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edmedia conference

2014-06-27 TAMPERE, FINLAND -- My friend and partner Akio Ohnishi and I presented our paper at the EdMedia conference in Tampere, Finland.

We flew in to Helsinki, and then took an IC (intercity) train from Helsinki to Tampere.


Our car was double-decker brand-new model with a ravintola (restaurant) on the lower deck and passenger seats on the upper deck.


The restaurant on the lower deck has a dish washer (wow), and seating areas separated to accommodate multiple groups.


The mezzanine has its own vending corner. This area is above a dolly. On the opposite end of the car, the same area has doors that open onto the station platform.


Passenger seating on the upper deck is arranged in a 2+1 configuration, with some double seats permanently facing each other.


The single seats face the window. I’m sure Japanese would call these bocchi-seki. The locals use them to get work done. Lots of table space and elbow room.


There is a conference room at the end of the car. They say you can give presentations here. Great idea!


IC trains cover the 187 km in 120 minutes. Pendolino trains (designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro) take only 90 minutes but their cars are older.


You can reserve and choose seats online. The earlier you pay, the less you pay.


Unlike German trains which require hardcopies of tickets, Finland’s VR national train system allows you to show your electronic tickets on your laptop or mobile device.


WiFi is free, albeit slightly slow. Akio tracked our train’s progress over a beer.


Tampere is perhaps best known for the Muumilaakso (Moomin Museum). This is an art museum for serious adults. Children should probably visit Muumimaailma (Moomin World theme park) in Naantali, Finland, about 3 hours away.


There are 3 spots where you can take pictures. I was ecstatic with meeting Muumimamman (Moomin Mama). The white sticker between my eyes is the entry ticket to the museum.


The conference was held at the University of Tampere. We prefer poster sessions because they allow more interaction with our audience. I used to think lectures were more prestigious. Only if it’s a keynote! Innovative stuff shows up in posters.


Akio and I set up our poster way ahead of time.


Akio showed a looped video of our online learning experiences. We also used the campus WiFi to demonstrate Glexa using our computer servers at Hokudai. We gave out handouts. They were all gone in 2 hours!


Our next-door neighbor was a MS student who analyzed communications among health care professionals at a emergency care facility in northern Finland. I enjoyed learning about applications I didn’t know about.


Our paper was among the 12 selected from about 400 papers to receive an outstanding paper award. Thank you, our students and colleagues!




2014-06-08 MIKKABI, JAPAN -- Noriko and I attended a research planning meeting near the town of Mikkabi situated on the northwest shore of Hamanako (Lake Hamana) in west Shizuoka.

Mikkabi is famous for oranges.

Single-car trains pass over tiny tunnels connecting orange groves on either side of the track.

Trains run roughly every half hour.

I was struck by the density of tiny shrines honoring deities. Some are simple and exposed.

Some are shielded by the trees they seem to honor.

Some are housed in tiny decorated buildings.

One had a decorative bridge made for it. This is the Inohanako Jinja, a tiny but ancient shrine already in existence when it appeared on imperial court records dated 742.

Inohanako Jinja sits on a rock shaped like the snout of a wild boar (i-no-hana) at the mouth of Inohanako (lake of the snout of the wild boar), a bay with a tight opening connecting to the rest of Hamanako.

paddy junior cup

2014-06-01 EBETSU, JAPAN -- Noriko and I cheered PADDY, our ultimate team. I’m their faculty advisor. Freshmen from nearby colleges competed against each other to show what they learned during their first 2 months on their teams.

Ultimate is a sport played with flying discs. They’re not called Frisbees anymore because that’s a trademark.

There are 7 players on each side. Any number of players may be replaced whenever a score is made. You score when you catch a disc in your opponent’s end zone.

Kids spread out their gear on the grass.

Hokudai’s team is growing. This year 12 male and 12 female freshmen joined.

Ultimate is a friendly sport, and today’s event was super-friendly. Women from different teams decided to mix and play together.

While waiting for their turn to play, teammates practice throws and catches.

Sawako and Yuriko from our 2013 fall Wed3 class.

We had our picture taken with our team in the background. We wore uniforms too.

The girls brought a watermelon to be cracked and eaten at the end of the day.

We watched from a grassy embankment.

japan airlines maintenance facility tour

2014-05-21 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I toured Japan AIrline’s aircraft maintenance facility at Tokyo Haneda airport. We signed up online for the free tour.

The tour begins with an indoor self-guided exhibit and a half-hour lecture.

Noriko the cabin attendant.

A retired pilot led our tour group through the hangar. Visitors wear strapless plastic helmets and name tags.

Big hangar doors. The automated voice “Caution: doors in operation” is noisy and distracting.

We viewed aircraft from heights and angles typically inaccessible to onlookers even at airshows.

Where I trained and flew, we never call our aircraft “ships”.

Our tour guide new the price of every part. This wing-tip vortex reducer costs $700,000.

The wing-tip vortex reducer eventually is installed on the tip of a main wing like this one.

Business class seats awaiting installation.

First class seats cost $250,000 each. Most of the cost is for EMI (electro-magnetic interference) certification.

Aircraft are stripped bare and painted with elastic paint that stretches and shrinks under large temperature changes.

keroppi day hopper

2014-05-17 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Over 20 years ago on an iMac-DVD running OS 8, Noriko and I enjoyed “Keroppi Day Hopper”, a software application developed in the USA for children. The software manufacturer did not update the application, so it stopped running when the operating system evolved to MacOS 10. I resurrected “Keroppi Day Hopper” by installed Windows 98 on top of Parallels 9 on my latest laptop running MacOS 10.9. Noriko and I enjoy watching the pictures.