Here it is, after midnight, and I feel like I have to write something here because I’ve just looked at about a million blogs, and they’re ALL better/cooler/more interesting than mine. But, hey, mine’s the only buy-lin-gyu-uhl one out there! Ha!
Hm. Yeah, anyway.
The dating has settled down to a dull roar of sorts now that I’ve reached the third-date phase of the, er, experiment. The only women I’m seeing now are the ones that are genuinely interesting in some way or other. Sadly, many weren’t, but, goodly, a couple were. Are. You know what I mean.
Golden Week is over now, and the more than the 10 days of holiday it purports to be it was more like a couple of back-to-back long weekends for me. But there were enough parties and various other good times to make it seem like a passable respite from the vagaries of Tokyo life. (Shyeah, right. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t know vagaries if they shat on my nose.)
So anyway, I leave my bike (bicycle, that is) at Shinjuku station one afternoon and come back to find the back tire flat. I’m sure I’ve been yarareta by someone and I ride/wobble home pissed. When I get home I check my mail and find a flyer from a bicycle repair guy (coincidence?) who does “one-the-spot” repair for flats and other bicycle misfortune. I call him the next day and he speeds right over.
When he shows up I show him to the bike. In three or four seconds my bike is flipped over and he’s pulling the tire off. Like anyone here doing anything service-related he works at a frenetic pace, darting this way and that with a swift economy of motion and all that. Before I know it he has my inner tube in a bucket of water, pumping it up with one hand while running it through the bucket with the other. Shortly we encounter tell-tale bubbles.
“You’ve got a hole in the inner tube. Right here. See?,” he says, pointing with his free hand.
“Hot damn,” I say.
Then he pries back the tire and starts spinning the wheel around. He locates a spot where the protective rubber rim liner has been pulled aside, revealing the (now somehow menacing) head of a common screw.
“See that?,” he asks.
“Zowie,” I reply.
“The friction wore a hole in the tube.”
“Well I’ll be.”
“We’ll fix you right up,” he says, and begins rummaging efficiently through his toolbox.
In the time it would take me to pluck my nose hairs he’s patched the hole, stuffed the tube back in place, replaced the tire and aired ‘er back up. I’m impressed, and I tell him so.
“You American?,” he asks, apropos of squat.
“Uh, yeah,” I reply, never knowing where these things will lead.
“Tell me something, would you?,” he goes on.
“You got, like, Harrison Ford, right?
“I guess so…”
“But then you also got, y’know, George Harrison, right?”
“Well, is Harrison a first name or a last name? I mean, here we got Tanaka and Suzuki and shit, right? It’s pretty straightforward. What the fuck is “Harrison” supposed to be?”
“I dunno. Both, I guess.”
“You’re kidding me. Man, that shit keeps me awake at night, I gotta tell ya.”
“Oh. Well, gosh. Sorry, man.”
“Yeah, whatever. 1300 yen.”
“Cheers,” I say, and give him the dough.
He pockets the money and rides off with a wave. I stand there, look at my newly-mobile bike, look back at his retreating figure, and look back at the bike. I can’t help thinking that surely I must be forgetting something…
It’s late one evening last July, and a green activity light is blinking on the front of the DSL modem next to my desk. I’m asleep in the next room, but my computer is busy working, tirelessly handling page requests from hundreds of Code Red zombies.
Each one is hoping to find the same thing: a particular file with a particular vulnerability that just might be on my system. If the zombie discovers the file, it will exploit a well-published security hole to copy some files to my computer, install a remote control “back door,” then instruct my system to begin scanning the Internet for other vulnerable systems to compromise in the same fashion.
My hapless computer will then have joined the ranks of thousands of other Windows NT and 2000 computers worldwide, “zombies” that would be used later in a failed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on the White House Web site.
The frighteningly swift propagation of Internet “worms” like Code Red, Code Red II and Nimda was made possible primarily due to two factors — the high number of broadband-connected NT systems and the failure of their owners to properly secure them.
In the final part of this series on broadband, I’ll outline some of the risks associated with broadband Internet and also discuss some of the steps you can take to protect your systems from unwanted intrusion or attack.
The first and easiest way to assess your level of exposure is to look at your connection to the Internet. Is your computer behind a router or firewall, or is it directly connected to the Net via DSL or cable?
If the latter is the case, the IP address being used by your machine is a “public” (Internet-routable) address that was assigned to your computer by your service provider when your system connected to their network.
This address is probably dynamically assigned, meaning it might change each time you connect. But the key issue here is that, with a public IP address, your computer is sitting (ducklike, perhaps) right out there and therefore fully exposed to all of the other systems on the Internet.
Exposure in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. Indeed, all computers connected to the Internet with open, public IP addresses are equally exposed. However, these systems as a rule are “hardened,” or protected from attack using a variety of tools including software, network devices, packet filters, and more.
It is equally important for broadband users to know what the risks are, and how to protect against them.
Computers are designed to communicate with each other in a variety of ways. In a Client-Server arrangement, one computer asks another for some information, like when a Web browser asks a Web server for a particular HTML page. In peer-to-peer networking, you share files or other resources in both directions, perhaps printing to a remote computer or sharing a folder on your own hard drive.
As long as your computer has a network card or modem, it is equipped to communicate with other systems. If participating in a private office LAN or home network, this is certainly a good thing. However, the same unprotected system exposed to the Internet faces a number of threats based on common security holes.
Foremost among these are unprotected shared folders or drives, or shares.
All Windows operating systems after v3.1 provide for some form of local file sharing. In today’s systems, sharing files or local printers with remote users is as simple as right-clicking your mouse. However, without properly restrictive access policies in place these shares can easily be accessed by other users over the Internet.
Strong passwords are just as important. For example, on Windows NT Server administrative shares are created at the root level on all hard drives. They are normally hidden from view, but an experienced user can try to access them easily using a pre-defined account such as the Administrator account.
Without strong passwords in place, an intruder can gain access to the entire system drive simply by trying password combinations until finding the correct one.
Hacking tools available today make this a trivial process, particularly if the password for the account is easily guessed, or a word you might find in the dictionary.
Passwords on Internet-connected systems should always contain a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Also avoid words that are found in the dictionary and simple number combinations. Lastly, the longer the password, the more difficult is it to crack using “brute force” password cracking tools.
One easy way Windows users can prevent access to file shares from the Internet is by removing NetBIOS from all Internet-connected interfaces. NetBIOS runs on top of protocols like TCP/IP and facilitates Windows networking and the use of host names among Windows systems.
Unwanted intrusion can also come from other sources.
Prior to the outbreak of Code Red and similar worms, Windows 2000 shipped with the Internet Information Server (IIS), Microsoft’s standard Web server software, installed and running by default. This saved some headaches for less technically-adept users hoping to maintain a Web server, but also contributed significantly to the spread of malicious worms by populating the Internet with readily-exploitable Web servers.
Many owners of these systems didn’t even know a security patch was required and available, much less how to download and install one.
The best way to stay informed about the security of your systems is to frequently visit your vendor’s Web site and, where available, to subscribe to security bulletins and newsletters.
Microsoft has also made available a number of tools, including the Baseline Security Analyzer, which scans Windows NT, 2000 and XP systems for common security misconfigurations.
If an intruder gains access to your system via an exposed file share or security hole, there are a variety of things they can do.
Copying or deleting data are some of the actions you might expect of unwanted intruders, but today’s hacker (or, more commonly, “cracker”) probably has bigger plans for your computer.
It is more common today for compromised systems to be surreptitiously used as agents, or zombies, in DDoS attacks. In such cases, a central system exerts control over an army of systems just like yours, using a “back door” installed during the initial attack. This agent runs quietly in the background, completely out of view, and waits for commands from headquarters.
With enough such systems, it is possible to launch a concerted attack against a Web site (or other server) and flood it with bogus requests, effectively denying access to the site by legitimate users. Worst of all, one or more of your own computers may be participating in the attack without you even knowing it.
There are a number of things you can do to minimize your risk of unwanted intrusion or attack. A good starting point is to put a router between your system(s) and the Internet.
Most routers today use a feature called Network Address Translation (NAT) to hide the address of computers behind the router. As all traffic is mediated by the router, requests from all internal systems appear to be coming from the external interface of the router. This form of “IP masquerading” is a way to put your computer on the Internet without exposing it to the Internet at large.
You should also consider the use of a firewall product for all Internet-connected systems.
Personal firewall products from venders like Symantec, McAfee, and Internet Security Systems provide features such as intrusion detection, packet filtering, and access control. Windows XP even ships with a built-in firewall.
Although no product can guarantee prevention of all attacks, a firewall can be a key component of a comprehensive security framework.
It also goes without saying that virus protection software is critical for protecting yourself from e-mail-borne and other viruses.
Also remember that the effectiveness of your antivirus solution wholly depends on the currency of your virus definition data, which should always be kept up to date.
Similarly, it is very important that you keep your operating system and Internet applications like e-mail and Web browsers up to date with the latest fixes and security patches.
New vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time, and when they are announced, you’ll end up in a race with crackers and other miscreants to see who responds to the news first: you, with a downloaded security patch, or them, with a brand new Trojan horse.
Finally, it’s a good idea to either turn your computer off or disconnect it from the network when not in use. Doing either will ensure that no one has access to it from the Internet.
Security tools on the Net
Network Security (CERT)
Coping with Home Network Security Threats (Network Magazine)
Navas Cable Modem/DSL Tuning Guide
Microsoft’s Security Site
Microsoft’s Baseline Security Analyzer
Symantec Worldwide Home Page
Internet Security Systems
The Japan Times: April 25, 2002
Last week we discussed the different broadband services available in Japan and how to subscribe to each. This week we’ll take a look at the steps necessary to configure your system to connect to the Internet using your new broadband service, and also consider some of the options available to users with home or office LANs for sharing that connection.
Generally speaking, the minimum requirements for broadband Internet are a computer with a network or USB port, a DSL or cable modem, and a network cable.
With DSL you may also require a line splitter to route the telephone and data traffic to the proper devices.
First, let’s consider the hardware requirements in more detail. PCs running Windows should have Windows 95 or later installed, but ME/2000 or XP are recommended for performance and compatibility reasons.
With regard to system specifications, a Pentium II 266 MHz CPU and 64 Mbytes RAM should be considered the bare minimum for acceptable performance.
Having a faster CPU and more memory will make a big difference when enjoying streaming audio and video or other processor-intensive activities, without necessarily improving your data transfer rates.
Macintosh systems should have MacOS 9.0 or later installed (MacOS X preferred), and G3s or newer offer the convenience of integrated network support.
As with PCs, the newer the better is a good rule for realizing improved performance and compatibility.
Whichever your platform, you’ll require either a network port (for Windows and Mac) or a Universal Serial Bus port (Windows only).
Many systems today include an onboard Ethernet port, which is an RJ-45 jack that resembles an oversize telephone (RJ-11) jack. This is the same connector used, for example, to connect your office PC to the office LAN.
You should inspect your system to see if you have an Ethernet port, and if you don’t find one you’ll need to either purchase an add-on network card or choose a USB modem instead.
In some cases, USB modems provide simplified installation and configuration, but are typically limited to 1.5-Mbps DSL service only.
One other option for those not comfortable installing network cards is a USB network adapter such as IO Data’s USB-ET/TX-S (LAN-Egg Slim for Fast Ethernet) which, unusual moniker notwithstanding, provides a simple plug-and-play solution for Windows systems that support USB but have no network interface.
Finally, you should also consider the multimedia capabilities of your broadband workstation.
Rich media content is increasingly available via the Web today, and with radio stations around the world offering streaming music and news programming, you will likely benefit from having a sound card and speakers.
If you choose a USB modem there are no requirements for intermediate network hardware. You will be able to connect a single computer to the modem using a standard USB connection.
However, if you plan to use your computer’s network interface to connect to the Internet, you’ll need to purchase a router-type DSL modem. And if you want to share the connection with other systems you may require other equipment as well.
But first let’s introduce the basic networking components that may exist between your computer and the Internet.
* A modem (modulator-demodulator) converts the data traveling between your computer and the Internet into a format suitable for transmission over your broadband media (cable, fiber or copper telephone line). A modem has two interfaces: one for the external broadband connection and another for the internal connection (a computer or broadband router).
* A router directs traffic among different devices and networks based on information contained in routing tables. The router decides, for example, to send your browser’s request for a Web page out over the DSL line and not to the computer in the other room. Broadband routers typically have two ports: one for the Internet (or Wide Area Network) side and one for the internal (or Local Area Network) side.
* Hubs are devices that simply connect networked devices together on a single network segment. Hubs allow you to create a LAN of computers by providing a common communications path for all connected devices.
You’ll often find two or three of these components in a single off-the-shelf product.
Some “broadband routers” include all three components in a single unit, and in some cases also include wireless networking capability.
In most cases, and unless you request otherwise, your DSL or cable provider will provide you with a modem and connect it to the cable or DSL line, as applicable. You will normally be required to connect and configure everything between the modem and your computer(s).
If you are only connecting a single computer you can connect it directly to the Ethernet (LAN) port of the modem using a standard, straight-type Category 5, twisted-pair network cable. If you are connecting more than one computer, you will also need to buy a hub and a router, or a router with an integrated hub.
In the Single Computer configuration, the computer is connected directly to the DSL (or cable) modem via either USB or Ethernet network cable. In the Home or Office LAN configuration, the WAN port of a router is connected to the modem, and the LAN port to a hub.
All of the client machines communicate with the router via the hub, and all Internet traffic between the machines and the modem is handled by the router.
Note that in the Home or Office LAN diagram the hub and router are shown separately, but can just as easily be integrated in a single network device.
Products such as the Buffalo WLAR-L11G-L 4-port router have a single WAN interface for connecting to the modem, and four LAN interfaces that can be used to connect internal PCs or other network devices. This particular unit also includes a wireless access point for connecting devices in a wireless network. This allows you to enjoy mobile, cable-free networking anywhere in your home at speeds of up to 11 Mbps. This is a particularly convenient solution in cases where connecting computers with Ethernet cable is impractical.
So far, we’ve discussed the physical side of broadband connections and the network devices that make data transmission possible.
The protocols used to send and receive data over them are the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), otherwise known as TCP/IP.
TCP/IP forms the basis of all Internet communications and is built into every modern operating system. One part of preparing your systems to use broadband will involve configuring TCP/IP.
Most DSL service providers today use a protocol called PPPoE (Point-to-Point over Ethernet) that encapsulates data for transmission over the network.
This requires the installation of a PPPoE “stack” on your computer, or the use of a broadband router that supports PPPoE.
In the former case, your provider will supply you with the necessary drivers and a configuration utility when you sign up.
You will also receive log-in information that you will use to configure your computer or broadband router to log on to the Internet service provider.
Then you either initiate a connection to your provider using dialup networking or a utility provided by your provider (in the case of a single computer), or you connect to your provider using your broadband router and then the systems behind it use the router as a gateway to the Internet.
If you’re only connecting a single system to the Internet, your IP addresses will be assigned by your provider, and may change each time you connect.
For networks without a dedicated server, you can save time and headaches by selecting a broadband router that includes a DHCP server. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol automatically assigns IP addresses and other settings to client computers.
A DHCP server automatically configures networking for multiple client machines by assigning them an IP address, default gateway, and DNS server IP addresses.
What this means in practice is that you boot up your computer and everything just works.
The IP address configuration screens are slightly different for the various Microsoft and Mac operating systems, but selecting “Obtain an IP Address Automatically” or “Use DHCP Server” for your TCP/IP settings will automatically configure your computer if a DHCP server (e.g. a broadband router with a DHCP server) is locally available.
You should also ensure that your cables are of the correct type and connected properly.
The easiest way to confirm this is to verify that the link indicator for the LAN connection is lit on your modem or router. If the cable is plugged in and your computer is running but the link indicator is not illuminated, you should ensure that the cable is of the correct type (straight or cross, as applicable), inserted properly, and not otherwise frayed or damaged.
Additionally, DSL is susceptible to interference from nearby electronic devices. Excessive noise can lead to poor connection performance and terminated connections.
The following guidelines should be used when setting up your DSL and network hardware:
* Keep cables as short as possible. Coiled, overlong cables are the leading cause of induced noise.
* Keep cables away from speakers, televisions, microwaves, and other appliances that emit electromagnetic energy.
* Don’t run DSL cables alongside computer and network cables.
Help when you need it
As daunting as some of this may seem, the good news is that most clerks in the major computer and electronics stores have a good grasp of the different hardware available and how it fits together.
Explaining your particular broadband situation and requirements will likely reward you with a polite and thorough tour of your options, ending with vendor and product recommendations you can trust. It behooves you to take advantage of their knowledge and experience.
Next week, we’ll turn our attention to Internet security and protecting your systems, and also discuss some important issues regarding broadband for business use.
The Japan Times: April 18, 2002
I thought I might try to catch up on everything that’s been going on the past few weeks, but it’s not going to happen. There’s simply too much to write. Or remember, for that matter.
Quite a whirlwind, really. Spring seems to bring with it a parade of parties and events and other fun and games, and I’ve been completely swept up in it all.
There was the hanami season, covered briefly earlier, plus dinner parties, afternoon weekend raves, Friday Bloody Fridays, and quite a few dates.
After posting those ads in Metropolis (see the main site for details) I’ve been deluged with responses and offers for dates. It started out as a simple ruse, but now I’m thinking I may as well, y’know, make the best of it. Especially since some of these women are fucking gorgeous! Why didn’t I think of it sooner?
The fun, it never seems to end.
I’ve also started writing for the Japan Times, starting with a three-part series on broadband. I wasn’t sure about the time commitment involved, but now I know, and it’s worked out to WAY more than I expected. Still, it’s good to be writing something people will actually read (unlike, for example, this sporadically-offered pap).
Anyway, the idea is that I’ll write a few pieces and then move into a weekly column of my own. All I have to do now is come up with a name for it…
I’ve been drinking lots of sake lately now that the air is growing warmer and reishuu tastes so damn good. I just wish there were a way to avoid the paralyzing hangovers the next day.
Today’s photo features Matthew, a budding sake aficionado or simple alcoholic, depending on how you categorize such things, about to savor one of the “milky” sakes available in this wonderful Takadanobaba izakaya…
The waiting is over, at least for Internet users tired of herky-jerky Web video, all-night downloads, and pay-by-the-minute dialup access. Broadband has arrived in Japan, and in cities like Tokyo and Osaka we probably enjoy the best, least expensive high-speed Internet access in the world.
The term broadband refers to high-bandwidth connection systems capable of transmitting data at very high rates. The Federal Communication Commission in the United States uses the term to describe any system that transmits data at 200 Kbps or higher, but for our purposes, we can just think of broadband as meaning fast, no-waiting Internet access.
Broadband includes various transmission media, including copper telephone wire, fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable (for cable television), and air (in wireless applications), all of which use TCP/IP for networking and Ethernet (or USB) for the final connection (via a cable modem or router) to your computer.
The broadband services currently available in Japan can be divided into three categories: digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber-optic (FTTH), and Cable (CATV). As they vary considerably in terms of price, performance, and availability, let’s begin with a close look at each.
Digital subscriber lines
DSL is a broadband service offered primarily by telephone companies, and offers transmission speeds of up to 8 megabits per second over standard copper phone lines. DSL service is only available within about 3 to 5 km of a telephone exchange, and performance drops the farther away you get from the exchange.
The most common form of DSL service is ADSL, or asymmetric DSL. It’s called asymmetric because the transmission rate for transmitted and received data is different. Data coming in from the Internet (such as images in a Web page or streaming audio) to your computer, or “downstream,” is transmitted at a much higher rate than data being sent from your computer, or “upstream.” Some providers also offer symmetric DSL (SDSL) for clients who require improved upstream performance.
DSL is targeted at consumers who use the Internet primarily for Web surfing, e-mail and downloading files. This explains the logic behind the asymmetrical design of the connection. Since most users are receiving rather then sending data, ADSL improves performance where it matters the most.
DSL service consists of two key components: the DSL line itself and the data connection to the Internet. The former is provided by a communications carrier such as NTT, and the latter by an Internet service provider like OCN or Asahi Net.
In Japan, there are currently three types of DSL service combinations. With Flet’s ADSL you pay two providers separately — NTT for the DSL line, and a service provider for the connection to the Internet.
In this arrangement, the service area is particularly wide and there are many providers from which to choose. However, it is also slightly more expensive than the alternatives.
With a wholesale provider, you pay a carrier such as eAccess or AccA Networks for both the line and the Internet connection, and the carrier gives a portion of that money to the service provider. This service is structured just like that of Flet’s, but with the line itself provided by a company other than NTT. Wholesale service costs less than the Flet’s type, but your choice of providers is limited.
All-in-one providers such as Yahoo!BB and Tokyo Metallic offer end-to-end solutions that are attractive due to their low cost and easy application and setup. They also tend to offer the fastest delivery of service, even as low as 10 working days.
ADSL service was initially offered at downstream speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. Today, however, many carriers are offering 8 Mbps service as well for only a small premium. However, it should be noted that the performance of 8 Mbps service falls off sharply as you increase the range from the telephone exchange.
Many providers also include e-mail accounts, Web mail, Web server space, and dialup access as part of their service plans, the latter of which can be particularly attractive for mobile users who require PIAFS dialup for PHS modems.
Taking the DSL leap
The first step to installing ADSL is locating a provider for the DSL line. Your choices are Flet’s ADSL, a wholesaler like eAccess, or an all-in-one service like Yahoo!BB.
In addition to cost and performance, you’ll also need to consider service availability when looking for a provider.
Fortunately, each of the providers’ Web sites include a convenient lookup form that allows you to verify service availability simply by entering your telephone number.
After you have decided on a provider and service plan you can apply online and set the installation process in motion.
If you currently use an ISDN line at home you will be asked to replace it with an analog line because the two services are incompatible. Similarly, if you don’t have a telephone line at all you can either have one installed (for around 72,000 yen) or consider cable or fiber instead.
Your line will initially be tested to verify that it will support DSL communications. A variety of factors can affect the suitability of a line to handle high data transmission rates, such as the distance from the nearest telephone exchange, the age and condition of the line, etc. If the tests go well, the installation of the line will be scheduled for and completed sometime within the next 10-30 days.
Choosing Flet’s or eAccess means you’ll also need to choose an Internet service provider. Be sure to confirm that the provider you choose supports the connectivity provider (i.e. Flet’s, eAccess, AccA) with whom you applied. Information regarding supported carriers is prominently displayed on every provider’s Web site, although sometimes only in Japanese.
At this point, the only things that remain are purchasing the necessary equipment and configuring your systems, which will be discussed next week.
Fiber to the home
Hikari fiber is the latest offering in the high-speed Internet access arena, delivering speeds of 10-100 Mbps using optical fiber as the transmission medium instead of copper cable.
Optical fiber is largely lossless, meaning that the signal doesn’t degrade with distance as it does with copper. It also has the benefit of not being susceptible to electromagnetic interference.
These characteristics make it possible to overcome the distance limitations of wire-based services like DSL and serve a much wider geographic area.
Fiber to the home (FTTH) began as an initiative launched by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in the mid-1990s. It laid the foundation for the current spate of “opticalization” that is expected to see 10 million Japanese homes equipped with fiber-optic lines by 2005.
Today, however, FTTH is being used synonymously with “fiber” to mean simply “fiber-optic broadband service.”
Unlike ADSL, FTTH transmits data equally well upstream and downstream.
However, it too is a best-effort service, meaning that while the advertised speed may be 100 Mbps, your actual performance could be between 20 and 50 Mbps. Another factor to consider when looking into fiber is the comparatively high installation and hardware costs.
More planning involved
If you’re planning to move from Flet’s ISDN or ADSL and you live in an area already served by B Flet’s (NTT’s fiber service), and assuming you wish to keep the same provider, it’s a simple matter of changing the service plan with NTT.
If you’re looking into fiber as an introduction to broadband, or migrating from a wholesale or all-in-one provider or CATV, most or all of the following steps will be necessary.
First, you’ll need to see if fiber is available in your area using NTT’s B Flet’s Web site ( www.ntt-east.co.jp/flets/opt/opsch1.html ).
If it’s available, you can begin looking at service plans, which are described in detail in Japanese on the NTT Web site. If not, you’ll need to consider alternatives such as ADSL or cable.
After you sign up, NTT will schedule an on-site survey to verify that the installation can be performed. This sometimes also involves meetings with the building owner or superintendent to receive the necessary clearance.
Unlike new ADSL installations where your existing telephone line is used for data transmission, adding fiber service requires pulling fiber-optic cable into your premises from the outside.
Consequently, the survey and planning activities are more complicated and time consuming. Assuming everything goes well, you’ll have a few weeks to locate a provider and prepare your computer(s) to use the connection.
Usen has also recently launched FTTH services as well that are targeted at both business and individual consumers.
Cable’s one-stop solution
Cable broadband service offers the widest service area and the additional benefit of cable television programming, which is transmitted over the same line.
As many dwellings are already wired for cable, and with cable providers providing an all-in-one, one-stop broadband solution, cable is the most convenient and inexpensive option for many.
Providers such as J-Com deliver data using a hybrid network system consisting of both fiber-optic cable for the main network and coaxial cable near the home.
Transmission rates are competitive with premium ADSL services and advertised at 8 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream. ITSCOM is now offering 30-Mbps-downstream-, 10-Mbps-upstream service for only 5,200 yen per month. But like ADSL, cable is a best-effort service, so these are maximum figures.
Cable providers use standard TCP/IP networks and global IP addresses, making security a particular concern.
Providers like J-Com also prohibit the use of routers, which could be used to share a single connection among multiple computers but also to protect networked computers from attack or intrusion over the Internet.
Therefore it is important to ensure that your systems are fully protected before putting them online and exposing them to the Internet at large.
Like ADSL, you first need to check the availability of service in your area. If your home or building is wired for cable television already, chances are good that broadband service is supported as well.
After signing up, you will receive a cable modem that serves as the interface between your computer and the Internet.
After connecting your computer to the modem using a standard 10-base-T LAN cable and configuring your system’s networking you’ll be off and running.
No time like present
Broadband Internet access in Japan is fast, cheap and widely available.
Competition among the various services and providers has driven subscription fees down to a level we can all afford, and the performance just keeps getting better. Moreover, service providers such as Asahi Net and GOL now provide telephone and e-mail support in both English and Japanese. Put simply, if you’re looking for fast, fixed-rate, always-on Internet access there is no better time than the present.
Next week we’ll look at broadband hardware, configuring your systems, and Internet connection sharing.
The Japan Times: April 11, 2002
I broke up with my girlfriend, and after a few tearful weeks of coping and transition did the next logical thing: place a personal ad in the local weekly.
Sure, I mean, hey, of course I can get a date on my own. It’s Tokyo, for God’s sake. Any upright-walking caucasian with vocal chords and a pulse can get a date in this city. For me it was purely, y’know, experimental. I set out to discover a.) what kind of women respond to the ads in Metropolis, and, moreover, b.) what kind of ads they respond to.
So I placed two ads. I used the well-known Charisma Man character (an English-teaching everyman who imagines himself as tall, strapping and sexy, but who is actually just an Average Guy) as the underlying metaphor for my little experiment. That said, my average guy personal ad read:
Average guy, 30s, average looks, height and income, not particularly smart or creative, decent body, good teeth, seeks beautiful, intelligent, fun Japanese woman with own career and dreams, and a great body. Serious only.
Safe, harmless, average. And good teeth. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this ad. The Charisma Man ad, however, was sure to get results. I tried to capture the perfect blend of Big-in-Tokyo expat arrogance and self-adulation typical of European models and financial consultants.
Special guy, mid-30s, tall, brown hair, blue eyes, model looks, hard body, intelligent, creative, sexy, successful, bilingual, seeks an amazing Japanese woman for good times and exploring Tokyo.
The magazine hit shelves and bar floors sometime Friday, and the responses started rolling in that evening. Can you guess how it went? Neither could I! Here are the results, posted as-is with the names removed:
Dear Mr. Average:
I saw you ad, I’m 30s, Japanese (background is US), have own business,
independent, have good body (I think), well-educated…
I think you are not average…this is my feeling.
Yeah ! Good teeth is most important. I care about teeth !
If you interested in, please write me back.
What do you do in Japan?
I am OOO and I am a translator and an interpreter.
I’ve studied in US University and I like music and travel.
Look forward to hear from you!
Dear Mr. Special:
I saw your ad in the TC. Have you found a special friend yet? Assuming not
the case, if you make time to meet me in Tokyo in the very near future I
would be very happy . . .
I am late 30’s, slender, medium height and considered to be quite okay
looks. And if I say so myself, I’m relatively a hit with the men, I think
If you are interested in me please drop me a line soon.
hi, I just found your ad through the magazine , my name is OOO I’m 26 years old japanese female living in kanagawa but sometime go to tokyo, I’m a piano teacher and sometime I look for the person who could have mental& physical fun together if you like feel free to email me
hope to hear from you soon
How do you do?
I’m OOO, SJW, 40s.
Would you like to find how amazing I am?
Don’t you want to go to Disney Sea? We might need to be in line almost all day day, but I promise I will entertain you.
Hello! how are you? i’m 24,nice,sexy japanese girl.i am cheerful,kind,romantic,sociable and energetic.i would love to become friends with you.lookforward to hear from you! take care!
I answer your Ad in metoropolis.
I am 39 , charming ,erotic in my private.
I will get you up to the higher in the sensual.
Please meet me some day.
looking forward to reply.
Hello! How do you do?
I saw your ad in Metropolis and thought maybe I should try it because you
seem like a man whom I’m really looking for…
Let me introduce myself.
My name is OOO.
I’m a 3rd generation Korean Japanese, who was born and brought up in Japan.
I’ve been in Japan all my life except one year’s study in Seoul when I was
a college student.
I speak Japanese, Korean and English.
..I think I have both countries’ beauty and sweetness inside of me
I’m working for an American pharmaceutical company in OOO.
About my personality, I’m open-minded and peaceful, love nature, arts,
food, travel, having good times with friends…
Now I’m seriously seeking my long-term partner (hopefully a life-time
partner) and want to share the beauty and experience in life with him.
So, please let me know more about you…
I’m waiting for your mail
I saw your advertisement in Metropolis..
I am a Chinese girl, 22, tall and pretty.. love sex and enjoy very much sex
I am sorry if it sounds commercial, but I need to get financial support for
my life here at the same time.. So my dates are compensated from
20000yen(for a strictly limited 2 hour date), to 30000-50000yen(for a longer
If you are still interested, please let me know..
I Look forward to hearing from you.. and sorry if this mail bothers you..
I can only conclude, based on these carefully documented findings, that over-confident and vain is definitely the way to go. Especially if you don’t mind paying for sex.
But the research goes on! Look for photos and other, er, results in the next update…
It’s hanami season again in Tokyo, arriving this time earlier than I or anyone else expected. The weather’s been complete shite, making for less than ideal flower-viewing conditions. Thursday, a holiday, was overcast and very windy. Five of us went out to Inokashira Park and spent the afternoon drinking sake, eating picnicy fare, and having all exposed skin buffed to a polished sheen by the wind-blown sand from across the way. Still, all in all, good fun.
Friday I worked all day and relaxed in the evening, and then Saturday spent the day running around town for failed hanami (too cold and wet) or other small parties around town, finishing the night off at the Fiddler before calling it a night.
It’s Sunday now, and the weather looks the best it has in four days. The sun is out the sky looks clear (it’s 10:10 AM) and I’m off to to Yoyogi Park to meet a couple of groups of friends for more hanami, some wine, cheese, sake and (hopefully) fun in the sun. Let’s hope the weather (and the cherry blossoms!) hold up…
[Note: this latest missive contains nary a word about the events in New York. Instead, I’m keeping with the standard format of these things, which means assorted minutia about things here and related photos. I have a half-written essay on the subject languishing on my D: drive, but I don’t know where I want to take it anymore. But I will say that my position is firmly pro-peace, and if you want to have a look at a good site that promotes the idea, please visit Friend Lucien’s excellent OssessO Peace Network.]
Summer in Tokyo, fast on the wane. At its worst, the heat is enough to to drop you right there on the street, but the cool evenings make for great relaxation on my swank balcony, and hardy herbs like basil flourish when given the right mix of shade and cool water.
I managed to get out of Japan for a week late in the Summer, but sadly I merely ended up in Singapore, quite possibly the only place in Asia even more hot and humid. I joined my co-workers from around the world for a week of skill-building sessions and maniacal drinking. I know that professional development was the stated goal for the week, but for me the closest thing to growth I experienced was a marked increase in alcohol tolerance.
At the much-anticipated poolside BBQ scheduled for the end of the week I broke my long-standing Avoid Wild Turkey at All Costs rule and drank myself into a coma. Reports vary, but apparently they pulled my unconscious frame from the pool sometime after midnight and I lay there–less-than-gloriously beached–until the last of the revelers roused me for the surreal journey back to the hotel. Now I have a new rule, which reads: Never, ever, try to keep up with Peter Coker when he’s mixing the drinks. The food sure was good, though. If you ever get to Singapore, make it a point to eat something.
I was supposed to be in Texas some weeks ago, visiting family in the teeming metropolis of Sherman. I know a fellow named Sherman here in Tokyo, and as coincidence would have it he also hails from Texas. Sherman is in his fifties. He writes poetry and goes treasure hunting in the park with a metal detector. Sherman has a swell collection of ballcaps.
But then there was New York (okay, this is the only mention of it), and everything got crazy all of a sudden. I cancelled my flight and decided to wait till things calmed down. I wanted very badly to get out of Tokyo, though, and I already had the vacation time booked and everything, so I started looking around for an alternate destination. Thailand and the Philippines were further than I wanted to travel for a mere 4-5 days, so I looked closer in. I considered Guam or Saipan until I realized that no one who’s been there says they liked it. I looked at Okinawa, but they were in the grips of a fierce typhoon. Friend Dan is in Taiwan, and he’s always cajoling me to get down there for a visit, but again, fierce typhoon. With casualties. So Taiwan was out. I opted for Izu instead.
The Izu Peninsula lies South of Tokyo, two to three hours by express train depending on how far down you want to go. I got a tip about a place called Ernest House, situated a few minutes from Ohama Beach near Shimoda, and decided to give it a go. The people who run the place are Japanese hippy-types that apparently make their living running that place and doing web development projects. There’s also a smallish joint out in front called the Paradise Cafe that specializes in sexy counter staff and bad food. But they play good music (a mix of mostly reggae and island tunes) all afternoon that fosters a comfortable There Ya Go, I’m Vacationing kind of atmosphere.
The beach is about three minutes away, and is well-populated with surfers and sunbathers even this far into the off season. Two out of the three days I was there the weather was exceptional all afternoon, and I got more than my share of sun, surf and beach fun. An acquaintance of mine Gerhard, having relocated permanently to Shimoda a couple of years ago, was on-hand to play frisbee, swim and show me around the local beaches. All in all a short three days out of the city, but still just the thing to cure those Too-Long-in-Tokyo Blues.
Still, getting back into town is always nice after a break. I’ve been hanging out at a joint called the Pink Cow in Harajuku more and more, meeting interesting people and enjoying the “Art Cafe/Wine Bar” scene they’ve created there. Kisimari is a self-described narcissist and budding artist who currently has her works on display there. She has a long-standing affair of sorts with Tokyo Tower, a local landmark. Her latest exhibition, Tokyotower Sex, revolves around her fantasies of getting it on with this, the object of her arguably rampant desire.
That and the proliferation of Starbucks coffee shops, plus a few AMs in (ugh) Roppongi, make for real edge-of-your-seat metropolitan living, let me tell you.
I met Slava some weeks back, a chance encounter at Aux Bacchnales where he was sharing a table and some wine with some mutual friends. Slava is a self-proclaimed nomad, and has taken on the arduous task of demonstrating his belief in the validity and importance of the nomadic lifestyle by bicycling around the world. He left his home in Macedonia early this year, crossed the Asian continent, and is now killing time in Tokyo while waiting for a US visa so he can continue his journey. Or that’s the story he gives most people. In actuality he’s desperately hoping that someone will steal his bike so he can call it quits here and now. “I mean, what the hell was I thinking?,” he tells me, exasperated. “It’s surely the most stupid idea ever to come out of my head. Around the world? On a fucking bicycle??” As a consequence he never locks his bike up, anywhere, ever.
We all have our fingers crossed.
I’m a consultant. I consult for a living. That’s what I do, and this is what it usually looks like, presented in a metaphorical and readily-accessible idiom.
The Setting: a meeting room. Seven or eight people are seated around a large table. Broad windows look out over Tokyo in all it’s gray and brown splendor. Business cards are spread out in front of each dark-suited corporate representative. Formalities are exchanged, then we get down to the meat of it.
Me: Don’t fart in elevators.
Suit A: I’m sorry?
Me: Elevators. You should never fart in them.
Suit A: (Feigning nonchalance) Can you be more specific?
(Nods of agreement from the far side of the table)
Me: Sure. No one farts in an elevator when there are other people in there with him. That would be asinine. (More nods and exchanged looks from the clients) What I’m saying is, don’t ever fart in an elevator.
Suit B: Now wait a minute. You’re saying never fart in a elevator?
Me: That’s right. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Suit A: Even if you’re alone?
Me: Even if you’re alone.
Suit B: Well why on Earth not?
Me: What, you don’t know?
(The clients share looks and hunched shoulder motions)
Me: Okay, I’ll tell you. An elevator in private use inculcates the lone passenger with a false sense of solitude, one that, in many cases, leads one to perceive its deceptive privacy as a kind of Free Fart Zone. (Pursed lips and dawning realization all around) Borne in this womb of faux privacy, you let one go. And then what do you suppose happens?
(The clients exchange quizzical looks)
Me: The elevator stops, and someone gets on. And then there’s just you, all alone in that reeking capsule.
Suit A: Good God…
Me: YES! Exactly! YOU’RE the one! (I rise suddenly and extend a damning finger at the Suit C, the Decision Maker, and scream out) Farter! You disgusting pig! What were you thinking!?!
(Suit C buries his head in his hands and begins to weep uncontrollably)
I sit back down and collect my things. I return my blank notepad, pen and collected business cards to my designer briefcase, then stand to leave.
Me: Well! Let’s meet again next week. Is Wednesday good for you?
Congratulations on finding my personal blog. It's been around in various incarnations since 1997, which is before blogs were called "blogs." See if you can top that.
My name is michael, and denbushi (電武士) is the now-dorky-seeming online name I made up back when I thought (ever so presciently) that some kind of unique nickname for the interwebs might be handy. Just for the record, it IS unique (even today!) except for this jujitsu variant/dojo in Puerto Rico which co-opted it without even asking me. If I had to cage-fight them for exclusive use of "denbushi" chances are good they'd win. But I'd still do it.
These days I live in Tokyo and mostly use my real name. A few years ago I founded a design and marketing agency called netwise. We do web and internet stuff. We're pretty good at it.