Extra Fox – A blog by Christopher Taylor

Amanis wins in Footy Japan/YC&AC Charity 6-a-side tournament

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on March 28, 2007

DSC_0101For a team with a poor regular season record this year, expectations were low that this year’s Footy Japan/YC&AC Charity 6-a-side tournament would be anything more than a nice day in the sun and a chance to shoot a few balls. The weather was beautiful and we shot a few balls, but Amanis FC also came away with an unexpected tournament victory.

The excuses are endless for why Amanis FC has not made a better showing in TML 2nd Division, however there were no excuses to be had on Wednesday. We arrived at the YC&AC grounds at 8:30 A.M. ready to play, only to have to wait another hour before most other teams had arrived. Our draw placed us in the same group as BFC, which we knew to be a very strong team, but the other teams were unknown.

Things staDSC_0063rted slow in the group competition when our first opponent turned out to be the parents from a local youth team. Two of the team members were mothers who had clearly had little time on the ball. That game was followed by a challenging game against a young Japanese team. They moved the ball well in typical Japanese style, but lacked aggression and finishing which allowed Amanis to dominate.

Amanis’ third game in group play was against BFC. We had watched two of their earlier games and knew they were going to be a tough team to beat. So, instead of trying to beat them, we decided to fortify our defenses and hope for a draw. It may have been the longest 20 minutes of the day as BFC repeatedly pounded us with attacks, but our determination paid off and the game ended in a tie.

DSC_0040-1The game against BFC guaranteed our second place finish in group play. The game that followed was just for fun, but our opponent, already battered and beaten by two tough matches themselves, barely put up a fight.

Getting through the group play and into the semi-finals wasn’t too surprising, but we were happy to be there. In our last tournament at Oi Futo, we had been placed against some very tough teams and were only able to play for the plate. So, a chance at the cup was quite satisfying and the team was revved up to see how far we could get.

Our first game in the semi-finals was against a team of young U.S. Navy boys, the Yokosuka Seahawks. Both teams came out fighting, but the Seahawks were especially aggressive, eager to win and scored first. Time was winding up in the game and the Seahawks were still up by one point. The ball was going out-of-bounds on the Seahawk’s end of the field and was being shepparded out by a Seahawks player. However, Christopher Taylor was able to edge around the Seahawks defender to tip the ball toward the goal right on the end line. A quick move around the player, one-on-one with the keeper, a quick toe-flick later and the game was tied 1-1. The teams now tied, the whistle blew and the game went straight to the best out of three PKs.

Already down 2-1 after missing the first one, Amanis star PK scorer, Jorge Kuriyama was up. The expectation was definitely that Jorge would put the ball easily past the Seahawk goalie, but after about a 20 yard run up and a flaming kick, the audience was stunned to see the ball deflected by the Seahawks agile keeper. Desperation quickly turned to relief when the referee made a highly disputed call that the Seahawk’s keeper had come off of his line too early. The call was a blessing, but really put the pressure on Jorge for his second shot. After a similar 20 yard run up, Jorge faked another rocket shot, but dinked it over the keeper instead, the game was now 2-2. The game ended 3-2 after two beautiful saves by our stand-in keeper, Tim Daulat, and an effortless goal by Bruno.

DSC_0026After such a hard-fought win, Amanis was quite fired up to face the TML 1st Division, 3rd Place team, Sala FC. In this game and throughout the tournament, the two Amanis defensive players, Cyril and Vladimir, created an almost impenetrable fortress in front of the Amanis goal. Sala is known as a tough team, but this game definitely favored Amanis and without much drama, the game ended with Amanis on top.

Reaching the final game of the cup was completely beyond what anyone would have imagined this day. We were up against the TML 1st Division 1st Place team, YC&AC. Not only that, they were playing on their home ground. However, Amanis was relaxed and ready to play.

DSC_0007The game started fast and aggressively, but soon turned to Amanis’ favor on a cross that was mis-cleared by a YC&AC defender right to the feet of Christopher. A quick shot to the top-right of the goal and Amanis was up 1-0. However, before half-time, YC&AC equalized when a defensive mistake left a YC&AC player open on the left flank where the player sent a rocket past Jorge, who was in the goal.

At half-time, Amanis was at a loss for how we were going to win, but decided to keep the formation as it was. Amanis again took the lead on a beautiful corner kick by Bruno that came straight to Christopher, for an easy deflection and his second goal of the match. YC&AC didn’t back down, but the final nail was placed on the coffin just minutes later. Bruno, bringing the ball up the right, was able to pull in two YC&AC defenders leaving Jonathan open on the left. A beautiful cross followed by a powerful, left-footed volley wizzed past the YC&AC keeper and clenched the game at 3-1. Minutes later it was over and the victory for Amanis.

Victory is sweet and this was a victory that the Amanis team members are unlikely to forget. It was truly an underdog story and an exciting time.

Also see the TML write-up [Tokyo Metropolis League]

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Vice Versa: Tokyo Bossa Nova

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on March 12, 2007

I happened upon this band by chance one night soon after coming to Tokyo. Since then, I’ve seen them a couple of times. I’m posting this link now because I always forget the name (some kind of weird mental block). Anyway, if you like Bossa Nova and you’re in Tokyo, they are a nice band to watch: Vice Versa.

Furigana.jp has launched

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on February 2, 2007

I have been working during my free time, over the last month, on a new website called Furigana.jp. The aim of the site is to help people “read Japanese today”.

In a nutshell, Japanese is hard to read. It is hard to read because there are actually four “alphabets” that are used to write Japanese: kanji, hiragana, katakana and romaji. Two of these alphabets, hiragana and katakana, are phoenetic alphabets collectively known as kana. The forth, romaji, is a formalized phoenetic form base on the Latin characters, which are commonly used in European languages like English. If these were it, most foreigners living in Japan and students of Japanese wouldn’t have such a hard time; these can basically be learned in a week or so. The one that is the cause of so much anguish for people learning Japanese is kanji.

Kanji is a form of writing that is a modification of the Chinese writing system. It was brought to Japan a long time ago (see Wikipedia). It basically consists of over 2000 characters that everyone is expected to learn to graduate from school and more than 8000 others that range in usage from common to obsolete. If that didn’t make matters bad enough, each symbol has up to eight different pronunciations depending on how they are used in a sentence or with other characters. Let’s just say that kanji is really hard.

For foreigners living in Japan, going about your daily life is hard enough without trying to learn such a complicated system of writing. That is why I decided to create Furigana.jp.

I receive between 10 and 20 emails each day that are written in kanji. I’m sure many other foreigners working in Japan receive even more. Up until now, I would copy the text of these emails into the Excite Translater and turn them into a mangled conglomeration of words that roughly resemble English and can almost be understand as having a vague sort of meaning; in other words, it turns it into jibberish. That’s not really a slight against Excite as it has the best translator out there. Back to the point… There was no way for me to read these emails since they were all in kanji.

Furigana.jp solves this problem and makes it possible for me (and everyone else) to “read Japanese today”. The site will take web pages or text, written in Japanese (aka kanji), and convert it into one of three readable formats:

  • furigana – adds hiragana above the kanji from the original text
  • kana – replaces the original kanji with hiragana
  • romaji – replaces all Japanese text (kanji, hiragana and katakana) with Latin characters (modified Hepburn notation)

I should mention, this isn’t the first site that has these functions. There are a couple of others that offer part of what I am offering. The difference is that I have brought it together in a cleaner package that is easier to use as a daily tool. After trying to use the other tools I was left frustrated, which is why I decided to build my own tool. So, I hope this tool will be useful to people. Time will tell. If nothing else, I will be using the tool every day. Enjoy!

iLike brings more community to iTunes

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on December 13, 2006

I was first introduced to iLike because I received a reference to them through a friend who knows the president, Hadi Partovi. At the time I was really interested in their business, but I was still committed to my position here at Groove Digital Entertainment in Tokyo. Anyway, a few weeks ago I received an invitation from Mr. Partovi to join the iLike service and I did. Since then, I have spent some time customizing my profile page, adding friends, navigating through friend connections and the like. I have already discovered new music that I like and that is the entire goal of the service; discovering what iLike…

The service works through a program that you download and install locally on your PC. Once you’ve installed it, the application will launch concurrently with iTunes every time iTunes is launched. As you listen to music, the iLike sidebar will show information about the currently playing song including recommendations for similar songs/artist. You can also navigate to other user’s data as well as search playlists in the sidebar.

Overall, I think the service is a hit. If you can get your friends to join or if you start connecting to people with similar tastes, it can be a very effective way to discover new music and to add a nice community aspect to your music listening.

Math illiteracy is really painful…

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on December 11, 2006

Verizon reps cannot do math… [Slashdot][audio]

Findory: personalized news based on usage

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on September 18, 2006

Findory is a website that watches your news reading habits to personalize articles that it presents to you on its homepage [findory.com]. In addition to using Findory through their website, you can also integrate Findory into your normal news reader. I created a custom RSS feed through Findory that I added to Google Reader. This is a very cool idea and one that I have been thinking of in one way or another for a while now. I’ll have to give it a shot to see how good of a job it does for me.

A few Web 2.0 sites that caught my attention

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on September 13, 2006

I spent a good part of the day today reviewing Web 2.0 sites that were featured on SEOmox Web 2.0 Awards [web2.0awards.org]. The following lists some of the sites that I thought were interesting and that I would probably use.

  • Basecamp – Provides a project management “extranet” that pulls together a number of important tools into a single focal point. Includes calendaring, people, tasks, milestones, document management and discussions.
  • PBwiki – I think the site’s tagline says it all, “Make a free wiki as easily as a peanut butter sandwich”. They live up to it to. It was incredibly easy to setup my wiki. They have me my own hostname when I registered and I could choose to make the wiki public or private. The editor used standard wiki markup, but also provided a toolbar to create the markup. Good for me since I always forget.
  • CSS Beauty – A nice example of how concepts of weblogging and syndication can be brought together in an elegant and targeted content website.
  • Pandora Internet Radio – Create custom, dynamically generated radio stations to help you discover new music. Based on the Music Genome Project.
  • SWiK – OSS project database

There are many more sites out there… I will be looking for ones that have anything interesting.

Rounding Doubles to Integers in C#

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on August 31, 2006

I looked all over the place in the C# libraries for a simple method to round a Double to an Integer. I finally gave up and decided that such a thing may not actually exist. So, I went out on the net to find someone else’s implementation, but I didn’t like the one that I did find. So, here is my take on the problem…

public static long Round(double d) {
double ceilD = (double)Math.Ceiling(d);
double floorD = (double)Math.Floor(d);

// is the original double closer to the ceiling?
return ((ceilD - d) < (d - floorD)) ?
(long)ceilD : (long)floorD;
}

I’m not sure about efficiency, but there is a certain elegance to this approach. Hope it is useful for someone.

UPDATE: don’t know how I missed this one… [abstracttb.com]

Mycelio is getting off the ground

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on August 14, 2006

View east from MycelioBack in January, I ventured down to Oaxaca, Mexico with my good friend, Matt Brown. I was going for time off and a little adventure, but his goals were far more ambitious. Matt was embarking to start an organization to promote sustainability in a region that will soon be affected by growth.

Since January, he has managed to establish himself in Playa Zipolite, has bought and is developing property, and is now working with some local projects. I invite you to check out his website [Mycelio.org] where he explains everything in detail.

Vote for the cutest kittens at Kittenwar

Posted in Uncategorized by extrafox on August 10, 2006

I saw this site [Kittenwar.com] while looking at a completely unrelated site [Wired.com]. Very cute… The site gives you comparison after comparison of cat photos. Simply click on the one you like most and keep going until you get board. The site ranks the most clicked on photos. The goal? To waste as much time as possible (blog editing included).