Saturday, November 3, 2018

Google Cloud Next in Tokyo 2018

Last month I took a day off from work to attend Google Cloud Next 2018 in Tokyo. Artificial intelligence and cloud computing are two topics that I love, and this event was great to catch up with the latest developments.

The event was divided into two physically separated areas: one for developers and another one for business. I only attended the former. The stages were pleasantly illuminated, and in general, everything was well organized.

There were numerous technical sessions during the event. Thankfully, Google released an Android application that made it easy to reserve a seat and receive notifications in real-time. Talks were videotaped and published a few weeks ago on Google Cloud Japan's Youtube channel (see the sessions playlist). Unfortunately for non-japanese speakers, the videos are all dubbed into Japanese, and there is no option to select the original audio track :(

Apart from the sessions, there was a spacious booth area for attendants to learn about Google Cloud services through demos (e.g., JapanTaxi's demo) and example architectures (e.g., architectures for game backends).

The next day, I attended another event, organized by GCPUG (Google Cloud Platform User Group) Yokohama, that hosted 2 great presentations by Mete Atamel (Dialogflow) and Felipe Hoffa (BigQuery).

Conclusions: Google Cloud Next was exciting, and I learned a lot about cloud architectures and recent developments in machine learning services such as BigQuery ML. Check out other reviews here and here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Techbookfest 5

This is the second time I attend a Techbookfest (技術書典) event, and I have to say that I loved both of them. Techbookfest events are events with booths where software and hardware fans can sell their own publications.

The events are quite popular. During the first few hours, you can expect a long queue of people ready to buy their favourite publications before they get sold out. The first event I attended was Techbookfest 2 and it was held in Akihabara. I remember having to wait for a couple of hours in the rain. Techbookfest 5 was held in Ikebukuro. There was a long queue as well but at least it was sheltered.

There were many interesting circles (a person or group of persons in charge of a booth) in Techbookfest 5. Personally, I bought a publication related to a 3D modeling software I have been learning for a while called MagicaVoxel. It seems that the author has also published a book on Kindle called 3D dot modelling (3Dドットモデリング) and has its own voxel webpage. I also bought a publication about creating your own cartridges for the old Game Boy by Nicolli. There was also a similar circle specialized on the Game Boy advance (GBA). I also got a publication related to GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) whose author used to convert a ramen picture into a curry rice one. Finally, I bought another publication about modeling and 3D printing a robot that was then imported into ROS.

Conclusions: Techbookfest is a really nice event if you like software or hardware technical stuff. I hope I can participate as a book writer in the future. I was happy to see that many booths offered their publications in digital format, for example through taimen or booth.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Climbing Mt. Ryoukamisan

I recently climbed Ryoukamisan (両神山, yamap, yamareco, yamakei)with some friends. Ryoukamisan is a mountain located in Saitama, near the Chichibu district. It is part of the 100 famous Japanese mountains.

We used the the Hinataooya (日向大谷) route to get to the top of Ryoukamisan and then went back using the Nanatakizawa (七滝沢) route. Here you can download my GPS log. You can also get information about similar trips from here, here and here.

With its 1723m I would say that Ryoukamisan requires a bit of hiking experience. There are quite a few steep areas that will require you to use the chains anchored to nearby rocks. When we arrived at the top everything was cloudy. For that reason, I can't tell you if the views are good or not.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this mountain is its Shinto shrine and its relation with various Shinto deities.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tokyo Game Show 2018

My first game console was a Chinese imitation of Nintendo's famikon, called Nipondo. My second one (actually my sister's) was a Nintendo 64. I loved Super Mario 64, Diddy kong racing, Wave race 64 and many others. My third console was a PSP. I enjoyed playing Ridge racer and Daxter on it. And that was it. After that, for a period of more than 10 years I haven't played any game.

I thought I wanted to catch up with that, so I visited the Tokyo Game Show 2018. The exhibition was held in the Makuhari Messe, in Chiba (not Tokyo!), and concentrated a number of big game makers and indie studios as well. According to this report, there were around 107,310 attendants the day I went, on Saturday September 22nd, which was open to the general public.

The exhibition was divided into several halls, and there was a very useful map at the entrance that indicated the location of each exhibitor. The largest game makers had amazing booths with quality lightning, multiple events, and even television coverage. There were also many cute models promoting the games and getting the attraction of all cameras.

However, I preferred the booths of smaller game studios because it was easier to see their games without all the bells and whistles. In particular, I loved the indie games section in the international hall.

One of the most popular platforms was the computer (e.g.: Steam, browser and Windows games). I had never used Steam before, but right after the event I opened an account. The other main popular platforms were mobile (206 titles for Android were exhibited); Nintendo switch, which has the most interesting games for my taste; and the PS4.

Conclusions: participating in this event was a good experience. There was a total of 668 exhibitors and 298,690 visitors. There was so much to see that I probably missed many interesting spots. Here is a complete list of exhibitors, the games they released, their genre, and the platforms they support. Next, I am planning to explore Steam and I would love to try some games on the Nintendo Switch.