about this argument and sat down to read an article in the New Yorker about Davos. Davos, as contrasted to SXSW, rounds up the top world leaders with the hope of igniting inspiration at the highest levels. I’m sure cocktails are shared but I’m guessing no one ends up at the Driskill Hotel at 2 in the morning passed out in a hotel lobby arm chair. That said, my argument in defense of SXSW centered on the simple physical aggregation of start-up folk, programmers, product people and marketing experts alike. Primarily, in the past four years that I have been attending SXSW, this has included an audience under the age of 35. We are young, we are innovators, and yes, we like to drink. Let’s face it, a cocktail or two lowers our fears and in many cases, allows creativity to flow. Steve Jobs referenced LSD as “one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life” as he considered the experience principally one which opened his eyes to creativity in ways he did not think possible.

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Now, I’m not condoning alcoholism or drug use. I’m simply pointing out that discounting SXSW because this particular audience parties or drinks heavily,is simply disregarding it based on unfair terms. It may be Spring Break for digital folks but don’t we all need a vacation from reality every once in a while? If you’ll be at SXSW, I’ll be speaking on a panel entitled, “Are We Killing Social with Social?”  Stop by and share some thoughts, cocktail or no cocktail.

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In other news, Pinterest is surging while Google + is puttering, Lady Gaga becomes the first person to hit 20MM followers on Twitter, newspaper revenue tanks shocking no one, smartphone owners now outnumber other mobile users in the US, Yelp shares surge on their first day of trading, and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai is leaving Foursquare.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

The Lowline: Underground NYC Park Life



GOT MOBILE APP DEVELOPERS?: THEYMAKEAPPS DOES by Marauder

GOT MOBILE APP DEVELOPERS?: THEYMAKEAPPS DOES

As someone who prides herself on being a digital nerdstress, I often field questions from folks looking for mobile app developers. It’s very analogous to that moment where someone texts you looking for a good restaurant or bar in their neighborhood. Inevitably, your mind goes blank and the vestiges of cool locations are lost rendering you helpless in directing your friends to that cool bar you always want to refer people to. Eventually, perhaps you muster up the mental energy to pull a few developers out of thin air, developers who most likely have no additional bandwidth to take on new projects. FAIL.

Enter TheyMakeApps, an online directory of iPhone application developers categorized by location and price. iPhone users have so far downloaded over 3 billion applications from the iTunes store. A recent study from Gartner found that users will download, on average, 20.1 apps per smartphone this year. With that much consumption, it’s easy to see why everyone is looking for a good developer.  With over 100K registered iPhone developers, it’s easy to see the need for something which weeds though that much choice.  The challenge in finding the right person is in finding someone who can execute the vision at the right price. They Make Apps helps it all come together in a slick user interface that makes the process a bit more fun.

How to

Currently, users can browse through apps filtering by price (up to $20K) and by location. The site was developed by Kettle, a NYC-based digital consultancy. Olivier Peyre, Creative Director of Kettle, tells me that search will be available soon. Clearly, search is a critical feature allowing users to drill down on exactly what they’re looking for, be it a mobile app developer specifically or a developer who has worked with a brand of interest. I like that the site allows for users to save mobile developers of interest for a comparative look later in the process.  Any developer can easily sign up on the site to be included in the directory.

Currently, the limiting features for me are the lack of search (which is already on its way), the lack of budget options above $20K, and the lack of Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre developers. Some nice-to-have features would be a way to vote up and down certain developers creating a hot list of preferred vendors and a way to email developers of interest to friends.

TheyMakeApps isn’t exclusively for agencies and developers. SPIN magazine used the directory to find the developer for their latest project. Nick Pandolfi, Digital Edition Manager of SPIN describes his experience:

“TheyMakeApps was a huge help with SPIN’s latest development project. Rather then reach out to all our contacts for developer references, it was a quick way to find locally based developers and see exactly what they specialize in. I’m sure we’ll be using it again soon!”


TheyMakeApps is simply the glue connecting need to the solution. And frankly, I love glue.

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MOBILE by Marauder
November 4, 2009, 8:06 PM
Filed under: WIRELESS | Tags: , , , , , , ,

MOBILE

While other carriers might finally be dipping their toes in the Android water this month, T-Mobile has been in this game for a long time. They got their first Android phone (the G1) out last October, and managed to launch two more (the myTouch and the CLIQ) within the year. It makes sense, then, that they’re the first to pipe up with some usage details. (Mobilecrunch11/4)

Android

If you’re determined to shake down some deals during the mother of all U.S. shopping days, then forgive the cliche when we tell you there’s an app for that. Powered by dealnews, the just-released version 2 of their Black Friday app (iTunes link) adds a number of new features for bargain hunters. (Mashable11/4)

LG Electronics, the world’s third-largest cell phone maker, is eyeing sales gains of 20% this year and in 2010, Skott Ahn, the CEO of its mobile-device business, said. At a separate event Tuesday, LG Electronics CEO Yong Nam said the company was “investing heavily” in smartphones, adding that, “We’re not yet there but we’ll get there.” Nam said LG saw companies such as Apple and Research in Motion, rather than fellow handset makers, as its chief competition. Reuters (11/3) , The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (11/4)

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MOBILE by Marauder

MOBILE

Verizon Wireless will introduce an HTC Android-powered smartphone Friday alongside the Motorola Droid, the carrier said. The $99 handset, which Verizon Wireless has dubbed the Droid Eris, has similar features to the HTC Hero, industry observers reported. Verizon Wireless also said last week that it was “very pleased” with the initial sales of Research in Motion‘s BlackBerry Storm 2, which launched Wednesday. Yahoo!/PC World(11/1) , The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires (10/30)

Droid Enis

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MOBILE by Marauder
October 26, 2009, 11:00 AM
Filed under: WIRELESS | Tags: , , , , , , ,

MOBILE

A few months ago, Techcrunch wrote about mobile ad network Greystripe study that placed “iPhone moms” (mothers of young children who own iPhones) as one of the new and growing mobile advertising demographics on the street. In August, Greystripe claimed that iPhone moms made up 29.5% of all iPhone users. Today, the ad network is releasing a follow-up report which offers detailed behavioral characteristics of moms in their iPhone ad network. (Techcrunch10/26)

mom iPhone

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MOBILE by Marauder

MOBILE

Microsoft personnel are working around the clock to restore personal data lost during a recent outage of the company’s Sidekick mobile device, and Steve Ballmer, the software giant’s chief executive officer, says his company needs to do more to assure enterprise customers that a similar mistake won’t occur in the future. Ballmer said it was imperative for Microsoft to “explain to customers our method and process and quality approach and what went wrong in that case and how we are making sure that it does not happen again.” Network World (10/19) , InformationWeek (10/19) , CNET/Beyond Binary (10/19)

Sidekick


Google is said to be planning to release its own smartphone directly through retailers, as opposed to through a carrier partnership, in what could be a huge disruption to the industry’s business model. Google’s phone “could be the first credible competitor to the iPhone.” (Iwantmedia 10/21, Internet News10/20)

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