12 Sep 2005

ubicomp day 0 + shibuya

Relatively unscathed by jetlag, I was able to get up properly and go register for Ubicomp. Nothing really interesting there because it is workshop day today. All the people who are registered gets a free "sensor" that is about as big as a button (pic later). Basically they're collecting data from all people in the conference and you're encouraged to put it on your conference pass. There's a website where you can login and change the data that is collected. I was wondering what cool things to do with the sensors and really skew it. Maybe put it under a bright light because its got a temperature and light sensor.

After registration, I went to go wake up Anil so that I could use his internet connection as I don't have one at the hotel I'm staying in. Seems like their room has ethernet out which they can use (for free?) Anyway, after getting a dose of internet I did a little bit more work and tweaking for some graphs for the presentation. Still haven't finished that yet, but we should get some work done on the first day of the conference, mainly because there's some wifi around here in case I need any network access.

Later on in the day I went down to Shibuya. Here is where the real Tokyo is, lively, lots of people, etc. There was a freak thunderstorm in the afternoon, and there was some flooding in the Shibuya station. Nothing like New Oreleans, but it mainly involved a bunch of people with brooms sweeping water out of the station .

BTW, about the rumour of QRCodes everywhere, well, I just discovered a pack of tissues handed to us on the street that has a QRCode on it. I'll post a pic as soon as I get access to that pack of tissues again (coz I left it in the hotel room!)

Checked out Loft and Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, the must go places if you want to check out cool japanese non-electronic gadgets. Such as cans of O2:

can of oxygen

And also an unfortunately named bear:

pis the pooh bear

And animal rubber bands that sell for ¥315:

animal rubber bands
animal rubber bands

Later on, we met up with Rich and Anil to eat. Unfortunately, this noodle place we wanted to go to had closed so we walked like 10 minutes to a closed shop. We had to resort to going to a fast food indian-wannabe curry place called Little Curry. I'm pretty sure that Little is a indian name.

The highlight of course is ordering food. We were very tempted to order the flesh salad:

flesh salad

We wondered around the dodgy districts of shibuya, bumping into alot of weird types of people, including some people who were dropping the pants in the middle of shibuya as a kinda of male mating ritual, or possibly a product of the great health care in japan prostate examination is done at 10pm at night in the middle of the street.

We also saw some charades being performed on the street playing invisible darts trying to ask japanese people where the "darts bar" is. Finally, we saw a guy being arrested for carrying a man bag. The police didn't force him to the ground, but three very well behaved policemen cornered a suspect and asked to search through his manbag. We're lucky we didn't bring our ubicomp 2005 man bags out to shibuya.

We ended up trying out a traditional japanese bar in which you had to take off your shoes and sit in some traditional tatami mats. Rich was extremely worried about the theft of his shoes. But I assured him that no japanese had feet big enough to wear those shoes or be motivated to steal them. Anil tried to order some choo-shu japanese wine, but ended up ordering pure ethanol. We took the train back where Anil and Rich were fascinated by the suica penguin ads on the train flying around over NYC and confused whether the said penguin was a terrorist or not. Luckily they made it back to the hotel that night.

Ubicomp starts tomorrow ...

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