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Futzing with Swift and Cocoa

I’ve never learned Objective C – my iOS stuff is written in Titanium (essentially Javascript, because anyone can play guita.. uh, write Javascript), and my personal tools for Mac are all scripts to run from Terminal. So the idea of a simpler language that could be used for both iOS and Mac OSX is pretty attractive […]

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QNAP Nas to Nas RSYNC – Stuck at 0%

Something I learned, and which may be useful to someone else: One of Apptitude’s servers is a QNAP NAS running firmware 4.0.7. Every 24 hours it runs a backup, via RSYNC (SSH encrypted) to a remote site where we have another QNAP. Last night, the backup job glitched – no errors were logged, but it […]

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The Dai-Kannon of Ashibetsu

In Japan, big statues are no big deal. There’s the Daibutsu at Nara, of course, but I’ve stumbled across other monumental, well, monuments in several other towns. But then, rolling through the countryside on a local train somewhere between Takikawa and Furano, I spotted a giant white figure on the horizon. The Dai-Kannon at Ashibetsu […]

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Japan on a Budget: Furano and Biei

From the port of Otaru I jumped a train to Sapporo, from there took an express to Takikawa, and from there hopped a tiny, chuntering one-man train to Furano. In Furano, I rented a small car – there’s a large Toyota Rental shop right outside the station if you turn left – and drove out […]

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Japan on a Budget: Otaru

Otaru lies to the northeast of Sapporo, and in the winter is on the train route to the ski resort of Niseko. In spring or summer, though, it’s a major domestic tourism destination. To get there, take a futsuu train from Sapporo’s JR station – it’s not far, and the journey down the coast is […]

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Japan on a Budget: Sapporo

Sapporo is, appropriately, the easiest place in Hokkaido to get to. There’s a huge JR station, it’s the terminal for buses to all over the island, and of course there’s New Chitose airport, served by loads of flights from Honshu and beyond. I rolled in on a coach from Toyako Onsen. There are three subway […]

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Japan on a Budget: Toyako Onsen

About half way between Hakodate and Sapporo you’ll find an almost circular lake with a handful of islands in the middle, and on the southern shore of that lake the resort town of Toyako Onsen. Lonely Planet describes it as “faded”, which is a pretty fair description, but if you have the time it’s worth […]

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Japan on a Budget: Hakodate

Six months after leaving Kyushu, I couldn’t resist a super-cheap flight into Haneda in early May. Having never visited Japan in springtime before, this was a chance to finally see the famous cherry blossoms – except that I would be arriving a bit late, and the only area still blooming with sakura would be the […]

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Booking Japanese train tickets from outside Japan

I’ll say this upfront – if you’re visiting Japan as a tourist, probably using a Japan Rail Pass, there’s really no need to book tickets before you go. I’ve hauled myself around most of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido on dozens of trains, usually booking a day or two, at most, before traveling. But then, sometimes […]

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Kittens vs UKIP

Per the excellent suggestion of Marina Isaac, UKitten is a Chrome Extension that replaces all images of Nigel Farage or related to UKIP with images of kittens from Tea and Kittens. It’s available now from the Chrome Web Store. UPDATE: Now also available for Safari – click here to download, then double-click that file to […]

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