Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MySpace and Mixi community sites

Lately I've been wrestling with some extreme boredom as my wife works nights, and like any modern-day geek I've turned to the interweb for salvation. I'm probably a bit late to the party but I signed up with the gi-normous community site MySpace a month or two back, joining the ranks of the approximately 27 million other hopelessly young and immature teenage morons and idiots who like to "pretty up" their profile pages with the gaudiest, ugliest graphics and sounds they can find in an ode to web design faux-pas circa 1996. Maybe I'm just getting old, but it's a site like this - with a median age of about 16, a median IQ of about 65 and a hopelessly small age distribution curve - that will eventually force me to admit that the future of our country is doomed.

Yes, it took me about five minutes to get utterly sick of this site. Now, it is true that MySpace has grown so popular that you can literally meet people from practically anywhere in the world, and there's something to be said for that. And once you venture off the beaten path and actually seek out those beyond our borders, you will meet more normal people than you'll ever find in the high schools or malls of America. The problem is these people, like me, seem to get sick of MySpace real fast, and once you start to build up a little circle of friends you'll likely find it disappearing just as quickly as the normals drop off from lack of interest. Unless you just fill up your friends' space with a bunch of random jerks in a vain attempt at being the "most popular on MySpace!" like most people do. MySpace boasts a huge number of members and just looking through the profile pages will confirm that, but dig a little deeper and consider how many of those people haven't logged on in months and the story is a little different.

It's also a site that anybody can join, so probably a large minority (if not a majority) of its members are someone other than who they say they are. Sure you're talking to that hot 18 year old with a picture of herself spreading wide? How naive can you be? Heck, I had Natalie Portman ask me to be her MySpace friend. Real? Possible, I guess... likely? No.

Now, as we all know, everything's better in Japan. After slugging it out in the ghetto of MySpace for a while, my wife sent me an invite to Mixi, the better, stronger, faster Japanese equivalent. Mixi is an invite-only service - sorry, my fellow dumbass Americans, if you want to join you'll just have to make a real Japanese friend somewhere. Most people on Mixi have their real friends as their Mixi friends for this reason. It's a nicer place, with more thoughtful people, and the age range is a bit wider. It doesn't technically have as many members as MySpace, but I've still managed twice as many profile views there as I ever got on MySpace, in half the time. Who knew?

Mixi does have English-only communities and it does have both westerners and English-speaking Japanese as members. So it's not inaccessible for a foreigner. It just takes an invite...

To sum up -

MySpace: big and stupid. Typically American.
Mixi: smaller but smarter and more fun. Just what you'd expect from the Japanese.

Update: This post has been getting a sizable (and growing) number of hits from people coming in through Google searches. That's great, but please don't ask me for a Mixi invite either in the comments here or by email. I'm not going to delete them or anything like that - I believe in free speech (mostly) - but I'm not going to give you an invite. Think about it - everybody on Mixi was invited by somebody, which means everybody on Mixi knows who on any given profile page was invited by that person. That means that, unlike MySpace, people with lists of random "friends", who may or may not be behaving well on the site, are viewed quite negatively by others on the site. Given that most of my Mixi friends are real-life friends (one of the benefits of an invite-only system), and that their friends are also real-life friends of mine, I am not interested in having a stigma attached to my Mixi profile.

So, while I can appreciate your interest in Mixi, and I might have even been responsible for stoking the fire a bit with this post, you'll have to find an invite elsewhere. Sorry.

I found these metal handprints embedded in the sidewalk down in lower Manhattan. Just one of those random New York things...

Monday, September 19, 2005

You might recognize this area from the photo below it. I really love this picture, actually; it is just so New York in so many ways.

I shot this RAW, as I usually do, and it was a real challenge pulling anything useful from it. A shot like this is a real test of a digital camera's dynamic range, and the original values used by the camera for the exposure resulted in a photo that was over-exposed on the window scene and under-exposed for the interior of the train car. I had to perform some pretty extreme adjustments in the RAW conversion to end up with this. I think I did a pretty decent job, though I'm obviously keeping the RAW file around in case I feel like revisiting it later - I'm never sure if anything is really the best I can do.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This was taken tonight, 9/11. This is the "Tribute in Light" that has become a traditional yearly memorial to the twin towers. I was about 5 miles away when I took this picture. Sorry, no clickable larger image this time - the original was too noisy; it's not worth seeing at a larger size. I was shooting handheld so using high ISOs - I wouldn't even be posting this if not for the subject matter.

Photos of this tribute do not do it justice. It's really amazing to see these two beams of light stretching up into the sky as far as the eye can see...

A brief interlude...

Today is 9/11. In 2001, I didn't have a very good camera - just a 1.2 megapixel Fujifilm MX-1200, which was among the earliest generations of digital cameras. It was capable of taking decent shots (see the Chiba Marine Stadium shot a bit further down the page), but it had its definite limitations.

Anyway, the point is this is the camera I had on hand on 9/11/01 and in the days after. I took some photos and eventually put them up the following year on my old Geocities page. They're still there, if you want to see them, as my own little memorial.

The page is here.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I'm not sure if I like this photo or not. It's emotional, but does it stand on its own as a photo? I really don't know - as someone who lived through 9/11 I'm not that good at separating the emotion from the technical elements. I think the DOF effect might be a little extreme, though. I have a series of these, maybe I'll post a couple others somewhere down the line.

Monday, September 05, 2005

One more...

These are both from Bowl-Mor Lanes here in NYC, taken yesterday. I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I'm posting both. The second shot has a weird reflection on one of the pins, I know (it's actually a light reflecting on the glass case) - I could Photoshop it out but just didn't take the time to do it. I actually think I might like that shot a little better anyway, but the longer shot has a lot more going on in it. So I go back and forth.

Blogger seems to have some issues with compressing both of these photos - I'm linking to Flickr for the big ones this time, as it seems to do a little better job (still not very clean, though). The Flickr images are pretty large, so you may need to resize the photos if your browser squishes them.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chiba Marine Stadium at dusk (or was it dawn?). Shot with an early 1.2 megapixel digital camera and not retouched at all.

Comments are welcome...

I know nobody wants to be the one to break the ice, but don't be shy - I left the comments switched on purposefully.

I do see that I'm getting visitors here, so don't be afraid to tell me what you think of my stuff. I reserve the right to delete anything I personally find offensive, but generally that will not include constructive criticism.

New photos coming in a day or two...

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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